Archive

  • Social Security: Round 2?

    Well this is fairly surprising. House Republicans are vowing to vote on Social Security before the year is through: House Republican leaders pledged to seek a vote this year on legislation creating a scaled back version of President Bush's call for personal retirement accounts under Social Security. ... Republicans said the measure would create personal accounts for younger workers, and some of the funds would be used to replace part of their traditional benefit. At the same time, they added, the accounts could be inherited under some circumstances. The program would also raise the government's official deficit estimates by as much as $1 trillion over a decade, a development that could increase pressure on lawmakers to cut spending or raise taxes in the future. The strategy here is a bit surprising, House Republicans, so far as I can tell, are self-BTU'ing themselves. The Senate's not likely to pass this bill, and if they don't, each and every Republican congressperson voting "aye"...
  • Practice What He Preaches

    Not to wish ill or anything, but I hope next time this guy goes to a doctor complaining of searing throat pain, his medical professional responds: It's for God to determine whether you've got strep throat or not. I can't determine that. And until he sends me a divine prescription, I can't offer you antibiotics."
  • Crazy Congressmen Who Pay Attention

    Last year, during the presidential debates, a girl named Tammy wandered into where my girlfriend, some friends, and I were watching Kerry's dismantling of Bush. This was during the first confrontation, the one between the Incredible Shrinking President and his surprisingly large challenger. Bush, you'll remember, slipped up and blamed Hussein for 9/11. Kerry caught him. Bush admitted the mistake. Tammy said he was right the first time. The rest of us looked at her. Finally, I knew what "agog" felt like. Her argument wasn't what one would call an argument, more a set of gut level intuitions. In the end, after hearing Bush's handpicked 9/11 Commission obliterated the linkage, she shook her head and said: "Well they're wrong. It's just common sense." Not the most heartening conversation. On the other hand, at least she's not a congressman : "Saddam Hussein and people like him were very much involved in 9/11," Rep. Robin Hayes said. Told no investigation had ever found evidence to link...
  • Arnold Drops

    The Field Poll's out (pdf), and it's enough to set even Arnold's steel-rod of a jaw a-quiver. In February 2005, 56% of voters were inclined to reelect Arnold, while only 42% wanted the guy gone. Now 39% want another go on the governator's merry-go-round while 57% want to get off. Amazingly, the news gets worse (for Arnold). In trial heats with his failr unknown challengers, the politicians all hold leads while the potential stars all fall short. Phil Angelides beats him 46%-42%, up from a 35%-52% obliteration in February. Steve Westly also leads, 44%-40%, up from 33%-52%. Rob Reiner loses to Arnold, 44%-42% and so, unfortunately, does Warren Beatty, 46%-37%. Looks like I misjudged the electorate here. Californians, it would seem, are done with Hollywood. And for that matter, done with Arnold. Now, it's too early to declare victory. Arnold's going to have a wrecking ball of a campaign machine with a fairly unbelievable amount of cash on-hand, and if he's able to pass the ballot...
  • Bush's Speech By The Numbers

    So the speech. Didn't watch it. But, you'll be happy to know, the girlfriend and I had an excellent Italian dinner while it was going on. I win. Nevertheless, conscientious blogger that I am, I did give it a read through. Impressive it wasn't, but redundant it was. The nice thing about this group is that they're simple, when they try and manipulate you, they do it by repetition. So here you go, Bush's address by the numbers: • "Terror" -- Used 5 times • "Terrorist" -- 22 times; • "Insurgents" -- 6 times; • "Osama bin Laden" -- 2 times; • "Zarqawi" -- 1 time; • "September 11" -- 6 times; • "Saddam Hussein" -- 1 time; • "Free" -- 10 times; • "Freedom" -- 18 times. • "Weapons of mass destruction", "nuclear weapons", or other WMD references in context of Iraq -- 0 times; • Weapon references in context of Libya -- 2 times. Pretty much says it all, doesn't it? The WMD hysteria wasn't about Iraq but Lybia (mission accomplished!). Lots of freedom, a healthy sprinkling of 9/11, a weak...
  • Herding Cats and Lacking Tasers

    Matt's response to Derek Chollet's post warning against a Democratic timetable for withdrawal from Iraq is worth thinking seriously about: I appreciate what Derek Chollet is getting at with his warning that advocacy of a nuanced timetablish withdrawal from Iraq could turn into a political fiasco for the Democrats. Still, the general form of argument he's making here is something I think liberals need to learn to leave aside. Of course if Democrats advocate the sort of Iraq policy I'd like to see they'll be portrayed by the White House as cowardly appeasers. But then again, there isn't some alternative policy that will cause the White House to respond, "well, that's a serious-minded and patriotic alternative vision that contrasts sharply with our slap-dash and maniacal efforts to run the country." That strikes me as right. On the other hand, it's often misappropriated to argue that content doesn't matter, Americans will be accepting of anything so long as it's delivered with sufficient...
  • Taxes: Coming to an Election Near You

    Over at TPM Cafe, the Piper sounds the alarm over tax reform. Good man, somebody needs to be doing it. The logic for the Bush administration here is fairly simple: they lost on Social Security reform, Iraq isn't going to be a selling point, the election needs something else to turn on. Why not run back to that conservative mainstay, taxes? Democrats will obstruct regressive changes, changes that can be delivered in a package complicated enough to obscure their nature, and the Republicans can thus blame Democrats for holding up tax simplification and/or relief. They hate the children, those Democrats. I've been studying tax policy recently and am going to ramp it put in the coming months. Soon -- maybe next week? -- I'll be writing a Health of Nations style feature on different systems of taxation. I've got to study it anyway, may as well share the wealth. Also worth checking out is the American Prospect's recent feature on tax policy , though I thought Celinda Lake's article on...
  • Brave New World

    I'm not going to get in the way of Matt's open-source advocacy, it's very much a heart says yes, head says no issue for me. I do think he's being a bit obtuse on the distinction between "making stuff" and infringement (it's fairly well understood that many of these programs are specifically made for the purposes of infringement but legally cling to potential legitimate uses, something Tim Lee explains well in this post ), but his ultimate points are sound. One thing, though, that confuses me. File swapping has always struck me as fairly easy to stop. The RIAA or the movie industry could simply purchase 15,000, or 30,000, or a million fairly cheap computers, pack their hard drives with audio files, hook them to the file-swapping networks, and flood every open file-sharing program with dummy files that, once downloaded, offer a symphony of top-volume screeching teenyboppers, yelping puppies, and sobbing children. If users had to sift through five of those for every usable file they got...
  • All Around the World, People Stop and They Say...

    Survey USA has released a 50-state poll of Bush's approval ratings. So if you were wondering what, say, Hawaii thinks of the Commander-in-Chief, now you'll know. I'm not quite woken up yet, so serious number crunching will have to be done by others. Suffice to say that Bush only hits the magic 50% mark in 12 of the 50 states, even Texas isn't willing to give him the much-loved 51%. Closer to (my) home, Arnold, too, is probably in trouble. Bush is right there in the high-30's with him, a dismal rating that screams target practice to any Dem hopeful willing to take a shot. If the Governator doesn't stop sticking right in his agenda, he's going to get tied to the President, and if he gets tied to the President, he's finished.
  • Speechwriting

    John Kerry's penned an op-ed in today's Times called "The Speech the President Should Give", offering Bush a helpful outline for how tonight's Iraq address should be structured. What's not mentioned anywhere is that this is exactly the speech John Kerry should've been giving during the election, over and over again, rather than continuing with his equivocations over whether we should've entered the country. A good read worth filing in the "What Might Have Been" category, I guess.

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