As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Saturday, March 12, 2005

MD-Sen: Draft Keyes!

As we know, Sen. Paul Sarbanes will not run for re-election in Maryland in '06, leaving it an open seat. What a perfect oportunity for everybody's favorite talk-show host and uberconservative demagogue, Alan Keyes! A candidate for the US Senate from Illinois, in 2004, Keyes would have the added benefit of actually being FROM the State of Maryland! That's got to be worth something!

Alan Keyes received 27% of the vote in 2004. Actually being a resident of the state he runs in should almost double that! Think about it. Keyes has a barber in Maryland. He has a butcher. He has a mailman. THAT'S THREE PEOPLE RIGHT THERE!

Plus, Keyes would be immune to the time-honored Democratic tradition of calling their opposing candidates hypocrites. Sen. Keyes (I know, it's presumptuous, but just so exciting!) may be a lot of things, but he's no hypocrite. For example, when he hates gay people, he hates ALL of them, even his own daughter!

I almost feel guilty posting this on Kos, because I know the groundswell of support a bold idea like this can engender. It's sure to get out in the media, maybe on CNN's "Inside the Blogs" or something, and then we're sure to lose the Maryland seat. But I just can't help myself! Sometimes you have to cross party lines for the good of the country. And I think Alan Keyes would make a great senator from the state of Maryland! In fact, since Keyes is also so good at running for the US Senate no matter WHAT the state, why don't we draft him to simultaneously contend for all 34 seats up for election in '06! Can you imagine 34 Alan Keyes's running around the US Capitol? Talk about nirvana! (of course, as a conservative demagogue, Keyes is opposed to human cloning as a sin against God, so that might not work. But a guy can dream, can't he?)

Visit my website, Draft Keyes!


Friday, March 11, 2005

Poli Want a Cracker

For the first time today, while picking around the right blogosphere for comments on the bankruptcy bill, I stumbled across Polipundit. The almost-definitely-white "DJ Drummond" has a piece reacting to an op-ed Robert Reich wrote in USA Today on Thursday. DJ doesn't bother to take issue with the actual content of Reich's argument, that the "crisis" is manufactured, that those who think Social Security will go bankrupt by 2042 are basing their claims on a chart showing absurdly low economic growth, and that private accounts based on the whims of the stock market go against the very notion of retirement "insurance." No, DJ won't bother to argue with a former Social Security trustee on all that, instead calling Reich a "Socialist" (we've apparently returned to 1959-era insults). And he's particularly incensed by Reich's opening line:

My grandfather lost all of his savings in the Great Crash of 1929. He never trusted the stock market after that. But he kept working, and by the time he retired, he had a tiny nest egg. It still wasn't enough to retire on. He and my grandmother relied on the Social Security checks they got every month. Granddad died at the ripe old age of 91.

Nice, right? Pretty much shows that without Social Security, Reich's grandfather wouldn't have been able to retire.

Well, here's the DJ's take. Scratch it:

It would seem to the reader, that Reich is suggesting his grandfather was a hard-working man who invested in the Stock Market and lost everything because of it. But if you look more closely, that statement simply cannot possibly be true the way Reich wrote it.

Let’s start with the first part, that Granddad lost everything in the “Great Crash”. Could that have happened? Well, there’s a problem with that claim. The Dow Jones average on January 2, 1929 was 307.01; on December 31, 1929 it was 248.48.

A drop of 50 points, first of all, is significant when there are only 300 points to begin with. That's 16%. Furthermore, by September 1929, the market was hovering near 400, and by November it hit 145. That's well over 50%. By its ebb in 1932, the stock market was at 32. That's a 91% drop from it's height. How does DJ react to this?

There’s no question it went down, and was in decline through 1932, but it never went down to 0.

Yeah, it doesn't have to (and in fact, couldn't, otherwise there would be no stock market). But there were tons of stocks that did fold. And DJ knows that. He just won't tell you.

In addition, the Dow average is just that, an AVERAGE. I don't think DJ has personal knowledge that Robert Reich's grandfather held index funds which covered the whole market. He has no clue what he had. And the notion that nobody went broke from the stock market during the Great Depression is ridiculous. Stocks lost $5 billion in value on October 1929. The argument seems to be that "well, he could have lost a lot, but not possibly EVERYTHING." Semantics. You don't have to actually lose every single solitary cent to be broke; just enough to not pay creditors.

DJ's argument continues, trying to uncover (like Geraldo in a vault in Chicago) exactly how Robert Reich's grandfather lost all his money, and how safeguards like the FDIC prevent some of his hypotheses from ever happening again. Which completely misses the point. The point is that Reich's grandfather had an unexpected financial disaster, and Social Security helped him have a decent retirement; it doesn't matter HOW he came to have that disaster. DJ might not know this, but people go through financial ruin all the time, even today. They lose their nest eggs. They get hit with humongous medical bills. They can't pay their credit cards off. And with the passage of the MBNA Payoff Bill, they can't even file bankruptcy and get a fresh start. Reich's point was to highlight the benefit of Social Security as INSURANCE to safeguard people who have endured financial hardships. That's why it's reduced poverty among the elderly from 50% to 8% throughout its lifespan.

Here's DJ's parting "thought":

For Reich to conjure up the 1929 Stock Market as a factor in the current Social Security debate, is about as rational as for the FAA to consider the Hindenburg Zeppelin disaster in a review of commercial airline safety. It’s simply dishonest from the start.

For DJ Drummond to look at the 1929 Stock Market, and not the fact that Social Security has kept Robert Reich's grandfather and millions of others out of poverty for decades, is even more dishonest. It focuses on exactly the wrong thing.


Online Bipartisanship, Part II

Go and read the letter over at The Online Coalition, a site dedicated to preserving free speech on the Internet. If you're so inclined, sign the petition.

I haven't blogged about the FEC's rumblings toward regulating blogs. It's a ridiculous attempt to restrict the most basic of Bill of Rights guarantees. Blogs should clearly have the same protections as television, radio, print and other forms of "offline" media. Their burgeoning popularity shows that the Internet has been central in providing the vital voices necessary to keep our democracy robust. Unpaid political activity on the Internet should simply not be subject to regulation.

This is another left-right coalition, with the participation of Kos and Redstate, MyDD and Captain's Quarters, among others. We may not agree, but we all speak with one voice on this issue: let us speak!


Torturous Hearings

Showing our utter indifference to human suffering, the Senate Armed Services Committee only managed to scrape up 10 members, not even half of the total, to attend a hearing yesterday about prisoner abuse in Iraq and elsewhere. Those that could be bothered to address the biggest hindrance to the Global War on Terror to date (that we have, in effect, become our enemies) did muster up the supreme effort to criticize the most recent investigative review on detainee conduct, created by Vice Adm. Albert Church.

WASHINGTON - Senators expressed dismay Thursday that no senior military or civilian Pentagon officials have been held accountable for the policy and command failures that led to abuses of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Vice Adm. Albert Church, who wrote the most recent review of U.S. detention policies, did not place specific blame for the confusing interrogation policies that migrated from Washington to the battlefield. He told the Senate Armed Services Committee at a hearing that no high-level policy decisions directly led to abuse.

But Church said he did not interview top officials, including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, nor did he make conclusions about individual responsibility, saying it was not part of his mission.

Shorter Vice Admiral Church: "Definitely, no higher-ups were involved, even though I didn't ask them and it wasn't my job to find out."

The notion that Abu Ghraib was the work of a "few bad apples" is laughable, especially when similar (or in some cases, the exact same) techniques have popped up in Afghanistan, at Guantanamo Bay, and in other parts of Iraq (including Ramadi, where a DVD called "Ramadi Madness" chronicling the abuses was made BY THE SOLDIERS). You don't just have electrodes and leashes and waterboarding equipment just lying around. There was no need to improvise. This was policy, and anyone who thinks otherwise has there head in the sand.

One such ostrich is Sen. Jim Talent (R-MO), who had this bit of brilliance to say on the subject:

Sen. Jim Talent, R-Mo., praised the report, saying he did not "need an investigation to tell me that there was no comprehensive or systematic use of inhumane tactics by the American military, because those guys and gals just wouldn't do it."

Shorter Jim Talent: (fingers in ears) "La la la la, I can't hear you!!!" Jimmy, have you SEEN the pictures?

Yeah, those guys and gals WOULD do it. They DID do it. And you don't give a shit. That's the shame with which we present ourselves to the world.


Thursday, March 10, 2005

Enough with the steroids already!

Is anybody as pissed as me that our legislators are wasting their time meddling in an ongoing investigation by calling a bunch of baseball players to testify about steroid use? My representative Henry Waxman signed this statement, and normally I'm down with him, but this smacks of unnecessary grandstanding by politicians that really really want to be seen on the nightly news questioning Curt Schilling and Sammy Sosa.

Steroids are illegal, and nothing that the House Committee hearings do are going to change that. The steroid issue has already received tons of publicity, so I don't see the argument about how important it is that "the American people know the facts on baseball's steroid scandal." Furthermore, if they compel certain players to testify, the ones that are on the witness list for the upcoming BALCO trial, they could taint the case and subvert justice. This is just shameless publicity-mongering. And it highlights how much meaningless crap the Congress happily does on a daily basis.

One thing I noticed in Sam Rosenfeld's story about the House Democratic report on institutional abuse in the Congress is that the House spends up to 3 days a week "nam(ing) post offices and congratulat(ing) sports champions and foreign governments.” Why the fuck are they doing this, other than out of a sense of tradition? Shouldn't we as citizens, whatever your political persuasion, demand that the business of legislating the country not be taken up by congratulating sports teams and naming post offices? Can't that be "taken offline," done by staffers or something?

Of course, none of this will be done because this is how politicians court popularity locally, and become a "man of the people." But it's retarded. We have real issues and real concerns. This kind of crap has no place in Congress.


Online Bipartisanship

Here at D-Day we relish in snapping at the right blogsphere, but when it comes down to it, we appreciate that there are a few intelligent, concerned citizens on the other side of the aisle, at least when they bring facts and insight into the debate. A blogger named Tunesmith came up with a great idea to reach across online party lines, and band together against this pathetic bankruptcy bill on the verge of passing through the Senate. Many on the right are not happy with this bill, as are most of us on the left.

I wholeheartedly support the effort, and am using this post to promote Tunesmith's site, Politology. It's important for us to highlight these points of crossover in the blogosphere, so that everyone knows full well that we are watching what legislators are doing on The Hill, and that we no longer will brook back-alley, clandestine, pay-for-play deals between politicians and big business. It's OUR government. This bill is not right vs. left, but citizen vs. corporate and wealthy. Whatever you think about what side the GOP leadership is on, many of its rank-and-file in the blogosphere are not. They know how this bill will hurt a lot of average Americans, while doing nothing to stop the wealthy from hiding their assets in protective trusts. Right-leaning blogger Just One Minute has some good thoughts on this.

Let's get this going, and make sure our elected officials in Washington know that they're accountable to US, not the credit card industry.


Wednesday, March 09, 2005


So USANext put up that really sad advertisement equating the AARP with being pro-gays and anti-troops. And to highlight the point they showed a picture of two guys kissing at their wedding. Well, they never got the photo rights. First they said they bought the rights to the picture from the Portland Tribune. Then they admitted they didn't. And now they're being sued for $25 million by the couple.


Now that's going to cut into the Social Security phase-out funds, isn't it? It's just like ends-justifying-the-means conservatives: no problem breaking the law, as long as it serves the "greater good".

p.s. Before you think these are a couple of greedy plaintiffs looking for their piece of the pie, read this from AmericaBlog. The couple is planning to give the proceeds of the lawsuit to charity.


Gutless Wonders

Yesterday's votes on the horrid bankruptcy bill in the Senate were disgusting. This is a bill written by credit card companies (total profits last year: $30 billion) that upends the notion of bakruptcy protection (mandated in the Constitution) and instead forces those at the lowest end of the scale to pay through the nose. 50% of all bankruptcies come from soaring medical costs on people who have health insurance. That statistic makes "health insurance" and "bankruptcy protection" lose all their meaning.

When The Free goddamn Republic sees through the muck on this one, when Glenn frickin' Reynolds and a host of others know that this is simply a payout to a wealthy lobby, it boggles the mind why any Democrat worth his salt would vote for cloture. Who is the contstituency on this bill outside of the credit card industry? Who LIKES credit card companies? They have a public opinion rating below even politicians. We get hundreds of bait and switch offers in the mail every year, we see that they send out bill as close to the "must pay" date as possible, we see them jack up the interest rates while all the while screaming "payment holiday" and "special deal!" This awesome article from the LA Times shows that the credit card industry makes millions off of "bankruptcy cheaters" anyway, and that even while bankruptcy filings have gone up, so have profits.

But boggle my mind Democrats did yesterday. Biden. Carper. Salazar. Stabenow (!). Lieberman. Nelson. Actually, BOTH Nelsons. Johnson. All of them should hang their heads in shame today. This is going to cost a lot of Americans a lot of heartache. In fact, most of them are in the Red States. Here are the top ten bankruptcy filing states:

Utah 1
Tennessee 2
Georgia 3
Nevada 4
Indiana 5
Alabama 6
Arkansas 7
Ohio 8
Mississippi 9
Idaho 10

There was no good reason to vote for this bill other than to slather oneself in credit-card-company cash.


Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Wave of Freedom Ebbs and Flows

I agree with former President G.H.W. Bush that today's half-million-people-strong pro-Syria demonstration in Beirut (sponsored by Hizbollah, which is more a domestic political organization in Lebanon than a terror group) is "to be expected." Unfortunately, that never occurred to conservative bloggers, who kept priming the pump of pro-Lebanon protests as part of the inevitable wave of freedom pouring over the globe. The truth is that freedom is messy (to paraphrase Don Rumsfeld), and it isn't going to happen overnight. Traditionally, it seems that the problem in Lebanon is more about civil war than democracy, which is what brought Syria into the country in the first place. Now that we see where the Shia stand, and where the Christians and Druzes stand, we see that the notion of a peaceful transition to a post-Syrian Lebanon is less and less clear.

Of course, complexity like this is the wrong manner of thought here in 'Murica these days. Freedom is just supposed to wash over people and that's it, so say the Glenn Reynolds of the world. Well, it doesn't work that way, kids. Some on the right need to get a better understanding of the situation on the ground, rather than just posting pictures of hot chicks waving flags. Of course, when has ignorance of the true facts in a country in the Middle East ever stopped us before?


No Death to Juveniles

After what I initially thought was some consensus on the subject, I see that conservatives actually ARE very upset about the Supreme Court decision banning the death penalty for juveniles. Their argument mainly concerns Justice Anthony Kennedy looking outside the Constitution for his opinion. It's not surprising that constructionists on the conservative side would react at this with alarm.

I have done a little more reading on the subject, and would have to agree that Kennedy's opinion wasn't exactly cogent. It insisted that we not use the death penalty for minors based on three reasons: a "national consensus" on the matter (30 states disallow the practice); "world opinion" (we are the only country in the world that heretofore sanctioned the practice); and social/scientific studies that show juveniles to be not as capable of sound judgment as adults (recent studies have confirmed this hypothesis). The "world opinion" argument doesn't hold water; we have a lot of laws that other nations do not, many of which I wouldn't want to jettison (for example, illegal search and seizure laws, which aren't used in Britain). The "national consensus" argument probably requires a legislative solution rather than a judicial one; if there is an actual national consensus, then it shouldn't be so difficult to pass a law through Congress.

However, the social/scientific rationale seems to me sufficient. I would ask conservatives dismayed by the ruling this... do you feel the age of consent should be abolished? Seems to me that it's the same argument; that below a certain age, children should not be made
quite as culpable for their actions. I'm not arguing the end of imprisonment for juveniles. But I am saying that age should be a factor in determining culpability and punishment. We have consent laws because reasonable people feel that a 14 year-old, for example, can be coerced into sex without knowing what (s)he's doing. In other words, (s)he is not fully capable of
responsibility for his/her behavior.

I happen to feel that murdering citizens who commit crimes in and of itself rises to the standard of "cruel and unusual punishment" as written in the 8th Amendment. I'm not a supporter of Hammurabic "eye for an eye" arguments. And regardless of the moral/ethical concerns, the death penalty is an enormous tax burden. In California we spend $114 million PER YEAR on death penalty cases that we would not were there no death penalty (a lot of that has to
do with the molasses-like slowness of the wheels of justice here, but that does add safeguards which prevent the state from killing an innocent, unlike in the 11 Southern states which commit 90% of the country's executions).

That Kennedy did appear to stretch in his argument suggests that this issue is probably more well-suited to a legislative solution, as it has been administered in the states, or with a Constitutional Amendment. All the more reason why those of us who feel that the death penalty is cruel and unusual (in addition to being an ineffective deterrent and a money suck) should push for new laws overturning the practice.


Monday, March 07, 2005

New Sheep at the Gaggle

We've been watching with interest the saga of Fishbowl DC to get a White House press pass. It took five days and a number of mainstream reporters to jump all over the story to shame the Correspondents Association into making it happen, but it has. Funny, I don't remember the uproar when Jeff Gannon, who if anything was far less legitimate a journalist than Garrett of Fishbowl DC, made his way into the briefing room. But there we are.

I think the reports from the gaggle are pretty interesting, but I'm a political geek. Then again, if you're reading this, you likely are too! So go check them out.



New designee for US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton says, "I know that I have been critical of the UN in the past."

Well, you did say that "There's no such thing as the UN." You said "If the UN secretary building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference." Yeah, I'd call that critical.

The eliminationist rhetoric coming out of the far right, the notion that dissent is treason, the notion that there is no room for a difference of opinion, the notion that you cannot simply disagree with your opponent but must do all you can to destroy your opponent, is deeply troubling. It's nearly impossible to be bipartisan in the face of that. So all these conservatives whining that "the Democrats are obstructing us," well, here's why. You're calling for the elimination of all your enemies. There's no working with that. What do you want us to say, "OK, how about you eliminate us by half?"