25 July 2006

When We Say "Ownership Society", We Mean....

According to "Reconciliation Tax Cuts Would Average $43,000 for Households with Income Over $1 Million, Revised 5/11/06", by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities:

The owners:

About 87 percent of the benefits of the reconciliation conference agreement would flow to the 14 percent of households with incomes above $100,000, and 55 percent of the benefits would go to the 3 percent with incomes above $200,000. Households earning more than $1 million a year, which represent only 0.2 percent of all households, would receive 22 percent of the benefits of these tax cuts.

The owned:

In contrast, the three-quarters of households with incomes below $75,000 would receive just 5 percent of the benefits. The 60 percent of households with incomes below $50,000 would receive less than 2 percent of all benefits. In total, 68 percent of all households would receive no benefits whatsoever from the tax-cut package.


Fudging the Numbers: SS, Tax Cuts and Actuarial Science

From "Will the Administration Claim the Cost of Fixing Social Security Rose $700 Billion Because Congress Did Not Act Last Year?", a 1 May 2006 article from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

President Bush and other Administration officials often claim that delaying action on Social Security by "...just one year adds $600 billion [or $700 billion] to the cost of fixing Social Security." Such claims may be repeated on May 1 when the Social Security Trustees release their annual report on the program's finances. Such claims, however, are not accurate.

And, for the curious, the title question is answered in a later article (revised 15 June 2006) titled "What the New Trustees' Report Shows About Social Security", the answer, apparently, being yes.

21 July 2006


1946 short film by Encyclopedia Brittanica.

Scary, innit?

20 March 2006

Compassionate Conservatism [sic]

According to a Washington Post article:

Analyst Jeffrey M. Jones wrote in the most recent issue of the Hoover Institution's in-house magazine that food stamps contribute to overeating, and he argued for "retaining a stigma [about food stamps] historically associated with welfare."
Eat the rich.

15 March 2006

Welcoming the Stranger

From an article by Jeff Carr, in Sojourners weekly "email magazine":

When was the last time you heard a Catholic cardinal calling his flock to civil disobedience? That's what Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony did in his Lenten message, urging his people to make room "for the stranger in our midst, praying for the courage and strength to offer our spiritual and pastoral ministry to all who come to us." The strangers to whom he was referring are the estimated 11.5 to 12 million undocumented immigrants living on the margins of our society.


If enacted into law, [H.R.4437] would criminalize social service workers and others who provide compassionate or humanitarian aid to undocumented people, including churches and faith-based organizations. The crime would be a felony, potentially punishable by stiff fines and up to five years in prison. According to the Los Angeles Times, Mahony said that if Congress passes the bill, he will instruct the priests in his 288 parishes to defy the law in open civil disobedience.


I hope Mahony would have room to welcome an evangelical Christian minister such as me to join him and his fellow priests in civil disobedience. It's time for people of faith to stand up on behalf of our immigrant brothers and sisters whom I am confident Jesus would have included when he said I was a stranger and you welcomed me.

JC was a revolutionary, I figure, and we could use that now. I'm thinking of starting a group, tentatively named Christian Atheists (Radical/Extremist). That gives CARE as an acronym. A good acronym is essential, I think.

CARE would be a group for those who want to buy in to Jesus' social, economic and ethical philosophy, but not the Old Testamental, Jehovan, moralistic, supernatural, creation-myth aspects of traditional Christianity (at least not in a literal, non-metaphorical sense).

So if us left-wing atheists could make common cause with the social gospel wing of conventional Christianity, along with the Buddhists, Muslims, and any other people of goodwill in the world, mayhap we could bring about that heaven on earth I've heard tell of. Anything beats unfettered corporate capitalism.

01 March 2006

Henry David Thoreau sez:

The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.

27 February 2006

Athletic Autie

Site is political, post isn't, links to video and news article, pretty cool.

21 February 2006

Documents reclassified in secret U.S. review - International Herald Tribune

Even if I had the slightest shred of trust in the present administration, this would still bother me. As it is, it's just one more thing that scares the hell out of me.
In a seven-year-old secret program at the National Archives, intelligence agencies have removed from public access thousands of historical documents that had been available for years, including some already published by the State Department and others photocopied years ago by private historians.
But because the reclassification program is itself shrouded in secrecy - governed by a still-classified memorandum that prohibits the National Archives even from saying which agencies are involved - it continued virtually without outside notice until December. That was when an intelligence historian, Matthew Aid, noticed that dozens of documents he had copied years ago had been withdrawn from the archives' open shelves.
The stuff they pulled should never have been removed, he said. Some of it is mundane, and some of it is outright ridiculous.

Read more at www.iht.com...

14 February 2006

Bush Spent Over $1.6 Billion on Advertising and Public Relations Contracts

That's spread over two and a half years. $640 million a year. $440 million/year of that by the DoD. And that understates the tax-payers' tab for administrational flackery:

GAO's accounting of the Bush Administration's public relations and advertising contracts is limited. GAO surveyed only seven of the 15 cabinet-level departments, relied on self-reported information from the agencies, and did not include subcontracts, task orders on existing contracts, or public relations work done by government employees.

More info at <http://www.democrats.reform.house.gov/> . (Whew. And numerical IP addresses are considered user-unfriendly?)

Read more at www.truthout.org/docs_2...

07 February 2006

Jeff Chester | The End of the Internet? (Truthout.org)

The big network corp's want to give you as little as possible for the highest possible price. So what else is new in this greatest of all possible corporate-capitalist worlds?

We the people are, after all, merely an evolutionary dead-end, serving as feedstock for the great and powerful economic structures that own the world and it's teeming masses.

Best learn to live in the cracks and crevices, 'cause that may be all us commoners have left to us.

But I'm not bitter....

Read more at www.truthout.org/...

06 February 2006

Defense of Eavesdropping Is Met With Skepticism in Senate - New York Times

Mr. Feingold was clearly angry when his turn came to question Mr. Gonzales. You wanted this committee and the American people to think that this kind of program wasn't going on, he said. But it was.

Not so, Mr. Gonzales insisted. Last year, he said, Mr. Feingold asked him whether he thought the president could authorize eavesdropping in violation of the law, and that the question was therefore hypothetical.

I was telling the truth then, the attorney general said. I'm telling the truth now.

What is the meaning of "is", again?

Read more at www.nytimes.com/2006/02...

02 February 2006

Tell me again--why is Boehner a good choice?

Compare this, from one NYT article on Boehner's election (emphasis added):
Mr. Boehner received 122 votes to 109 for Mr. Blunt, the House Republican whip, in a runoff made necessary by an inconclusive first ballot. The stunning upset signaled that many House Republicans are uneasy about the lobbying scandals that threaten to tar some in their party, and that they wanted far more change than Mr. Blunt seemed to promise.
to this from another NYT article on Boehner (ditto the emphasis):
Boehner rose to fame as a member of the "Gang of Seven," the group of upstart Republicans who assailed the excesses of the majority Democrats amid reports of bounced checks at the House bank.

Once in power, similar GOP foibles were on display. Boehner was forced to apologize in the mid-1990s for distributing checks from tobacco companies to his colleagues on the House floor.

He has been scrutinized recently for accepting donations, parties and trips from Sallie Mae, the nation's largest provider of student loans, as it lobbied the House Education and the Workforce Committee, which Boehner chairs.
Yup, sounds like the Republicans have really got a handle on this reform thing. "Suitcased", as my boot camp company commander used to say.

The March of the Straw Soldiers - New York Times Op-Ed

Let me put it to you in Texan, Mr. Bush drawled at the Grand Ole Opry House yesterday.

...says the New English Preppy-in-Chief, speaking in reference to his illicit illegal criminal surveillance activities.

Mr. Bush said the warrantless spying was vetted by lawyers in the Justice Department, which is cold comfort. They also endorsed the abuse of prisoners and the indefinite detention of "unlawful enemy combatants" without charges or trials.

The president also said the spying is reviewed by N.S.A. lawyers. That's nice, but the law was written specifically to bring that agency, and the president, under control. And there already is a branch of government assigned to decide what's legal. It's called the judiciary. The law itself is clear: spying on Americans without a warrant is illegal.

Read more at www.nytimes.com/2006/02...

24 January 2006

19 January 2006

Baen Free Library

Occasionally a reason for optimism turns up.

Read more at www.baen.com/library/

Dissertation Could Be Security Threat (washingtonpost.com)

Telecom infrastructural chokepoints, c '03. Security through obscurity?

Read more at www.washingtonpost.com/...

06 January 2006

t r u t h o u t - Cost of Iraq War Could Top $2 Trillion

Nobel Laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz and Harvard budget expert Linda Bilmes plan to present this week a paper estimating the cost of the Iraq War at between $1-2 trillion. This is far higher than earlier estimates of $100-200 billion.
The study expands on traditional budgetary estimates by including costs such as lifetime disability and health care for the over16,000 injured, one fifth of whom have serious brain or spinal injuries. It then goes on to analyze the costs to the economy, including the economic value of lives lost and the impact of factors such as higher oil prices that can be partly attributed to the conflict in Iraq. The paper also calculates the impact on the economy if a proportion of the money spent on the Iraq war were spent in other ways, including on investments in the United States.
Read more at www.truthout.org/docs_2...