Monday, February 28, 2005
The Liberal List - Chapter 3
Without any further ado, I give you Chapter 3.
- Juan Cole
Marian Wright Edelman
Chapter 4 coming soon.
Friday, February 25, 2005
After I finished posting last night, I began thinking about one of the statements made toward the end of the NCLB article from the New York Times. The statement was:
- The report also examined what the task force called conflicts between the federal law and the disabilities act. Under No Child Left Behind, a disabled eighth grader whom educators deem to be working at a sixth grade level must take examinations for eighth graders. The report said the requirement contradicted provisions in the disabilities act requiring school authorities to devise a unique program suited to the needs and abilities of each disabled child.
This last sentence is referring to what is known as an I.E.P. (Individual Education Plan). Students with IEPs receive specific accomodations to compensate for their disability. These accomodations can range from enlarged print for the sight impaired, to extra time for slow readers, to specially colored paper for students who suffer from Irlen Syndrome, to whatever helps the student overcome his or her disability. While these accomodations are mandated by the federal disabilities act and adhered to by school districts, many students with IEPs will not be accordingly accomodated when it comes to standardized testing for NCLB. For instance, will the student with a reading disability be given extra time? The answer is no. Will a student afflicted with Irlen Syndrome be given a test on an appropriately colored and formatted paper? Once again, the answer is no. This automatically places many IEP students at a significant disadvantage making their chances of passing very slim.
This paragraph also raised another issue for me with regard to testing at grade level. We'll use math as our example since it's one of the subjects targeted by NCLB.
Do you remember when you were in grade school and everyone took math together? Everyone did the same assignments covering the same basic facts. By the time I reached the fourth grade, my school began dividing students up by their ability level. This process, called tracking at the time, continued throughout junior high and by the time we reached high school we had the option of taking algebra, geometry, trigonometry, pre-calculus, etc depending on our desired career path and ability level. My issue is this: If we have all of these students taking different mathematics classes at varying levels of ability, how can we expect to measure their progress with a single standardized test? And to which ability level should that test be directed?
If the test given is the ACT, as it is here in Illinois, the exam covers material ranging from basic algebra through introductory trigonometry. Unless a student has been exposed to this material by the third quarter of their junior year of high school, he/she have no real chance to pass the exam. So the question becomes, what level should the test be directed at? If the level is too high, lower level students and many with IEPs will be unable to pass. However, if the level is set low enough that these students are capable of passing, then the higher level students aren't challenged (and the necessity to teach higher level math classes now becomes diminished) and the data collected becomes useless as it measures nothing of importance.
The only conclusion that can be reached based upon these facts is that a single standardized test is not capable of measuring the progress of every student. Thus rendering NCLB completely ineffective.
The No Child Left Behind Act has great intentions, but intention will not fix the system. Despite its 11,000 pages, NCLB is nothing more than a fancifully named band-aid for a very serious problem.
Thursday, February 24, 2005
- Concluding a yearlong study on the effectiveness of President Bush's sweeping education law, No Child Left Behind, a bipartisan panel of lawmakers drawn from many states yesterday pronounced it a flawed, convoluted and unconstitutional education reform initiative that had usurped state and local control of public schools.
The report, based on hearings in six cities, praised the law's goal of ending the gap in scholastic achievement between white and minority students. But most of the 77-page report, which the Education Department rebutted yesterday, was devoted to a detailed inventory and discussion of its flaws.
It said the law's accountability system, which punishes schools whose students fail to improve steadily on standardized tests, undermined school improvement efforts already under way in many states and relied on the wrong indicators. The report said that the law's rules for educating disabled students conflicted with another federal law, and that it presented bureaucratic requirements that failed to recognize the tapestry of educational challenges faced by teachers in the nation's 15,000 school districts.
Heh. It's rare, but I have nothing else to add. This one was too easy.
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
No ________________ Left Behind
- No Student-Athlete Left Behind
- All teams must make the state playoffs. If a team does not win the championship, they will be on probation until they are the champions. Until that time, the coaches will be held accountable.
- ALL students will be expected to have the same athletic skills at the same time no matter the quality of their training facilities or equipment. No exceptions will be made for athletes who show no interest in sports and have no desire to perform athletically. Students with physical disabilities will not be exempted from participating. All students must perform at a proficient level. Period.
- Talented athletes will be asked to work out on their own without direct instruction. They will be required to attend all practices even though they will probably not be utilized to their full potential. Coaches will be required to devote all of their instructional time to the athletes that aren't interested in sports, have limited athletic ability, or whose parents don't support their athletic endeavors.
- Games will be played year round, but statistics will only be kept for the 4th, 8th, and 11th games.
This will create a new age of student athletes. Every school will be expected to produce the same level of talent and all teams will be required to meet the minimal goals set forth here.
Sounds pretty ridiculous doesn't it? The worst part of this is that it's true. The goals set forth by NCLB are no more realistic than the farcical example set forth here.
This particular example ended with a statement that I think really sums up the state of education today. It said:
- If no child gets ahead, then no child will be left behind.
Sad isn't it? It's too bad that the best our country can do is to strive for mediocrity.
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
If I Were John Kerry, I'd...
- All 26 NATO members pledged in some capacity to support the alliance's mission in Iraq to train Iraqi security officers -- whether through personnel or financial donations.
Training Iraqi military and police forces is seen as a key component to reducing the 150,000 U.S. troops deployed in Iraq.
"The NATO training mission is an important mission because after all, the success of Iraq depends upon the capacity and the willingness of the Iraqis to defend their own selves against terrorists," Bush said.
Some NATO countries -- like France and Germany -- have refused to participate in training inside Iraq. France has offered to train Iraqi personnel outside the country.
Now some of you may be saying to yourself, "So what?" Some of you may be thinking, "kissfan's losing it." But no, faithful reader, kissfan isn't losing anything. Why don't we step into the famous way-back machine. Let's go back to a time before Nevember 22,
- Last February, Secretary Rumsfeld claimed that more than 210,000 Iraqis were in uniform. Two weeks ago, he admitted that claim was off by more than 50 percent. Iraq, he said, now has 95,000 trained security forces. Neither number bears any relationship to the facts. By the administration's own minimal standards, just 5,000 soldiers have been fully trained. And of the 32,000 police now in uniform, not one has completed a 24-week field-training program.
- Provide incentives to improve and accelerate military and police recruitment.
- Expand urgently the security forces training program inside and outside Iraq by establishing a single, common template for police training and another for military training, and enlisting our NATO allies to open training centers in their countries.
- Recruit thousands of qualified trainers from our allies, especially those who have no troops in Iraq.
- Strengthen the vetting of Iraqi recruits, double classroom training time, and require follow-on field training.
John Kerry and John Edwards believe the President needs to:
[more of my emphasis]
Look familiar? Sure it does. Too bad nobody in the press has the balls to point this out.
So to John Kerry I say, "Whip it out, buddy. You deserve a good blow after all the ass-fucking you had to take from those bastards. Enjoy it while you can because you were right."
Monday, February 21, 2005
- On the afternoon of Dec. 31, 2003, Khaled el-Masri was on a tourist bus headed for the Macedonian capital, Skopje, where he was hoping to escape the "holiday pressures" of home life during a weeklong vacation.
He said that when the bus reached the Serbia-Macedonia border, he was asked the usual questions: Where are you going? How long will you be staying? El-Masri, a German citizen, didn't think much of it until he realized the border guards had confiscated his passport.
The bus moved on, but an increasingly panicked el-Masri was ordered to stay behind. The 41-year-old unemployed car salesman said that a few hours later he was taken to a small, windowless room and accused of being a terrorist by three men dressed in civilian clothes but carrying pistols.
"They asked a lot of questions – if I have relations with al-Qaeda, Al Haramain, the Islamic Brotherhood," recalled el-Masri, who was born in Lebanon. "I kept saying no, but they did not believe me."
It was the first day of what el-Masri said became five months in captivity. He said that after being kidnapped by the Macedonian authorities at the border, he was turned over to officials he believed were from the United States. He said they flew him to a prison in Afghanistan, where he said he was shackled, beaten repeatedly, photographed nude, injected with drugs and questioned by interrogators about what they insisted were his ties to al-Qaeda.
Of course the blinded-by-their-love-for-Bush wingnuts ridiculed this story as yet another example of the liberal media gone wild. But lo and behold, it turns out el-Masri was telling the truth. According to Newsweek, el-Masri is just one of many.
- Like many detainees with tales of abuse, Khaled el-Masri had a hard time getting people to believe him. Even his wife didn't know what to make of his abrupt, five-month disappearance last year. Masri, a German citizen of Lebanese descent, says he was taken off a bus in Macedonia in south-central Europe while on holiday on Dec. 31, 2003, then whisked in handcuffs to a motel outside the capital city of Skopje. Three weeks later, on the evening of Jan. 23, 2004, he was brought blindfolded aboard a jet with engines noisily revving, according to his lawyer, Manfred Gnjidic. Masri says he climbed high stairs "like onto a regular passenger airplane" and was chained to clamps on the bare metal floor and wall of the jet.
Masri says he was then flown to Afghanistan, where at a U.S. prison facility he was shackled, repeatedly punched and questioned about extremists at his mosque in Ulm, Germany. Finally released months later, the still-mystified Masri was deposited on a deserted road leading into Macedonia, where he brokenly tried to describe his nightmarish odyssey to a border guard. "The man was laughing at me," Masri told The New York Times, which disclosed his story last month. "He said: 'Don't tell that story to anyone because no one will believe it. Everyone will laugh'."
No one's laughing these days, least of all the CIA. NEWSWEEK has obtained previously unpublished flight plans indicating the agency has been operating a Boeing 737 as part of a top-secret global charter servicing clandestine interrogation facilities used in the war on terror. And the Boeing's flight information, detailed to the day, seems to confirm Masri's tale of abduction. Gnjidic, Masri's lawyer, called the information "very, very important" to his case, which is being investigated as a kidnapping by a Munich prosecutor. In what could prove embarrassing to President Bush, Gnjidic added that a German TV station was planning to feature Masri's tale ahead of Bush's much-touted trip to Germany this week. German Interior Minister Otto Schily recently visited CIA Director Porter Goss to discuss the case, and German sources tell NEWSWEEK that Schily was seeking an apology. CIA officials declined to comment on that meeting or any aspect of Masri's story.
So let me get this whole thing straight. We're flying detainees around the world in order to interrogate them. Why not just interrogate them here? What could possibly be the advantage of interrogating them someplace else?
The answer, of course, is torture. We're taking them someplace where they can be tortured away from prying eyes. Someplace where they can be beaten, water-boarded, humiliated, and shocked. All the while, we condemn the insurgents, the dictators, and the terrorists for doing exactly what we're responsible for. Sure, we may not be the ones actually torturing these detainees, but we're facilitating it. We're moving them to the places where it can be done in secret.
Is it any wonder why the majority of the Muslim world sees us as the terrorists? As we stand atop our mountain of moralistic bullshit, we are, in truth, wallowing in it just like the rest of them. We are such bastards.
BTW - New advisorjim post here.
Friday, February 18, 2005
Jimmy/Jeff Gann..Guck... Whatever
From CNN's Anderson Cooper 360o:
- COOPER: For the past two years, a man known as Jeff Gannon regularly showed up at the White House. He got a daily press pass and worked as a reporter. No one paid much attention to him, until a few weeks ago when he asked the president a question during a White House press conference. Since then, his past has been laid bare, he's resigned from his job, and more questions continue to be raised about how and why he got into the White House in the first place. Details now from Howard Kurtz of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES."
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST, RELIABLE SOURCES (voice-over): In a White House press corps filled with well known faces, no one paid much attention to this man. Jeff Gannon worked for two Web sites, Talon News and GOPUSA, owned by a Texas Republican activist. He was a self- described conservative reporter who generally asked friendly questions of spokesman Scott McClellan.
And when President Bush called on him last month, Gannon asked an inaccurate question with this unflattering description of Senate Democrats.
JEFF GANNON, FORMER TALON NEWS REPORTER: How are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?
KURTZ: How did he get White House press credentials? Gannon says he didn't have a permanent pass, which requires a full FBI background check, but was admitted day by day, by giving the Secret Service his real name.
Was he a Bush administration plant? He says his questions were his own.
Was his writing anti-gay? He denies that. But the questions keep mounting. Did White House officials know of his salacious activities? Did they give him special access to information? How could he call himself a journalist?
Gannon has become a symbol for the president's critics, and for the bloggers who have shown once again they can take people down with warp speed.
Howard Kurtz, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: I spoke with Jeff Gannon earlier this evening. I started by asking him why he doesn't use his real name?
GANNON: I use a pseudonym, because my real name is very difficult to pronounce, to remember and to spell. And many people who have been talking about me on television have yet to pronounce it correctly.
COOPER: But I mean, your real name is James and you used the pseudonym Jeff.
COOPER: How is James so much harder than Jeff?
GANNON: No, no, I meant my last name.
COOPER: Well, your real last name is Guckert, and the pseudonym you used is Gannon.
GANNON: Yes. It's easier to pronounce, to remember and to spell.
COOPER: But when you would go into the White House to get a pass for a briefing, you would use the name James Guckert.
GANNON: Yes, because that's the name on my driver's license.
COOPER: And then -- but then you would switch to Jeff Gannon to ask questions?
GANNON: Because that is the name that I do my reporting under. It's not uncommon for journalists, authors, actors, to have pseudonyms.
COOPER: There are those who have said that the reason perhaps you are using a different name is that there is stuff from your past that you did not want people to know about or find out about.
GANNON: How I'll address that is that I have made mistakes in my past. And these are all of a very personal and private nature that have been -- that have been all brought to the surface by people who disagreed with the question I asked at the presidential press conference several weeks ago. And is -- the effect of this has been that we seem to have established a new standard for journalists in this country, where if someone disagrees with you, then your personal life, your private life, and anything you have ever done in the past is going to be brought up for public inspection.
COOPER: What your critics say, though, is that while a lot of this may be politically motivated, that liberal bloggers who didn't like the question you ask or don't like you in general are targeting you and revealing things about your personal life, that there are legitimate questions to ask. And in fact, they say that things in your personal life in fact just point to, A, a certain level of hypocrisy on your own part, but also serious questions about the White House vetting process.
GANNON: Well, I can't speak to the White House vetting process. All I can say is that they received all of the information that was asked for, that they ask every journalist for who applies for a daily pass into the White House. I suppose that they don't -- they aren't interested in reporters' sexual history either. COOPER: Let me give you a chance just to respond to what you want to respond to. You had previously stated that you had registered a number of pornographic Web sites for a private client. That's what you had said publicly. You said the sites were never activated. A man now has talked to "The Washington Post," who said that you had essentially paid him to create some Web sites for an escort service, and you are yourself offering yourself as an escort.
GANNON: Well, like I said, there's a lot of things being said about me out there. A lot of things that have nothing to do with the reporting I have done for the last two years.
COOPER: Your critics bring up your past, that whether or not you did work as an escort as going to your credibility, that you know, should somebody who perhaps was working as an escort was getting access to the White House and being passed along through the Secret Service. Was your employer aware of your past activities?
GANNON: My employer was never at any time aware of anything in my past beyond the writings I did, because, frankly, it isn't relevant to the job I was asked to do, which was to be a reporter.
COOPER: Was anyone at the White House aware of your private activities?
GANNON: I would say that -- I would say no, absolutely, categorically no.
COOPER: There are many questions that have been raised about whether or not -- people raising the specter that you are somehow a White House plant. Are you a White House plant? Were you (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?
GANNON: Absolutely not. As a matter of fact, how I came to be at the White House is I asked to attend a briefing. I asked the White House press office. They gave me a daily pass to get in.
COOPER: When was that?
GANNON: I don't recall, but it was -- I think somewhere in the neighborhood of two years ago.
COOPER: Because in -- was that for Talon News?
GANNON: At the time, it was called something else, but it -- the name was changed to Talon News shortly thereafter.
COOPER: What was it called at the time?
GANNON: It was called GOPUSA.
COOPER: So -- and that's owned by a Republican activist, Bobby Eberle?
GANNON: It's owned by Bobby Eberle. COOPER: The first record we have now of you actually being at a White House press briefing was on February 28th, 2003, as you said, before Talon News even existed. So why were you given a White House pass?
GANNON: I was given a White House -- well, you will have to ask the White House that. But I asked to attend the White House briefing because I was -- you know, because I wanted to report on the activities there.
COOPER: But GOPUSA is not a news organization.
GANNON: Well, we were -- we were -- we had established a news division, and it was later renamed Talon News.
COOPER: Because this is news to just about everybody. You know, Talon News wasn't registered I think until, well, March 29th of 2003. I think the first articles didn't appear until April 1st. So I guess the questions that are being raised why were you at -- allowed to go to a White House briefing if you are working for GOPUSA, which is a clearly partisan organization?
GANNON: There are many, many organizations, many people that are allowed to attend the White House briefings. I don't know the criteria they use.
COOPER: But you weren't even publishing anything. You weren't reporting anything.
GANNON: Well, actually, I was at the time.
COOPER: When was the first article you ever published?
GANNON: Well, you're -- I don't know that, because I'm here in your studio here. And I don't know the answer to specific dates. All I can tell you is that -- and frankly, all these questions about Talon News and GOPUSA, you need to ask them about that, because I don't represent them any longer.
COOPER: Yeah, we've asked them. They refuse to talk about it.
GANNON: Well, I mean, they would be the ultimate authority on that.
COOPER: This liberal group, Media Matters, which I'm sure you know well about. They have been very critical about you, really looked into this probably closer than just about anybody. They say that essentially, you are not a real reporter. And it's not even a question of being an advocate, that you have directly lifted large segments of your reports directly from White House press releases.
GANNON: All my stories were usually titled "White House Says," "President Bush Wants," and I relied on transcripts from the briefings, I relied on press releases that were sent to the press for the purpose of accurately portraying what the White House believed or wanted. COOPER: But using the term "reporting" implies some sort of vetting, some sort of research, some sort of -- I mean, that's called faxing or Xeroxing, if you are just lifting transcripts and putting them into an article.
GANNON: If I am communicating to my readers exactly what the White House believes on any certain issue, that's reporting to them an unvarnished, unfiltered version of what they believe.
COOPER: Did you receive information from the White House that others didn't get?
GANNON: Absolutely not.
COOPER: So there was an article in which you interviewed Ambassador Joe Wilson, and you implied that you had seen a CIA classified document in which Valerie Plame...
GANNON: I didn't do that at all. I didn't do that at all. If you read the question, and I provided -- my article was actually a transcript of my conversation with Ambassador Wilson -- I made reference to a memo. And this...
COOPER: How did you know about that memo?
GANNON: Well, this memo was referred to in a "Wall Street Journal" article a week earlier.
COOPER: So that wasn't based on any information that you had been given by the White House?
GANNON: I was given no special information by the White House or by anybody else, for that matter.
COOPER: You have been very clear that you believe this is politically motivated. And I think just about everyone probably agrees with that, that you asked that question, it was a softball, and liberal bloggers went after you to find out what they could in the public domain about you. But isn't that -- and you say that's unfair. Isn't that -- aren't those the same techniques that you yourself used as a reporter that sort of -- to publish innuendo, to publish advocacy-driven, politically motivated reports?
GANNON: Well, I don't see it that way. But what was -- what's been done to me is far in excess of what has ever been done to any other journalist that I could remember. My life has been turned inside out and upside down. And, again, it makes us all wonder that if someone disagrees with you, that is now your personal life fair game? And I'm hoping that fair-minded people will stand up and say that what's been done to me is wrong, and that -- that people's personal lives have no impact on their ability to be a journalist, you know. Why should my past prevent me from having a future?
COOPER: Appreciate you being with us. Jeff Gannon, thanks very much.
GANNON: Thanks so much.
COOPER: That was Jeff Gannon, about an hour and a half ago.
Also, Bill Mahr spent almost the first twenty minutes of his show talking about it. His first guest, Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes, said that she believes that there's more to this story than what we already know.
This story has legs. Now we have to get it running.
Thursday, February 17, 2005
- It's high time I confronted the chubby, drug-addicted, martially challenged elephant in the room of my political past. For the first 13 years of my politically active life I was a dittohead. I know what it means to be the other side.
Now, when I say I was the other side I don't mean I was a Christine Todd Whitman Republican who just doesn't want to face reality. I was the ruthless little snot you see scrawling graffiti on the bathroom walls of Power Line or Free Republic.
I was a member of the Shelby County Young Republicans. I protested abortion clinics with Tennessee Right to Life. I've called women whores. When I was 18 I had a plan to stop the spread of AIDS that would have made Hitler proud. In short, I was a `Lil Rushbo.
Over the years, much of the way I view the world has changed. My best friend turned out to be gay, and I discovered that while it's easy to hate homosexuals, it's hard to hate "Scott".
As for the abortion issue, that's a little more complicated. When you're a right-wingnut you have this notion that Democratic women are ripping fully developed fetuses out of their bodies so they can resume their lives of alcoholism and debauchery. I never met those women. The women I met were abandoned by asshole boyfriends who refused to take paternity tests, and wouldn't assume financial responsibility for the child. Faced with the prospect of raising a child on $5.15 / hour with no medical, many of these women made a decision that they later regretted. But the answer to stopping abortion isn't making it illegal. It's creating economic opportunity for women, holding dad's accountable, and providing people living below the poverty line with affordable heath insurance.
I have no intended audience for this diary. I'm not trying to change anyone's mind about any particular issue. I just want to write about how I got to where I am today because it's cathartic, and I've got a lot of things that I'm sorry about.
If you would like to read more from advisorjim, his other entries include:
- How to Annoy a Conservative
Watching Them Make Sausage
Firing AK-47s in the Glass House
Why We Hated Sean Hannity
The Whole Made Up Social Security Thing
Beating the Dead Horse
Why We Hated Clinton...So Very, Very Much
...And Knowing Is Half the Battle
The Soft Racism of Personal Responsibility
The Expanding Mushroom Cloud of Democracy
As I read advisorjim's diaries, I'm surprised at how much he reminds me of my relative. Hopefully you'll enjoy these as much as I have.
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
It's The Hypocrisy, Stupid!
Since John at AMERICAblog got all this sex stuff started, I'll let him address the issue of hypocrisy first:
- [Referring to Hotline, a big inside-the-beltway publication read by all]
Where was the high-and-mighty Hotline when George Bush, with the help of buddies like Guckert, tried to write me and 20 million of my friends out of the Constitution last year? Where was Accuracy in Media, the conservative bloggers, and everyone else who is defending Guckert's "private life" when my private life was going to singled out and savaged in our nation's most sacred document simply to get a few votes?
You've got a lot of nerve, Hotline. The entire GOP and its mainstream media sympathizers have a lot of nerve. We're talking about a hooker getting special access to the White House, the president, and intelligence information, and somehow everyone has suddenly discovered a conscience about homosexuals and hookers. Oh how I wish that conscience were real. But it's not. Bash a fag, bash a whore, and the GOP eats it all up. They throw us to their hateful, bigoted religious right buddies for votes with glee, while Mary Cheney cowers in the corner and Ken Mehlman runs for the shelter of the off-the-record quote.
Well newsflash Washington. The GOP is the one that rose gay-bashing and gay-baiting and sex-baiting to an art, and JeffJimGuckertGannon willingly joined the family values parade in print and in passion. They're trying to ban condoms, pornography, AIDS education. They take children away from gays, and want to make our very lives a crime. GOP Senators compare us to kleptomaniacs, alcoholics, and man-dog sex. And they can't even handle a bronze breast on a statue.
And we're the ones picking a fight over sex.
Spare me your sanctimonious bullshit now that those of us in the gay community and on the left have finally - finally - started to fight fire with fire by simply holding you to the very standards you legislate over us. We are simply giving the GOP the sex-less utopia it's always wanted. How does it feel?
Oh, gee, the Hotline warns, this might establish a precedent. Really? You mean the GOP might respond by using our sex lives against us as a weapon to destroy us and curry votes with bigots?
And just in case that wasn't direct enough for you, Digby makes his point very clear:
- We have a man whose biggest cheers on the campaign trail in 2000 were when he would solemnly swear that he would "bring honor and integrity back to the White House" --- and everybody knew very well that he was talking about fellatio in the oval office. After his recent reelection in 2004, stories abounded about how the issues of moral values, the impact of evangelical Christians and, most importantly, the movement to allow gays to marry had tipped the balance in what was a very close election. Now we find out that a conservative gay male prostitute was given highly unusual access to that same family values white house. There isn't a story there?
For too long, this has been ignored. This was the administration that was going to "restore dignity" to the White House. And then they gave us shit like WMDs in Iraq, Saddam loves bin Laden, Abu Ghraib, Uranium from Niger, Valerie Plame, the Patriot Act, Gitmo, Freedom Fries, Ahmed Chalabi, and endless whoring of the 9/11 victims. Just to name a few. Yet they continue to stand atop their mountain of bullshit morals and look down their noses at anyone who would dare to question their motives. During this administration's tenure, the rich have become richer while the poor have become poorer. We've seen more Americans fall below the poverty level, more children living without health care, more seniors unable to afford their prescription medication, and still more tax cuts to favor the wealthy. We've seen ballooning budget deficits that aren't important and fake social security crisis caused by deficits that are too important to ignore. We've seen war heroes ridiculed and now we've seen whores given access to the White House briefing room and, according to his own words, access to secret intelligence memos.
Is this dignity? Is this integrity? No, this is hypocrisy. Plain, simple, straight forward hypocrisy. The party of moral values has none. The Emperor truly has no clothes.
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
- "America's prosperity requires restraining the spending appetite of the federal government. I welcome the bipartisan enthusiasm for spending discipline. [.....] The principle here is clear: Taxpayer dollars must be spent wisely, or not at all."
-George W. Bush
SOTU Address 2005
I also seem to recall George saying something about results being important.
- Bush said he was serious about proposed budget cuts that would reduce spending on nonsecurity domestic programs by 1% overall and abolish or consolidate some 150 federal programs that the White House says are not producing results.
"Spending discipline requires difficult choices," Bush said. "Every government program was created with good intentions. But not all are matching good intentions with good results."
He singled out for criticism a Department of Education program called Even Start, which was designed to increase literacy among low-income families. It is one of more than 40 education programs targeted for elimination in Bush's budget.
"The problem is that after three separate evaluations, it has become abundantly clear that the program is not succeeding," Bush said. "People are not becoming more literate…. Even Start is not working."
Just to make sure I understand, it appears as though George is committed to cutting funding for programs that are "not working." I'd sure like to know how he explains this.
- A test of the U.S. missile defense system failed Monday when an interceptor missile did not launch from its island base in the Pacific Ocean, the military said. It was the second failure in months for the experimental program.
A statement from the Missile Defense Agency said the cause of the failure was under investigation.
If this were the first time this had failed I could give him some leeway, but we all know that this has failed before. In fact, it has failed in almost half of the tests performed (4 out of 9 attempts have failed). For those of you keeping track at home, that's only a 56% success rate. As I've pointed out before, that's failing in most schools.
If you've got an employee who only shows up for work 56% of the time, you fire him.
If you've got an employee who only completes 56% of the projects assigned to him, you fire him.
If you've got a vehicle that only starts 56% of the time you need to go somewhere, you sell it.
If you've got...
You get the picture.
It's time for George to put up or shut up. If you really mean what you say, George, it's time to give up this fantasy. If not, you need to quit blowing smoke up our ass. I'm getting really tired of this shit!
Monday, February 14, 2005
The Liberal List - Chapter 2
Without any further ado, I give you Chapter 2.
- Stewart Brand
Chapter 3 coming soon.
Friday, February 11, 2005
... Pants On Fire
- Secrecy - the first refuge of incompetents - must be at bare minimum in a democratic society, for a fully informed public is the basis of self-government. Those elected or appointed to positions of executive authority must recognize that government, in a democracy, cannot be wiser than the people.
-House Committee on Government Operations
Too bad the Bush administration didn't heed this advice.
Yesterday the Bush administration released a previously undisclosed portion of the 9/11 Commission's report in which it was revealed that the FAA had received 52 warnings concerning al Qaeda and/or Osama bin Laden in the months leading up to the September 11, 2001, attacks.
- The Federal Aviation Administration received repeated warnings in the months prior to September 11, 2001, about al Qaeda and its desire to attack airlines, according to a previously undisclosed report by the commission that investigated the terror attacks.
The report by the 9/11 commission detailed 52 such warnings given to FAA leaders from April to September 10, 2001, about the radical Islamic terrorist group and its leader, Osama bin Laden.
Surprising? Not really, considering this administration's track record. We know they ignored the August 6 PDB warning that bin Laden was intent on striking the United States. We know they ignored Richard Clarke's repeated warnings that al Qaida was a major threat to national security. So it's really not that surprising that they would ignore something as insignificant as 52 warnings over a five month period. It was all part of this administration's M.O.
What's intriguing about this revelation is the timing. Why did we not hear about this when the 9/11 Commission released its initial report? Why did it take until now, after the November election and after the confirmation of Condi Rice as Secretary of State, before we were made aware of this? Possibly because this would have been yet another incident where the Bush administration had it's collective head up it's collective ass? Because it would have demonstrated, yet again, this administration's incompetence and unpreparedness to deal with the situation at hand despite multiple repeated warnings? The answer, of course, is yes, yes, and yes. This was witheld to keep the American public in the dark.
During the first months of the Bush administration's tenure all we heard about were tax cuts and restoring dignity to the White House. Well, we can see where the tax cuts have gotten us. And as far as dignity goes, I don't see anything dignified about witholding the truth. Nor do I see anything dignified about ignoring potential threats to the safety of the American people. What could they have possibly been doing during those first eight months that was so important that it caused them to ignore these warnings? Oh yeah, they had to clean up all of that fake vandalism caused by the outgoing Clinton administration. Now there's something that's dignified: lying.
Thursday, February 10, 2005
If you haven't been following the Gannon/Guckert story, check out SusanG's diaries over at DailyKos. She's got it all covered. It's good stuff.
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
All Aboard! (Round 2)
- Why is it that the progressive party is run by the most unprogressive people? Tom Daschle? Terry McAullife? Mary-Beth Cahill? These people were the epitome of what was wrong with the Democrats. Seceral months back, I believe it was February, I recieved a survey in the mail from (then Presidential candidate) Howard Dean. The survey wanted my comments on how to improve the Democratic party. I responded by saying that we should stop trying to act like Republicans. I think I even called them Republicrats. Too many of our party's leaders are stuck thinking that we can peel off votes from the conservative base by acting like them. That's not going to happen. We shouldn't be in the business of conversion, but in the business of creation. We need to create new Democrats. One of the ways to do that is to define ourselves as something unique. Something that people who don't identify with the Republicans can relate to.
To do this, we need new leadership. Not just a leader for the DNC, but someone for the entire party. And no, it shouldn't be Hilary Clinton. Not only is she associated with the old Democratic party (Don't send me hate mail, I still love her and Bill), but she is so polarizing that her leadership would be compromised by trying to fend off criticism. No, we need someone fresh. Someone inspiring. We need someone like Barrack Obama. Unfortunately, he's busy. So who do we know that is fresh, inspiring, and not currently serving in politics?
The first person that comes to mind is Howard Dean. Is he a little unpredictable? Sure is! That's what we need right now. Someone we can count on to shake things up. He already has legions of followers willing to go along with him. He can debate on the issues (something Terry McAullife couldn't do). And he's not afraid to scream once in a while.
What we can't afford is another four years of the same old thing. This morning on the Today show, the new Senate minority leader, Harry Reid, kept talking about how he looks forward to "working with the President." Isn't this what we've been hearing for years now? Trying to be the party of good relations hasn't worked to our advantage. Does anybody remember Newt Gingrich? I hated the prick, but he fought Bill Clinton tooth & nail. Sure, it caused problems, but look where his party is now. They didn't get here by laying down and "working with the President." They fought hard. We need the same fire from our leadership.
Gingrich of course is gone from public service. He was so polarizing that he couldn't last too long. You know what they say, it's better to burn out than to fade away. Howard Dean could be that person. He could come in and light the fire, burn bright long enough to get us back on our feet and then step away knowing that he served his party well.
Republicans are looking at Dean's election as a gift. They think that he will be too polarizing to bring the party together. Ironically, I'm also looking at Dean's election as a gift. Dr. Dean was the most aggressive of all the Presidential candidates and I expect nothing less from him as the DNC Chair. He's hellaciously organized and not afraid to say what needs to be said. I, for one, am looking forward to the Dean Democratic party. If nothing else, he sure knows how to ruffle some feathers. And we could all use that right now.
Tuesday, February 08, 2005
- "It's hard to help a country go from tyranny to elections to peace when there are a handful of people who are willing to kill in order to stop the process."
You know, it's funny how things can come back around and bite you in the ass when you least expect it.
- The U.S. military faces between 13,000 and 17,000 insurgents in Iraq, the large majority of them backers of ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and his Baath Party, a senior military official said Tuesday.
Those figures came to light the same day an apparent suicide bombing killed more than 20 people in central Baghdad as they waited in line to apply to be police officers, U.S. and Iraqi officials said.
The bulk of the insurgency is made up of 12,000 to 15,000 Arab Sunni followers of Saddam's party, the official told CNN. The Baath Party was overthrown by a U.S.-led invasion in March 2003.
Of those, the source said 5,000 to 7,000 are considered "committed" fighters, with the rest considered "fence-sitters," criminals or "facilitators" who contribute material support or sanctuary to the guerrillas.
The official, who is familiar with the region, said about 500 other fighters have come from other countries to battle the U.S.-led forces in Iraq, while another group of fewer than 1,000 are believed to be followers of Jordanian-born Islamic terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Damn! That's one big handful!
Yet one more example that we have no idea what we are doing. We don't even know who the hell we're fighting against.
All together now: AAAARRRRRRGH!
Monday, February 07, 2005
- Because the -- all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculate, for example, is on the table; whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those -- changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be -- or closer delivered to what has been promised.
Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled. Look, there's a series of things that cause the -- like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate -- the benefits will rise based upon inflation, as opposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those -- if that growth is affected, it will help on the red.
Okay, better? I'll keep working on it.
Okay, I've read this quote four times and I've finally come to one undeniable conclusion: This man has no fucking clue what the hell he is talking about. And to complicate things even worse, Dick Cheney doesn't seem to have read the memo. I thought the plan was to "save" social security. Apparently I misunderstood.
- "We're going to borrow $758 [b]illion over the next 10 years to set up the personal retirement accounts. We think that's a manageable amount ... Trillions more after that," Cheney said, acknowledging that the personal accounts will help younger workers but will not solve all the problems of solvency."
It's really no wonder that the average person doesn't understand what is going on. First you've got George, the bumbling fool, trying to explain something he doesn't understand. Then you've got Heart-attack Jones saying that we're going to have to borrow trillions of dollars to cover our asses. Not to worry, because the Republicans have been telling us for years that deficits aren't important. However, we're going through all of this Social Security bullshit now because.........wait for it...........because Social Security is going to start running a deficit!
It just makes my head spin.
BTW - It's like Deja vu all over again ..... Have you seen any of Georgieboy's town hall meetings about Social Security? He's been answering some tough questions. For instance:
- Q Thank you, sir. I'm 19.... And I want to invest as much money as I possibly can in the market because I feel -- I feel I can make a lot better return on my rate... What is the -- how much can we put in? What's the most we can put in to these private accounts?
- Q Hi, I'm a high school student. I'm just wondering is there anything I can [do] to prepare for this new Social Security reform when I grow up?
- Q My question is, first of all, how do you prevent agendas from getting into the investment choices that we'll have? And two, what can I do to help you?
Somebody needs to slap the shit out of these people. They don't even realize that they're idiots. AAAARRRRRRRGH!
Friday, February 04, 2005
- "And we will make it easier for Americans to afford a college education, by increasing the size of Pell Grants.
-George W. Bush
Like so many other things George tells us, it sounds good on the surface. However, when you really examine it closely, you discover it's there's more than meets the eye.
- Bush would raise the maximum Pell Grant for students from $4,050 to $4,550 over five years, or $100 a year. Along with other changes, Bush's financial aid plan would cost about $28 billion over 10 years.
Wow! A hundred dollars? I've spent that on a single book. Thanks George! That'll come in handy. Hell, that's like an extra $8.33 a month! And how is he going to pay for all this? By screwing the same people he claims he's going to help.
- To help pay for it, Bush would shrink subsidies the government pays banks to encourage them to make low-interest loans, and to the agencies that insure the loans for the lenders, education department officials said.
Bush would also phase out Perkins loans, 673,000 of which were made to graduate and undergraduate students last year. Officials said the plan would save $6 billion over 10 years.
When I was an undergrad, I went to an in-state University where tuition ran about $3,500 a semester. By splitting the new maximum Pell Grant amount over five years, I would have received about $455 per semester. That still leaves me with a $3,000 balance. Like most students who qualify for a Pell Grant, I probably can't afford to pay that out of my pocket, so I go to the bank to get a loan. Unfortunately, the Bush administration has reduced the subsidies that encourage banks to offer low-interest loans to students and I can't afford the higher interest rates. Lucky for me, I can go to my school's financial aid office and apply for a Perkins loan. Oops! Bush is proposing that we cut those too. Through the Perkins Loan I would have been able to borrow up to $4,000 a year through my school's financial aid office. So much for that. Once again, Thanks George!
Anytime George Bush promises something, you can bet that someone is getting screwed someplace. In this case, it's millions of graduate and undergraduate students that were once able to receive a lot more financial assistance for college. Notice he didn't bring that up in his speech. It must have slipped his mind.
Thursday, February 03, 2005
It's All A Lie!
- Bush left out any mention of what workers would have to give up to get those private acounts -- a proportional reduction or offset in guaranteed Social Security retirement benefits. He also glossed over the fact that money in private accounts would be "owned" by workers only in a very limited sense -- under strict conditions which the President referred to as "guidelines." Many retirees, and possibly the vast majority, wouldn't be able to touch their Social Security nest egg directly, even after retirement, because the government would take some or all of it back and convert it to a stream of payments guaranteed for life.
- What Bush did not detail is how contributions in the account would reduce workers' monthly Social Security checks. Under the system, described by an administration official, every dollar contributed to an account would be taken from the guaranteed Social Security benefit, with interest.
"The person comes out ahead if their personal account exceeds a 3 percent real rate of return, which is the rate of return that the trust fund bonds receive," the senior administration official said. "So, basically, the net effect on an individual's benefits would be zero if his personal account earned a 3 percent real rate of return. To the extent that his personal account gets a higher rate of return, his net benefit would increase."
If a worker sets aside $1,000 a year for 40 years, and earns 4 percent annually on investments, the account would grow to $99,800 in today's dollars. All of that money would be the worker's upon retirement. But guaranteed benefits over the worker's lifetime would be reduced by approximately $78,700 -- the amount the worker would have contributed to Social Security but instead contributed to his private account, plus 3 percent interest above inflation. The remainder, $21,100, would be the increase in benefit the worker would receive over his lifetime above the level he would have received if he stayed in the traditional system.
Under the system, total benefit gains may be minimal. The Social Security Administration, in projecting benefits under a partially privatized system, assumes a 4.6 percent rate of return over inflation. Thus gains in an account would be offset by a reduction in guaranteed benefits equal to 70 percent of the account's balance.
The Congressional Budget Office, Capitol Hill's official scorekeeper, assumes a 3.3 percent rate of return. Under that scenario, the full amount in a worker's account would be reduced dollar for dollar from his Social Security checks, for a net gain of virtually zero.
If investments earned less than 3 percent a year above inflation, a worker would do worse in total benefits than he would have done in the traditional system.
Wednesday, February 02, 2005
Just A Few Observations
- Justice is distorted, and our economy is held back, by irresponsible class actions and frivolous asbestos claims - and I urge Congress to pass legal reforms this year.
WTF? Frivolous? It causes cancer you stupid shit! My grandfather died from lung cancer brought about in part from the asbestos in brake pads. It's not frivolous, it's deadly!
- Because marriage is a sacred institution and the foundation of society, it should not be re-defined by activist judges.
Once again, WTF? Can somebody please point me to the place in our Constitution that "defines" marriage. I've looked and I can't find it. So I want to know, if it hasn't been defined, how can it be re-defined? Yeah, yeah, I know, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) states that marriage is between a man and a woman, but if it was so damned important, why wasn't it included in the Constitution? Am I to believe that there weren't any homosexuals back then? Please!!!!
- And we have said farewell to some very good men and women, who died for our freedom, and whose memory this nation will honor forever.
All together now, WTF? We were free before they died, moron! They didn't die to make us free, they died because you told us that Saddam possessed WMD. When soldiers died in 1776, they were dying for my freedom. When soldiers died in 1865, they were dying for my freedom. When soldiers died in 1917, they were dying for my freedom. When soldiers died in 1942, they were dying for my freedom. Soldiers today are needlessly dying for a lie! Quit pissing in my ear and telling me it's raining. While I mourn the death of any and every soldier, I can not abide by the statement that they are dying for our freedom.
- We will not set an artificial timetable for leaving Iraq, because that would embolden the terrorists and make them believe they can wait us out.
Has it ever occured to any of these people that maybe the insurgents aren't there to fight the Iraqis? Maybe if we left, the insurgents would too. After all, who's being targeted by the insurgents? It's the US soldiers and the Iraqis cooperating with us. To be honest, I don't know about this one. Just an observation.
Finally, this was the same shit we've been hearing for the last four years. It's all empty talk. Notice how [almost] all of his paragraphs ended with a declaration that can't be disputed. Things like:
- "The principle here is clear: a taxpayer dollar must be spent wisely, or not at all."
"I will work together to give this Nation a tax code that is pro-growth, easy to understand, and fair to all."
"America will continue to lead the world in medical research that is ambitious, aggressive, and always ethical."
pass along to our children all the freedoms we enjoy - and chief among them is freedom from fear."
"Police and firefighters, air marshals, researchers, and so many others are working every day to make our homeland safer, and we thank them all."
Each of these statements received applause from both sides of the aisle. However, it's all empty rhetoric. These are lines specifically written to get applause because nobody will disagree with them. They have no intrinsic value. Thay don't lay out a plan. They don't solve a problem. They don't even promote an idea. They are simply statements that everyone hears and says "duh." This is why the uninformed Americans think he's such a great leader. He says the things that everyone can agree with. The problem is, the statements have absolutely no substance.
If you'd like to read a transcript, you can find it here. You may want to bookmark it, because I'm sure we're going to hear it all again next year.
BTW - My adventures on the Discussion Board from yesterday have continued. After I posted yesterday's letter, the conservatives really got their undies in a bunch. I was called some pretty nasty things. But they didn't disappoint. Instead of actually showing me where I was wrong, they responded with personal attacks and insults. You can always count on a Republican to lower the level of discourse.
Tuesday, February 01, 2005
So, in an attempt to discern who was on the liberal side of the aisle, I posted a request for all the liberals to make themselves known. What I got was a rabid freeping by the wingnuts. I got comments about God, abortion, my obvious youth and lack of intelligence, etc. So tonight, I decided it was time to put them straight. I posted this:
- Just Like Pavlov’s Dog...
All I had to do in my last posting was mention that I was a liberal and the Republican dogs began barking. Master must be so proud to have such well trained pets. Hopefully Master will reward them with a treat for their blind fealty. (Go ahead guys, I’ll wait while you look that one up.)
To understand why they hate liberals so much, we should probably look at the definition of what a liberal actually is. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, a liberal is defined as follows:
1.) Having expressing or following political views or policies that favor civil liberties, democratic reforms, and the use of governmental power to promote social progress. 2.) Having, expressing or following views or policies that favor the freedom of individuals to act or express themselves in a manner of their own choosing...5.) Tolerant of the ideas or behavior of others; broadminded 6.) Tending to give freely...[ME, generous , OFr. , Lat. liberalis , liber, free]
(Ironically it comes from the same latin root as the word liberty, one of George W. Bush’s favorite buzz words. Sorry guys, I know that doesn’t align with what Rush Limbaugh says but who are we to argue with the American Heritage Dictionary.)
So, by using this definition of a liberal, I guess that we can assume that Republicans are against civil liberties, democratic reform and social progress. They are not receptive to any opposing viewpoints and do not favor the freedom to express one’s self. They are also intolerant, closed minded and extremely stingy. Sound about right?
When I posted today, I was simply wanting to know who the liberals were. Instead I got sarcasm, stereotyped, and dismissed because I choose to call myself a liberal. Actually, I’m proud to be a liberal. I’m proud to be associated with liberal ideals. I’m proud to be of the same mindset as many of the great leaders and activists throughout our country’s history. People like John Adams, Susan B. Anthony, Johnny Cash, Cesar Chavez, Clarence Darrow, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. People like Medgar Evers, Ben Franklin, Bob Geldhoff, Woody Guthrie, Alex Haley, and Francis Hopkinson. All of these people advanced the liberal ideals. Others like Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King Jr., John Lennon, Thurgood Marshall and still many, many more. The list could go on and on.
But here, because I’m a liberal, I don’t mean anything. My opinions are immediately dismissed because I’m a liberal. I’m the equivalent of a second class citizen.
Well, don’t you conservatives worry too much about me. I’m a quick learner. In fact, in just a couple short weeks, I’ve already learned a great deal from you guys. I’ve learned that Democrats just want to rehash the election, yet I’ve never seen a single Democrat bring it up. Just the conservatives. I’ve learned that conservatives would choose the death of a woman and child over an abortion that could at least save the life of the mother so that she may one day have children. I’ve learned that the Republican party is God’s chosen party despite the fact that Jesus taught us to love our brothers, not speak hatefully against them. And most importantly, I’ve learned that hopalong is “a cranky, old fart, card carrying, Republican, life NRA, Ted Nugent fan” who thinks that I should “kissoff” because I don’t belong to his party. Now that’s a lot in just two weeks.
Well, I have news for you guys. I’m not going anywhere. In fact, I look forward to debating with you for a long time to come. Because the way I see it, you all have a lot of learning to do yourselves. For starters, if you’re going to preach the Bible, you’ve got to live it. One of the things the Bible speaks out against is hypocrisy, so if you’re going to talk the talk, well then, you’re going to have to walk the walk. In other words, the hateful speech and name-calling are going to have to stop. (Matthew 7:1-6) The Bible speaks very plainly about men who flaunt their religion and what will become of them. (Matthew 6:5) You may want to stop claiming to be “God’s chosen party.” It sounds a little like flaunting to me. And whatever happened to love your enemies? (Matthew 5:43-48)
You should be ashamed of yourselves.
Now I’d like to take a moment to speak to each one of the conservatives from my earlier post individually.
hopalong - I graduated from high school in the late eighties. I currently hold a Bachelor of Arts degree and am pursuing a Masters of Science degree. I’m not a young punk with an idealistic view of the world. I’m a realist who has followed politics since before he was old enough to vote. I am proud to say that I have never supported a Republican for any state or federal office. Finally, no, I’m not Pete or Josh. Surprisingly enough, there are more than just a few liberals in this country. I’m actually surprised to see you posting such vitriol these days after luvcherries scolded you last week. Your response to her almost made you sound humble. Short lived, I guess.
Pica - no, I don’t know where the nearest abortion clinic is but I’m glad that the option is available just in case my sister or my wife needed one out of medical necessity to spare her life. Truth be told, I would never advise anyone to get an abortion unless her life were in danger. It’s not a form of birth control and should never be promoted as one. However, I’m appalled to think that any conservative would choose the death of a loved one and her child when one life could be saved to one day have more children. To me, that is inhumane.
drunkenfool - I was originally going to assume that you were a liberal based upon your screen name. No conservative with strong morals would ever celebrate his lack of sobriety. However, your posts leave little doubt that you too are one of the hypocritical conservatives that like to claim the moral high ground but are really just like all the others you condemn. Unless of course you are truly a liberal using sarcasm as a weapon. In that case, you’re doing a very fine job.
And to all the others out there, yes I’m a liberal and you are not. That doesn’t make either one of us correct 100% of the time. Nor does it make either one of us wrong. We live in a country that was built on the notion that people were free to disagree. Even with their government. Your lack of acceptance of any dissenting voice makes you no better than the dictators you claim to despise.
Naturally, I expect to be flamed for this post. I expect all of the conservatives to come out in full force and call me names. I expect all of the Republicans to denounce me as a heathen and a leftist nut. To that, I say “prove me wrong.” Show everyone that you’re big enough to accept someone else’s opinion. Go ahead. It’s what a true American would do.
Finally, you’re not going to deter me. I’m comfortable in my skin. How about you?
We'll see what they have to say. I'm sure it will be intellectually stimulating.