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march 03, 2005

Pure NRG

Well now here's some good news!

The first commercial version of a new kind of power plant, called a "Solar Tower", is set to be completed in Australia in 2006. This thing is cheaper than a coal plant with the same power output, and produces no pollution whatsoever!

Of course there's no way our energy sector will allow this hippy crap to set foot on our soil, so it really is going to be up to us to push like hell for this. Make a mental note.

march 02, 2005

If You Can't Trust The Trustees...

According to a report just released by Rep. Henry Waxman and his Committee on Government Reform posse, there's a significant amount of evidence that the Social Security Administration (which has traditionally been non-political) has jumped into bed with the President to sell his private accounts plan. Who knew?

Kevin Drum picks a few choice excerpts from the report which show various SSA literature that had painted a rosy picture of things in 2000, but had became dark and scary by 2004. Which is kind of funny, considering the date for Social Security Armageddon has been steadily pushed out for the last decade.

You've got to hand it to Bush, though. Using an organization to help you undermine it's very existence? Now that's bad-ass!

Let's just hope the actuaries, who actually crunch the yearly predictions of Social Security's solvency, stay on the up and up.

february 28, 2005

Counting Every Vote

Senators Boxer, Clinton, and Kerry recently introduced the Count Every Vote Act, a great looking bill which tackles some long-overdue issues in the battle for electoral reform, namely giving felons back their right to vote, declaring Election Day a national holiday, and... wait for it... making verifiable paper trails on all electronic voting machines mandatory.

Now I ask you, what red-blooded American wouldn't leap to support this bill?! Let's see, is there anyone out there who would stand to lose if more low-income and minority people were allowed to vote, and then their votes were actually counted? Hmmm, well now that's strange... not a single Republican has signed on in support. Go figure.

Anyway, it should be interesting to see how they knock the bill off of the radar screen.

Honestly, though, part of me does kind of hope that the bill gets ditched rather than having this Republican-controlled congress get their hands on it for modification. Clearly their Help America Vote Act back in 2002 worked like a charm to fix the "rampant disenfranchisement problem" we saw in the 2000 election. Hell, some even speculate that shortcomings with HAVA paved the way to even bigger shenanigans in the 2004 election. Ah, but I digress...

february 23, 2005

The Ultimate Cabal

Just when you thought the PNAC was the hottest cabal in town, it turns out they may have just been hogging the spotlight! Check out these characters:

Ever wonder how the right always seems so coordinated in the strategy. How all the multitude of organizations they've created all seem to use the same playbook? How they all manage to focus on the same talking points each day, day after day, year after year. Well it's no accident. But how do they do it?

The answer my friends lies in a little known organization with the innocuous sounding name The Council for National Policy. Don't go looking for an official website because you won't find one. In fact this "think tank" goes out of its way to avoid publicity.

You really should strap on a tinfoil hat and read the whole thing... these guys are seriously nuts, and have their hands all over the levers of power. Great.

february 20, 2005

Rest In Peace

"The Edge... there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over."

- Hunter S. Thompson

Syndication Plumbing

For the couple of you out there who read my site through an XML feed, I've got some good news and some bad news...

The good news is I just added an Atom feed. I'm not sure how that's much better than a good ol' RSS feed, but I figure the more options the better.

Anyway, the bad news is that in the process I moved all the feeds into a feeds directory, so that should screw you up nicely.

Get Your Torture On

I'm not really sure which is worse... the fact that our government has continued unabated it's practice of torturing prisoners in secret gulags all over the world, or that the American people for the most part don't really seem to give a crap about it.

I guess David Rees was right:

february 19, 2005

Ghosts Of 9/11 Past

Uh-oh! It looks like there may be a little life left in the 9/11 investigations yet, courtesy of Rep. Henry Waxman and friends:

We are writing to request that our Committee hold hearings to investigate two extremely serious questions raised by an article that appeared in this morning's New York Times. The first question is whether the Administration misused the classification process to withhold, for political reasons, official 9/11 Commission staff findings detailing how federal aviation officials received multiple intelligence reports warning of airline hijackings and suicide attacks before September 11. The second question relates to the veracity of statements, briefings, and testimony by then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice regarding this issue.

Good questions, of course, which means it's highly unlikely that they'll actually get the hearings. We just need to accept the fact that some people's political careers and ideological objectives are far more important than the national security of our country, and if they have to stonewall the 9/11 investigations every step of the way then that's just the way it has to be.

For fuck's sake! Can you really be shocked by the litany of "coincidence theories" and legitimate concerns out there? The Bush Administration has at best come across like cynical political opportunists during this whole affair, all the while using 9/11 like a club to get their way.

As seriously as so many people have taken the War On Terror, it's always boggled my mind that more people aren't storming the castle with torches and pitchforks over this.

Ah well... if you need me, I'll be in my "happy place".

february 18, 2005

Conservative America Challenge

So Karl Rove yesterday, during some sort of troop-rallying speech, once again trotted out the fact that "conservatism is the dominant political creed in America". I've definitely heard that one more than once lately, so just to clear the air I think it's time for the Conservative America Challenge.

It goes like this: Instead of always pushing the conservative agenda under the cover of some Orwellian doublespeak or in some other way sugar coating it's true intentions, the latest case in point being the Social Security issue, for this challenge the administration should for once just come right out with it.

I say make an announcement tomorrow that effective immediately we will begin phasing out one of the most socialist program ever devised in America, Social Security, with all of it's ultra-liberal "guaranteed dignity in old age" crap, and replace it completely with a system of "let the market decide your fate" private accounts.

Once the spin machine has been peeled away, let's see how conservative America really is.

UPDATE: I just remembered a post from Kevin Drum last year that really makes the point:

[C]onsider the conservative agenda as represented by major Bush administration initiatives. They want to make life less dangerous for big corporations by pushing tort reform and whittling away at environmental standards. They want to promote vouchers and private schools by implementing absurd standards for public schools in the No Child Left Behind Act. They want to reduce and privatize Medicare and Social Security. They invaded Iraq in order to install a friendlier government and give us a base of power in the center of the Middle East.

But that's not what they say. What they say is that tort reform is designed to minimize frivolous lawsuits (though capping payments patently does nothing of the kind). The "Clean Air" and "Healthy Forests" initiatives strengthen our commitment to cleaning up the environment. NCLB will make our public schools better and more accountable. Their Medicare and Social Security proposals are designed to strengthen the system, not scale it back. The Iraq war was for humanitarian reasons and we're going to get out as soon as we can.

To hear George Bush talk, you'd almost think you were listening to the reincarnation of FDR, and the fact that he says this stuff is a tacit admission that talking about conservative goals openly and honestly would be an electoral disaster. Most people want cleaner air and water, they want strong public schools, they like Social Security and Medicare, and even after 9/11 they don't want long wars or messy occupations.

february 17, 2005

Social Insecurity

Even as Bush presses on with his Bamboozlepalooza Tour and the mainstream media does it's best to not "get involved", it has become painfully evident to the rest of us that Bush's Social Security "reform" plan (or at least what's been revealed) is highly suspect.

If you want to dig into why, our resident economics terminator Paul Krugman has been on the case (see here, here, here, and here), Josh Marshall has been doing all-star work, as has the rest of the blog community. You can even calculate how much money you're going to lose.

But the fact is, even many of the President's strongest supporters have now conceded that there's no real crisis, the details of Bush's plan are all wrong, and it does nothing to rescue Social Security anyway... they simply like the idea of private accounts. Hell, the President himself has now admitted that private accounts have no positive effect on Social Security's solvency, and oh, there really isn't a crises.

Which brings me to my point. The endless analysis has been critical in getting the President to admit that his plan does nothing to fix Social Security, but now that he has, what exactly is it we're debating, again? Why is he still on the road pushing private accounts?

As Senator Boxer pointed out the other day, a White House memo recently stated:

For the first time in six decades the Social Security battle is one we can win and in doing so, we can help transform the political and philosophical landscape of the country.

Stew on that for a second. What exactly is the "Social Security battle" that they've been trying to win for the last six decades?! Kinda brings things into focus, doesn't it?

As Paul Krugman concurs, this entire exercise has never had anything to do with shoring up one of the most successful government programs in history. Quite simply, Bush now believes he has the "political capital" to do something his ideological compadres have been wanting to do since the New Deal... stab Social Security in the heart.

To allow ourselves to lose sight of this simple fact when approaching this debate simply grants them their slim chance.