No Critical Signs   

Eschaton If, in fact, federal agents are calling businesses prior to Bush's arrival to town informing them that they aren't allowed to hang critical s
If, in fact, federal agents are calling businesses prior to Bush's arrival to town informing them that they aren't allowed to hang critical signs that's a big problem.

It's also a big problem if people are impersonating federal agents.

Either way.

Under Comrade Bush...a new age of pre-packaged TV news that Stalin would love The New York Times

It is the kind of TV news coverage every president covets.

"Thank you, Bush. Thank you, U.S.A.," a jubilant Iraqi-American told a camera crew in Kansas City for a segment about reaction to the fall of Baghdad. A second report told of "another success" in the Bush administration's "drive to strengthen aviation security"; the reporter called it "one of the most remarkable campaigns in aviation history." A third segment, broadcast in January, described the administration's determination to open markets for American farmers.

To a viewer, each report looked like any other 90-second segment on the local news. In fact, the federal government produced all three. The report from Kansas City was made by the State Department. The "reporter" covering airport safety was actually a public relations professional working under a false name for the Transportation Security Administration. The farming segment was done by the Agriculture Department's office of communications.

Under the Bush administration, the federal government has aggressively used a well-established tool of public relations: the prepackaged, ready-to-serve news report that major corporations have long distributed to TV stations to pitch everything from headache remedies to auto insurance. In all, at least 20 federal agencies, including the Defense Department and the Census Bureau, have made and distributed hundreds of television news segments in the past four years, records and interviews show. Many were subsequently broadcast on local stations across the country without any acknowledgement of the government's role in their production.

This winter, Washington has been roiled by revelations that a handful of columnists wrote in support of administration policies without disclosing they had accepted payments from the government. But the administration's efforts to generate positive news coverage have been considerably more pervasive than previously known. At the same time, records and interviews suggest widespread complicity or negligence by television stations, given industry ethics standards that discourage the broadcast of prepackaged news segments from any outside group without revealing the source.  More....


↓ Story continues below ↓

Marketing people know that $254 million buys a lot of exposure. This reported $254 million is only money spent by the government on pro-Bush PR. It does not cover pro-Bush announcements, etc. by agencies of the government. And all this is on top of the $3-400 million per year spent by the Right's network of think tanks, which was also outside of the reported Party $300 million-plus campaign spending. It also does not include the 24-hour-a-day Republican AM radio machine, Fox News,

Under the Bush administration, the federal government has aggressively used a well-established tool of public relations: the prepackaged, ready-to-serve news report that major corporations have long distributed to TV stations to pitch everything from headache remedies to auto insurance. In all, at least 20 federal agencies, including the Defense Department and the Census Bureau, have made and distributed hundreds of television news segments in the past four years, records and interviews show. Many were subsequently broadcast on local stations across the country without any acknowledgement of the government's role in their production.

This winter, Washington has been roiled by revelations that a handful of columnists wrote in support of administration policies without disclosing they had accepted payments from the government. But the administration's efforts to generate positive news coverage have been considerably more pervasive than previously known. At the same time, records and interviews suggest widespread complicity or negligence by television stations, given industry ethics standards that discourage the broadcast of prepackaged news segments from any outside group without revealing the source. More....

Marketing people know that $254 million buys a lot of exposure. This reported $254 million is only money spent by the government on pro-Bush PR. It does not cover pro-Bush announcements, etc. by agencies of the government. And all this is on top of the $3-400 million per year spent by the Right's network of think tanks, which was also outside of the reported Party $300 million-plus campaign spending. It also does not include the 24-hour-a-day Republican AM radio machine, Fox News, Republican newspapers, etc.

[Update:
Say hello to Stop Fake News, brought to you by Start Change, the same folks who began Stop Sinclair. They are seeking an FCC investigation into President Bush's use of fake news. Turns out, there are at least two laws or regulations that may have been violated:

  • 47 U.S.C. 317, the Radio Act, prohibits broadcast stations from airing government-produced programming without proper disclosure.
  • 31 U.S.C. 1341, Pub. L. No. 108-199, prohibits the use of public funds for creating and distributing partisan propaganda.

Join their sign-on letter here.

MORE...

Republican newspapers, etc.
[Update:
Say hello to
Stop Fake News, brought to you by Start Change, the same folks who began Stop Sinclair. They are seeking an FCC investigation into President Bush's use of fake news. Turns out, there are at least two laws or regulations that may have been violated:

  • 47 U.S.C. 317, the Radio Act, prohibits broadcast stations from airing government-produced programming without proper disclosure.
  • 31 U.S.C. 1341, Pub. L. No. 108-199, prohibits the use of public funds for creating and distributing partisan propaganda.

Join their sign-on letter here.

MORE...

WhiteHouseTape

www.whitehousetapes.org
Lyndon Johnson's speech, which might charitably be described as "folksy," is caught on tape as he orders six pair of pants in language that is downright crude. Offering actual recordings made in the Oval Office over the course of 33 years and six administrations -- from FDR to Nixon -- this site lets you overhear the conversations surrounding minor and major events in our history. Listen in as Nixon and Chief of Staff Bob Haldeman discuss Donald Rumsfeld, then counselor to the president. ("Rummy is tough enough. He's a ruthless little bastard," according to the president.) Eavesdrop on JFK and the head of NASA as they discuss the importance of landing a man on the moon. Although the Nixon tapes are the most numerous and famous in this vast archive, there's much to be learned about our presidents, our history, and the machinations of our government. It's "The West Wing" for real. [thnx to Steven W.

Three Things We Already Know
Tyler Cowen as Dutch Uncle via Brad DeLong

Marginal Revolution: Three things you (I hope) already know: The purpose of our blogging is to circulate ideas that are new, or at least new to us and perhaps to you.  But every now and then there is something to be said for sheer repetition of the important.  If nothing else, this incursion into the known might make those points more memorable, more salient, or more likely to influence your behavior.  So here goes:WhiteHouseTape

www.whitehousetapes.org
Lyndon Johnson's speech, which might charitably be described as "folksy," is caught on tape as he orders six pair of pants in language that is downright crude. Offering actual recordings made in the Oval Office over the course of 33 years and six administrations -- from FDR to Nixon -- this site lets you overhear the conversations surrounding minor and major events in our history. Listen in as Nixon and Chief of Staff Bob Haldeman discuss Donald Rumsfeld, then counselor to the president. ("Rummy is tough enough. He's a ruthless little bastard," according to the president.) Eavesdrop on JFK and the head of NASA as they discuss the importance of landing a man on the moon. Although the Nixon tapes are the most numerous and famous in this vast archive, there's much to be learned about our presidents, our history, and the machinations of our government. It's "The West Wing" for real. [thnx to Steven W.

Three Things We Already Know
Tyler Cowen as Dutch Uncle via Brad DeLong

Marginal Revolution: Three things you (I hope) already know: The purpose of our blogging is to circulate ideas that are new, or at least new to us and perhaps to you. But every now and then there is something to be said for sheer repetition of the important. If nothing else, this incursion into the known might make those points more memorable, more salient, or more likely to influence your behavior. So here goes:

  1. Torture is morally wrong, and the U.S. government should not be torturing people or easing the use of torture.  And yes I will make an exception for the ticking nuclear time bomb.
  2. We have dropped the ball on securing Russian nuclear weapons.  There was simply no good reason for this mistake.
  3. Avian flu could be a very very serious pandemic; here is the latest.  We are not prepared.  How about more investment in faster vaccine production technologies, not to mention an improved legal and regulatory climate?
Talking Ids    Hullabaloo

[ed. note:We mentioned this a couple days ago, but it bears repeating

The Atlantic features a fascinating article this month about talk radio in which the author goes behind the scenes of a popular radio show here in LA. He examines the entire ethos of the business while focusing on one right wing talk show host named John Zeigler.

A couple of things about the business itself stuck out at me. Evidently, they really do make the case that it isn't right wing politics that make them successful; it's the "stimulating" nature of their format:  More

  1. Torture is morally wrong, and the U.S. government should not be torturing people or easing the use of torture. And yes I will make an exception for the ticking nuclear time bomb.
  2. We have dropped the ball on securing Russian nuclear weapons. There was simply no good reason for this mistake.
  3. Avian flu could be a very very serious pandemic; here is the latest. We are not prepared. How about more investment in faster vaccine production technologies, not to mention an improved legal and regulatory climate?
Talking Ids Hullabaloo

[ed. note:We mentioned this a couple days ago, but it bears repeating.

The Atlantic features a fascinating article this month about talk radio in which the author goes behind the scenes of a popular radio show here in LA. He examines the entire ethos of the business while focusing on one right wing talk show host named John Zeigler.

A couple of things about the business itself stuck out at me. Evidently, they really do make the case that it isn't right wing politics that make them successful; it's the "stimulating" nature of their format: More...


Republican Constitutionalism    Lawyers, Guns and Money 

Fafblog generously offers us the founding myth now being proffered by a majority of the Republican Party, including at least one Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Now, if you're the kind of liberal secularist heathen who reads this blog, you may wonder about why we should be bound by what some framers may have thought rather than by what they wrote (and, perhaps, why deist religious beliefs from the 1780s mysteriously end up being the same as the Republican Party platform of 2004.) "Why, that almost seems inconsistent with the reule of law, democracy, and all those other silly anacrhronisms," you might be thinking. However, when you understand the too-often supressed history of the founding it all makes sense:


Great Moments in History, 1787: God Writes the Constitution

"I believe in a nation of laws rigorously ordered according to the dictates of logic and reason," says James Madison, "and I propose that each citizen be apportioned his vote based upon his balance of the four cardinal elements of earth, wind, water, and fire, to be measured in a census conducted by the Alchemist General."
"Nonsense and poppycock!" says Alexander Hamilton. "Your antique notions have no place in the modern age, Madison! Votes should be weighted according to a man's balance of true natural elements, aligned according to the periodic table. Thus a man whose essence is comprised primarily of phosphorpous receives half the legislative representation of a man whose spirit is made of zinc!"...


Republican Constitutionalism Lawyers, Guns and Money

Fafblog generously offers us the founding myth now being proffered by a majority of the Republican Party, including at least one Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Now, if you're the kind of liberal secularist heathen who reads this blog, you may wonder about why we should be bound by what some framers may have thought rather than by what they wrote (and, perhaps, why deist religious beliefs from the 1780s mysteriously end up being the same as the Republican Party platform of 2004.) "Why, that almost seems inconsistent with the reule of law, democracy, and all those other silly anacrhronisms," you might be thinking. However, when you understand the too-often supressed history of the founding it all makes sense:


Great Moments in History, 1787: God Writes the Constitution

"I believe in a nation of laws rigorously ordered according to the dictates of logic and reason," says James Madison, "and I propose that each citizen be apportioned his vote based upon his balance of the four cardinal elements of earth, wind, water, and fire, to be measured in a census conducted by the Alchemist General."
"Nonsense and poppycock!" says Alexander Hamilton. "Your antique notions have no place in the modern age, Madison! Votes should be weighted according to a man's balance of true natural elements, aligned according to the periodic table. Thus a man whose essence is comprised primarily of phosphorpous receives half the legislative representation of a man whose spirit is made of zinc!""Gentlemen, gentlemen, please," says God. "I believe I have the solution. You may call Me old-fashioned, but I believe the governing structure of this new law should be based firmly on the Biblical principles of a strong executive, an independent judiciary, a bicameral legislature with an upper and lower house, checks and balances, and a bill of rights to ensure the preservation of basic liberties."
"That's a great idea God!" says me. "I don't know why we didn't think it up ourselves!"

Then when nobody's lookin' Warren Burger an the ACLU show up an beat up God an steal his lunch money an that's when slavery an stuff happens.

And now you know the real story!

 
Skank Bolton      Seeing The Forest
I've been grousing to myself, as I so often do, about yet another Bush appointment: John Bolton as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. This was announced after Rice swept across Europe full of protestations that the U.S. would turn over a new leaf, and work respectfully with others. Well, that didn't last long. Bolton! Only a punk would nominate Bolton.

Now I read a story that lends substance to my churning and inchoate disgust. This article recounts the sorry history of the biological weapons treaty. Work on an enforcement mechanism for this treaty began in 1995. After initially signalling support, the Bush Administration sabotaged it at the 11th hour, sending Bolton, after six years of work, with the message that the
"Gentlemen, gentlemen, please," says God. "I believe I have the solution. You may call Me old-fashioned, but I believe the governing structure of this new law should be based firmly on the Biblical principles of a strong executive, an independent judiciary, a bicameral legislature with an upper and lower house, checks and balances, and a bill of rights to ensure the preservation of basic liberties."
"That's a great idea God!" says me. "I don't know why we didn't think it up ourselves!"

Then when nobody's lookin' Warren Burger an the ACLU show up an beat up God an steal his lunch money an that's when slavery an stuff happens.

And now you know the real story!

Skank Bolton Seeing The Forest
I've been grousing to myself, as I so often do, about yet another Bush appointment: John Bolton as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. This was announced after Rice swept across Europe full of protestations that the U.S. would turn over a new leaf, and work respectfully with others. Well, that didn't last long. Bolton! Only a punk would nominate Bolton.

Now I read a story that lends substance to my churning and inchoate disgust. This article recounts the sorry history of the biological weapons treaty. Work on an enforcement mechanism for this treaty began in 1995. After initially signalling support, the Bush Administration sabotaged it at the 11th hour, sending Bolton, after six years of work, with the message that the

A year later, China discovered SARS and tried to hide it. Three months later, terrified of the possibilities of its spreading throughout China and the world, it notified the World Health Organization, which immediately organized an emergency response on a scale unprecedented for any new illness. The WHO, too, was obviously terrified.

SARS was brought under control, but within the WHO, suppressed by pressure from a certain superpower, was an analysis of the SARS virus showing it to be an artificial creation designed to kill fast and furiously.

The conclusion was that it had somehow escaped from a military lab, which explained why, for three months, the Chinese authorities had hoped to counter the threat, ultimately in vain.

In the end, the Chinese were only too happy to have the analysis suppressed, and the superpower in question averted a major worldwide debate on the need for a bioweapons treaty with an enforcement mechanism.

I wish this were only about Bolton! Clearly he is a substantial contributor to the decline of international cooperation. Unfortunately the real story is the resulting decline in security which effects each one of us.  Homeland security, my ass!

A year later, China discovered SARS and tried to hide it. Three months later, terrified of the possibilities of its spreading throughout China and the world, it notified the World Health Organization, which immediately organized an emergency response on a scale unprecedented for any new illness. The WHO, too, was obviously terrified.

SARS was brought under control, but within the WHO, suppressed by pressure from a certain superpower, was an analysis of the SARS virus showing it to be an artificial creation designed to kill fast and furiously.

The conclusion was that it had somehow escaped from a military lab, which explained why, for three months, the Chinese authorities had hoped to counter the threat, ultimately in vain.

In the end, the Chinese were only too happy to have the analysis suppressed, and the superpower in question averted a major worldwide debate on the need for a bioweapons treaty with an enforcement mechanism.

I wish this were only about Bolton! Clearly he is a substantial contributor to the decline of international cooperation. Unfortunately the real story is the resulting decline in security which effects each one of us. Homeland security, my ass!
Chomsky

Elections Run by Same Guys Who Sell Toothpaste

[...]

The elections are run by the same guys who sell toothpaste. They show you an image of a sports hero, or a sexy model, or a car going up a sheer cliff or something, which has nothing to do with the commodity, but it's intended to delude you into picking this one rather than another one. Same when they run elections. But they're assigned that task in order to marginalize the public, and furthermore, people are pretty well aware of it.

For many years, election campaigns here have been run by the public relations industry and each time it's with increasing sophistication. Quite naturally, the industry uses the same technique to sell candidates that it uses to sell toothpaste or lifestyle drugs. The point is to undermine markets by projecting imagery to delude and suppressing information-and similarly, to undermine democracy by the same method.--Thomas Leavitt

Judge Issues TRO to Protect Detainees From Transfer             TalkLeft...Out of fear for their safety, a federal judge Saturday issued a temporary restraining order preventing the Administration from transferring 13 Yemeni detainees at Guantanamo to other countries.
1,000 Kids Have Lost Parent in Iraq...Newsweek reports on the

[...]

The elections are run by the same guys who sell toothpaste. They show you an image of a sports hero, or a sexy model, or a car going up a sheer cliff or something, which has nothing to do with the commodity, but it's intended to delude you into picking this one rather than another one. Same when they run elections. But they're assigned that task in order to marginalize the public, and furthermore, people are pretty well aware of it.

For many years, election campaigns here have been run by the public relations industry and each time it's with increasing sophistication. Quite naturally, the industry uses the same technique to sell candidates that it uses to sell toothpaste or lifestyle drugs. The point is to undermine markets by projecting imagery to delude and suppressing information-and similarly, to undermine democracy by the same method.--Thomas Leavitt

Judge Issues TRO to Protect Detainees From Transfer TalkLeft...Out of fear for their safety, a federal judge Saturday issued a temporary restraining order preventing the Administration from transferring 13 Yemeni detainees at Guantanamo to other countries.
1,000 Kids Have Lost Parent in Iraq...Newsweek reports on themore than 1,000 American kids who have lost a parent in Iraq.
 
Secret Government    

Access to information held by the federal government has become tougher to obtain in recent years, according to an Associated Press review.

The locations of stores and restaurants that have received recalled meat, the names of detainees held by the U.S. overseas and details about Vice President Dick Cheney's 2001 energy policy task force are all among the records that the government isn't sharing with the public.

The FBI, always stingy with information, gave Freedom of Information Act requesters "everything they asked for just 1 percent of the time in 2004, compared to 5 percent in 1998." The percentage of requests granted by the CIA dropped from 44 percent to 12 percent in the same period.

In addition to decreasing some types of information released under FOIA, the federal government is increasing the number of documents deemed secret and has pulled thousands of documents and databases off public Web sites.

The administration contends that the new restrictions are necessary for public safety. Yet an open government also keeps us safe by making it more difficult for our public officials and employees to behave abusively. more than 1,000 American kids who have lost a parent in Iraq.

Secret Government

Access to information held by the federal government has become tougher to obtain in recent years, according to an Associated Press review.

The locations of stores and restaurants that have received recalled meat, the names of detainees held by the U.S. overseas and details about Vice President Dick Cheney's 2001 energy policy task force are all among the records that the government isn't sharing with the public.

The FBI, always stingy with information, gave Freedom of Information Act requesters "everything they asked for just 1 percent of the time in 2004, compared to 5 percent in 1998." The percentage of requests granted by the CIA dropped from 44 percent to 12 percent in the same period.

In addition to decreasing some types of information released under FOIA, the federal government is increasing the number of documents deemed secret and has pulled thousands of documents and databases off public Web sites.

The administration contends that the new restrictions are necessary for public safety. Yet an open government also keeps us safe by making it more difficult for our public officials and employees to behave abusively.

WHERE SENIORS FEAR TO TREAD....The Washington Monthly

In the Washington Post Sunday, George Will suggests that President Bush will win the Social Security debate as soon as seniors realize they have nothing to fear from privatization. Matt Yglesias skewers this argument nicely. Most 55-year-olds today, after all, probably expect to live at least another 20-25 years, by which time the Bush privatization quasi-plan will have added several trillion dollars in new debt to an already debt-strapped country. It's implied in the dog-and-pony shows being staged by Dubya across the country, as confirmed by the New York Times

WHERE SENIORS FEAR TO TREAD....The Washington Monthly

In the Washington Post Sunday, George Will suggests that President Bush will win the Social Security debate as soon as seniors realize they have nothing to fear from privatization. Matt Yglesias skewers this argument nicely. Most 55-year-olds today, after all, probably expect to live at least another 20-25 years, by which time the Bush privatization quasi-plan will have added several trillion dollars in new debt to an already debt-strapped country. It's implied in the dog-and-pony shows being staged by Dubya across the country, as confirmed by the New York Times on Saturday:

Campaigning in Tennessee and Louisiana for his plan to create individual investment accounts in Social Security, Mr. Bush sought to reassure retirees that nothing would change for them and to convince younger workers that the accounts would give them a chance to build substantial nest eggs.

. . . "The safety net is secure for older Americans," Mr. Bush said in Memphis. . . .

. . . "I believe when people figure out that we have a problem and the seniors hear that nothing's going to change, woe to the politician that doesn't come to the table," he said.

Dubya and George Will seem to think this is some kind of threat, but in fact it's a huge opportunity for the Democrats. By continuing to show their opposition in polls to the anti-Social Security offensive, older Americans are showing that they don't just care about their own personal well-being, they care about the same safety net being available to future generations -- which is apparently something that caught the Bushites by surprise.

Their cynical cluelessness needs to be the beginning of a reframing effort by the Democrats. A fundamental difference between the parties is that Democrats think we're all in this together, while Republicans want to divide us.

The Social Security debate has demonstrated that on this issue, older Americans identify with the Democratic philosophy. They need to made aware of the side they've chosen, as vividly as possible.
The' message to seniors should be: "Look how far George Bush and his party are from your values. They think you can be bought -- that you'll sell out your kids and grandkids as long as they don't personally cut your benefits."

This theme resonates with a lot of other aspects of the comeback strategy I think the Democrats need to adopt. on Saturday:

Campaigning in Tennessee and Louisiana for his plan to create individual investment accounts in Social Security, Mr. Bush sought to reassure retirees that nothing would change for them and to convince younger workers that the accounts would give them a chance to build substantial nest eggs.

. . . "The safety net is secure for older Americans," Mr. Bush said in Memphis. . . .

. . . "I believe when people figure out that we have a problem and the seniors hear that nothing's going to change, woe to the politician that doesn't come to the table," he said.

Dubya and George Will seem to think this is some kind of threat, but in fact it's a huge opportunity for the Democrats. By continuing to show their opposition in polls to the anti-Social Security offensive, older Americans are showing that they don't just care about their own personal well-being, they care about the same safety net being available to future generations -- which is apparently something that caught the Bushites by surprise.

Their cynical cluelessness needs to be the beginning of a reframing effort by the Democrats. A fundamental difference between the parties is that Democrats think we're all in this together, while Republicans want to divide us.

The Social Security debate has demonstrated that on this issue, older Americans identify with the Democratic philosophy. They need to made aware of the side they've chosen, as vividly as possible.
The' message to seniors should be: "Look how far George Bush and his party are from your values. They think you can be bought -- that you'll sell out your kids and grandkids as long as they don't personally cut your benefits."

This theme resonates with a lot of other aspects of the comeback strategy I think the Democrats need to adopt.

A quote from a much-discussed article in the Washington Times last Friday on the same subject:

The White House has garbled its message, said Peter Ferrara, who was a policy adviser in the Reagan administration.
 
"I can't understand why this White House staff sends the president out to sell personal savings accounts for Social Security with the message that they don't really solve the problem," Mr. Ferrara said. "Is it any wonder then that the more the president talks about personal accounts, the lower they sink in the polls?"

Actually, Mr. Ferrara, the reason Dubya's vision of undermining Social Security keeps getting less popular was explained by the Washington Post

A quote from a much-discussed article in the Washington Times last Friday on the same subject:

The White House has garbled its message, said Peter Ferrara, who was a policy adviser in the Reagan administration.

"I can't understand why this White House staff sends the president out to sell personal savings accounts for Social Security with the message that they don't really solve the problem," Mr. Ferrara said. "Is it any wonder then that the more the president talks about personal accounts, the lower they sink in the polls?"

Actually, Mr. Ferrara, the reason Dubya's vision of undermining Social Security keeps getting less popular was explained by the Washington Post more than a week ago:

The more people learn about the Bush plan, they more they oppose it, according to a poll by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. The poll, released Saturday, showed that 46 percent of respondents said they support the accounts, down eight percentage points from December; the number of people who said they are familiar with the president's plan has nearly doubled.

Dubya got away with his lies about Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction" because no one could prove they didn't exist until after the invasion. In this case, though, it's too easy to show how the Orwell Bush administration's numbers don't add up.

Ferrara is essentially suggesting that the Dubya dig his way out on Social Security the way he has with every other issue -- lie more. But this time, they've finally run into a lie that's too big to get away with. (We'll see in the next few weeks if that means it's too big a lie for them to tell.)
Pay for performance medicine... Roger Lowenstein, who wrote a justly-praised analysis of Social Security reform for the New York Times Magazine a while back, has another penetrating piece of policy journalism more than a week ago:

The more people learn about the Bush plan, they more they oppose it, according to a poll by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. The poll, released Saturday, showed that 46 percent of respondents said they support the accounts, down eight percentage points from December; the number of people who said they are familiar with the president's plan has nearly doubled.

Dubya got away with his lies about Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction" because no one could prove they didn't exist until after the invasion. In this case, though, it's too easy to show how the Orwell Bush administration's numbers don't add up.

Ferrara is essentially suggesting that the Dubya dig his way out on Social Security the way he has with every other issue -- lie more. But this time, they've finally run into a lie that's too big to get away with. (We'll see in the next few weeks if that means it's too big a lie for them to tell.)
Pay for performance medicine... Roger Lowenstein, who wrote a justly-praised analysis of Social Security reform for the New York Times Magazine a while back, has another penetrating piece of policy journalism

Shop Elsewhere    Demagogue

The Washington Education Association has taken a stand against Wal*Mart.

Taking a bold political stand, the state teachers' union last week declared the fund off-limits to Wal-Mart purchases.

In a newsletter distributed to teachers, association President Charles Hasse cited Wal-Mart's "exploitative labor practices (that) have added to public assistance burdens in our state and across the nation."

[...]

In the absence of other shopping options, Hasse said, exemptions will be considered on a case-by-case basis. "We're not going to have some student go without a coat if that's the only place it could be purchased."

Of course, free marketeers are pissed about this.

The association's new policy also was slammed by the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, a conservative research organization in Olympia that frequently has clashed with the association.
The foundation, which has received funding from Wal-Mart, issued a press release this week accusing the education association of "allowing a political battle to trump its charitable intentions."in the same publication today. This time Lowenstein's subject is health care.

Shop Elsewhere Demagogue

The Washington Education Association has taken a stand against Wal*Mart.

Taking a bold political stand, the state teachers' union last week declared the fund off-limits to Wal-Mart purchases.

In a newsletter distributed to teachers, association President Charles Hasse cited Wal-Mart's "exploitative labor practices (that) have added to public assistance burdens in our state and across the nation."

[...]

In the absence of other shopping options, Hasse said, exemptions will be considered on a case-by-case basis. "We're not going to have some student go without a coat if that's the only place it could be purchased."

Of course, free marketeers are pissed about this.

The association's new policy also was slammed by the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, a conservative research organization in Olympia that frequently has clashed with the association.
The foundation, which has received funding from Wal-Mart, issued a press release this week accusing the education association of "allowing a political battle to trump its charitable intentions."

Michael Reitz, a legal analyst at the foundation, said the association's stand is ironic.

"On the one hand, the WEA claims that teachers are not being paid enough, but then they're forcing teachers to go to more expensive retailers, because Wal-Mart can be the best place to go for bargain shopping," he said.

"If the mission of the Children's Fund is to help children, then it shouldn't matter where the teachers are purchasing goods."

So if, say, they went to Gay*Mart, where 5% of all sales went towards organizations promoting gay and lesbian adoptions? One Mom Land, where the store promoted single motherhood? Would those be okay?

It's amazing how the morality of free market capitalism only overrides liberal concerns...

UK Went To War On One Page Of Legal Advice
The cabinet secretary yesterday astonished politicians by disclosing that Britain went to war against Iraq on just one page of legal advice from Lord Goldsmith, the attorney general.

The disclosure by Sir Andrew Turnbull to MPs was described as "beggaring belief" by Charles Kennedy, the Liberal Democrat leader, and "a new twist in the spin over the war" by Clare Short, the cabinet minister who quit after hostilities had begun.

Michael Reitz, a legal analyst at the foundation, said the association's stand is ironic.

"On the one hand, the WEA claims that teachers are not being paid enough, but then they're forcing teachers to go to more expensive retailers, because Wal-Mart can be the best place to go for bargain shopping," he said.

"If the mission of the Children's Fund is to help children, then it shouldn't matter where the teachers are purchasing goods."

So if, say, they went to Gay*Mart, where 5% of all sales went towards organizations promoting gay and lesbian adoptions? One Mom Land, where the store promoted single motherhood? Would those be okay?

It's amazing how the morality of free market capitalism only overrides liberal concerns...

UK Went To War On One Page Of Legal Advice
The cabinet secretary yesterday astonished politicians by disclosing that Britain went to war against Iraq on just one page of legal advice from Lord Goldsmith, the attorney general.

The disclosure by Sir Andrew Turnbull to MPs was described as "beggaring belief" by Charles Kennedy, the Liberal Democrat leader, and "a new twist in the spin over the war" by Clare Short, the cabinet minister who quit after hostilities had begun.

More
Uh...it's OK, Britain...we tortured people based on a memo! Now it emerges that even children weren't immune from this Bushco tactic.

The BBC reports:

Children as young as 11 years old were held at Abu Ghraib, the Iraqi prison at the centre of the US prisoner abuse scandal, official documents reveal.
Brig Gen Janis Karpinski, formerly in charge of the jail, gave details of young people and women held there. Her assertion was among documents obtained via legal action by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The Pentagon has admitted juveniles were among the detainees, but said no child was subject to any abuse.

In one case, witness statements among the released documents allege that four drunken Americans took a 17-year-old female prisoner from her cell and forced her to expose her breasts and kissed her.

Karpinski said she thought one boy "looked like he was eight years old". "He told me he was almost 12," she said. "He told me his brother was there with him, but he really wanted to see his mother, could he please call his mother. He was crying."

She said the military began holding children and women at Abu Ghraib from mid-2003. She did not say what the youngsters had been locked up for.Labour backbenchers who opposed the war said the disclosure amounted to "gross maladministration" by the government while the Tory shadow home secretary, David Davis, described the revelation as "another example of Blair's government by whim".

More

Uh...it's OK, Britain...we tortured people based on a memo! Now it emerges that even children weren't immune from this Bushco tactic.

The BBC reports:

Children as young as 11 years old were held at Abu Ghraib, the Iraqi prison at the centre of the US prisoner abuse scandal, official documents reveal.
Brig Gen Janis Karpinski, formerly in charge of the jail, gave details of young people and women held there. Her assertion was among documents obtained via legal action by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The Pentagon has admitted juveniles were among the detainees, but said no child was subject to any abuse.

In one case, witness statements among the released documents allege that four drunken Americans took a 17-year-old female prisoner from her cell and forced her to expose her breasts and kissed her.

Karpinski said she thought one boy "looked like he was eight years old". "He told me he was almost 12," she said. "He told me his brother was there with him, but he really wanted to see his mother, could he please call his mother. He was crying."

She said the military began holding children and women at Abu Ghraib from mid-2003. She did not say what the youngsters had been locked up for.
In another documented incident:

A boy no older than 11 was among the children held by the Army at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, the former U.S. commander of the facility told a general investigating abuses at the prison.
...
[A] soldier said in January 2004 that troops poured water and smeared mud on the detained 17-year-old son of an Iraqi general and "broke" the man by letting the man watch his son shiver. 
(AP 3/11/05)

Wonder which of the "rule of law" guys will follow up on these reports?  Albert Gonzalez?

Religious Left Rising?
by Chris Bowers

More signs of


In another documented incident:


A boy no older than 11 was among the children held by the Army at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, the former U.S. commander of the facility told a general investigating abuses at the prison.
...
[A] soldier said in January 2004 that troops poured water and smeared mud on the detained 17-year-old son of an Iraqi general and "broke" the man by letting the man watch his son shiver.
(AP 3/11/05)

Wonder which of the "rule of law" guys will follow up on these reports? Albert Gonzalez?

Religious Left Rising?
by Chris Bowers

More signs of

a rising religious left:

This past week, leaders of five mainstream Protestant denominations came together to speak in one voice. Standing shoulder to shoulder, leaders of the Episcopal Church USA, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian Church (USA), United Church of Christ, and United Methodist Church together condemned the 2006 Federal budget proposed by President Bush as unjust by biblical standards. They couldn't be more correct.
"The 2006 Federal Budget that President Bush has sent to Capitol Hill is unjust," they said. "It has much for the rich man and little for Lazarus," harkening to Jesus' parable of the beggar Lazarus at the gate of an anonymous rich man. Lazarus, you'll recall, finds his reward at the side of Abraham in heaven when he dies, while the rich man burns in hell.

It's a grand and ancient tradition. The biblical prophets would be on the White House lawn, the steps of the Capitol, in the chambers of Congress, the Law in one hand, a fistful of indignation in the other, condemning the outright aggression of this administration against the poor

. Wow--even the religious let suffers from hypercognition. Still, it is a welcome development. Gains among mainline Protestants could offset loses among white evangelicals. None of it will happen without organization and coordination, however.
Of the meeting of mainline Protestants, Salon writesa rising religious left:

This past week, leaders of five mainstream Protestant denominations came together to speak in one voice. Standing shoulder to shoulder, leaders of the Episcopal Church USA, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian Church (USA), United Church of Christ, and United Methodist Church together condemned the 2006 Federal budget proposed by President Bush as unjust by biblical standards. They couldn't be more correct.
"The 2006 Federal Budget that President Bush has sent to Capitol Hill is unjust," they said. "It has much for the rich man and little for Lazarus," harkening to Jesus' parable of the beggar Lazarus at the gate of an anonymous rich man. Lazarus, you'll recall, finds his reward at the side of Abraham in heaven when he dies, while the rich man burns in hell.

It's a grand and ancient tradition. The biblical prophets would be on the White House lawn, the steps of the Capitol, in the chambers of Congress, the Law in one hand, a fistful of indignation in the other, condemning the outright aggression of this administration against the poor

. Wow--even the religious let suffers from hypercognition. Still, it is a welcome development. Gains among mainline Protestants could offset loses among white evangelicals. None of it will happen without organization and coordination, however.

Of the meeting of mainline Protestants, Salon writes, (via subscription only Hotline):

Salon's Sullivan writes, that the Bush admin "is going to hell" could be "the take-away message" from a 3/8 press conference at the National Press Club which featured "religious leaders from five major Protestant denominations." The leaders called on Congress to oppose what they called an "immoral budget." And "while the press conference focused" on the need for "compassionate policies" it "had another mission as well:" asserting the "relevance of the religious left."
There "was a time" when the religious left was a "powerful institution" in American society but today it is "stubbornly irrelevant." The Dem party "has ghettoized" religion, only "flooding into black churches on the Sundays before elections." The Dems have treated religion as a "quaint ethnic" matter and 11/2 was "no exception." While there are "signs of hope" in the "outrage" Americans had with the "post-election assumptions that 'moral issues' are defined exclusively" on the right, there is a long way for the Dems to go.

Personally, I think the ongoing characterization of Democrats, much of which comes from people on the left, as clueless seculars who have no idea what religion is and why it is important to people, is way harsh and a grotesque characterization. To hear people like Sullivan talk about it, you would think that everyone who attends religious services on a regular basis voted for Bush out of their total disgust for atheist Democrats. In reality, 40% of the roughly 42% of the electorate who claimed to attend religious services on weekly or greater basis went for Kerry (, (via subscription only Hotline):

Salon's Sullivan writes, that the Bush admin "is going to hell" could be "the take-away message" from a 3/8 press conference at the National Press Club which featured "religious leaders from five major Protestant denominations." The leaders called on Congress to oppose what they called an "immoral budget." And "while the press conference focused" on the need for "compassionate policies" it "had another mission as well:" asserting the "relevance of the religious left."
There "was a time" when the religious left was a "powerful institution" in American society but today it is "stubbornly irrelevant." The Dem party "has ghettoized" religion, only "flooding into black churches on the Sundays before elections." The Dems have treated religion as a "quaint ethnic" matter and 11/2 was "no exception." While there are "signs of hope" in the "outrage" Americans had with the "post-election assumptions that 'moral issues' are defined exclusively" on the right, there is a long way for the Dems to go.

Personally, I think the ongoing characterization of Democrats, much of which comes from people on the left, as clueless seculars who have no idea what religion is and why it is important to people, is way harsh and a grotesque characterization. To hear people like Sullivan talk about it, you would think that everyone who attends religious services on a regular basis voted for Bush out of their total disgust for atheist Democrats. In reality, 40% of the roughly 42% of the electorate who claimed to attend religious services on weekly or greater basis went for Kerry (source). Obviously, this is an area where Democrats need to improve, but we are not in the sulfur encased, fiery hole many characterize us as being. For example, a small swing of just three or four points among this group would have been enough for Kerry to win the election.

",0]);D(["ce"]);D(["ms","1d35"]);//-->source). Obviously, this is an area where Democrats need to improve, but we are not in the sulfur encased, fiery hole many characterize us as being. For example, a small swing of just three or four points among this group would have been enough for Kerry to win the election.

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