• Social Security Trustees Report

    That, of course, was the day's big news. Some minor fiddling allowed them to bring the insolvency date a year closer, from 2042 to 2041. An insignificant change economically, but highly significant politically, as it'll allow them to argue that things are getting worse and, in the worsd of Fafblog !, if we don't do anything Social Security will explode ! If I had time, I'd probably go through the report today and talk about things I don't quite understand. But I have to move down for Spring Break. So here's a cliff notes guide to what you need to know and links to what you need to read. As mentioned above, they moved the date of the trust fund's exhaustion (but I thought the fund didn't exist!) back a year, from 2042 to 2041. They also pushed back the beginning of the cash deficit (when we start using the trust fund) from 2018 to 2017. They seem to be doing this by revising death rates downward -- at this rate, there'll come a point when no one will ever die -- and by using absurdly...
  • Final Update

    So that went badly. Not only did I sleep through my alarm, losing desperately needed study time, but I also had the time of the final wrong, and so arrived an hour after it began. Not that that really mattered, as I didn't know enough to write for three hours anyway. Also, I'm sick. And if you've never sat for two hours leaking from your nose and wishing you had thought to bring a Kleenex, your only distraction your throbbing head and the answers you don't know, you really haven't lived. Anyway, the bright side is that this quarter is over and Spring Break beckons. Onward.
  • Republican Renaissance?

    On Monday, I asked where all the “real Republicans” are , and, if there are any of them left, whether they could be bothered to try to reclaim their party from the lunatics who have hijacked it. Well, it seems like the tenuous stitching that holds together the mangled remains of the party of Lincoln may well have been put under enough pressure by the Schiavo case that the unholy alliance between the corporatists and the Jesus freaks, upon which the GOP depends for its supremacy, is beginning to tear at the seams . Senator John W. Warner of Virginia, the sole Republican to oppose the Schiavo bill in a voice vote in the Senate, said: "This senator has learned from many years you've got to separate your own emotions from the duty to support the Constitution of this country . These are fundamental principles of federalism." "It looks as if it's a wholly Republican exercise," Mr. Warner said, "but in the ranks of the Republican Party, there is not a unanimous view that Congress should be...
  • Today

    With a final and moving back down for break on my plate, I've got a pretty busy day ahead of me. So the inimitable Shakespeare's Sister will be helping out today and I'll be popping in and out as time allows. Update: Argh. Set my alarm for 6:30 so I could study more, and must have turned it off when it beeped. Now it's 8:30 and my final's in 30 minutes. I'm a tad screwed.
  • All For Tom and Tom For All

    You know, maybe that Brooks column is part of a larger strategy -- crucify Abramson and Reed with such vigor and glee that no one notices you're ignoring DeLay. I say that because McCain, eyes on 2008 and ethics in the gutter, has promised to lead a vigorous investigation of Abramoff and Reed that does not, in any way, touch Tom DeLay. That he'll leave to the ethics committee, newly neutered and restocked by, yes, Tom DeLay. Lawmakers, even those involved in scandals that he's investigating, apparently fall outside the ex-maverick's purview, and so he won't touch them. That's the Republican way, after all. Remember how Ken Starr's expansion of the Whitewater probe to cover Clinton's trysts spurred them into outrage and fierce opposition? "A travesty", they didn't call it. "A textbook case of overreach", no one said. "The only one who deserves impeachment is the partisan prosecutor", I heard them refuse to demand. And now McCain, a guy so wedded to good government and bipartisan ethics...
  • It May Not Work, But It Sure is Fun

    You know, with all the data showing that abstinence education doesn't work, I've always found the government's insistence on using it mildly offensive. But you know what's way, way, way more offensive? That the government has found that torture -- I'm sorry, "harsh methods" -- don't work and yet they're using them anyway. But hey! Look over there! Terry Schiavo!
  • More on Women in Writing

    Over at The Washington Monthly, Amy Sullivan kicked off the women in writing argument with a truly terrific essay , and Kathy Pollitt followed up with an equally persuasive response . You should read both (Sullivan's is longer, but more than worth it). One thing though -- Pollitt wonders why nobody has given Barbara Ehrenreich, who did a great job filling in for Tom Friedman on the NY Times op-ed page, a permanent slot. According to Kinsley, the LA Times tries and was rebuffed. I don't know if the New York Times made the same offer -- I'd think not, because the only slot to open was for a conservative -- but it's worth noting that at least one of the big three made the effort.
  • Tom Gone Crazy!

    Via Digby , I see Tom DeLay is proving my argument from yesterday, namely, that the further Terry gets from the headlines, the more ludicrous become Tom's attempts to keep her under the cameras. Her exit, after all, means the reentrance of his scandals. So on the 18th , Tom argued that she was as "alive as your or I", that she was not "being kept alive", and promised that, on Palm Sunday weekend, she would not be forsaken. Pretty good, huh? Well on the 19th , he accused the Supreme Court, who didn't want to hear the case, of perpetrating a "moral and legal tragedy" and told them they owe it "to the dignity of human life" to explain their decision. Pretty nutty, huh? On the third day of Terry-saving, the 20th , DeLay stumbled in from the bar to explain that "Terry Schiavo is not brain-dead; she talks and she laughs, and she expresses happiness and discomfort" and that "it won't take a miracle to help Terry Schiavo". So in three days, he went from concerned, to outraged, all the way to...
  • You Say Tomato, I Say Tomahto

    The New York Times has a surprisingly good article on the war of words in the Social Security debate. Is it privatization? Personal accounts? Private accounts? Or the Republican term du jour, "voluntary personal retirement accounts"? I'd have liked a bit more history of the term privatization, and I'd have really liked for this article to have hit two months ago, but it's pretty good nonetheless. And, any piece that starts with an anecdote like this gets my love: Mr. Bush complained last week that " 'privatization' is a trick word," intended to "scare people." Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, interrupted a news conference to correct a reporter who asked about "personal" accounts. "It's 'privatization,' " Mr. Reid said, adding that "personal accounts" was "the Republican term." I just love seeing Reid prove he knows how to play this game. And it's kinda funny to watch the press corps get batted around, their own fetish for politician-dictated objectivity being used...
  • Masters of Sleaze

    The cognitive dissonance has finally overwhelmed poor Brooks. Schiavo, DeLay, Medicare, Bolton -- a lesser man would have buckled long ago. The surprise, however, is that the cognitive won ! When a prominent conservative writes a column this blistering, CW is shifting. Abramoff and Reed might want to cash in the chits and go work for the CPA -- I hear the heathens need some preachin'. And DeLay? He's readying to make Newt's tumble look like an honorable discharge... Update : I agree with Brad Plumer , and many of you in the comments, that Brooks is consciously sparing the Republican party and trying to quarantine this behavior to a few dirty lobbyists he can tut-tut at, right before returning to have tea with the rest of the right. Frankly, that's fine. Look -- you could set your watch by Brooks's hackitude. Whenever the world around becomes too chaotic to bear, I reach for his columns, luxuriating in the knowledge that no matter what else is occurring, it is somehow related to a...