Tuesday, February 08, 2005

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: The Bad News Is, I Just Told You The Good News.

Well, That's One Way to Pass Inspection For synchronicity fans: How many kids did the unlicensed daycare worker hide in the closet during inspection by the state?

The Failure of Triumph Let's not get all carried away about what a big success the Iraqi election was. For starters, that 57 percent turnout figure could well turn out to be a myth - although it's still being repeated by right wingers and their lackeys, Iraqi election officials have backed away from it, saying "Only God Almighty knows the final turnout." He's apparently not sharing that info, either; it's been more than a week since the election, and we don't know who won, or even how many votes were cast. Another good point: to whom does the oft-cited "14 million eligible voters" figure refer? Is that only people who registered to vote, or is it adults over 18, or what? Because if 57 percent of registered voters turned out, that's pretty low - lower than the U.S., where between 80 and 90 percent of registered voters turn out for national elections (the problem is that so few Americans are registered). Another question: How many adults are there in Iraq - and for that matter, how many Iraqis are there? No one seems to know the former, and estimates of the latter range from 25 million to 27.5 million. If Iraq has an adult population of 18 million, as Ken Pollack (you know, the "Threatening Storm" guy) estimates, then 8 million voters (a number that might be high, since no one can verify it) wouldn't be a 57 percent turn out, but more like a 45 percent turnout. But I guess that asking these questions makes me an enemy of freedom, so forget I said anything.

Paying the Piper, NY City Style Mike Bloomberg, billionaire, wanted to be mayor of NY City so darn bad that he switched his party registration, becoming a Republican. Because New York exists on a system of baksheesh more elaborate than anything in the Levant, Mike became mayor, thanks to his vast private fortune. Now he's finding out what it means to be a Republican: Although he personally supports gay marriage, he is ordering city lawyers to appeal a court ruling that struck down a New York City ban on civil unions. "I think people have the right to love, to live with and to marry whoever they want, regardless of their sexual orientation," Bloomberg whines, while ordering his lawyers to ensure that people don't have those rights. His reward? Denounced by both gay rights advocates and gay marriage opponents as an "unprincipled coward." Welcome to the Big Tent, Richie Rich!

Screw You, Poor Person George W. Bush unveiled his budget Monday and, as he said of another budget proposal, it's got a lot of numbers in it. Like these: $3 billion will be cut from 18 federal programs relating to low-income housing; 8 percent of the federal program that helps poor people pay for home heating will be cut; $60 billion over 10 years will be cut from Medicare, including programs aimed at fighting obesity and preventable diseases and training programs for doctors who work in pediatric hospitals. Additionally, the federal food stamp program will be slashed, taking food stamp benefits away from people who receive the vouchers as part of federal childcare programs. The massive cuts in social programs are needed to pay for the failed war in Iraq and the tax cuts for the wealthiest 1 percent of society. I bet you'll vote next time, hippie.

We'll Get You Yet, FDR! Walter Benjamin once wrote that the totalitarian forces gathering strength in Europe in the 1930s were so frightening precisely because it seemed that, if they won, not even the dead were safe from them. I think I know what he meant: here's the invaluable Paul Krugman once again proving that he's the only NY Times columnist worth reading. The real goal of Social Security "reform" isn't to provide "young workers" with "choice": it's to dismantle the welfare state created by Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal.

-Consider Arms