Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Some Good News for a Change

Thumbs Up for the 3rd Circuit
About 10 years ago there was a law passed commonly referred to as the "Solomon Amendment" which forced schools to allow military recruiters on campus to, well, recruit. Many schools (mostly law schools) had banned the recruiters from campus because they refuse to consider all applicants for their jobs (if you are openly gay don't bother applying.) My law school had worked a deal where the recruiters could go to a different part of campus and interview, not using law school facilities. A couple years ago the government threatened to cut all federal funding (millions of dollars in student loans) if the military recruiters were not allowed on the law school. Yesterday's ruling outlawed this practice. Which is good news, although law students (with help from the administration) can no longer do things like drape rainbow flags outside the interview room or fill up the interview slots and then ask if it is cool that you are gay after sitting through an interview.

-Lil' Antonin

Monday, November 29, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: I'm Thankful That Bush Can Only Run Twice.

Hot Gay News The U.S. Supreme Court declined to rule on the Massachusetts State Supreme Court decision allowing gay marriage, turning it down without comment. This upholds the decision, leading many in favor of gay marriage to cheer: Not so fast, friends. This could be a signal that the Supremes are going to leave the whole question of gay marriage up to the states, which means that while gay marriage is legal in Massachusetts, other states could ban it without fear of judicial review, as 11 states did in November.

You're Retired! In more Supreme Court news, 60 percent of Americans favor a mandatory retirement age for justices on the nation's highest court. This is something I've long favored: I think it's bizarre that we have a robed priesthood of nine people who are the only ones capable of a definitive interpretation of the sacred scriptures (er, I mean, Constitution) and that they keep their jobs until they die. What kind of primitive bullshit is that? Less inspiring for my cause, though, is that an almost equal number of Americans in the survey could not correctly identify what job William Rehnquist does (he's a spokesman for Avis).

Never Have Cattle Been So Eager For the Ring Through Their Noses Evangelical Christian voters who have lately been spraining their arms while patting themselves on the back for getting Dubya an actual election victory apparently haven't gotten the memo: The base's role is to win elections, then get ignored for four years (Black Democrats can tell you all about it). These hoppin' mad evangelicals think that "it's payback time": they want, among other things, a Supreme Court ban on gay marriage and abortion (well, you already lost the first one, folks). Actually, Rove's post-election analysis shows that the biggest growth in GOP voters was among married white women with children whose main concern was "security," and that's who's going to get pandered to (aside from the top 1 percent of the income-earners, of course). Note to evangelicals: Will you ever get tired of being hoodwinked?

The Argentina Parallels Just Keep Coming The Bush administration has a foolproof plan for financing its risky privatization of Social Security: first, the costs of the operation will be taken "off-book," meaning they won't show up in the annual budgets approved by Congress. This doesn't actually, you know, do anything, but it makes people feel better. Next, they plan to pay for the huge costs of privatization by BORROWING the money, which will do two things: It will increase the national debt-to-GDP share by an astonishing 23.6 percent, and it will increase the national debt, in real terms, by about $4.7 trillion. In the private sector, this would mean two things: ruin and jail (you can't take expenses "off-book" unless you're the federal government). In the public, it means a greater chance that foreign investors, panicky about that astonishing debt-to-GDP, will stop buying t-bills, which happen to keep the budget deficits afloat. The possible result of that would be that the U.S. would be forced to default on its loans, with a corresponding devaluation of bonds and hyperinflation. But, you know, anything for the free market.

So THIS is What They Meant By "Moral Values" In Redder-than-Red Alabama, the God-fearing voters went to the polls on Nov. 2 and did two things: they voted to elect George W. Bush, and they voted in favor of racial segregation. There was a constitutional amendment on the ballot there that would have eliminated language from 1901 still in the state constitution that mandates separate schooling for "white and colored children" and allowing poll taxes. This amendment was defeated by voters, although by such a slim margin that there's currently a recount. Opponents of the amendment argued, bizarrely, that repealing racist language in the constitution would allow "federal judges" to institute income tax hikes. The heat's off ya, Ohio: This is officially the dumbest result of an election on Nov. 2.

-Consider Arms

Friday, November 26, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Default Rag.

Armageddon, Here We Come At a private meeting of investors this week, Morgan Stanley chief economist Stephen Roach sketched out a scenario he says gives America a 90 percent chance of facing "economic Armageddon": America's record trade deficit means that the dollar will keep falling, especially against Asian currencies. In order to keep foreign investors buying T-bills and to prevent a rise in inflation, Alan Greenspan is going to have raise interest rates farther and faster than he wants. The result: Americans in debt will get crotch-punched by the sudden interest hikes. Consumer spending will drop off sharply, and the economy will plummet. The alternate is that Greenspan raises inflation and keeps interest rates down, allowing consumer debt to shrink in real terms (household debt in the US is now worth the equivalent of 85 percent of the total US economy). The only problem with that is that it totally devalues long-term t-bills, which could mean a dropoff in foreign investment in those, which would in turn mean that the US government could no longer finance its massive budget deficits. Roach says there's only a 10 percent chance we'll avoid both outcomes. Like those odds?

The Government Grabs the Bozack. Literally Here's a pleasant surprise for holiday air travelers: As part of new search procedures, airport security personnel are now going to be, in the words of R. Kelly, "feelin' on yo booty." "In late September, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) began allowing security checkpoint screeners to manually pat down women's breasts and the genital and derriere regions of both sexes during searches." Once again, the Republican administration gets government off our backs...and swinging from our balls.

Dude! We Were Totally Going to Call You! According to newly-released CIA documents, the U.S. government knew for weeks in advance about the planned coup in 2002 against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (a coup, of course that lasted almost a full weekend). Before saying, "What? Is it our job to tell everyone when there's a sinister conspiracy afoot in their country?", think about how angry you'd be if you found out that Hugo Chavez knew for weeks about September 11 but didn't inform the US government.

Democracy Marches On A lot of people complain that not enough Americans vote...well, in the very red state of Wyoming (residence of Destro Cheney), they've somehow managed to solve all that. According to the Wyoming Secretary of State, out of 232,396 registered voters, there was a turnout of 245,789 - a whopping 106 percent.

The Bloodless Purge Continues In the latest sign that "everything's a-ok" at the CIA, two more senior officials have announced early retirements, and are widely believed to be casualties in Porter Goss' war to make the agency more Bush-friendly. The chiefs of the Europe and the Far East sections are stepping down, with Goss vowing in an internal memo that more heads are going to roll.

-Consider Arms

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: Show Me Your Taxes.

We Built This City on Rock and Roll...and Taxpayer-Funded Bonds Despite record budget deficits, our heroic fiscal conservatives in Congress managed to find plenty of money to fund such essential projects as: $350,000 for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; $2.3 million for an "animal waste management lab" in Kentucky; $50,000 to control wild hogs in Missouri; $1 million for a "Wild American Shrimp Initiative"; $4 million for a fertilizer plant in Alabama; $450,000 for researching the use of salmon as baby food in Alaska; etc. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), por ejemplo, had enough pork to write 20 press releases this weekend. Note also that the vast majority of this wasteful spending goes to Red States, the welfare queens of the USA.

Ukrainians Gone Wild Tens of thousands of Ukrainians gathered to demonstrate in Kiev as pro-Western opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko declared himself president following an election that most observers say was rigged by the pro-Russian candidate's party. Hmm...so, in that country, when someone rigs an election, the people protest? Haha! How primitive and backward! Don't they know that they're supposed to embrace fraud for the sake of national unity?

Charter Schools: Nature's Cruelest Mistake According to the US Department of Education (that's Rod Paige's Dept. of Education, remember), charter schools cannot match the performance of public schools, producing students who fail to meet state education standards 30 percent more often than their public counterparts. So let's review: We take public money and give it to any jackass who wants to open a school, and we let them manage it as if it were their money. Then, they fail. Response from the Bush administration? Charter schools need more money. Of course they do.

Red State Schadenfreude: Ohio Edition Hardy-har-har. Ohio, the state that gave the White House to Bush, now has more people out of work than any other state in the country. In October, the number of unemployed people jumped from 345,000 to 373,000, and job loss came in sectors that are gaining employees in every other part of the country, like healthcare. Okay. It's true, there are nearly 400,000 adults out of work in Ohio. That's a negative. But on the positive side: Ohio voters overwhelmingly approved the most punitive anti-gay discrimination measure in the country, which actually forbids gay people to visit each other in the hospital! That's SO much better than having a job, don't you think?

Happy Thanksgiving Through the Looking Glass Ah, the Republican Party. It stands, as we all know, for fiscal responsibility (runs up record budget deficits), low taxes (plans to raise taxes on employers who provide health insurance to workers and on people who deduct state and local taxes from their federal returns), a "stand-alone" foreign policy (embroils us in costly occupations of far-flung countries with no end in sight), libertarian values (passes legislation preventing gays from entering into civil unions or recieving partnership benefits from their employers), and, of course, a strong law and order policy (cuts the federal program that funds new police officers; passes laws to allow people who have been indicted to retain Congressional leadership positions). Now, as this article shows, the Republicans are once again flying their flag, getting the intrusive, oppressive federal goverment off our backs by writing provisions that allow Congressional committee chairmen to review the tax returns of any American they want. Let the eagle soar...

-Consider Arms, who will not be posting tomorrow, as it is a day to give thanks for our glorious leader and all that he has done for our proud nation

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: Secretary of Defense Ron Artest.

Congress in "Good Decision" Shocker Congress has eliminated funding for two nuclear weapons research programs, including the one designed to produce so-called "bunker busters" that President Bush says are essential to the nation's security. This is a surprising blow to Bush's overall nuclear strategy, and a spokesman for the think tank that came up with that strategy said bitterly, ""We just don't seem to be able to turn the corner even on researching what's doable with new kinds of weapons." I know! Damn the public's pig-headed aversion to the total extinction of life on the planet!

The Liberal Media Strikes Again Last week, we brought you the exciting news that a UC Berkeley study into e-voting irregularities in Florida shaved between 130,000 and 260,000 votes off Bush's total in that state - not enough to reverse the course of the election, but a significant warning that e-voting is a dangerous threat to democracy. I say "we" brought it to you because, along with Keith Olbermann and the Oakland Tribune, the MLWL is seemingly one of the only media sources in the world interested in talking about this major story. This Media Matters analysis tells the sorry tale: Even after an MIT professor duplicated the results of the UC Berkeley study at the behest of the Associated Press, the mainstream press has yet to touch the story with a ten foot pole. Olbermann is literally the only TV outlet to talk about the story at all.

Don't Cry for Me, Argentina Yesterday, I mentioned Argentina in my daily round-up of Bush administration tragedies. While I was thinking of that country's slide, under Peron, from being one of the 10 wealthiest countries in the world to being one of the poorest in the hemisphere, Paul Krugman - Princeton econcomist and NY Times columnist - has another reason for the comparison. Krugman, currently on sabbatical from the newspaper while he writes an economics textbook, says that our economy today looks very much like Argentina's in the late 1990s. Argentina, you'll recall, kept itself afloat for years by expanding its public debt - and the privatization of its Social Security system was the key element in the expansion of that debt. You'll recall, also, that in 2001, Argentina was forced to default on that debt, which led to massive inflation, rioting in the streets, and three presidents in a single year. "So if you ask the question do we look like Argentina, the answer is a whole lot more than anyone is quite willing to admit at this point. We've become a banana republic," Krugman says. But before we jump all over President Bush, it's important to remember some key successes: for example, gay people can't visit each other in the hospital.

Monkeys! Monkeys! Monkeys! The battle between evolution and creation isn't as clear-cut as many of us would like to believe: It's not simply a matter of inbred Biblical literalism vs. pure science. For starters, evolution is not the most well-supported scientific theory, in terms of evidence; there are huge gaps in the theory that no one can explain. Additionally, creationists' opposition to evolution has a lot more to do with an entire view of society predicated on the notion of Original Sin than on their revulsion at descending from monkeys. That said, I present you with a story from a genre that I'm calling "Red State Horror Tales": Most Americans believe in creation, and an astonishing 37 percent think it should be taught INSTEAD of evolution, while 65 percent of Americans think it should be taught in addition to evolution. Only 13 percent of Americans believe that God played no role in evolution or creation at all. I think there's something to that "It's the culture, stupid" analysis...

We Love You, Perfect Leader!

-Consider Arms

Monday, November 22, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: Hunting Is Now Apparently More Dangerous for Hunters than Animals.

Screw You, Taxpayer The liberal media is at it again. The headline of this story ("Bush Plans Tax Code Overhaul; Changes Would Favor Investment, Growth") makes the president's new tax plan seem like a relatively benign affair, but when you read the story you realize that Bush is actually proposing at least two very radical things. First, Bush plans to shift the tax burden even further away from people who earn money on investments and interest (i.e. the very rich). No surprise there. But: in order to fund these cuts, the Bush administration is proposing (1)eliminating the ability to deduct state and local taxes on your federal income tax and (2)eliminating the tax credit for businesses that provide healthcare for their employees. In effect, the first provision punishes "blue states," which have higher state and local tax rates (and already pay more than "red states" in federal taxes), while the second provision encourages businesses to dump insurance programs, thus allowing health insurance companies to sign up more people under vastly expensive, individual health plans. The net effect, for many people, would be higher taxes and a loss of their healthcare. Some economists have said the two proposals are red herrings, designed to force moderates in Congress to concede the administration's real agenda (tax cuts for the wealthy), but you have to wonder.

Screw You, College Student In the omnibus spending bill approved over the weekend, Congress has given the Department of Education the go-ahead to make radical changes in the way that federal financial aid for college students is calculated. The net result could be that as many as 84,000 families who are currently eligible for federal financial aid will lose that eligibility. Additionally, the budget that was approved by Congress keeps the maximum Pell grant pegged at just over $4,000 for the third year in the row, despite Bush's constant claims during the election campaign that he had raised Pell grants. At what point do Americans realize that "class war" is not something that nasty liberals want to wage, but rather is currently the policy of the governing majority?

The Bug Man Goeth? Tom DeLay, the House majority leader who once said that he couldn't enlist in the army during Vietnam because all the slots were filled by Blacks and Mexicans, gets to keep his job, thanks to a hasty Republican move to change a congressional rule that doesn't allow people who have been indicted to keep their seats. The Republicans originally did this 10 years ago to embarass a Chicago politician, but are now reversing their votes to keep DeLay, whose indictment in Texas is pending, in his job, at least until he goes to the slammer. Somehow, as the author of this Houston Chronicle column points out, I don't think this is what Republican voters had in mind when they made "moral values" their top issue of 2004.

Ever Get the Feeling You've Been Cheated? So far, all of Bush's Cabinet appointees have been dogged loyalists rather than bomb-tossing Christian ideologues. Now, he announces that he's going to push legislation next year to allow illegal aliens to work legally in the United States. This, you'll recall, was a plan he hatched earlier this year, but quickly shelved it when it became apparent that tons of Republicans hated the idea. Additionally, majorities of Latinos in the US oppose it, as it's basically a way to legalize the exploitation of immigrant labor. But so far, Bush has been fucking over the conservatives left and right; when are they going to wake up and realize it?

Have You Forgotten? Because It Kind of Seems Like You Have When Sen. John McCain came to Monster Limo Weblog Land in October to stump for our Republican congressman, the key selling point was that our congressman and McCain would be part of a Republican majority that would pass the recommendations on intelligence reform made by the 9-11 commission, and then President Bush would sign them into law, making us safe from terrorism forever. Well, during the lame duck session that ended this weekend, the Republicans in Congress got together, rubbed their hands together, and...killed the intelligence reform bill. Although Bush says he wants it passed before Dec. 31, a Republican leader says the chances of the reforms getting passed at all are "slim and none, and slim just left town."

-Consider Arms

Friday, November 19, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: Before the Law Stands a Doorkeeper.

U.S. Rep. Franz J. Kafka (R-Pit of Despair) I'm glad to live in a country where there are laws that are so important I'm not even allowed to know what they are: former Idaho Republican Representative Helen Chenoweth tried to get on a plane recently, only to be told that she had to submit to "advanced screeing procedures." Chenoweth asked to see the legal authorization for such procedures, and was told no; she got back in her car and drove to her destination. But why wasn't Chenoweth simply shown the language authorizing the procedure? "Because we don't have to," says TSA Security Director Julian Gonzales. "That is called 'sensitive security information.' She's not allowed to see it, nor is anyone else."

My Vote Cancels Out Yours...But 130,000 "Ghost Votes" Cancel the Fuck Out of Mine Whoah, big surprise! It looks like electronic voting machines in heavily Democratic counties in Florida improperly awarded George W. Bush about 130,000 votes in this election. In Broward County alone, which went big time for Gore in 2000 and where exit polls showed John Kerry with a big lead, Bush got 72,000 votes he shouldn't have. Now, Bush won Florida by 310,000 votes, so this obviously won't change the outcome of the election. But here's the interesting thing: If the 130,000 votes were "ghost votes," which means votes that were never cast by actual people but were added to Bush's total, Bush's margin in Florida drops to 180,000. If they were Kerry votes that were switched, though, Bush's margin drops to 51,000. Either way, it gives me a renewed sense of confidence about the infallibility of electronic voting.

The Great American Idiot Ah, undecided voters. Just how stupid are they? Pretty stupid, according to this excellent memoir of the campaign trail by Christopher Hayes. While working in Wisconsin, Hayes encountered undecided voters who favored Bush because their chief concern was the environment; a voter who voted for Bush because he thought Cheney, an oilman, would help end the country's dependence on foreign oil; a voter who switched, inexplicably from Dean to Bush; and a woman who had actually canvassed for John Kerry but then switched to Bush because she FAVORED stem cell research. But it's not just that they're dumb: They don't even understand what politics is about. "The majority of undecided voters I spoke to couldn't name a single issue that was important to them," Hayes writes. "Often, once I would engage undecided voters, they would list concerns, such as the rising cost of health care; but when I would tell them that Kerry had a plan to lower health-care premiums, they would respond in disbelief--not in disbelief that he had a plan, but that the cost of health care was a political issue." Eye-opening.

A Bizarre, Growing Respect for Linda Ronstadt Linda Ronstadt's awesome! First she gets banned from a Vegas casino for giving props to Michael Moore, and now she's railing about how Bush is like Hitler! "It's like Germany, before Hitler took over. The economy was bad and people felt kicked around. They looked for a scapegoat. Now we've got a new bunch of Hitlers," she says. Now, I don't actually agree, but when Linda Ronstadt is more politically outraged than most young, "edgy" artists, how punk rock is that?

Your Next Secretary of State: A Liar, or Simply Incompetent? Media Matters does a good job outlining some of Condoleeza Rice's numerous falsehoods, things that in a perfect world would disqualify her from being the chief diplomat of the United States, but which, perversely, seem to actually work in her favor these days.

-Consider Arms

Thursday, November 18, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: Raise the Roof! The Debt Roof, That Is.

Waiting for the Man-istan The United Nations warns that Afghanistan is on the verge of becoming a "narco-state," since the only economically productive activity in the country is growing poppies for heroin production. The UN recommends that NATO, which is currently occupying Hamid-istan (the tiny part of the country ruled by U.S. puppet Hamid Karzai), start fighting the drug producers as well as the terrorists. "We're supposed to be fighting the terrorists?" NATO responded, quizzically.

Cage Match Settles Nothing Surprise, surprise: The Arab press seems to be the only ones reporting news of a Marine intelligence report saying that, despite the huge operation in Fallujah, the insurgency will continue to grow not only in that city but throughout the country. Events are bearing them out: Militants have launched numerous attacks in Mosul and Kirkuk this week, while continuing to set off bombs in Baghdad and to attack members of the Iraqi civilian government.

The Eighties Revival Has Run Amuck Vladimir Putin, into whose soul George Bush has famously peered, has weirdly announced that Russia is currently building a new nuclear missile system "unlike any weaponry held by other countries." Putin, who veers from day-to-day between claiming to be a staunch ally of George Bush and a sinister menace, is definitely racking up the "sinister menace" miles with this one. Experts say it's a response to Bush's own long-held plans to create a missile defense system over the United States, which if true, would signal the return of a low-level arms race. Red peril, anyone?

Elliott Abrams, Globe-trotting Asshole Convicted felon Elliott Abrams, currently botching the Middle East section of the National Security Council, is looking like he will soon be getting a new job: Ambassador to Israel. Abrams, who plead guilty to a number of charges stemming from his involvement in illegally funding the Contra terrorists, was a key Reagan administration figure in the formulation of disastrous foreign policy for that regime. The news comes along with what must seem like old memories for Abrams: the Bush administration is bypassing the rabidly pro-Israel evangelical Christians in Congress and giving $20 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority, although this time it's legal for some reason. Hey, I guess I can see why they want Elliott Abrams: bypassing Congress to give millions of dollars to terrorists is something he knows a lot about.

Cops to Ashcroft: Drop Dead In a speech to the nation's largest association of law enforcement executives, outgoing Attorney General and tit-fearer John Ashcroft said that in his four years as AG, he has succeeded in making the country much safer from crime and terrorism. He probably should have remembered not to lie to an audience full of people able to refute him. Now, the 20,000-strong International Association of Chiefs of Police is firing back (so to speak), saying that the Bush administration has actually reduced the ability of police departments to fight crime and terrorism, and that the country is more vulnerable on the local level than it was before September 11. Particular ire from the chiefs is aimed at the Bush administration's elimination of the $10 billion federal program started by Bill Clinton that allows departments to hire new cops. Yes, this is a Republican administration that wants to eliminate the CIA and reduce the number of cops on the streets. What world is this?

-Consider Arms

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: I Love You, Perfect Leader!

Those Fiscal Conservatives Tigthen Their Belts Again Sorry for the link to the Douchebag Report, but the story apparently isn't available elsewhere (except in the Wall St. Journal in print). Anyway, the congressional Republicans are seeking to increase the federal debt ceiling by a whopping $800 billion through the end of the fiscal year. This is in order to allow the Treasury Department the borrowing authority it needs to finance record budget deficits. If Congress approves the measure (and, hell, why wouldn't they?), Bush will have a debt ceiling 37 percent higher than the one he inherited from Bill Clinton. Okay, which one's the party of fiscal responsibility, again?

Shoot the Hostages Fallout from the videotaped shooting of a wounded, unarmed man in a Fallujah mosque continues, although the story isn't as cut-and-dried as it seems. Apparently, the Marine who pulled the trigger had earlier been wounded by a booby trapped wounded man's body, which might indicate that he acted in self defense. Another interesting factor: the majority Shiites don't seem to care all that much. It seems weird to say so, but the mutual enmity between the Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq is about all the U.S. occupation has in its favor right now.

Iran Invasion Deathwatch, Day 165 Here's a familiar scenario for you: There's a country in the Middle East whose government is disliked by our government. It's name begins with the letters "Ira," and there is an exiled opposition group based in the West that claims this country has illegally acquired the technology to make nuclear weapons. What country, and what time period, am I referring to? If you guessed "Iraq, 2002," you're right - but if you guessed "Iran, present-day," you're also right! You think that at the very least they'd come up with new lies: Say that Iran is responsible for Columbine or something.

All Purge and No Binge Porter Goss, the inept slaphead chosen to be CIA director by Bush, originally promised to be non-partisan and independent. Well, shit, that didn't last long! In a secret memo to the CIA last week, Porter lays down the law: The CIA's job is "to support the administration and its policies," he wrote. "As agency employees we do not identify with, support or champion opposition to the administration or its policies." Keep in mind that he's not talking about opposition to the government, which the CIA obviously doesn't support: he's saying, in effect, that the CIA now has to be a praetorian guard for the Bush administration and its policies, even if those policies are wrong.

Pension Tension. Ha! I Should Write Headlines for the NY Post Here's a story that's sure to be overlooked, but could play a significant part in the Bush plan to remake America. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. is a federal agency that oversees failed pension plans from U.S. corporations (wait! The free market can fail??); currently, it ensures the benefits of about 44 million people. The agency is in about $23 billion worth of debt, an all-time record for the agency, which had never been in deficit until 2002. The deficit is fueled by the various tanking airlines (wait! Private airlines are inefficient and unprofitable??). Republicans on Capitol Hill are talking about a taxpayer bailout: Basically, public funds would be diverted to the agency to clean up the mistakes of private industry. Now, here's the trick: The Republicans are using the possibility of a bailout as a way to scare people into agreeing to massive pension reforms - reforms that would not only gut the PBGC, but would radically alter the way that corporations provide pension plans. Keep in mind that this whole crisis is a result of Republican policies: Pensions of U.S. companies ensured by the PBGC are currently under-funded by about $450 billion, an increase of more than $200 billion from the Clinton years - this is because Republicans keep allowing corporations to write off pension contributions as tax breaks. I realize this is all very complicated, but here's what it means in a nutshell: the Republicans are deliberately fucking with a New Deal reform to weaken that reform's successes in an effort to allow private companies to slash pension benefits for their workers. Meanwhile, liberals are busy talking about secession and how much it sucks that the words "under God" are in the Pledge of Allegiance.

-Consider Arms

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: Learning to Adjust to PVA (Post-Veneman America).

Affirmative Action, Republican-Style So Colin "My Lai/Iran Contra/Iraq Fuckup" Powell is out, and Condoleeza "Iraq Fuckup" Rice is in. "Dr." Rice, lest we forget, is a foreign policy specialist in the crucial area of U.S.-Soviet relations: She got her doctorate for a book she wrote about relations between the Soviet Red Army and the government of Czechoslovakia, the only book she has ever written (keen-eyed observers will note that neither the Soviet Red Army nor the state of Czechoslovakia, as of press time, exist any longer). Additionally, she has proven herself singularly inept and inadequate for the task of being National Security Adivsor, as she has been little more than a cheerleader for the administration's failed policies. So...with the Republicans desperate to woo women and black voters to their party, we'll have to dig deeper for the reasons behind this appointment. Gosh, what could it be? Maybe Chief Justice Clarence Thomas can tell us.

Whoah, Mama! Where'd That Come From? Last month, wholesale prices soared by 1.7 percent, the largest increase since 1990, when we were mired in the depths of, ahem, a recession. Don't worry, though; Alan Greenspan says a little inflation will be good for the economy. I'll keep telling myself that when I'm paying my heating bill this winter.

Surely Not Better Than Erasmus? Ah, how much more enlightened and civilized those Europeans are than us crude Americans: A survey this week conducted by the Dutch equivalent of the BBC finds that the people of Holland have chosen immigrant-hating politician Pim Fortuyn, who was assassinated by an animal-rights activist two years ago, as the greatest Dutchman of all time, beating out such notables as Anne Frank and Vincent Van Gogh. You know: Because they hate immigrants.

The Few, The Proud, The War Criminals The military is investigating an incident in a Fallujah mosque where a Marine allegedly shot a wounded Iraqi prisoner in the head. The investigation comes because an NBC reporter actually did the right thing and reported the crime to the authorities. Watch as the patriotic American press demonizes this guy now.

Good Question Four years ago, I never thought I would be praising the wisdom of Conservative politician Jacques Chirac (I never thought I'd see a militarist Republican administration purge the CIA, either, but here we are), but last night he had a really good question: What has Britain gotten in return for its dogged, damaging loyalty to King George's wacko war? What dividend - either in terms of jump-starting the peace process in the Middle East, enhancing its role in the world, or even economic benefits - has Tony Blair earned for Britain?

-Consider Arms

Monday, November 15, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: I Go On Vacation For a Week, and Everything Goes Bonkers.

The Monday Morning Massacre Around 9 a.m. today, a friend of mine who works in Congress sent me an e-mail saying that the big rumor was that Colin Powell would resign; earlier in the morning, I got an e-mail from the Chronicle of Higher Education saying that Rod Paige (remember: the guy who called the NEA a "terrorist organization") was going to leave the Cabinet this week. Lo and behold, not only Powell and Paige, but Agriculture Sec'y Anne Veneman and Energy Sec'y Spencer Abraham also resigned today, bringing the total number of cabinet resignations to six. The current speculation on Powell's replacement is either John Danforth, former senator and ordained minister, and Condi Rice, whom we all know from Act One. My speculation: they're going to go with someone who will roll over and get fucked even more enthusiastically than Powell.

Morning of the Long Knives Hey, but it wasn't just the cabinet that saw resignations today: the CIA's two top officers in charge of clandestine operations resigned this morning following clashes with Porter Goss, the inept buffoon chosen by Bush to head the troubled agency. According to the Washington Post, Bush has ordered a "purge" of "disloyal" officers at the agency that militarist Sen. John McCain calls "a rogue agency." This makes three top CIA officers in a week to resign under pressure from Goss. Boy, did you ever think you'd see the day when the Repiglicans were calling the CIA "a rogue agency" and purging its ranks?

Our Gay-Loving Republicans Welcome More Gays Aboard Note to my countrymen in the Red States, who cited "moral values" as their most pressing concern on Nov. 2 and voted overwhelmingly to ban civil unions in 11 states: guess who's running your party, you stupid jackasses? Ken Mehlman, outed by gay web sites but still officially in the closet, is all but certain to become the National Chairman of the Republican Party; he will join openly gay Chief Financial Officer Jay Banning and openly gay National Field Director Daniel Gurley at the top of the party's national organization. Interesting question: If conservatives are so inflamed by stomping out gays, why are they voting for a party that's run by gays? Also, what are two (three?) gay dudes doing running a party that advocates making discrimination against them part of the Constitution? That's like black dudes running the Klan.

Hail Caesar! Democracy...it's so messy, don't you think? All those safeguards. Especially when you consider the avalanche of new Bush appointees that are going to be coming down the line (six new cabinet members at least; how many federal judges?), and the fact that those damn Democrats in the Senate can block the appointment of those selfsame appointees by filibuster. Well, thank God Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is on the job: Frist and former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott have a plan to essentially eliminate filibusters if a simple majority of the Senate votes to do so. Keep in mind that these are the same two dudes who lavishly praised Strom Thurmond's famous weekend-long filibusters at his 100th birthday - those filibusters, incidentally, were against the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Yes, that means it's time to Vomit in Terror once again.

Your Tax Dollars at Work

Prior to the invasion of Fallujah, U.S. Marines relaxed by dressing up as gladiators and staging a chariot race straight out of Ben-Hur, complete with confiscated ("stolen") Iraqi horses. I can't believe this country voted to ban gay marriage in 11 states!

-Consider Arms

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Where My Dogs At?

--MC No Shame, who would like to send a special apology to Lil' Antonin for my Nader-induced, cyber-freakout on him. Keep up the good work.

Friday, November 05, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: Our Friends Say It's Darkest Before the Sun Rises...We're Pretty Sure They're All Wrong.

The Worst Isn't Over Just as I frickin' predicted in my Nightmare Scenario, Bush has already announced his ambitious plans: privatize Social Security, "tort reform" that essentially fucks over everyone except insurance companies, and a national sales tax. Bush to America: You People Are Fucked.

George W. Bush, Jacobin Here's the invaluable Paul Krugman on what the election means: A "radical" who "deeply dislikes America" has been given a second term in office by the very people he will work hardest to screw over. Krugman's taking a hiatus from his column until January. We're going to miss him, but at least he'll be back in time for the Inauguration (I hope Dennis Miller will be there with some of his trademark "humor"!).

Insert Your Own "Feel A Draft?" Pun Here This confusing looking jumble of words and numbers is a legal notice published today in the Federal Register. This notice shows that Selective Service has filed a request to check the computer records of the Department of Education to make sure that everyone receiving financial aid from the federal government is registered with the draft board, as required by federal law. Is this significant? No, I'm sure it's just one of those unprecedented moves that's really benign and harmless. Nothing to see here: Move along.

You Can Find Him In Da Club Ah, the denoument of Bulge-gate: Despite the constant White House denials that Bush's bulging coat during the debate was the normal folds of the fabric, the Secret Service now claims it was, in fact, a bulletproof vest, just like the kind 50 Cent wears. I realize this is a trivial point, but doesn't it drive you nuts that the White House lies about EVERYTHING and gets away with it?

We'll Miss You, Crisco John The word has gone forth: the first Cabinet official to leave the Bush Administration in '05 will likely be serial cat-fearer John Ashcroft, the all-singing, no-dancing AG whose Chong-jailing antics amused us all. Like I said: the first term belongs to the moderates, the second to the ideologues. Ashcroft's replacement is said to be former Indiana senator John Danforth, an ordained Protestant minister. Also, this article contains what is perhaps the meanest sentence ever written about Ashcroft: "Ashcroft, 62, is described as exhausted from leading the Justice Department in fighting the domestic war on terrorism." Get it? Because he fought that war so poorly!

-Consider Arms

Thursday, November 04, 2004

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again.

This Kind of Says It All, Doesn't It?

Get Your Bets In Now! The Arafat Death Watch Has Reached a Fever Pitch There are conflicting news reports about whether Palestinian leader and Grade A creepo Yasser Arafat is in a coma. I don't want to sound cruel, and perhaps it's just the election that has coarsened my mood, but this dude can't shuffle off the stage of history fast enough for me.

Was There Vote Fraud? Undoubtedly, but was it significant enough to tip the balance in Bush's favor? Some people think so, based on discrepancies between exit polls and final results in states where electronic voting machines were used. Mark Crispin Miller, for one, seems weirdly insistent that Bush didn't pick up 8 million more votes this year than in 2000 without some kind of electronic jiggery-pokery. I guess that's an explanation easier to live with than "Republicans won because they successfully appealed to the majority's hatred of gay sex."

Speaking of Gay Dudes... Unbelievably, Bush received the same amount of support from gay voters this year that he did in 2000. Was something about his "I hate gays and want to legalize discrimination against them" message not getting across?

I've Got to Admit: It's Getting Better...Wait, No It's Not The economy shed more than 100,000 jobs in October, and it looks like it will match or top that number in November. George W. Bush is the first president since Hoover to lose jobs in his first term, and the first since the 19th century to win re-election with a net job loss (McKinley was the last...also boosted by a needless colonial war, I might add). But, you know, at least we stopped them gay dudes from civilly uniting.

-Consider Arms
Wow, I Feel Totally Refreshed After My 23-Hour Moratorium On Posting!

Call it a victory, but don't call it a sweep, a mandate (that's what Consider Arms and myself are on when we go grab lunch together) and certainly don't call it a revolution (Matt Drudge can always be depended upon for hyperbole). 274 to 252 electoral college votes isn't a landslide, and in a country of almost 300 million, Bush's margin of victory represents about 1% of the population.

Since Leftist politics has become a massive funeral/fantasy football league over the past day and a half, allow me to put in my two cents on how we can revamp the team and win the next division title.

Populism Is The New Progressivism In the mid-ninties Clinton took a hard economic turn to the Right and after passing NAFTA and GATT effectively eliminated any economic middle ground between the Donkey and the Elephant. Despite his incomprehensible doucheocity, Ralph Nader made the most valid points this election cycle. No one in the two parties talked about a real health care plan for all Americans, a living wage for the working poor or forcing corporations to keep decent jobs in the country. What's left? Cultural straw men that mean nothing, but are the only thing offered to the red states. And the Republican have those issues locked down with a vast majority of Americans. I'll be honest, while I may lean to the Left I think they only have the most trivial of concerns. I just happened to tolerate irrelevance more than ignorance. While the government may sway some cultural issues, it's main job is what it's always been: collect money from taxes, redistribute that money and have an army. The Left needs to go back to the basics on the same level: economics, class, jobs and social services. While tens of millions of men in the Midwest have an incredibly hard time supporting their families, the Democrats spend their energy on the thousands of gay couples who want a wedding in Boston and San Francisco. The Democrats dig a cultural moat around themselves to keep abortion legal, but have barely breathed in the direction of providing health care for all citizens. The fast food industry runs wild and pharmaceutical companies dwarf the Russian mafia, but the Left preoccupies itself with the bullshit science fiction fantasies of stem cell research (are people still dying of cancer and heart disease anymore?). Why didn't America between the coasts give a fuck about the Democratic Party? Because the Democratic Party hasn't given a fuck about them in a long time.

your homework:

-The Sikh Geek, returning to the undisclosed location. Promise.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

excepted from comments posted elsewhere:

I understand the sentiment of wanting to dig trenches and battle. I have respect for that. The problem with this, for me at least, is that I no longer have the drive and energy to battle for a mass of people who can't see beyond their own personal perception of a "good leader". We are the minority here. Our position, essentially, is relegated to the back sections beyond the sports section.

The places you mention like northampton or cambridge, I know there is hope there but for me, that is not good enough. I'm tired of being stuck in a situation where the vast majority of the country is taken over by the unthinking and short-sighted. I'm tired of defending my positions on basically every issue with no effect. It's obvious to me now, the majority of americans don't listen and never will listen. They'll remain blinded by yellow ribbons and canned party lines that somehow coincide with their own crazier agendas.

The grass is always greener they say, but for once, i'm actually willing to concede that it is actually greener. You know me. You know that there isn't really a country in the world that could live up to my political views as I, like yourself am ridiculously far to the left. Of course, by this i mean that i believe in things like health care and free housing and the providing of all things necessary to everyone so that they can live a basic life before having to slave away at 3 jobs to make ends barely meet. Are there other places that are closer to this? yes, not by a huge amount, but yes. I can't stay in a place where simple views like these can't even be tolerated by people who would, without a seconds thought, claim they are living their lives by the bible.

So will i leave? Your goddamn right i will. Am I leaving the field to the enemy? Sure, but when you've lost the will to fight because the reason for fighting has dropped out from underneath you, I'd hardly call that an abandonment. If anything, american itself has abandoned me and I have little choice but to accept that and move on.

Our people need help, that's for damn sure, but had they wanted to help themselves they could have done it yesterday. I refuse to continue to worry about and try to help groups of people who don't even want to help themselves. The best way anyone can help now is to get out your prayer books and address these ones to St. Jude because america is a fucking lost cause.

-Hakujinjoe, the real american idiot
Business as Usual

As I type this, the worst president in American history is on TV, giving his victory speech. This is perhaps the worst I have felt about politics in my entire life.

Fear not, though: the actual election of George W. Bush (I guess we'll have to stop using quotation marks when we call him president) has ensured that the MLWL will have plenty of material from now until they drag us off to the work camps.

A lot of people here in Blue State America have talked about throwing in the towel, leaving the country, going into "internal exile," etc. Not me. I'm going to be here to hymn ever failure, to snicker at every gaffe, to say "I told you so" at every foreign policy blunder, because that's the kind of asshole I am. Yes, it sucks that Kerry lost the election, but if the engaged, intelligent, progressive people in the country decide to drop out entirely, what does that leave us with? There are weak and helpless people in America who need someone to stand up for them. The Democratic Party is doing a pretty pathetic job of that lately, but it's all we have for now. I'm not going to leave the flock to the wolves without putting up a fight.

So, take note: Get your Presidential Prayer Team mugs filled with steaming caffeine. Gulp down your freedom fries. Clutch your Ann Coulter Talking Action dolls with fervor. This battleship's going beneath the waves with all guns firing.

-Consider Arms
This Country is going to Hell and I blame YOU

Yes you. I am talking about those of you who thought Nader or Cobb were the best candidate but voted for Kerry. You allowed the Democratic party to scare you into voting for your second (or third) choice. You allowed yourself to be bullied. The result? Nothing but negatives. Let me list them:

1. Four more years of Bush. Your votes did not change the outcome of the election.

2. More importantly, the Democrats now know that they can bully the far left into voting for them. What does this mean? It means they will now go after the middle for 2008. The next Democratice candidate will be closer to the middle than Kerry. They know that they have your votes locked up because even if they throw out a moderate Republican "Democrat" he will still be better than whoever the Republicans put up there.

If everyone who thought Nader was the best candidate was able to vote for him and did, the Democrats would have to look at how to solidify and energize that part of the party. To look at how to bring those people back into the fold. I hope the answer to that would be Barack Obama in 2008. Obama would (1) energize Nader supporters in a way few other Democrats can; (2) energize African-American voters. The passion of these two groups can in turn convince people in the middle.

But i think all the votes that went to Kerry as the lesser of two evils have ruined Obama's chances. The Democrats know they now need to move to the center.

Those of you that actually thought Kerry was the best candidate - fine, that's another argument. Those of you who think Bush is the best (i know there are some of you on here) need to get out more. It is the Kerry voting people who thought Nader would do a better job that i think fucked things up here.

Lil' Antonin , who was not allowed to vote for Nader because he was not a 'registered write in' candidate in Ohio
There Is Nothing Left To Lose.

Greed and sin are the king and prime minister; falsehood is the treasurer.
Sexual desire, the chief advisor, is summoned and consulted.
They all sit together and contemplate their plans.
Blind and without wisdom, their subjects try to please the will of the dead.
-Guru Nanak in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib

Last night I sat in front of my broke-ass TV (thanks Consider Arms) and watched the election returns and slowly descended into a depressed panic. Channels #2-48 stopped working as they tend to do every five minutes on my broke-ass TV, and when I was left without cable news I would watch snippets of a History Channel documentary on the rise of Nazi Germany. At 2am I gave up and went to bed. After frightening chest pains, a headache and a stomacheache I fell into three hours of restless, nightmare-filled sleep.

I woke up this morning to the worst kind of disappointment, the loss of something I was only morbidly excited about, an America that would have only been slightly less horrible. Like other optomists burned by Clinton, I was well aware that getting Bush out of office would only stop the most awful of problems. After four years of Kerry, poor people still wouldn't have health insurance, massive student loan debts would be as ritualized as cotillions, and troops would still get killed in Iraq.

I guess what is most heartbreaking for me about the election results was the definative realization that my political beliefs are marginal in today's America, and in reality I don't think that they are fringe beliefs at all. Despite being a Sikh geek, my political views never really wander far away from the Gospels of the New Testament. Despite the self-righteous posturing of "Christian America" nobody cares about the poor, the sick, the persecuted and the imprisoned. Pro-Life Evangelicals rally around the fetus while cheering on state-sponsored executions and the deaths of 100,000 women and children in Iraq. Millions of people are dying horrible deaths in Africa from AIDS and violent conflict and their lives are lucky to scratch A19 of the New York Times. 2% of the country is in prison, over 10% is in poverty and they didn't get a single whisper in the past five months. America has dug its trenches behind worthless cultural straw men handed down from the eighties and the sixties: stem cell research and gay marriage. There is no sense or humanity, only inexplicable brand loyalties and twisted emotions. And I guess that's what scares me more than the "re"-election of Bush; fact and reality have left the building. Dante knew that hell was the absence of reason, and when reason itself is gone war becomes security, ignorance becomes strength, deceit becomes morality and a legion of injustices are given an open door to slip in through. Our country has existed in a nightmare and now America has overwhelmingly come out to become smug cheerleaders for the apocalypse. It's like the Left was spit on after getting grudge-fucked.

I found myself having to make a tough decision. After a long time obsessing about issues much bigger than myself and well beyond my control, I've realized that my interest in politics and current events is doing me no good, in fact it's turning me into a miserable and dispassionate person. I've decided to stop posting on the Monster Limo Weblog for an indefinate amount of time. Knowing the minutia of every scandal and injustice, the vastness of corrupt power and the willful ignorance of most Americans isn't helping me, and it's helping to turn me into a depressed and despairing person who won't help anyone else.

One of the benefits of knowing history and realizing that life has been worse in the past: leaders have been more currput than ours, empire have been more sadistic and life has seemed more hopeless. That sense of history saves us from carrying the burden of feeling that we exist in the absolute worst of times, that it's never been as bleak as it is now and that we alone are at the end of time. History also gives the gift of knowing that no terrible moment in history lasts forever. Rome fell, and maybe someday this nightmare will be another footnote in history, hopefully immediately preceeding a saner and healthier time for everyone.

It's been fun. See you bhenchods in the work camps.
-The Sikh Geek

Monday, November 01, 2004

Too Nervous To Be Nervous

John Kerry, Friend To Armored Deer And Enemy Of Freedom Fuck you objective reality! Up your ass factual truth! This is an election year! An anti-John Kerry ad from the NRA pumps truth full of lead claiming that the Senator was going to ban "deer hunting ammunition" when in fact he was talking about banning armor-piercing ammo AKA "cop-killer" bullets.

Good Thing The Coming Iranian Nuclear Holocaust Is Under Control "To shouts of "Death to America," Iran's parliament unanimously approved the outline of a bill Sunday that would require the government to resume uranium enrichment, legislation likely to deepen an international dispute over Iran's nuclear activities."

-The Sikh Geek, just wanting it to be Wednesday morning