Something serious (yet amazingly sureal sometimes)

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    I get these alerts everyday. They are from the labor point of view.

    1) More data arrived today on the notion that George W. Bush’s
    campaign is “independent” of the attacks on Sen. John Kerry’s
    military record in the form of the resignation of a top lawyer for
    the campaign who was found to be advising the smear perpetrators.

    The lawyer, Benjamin Ginsberg, had the gall to say he was resigning
    because his actions had become a “distraction” to the campaign.

    The New York Times quoted the Kerry campaign as noting that
    evidence has shown people deeply involved in the Bush campaign have
    paid for the attack ads, appeared in them and provided legal

    Meanwhile, Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson — who has
    accepted $150,000 in campaign contributions from Bob Perry, the
    Houston homebuilder who is financing the attacks on Kerry — rushed
    to Crawford to meet former U.S. Sen. Max Cleland, who tried and
    failed to deliver a letter to Bush at the ranch.

    Blogger Josh Marshall had this take, among several, on

    (August 25, 2004 — 01:16 PM EDT)
    Yet more Navy records support Kerry, according to the Associated

    Meanwhile, John O’Neill — Mr. uber-Swift, he wrote the book, etc.
    — has been going on all the shows for weeks saying that John Kerry
    never could have been in Cambodia on a black mission. It was
    impossible because there were all sorts of precautions in place to
    prevent any border crossings and that he would have been
    “court-martialed” had he done so (see this column for excerpts from
    his book and his appearance on ABC’s This Week program last

    Now CNN has come up with tapes of O’Neill telling Richard Nixon in
    1971 that he himself had been on missions inside Cambodia. From
    last night’s Aaron Brown show …

    O’Neill said no one could cross the border by river and he claimed
    in an audio tape that his publicist played to CNN that he, himself,
    had never been to Cambodia either. But in 1971, O’Neill said
    precisely the opposite to then President Richard Nixon.

    O’NEILL: I was in Cambodia, sir. I worked along the border on the

    NIXON: In a swift boat?

    O’NEILL: Yes, sir.


    JOHNS: Now, O’Neill may have an explanation for this but he has not
    returned CNN’s calls. What does seem clear is that a top member of
    the swift boat group is now being held to the same standard of
    literal accuracy they’ve tried to impose on John Kerry — Aaron.

    So there you go. It really seems like O’Neill has been going on all
    these shows lying right through his teeth. Not misremembering some
    date, not having a conflicting recollection of some battle action,
    but telling everyone that none of the Swift Boats crossed into
    Cambodia when, in fact, he himself appears to have done so

    Of course, the underyling facts here aren’t in dispute. As Fred
    Kaplan points out here and many others have as well, it is well
    known that the US military — and Swift Boats in particular — made
    covert ventures into Cambodia.

    But, again, right from O’Neill’s own mouth — Mr. Swift Boat
    Veterans for the Truth.

    And all of this raises the question, though it’s not precisely the
    right analogy, what exactly is the statute of limitations on these
    guys? How many times do they have to get caught making false
    claims, unsubstantiated assertions or putting forward witnesses who
    weren’t there, before they cease to have any credibility and get
    treated as such in the media?

    At the moment the standard seems to be, “Okay, on your first
    nineteen claims, it seems like you were lying to us, but send along
    number twenty and we’ll run that one up the flag pole too.”

    How long?

    — Josh Marshall
    Copyright 2004 Joshua Micah Marshall


    1) With George W. Bush’s attempt to sell privatization of Social
    Security justifiably floundering, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan
    Greenspan is trying the more direct approach: Promoting a reduction
    in Social Security benefits.

    AP reports Greenspan, who is most certainly no politician, said
    today the nation will face “abrupt and painful” choices if Congress
    does not trim Social Security and Medicare benefits promised to the
    Baby Boom generation.

    Since the 2000 campaign, Bush has attempted to promote the notion
    that Social Security is in trouble and needs to be replaced, at
    least partly, by private accounts. These private accounts would
    substitute the ups and downs of the stock market for the guaranteed
    safety net of retirement income and death and disability benefits
    that Social Security has provided since its inception.

    Every time Bush floats the plan, the slightest look between the
    lines reveals its true nature. Nonpartisan analysts concede that
    implementing privatization while preserving benefits for current
    retirees would cost well into the trillions of dollars. And those
    blessed with elementary logic concede the misdirection: How could
    this possibly save the government money if it did not result in a
    massive reduction of benefits paid by the system?

    At least Greenspan is not trying to shave the political points
    finely and did not advocate privatization as the only possible
    solution. Greenspan suggested that when one examines the actuarial
    reality, the government simply won’t be able to continue providing
    the benefits that current workers are scheduled to receive upon
    retirement without significant changes.

    “As a nation, we owe it to our retirees to promise only the
    benefits that can be delivered,” Greenspan said in remarks in
    Kansas City. “If we have promised more than our economy has the
    ability to deliver, as I fear we may have, we must recalibrate our
    public programs so that pending retirees have time to adjust
    through other channels. If we delay, the adjustments could be
    abrupt and painful.”

    Greenspan said one way to reduce benefits would be to raise the
    retirement age, which is already in the process of increasing from
    65 to 67. He counseled against raising the payroll tax further,
    saying it would be a detriment to hiring.

    “Though the challenges of prospective increasingly stark choices
    for the United States seem great, the necessary adjustments will
    likely be smaller than those required in most other developing
    countries,” Greenspan said, noting that Europe and Japan will have
    a much higher proportion of retirees to current workers in coming

    This is one of the key economic issues in the presidential
    campaign. While Bush has endorsed privatization, U.S. Sen. John
    Kerry opposes it and has said he wants to maintain the existing
    Social Security system. Left unsaid is the long-term need to make
    adjustments of some type to maintain the actuarial integrity of the
    system, and therein lies a potential congressional morass in a
    Kerry administration. What Greenspan didn’t mention, however, are
    recent reports on Social Security that suggest there is still time
    to act. In fact, the latest reports have added years to the several
    decades in which the system is expected to remain solvent. One
    might argue that the need for some change is getting more urgent,
    but the need to blow up the system to save it simply is not there.

    Yet the debate in the campaign concerns the very nature of Social
    Security, not the details of how to keep it going in the long run.
    The Bush vision of an “ownership society” paints the clearest path
    to a return to the days when being old and being retired often
    meant living in poverty, and if Social Security goes in these mean
    times, living without even the meager pensions of old. The Bush
    vision plays to the crowd that believes Social Security is a Ponzi
    scheme, doomed to fail, and Mr. Market will take care of everyone.
    Some people don’t need Social Security, but many more do, and many
    of those need it desperately. American workers already have an
    ownership stake in a strong Social Security system. They don’t need
    a bait-and-switch scheme to reward salivating financial services

    The Kerry vision is concededly not going to remain pretty — people
    are indeed living longer and the demographics say that fewer
    workers are going to support more retirees. But Kerry starts with
    the notion that preserving Social Security as a safety net that
    forestalls poverty among the elderly is a choice the nation made
    nearly 70 years ago and a choice worth preserving. Congress has
    “rescued” Social Security before and it could do so again. But
    first the folks who out of one side of their mouth say that no
    retiree’s benefit should be touched and out of the other seem ready
    to put the hammer on middle-aged and younger workers need to
    acknowledge their real agenda for Social Security.

    2) A Failed Presidency
    The Nation | Editorial

    Monday 13 September 2004 Issue

    As Republicans gather in New York City, the Bush campaign will
    undergo a drastic makeover, camouflaging gutter tactics with a
    veneer of moderation calculated to help the President win another
    four-year term. But the hard truth of this campaign is that George
    W. Bush, while attempting to impose an extremist right-wing agenda
    on this country and the world, has compiled a record of
    staggering failure.

    The debacle in Iraq has already claimed close to 1,000 American and
    10,000 Iraqi lives. Far from making America safer or the Middle
    East more democratic, it has turned out to be what this magazine
    warned it would be: a reckless abuse of power that has damaged US
    security, destabilized the region and undercut America’s position
    in the world. The high cost of the war is evident not just in the
    number of deaths but also in burgeoning federal budget deficits
    (the war has cost more than $200 billion) and in the record
    gasoline prices Americans now pay. It is also evident in the
    reported swelling of the ranks of Al Qaeda-inspired groups and in
    the rising hatred of America reflected in public opinion polls
    which show that even among traditional allies like Jordan and
    Egypt, as much as 95 percent of the population view the United
    States with disfavor. Meanwhile, the war has diverted resources
    from urgent international problems ranging from the
    Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the widening AIDS pandemic.

    And there’s no end in sight. The US occupation grinds on with both
    Bush and his Democratic opponent, John Kerry, ignoring the only
    intelligent alternative: a phased US withdrawal. Iraqi opposition
    to the occupation remains fierce-expressed even by Iraqi soccer
    players at the Olympics-while the country’s appointed leaders
    display authoritarian tendencies that undermine the democracy
    Bush and his aides claim is being built.

    If the war were Bush’s only failure, it would be enough to require
    his departure. But it is not. By withdrawing the United States from
    international treaties and conventions, mishandling crises in the
    Middle East and North Korea and diverting resources from the
    pursuit of al Qaeda, Bush has left America more isolated and less
    secure. And the detention camps made infamous by the crimes of Abu
    Ghraib have stripped America of the pride we once had in our
    country and the role it played, however imperfectly, as a champion
    of human rights, economic opportunity and the rule of law.

    At home, Bush’s failures are equally manifest. He has amassed the
    worst jobs record of any President since the Great Depression, the
    worst budget deficits ever and the most precipitous decline in
    America’s fiscal position-from $5 trillion in projected surplus to
    $4 trillion in projected deficit. Bush’s Administration responds to
    a corporate crime wave with calls for more regulation, embraces the
    flight of jobs abroad as good for the economy, and exacerbates,
    with top-end tax cuts, the greatest inequality since the Gilded

    This Administration has also undermined the rights and policies
    that social movements labored for a century to achieve. Bush has
    nominated to the federal bench ideologues with a history of
    antiunion and antichoice decisions. He signed into law the
    blatantly unconstitutional “partial-birth” abortion ban, and then
    watched as his Attorney General sought access to women’s private
    medical records to defend the ban in court. He imposed the policy
    known as the global gag rule, which forbids foreign groups
    receiving US aid from even mentioning abortion, and vastly expanded
    a misinformation campaign about the dangers of sex that has been
    shown to encourage risky behavior among young people. And to secure
    his place forever in the hearts of cultural conservatives, he
    endorsed the gay-baiting federal marriage amendment, framing it as
    a response to the activism of liberal judges rather than what it
    was: an attempt to deny civil rights to millions of Americans and
    to enshrine that discrimination in the Constitution. Civil
    liberties, too, have suffered, as the “war on terror” has been used
    to justify acts ranging from detention without trial to snooping
    into citizens’ library records.

    The list of failures goes on. The Bush years have seen a steady
    increase in the number of Americans without healthcare while drug
    company profits have soared. Bush’s prescription drug bill
    prohibits Medicare from negotiating a better price for seniors and
    bars importing cheaper drugs-with the result, according to
    Consumer’s Union, that most older Americans will end up paying more
    for drugs.

    Bush’s vaunted No Child Left Behind education law actually leaves
    most children behind. Not only has the law earned the ire of
    educators; Bush’s failure to provide promised funding for his
    “reforms” has prompted rebuke even from Republican state
    legislatures from Utah to Virginia. Bush also broke his promise to
    increase the amount of money eligible students could receive in
    college scholarship grants, even as soaring tuition puts college
    out of the reach of ever more families. His post-election budget
    calls for yet more cuts to education funding.

    The Bush Administration has also failed to protect the environment,
    giving us new laws written by polluters, oil lobbyists and Enron
    executives. And it has politicized and distorted basic scientific
    and medical research.

    But this President does not admit error. When asked at a press
    conference whether he had ever made a mistake in office, he
    couldn’t think of one.

    If Bush wins in November, given this record of misfeasance,
    American democracy is in much greater trouble than even the most
    alienated citizens imagine. A President so out of step with the
    needs of the American people can only rule by sowing division and
    fear. Americans have one recourse: to ignore the costume ball in
    New York City and fire the worst President in modern history on
    November 2.


    Mr. Pet suggests we solve the Social Security thing with Last Day and Soylent Green. But then most of us would be gone already…. 😀


    hummm, they could contract it out to Halaburton. After all why be president if you can’t be helpful to your friends.

    Of course if Halaburton gets it, then the costs will rise dramatically…. after all they need to get the character assassination slush fund built back up.

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