I Want to Save a Child's Sight!

Monday, January 31, 2005


BenPAC will be on a temporary hiatus, while we deal with the impending passing of my Father-in-Law. We will be in La Crosse, Wisconsin until further notice. I will be checking e-mail as often as allowable, which won't be often.

Recipe For War

Herbert: "Iraqis may have voted yesterday. But they live in occupied territory, and the occupiers have other things on their minds than the basic wishes of the Iraqi people. That's not democracy. That's a recipe for more war." [NYT]

Friedman: "By refusing to rein in U.S. energy consumption, the Bush team is not only depriving itself of the most effective lever for promoting internally driven reform in the Middle East, it is also depriving itself of any military option. As Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, points out, given today's tight oil market and current U.S. consumption patterns, any kind of U.S. strike on Iran, one of the world's major oil producers, would send the price of oil through the roof, causing real problems for our economy. "Our own energy policy has tied our hands," Mr. Haass said." [NYT]

Torture Chicks Gone Wild: " former American Army sergeant who worked as an Arabic interpreter at Gitmo has written a book pulling back the veil on the astounding ways female interrogators used a toxic combination of sex and religion to try to break Muslim detainees at the U.S. prison camp in Cuba. It's not merely disgusting. It's beyond belief." [NYT]

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Empty Outfield

So long Sammy. The Cubs get Jerry Hairston Jr, and at least two minor leaguers. All that is left it seems is to get on a plane and pass some physicals, which should happen by Tuesday. The Cubs say there are still potential hurdles, but really, they've wanted him gone for a while, and it's pretty obvious that Sammy has wanted to leave as well.
Sammy's best and worst moments: [Tribune]
Who is going to play in the Cubs outfield now? Hollandsworth and Dubois are expected to platoon in left, Patterson in center, and...The Cubs should be going after Magglio Ordoñez, NOT Jeromy Burnitz. But, why spend money to improve your team??? [CBS] [ESPN] [Cubs]

In good news: UNC dominated Virginia today, 110-76, and it wasn't even that close. The Heels led 62-26 at half, and led by 50 points at one point in the 2nd half. UNC shot 60% from the floor, while Virginia shot 39%, and UNC outrebounded the Cavs 45-26. [UNC] [CBS] [Box]

Little Black Lies

Krugman: "Is this an example of what Mr. Bush famously called "the soft bigotry of low expectations?" Maybe not: it isn't particularly soft to treat premature black deaths not as a tragedy we must end but as just another way to push your ideological agenda. But bigotry - yes, that sounds like the right word." [NYT]

Editorial on the Millenium Challenge Account, that gives money to poor and developing countries for sorely needed aid: "This follows a sad pattern. Mr. Bush said he would ask Congress for $1.7 billion in 2004; he asked for $1.3 billion and got $1 billion. He said he would ask for $3.3 billion in 2005; he asked for $2.5 billion and got $1.5 billion.
So if past is prologue, the Republican Congress will cut the diluted 2006 pledge even further." [NYT]

So Long Sammy?

The Cubs are close to sending embattled slugger Sammy Sosa to the Baltimore Orioles for 2B/OF Jerry Hairston Jr., RHP Jorge Julio, and two minor leaguers. The Cubs are expected to pay at least half of Sosa's $17 million 2005 salary.
Chicago GM Jim Hendry denies the trade rumors, but admitted that he negotiated with several teams on Friday. This is basically a giveaway. Sure, Hairston is fast, but he has had a lot of injuries. Julio had a 4.57 ERA last year, which hopefully would improve in the NL. This is the best we could do for a future HOF Member with 574 HR's??? This speaks volumes.
Nothing is done yet, however. There is still the sticking point of money for Sosa, who by being traded is guaranteed $18 million for 2006, and a $4.5 million buyout. The Cubs are rumored to be seeking the services of 35 year old RF Jeromy Burnitz, who hit .283 with 37 HR's and 110 RBI's in Colorado (inflated? Yes). So...why wouldn't the Cubs go after Magglio Ordoñez? Who would you rather have sprinting out into right field at the home-opener???

Is Señor Cub really leaving? I think he mentally checked out after his sneezing-fit last May. Honestly, I will be sad to see him go. He's been the Cubs to me for so long. Who will ever forget 1998? Who will ever forget the corked-bat episode? The Cubs are losing a prima-donna, a mediocre at best right fielder, a aging and declining hitter, and one of my favorite players ever.
[Cubs] [Tribune] [Downey] [Rogers] [CBS] [MLB]

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Just Listen

Frank Rich: "It says much about the distance between the homefront and these troops that the Motion Picture Association of America this month blithely awarded "Gunner Palace" an "R" rating - which means that it cannot be seen without parental supervision by 16-year-old high-school kids soon to be targeted by military recruiters. (The filmmakers are appealing this verdict.) The reason for the "R" is not violence - there is virtually none on screen - but language, since some of the troops chronicle their Iraq experience by transposing it into occasionally scatological hip-hop verse. " [NYT]

Dowd: "Genius? Not so much. Spendthrift? Definitely. W.'s administration was running up his astounding deficit paying "journalists" to do what they would be happy to do for free - just to be friends with benefits, getting access that tougher scribes are denied." [NYT]

Friedman: "In such an environment, the only thing that Mr. Bush could do to change people's minds about him would be to travel across Europe and not say a single word - but just listen." [NYT]

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

NO on Gonzales

I join the call to the Senate to vote a resounding NO on Alberto Gonzales for Attorney General.

"Unprecedented times call for unprecedented actions. In this case, we, the undersigned bloggers, have decided to speak as one and collectively author a document of opposition. We oppose the nomination of Alberto Gonzales to the position of Attorney General of the United States, and we urge every United States Senator to vote against him."

We as a nation cannot support torture, or risk further reducing our standing in the world. Contact your Senator and tell them to vote NO!

Send an e-mail to Margo Baldwin and Dimpled Chad at the addresses below, telling them your blog is joining the call to the Senate for a "NO" vote.
[Kos] [ChelseaGreen] [DimpledChad]

Action Items

Support raising the minimum wage in Wisconsin. It is currently $5.15, and has been since 1997. Governor Doyle has asked the State Legislature to raise the minimum wage to $6.50. Of course, it is the Republicans that are blocking it. [MinimumWage]

Message from MoveOn PAC: "In house meetings after the election, you told us that crafting a bold progressive message and running an aggressive organizing strategy were your top priorities. The Chair of the Democratic Party may be able to do more than any other individual to help accomplish these goals -- and on February 12, the members of the Democratic National Committee will pick a new one. They need to hear from you.That's why we're launching an unprecedented campaign to tell the DNC who grassroots progressives across the country want to see as the next DNC Chair. We'll start by posing your top questions to the six candidates running for Chair. Then we'll present their answers back to you, and hold a nation-wide online vote. We'll deliver the results to your state's DNC delegation when the members gather in Washington, DC."
Click here to send your thoughts [ActionForum]

Sign this petition: [Education]

Get the Message Out!

Paul Starr: "And now we have reached that point. The Republicans, with their party in control of both elected branches - and looking to create a conservative majority on the Supreme Court that will stand for a generation - see the opportunity to overthrow policies and constitutional precedents reaching back to the New Deal. That prospect ought to concentrate the liberal mind. Social Security, progressive taxation, affordable health care, the constitutional basis for environmental and labor regulation, separation of church and state - these issues and more hang in the balance."
Time to get the message out, to everyone. [NYT]

Why Gonzales is not even a bad choice for Attorney General, he's worse. [NYT]

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Follow-up and Greenspan

Here’s a follow up to yesterday's post about the environmental protectionism (or rather, the LACK of) in the United States. Need more proof about Global Warming??? [NYT]

Krugman on our economic future after Greenspan: "Yet President Bush, as you may have noticed, only appoints yes-men (or yes-women). This is most obvious on the national security front, but it's equally true with regard to economic policy. The current Treasury secretary has no obvious qualifications other than loyalty. The new head of the National Economic Council apparently got the job because he is a Bush classmate and fund-raiser."
I love nepotism! [NYT]

Democratic Agenda-Grow Balls

Wow...the Democrats got off their butts and put forth an agenda. Maybe they are starting to realize that they lost they last two elections not because of "moral values," etc, but because they haven't told anyone what they stand for! People respond to Bush because he comes off as decisive, and you pretty much always knows where he stands on an issue. Can you say the same of the Democrats nationally?
[Dems] [Boston] [Kos] [IsolatedIncident]

Sign these petitions:
[Social Security] [Filibuster]

Someone finally says it: Rice LIED. I must be mistaken, when did the Democrats grow balls? Go Mark Dayton (D-Min) Go! Confirmation is still all but assured in the GOP-controlled Senate, but they are at the very least challenging this horrible nominee, and raising questions with the public, if they'll listen. [Yahoo] [CNN] [WP] [Reuters]

Record Deficits

"White House officials predicted this afternoon that the budget deficit would hit a record $427 billion this year, including an additional $80 billion that President Bush will ask for mostly to cover the costs of the war in Iraq." [NYT] [CNN]

Not that you can actually believe any numbers that the White House puts out, but WOW. Earlier today, they put the budget deficit number somewhere around $368 billion, excluding the $80 billion for Iraq. So, Bush says he can cut the deficit in half by 2009, while each year the deficit gets larger. Extending Bush's two tax cuts are expected to cost $1.8 TRILLION over the next 10 years. Bush is preventing an expansion of the alternative minimum tax (tax on the wealthy-his base) that would cost over $500 billion. All in all, the new estimate calls for the budget to climb slightly, and a new report earlier today by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office shows that deficits will remain above $350 billion through 2009 and climb sharply after that. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that continued costs of the war in Iraq and other aspects of the war on terrorism could add $285 billion over the next five years.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Contaminated Future

UC-San Diego researchers report that existing stem cell lines are contaminated and compromise the potential uses of these cells. "The human embryonic stem cells available for research are contaminated with nonhuman molecules from the culture medium used to grow the cells, researchers report."
Wow...but they won't allow new lines to become available because we "have to protect the fetus." So, a simple solution would be to use cells from fertility clinics, but that would only make sense. Stupid "junk-science." [NYT] [CNN] [BBC]

Krugman on Social Security and the politics of fear. [RollingStone]

AWESOME article by Richard Clarke: "The column is written from the perspective of a fictional lecturer speaking on September 11, 2011 at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, and talks about how the country hasn't won the war on terror. It speculates that attacks have increased over the previous ten years, the price of oil has spiked dramatically, a successful coup has occurred in Saudi Arabia, and Iran has become a nuclear power." [CrooksandLiars]

Killing our World

Researchers at Yale and Columbia Universities ranked the world's nations on environmental sustainability, which ranks nations on their success at such tasks as maintaining or improving air and water quality, maximizing biodiversity and cooperating with other countries on environmental problems. "Finland, Norway and Uruguay held the top three spots in the ranking, prepared by researchers at Yale and Columbia Universities. The United States ranked 45th of the 146 countries studied, behind such countries as Japan, Botswana and the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, and most of Western Europe. "
We were 45th?!?!!!!?!?!!! Thank you pResident Bush! Thank you for making our environment worse! Thank you for giving tax breaks and eliminating regulations on industries so they can rape and pillage our environment. [NYT] [Yale] [Columbia]

New research indicates that global warming is now reaching a critical point of no return. "According to the report, urgent action is needed to stop the global average temperature rising by 2 degrees Celsius above the level in 1750 -- the approximate start of the Industrial Revolution when mankind first started significantly polluting the atmosphere with carbon dioxide. Beyond a 2 degrees rise, "the risks to human societies and ecosystems grow significantly" the report said, adding there would be a risk of "abrupt, accelerated, or runaway climate change." It warned of "climatic tipping points" such as the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets melting and the Gulf Stream shutting down." [CNN]

Sunday, January 23, 2005

SpongeBush and Evolution Re-deux

Dowd: "Even if he's a little light in the flippers, SpongeBob has brought children good, clean fun. SpongeBush has brought the world dark, endless fights." [NYT]

Editorial: "That said, in districts where evolution is a burning issue, there ought to be some place in school where the religious and cultural criticisms of evolution can be discussed, perhaps in a comparative religion class or a history or current events course. But school boards need to recognize that neither creationism nor intelligent design is an alternative to Darwinism as a scientific explanation of the evolution of life." [NYT]

Friedman: "There's only one thing you can say about the elections in Iraq: They are either going to be the end of the beginning there or the beginning of the end." [NYT]

Friday, January 21, 2005

He Lives in A Pineapple Under the Sea...

Sponge-Bob Square Pants!! Is he pro-gay? The better question is WHO CARES!?!?!?!?!
"Now, Dobson said, SpongeBob's creators have enlisted him in a "pro-homosexual video" in which he appears alongside other children's television characters such as Barney, Blue from "Blue's Clues," Clifford the Big Red Dog and Jimmy Neutron, among many others.The makers of the video, he said, plan to mail it to thousands of elementary schools this spring to promote a "tolerance pledge" that includes tolerance for differences of "sexual identity." He urged his allies to stand together to stop it as part of a "spiritual battle" for the country." This James Dobson, founder of Focus on Family, is a HUGE nutcase. People, it's a cartoon! We can't have all these crazy people walking around trying to teach us REAL values and tolerance!
[Tribune] [NYT] [IsolatedIncident]

Wait...you mean, one state got it right??? "To loud cheers and a standing ovation from some 150 gay rights supporters, Gov. Rod Blagojevich (Illinois) on Friday signed a new law protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination." [Tribune]

No Free Lunch

Krugman: " Sometimes I do find myself puzzled: why don't privatizers understand that their schemes rest on the peculiar belief that there is a giant free lunch there for the taking? But then I remember what Upton Sinclair wrote: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it." [NYT]

Herbert: " People traveling in the real world may see Iraq as a place where bombings, kidnappings and assassinations are an integral part of daily life; where police officers are blown to pieces as they line up for their pay; where innocent men, women and children are slain by the thousands for no good reason; where cities like Falluja are leveled in order to save them; where America's overwhelming superiority in firepower has not been enough to win the war; and where the upcoming elections seem very much like a joke since many of the candidates have to keep their identities secret and the locations of many polling places remain undisclosed.
People traveling in the real world may see Iraq that way. But in the fantasy-laden Bush realm, Iraq is a place where freedom is on the march. So why not raise a toast to freedom, and dance the night away." [NYT]

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Fuzzy Math

Frank Rich: "History tells us that in these cases a reckoning always arrives, and Mr. Danner imagines that "in five years, or maybe sooner, there will be a TV news special called 'Torture: How Did It Happen?' " Even though much of the script can be written now, we will all be sure to express great shock."
If it's not on TV, we as a nation don't hear about it. WAKE UP PEOPLE!!! [NYT]

Friedman: "Watching George Bush's second inaugural from a bistro in Paris is like watching the Red Sox win the World Series from a sports bar in New York City. Odds are that someone around you is celebrating - I mean, someone, somewhere in Europe must be happy about this - but it's not obvious." [NYT]

Dowd: "She (Rice) can't do simple equations. She doesn't even know that X times zero equals zero. If you multiply 1,370 dead soldiers times zero weapons of mass destruction, that equals zero achievement for Ms. Rice, who helped the president and vice president bamboozle the country into war." [NYT]

Black Thursday

Well, today is the coronation of King George II. The Re-Oathening if you will. [Comedy Central Videos]

I, for one, will be protesting the coronation. We as a nation have settled for a semi-literate, "moral" pResident instead of thinking about what might be best for us. Our nation has already suffered the consequences for four disasterous years under the Bush Family Crime Syndicate: our standing in the world, over 1,370 soldiers dead in a failed "war" in Iraq, the gutting of the environment, and civil liberties, for example. Haven't we had enough!?!?!!!

I urge you not to spend one damn dime today in protest of Bush's coronation. He is wasting over $45 million of OUR money on his coronation and the gala surrounding it, therefore, today, I will spend not one penny, not one nickel, not one damn dime. I also urge you to visit Choose the Blue, and find out how you can switch your spending to companies that support democratic causes. [NotOneDamnDime!] [ChoosetheBlue]

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


Condi Rice received endorsement by the 18-member Senate panel today, 16-2. The only dissention: John Kerry and Barbara Boxer.
I can't believe that it was even this close. At least two Democrats stood up to this horrible confirmation. Rice did a HORRIBLE job as NSA; how is she going to do a better job as Secretary of State?
[NYT] [Yahoo] [Quotes] [Transcript] [Video]

This was nothing but an exercise in political theater. "Senator Joseph Biden, Democrat of Delaware, asked Ms. Rice how big an Iraqi security force had actually been trained. When Ms. Rice, the national security adviser, offered an absurdly inflated 120,000, Mr. Biden said the people doing the training put the total at 4,000. He then suggested that Ms. Rice "pick up the phone or go see these folks," as if that has not been her job all along, especially in the year since the administration said that all information on operations in Iraq would flow through her." [Editorial]

Caught between church and state: evolution vs. "intelligent design." Hey, how about we keep the religion in church, and out of the schools. Last I checked, there was supposed to be something called the "separation of church and state." [NYT] [CNN]

Judge throws out Florida same-sex marriage suit. [NYT]

Remember me? Death toll exceeds 226,000 in tsunami & aftermath. [Reuters]

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

That Magic Moment

Krugman: "Last week President Bush declared that the election was the "accountability moment" for the war in Iraq - the voters saw it his way, and that's that. But Mr. Bush didn't level with the voters during the campaign and doesn't deserve anyone's future trust." [NYT]

This is your brain on politics. [NYT]

Some genetic research isn't worth the money. That is the suggestion of two geneticists: that we need to prioritize our research on disorders that cannot be derailed by changes in personal habits or manipulation of the environment, such as Type 1 Diabetes, autism, and Alzheimer's. [NYT]

Monday, January 17, 2005


Randi Rhodes of Air America on Dr. King and his legacy. AMAZING audio w/ U2 remix of "I Have A Dream" speech. [Audio]
Text of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I See the Mountain" speech, given 04/03/1968, the day before he was assassinated. [I See the Mountain]
Text of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech, given 08/28/1963. [Mecca] [UMN]
New York 7th & 8th graders on Dr. King. [Buzzflash]
Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence, by Dr. King. [Buzzflash]

Bob Herbert: "Never since his assassination in 1968 have I felt the absence of Martin Luther King more acutely. Where are today's voices of moral outrage? Where is the leadership willing to stand up and say: Enough! We've sullied ourselves enough.
I'm convinced, without being able to prove it, that those voices will emerge. There was a time when no one had heard of Dr. King. Or Oscar Arias Sanchez. Or Martin O'Brien, who founded the foremost human rights organization in Northern Ireland, and who tells us: "The worst thing is apathy - to sit idly by in the face of injustice and to do nothing about it." [NYT]

Adam Hochschild on how the British influenced Dr. King and history: "Dr. King knew that too. In celebrating his legacy today, we also honor the legacy of all those who went before him, here and abroad. And, in a world where the gap between haves and have-nots sometimes seems wider than ever, we acknowledge the work that still has to be done." [NYT]

Sunday, January 16, 2005

What Liberal Media???

This is former Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill's take on how to overhaul Social Security: "At the same time we acknowledge that it is the most successful domestic program in American history, we should also admit that Social Security, in its present form, is unsustainable. And then we should come up with a plan that is different than what President Bush and most of the pundits are proposing."
I don't know if this is the answer or not (is there one?), but it seems a hell of a lot better than Bush's plan. [NYT]

What liberal media? [Tribune] [WhatLiberalMedia?] [Eric Alterman] [Altercation] [Alterman] [Cohen]


UNC falls flat Saturday, losing at Wake Forest 95-82. This snapped UNC's 14-game winning streak. The Demon Deacons hit 32-32 free throws in the game, and got North Carolina in foul trouble.
[UNC] [CBS] [Fouls] [Box]

Wisconsin plays Michigan State today at 12:30. [JS]
UW-Milwaukee hammers UW-GB yesterday, 86-56. [GB P-G] [JS]

Badger Hockey now alone atop the WCHA at 17-6-1 overall (14-4-0, 28 points in WCHA) [JS]

Friday, January 14, 2005

Back from the Brink

John Nichols: " But it is Dean who can put the race on the front pages and the evening news, and that is precisely where it belongs."
This is why Dean is the right choice for DNC Chair. To bring back the party from the brink of its own destruction, at its own hands. [TheNation]

David Corn: "And nothing has changed in terms of the White House's response to the absence of WMDs. Bush refuses to address the consequences of having misled the nation and the world. Before the war, he stated that there was "no doubt" that Iraq was loaded to the gills with WMDs."
I just love how there are no consequences for Bush. He LIED to the WORLD about Iraq and the threat it posed. [TheNation]

Katrina Vanden Heuvel: "What's in store for 2005? We anticipate scandals to come. But it should be noted that the GAO may face White House-proposed budget cuts and that the Bush Administration has developed a hostile policy toward nonpartisan IGs in various federal agencies. Instead of shooting the messenger, the Bush approach is defunding the investigator." [TheNation]

The British Evasion

Krugman: "We must end Social Security as we know it, the Bush administration says, to meet the fiscal burden of paying benefits to the baby boomers. But the most likely privatization scheme would actually increase the budget deficit until 2050. By then the youngest surviving baby boomer will be 86 years old.
Even then, would we have a sustainable retirement system? Not bloody likely." [NYT]

Herbert: "But the administration is like an ardent lover in its zeal to shower the rich and powerful with every imaginable benefit. So tucked like a gleaming diamond in proposed legislation to curb malpractice lawsuits is a provision that would give an unconscionable degree of protection to firms responsible for drugs or medical devices that turn out to be harmful." [NYT]

Is there no end to the hypocrisy?!?

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Media Matters

Frank Rich: "I do not mean to minimize the CBS News debacle and other recent journalistic outrages at The New York Times and elsewhere. But the Jan. 7 edition of CNN's signature show can stand as an exceptionally ripe paradigm of what is happening to the free flow of information in a country in which a timid news media, the fierce (and often covert) Bush administration propaganda machine, lax and sometimes corrupt journalistic practices, and a celebrity culture all combine to keep the public at many more than six degrees of separation from anything that might resemble the truth." [NYT]

Kristof: "Yes, Cuba's. Babies are less likely to survive in America, with a health care system that we think is the best in the world, than in impoverished and autocratic Cuba. According to the latest C.I.A. World Factbook, Cuba is one of 41 countries that have better infant mortality rates than the U.S. Even more troubling, the rate in the U.S. has worsened recently." [NYT]

Yes, thank you Republicans. Cut our healthcare and assistance to the poor, and then wonder why we have such a high relative infant mortality rate. Typical. Protect the fetus. It's all about the fetus. It's once you're born that you're screwed.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Ramblin' Wrecked

UNC put up a dominating performance, soundly defeating eighth ranked Georgia Tech, 91-69. That's 14-straight wins for UNC, heading into Saturday's matchup at third ranked Wake Forest. Sean May had 12 points and 13 boards, Felton had 9 assists, and Jawad Williams led with 18. McCants even played defense, with four blocks, and was seen hopping and dancing, exciting the crowd. I just love the freshman, Marvin Williams: 14 points, 6 boards, and a ton of hustle.
[UNC] [CBS] [Box] [On Marvin]

Meet Your Federal Budget!

"The Bush administration is preparing a budget request that would freeze most spending on agriculture, veterans and science, slash or eliminate dozens of federal programs, and force more costs, from Medicaid to housing, onto state and local governments, according to congressional aides and lawmakers." [WP]

Excellent. We have over 10,000 wounded troops returning from Iraq/Afghanistan, and they are going to come home to what? NOTHING. No assistance, no housing, no health benefits. Community Development Block Grants could be cut by 50%, and overall funding to housing programs will be AT BEST frozen. "Veterans programs are also expected to be pinched, with flat funding, higher deductibles and co-payments for health care and a squeeze on benefit eligibility, aides said."
Way to support the troops Republicans!

Kennedy's on fire [CNN] [WP]

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Dean for DNC Chair

Howard Dean finally threw his hat into the ring today (officially) to head the DNC. "The Democratic Party needs a vibrant, forward-thinking, long-term presence in every single state and we must be willing to contest every race at every level. We will only win when we show up and fight for the issues important to all of us."
The vote is February 12th; here's to hoping that he wins in a landslide.
[DemocracyforAmerica] [BlogforAmerica] [Buzzflash] [CNN]

The Iceberg (and Doomsday) Cometh

Krugman: "Last week someone leaked a memo written by Peter Wehner, an aide to Karl Rove, about how to sell Social Security privatization. The public, says Mr. Wehner, must be convinced that "the current system is heading for an iceberg." It's the standard Bush administration tactic: invent a fake crisis to bully people into doing what you want. "For the first time in six decades," the memo says, "the Social Security battle is one we can win." One thing I haven't seen pointed out, however, is the extent to which the White House expects the public and the media to believe two contradictory things." [NYT]

Victor's Spoils: aka, "How to hold an inauguration at taxpayer expense." [Editorial]

The "Doomsday Plan": "Usually, 218 lawmakers - a majority of the 435 members of Congress - are required to conduct House business, such as passing laws or declaring war. But under the new rule, a majority of living Congressmen no longer will be needed to do business under "catastrophic circumstances." Instead, a majority of the Congressmen able to show up at the House would be enough to conduct business, conceivably a dozen lawmakers or less."
[Boston Herald]

Monday, January 10, 2005

Mortgaging Our Futures

Bob Herbert: "You know you're in serious trouble when the politicians and the military brass don't even bother suggesting that there's light at the end of the tunnel. The only thing ahead is a deep and murderous darkness. With the insurgency becoming both stronger and bolder, and the chances of conducting a legitimate election growing grimmer by the day, a genuine sense of alarm can actually be detected in the reality-resistant hierarchy of the Bush administration." [NYT]

The Baby Tax: "You've known them in your lives. The guys who go on credit card spending sprees and then skip town leaving their families to pay off their debts. They are louses, creeps, guys who mortgage the future of their children to their high off the hog living and lavish life styles." [Buzzflash]

Social Security by the numbers: "So you add that up and you get $3.7 trillion we need to cover Social Security's shortfall and $19.7 trillion we need just to cover the costs of the two major domestic policy initiatives of the president's first term." [TalkingPointsMemo]

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Iraq, Jon Stewart, and Torture

MoDo the Dragon Lady on Iraq: "The president prides himself on being a pig-headed guy. He is determined to win in Iraq even if he is not winning in Iraq. So get ready for a Mohammedan mountain of spin defining victory down. Come what may - civil war over oil, Iranian-style fatwas du jour or men on prayer rugs reciting the Koran all day on the Iraqi TV network our own geniuses created - this administration will call it a triumph." [NYT]

Editorial: "And last month, when the tsunami hit Asia, viewers got a chance to notice what they were in danger of losing to talk TV. CNN, with a comparatively large international army of journalists at its disposal, went out and covered the story. Fox News and MSNBC had to depend more on conversationalists in the studio, all of whom agreed that tidal waves were very, very bad." [NYTE]

Danner: "We are all torturers now." [NYTOPED]

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Houston, We Have a Problem

BREAKING NEWS: Carlos Beltran has decided to remain a free agent, and skipped past the 12 PM EST deadline to resign with the Houston Astros. The Astros now lose all negotiating rights with Beltran (until May 1st), ending his tenure there. The Mets are considered the leading candidates for his services, with the Cubs and Yankees also in the mix. [MLB] [CBS] [ESPN]

As a Cubs fan, I'm elated that Beltran decided not to continue to play in Houston (whom I HATE). I see good and bad things about this guy. Good: he's only 27, a five-tool player, hit .435 with 8 HR's in the playoffs in 2004. Bad: he wants HUGE money. Do the Cubs need another player with a long-term guaranteed contract on their roster? I don't want a guy that is making $16+ million that is hitting .265 (as he did after coming to Houston). Sosa is already a cancer on the payroll (which will be eliminated after the 2005 season).
This guy is a REALLY good player, and I really think the Cubs owe it to their fans to take a shot and go and get this guy.

'Heel Yeah!

#3 UNC wins it's 13th straight game, shellacking #21 Maryland, 109-75. "As of now, that's a scary thought for the rest of the league. The Tar Heels have won 13 straight games -- most by lopsided margins -- since a loss to Santa Clara in the season opener. On Saturday, North Carolina shot 57 percent, went 10-for-20 from 3-point range, had a 49-28 rebounding edge and led by as many as 42 points."
UNC had SEVEN players in double-figures, and the bench scored 41 points. If they can just cut down on the turnovers. But, you have to give Maryland credit: they forced a lot of turnovers, and their defense wasn't terrible. UNC is just playing like a #1 team. [UNC] [CBS] [Box]

Meanwhile, Wisconsin lost to Indiana [CBS]
and UWGB beat Butler [CBS]

Iokiyar: It's O.K. if You're a Republican

Krugman's take on the popular novel: "In my bad novel, a TV personality who claims to stand up for regular Americans against the elite will pay a large settlement in a sexual harassment case, in which he used his position of power to - on second thought, that story is too embarrassing even for a bad novel."

"Either way, when the Senate confirms Mr. Gonzales, it will mean that Iokiyar remains in effect, that the basic rules of ethics don't apply to people aligned with the ruling party. And reality will continue to be worse than any fiction I could write." [NYT]

Herbert: "If the United States were to look into a mirror right now, it wouldn't recognize itself." [NYT]

Thursday, January 06, 2005


Frank Rich: "By common consent, 2004 was the year that Jon Stewart's fake news became more reliable for many viewers than real news. As 2005 begins, we must confront the prospect that a fictional TV action hero is more engaged with the war on terror than those in Washington who actually have his job." [NYT]

MoDo the Dragon Lady gives us such gems as: "It's comforting to start the new year in the hands of a party that cares so much about morals and values." & "You know how bad the situation is when the president's choice for attorney general has to formally pledge not to support torture anymore." OH MAN. [NYT]

Friedman: "What the Bush team has done in Iraq, by ousting Saddam, was not to "liberate" the country - an image and language imported from the West and inappropriate for Iraq - but rather to unleash the latent civil war in that country. Think of shaking a bottle of Champagne and then uncorking it." [NYT]

Boxer Rebellion

"Sen. Barbara Boxer (news, bio, voting record), D-Calif., signed a challenge mounted by House Democrats to Ohio's 20 electoral votes, which put Bush over the top. By law, a protest signed by members of the House and Senate requires both chambers to meet separately for up to two hours to consider it. Lawmakers are allowed to speak for no more than five minutes each."

"I have concluded that objecting to the electoral votes from Ohio is the only immediate way to bring these issues to light by allowing you to have a two-hour debate to let the American people know the facts surrounding Ohio's election," Boxer wrote in a letter to Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (news, bio, voting record), D-Ohio, a leader of the Democratic effort."

Someone stands up. How nice it is to see someone, anyone, fight back for the rights of the disenfranchised. It won't change anything, especially since the Rethugs have control of both houses, but maybe it will spark a REAL journalist or two to question what really happened. [Yahoo] [Buzzflash]

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Fake Crisis

Paul Krugman: "There are two serious threats to the federal government's solvency over the next couple of decades. One is the fact that the general fund has already plunged deeply into deficit, largely because of President Bush's unprecedented insistence on cutting taxes in the face of a war. The other is the rising cost of Medicare and Medicaid.
As a budget concern, Social Security isn't remotely in the same league. The long-term cost of the Bush tax cuts is five times the budget office's estimate of Social Security's deficit over the next 75 years. The botched prescription drug bill passed in 2003 does more, all by itself, to increase the long-run budget deficit than the projected rise in Social Security expenses.
That doesn't mean nothing should be done to improve Social Security's finances. But privatization is a fake solution to a fake crisis." [NYT]

Choose and LOSE [NYT]

And, this is NO time to play "Fear Factor" with Social Security funds. [NYT]


Ryne Sandberg and Wade Boggs were voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Tuesday, to be inducted in July. Boggs will go in as a Red Sox, and Ryno will go in as a Cub.
[Cubs] [Ryno] [Career] [MLB] [Tribune] [Stats]

One and done: The Bears fired offensive coordinator Terry Shea Tuesday. Not really a huge surprise. The Bears offense took a step backwards this year (if you can believe that).
[Bears] [CBS]

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Sick & Tired of Being Sick & Tired

I just got out of the hospital at about 4:15 this afternoon. I went in at around 7:30 Monday night, with severe abdominal pain. After numerous tests, poking, prodding, and shoving tubes in EVERY orifice, I am feeling well enough to sleep in my own bed. The staff at Columbia Hospital in Milwaukee rocks by the way. Very caring group of folks.
Can't a guy catch a break? I was just sick with the flu last week, and then this happens: more of the vomiting, and this time, severe pain.

The good news was that I met two new friends: Morphine and Valium.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Happy 2005!!!

Happy New Year to all from BenPAC!

Here's a hilarious (and VERY true!) cartoon by Joe Heller. [Cartoon]