Tuesday, October 26, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: The October Surprise: Ashlee Simpson Can't Sing!

It's Time for John Marshall to Step Down Chief Justice William "Shazam" Rehnquist, 80, who has served on the nation's highest court since 1972, is ill with thyroid cancer, prompting a series of speculations about what will happen in the event he retires, and crystalizing a key theme of the campaign: the next president will likely get to shape the Supreme Court. We here at the MLWL wish Justice Rehnquist a speedy recovery (happily, thyroid cancer is relatively easy to treat and has high survival rates), but we also think this is an opportune time to register our objection to the fact that the only oversight of the Supreme Court is the icy scythe of death. I mean, the priesthood has an earlier mandatory retirement age, for crying out loud!

Gay-Loving Bush Loves Gays! Well, not really, but in a weird moment, "President" Bush said over the weekend that he favors civil unions for gay couples and opposes his party's platform, which is explicitly against them. I don't know if this is calculated to appeal to moderate undecided voters, but I hope it inspires gay-hating folks in his base to stay home on Election Day.

John Peel, R.I.P. John Peel, one of the great popularizers of underground music in the Western world, has died of a heart attack. He was 65. A BBC Radio 1 DJ since it was founded, Peel's show was often the only place on the airwaves in Britain where acts like the Sex Pistols and his beloved Fall could get played. A devoted music fan to the last, Peel still listened to hundreds of demos sent in every week by bands hoping to get a slot on the celebrated "Peel Sessions." One of Britain's original pirate DJs, Peel got his started illegally broadcasting rock and roll from a boat in the English Channel. If you get a chance, play "Teenage Kicks" by the Undertones, his favorite song of all time, in his memory today.

Company in the Wilderness The Jon Stewart backlash is in full swing, as Salon reports today. However, here's an interesting take on Stewart's "Crossfire" appearance by Robert Parry that casts the attacks on Stewart in the light of "perception management" - an old Reagan era technique. Essentially, Parry argues that the press is ganging up on Stewart because they have a vested interest in managing a perception of the Bush administration and their coverage of it that's basically false. As with everything Robert Parry writes, there's a lot of deep, deep background material, but it's a worthwhile read.

Don't Worry About the Retirement Age: Neither Medicare Nor Social Security Will Be There When You Do Retire Along with the mooted "January surprise" exposed by the NY Times - i.e. the Bush plan to privatize Social Security following his election - there's a sinister new Bush plan afoot, this time exposed by Fortune Magazine: the Bush people want to raise the mandatory retirement age from 65 to 72. The Bush administration has been able to manipulate the bond markets to hold back the flood until after the election, but by the spring of 2005 we're going to be in our third recession since 2001. The Bush people, if elected, will try to use that recession to further cut taxes and eliminate programs like Social Security and Medicare, which they'll be able to do until mid-term elections likely return the Democrats to majorities in the House and Senate. This is the scenario: Preserving the social gains made by the New Deal or going back to the age of Herbert Hoover.

-Consider Arms