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