The Angry Cyclist

A fleeting grasp of civil, well reasoned discourse.
This blog will comment on topics of interest like politics, business, taxation, the War with Islam / Islamofascists, road cycling, football, and others.


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"Irrelevant...macho ravings"-
Marc Herold,
Grand Seigneur, University of New Hampshire

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Sunday, November 30, 2003
 
NFL 2003 - 2004, Week 13

Home team in CAPS:

Cin +3
Min +6

Best offense - KC (153)
Best defense - MIA (133)
Worst offense - AZ (62)
Worst defense - ATL (57)

Last week = 2-1-1.

For the year = 21-24-4.


Sunday, November 23, 2003
 
NFL 2003 - 2004, Week 12

Home team in CAPS:

Det +10.5
Sf +4.5
Sea +3
Oak +11

Best offense - KC (150)
Best defense - MIA (131)
Worst offense - AZ (63)
Worst defense - ATL (60)

Last week = 2-1.

For the year = 19-23-3.


Friday, November 21, 2003
 
Fat Shits Of The World, Unite!

This one's just too good to pass comment on:

HE AIN'T HEAVY:

Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Harvey reports on an item in the student newspaper of the University of California, Santa Barbara. An underage man was caught walking the street with an open bottle of what he freely admitted was beer. But when a cop asked for his identity, the man fled and was chased down. Asked why he ran, he told the arresting officer: "You are kind of chubby. I didn't think you would be able to catch me."


Let me proudly state that I NEVER got caught (as a teenager) by a cop on foot, even with one 'threat' of the cop releasing the hounds of war (a quickly improvised plan had us wading into Nutts Pond in Manch Vegas, NH around some fences built well into the pond, which was two barriers the German shepherds hesitated to cross as well as covering our scent so the dogs, even after crossing those barriers (not that I looked back to verify it), couldn't pick the scent up again).

It also helps to pick up tips from your older brothers. I became a specialist at running sprints between 100 yards and the quarter mile. If you master that (and I believe I did), you can outrun anyone.


 
Bobby Julich swaps out with Tyler Hamilton

The wheeling and dealing in the cycling ranks continues...

American Bobby Julich, third in the 1998 Tour de France, signed a one-year contract with Danish team CSC on Friday.


Too bad he wasn't able to reproduce this. Chris Milan and I were thinking he was the 'real deal' then, but not too much has happened since...

Julich, who has ridden for German team Telekom since 2002, has never really fulfilled the promise he showed in 1998, but, as a consistent stage race rider, he has the necessary qualities as a team rider that CSC team manager Bjarne Riis is looking for.


Mr. Bike Toss is someone I wouldn't mind working with if I was a pro rider. He says all the right things and he knows talent and how to give that talent motivation. His successs, short lived as it was, with Jan Ullrich before Riis hooked up with CSC shows that in spades.

"It’s true that we haven’t seen too much from Julich since his third place in the Tour, but I’m certain we can get more out of him," Riis told Danish news agency Ritzau. "He’s a talented stage race rider."


Hedging their bets with a one year contract. A pragmatic move...

Julich was on the verge of retirement after Telekom chose not to renew his contract for 2004, but, like Riis, he hopes that the move to CSC will give his career somewhat of a kickstart.


I hope so. I remember Julich's crash on a time trial the next year, ending things early.

"I still have many unfulfilled ambitions," said Julich. "I’ve been interested in riding for CSC for quite a while, and the team looks really strong for next year. I’m looking forward to being a part of it."


Kick some ass, Bobby!

Bobby Julich
Born: 18 November 1971, Corpus Christy, Texas, USA
Lives: Nizza, France
Marital status: married, one child
2004 team: CSC
Previous teams: Telekom, Credit Agricole, Cofidis, Motorola, Chevrolet
Major placings: first, 2001 Tour de France team time trial; third overall, Tour de France 1998; winner, Criterium International 1998

I wonder if he still talks to Lance...


 
Darwin Award Nominee - Texas Division

A stoopid fuck offs himself while changing a flat tire.

Texas — A man changing a flat tire choked to death on a bag of marijuana (search) he had stuffed down his throat in an apparent attempt to hide it from police who stopped to help him, authorities said.


 
The Duke Speaks

Michael Dukakis, currently a professor at Northeastern University (What, no Harvard? - Ed.) becomes the latest in the long, long line of DemocRATS foaming at the mouth, expressing their rabid hatred of the Bush administration.

Dukakis recalls crazy days on campaign trail

By Karen Sanborn

news@seacoastonline.com

DURHAM - Always an advocate for public transportation, Michael Dukakis rode a bus to the state for his address to a political science class at the University of New Hampshire.

"I'm a somewhat obsessively transit-oriented guy," Dukakis said. "I wish the Amtrak ran faster and more frequently."


How did you get to Durham, NH, a Segway?

Dukakis, who won the Democratic nomination for the presidency in 1988 who then got his ass kicked by Bush 41 in the general election, gave the class a personal account of his campaign more than a decade ago.


(reaches for No-Doz...)

"If I knew anything about presidential politics, I'd be here in a different capacity," Dukakis joked.


"You know, if I actually won, that'd be different!"

His talk capped a semester of speakers who have addressed the class on political issues surrounding the New Hampshire Primary.


Yeah. Bring in hard-core liberals like Dukakis and this guy at Cornell to lecture the students. Fair and balanced, my ass.

"It's a been a unique experience to the students," said assistant professor Mark Wrighton. "We've done very little lecturing. We've put our efforts into bringing to class firsthand experiences with the primary."


"And if you believe that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn..."

Dukakis said he never considered running for the presidency while serving as governor of Massachusetts. Not until the Iran-Contra scandal, which sent him off and running.

He said he asked himself if he were elected president, could he do the job?

"Anyone who doesn't ask themselves that question is a fool," Dukakis said. "Either that or you have to have a supreme ego or something."


Sounds like one of the dumbest questions you could ask fifteen years after the fact. Why doesn't this question get thrown at Captain Hairdo John Kerry? I'd love to hear that answer.

Dukakis discussed the grassroots network he believes was an integral part of his winning the nomination.

He had more than 70,000 contributors who knocked on doors and helped drum up support. Dukakis said those people "put a face on my campaign."


Some face, complete with caterpillar eyebrows!

Now, he said, there's not enough time for the people to get to know candidates. He asked the class to take responsibility and become involved.


Is he shitting us? The None Dwarves have been in New Hampshire countless times, there are many more months to go until June, and even I stooped so low as to go to that dean rally in Copley Square a few months ago. Anyone who isn't familiar with these guys by now simply isn't paying attention.

"I hope every single one of you do your damnedest to be deeply involved in this business at the local, state and national level or all three," Dukakis said. "Don't let anyone tell you ca't do it. I don't know if there's anything more important than helping fellow citizens."


"I mean, besides voting Democratic, that is..."

The former governor was not shy about sharing why he thinks he lost the election. He said he had not developed a strategy to deal with attacks from the Bush campaign.

"I ran into a bit of a buzz saw," Dukakis said.


Of your own making, dumbass. Should I mention Willie Horton? To paraphrase Lenin, you sold Bush the rope he hung around your neck.

He said he dropped eight points in one week after Bush allegedly had President Reagan refer to Dukakis as an "invalid." Dukakis said he hopes the current Democratic candidates are ready for similar encounters.

"Whoever the Democratic nominee will, in my judgment, be subjected to a brutal attack campaign by Bush," Dukakis said. "This is the worst national administration I've ever lived under, bar none. I want this guy out of there."


It would have been much worse if you got into office somehow.

Dukakis discussed the ins and outs of being in the national spotlight.

"It gets a little crazy," Dukakis said. "(The Democratic hopefuls) have already said every speech they're ever going to say. They have to come up with interesting ways to say the same stuff. And then, how about a year from now?"


This is exactly what I mean by Dukakis' claim that 'there's not enough time for the people to get to know candidates.' Complete self-serving bullshit.

Dukakis said the tight security made him feel as though he were "in a box he couldn't get out of." As governor, he was able to drive his car to work and shop down the street.


What, you didn't take Amtrak? What kind of liberal are you, anyway?

"Once you sign up with the Secret Service, you're suddenly surrounded," Dukakis said. "I'd bring (the Secret Service) in the grocery store aisles. I'm looking for the specials and they don't know what's going on."


"Tofu's in aisle 4, Mike."

Dukakis shook hands with many students before heading back to Massachusetts, where he teaches at Northeastern University.


I'm sure he made it to an Amtrak station. Right?


Thursday, November 20, 2003
 
Are They Serious?

OK, I'll grant you Johnny Depp and Russel Crowe are damn good actors up there in the Sexy Man contest, but... what the hell is this?

Also on the list are democratic strategist James Carville and CNN medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN reported.


During the 2000 Al Gore lawsuit fest election, so many people were ragging on Katherine Harris, at the time Florida's Secretary of State, for overdone makeup (how you like her now? - Ed. She's very likeable. What do you think?), and Carville was one of the critics. I could not believe that someone roughly resembling the bastard love child from the rape scene from Deliverance would bring that up.

What an arrogant prick this fuckin' guy is...


 
Too Right

Allow me to continue more negative expression of revolting spending habits by the Bush administration. For Christ's sake, when Tom Daschle supports the damn thing, don't alarm bells go off like a nuke attack on NORAD?

Shit like this leaves me fuckin' speechless...


 
Another Quizilla Quiz

Heh heh heh...

You're Rummy!
You're the warlike Rumsfeld! So simple, so
subtle, so darned...cute. God bless you, Donny!


Which member of the Bush Administration are you?
brought to you by Quizilla


 
Unclear On The Concept

Thomas Doherty is the latest to cry wolf with a bogus charge of 'censorship'.

'The Reagans' and the culture of censorship


Mr. Doherty, have you bothered to look the fucking word up?

1) A person authorized to examine books, films, or other material and to remove or suppress what is considered morally, politically, or otherwise objectionable.

2) An official, as in the armed forces, who examines personal mail and official dispatches to remove information considered secret or a risk to security.

3) One that condemns or censures.

4) One of two officials in ancient Rome responsible for taking the public census and supervising public behavior and morals.

5)Psychology. The agent in the unconscious that is responsible for censorship.


By any reasonable definition, 1) and 2) are explicit in defining censor(s) in terms of government activity. Because a left-wing hatchet job was shot down like a Zero over Midway, Mr. Doherty merely repeats the bogus charge of censorship on an issue that's sooo last week.

By Thomas Doherty, 11/20/2003

FIGURING TO cash in where CBS caved in, Showtime will be telecasting "The Reagans" on Nov. 30, moving up the screening of the controversial biopic from its originally scheduled January date. Apparently, in the open territory of niche-market cable television, any publicity is good publicity.


Right. Just ask Michael Jackson.

The whole brouhaha over the cancellation and resurrection of "The Reagans" is a rerun of an old story. Zapping people and programming off the airwaves for ideological reasons has been a venerable network practice since the dawn of television.


It didn't have anything to do with innumerable distortions and outright lies, or the fact that James Brolin (husband of the famous pinko DemocRAT Barbara Streisand) was playing the lead, did it?

The tradition began in earnest on June 22, 1950, when anticommunist activists issued a slim volume entitled "Red Channels: The Report of Communist Influence in Radio and Television," a listing of 151 entertainers deemed to be Communist Party members or to have like-minded opinions and associations ("fellow travelers" in the idiom of the day). "Red Channels" charged the Soviet Union and its "useful idiots" with an "increasing domination of American broadcasting and television, preparatory to the day when . . . the Communist Party will assume control of this nation as the result of a final upheaval and civil war." Its publication inspired the new medium to inaugurate an employment policy that was already standard operating procedure within the motion picture industry -- the blacklist.


How's that censorship? Looks to me like it's an attempt to air out Hollywood's dirty laundry.

The first scalp taken by "Red Channels" belonged to the actress Jean Muir, then scheduled to star as the warm-hearted matriarch in NBC's "The Aldrich Family." A sometime political activist (a leftist, perhaps? - Ed.), Muir had been listed for supporting the Spanish Refugee Relief Campaign and sending a cable of congratulations to the Moscow Arts Theater upon its 50th anniversary in 1948. On Aug. 27, 1950, an executive from General Foods, the sponsor of "The Aldrich Family," appeared at the cast dress rehearsal to announce the cancellation of the show, scheduled to begin its fall season that same evening. (Later Muir was replaced by a less incendiary actress, and the series continued.) A more tragic casualty of the television blacklist was the actor Philip Loeb, who was fired from "The Goldbergs," a popular ethnic sitcom then on CBS. Impoverished and distraught, Loeb committed suicide in 1955. Countless other actors either disappeared from the air or were never cast in the first place.

Ironically, the most successful campaign to censor a television show during the depths of the Cold War was waged neither by Red Channels nor the House Committee on Un-American Activities Committee but by the NAACP and the African-American press. A mirror image of the anticommunist campaigns in the tactics employed and assumptions shared, the battle by civil rights advocates against the video incarnation of the phenomenally successful and perennially controversial radio series "Amos 'n' Andy," shown on CBS from 1951 to 1953, was another leading indicator of the status of television as the preferred site for political shadow boxing. But where the anticommunist blacklisters targeted artists for their associations and opinions, civil rights activists scrutinized the text, not just the talent. With an eye on the prize arena, they demanded that television showcase positive role models and communicate a progressive, egalitarian agenda. Beset by boycotts and bad publicity, CBS canceled the still popular series.


So that was a successful boycott, not censorship. Where's the government involved in any of this?

The campaign against "The Reagans" drew on both Cold War precedents, the personal and the political. In casting Barbara Streisand's spouse, James Brolin, as Ronald Reagan, the series practically solicited charges of guilt by association. But like the NAACP, the Reaganites could also cite textual evidence aplenty: stereotypical portraits, historical hallucinations, and fabricated dialogue. No less familiar were the pressure group tactics. In an update on a vintage methodology, the lists, newsletters, and picket lines of the 1950s were replaced by agitation on talk radio, cable news shows, and the Internet.


CBS was caught red-handed distorting the history of a great president who can't even defend himself because he's incapacitated with Alzheimer's disease, and CBS pulled the plug, all but acknowledging it was a political hatchet job. Even a fellow Globe reporter picks up on the real issue here:

With a biopic in the works about a beloved former president, the A&E network is taking no chances.

"Eisenhower: Thunder in June," about the lead-up to D-Day, is airing in May, and already its producer is hearing from studio attorneys about accuracy (emphasis added).


Again, where's the government involvement in this 'censorship'?

Still, compared with the grim blacklistings of the bad old days, the dust-up over "The Reagans" has played more like a zany sitcom than a chilling melodrama. Fox's Bill O'Reilly, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, and other card-carrying members of the right-wing media elite waxed righteous and indignant, but they could barely conceal their glee while circling in for the kill.


And why should they? It was a shot across the bow of the vast Democratic-Media ComplexTM putting them on notice that their near-monopoly on information and 'correct' opinion are growing closer to an end. That's a good thing.

Not incidentally, there is another resonant connection between the Cold War waged by "Red Channels" and the culture war waged over "The Reagans." CBS initially claimed that the miniseries was just a simple love story. Thanks to Showtime, viewers can see how it portrays that romantic moment in 1951 when a young Hollywood actress named Nancy Davis was confused with a blacklisted actress with a similar name. Seeking to clear herself, she arranged a meeting with the president of the Screen Actors Guild -- Ronald Reagan.


And Davis went on to make films anyway, so what's your point, Tom? Maybe you should just stick to lectures, wanker.

Thomas Doherty is chairman of the film studies program at Brandeis University and author of "Cold War, Cool Medium: Television, McCarthyism, and American Culture."

Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.


Wednesday, November 19, 2003
 
Campus Speech Trials

I found this little diddy at David Horowitz's site. What a familiar tale!

...
Professor Donald Silva of the University of New Hampshire provides an instructive example. Silva's troubles started when, during his technical writing course, he used the concept of sexual intercourse to illustrate the process of focusing the thesis statement of a technical report. He told the class, "I will put focus in terms of sex, so you can better understand it. Focus is like sex. You seek a target. You zero in on your subject. You move from side to side. You close in on the subject. You bracket the subject and center on it. Focus connects experience and language. You and the subject become one." In a later class, he used a famous remark about belly dancing -- "like jello on a plate with a vibrator under the plate" -- as an example of a vivid metaphor.

Six of his female students then filed a sexual harassment complaint against Silva. They claimed that his remarks created a "hostile environment" for them; creation of a hostile environment based on race or sex is barred by laws that ban discriminatory "harassment" in education. Silva's comments were arguably in bad taste. But they hardly rose to the level of the severe and pervasive conduct normally required to support a sexual harassment claim. Moreover, the university's sexual harassment policy did not suggest that it regulated the comments at issue.

Nevertheless, after several hearings that could most charitably be described as almost comically unfair, university officials found that Silva's "focus" discussion had violated the university's sexual harassment policy. The university suspended Silva without pay for one year and required him to attend psychological counseling sessions at his own expense. After years of litigation, the university finally revoked its punishment.

Silva's accusers were egged on by a feminist professor of Women's Studies.

...

Any guess who that feminist professor of Women's Studies was?

4. The Silva case was well under way when I was asked to join the Committee. You have absolutely no idea as to what individual members of the UNH Committee said. You are/were not privy to the minutes. I still believe that Silva used extremely prejudicial and inappropriate sexist metaphors. Whether such qualifies as intimidation or free speech is, in my view, a matter of opinion. But again, I am hardly surprised that you with your obvious ethnocentricity and macho ravings [on the angry cyclist] would find a soulmate in Silva.


The defense rests.


 
Darwin Award Nominee - Russian Division

Note to readers - know when to stop chugging vodka...

Russian dies after winning vodka-drinking contest

Date: November 20 2003

A vodka-drinking competition in a southern Russian town ended in tragedy with the winner dead and several runners-up in intensive care.

"The competition lasted 30, perhaps 40 minutes and the winner downed three half-litre bottles. He was taken home by taxi but died within 20 minutes," said Roman Popov, a prosecutor pursuing the case in the town of Volgodonsk.


My guess is liver failure. It's like draining a 1.75 liter bottle of Absolut in an hour. A project like that might take a normal person a three day weekend.

"Five contestants ended up in intensive care. Those not in hospital turned up the next day, ostensibly for another drink."


Makes you wonder how 'intensive' that care was, doesn't it?

Mr Popov said the director of the shop organising this month's contest had been charged with manslaughter. He had offered 10 litres of vodka to the competitor drinking the most in the shortest time.


Popov - that describes most bottles of vodka in Russia. They 'pop off' instead of screw back in because the makers assume you'll kill the bottle in one session.

Russians drink the equivalent of 15 litres of pure alcohol per head annually, one of the highest rates in the world. Some experts estimate one in seven Russians is an alcoholic.


I wonder how much beer they drink, or does that go against their vodka diet?

Reuters

This material is subject to copyright and any unauthorised use, copying or mirroring is prohibited.

Fine. Sue my ass, you biased pricks...


 
Rantburg!

I posted an article about U.S. troop realignment this afternoon. One of the commentators predicted an invasion of Syria by the spring based on a John Loftus contact.

It's an interesting hypothesis, but it raises the spectre of ever more howling from the DemocRATs and the hard-core leftists (a minor consideration, really). Like that's stopped them before, though. I'm thinking such an action has to hinge on Syria doing something monumentally stupid either against our troops (the 82nd Airborne Division has that sector right now) and / or Hezbollah (Lebanon - Bekka Valley, where Saddam's WMD are most likely located) doing the same against Israel.

I can only imagine the raw venom directed against us if / when we conduct a joint military exercise with Israel, which would be the first of its kind. But you know what? To hell with the critics. Our mission in that region is to introduce stability (read: democracy) in that part of the world in order to eliminate (or vastly weaken) the terrorist threat from fanatical Islamists. We can't afford to settle for anything less.


 
Hyperbole, Thy Name Is Kuttner

Robert Kuttner finds yet another issue to blame on the Bush administration.

The rush to kill Medicare


Just like the 'rush to war'? What an original phrase...

By Robert Kuttner, 11/19/2003

THE BUSH administration's Medicare bill is a calculated first step toward ending universal Medicare in favor of vouchers. President Bush and his congressional allies have deftly baited this hook with meager prescription drug benefits.


Only in the minds of Big Government liberals does a program estimated to cost at least $370 billion dollars over a ten year period qualify as providing its recipients with 'meager' benefits.

With legislators wanting to go home for Thanksgiving, the White House hopes to force a vote by this weekend. The haste is understandable: The more this cynical bill is exposed, the less legislators will fear voting against it. Consider:

Skimpy Drug Benefits. The administration refused to confront the pricing power of drug companies. So the government would be billed at exorbitant prices, and the new $40 billion a year in benefits would cover only a fraction of consumers' drug expenses.


That's it. Companies that try to recoup massive research and development expenditures, many on unsuccessful drugs, are accused in so many words of 'price gouging'. Profit is always the dirtiest word.

Maybe it's me, but the big question remains unanswered: Why is it the job of the federal government to provide prescription drug benefits to seniors?

Under the formula, if you incurred $3,600 of annual drug costs, the program would cover only $1,285. (It covers 95 percent after $3,600, but a lot of people would not participate at all because they couldn't afford the upfront costs.)


Uh, any mention about the 64 percent of retirees who have private insurance that will help in this regard?

Capped Benefits. The administration's real goal is to shift Medicare from a public program to a private one, with the government's contribution capped. For the right, it's a threefer: contain government's costs, shift risks to consumers, and let private industry cash in. Heathier (sic) and wealthier people could supplement the voucher with their own resources. Poorer and sicker ones would get diminished coverage.


That's right, Bob. The Bush administration is aware that Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security all face actuarial insolvency in the next thirty years, in which case people like me are going to face massive tax hikes in order to fund what amounts to an intergenerational transfer of wealth. Thus we see the tone of the previous link where 'Most back drug benefit but want more' because our politicians have successfully created the illusion that somebody else is paying for these things. That will be my generation, now and thirty years down the road, taxed up the wazoo.

The bill authorizes "experiments" in six metropolitan areas, where private insurers subsidized by the government could lure healthy seniors away from traditional Medicare. However, past experiments with Medicare HMOs demonstrate that they are far less efficient than public Medicare and leave government holding the bag for the sickest patients. Medicare works because it is a universal insurance pool. Fragmenting that pool can only raise costs, divert profits, and compromise care.

Means-testing. The bill subjects poorer seniors to an assets test and raises Medicare premiums for middle- and upper-income seniors. It also effectively bans drug imports from Canada. And it actually reduces drug benefits for people on Medicaid and those with private retiree coverage.


And why not? Many of Bob's previous columns heartily called for 'taxes on the rich'; why is this any different? Consistency in logic and philosophy would be too much to ask from this guy.

It's dismal policy. Viewed as a bill for special interests, however, the Medicare legislation is sheer genius.


Yes. For the AARP.

Pharmaceutical companies get to sell more drugs at prices the market they set. Hospitals and doctors receive additional payments. Insurers get to run a lucrative new program with government subsidies. And corporations that are paying health benefits to retirees get new tax breaks worth $18 billion.

The administration also deftly coopted the feeble giant AARP. As recently as last July, the AARP's president, William Novelli, warned that "any final conference agreement should not destabilize Medicare nor penalize those beneficiaries who choose to stay in the current Medicare program." But this is exactly what the conference bill does.


You know, for such an idiot that George Bush feller's pretty slick!

Sources close to AARP say that Novelli and his lobbyists, often allied with Democrats, wanted to point to a bipartisan accomplishment.

When AARP's $7 million advertising program in support of the bill was announced, the organization's switchboard jammed with angry calls. AARP has long been a business conglomerate selling products to the elderly posing as an advocacy group. Novelli is taking a huge gamble. The more his members appreciate what's really in this bill, the more his move could backfire.

Last spring the Senate passed a more moderate bill in which liberals led by Senator Ted Kennedy somewhat reluctantly traded expanded drug coverage for sponsorship by private insurers rather than via public Medicare. However, Kennedy's bottom line was: no serious tampering with the rest of Medicare.


That's my main point / beef about entitlement plans like this one and Social InSecurity. The DemocRATS steadfastly REFUSE to discuss the insolvency issue or even acknowledge its existence. By the time both sides of the aisle take these problems seriously, supporters of these outdated monstrosities like Teddy will be long, long gone. Unless Bush forces the issue soon, they'll have successfully avoided responsibility for dealing with this problem by punting it to us.

Democrats gambled that the Republicans, in order to get a bill, would have to meet liberals halfway. But White House officials concluded that by playing interest-group politics they could peel away enough votes for their plan and ignore the liberals.


I bet that sticks in your craw, Bobby...

Bush's bet is that the Democrats are damned either way. Either voters don't read the fine print and Democrats get tarred for opposing a drug benefit bill in an election year or they are made to collude in voucherizing Medicare.


This is Bob's 'Once In A Column He's Right'TM moment...

While two center-right Democrats, John Breaux of Lousiana and Max Baucus of Montana, supported the conference bill, Kennedy as well as the Democratic leader, Tom Daschle of South Dakota, and whip Harry Reid of Nevada oppose it, as do most Senate Democrats and seven liberal moderate Republicans from the Northeast
.

Department of Redundancy Dept...

If the Senate's liberals and moderates can withstand the pressure for a quick vote, the bill's deficiencies will come to light. And at least 40 senators -- the number needed to filibuster -- will realize that it's better election-year politics to resist wrecking a much-loved program than being complicit in its demise.


That's a great idea, Bob, suggest that DemocRATS engage in yet another filibuster that will make them look even more obstructionist than they do now. Are you on Karl Rove's payroll now?

Robert Kutter (sic) is co-editor of The American Prospect. His column appears regularly in the Globe.


And I'm his proofreader.

Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.


Tuesday, November 18, 2003
 
Class Warfare, Act CXVII

The following spleen vent by the Boston Globe's Thomas Oliphant eloquently explains the mentality he and his ilk have concerning any kind of tax cuts - it's not your money, it's more like the Government's.

Bush readies more tax breaks

By Thomas Oliphant, 11/18/2003

WASHINGTON

POSING AN interesting challenge to the Democrats running for president, Treasury Secretary John Snow last week dusted off yet another package of tax cuts for the rich you-know-who that President Bush would love to make part of his reelection year agenda. So many highest-income shelters to create, so little time.


Let's forget about the fact that next year's election will hinge almost entirely about the War on Terrorism and Bush's prosecution thereof. Until the Democrats articulate a reasonable position on it, they will get their heads handed to them on the scale of the 1984 Reagan landslide. This tax cut issue will barely be a blip on anyone's radar screen.

Coming after a third round of goodies last spring and an autumn crammed with unnamed corporate scams (from the oil and gas boys to health insurance companies), the next round is designed to slip through the back door a virtual exclusion of investment income from taxation.


First off, ever notice how writers like Oliphant glibly mention 'corporate scams' in the 'Well, everyone knows...' tone without actually mentioning, you know, the names of the companies allegedly involved in them? And how do you 'slip through the back door' legislation that goes through both houses, a joint committee and signed by the President? Seems like a pretty above-board process to me.

The rhetoric will be all about promoting saving, but the reality will be something quite different -- part of a careful rearrangement of the tax burden, as Senator John Edwards likes to say, away from wealth and onto ordinary income (the kind you work for).


Jeezus, cut to the chase already...

Edwards has been getting favorable attention in recent weeks for arguing that it will not do, it is not enough, for Democrats simply to get angry at this unprecedented looting of the Treasury for the benefit of those who can afford four grand per couple for Bush's reelection campaign. It is a soft jab at Howard Dean's movement, which the former Vermont governor led in an angry chant -- "You have the power" -- at the big weekend party dinner in Des Moines.


"unprecedented looting of the Treasury" - We're practically begging for an Andrew Sullivan Begala Award (for excessive hyperbolic liberal rhetoric) here. Pray tell, what makes it so 'unprecedented', Tommy?

The North Carolina senator argues that presenting alternatives is a more effective way to attract support. It is such an appealing point that Senator John Kerry joined him in making it, to equally favorable notice, at the same Iowa dinner. This could catch on.


Yes, actually presenting an alternative to legislation proposed by members of the evil BusHitler junta might be effective! What an interesting concept. Who's the big shot lobbyist who came up with that brainstorm?

Where family finances are concerned, the Edwards approach yields an interesting comparison. What Bush wants was actually included in his budget last winter, forgotten for other tax-cutting priorities, but is now being readied for high-profile resubmission.


The drum roll, please...

The president wants to replace the current array of savings incentives -- retirement accounts, special purpose funds (like for college), and worker-employer plans -- with three basic funds.

In each case, the top limits on what can be put into these essentially tax-free vehicles would be raised enormously. For retirement funds, for example, up to $15,000 a year could be socked away by a couple with no tax on the accumulating earnings and no tax on withdrawal after the age of 58. For basic investment accounts there would be no tax period.


Sounds like they intend to expand the Roth IRA or some variant thereof. Why is this a bad thing?

There's a catch, however. To deal with part of yet another huge addition to the budget deficit, the tax deductibility of retirement contributions -- a major help for Americans of moderate means -- would be eliminated. As it is, most workers are lucky to be able to put anything close to the current maximum into things like IRAs and 401(k) plans on the job.


This isn't a 'catch', it's a feature. You can design your retirement savings in a number of ways; you can contribute to 401(k)'s and get a deduction now when you contribute funds to it but you'll have to pay later when you withdraw funds from it. The alternative, to never pay tax at all on the contribution or withdrawal transactions is, in my opinion, dishonestly painted by Oliphant as a 'catch'. The real problem is that investors are being given alternatives and that they call the shots about how much to put into these alternative investment vehicles.

Then again, if these are 'Americans of moderate means', they're in low tax brackets to begin with, so how much does the deductibility of a 401(k) actually benefit them? There are a lot of holes in Oliphant's logic here.

Edwards can do the anti-Bush riff in a few sentences. This is classic class warfare, only in reverse. It is a backdoor way to exclude gobs of investment income for very well-off people at the direct expense of the less well off. It is outrageous.


Says who, Tom? The 'very well-off people' can afford investment advisers, CPA's and others who can design retirement and savings plans so as to reduce the tax burden. I fail to see how giving similar alternatives to the 'less well off' constitutes a 'direct expense' from them to the 'very well off'. The only thing I see as 'outrageous' is the tortured logic involved with equating tax cuts as theft from the 'less well off' to the not just well off but 'very well off'.

However, Edwards also likes to discuss the real world most Americans live in. In this world, two incomes (largely static of late) are barely keeping up with rapidly rising basic expenses. Virtually no saving is occurring as families scramble to cover necessities. As debt piles up (the percentage of income in credit card debt has tripled), home foreclosure rate and bankruptcies have soared (another sharp increase was reported just last week).


So debt's piling up in households. Whose fault is that, their own for excessive spending Bush's? Oh, I forgot! Of course it is! Silly me!

It might make sense, in other words, if Democrats concentrated a little less on their anger and a little more on addressing these painfully real problems, which Edwards does in five ways:

A savings incentive for normal people in the form of a dollar-for-dollar government match of money put into savings up to an income limit of $50,000, roughly the median household income.


Great, another government welfare program but now expanded to well past the median income. Did we fail to learn anything from the 1996 welfare reforms? This idea is Singulary Stupid.

An exclusion from income tax of the first $1,000 of realized capital gains income and of the first $500 in stock dividends, another idea targeted carefully at the middle.


Long-term capital gains are already capped at 20%, will this include short-term gains as well? We used to have the $200 exclusion of dividends. I wonder which side of the aisle proposed eliminating that one back in 1986?

A government match in the form of a tax credit of up to $5,000 for either a down payment on a residence or mortgage payments. According to housing experts, this would fit another 2 million people into their own dwellings, still the most important investment ordinary Americans will make.


More distortions of the tax code in the form of tax credits. Like most other tax credits (child care, Earned income, etc.) I see these as devices to insure the continued dependency of the lower and middle class upon the breast of government.

An assault on the so-called predatory lenders who are feeding off the widespread financial problems of working families -- from check-cashing "services" to credit card companies' interest rate scams, to new and usurious personal loan schemes.


Details, gents? How will you 'assault' them, like ATF agents taking away Elian Gonzalez? Maybe the problem here is the inability of some people to 'Just Say No' to these lenders.

Like Joe Lieberman and Kerry -- and unlike Dean and Dick Gephardt -- Edwards wants to keep the tax cuts of recent years that primarily benefit working families (and were Democratic ideas to begin with). These include the higher child tax credit, the 10 percent income tax rate, and a more broadly applicable 15 percent rate.


Why not eliminate tax credits altogether and instead expand these two brackets? Oh, that's right, because Edwards is a DemocRat.

The political danger in this kind of campaigning is that it risks being a little more boring and a little less angry and rhetorical. The benefit is that it addresses the problems real people face and makes a powerful contrast to Bush's priorities. At a minimum, it is what is supposed to happen in presidential campaigns.


So Oliphant admits this will fly like a lead balloon. Great waste of column inches, guys...

Thomas Oliphant's e-mail address is oliphant@globe.com.

Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.


Saturday, November 15, 2003
 
Asshole Of The Week

With apologies to Larry Flynt (Asshole For Life), this will likely become a regular feature, given the shit spewing forth from the mouth of such eminent thinkers as Edward Kennedy, one of my Senators (and the other is Kerry! We're doomed!):

Boasting of his party's resolve in the face of GOP attempts to stop the Democrats' filibuster, Kennedy told the Senate, "What has not ended is the resolution and the determination of the members of the United States Senate to continue to resist any Neanderthal that is nominated by this president of the United States for any court, federal court in the United States."


A member of "the world's greatest deliberative body" resorting to such childish and intemperate language, even by blogosphere standards, is seriously unfit for office. I hope Mitt 'Kennedy Country' Romney takes another shot at this son of a bitch.


 
NFL 2003 - 2004, Week 11

Home team in CAPS:

Atl +8.5
Bal +5.5
Det +10.5

Best offense - KC (158)
Best defense - DAL (129)
Worst offense - AZ (69)
Worst defense - ATL (61) (So why are you taking them? - Ed. Remember the Giants!)

Correction from last week: Nyj was -3, not +3 as mentioned earlier. That said, The System would have made the pick OAK +3, but since the final score was NYJ 27-24, it was a push either way.


Last week = 1-2-1.

For the year = 17-22-3.


Friday, November 14, 2003
 
Morally Blind

Derrick Z. Jackson finds something else to blame on President Bush, eager to claim the 'Paul Krugman of the Boston Globe' mantle in blaming everything on President Bush.

US stays blind to Iraqi casualties

By Derrick Z. Jackson, 11/14/2003

THE WHITE HOUSE always said it would never count how many Iraqi parents we killed to liberate their children. We would never count how many toddlers we blew to pieces to free their elders. We would never count how many nuclear families we vaporized. We would never know if we razed a village to save a child.


May I be so bold as to ask why the number of civilian deaths matter, I mean besides the obvious point of being used as a cudgel to beat President Bush over the head with? It's obvious to all but the most willfully blind that the use of precision ordnance is designed to do their best to avoid civilian casualties, regardless of Saddam's commingling of military and civilian targets.

This is the most disgusting and least discussed aspect of President Bush's invasion and occupation of Iraq.


What's even more disgusting is the use of these dead by Derrick Z. Jackson as a political weapon against the Bush administration. You'd think that someone who professes deep concern about the downtrodden and less privileged would have some level of respect for the deceased. How wrong I am...

In the early days of his war Bush said, "The citizens of Iraq are coming to know what kind of people we have sent to liberate them. American forces and our allies are treating innocent civilians with kindness."


Note that he didn't say that no innocent civilians would die as a result. Naturally, rabid leftists like Derrick Z. Jackson hold this administration to an impossibly high standard.

No one could possibly know the truth or lie of that statement, since the mantra of the military from Tommy Franks down to his spokespeople was, "We don't do body counts." The most bald-faced expansion on that policy was given in April by Brigadier General Vincent Brooks of Central Command. "In all cases, we inflict a considerable amount of destruction on whatever force comes into contact with us," Brooks said. "It just is not worth trying to characterize by numbers. Frankly, if we are going to be honorable by the warfare, we are not out there trying to count up bodies."


That's the military's way of saying 'Don't take arms up against us and we won't vaporize you'.

You cannot be any more frank than that. The very people we claim to liberate are not worth the honor of counting.


Read General Brooks' statement again, Derrick. It might convey, even to you, that we have a greater goal of defeating the enemy.

It is obvious why. In an unprovoked war brought about by Saddam ignoring seventeen U.N. resolutions based on saber rattling, threatening of neighbors and other acts of belligerence unproven threats, it was not enough to vilify Saddam Hussein's soldiers to gain the invasion's acceptance among the American people. Bush also had to dehumanize innocent civilians to the point where if we slaughtered some of them, they were not worth our time, either. Bush clearly figured, if you do not count, you cannot lie.


That won't stop you from all but calling him a liar, I see.

If you do not count, you can stonewall the press and hit its softballs out of the park. In April, David Frost of the BBC suggested to Secretary of State Colin Powell that an early Iraqi figure of 1,254 civilian deaths was "relatively low." Powell responded, "I would say that's relatively low." In August, Paul Bremer, the US administrator in Iraq, said: "If you go back to what we achieved here, which was the liberation of 25 million people in less than three weeks, with fewer civilian casualties and less collateral damage than any war in history . . . the loss of innocent life is a tragedy for anyone involved in it but the numbers are really very low."


I do not wish to make light of civilian deaths, any of them. It's the nature of war that people are going to die, and no amount of technology will change that, ever. That said, what will Derrick complain about now?

This has worked magnificently for eight months with no widespread complaints from Americans.


Maybe because they agree with this sentiment?

That raises as many questions about our own humanity as Bush's. Did the Pentagon really do that good a job brainwashing Americans on the notion of sanitized warfare? Amid the demonizing of Saddam, were Iraqi civilians easier to dismiss because they were tan, Muslim, or both? Is the United States still mired in a quagmire of paternalism that goes back to the "saving" of "heathens" by yanking them from Africa and baptizing them into slavery?


That's a fine piece of equivalence, isn't it, comparing civilian deaths with slavery?

Such questions ought to be stonewalled no more. Medact, the British affiliate of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, this week published a report that estimates the number of Iraqi civilian deaths during the invasion to range from 5,708 to 7,356. The report estimates that the number of civilian deaths after May 1, when Bush declared an end to major combat operations, ranges from 2,049 to 2,209.


They're an outfit ostensibly about preventing nuclear war, indeed a noble endeavor. Besides grandstanding and espousing anti-American rhetoric, what business do they have pontificating on the subject of civilian deaths during a conventional conflict?

Another study released last month by the Project on Defense Alternatives, based in Cambridge, estimated that the number of Iraqi civilian deaths in the first month of the war to be between 3,200 and 4,300. In June, the Associated Press estimated the number of Iraqi civilians killed in the invasion to be 3,250. The AP report said, "hundreds, possibly thousands of victims in the largest cities and most intense battles aren't reflected in the total."


I'd love to figure out how many of these civilians were actually Iraqi Army deserters or other combatants dressed up in civilian garb? Not that that's a new trick or anything.

The total of civilian deaths, whether they be 3,200 or 10,000, is low compared with conventional wars a half-century ago.


Thanks for acknowledging the obvious, but...

But for a decade the Pentagon promised to end wars as we knew them with laser-guided surgical strikes of only military targets. The military cannot have it both ways, promising unprecedented precision at the same time it downplays mistakes through historical context. The alleged precision makes the casualties look less like an example of Bush's kindness than William Calley's out-of-control forces gunning down up to 500 Vietnamese civilians at My Lai in 1968.


Ever hear of 'human shields', voluntary or otherwise, Derrick? Given the embedded reporting corps, is there any evidence of William Calley's in our battalions? Didn't think so.

Just one Iraqi civilian death is horrible blood on our hands given that the attack on Iraq appears to have been based on a lie. Yes, Saddam Hussein killed thousands of his own people. But an American massacre does not make things right. If Americans have half the humanity they claim, they will no longer accept Bush at face value when his officers say, "We don't do body counts."


It's a war, not a massacre. There is a difference. If our troops were really bent on killing unarmed civilians, the numbers would be far higher than the ones being bandied about here.

If we do not count the bodies, this atrocity will never have a face.


Let's face facts. Other parties have created their numbers, and our government hasn't. Rabid leftists will gladly compare these numbers against the number of liberated Iraqis. Can't show their faces, can we?

Derrick Z. Jackson's e-mail address is jackson@globe.com.

Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.


 
This Just In

A massive fire has swept through a warehouse (sorry, old mill building - Ed.) in Pawtucket, RI, a few hundred feet from the building where I work. It started about an hour ago and the 40+ MPH winds helped it to tear through the entire building, and also has hit about ten houses adjacent and downwind from it. Traffic on I-95 is reported to be a mess (I heard 10 mile backup - I hope that's not northbound!) and the parking lot's full of gawkers and television crews.

Developing...

UPDATE (4:51 PM) - A three mile radius evacuation has just been issued / ordered by the Pawtucket Fire Department. Later on, folks...

UPDATE II (6:37 PM) - Here's a report on the fire. Traffic and streetlights were out as I left tonight (driving nirvana - it's a free for all!), and there was no 10 mile backup on I-95 as previously reported. Also, I heard a radio report that it was a evacuation radius of a few blocks, not three miles as a supervisor previously reported (What's up with that? - Ed. I don't know, ask her, she relayed the report!). I was going to guess arson, but why torch a building that was scheduled for demolition?

I saw one firefighter at around 3:15 trying to get a handle on the upwind part of the fire from the ladder. He was about 30-40 feet up, but the winds were curling the flames towards his position (he was sidewind, but the way he and the building's angled he was slightly downwind), so he was away trying to get water on the upwind part of the fire. The wind, though, was dispersing the water before it hit the flames, making his efforts basically useless until they moved him in a few feet closer. He hit the forward part and got into a gap in the wall, but the upwind part reignited within thirty seconds and he had to pull back again, repeating the whole process. A few minutes later thick plumes of smoke were pouring out the downwind part of the building; that's how it spread so fast throughout the structure during the next hour. The firefighters didn't have a chance in that wind, and I don't envy these guys one bit. They did the best they could in an impossible situation.

It ought to be an interesting morning at work on Monday.


Thursday, November 13, 2003
 
On Hating Vehicles

The Boston Globe's editorial staff takes its obligatory swipe at large vehicles, AKA SUV's.

Disclosure - I'm the proud owner of a 1996 Dodge Intrepid, which consumes about half the gas of an SUV. Given that I now commute eighty miles a day and thus use a proportional amount of gas as these evil SUV's it almost makes you wonder if there's an ideological agenda here. No, it couldn't be that...

GLOBE EDITORIAL

An SUV-sized loophole

11/13/2003

ONE OF THE most dubious giveaways


Letting taxpayers keep more of their money = giveaways, according to those who know better than you smug liberals.

...in the $350 billion tax cut package approved by Congress this year is its $100,000 deduction for businesses that buy the least fuel-efficient passenger cars on the road: SUVs that weigh more than 6,000 pounds. Auto dealers and financial planners are using this loophole to drum up sales before Congress comes to its senses and stops having taxpayers subsidize the purchase of gas-guzzlers by firms of lawyers, doctors, and other professionals.


I don't know. Call me silly, but I think that this could have been proposed by the House as a countercyclical measure to ease recessionary pressures by offering incentives for individuals to purchase vehicles when they wouldn't have chosen to otherwise. This is a Keynesian theory usually loved and espoused by the Democrats, unless it's a Republican president doing it.

For years the tax code permitted small businesses to deduct from their taxable income the costs of new equipment -- up to $25,000 this year. To benefit contractors and other firms that use trucks, vehicles qualified, but only if they weighed more than 6,000 pounds. Until recently this excluded passenger cars.


Section 280F is the limitation on the deductibility of combination business / personal use of vehicles and other forms of transportation (the so-called listed vehicles limitation) that used to be based on the vehicle's price, not weight.

Two things have happened to turn this sensible deduction into a windfall for the auto industry and a setback for the environment.


Logic would dictate that any vehicle on the road, guzzling gas & so forth, would be a 'setback for the environment.' But I digress...

The biggest sport utility vehicles now tip the scales at more than 6,000 pounds (a Hummer weighs 10,000 pounds), and Congress this year quadrupled the deduction to $100,000. At the top business tax rate of 35 percent, the deduction reduces the after-tax cost of a $55,000 SUV to that of a modest sedan.


Modest being, what, precisely? Do we account for self-employed people who are also entitled to this deduction and whose top (or, to be more precise, marginal) tax rate is higher or maybe lower? What about the business owner who's not at the top rate? Does he purchase an SUV if the after-tax cost is higher than in the Globe's example?

Oh, the fun you can have with this imprecise line of reasoning.

To qualify for the full deduction, firm employees are supposed to use the vehicle solely for business use. But the companies can write off half or more of the cost if they use their new SUV at least half the time on the job.


He's talking about the Section 179 treatment of this expense; it's an immediate writeoff where the basis of the car's purchase price is reduced accordingly. What isn't mentioned is that this amount can be subject to recapture upon the disposition of the car (i.e., you have to pay something back if the sales price exceeds the adjusted basis of the vehicle in question).

Environmentalists, seeing the potential of this loophole to spur purchases of gas guzzlers, implored members of Congress to exempt SUVs from the deduction. But Congress turned a deaf ear.


We're going to do a word count in a moment in order to support my contention that this is a purely ideological agenda.

Now there is a renewed attempt. Last month the Senate Finance Committee raised the minimum weight for eligible vehicles to 14,000 pounds. Not only would this end the embarrassment of a tax subsidy for wasteful cars; it would, according to the committee's calculations, save the Treasury almost $1.3 billion over 10 years. But the measure has not been approved by the full Senate, not to mention the House of Representatives.


Suppose you're hauling a family of five around, or could use an SUV to haul drywall from Home Depot to your place in case it rains? Can you use an open flat-bed truck in such a situation? A car is useful or 'wasteful' purely in the eyes of the beholder or its utility to the owner.

And once again, note the benevolence of the writer, noting the 'savings' to the almighty federal Treasury if the measure's repealed in conference, and you can piss off if you don't like it.

If Congress were serious about reducing petroleum use and the pollutants it causes, it would be raising the requirements for fuel-efficiency of all vehicles, especially of SUVs and pickups, which are exempt from the rules governing regular passenger cars. But the energy bill being considered by a House-Senate conference committee does nothing to increase fuel efficiency standards.


You mean like this kind of fuel efficiency? It seems like trucks and SUV's both burn lots of gas. As a matter of comparison, the mighty Interpid gets about 20-21 MPG in city driving, up to 25 if it's strictly highway. I don't see a lot of difference unless you're into splitting hairs.

Here's the word counting experiment I was mentioning. Prior to the phrase 'SUVs and pickups' there were six mentions of 'SUV' or 'gas guzzlers' and only in the penultimate paragraph is it even acknowledged that other vehicle types like pickup trucks are mentioned, almost as an afterthought. Nope, no bias here...

Time and again the United States has to defend itself against the accusation that it is in Iraq not to advance democracy but to ensure cheap and plentiful supplies of oil at home. Its credibility on this issue would be stronger if US policies did not so often encourage the profligate use of oil.


Of course, the Globe's credibility would be stronger if they even bothered to look at sales figures of heavier car classifications. Here we note that in the period from 1998 to 2002 sales of SUV's were greater than either trucks or vans and still account for less than half of this group's sales for year 2002. The group as a whole accounts for about half of all vehicle sales but still, SUV's account for about one-fourth of all vehicle sales in 2002.

Does anyone else but me wonder how the Globe editors commute back and forth from work? Do you wonder if they use the train, to mingle with the masses and all that? My spy at the Globe tells me about 20 % of all cars parked at the Globe's Morrissey Boulevard facility are SUV's. I asked him to check the section where the editorial writers park (Surprise! it's not the same section as the Great Unwashed that work there, but the elevated parking section before Exit 15 (northbound) of the Southeast Expressway. Hopefully I can give an update tomorrow depending on his recon mission.

If the Globe can suggest a technologically feasible alternative (and, no, hybrid cars won't cut it around these parts in winter conditions), then fine, but otherwise, get the hell off the anti-SUV soapbox.

Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.


Wednesday, November 12, 2003
 
Master Of The Obvious

Derrick Z. Jackson, filling in admirably for Robert 'I Hate Bush' Kuttner, finds something else to blame on the Bush administration.

America is more divided than ever

By Derrick Z. Jackson, 11/12/2003

AT A 1999 fund-raiser, George W. Bush said: "I think it's important for our party to look at candidates and determine who's a uniter, not a divider. Who has proven that they know how to bring people together based upon common consensus?"


I think the voters spoke in 2000 in Bush's favor, leftist whining about the 'stolen election' notwithstanding. Andrew Sullivan, in large part, agrees with the assessment, although he avoids the liberal tendency to blame all of America's problems on George W. Bush. Or racism.

In 2000, he said: "I do not believe in pitting one group against another. There is a trend in this country to put people into boxes. . . . I see a United States with one big box: American."


And who could argue about that? Oh, wait...

Three years later, Americans are sealing themselves away from each other in thicker boxes than ever -- on war, on race, on religion, on just about everything.


Uh, no. If anything there's still a fair amount of 'debate', and i would think even more than usual since we're all so supposedly riled up about things, although it more resembles a 'Crossfire' segment where people just yell at each other.

This cannot be a surprise. Bush began his presidency by having the United States secede from the earth. His antienvironmental and anti-family planning policies and his enforcing of seventeen UN resolutions unprovoked invasion of Iraq prove that Americans under his leadership will do what we want, take what we want, pollute what we want, and invade whom we want.


Derrick's doing his Al Pacino act again - WAAAAAY over the top. If Bush really did what he wanted Derrick and the rest of the Globe's op-ed staff would be on the first plane to Guantanamo. I suppose, in some perverted sense, Bush's signing of the partial-birth abortion ban, designed to stop a ghastly procedure, is anti-family to Derrick Z. Jackson. Also, to continue the policies of the Clinton administration, with respect to logging, was a mistake that allowed good chunks of California to burn to the ground. If Bush really had his way the logging industries would be allowed to 'profit' from clearest and other forest management efforts that run contrary to the Sierra Club. Those are probably the sentiments in the universe where spoke has a beard.

Three years of such ferocious desire to dominate the planet could hardly inspire Americans to find common ground back home. Sure enough, two years after Sept. 11, "United We Stand" is "Divided We Scowl."


So what should we do, Derrick, roll over and play French dead or stomp out some turbans?

Last week the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press released its 4,000-person survey, "Evenly Divided and Increasingly Polarized." According to the survey, 34 percent of registered voters were Democrat, 33 percent Republican and 33 percent independent or other.


In other words, one-third tend to be conservative, one-third tend to be liberal and one-third have no core political values and vote like they're shopping for shovels at Home Depot (Gee, a metal one or a plastic one? This is sooo difficult!).

You can find almost nothing Republicans and Democrats agree upon, and the gap on many issues is growing. Eighty-five percent of Republicans said the invasion of Iraq was right while 54 percent of Democrats said it was wrong. Fifty-four percent of Republicans but only 39 percent of Democrats said Americans must give up some civil liberties to curb terrorism. Sixty-nine percent of Republicans but only 44 percent of Democrats said the best way to ensure peace is through military strength.


Derrick's reading this rather liberally, if you'll pardon the pun. The first example can be rewritten: 'Eighty-five percent of Republicans said the invasion of Iraq was right while 46 percent of Democrats agree. The other two examples indicate agreement levels of at least 40 percent between the two parties.

But wait! It's even more slanted than that. The aforementioned Pew poll, if he's basing his preceding paragraph on it, never mentions the independents, so you can't tell if they were asked the same three questions or not or if Derrick conveniently omitted them. From the looks of the the survey that Derrick's basing this article on, it looks like they were asked, but were lumped into the "And independents are increasingly in sync with Democrats in their national security views." category.

While Republicans by and large saw nothing wrong with tens of billions of dollars for a war in which the cover cause is to eliminate terrorist assholes wherever they are give democracy and economic security to the Iraqi people, there was little interest in assuring the same to everyone back home. Nearly twice as many Democrats as Republicans, 72 percent to 39 percent, said the government should help more needy people even if it means a bigger deficit.


It's easy to express the desire to help more needy people with other people's money. Now ask the same group if they'd agree to a tax increase to pay for it.

As president, Bush has drawn lines in the sand too numerous to cross. The favorite, of course, is the post-9/11 declaration that "either you're with us or you're with the terrorists." With such an all-or-nothing demand of allegiance from other nations, it is no shock that Americans could not agree on what "patriotism" means at home. Seventy-one percent of Republicans said they "completely agree" that they are "very patriotic." Only 48 percent of Democrats said they completely agree.


So, Derrick, are you with us or the terrorists? Or am I 'questioning' your patriotism? Just curious.

African-Americans, who historically did their patriotic duty of dying in wars halfway around the world only to return home to discrimination, were particularly skeptical. The percentage of African-Americans who completely agreed that they are very patriotic spiked up to 45 in the aftermath of 9/11. It has slipped back to 38 percent.


Maybe you could ask, oh, I don't know, some African-Americans who are overseas 'dying in wars halfway around the world', like it's somehow OK if Whitey dies in said war?

If Bush thought his attacks on affirmative action would unite the country, he was a bit mistaken. Only 30 percent of African-Americans said a person should fight for the United States even if the war is wrong. That compares with 55 percent of white Americans. Pew said that is the biggest racial gap on that issue in the 16 years of the poll.


I think the link between Bush's 'attacks' on affirmative action (a policy designed to transfer jobs from people who can do them to people who cannot) and African-Americans deciding to fight in a war is tenuous if it exists at all, given the military's record on integration. Here's a question - How many of those African-Americans you polled for that question are Democrats?

Even the gaps among white Democrats and white Republicans grew.


See what I mean? It's not about race, it's about ideology, much to Derrick's chagrin.

In 1991, there was a 10-point gap in the question, "We have gone too far in pushing equal rights in this country. In the new survey, the gap was 19 points. Fifty-five percent of white Republicans said the nation has gone too far, up from 46 percent in 1991, while 34 percent of white Democrats said the nation has gone too far, down from 36 percent.


How about a control point, say 1999, the next last year of the Clinton administration? Otherwise it's more difficult to pin the blame, as it were, on one administration or the other. I can guess why...

Do not even talk about God being a unifier unless you are a Republican. People who said they attend church more than once a week favor a Bush reelection 63 percent to 37 percent. Democrats can take heart in the notion that Bush's fire and brimstone politics have driven young voters decisively into their column, 60 percent to 40 percent.


I think the pederast priest issue had far more to do with this than anything else. In my opinion this poll is useless to the extent that they don't even try to ask 'why?'.

On most issues, independents fell somewhere in between the two major parties.


Well, that's a revelation...

With that, the Pew poll showed the nation to be 50-50 on Bush's reelection.


Like most other polls at this time.

It is a conundrum that portends a strange election in 2004. Bush has failed to be a uniter, but the Democrats are still too clueless divided to show how they will bridge the growing gulf. The nation awaits a candidate capable of creating a consensus. It awaits a president who can convince us to jump into the same box.


'I'll take "Presidents who are Serious about National Defense" for $200, Alex...'

Derrick Z. Jackson's e-mail address is jackson@globe.com.

Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.


Sunday, November 09, 2003
 
NFL 2003 - 2004, Week 10

Home team in CAPS:

Az +7
CAR +3
Nyj +3
Bal +7

Last week = 3-0-1.

For the year = 16-20-2.


Friday, November 07, 2003
 
Race - The Only Frontier

Is there any doubt that if a Republican uttered these words:

"White folks in the South who drive pickup trucks with Confederate flag decals in the back ought to be voting with us and not them, because their kids don't have health insurance either and their kids need better schools, too."


...that Derrick Z. Jackson and the professional race-baiters would have burst every blood vessel in their self-righteous bodies by now?

Instead, Jackson decides to lick Howard Dean's boots for the remainder of the article and paint Republicans, and the 'white men' who vote for them, as all but racists.

Pathetic. And racist, too.



 
Answering His Own Question

They should just rename the Boston Globe's Op-Ed page the The Department of Appeasement.

Can the use of torture ever be justified?

Sure can!

By H.D.S. Greenway, 11/7/2003

EARLY THIS year I found myself in a room full of highly intelligent and experienced citizens discussing torture.


Let me guess... The Boston / Cambridge equivalent of an Upper West Side of Manhattan gathering of liberals?

It was a conference of academics, many of them with military, human rights, law, and intelligence backgrounds, to discuss hard cases in military ethics. There may be no harder case than what should be the acceptable parameters of interrogation.


Pretty close...

It was generally agreed that the law does not permit torture under any circumstances. But then there was a partial agreement that there might be circumstances in which the absolutism of banning torture might be circumvented.


Such as?

The most common moral dilemma in any torture debate is the so-called "ticking bomb" case. What if there is a bomb ticking, and you have a suspect whom you know could tell you where the bomb is? Would it be ethical to use torture to extract the information, thus saving the dozens, perhaps hundreds of lives?


Then you beat the piss out of the son of a bitch, with Spandau Ballet's "This Much Is True" turned up to eleven for background music, until he talks. Just Save Lives, baby.

Then there was the question of just what constitutes torture, and if there are going to be exceptions to the rules, how much torture should be allowed? Until a few years ago the Israelis permitted what they called "moderate physical pressure," which meant sleep deprivation, covering heads with hoods, forcing prisoners into uncomfortable positions for long periods, keeping prisoners too hot or too cold, and violent shaking. Then in 1999 the Israeli Supreme Court reversed earlier legal findings and banned torture outright.


Pussies, terminally infected with Political Correctness.

The United States has not been averse to the kind of moderate physical pressure the Israelis were indulging in. Today's suspects in Guantanamo and in Afghanistan's Bagram base are routinely subjected to similar methods of interrogation. The US government maintains that these methods are legal and moral.


If it helps to defeat our Islamist enemies, I'm all for it. Remember, they declared war on us. Or is H.D.S. forgetting this already?

Alan Dershowitz, the Harvard law professor, suggested soon after 9/11 that there be "torture warrants." Would-be torturers would need to go before a judge to get permission to torture. Dershowitz argued that since there is going to be "off the books" torture anyway, giving out torture warrants would actually mean less torture as warrants would bring "accountability and a public record of every warrant sought and granted."


I hold a begrudging respect for Dershowitz. That said, I don't think this is a good idea in light of the fact that 'there is going to be "off the books" torture anyway', so why bother?

Some delegates to the conference thought it important to ask who and what type of person might be eligible for torture. "My sense of morality doesn't emerge" when it comes to suicide bombers and the like, said one. There was no "moral equivalency" between Al Qaeda suspects and their jailers, said another.


People who align themselves with terrorist groups ought to make the grade, right?

Others wondered what the effect on society would be if torture were permitted.


Uh, fewer incidents like 9/11?

An Israeli suggested that maybe special interrogation units ought to accompany combat troops to keep the unpleasant part of interrogations away from the eyes and ears of ordinary soldiers -- a suggestion that struck me as remarkable given the history of such units 60 years ago on the eastern front.


File that one under "Stupid - Very".

There was a discussion of the circumstances in which torture might be used short of a ticking bomb, and one criterion put forth was: "If the adversary is systematically engaged in tactics which, if conducted by a state, would be viewed as gross violations of human rights."


I get the sense this meeting didn't accomplish much.

The trouble with ticking bomb theories is that such a case has almost never happened, but the rationale is used to extract information of increasingly less importance.


Come on, now! I see this all the time on 24! You mean Jack Bauer's been lying the whole time?

One delegate said that if she were presented with a situation in which she had to save her child, she might resort to torture with the full knowledge that it was illegal and that she would pay the consequences. She would plead mitigating circumstances, not innocence.


After all, it's All About The ChildrenTM. It takes a village, you know.

Many stressed that since 9/11 we are in an entirely new situation that requires breaking old rules.


Ah, the light finally dawns over Marblehead!

But of course this situation is not entirely new. This country wrestled with the issue of how many bad things we could do against a ruthless foe in defense of democracy back in the late '40s when the Cold War was emerging. And a great deal earlier than that St. Augustine struggled with the concept of a loving God lifting the commandment against killing if there were lives to be saved.


If the Soviet Union declared explicit war on us, then yes. Instead we just fought a bunch of proxy wars (Korea, Vietnam, Angola, Afghanistan, etc.), so I don't think this is a valid comparison.

I found myself recalling the words of Harvard Law School's Philip Heymann, a former deputy US attorney general, (who served under both Carter and Clinton - Ed.) who last year wrote: "Torture is a prescription for losing a war for support of our beliefs in the hope of reducing the casualties from relatively small battles." Clearly no one at the conference approved of torture. But there was an undertone that just maybe Al Qaeda members did not quite share the same humanity as the rest of us, and I thought I heard the all-important bar against torture in a democracy coming down a peg.


Knock me over with a feather! Is H.D.S. finally accepting the fact we're at war with a totalitarian ideology bent on our destruction, and if they can also push the Joooos into the sea, all the better?

The Israeli Supreme Court's landmark decision was said by one delegate to be a "posture, not an answer." But torture is not something that should be permitted under any circumstances. Period. Let us not add the right not to be tortured to the list of rights and liberties we are giving up in the name of the war on terror.


I guess he's not. Getting your talking points from someone who worked for the two most appeasement-minded Presidents of the 20th century, whose inactions on the terrorism front helped al-Queda fill the power vacuum, is astounding. Until we stop treating the war on terrorism as a law enforcement issue (oh, no, we can't torture anybody! We'd be violating their civil rights!), we reduce and / or eliminate our ability to gather intelligence and potentially prevent more catastrophes. That's liberal 'morality' for you.

H.D.S. Greenway's column appears regularly in the Globe.

Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.


 
Captain Kerry

I'm sorry, this thread is too damn much...


Thursday, November 06, 2003
 
Rantburg!

I posted a Fiskie on Rantburg because it was more fitting there than here. Some pot stirring resulted from that.

I speak highly of Rantburg for a number of reasons. There are numerous posters and participants who are adept, knowledgeable, possess detailed military, technical, operational and other forms of knowledge that is truly frightening. They know what we're up against. Rantburg's collective ability to read between the lines is (unparalleled) equally incisive in that Arab / jihadi / (faux) Muslim moderates / etc, are exposed.

I must implore you, if you're not reading it, what's up?


Wednesday, November 05, 2003
 
Growin' Pains

Robert Kuttner has seen the numbers - HATED IT!

Growth without benefits

By Robert Kuttner, 11/5/2003

THE ECONOMY GREW at a sizzling 7.2 percent last quarter, surprising many analysts. If this performance continues, it's good news for the Bush administration -- and the opposition Democrats will stop talking about the economy.


NFL - Not Fuckin' Likely...

But before Bush and company declare "economic mission accomplished," consider two problems. First, the benefits of the growth are not trickling down. Second, a high growth rate built on Bush's policies is unsustainable.


First, how a tax cut, which is designed to give money back to the taxpayers that paid them, doesn't 'trickle down' (to who, Bobby? You?) to the intended recipients (i.e., taxpayers) is beyond me. Second, instead of giving Bush something like begrudging credit, he sets the bar impossibly high by implying Bush's policies are designed to give 'a high growth rate' so he can say 'I told you so' when the next quarter comes in, say, at 4% annualized growth. Both statements are surefire signs of trying to blow smoke up your ass.

Even with the highest growth rate since the mid-1980s, not being to name that President without a siezure the economy shed another 41,000 jobs in the third quarter and has lost 2.7 million jobs since Bush took office. Second, a boom with deficits this huge eventually pushes up interest rates and is thus self-extinguishing.


Bob might be interested in accounting for job creation over the next few quarters leading up to the November 2004 elections.

Yeah, probably not...

And, yes, this deficit is huge in nominal terms. Debt as a measure of Gross National Product, however, are a completely different matter and are in fact lower than during previous administrations. I've also commented previously on numerous occasions about the 'deficits increase interest rates' canard to the point of boredom. Keep on puffing, Bob.

Curiously, only about one-fifth of the quarter's high growth rate has resulted from the deficits. Most of it reflects low interest rates and consumer borrowing and spending.


How can consumer spending, in part, be responsible for about 40 percent (I'll split it w/ consumer borrowing for now although I suspect to be a lot higher) of the growth rate where, just two paragraphs earlier Bob cites the factoid 'First, the benefits of the growth are not trickling down.'? Note again that he doesn't define who's not getting the benefits trickled down to, so we have no idea who Bob is actually referring to, but that would require more disclosure and honest commentary than we're used to.

It's sensible to run big deficits in the short run to help kick-start a flat economy. This year's deficit will be $250 billion to $300 billion, about 3 percent of GDP. If this were just a one-year stimulus program with a lot of aid to cities, states, and the jobless, that would be about good policy.


More income redistribution and a reward to the states for overspending at the end of the previous decade like they did in the 1990's. Also, people who are unemployed receive unemployment compensation; you just argue on how long to give these benefits out. Really, can this guy really be this dumb / dishonest?

But Bush's deficit was generated not to stimulate short-run demand or to keep public services flowing during a recession but to cut taxes -- most emphatically for America's wealthiest -- and to slash social spending. The problem is that spending has already been cut to the bone. Discretionary federal spending is at its lowest level in three decades.


Nice rhetoric, isn't it. President Bush, 'compassionate conservative', has increased farm subsidies, federal education spending, erected steel tarrifs, etc., and somehow he 'slashed social spending' (you mean like Jason or Freddy? - Ed.) and 'cut (it) to the bone'. And I believe 'discretionary federal spending' means Robert Byrd gets to name fewer buildings after himself in West Virginia.

Oh, wait - No, it doesn't. I have to conclude now that Kuttner's treatment of the facts are as dubious as his New York Times counterpart, Paul Krugman.

There are also new claims on the public purse, such as the mess in Iraq. Even the Bush administration has pledged not to cut Social Security or Medicare and is proposing a new prescription drug benefit.


This 'mess in Iraq' that he so cavalierly mentions is designed to not have Boeing 767's crash into our buildings and kill even more thousands of our people. Believe it or not, there is a nonpartisan motivation here, Bob. But wait until Bush tries partial privatization of Social Security, MediScare or other actuarial time bombs New Deal programs. You think this column is bad? They'll yelp like wolves caught in traps.

So further spending cuts are unlikely.


To the degree they existed in the first place...

Meanwhile, the big multiyear tax cuts legislated in 2001 and 2002 are just beginning to kick in. The higher growth rates will increase government revenues, but not nearly enough to compensate for the losses created by the immense tax cuts on the wealthy that take effect in 2004 and 2005. Thus even bigger deficits loom.


That's one logically fucked up paragraph. First he acknowledges that the tax cuts lead to higher growth rates and increased government revenues, but only the tax cuts on the wealthy in later years are the ones that will create losses (to government revenues, I presume)? So I suppose the logic is 'tax cuts are good, but not for the wealthy' in Bizarro Bob Land.

Sooner or later, these deficits will lead to higher interest rates as public borrowing starts competing with private demand for capital. And those higher rates will choke off the consumer borrowing and spending that has been the other engine of recovery.


Hey, Bob, aren't you forgetting about the 'supply side' of things? Suppose you let all those greedy, er, wealthy people keep their tax cuts. What happens to the supply of private capital? Well, it increases! If interest rates remain constant, demand drops; if demand remains constant, interest rates (or, more accurately, the rate of return) drops. His assertion of higher interest rates is just that, an assertion that smells more like bullshit.

So we can't cut taxes because 'the wealthy' would benefit from them would deprive the government of needed revenue, but it's OK for the rest of us poor schleps, because those tax cuts would increase government revenues, and all government programs have been cut to the bone, so we can't reduce the deficit by reducing spending. What's a guy to do?

The Bush tax cuts were also advertised as "supply side" tonics for capital investment. Business investment did improve slightly in the third quarter, but this is not likely to be sustained, because of a large overhang of excess capacity that discourages business from investing new capital.


Haven't we been working off that excess capacity (read - Lucent, Nortel, other telecoms, etc.) for the past three years now? This is what happens in a downturn. I also find his assertion '(business investment) is not likely to be sustained' unpersuasive because business investment has to happen before capacity is added. Why would business investment pick up now but slow down later because of known excess capacity? It wouldn't.

In addition, the loss of manufacturing jobs is continuing, especially in the swing states of the Midwest. The administration has no strategy to deal with this loss. And the states are still experiencing a major budget crisis, which forces them to raise taxes and slash public services.


It's been happening for over forty years, Bob. Been through Pittsburgh lately? At all? Might as well ask why Clinton, or Bush Sr, or Reagan, or carter, or Ford, etc. didn't 'do anything about it', despite Fritz Holling's best efforts to the contrary.

Ordinary people may get a small cut in their federal income taxes.


Approximately half won't, since they don't pay any federal income taxes...

But this is often more than offset by school closings, losses of other public services, and hikes in local property taxes or state sales taxes.


In other words, we'll get taxed one way or the other, regardless of school closings or having to call BFI to yank old refrigerators from my front yard having to run old TV's, monitors and propane canisters to the DPW during narrow business hours convenient only to the unemployed losses of other public services.

And even though the economy is beginning to generate some new jobs, good manufacturing jobs that pay upwards of $20 an hour are migrating overseas, to be replaced by Wal-Mart jobs. Ordinary people also face the squeeze of increased costs and reduced benefits in their health insurance.


Here's an idea - work on a career change! Worked for me.

Bottom line: The economy is still a risky proposition for the Bush administration. Deficits big enough to keep growth rates at anything like 7.2 percent are deficits that will scare the money markets and choke off the recovery. More normal growth rates of 3 to 4 percent will keep interest rates low but are not sufficient to produce plenty of good jobs.


To invert a phrase, only a professional pessimist like Paul Krugman Robert Kuttner could find a dark lining in a silver cloud.

Back when inflation was a problem, economists used to talk about a "soft landing" -- a reduction in inflation but not so wrenching to produce recession. What Bush needs is a soft takeoff: growth sufficiently robust to produce high-wage jobs but not frightening to the bond market.


And now something completely different - a helpful suggestion on what ought to be done by Robert Kuttner!

In principle, this kind of growth is possible. But it won't result from the unbalanced fiscal policy of the Bush administration -- big, permanent deficits based on tax cuts for the rich coupled with starvation of public services.

In the end, voters base their economic conclusions on their personal situation, not on the statistics. To paraphrase the American Express ad, the economy that matters is yours. The third-quarter statistics may look good, but the economic condition of large number of Americans still feels precarious.


Heh heh heh - Gotcha!

Robert Kuttner's is co-editor of The American Prospect. His column appears regularly in the Globe.

© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.