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Tuesday, January 24, 2006


A Handmaid's Tale

Via Bulworth:

Nellie Gray, the president of March for Life, the group that organized the rally, said reversing Roe was this year's theme. Speaking to the crowd in fiery tones, Ms. Gray predicted that the United States would hold the equivalent of Nuremburg trials for "feminist abortionists," calling support for a woman's right to choose "crimes against humanity."

"Roe v. Wade has brutalized our country," she said. "The feminist abortionists, look at the evil they are doing. From that will come an accountability." Her words were met with strong applause, and more than a few supporters held high signs that compared abortions in the United States to "Hitler's Holocaust."


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The Power of the Clenis


Oh look, no Clinton coverup in the Cisneros case. They really must be desperate to divert people from BushCo wiretapping to dig this far back:

Ironically, jurisdiction to investigate one year's tax violations in effect permitted the independent counsel to investigate all tax years. Under established legal principles, evidence of conduct in one year can be relevant to show tax evasion in another year. Everyone at the department recognized this; apparently, the independent counsel did not.

Far from conspiring to block the independent counsel from investigating tax violations, therefore, the Justice Department bent over backward to permit him to do so. Attorney General Janet Reno had no hesitancy in recommending the appointment of independent counsels when the facts justified it: She sought a half-dozen independent counsels during her tenure. As for me, it has been reported that I recommended appointment of an independent counsel to investigate Vice President Al Gore. Had the law and the facts justified it in this case, the attorney general would have granted the independent counsel's request.

In short, there was no conspiracy, no outside political influence, no improper conduct. There was only a good-faith evaluation of the facts and the law that produced a different result from the one the independent counsel desired. Even the Bush administration told Barrett that there was "no actual evidence" of a conspiracy to obstruct justice.

It is the independent counsel's behavior that warrants examination here. His completely unfounded investigation into the alleged obstruction of justice lasted over six years and cost the taxpayers tens of millions of dollars -- even though the issue was simple and straightforward, and even though the statute of limitations expired during his investigation. In that time he never contacted me or any other Justice Department lawyer to find out what we had to say. At the same time he apparently required one IRS lawyer to testify almost 30 times -- surely a record in any federal criminal investigation. His investigation might still be going on if the court that oversees independent counsels had not ordered him to stop. And yet his report contains no evidence supporting his scurrilous charges.

Sadly, this independent counsel seemed unable to recognize that different lawyers could reach different conclusions in good faith. Instead, he decided that everyone who disagreed with him could only be corrupt. He did not let the complete absence of evidence to support that fantasy deter him from smearing nonpolitical government lawyers, who have devoted their careers to serving the public, without hearing their side of the story. That's the real scandal.


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Hosed or Hacked?



I don't know what's wrong with WordPress, but apparently I'm not the only one who's having problems. Which means it's more likely to be fixed soon, right? (Fingers crossed)

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Deja Vu



If you thought to come over here, you already know my other site is hosed right now. Stay tuned, the tech god has been notified.

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Drip Drip Drip


From a conservative magazine, mind you:

The Bush administration is bracing for impeachment hearings in Congress."A coalition in Congress is being formed to support impeachment," an administration source said.

Sources said a prelude to the impeachment process could begin with hearings by the Senate Judiciary Committee in February. They said the hearings would focus on the secret electronic surveillance program and whether Mr. Bush violated the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Administration sources said the charges are expected to include false reports to Congress as well as Mr. Bush's authorization of the National Security Agency to engage in electronic surveillance inside the United States without a court warrant. This included the monitoring of overseas telephone calls and e-mail traffic to and from people living in the United States without requisite permission from a secret court.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2005


Arghhh

I don't know what's wrong with the other site, but obviously it's not working today.

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Monday, November 28, 2005


DOMESTIC ABUSE (9/0/03, Open Source Politics)

We wanted to believe him. The reporters told us he was warm and funny; he told us he was a new kind of conservative. Everyone agreed he was a man of faith. So we bought the package - some of us, anyway. And in the beginning, we tried to give him the benefit of the doubt.


Then there was the tragedy. As we fell into a great black hole of national despair, he managed to say some comforting words; he managed not to make it worse. Give him that.


People started to believe him; after all, we desperately wanted to believe. We weren't strong enough yet to see beyond the posturing, the empty words. But as the sharp pain of the trauma receded to a dull, constant ache, we began to see a difference.


He started to act surly, suspicious - downright paranoid. The national spirit was slowly crushed beneath the heel of his "concern".


"You can't do this without me," he said, eyes narrowed. "You're too weak, trusting. You could never handle this on your own. So I'll take care of everything."


We still wanted to believe. Isn't that human nature? Despite the bruises and the stark purple fingerprints on the throat, we tell ourselves it simply can't be that bad. Our brains won't let it in. "I must have misunderstood. What's wrong with me, for thinking that way? No wonder he's angry; he was provoked."


But it never stops there, does it? At first, the spying seemed almost reasonable under the circumstances: Where are you going? What are you buying? Who are you calling? What are you reading?


Then he began to pick fights. This one, that one. They're evil. Either you're with us, or you're against us. Pick sides, and be damned if you pick the wrong one.


And because of the fear, we wanted his certainty. Maybe he's right, we told ourselves. Who in his right mind would resort to these fights without a good reason? (After all, no one wanted to think he wasn't in his right mind.)


"They're plotting against us," he announced solemnly. "I have the proof." The too-familiar taste of fear rose in our throats and we trusted him. It was that simple.


So we went to war. We supported the troops. We tied the yellow ribbons and we prayed. When he stood on the aircraft carrier and announced the battles were over, the golden light of early twilight shone behind his head, making him look like a god.


The press knew their part in this play. They curtsied; they held his train and buffed his crown. They asked no real questions, other than to say, "Doesn't that flight suit make him look manly?"
And for many months, we were too distracted and worried to notice. We didn't even pay attention to the money. Jobs were disappearing, yes; but he mumbled something about how giving away our money to the highest earners would create many more new ones and of course, we wanted to believe. We wanted to trust him.


Then some of us started to ask cautious questions. Why does a man of compassion show so little? Why is he so mean to anyone who doesn't agree? In what, exactly, could we feel more secure?


On the days that planes didn't drop out of the sky, what were we paying for?


It's not always a clear moment of epiphany; sometimes it's just the piling of one straw upon another until one day, you can't imagine life without him and the next, you look up at the large, moldy mess and think to yourself, Enough. It stops here.


And then the things you looked at with such compassionate tolerance take on a sinister nature. "He's so controlling," you tell yourself. When you talk on the phone or with friends at the office, you weigh your words carefully. You look over your shoulder. You admit the constant weight of his scrutiny and sometimes the knowledge makes your head feel too heavy for your neck.One day, you actually say it out loud. "Maybe he's just a bully who tells big lies to make himself feel good," you say. "He's done nothing to earn my trust. How does starting a fight we can't finish make us any more secure?


"We don't know if we'll even have jobs, while his friends get rich from the tax cuts we're paying for. Our children's schools don't have money for books, we can't afford doctors and our air and water is being poisoned again. Our winters are turning far too cold and our summers are far too hot, but we're the only country in the world that claims we have nothing to do with it.


Other countries hate us. He says it's them; he taunts and ridicules them. But what if they're right? What if he's turned the world against us for no good reason?


What if he's only made it worse?


You've said the words. You've started the journey. And you can begin again to imagine a world without domestic abuse.


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Friday, May 06, 2005


AS OF AUG. 31st, I WILL REMOVE THIS LINK AND YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO ACCESS THE NEW SITE FROM HERE.

PLEASE CHANGE YOUR LINKS AND BOOKMARKS TO:
HTTP://SUSIEMADRAK.COM. THANKS!


NEW RSS FEED HERE.

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FREE AT LAST

Even though it's not completely the way I want it yet, I'm going to start posting over at the new place tomorrow morning.

So please switch your bookmarks and blogroll links now to direct you to my new home at susiemadrak.com.

Some of the new benefits:

1) Not Blogger.
2) No more long, long posts on the front page. I'll have that handy "read more" capability.
3) Cleaner design.
4) Shorter time for page loading.

I hope you like it. The old site will remain but as of tomorrow a.m., all posts will be at the cool new hang.

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Thursday, May 05, 2005


FOLLOW THE BOUNCING BALL

One of the Kossacks has put together quite an impressive timeline showing the connections with neocon Larry Franklin, just charged with passing information to Israel:
1970 - An FBI wiretap authorized for the Israeli Embassy picked up Richard Perle, then a Senator's staffer and working on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, discussing with an Embassy official classified information which he said had been supplied to him by a staff member on the National Security Council. An NSC/FBI investigation found the staff member, Helmut Sonnenfeldt, who had been previously investigated in 1967 while a staff member of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, for suspected unauthorized transmission to an Israeli Government official of a classified document concerning the commencement of the 1967 war in the Middle East.

1978 - While working for the Arms Control and Disarmament agency in 1978, Paul Wolfowitz was the subject of an investigation that alleged he had provided a classified document on the proposed sale of U.S. weapons to an Arab government to an Israeli government official via an AIPAC intermediary. However, the probe was eventually dropped.

April 1979 - The Attorney General's office recommends that Dr. Stephen Bryen, then a staff member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, be investigated by a grand jury because he had been overheard in the Madison Hotel Coffee Shop offering classified documents to Israeli Embassy official Zvi Rafiah, the Mossad station chief in Washington, in the presence of the director of AIPAC. The investigation was eventually shut down and Bryen resigned. He then served as Executive Director of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), and provided consulting services to AIPAC.

1981 - Shortly before being appointed Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy (ISP), Perle was paid a consulting fee by an Israeli arms manufacturer, Soltam. Shortly after assuming his post, Perle wrote a letter to the Secretary of the Army urging evaluation and purchase of 155 mm. shells manufactured by Soltam. Bryen becomes Deputy to Perle and receives top secret clearances. Wolfowitz, as head of the State Department Policy Planning Staff, hires Michael Ledeen as a Special Advisor.

1982 - Perle hires Douglas Feith to be his Special Counsel (he later becomes Deputy Assistant Secretary for Negotiations Policy). F. Michael Maloof also becomes an aide to Perle as Foreign Affairs Specialist.

1983 - Feith is fired because he had been the object of an inquiry into whether he had provided classified material to an official of the Israeli Embassy in Washington. FBI had opened an inquiry into this allegation. Also, on the recommendation of Perle, Ledeen was hired at the Department of Defense as a consultant on terrorism, where his superior first became concerned that he was viewing classified material that he was not cleared to see.
Lots more, go read it.

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HIGH CRIMES

Knight Ridder picks up the British Iraq memo story:
WASHINGTON - A highly classified British memo, leaked in the midst of Britain's just-concluded election campaign, indicates that President Bush decided to overthrow Iraqi President Saddam Hussein by summer 2002 and was determined to ensure that U.S. intelligence data supported his policy.

The document, which summarizes a July 23, 2002, meeting of British Prime Minister Tony Blair with his top security advisers, reports on a visit to Washington by the head of Britain's MI-6 intelligence service.

The visit took place while the Bush administration was still declaring to the American public that no decision had been made to go to war.

"There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable," the MI-6 chief said at the meeting, according to the memo. "Bush wanted to remove Saddam through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD," weapons of mass destruction.

The memo said "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."
As Greg Palast said, how much more does it take to get Bush impeached?

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FALLING DOWN

Rolling Stone:
In fact, it may already be too late to prevent Iraq from exploding. Iraq's new government is stuck in a fatal Catch-22: To have any credibility among Iraqis it must break with the U.S. and oppose the occupation, but it couldn't last a week without the protection of American troops. The Bush administration is also stuck. Its failure to stabilize Iraq, and the continuing casualties there, have led to a steady slide in the president's popularity: Polls show that a majority of Americans no longer think that the war in Iraq was worth fighting in the first place. Yet withdrawing from Iraq would only lead to more chaos, and the rest of the world has exhibited little interest in cleaning up America's mess. Of the two dozen or so countries that sent troops to Iraq, fewer and fewer remain: Spain, Portugal, Hungary and New Zealand have already quit, and the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Italy have announced they are getting out. Even if the United Nations agreed to step in, there is little or no chance that the administration will internationalize control over Iraq. In the face of a full-scale civil war in Iraq, says a source close to the U.S. military, Bush intends to go it alone.

"Our policy is to make Iraq a colony," he says. "We won't let go."

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Your Seduction Style: Siren / Rake





You possess an unbridled sensuality that appeals to many.
The minute you meet anyone, you can make the crave you almost immediately.
You give others the chance to lose control with you... spiraling into carnal bliss.
A dangerous lover, you both fascinate and scare those you attract.
[Via Blondesense.]


What Is Your Seduction Style?

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AN APPLE A DAY

If you're an IT geek who makes network decisions, you should read this. Because it's not just Windows that's the security risk, it's also Intel hardware:
What's most interesting about this is what it reveals about the respondents: specifically that they're so focused on fighting Microsoft's alligators that they don't see the hardware side of their security problems and are blind to the BSD-based Mac OS X option for running Microsoft Office without Microsoft Windows.

At present, attacks on Microsoft's Windows products are generally drawn from a different population of possible attacks than those on Unix variants such as BSD, Linux and Solaris. From a practical perspective, the key difference is that attacks on Wintel tend to have two parts: A software vulnerability is exploited to give a remote attacker access to the x86 hardware and that access is then used to gain control of the machine.

In contrast, attacks on Unix generally require some form of initial legal access to the machine and focus on finding software ways to upgrade priveleges illegally.

***
In other words, if security concerns are your most important driver for desktop change, and Microsoft Office compatibility is your most significant barrier, then switching to Macs actually offers you the best of all possible worlds. Microsoft Office on Unix/Risc with a better GUI, longer product life, some cash savings and a performance bonus thrown in.

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GO SETH

Young Philly Politics:
Today, in the continuing effort of Philadelphia bloggers to make a real impact in the upcoming District Attorney's race, we are taking part in the third united day of action for Seth Williams (see Day 1, Day 2).

Today, our goal is simple: to get as many Philadelphia voters as possible to pledge their vote to Seth. In an election where turnout will be in the 20's, getting as many people involved and committed to voting will be crucial.What we are doing is asking our readers to take ten seconds and pledge their vote, (let them know Young Philly Politics sent you), and to commit to sending an email out to their fellow Philadelphia voters asking them to do the same. (A sample email is contained in the post below.)

Above all else, we are coordinating again to spread the word and tell them to go to www.seth4da.com/vote, and become a part of the Philadelphia grassroots community that is making waves around the City, and around the blogosphere.

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BULLYING

Oh, but union members are the "thugs":
WASHINGTON, May 4 - The Bush administration has warned the nation's biggest labor federation that union-run pension funds may be breaking the law in opposing President Bush's Social Security proposals.

In a letter on Tuesday to the A.F.L.-C.I.O., the Department of Labor said it was "very concerned" that pension plans might be spending workers' money to "advocate a particular result in the current Social Security debate."

The Labor Department also warned the federation that pension plans could be violating their fiduciary responsibilities by suggesting that they might take their investment business away from Wall Street firms that support Mr. Bush's plans.


The department did not cite any specific instances and it stopped short of any formal accusations. But the letter came after a well-orchestrated campaign by the A.F.L.-C.I.O. to criticize investment firms that appeared to be supporting Mr. Bush's proposal for private investment accounts. "A fiduciary may never increase a plan's expenses, sacrifice the security of promised benefits, or reduce the return on plan assets, in order to promote its views on Social Security or any other broad policy issue," the letter said.

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A NATIONAL DISGRACE

You might say I relate:
WASHINGTON — More than 18,000 adults in the USA die each year because they are uninsured and can't get proper health care, researchers report in a landmark study released Tuesday.

The 193-page report, "Care Without Coverage: Too Little, Too Late," examines the plight of 30 million — one in seven — working-age Americans whose employers don't provide insurance and who don't qualify for government medical care.
I've been obsessing about this a lot lately, because this is the third week in a row my boss had no assignments for me and I'm worried about 1) losing my job and thus 2) losing my health insurance. Again.

It became even more of an issue when I found a painful lump last week on my pelvic bone. I looked it up online and everything came up bone cancer. (And if it's malignant, they take off your leg.) I went to the doctor's office; the physician's assistant who examined me frowned and said she really couldn't tell what it was, to the point where she didn't even know what tests to order. So she referred me to a surgeon.

The local surgeon couldn't see me until the middle of June.

I wasn't waiting, so I called the University of Penn health system. They're very thorough; they take all your information and refer you to the appropriate specialist. ("I need to know how far down into the hair the lump is," the intake person insisted. Now, that's thorough.) Unfortunately, the appointment person for this particular doctor wasn't in until Monday morning, so I tried to put it out of my head over the weekend. Hah! Fat chance.

I kept obsessing: What if I lose my job and I don't have insurance? People assume you get the same treatment with Medicaid - but you don't. And how do you live? Yeah, you can get Social Security disability - but it takes a long time until you're approved. (My ex-husband finally got his approval the day after he died. Fortunately for him, he had disability insurance through his job. Most people don't.) Who would take care of me? How the fuck could I even manage, hopping around on one leg?

My brain was on overload.

When I called Monday, the secretary said, "Oh yes, Ms. Madrak. We've been expecting your call. The doctor will see you today at 12:30." Gulp. I had that same reaction I had years ago when a strange doctor patted my hand after examining my sinuses. Oh my God, he's patting my hand, I said to myself, panicking. My worst fears were confirmed when he said, "I'm not going to lie to you, honey. It doesn't look good." Fortunately, I dodged the bullet that time.

So I drove downtown. When I checked in at the desk, I discovered I was seeing the guy who's the department head of gynecologic oncology. Oh, swell, I thought. Glad that I was getting a top gun, upset at his specialty.

I really liked this doctor. "How come you self-referred?" he wanted to know. "Well, they keep referring me to these people who practice at a second-tier suburban hospital," I said. "As long as my insurance will cover it, I feel a lot better coming here." He laughed.

He examined me and told me it wasn't a lump on the bone. "I know it feels like that, but it isn't," he reassured me. "I'm 95 percent sure it's an inguinal hernia. I can't say for sure without the test, but I wouldn't worry. The P.A. probably couldn't tell because they're so unusual in women."

Then he asked if I'd ever been evaluated for polycystic ovary syndrome. I sighed. "I've been back and forth with doctors about that for nine months," I said. "I'm seeing what I hope is a competent endocrinologist next week."

Anyway, I'm not dying of bone cancer. They're not going to cut off my leg. I do have health insurance, at least for now. (No work, but I do have insurance.)

But what if? No one should have to ask that question in America.

It's a national disgrace.

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DECONSTRUCTING

Chris Bowers has a lengthy look at why the Democrats' problems aren't going to be solved by "reframing" the issues (and I wholeheartedly agree):
As far as I can tell, the main problem facing Democrats is that conservatives, when compared to liberals, have superior organizational control and power over what Louis Althusser famously called Ideological State Apparatuses and what on this blog I have taken to calling ideological conversion machines.

To put this another way, I believe that conservatives are largely in control of those mechanisms that determine an individual's ideological outlook, which these days is largely determinative of how an individual ends up voting.

I believe that our problems are growing particuarly severe when it comes to four specific ideological machines...
If you're serious about understanding politics, you should read this.

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REWRITING THE CONSTITUTION

Sigh...

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MOM'S THE WORD

A special Mother's Day story about a major league pitcher with two mommies.

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CALLING IT QUITS

Ah yes, a woman scorned can be quite creative.

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HMMM

From 1674, the Women's Petition Against Coffee:
Never did Men wear greater Breeches, or carry less in them of any Mettle whatsoever. There was a glorious Dispensation ('twas surely in the Golden Age) when Lusty Ladds of seven or eight hundred years old, Got Sons and Daughters; and we have read, how a Prince of Spain was forced to make a Law, that Men should not Repeat the Grand Kindness to their Wives, above NINE times in a night: But Alas! Alas! Those forwards Days are gone, The dull Lubbers want a Spur now, rather than a Bridle: being so far from doing any works of Supererregation that we find them not capable of performing those Devoirs which their Duty, and our Expectations Exact.

The Occasion of which Insufferable Disaster, after a serious Enquiry, and Discussion of the Point by the Learned of the Faculty, we can Attribute to nothing more than the Excessive use of that Newfangled, Abominable, Heathenish Liquor called COFFEE, which Riffling Nature of her Choicest Treasures, and Drying up the Radical
Moisture, has so Eunucht our Husbands, and Crippled our more kind Gallants, that they are become as Impotent, as Age, and as unfruitful as those Desarts whence that
unhappy Berry is said to be brought.
Nine times in one night? Damn! Those really were the good old days.

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OY

Via Seeing the Forest: How to detect a housing bubble.

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WORD TO THE WISE

Google has a new web accelerator that's supposed to speed page loads for broadband users. I tried it for about two hours last night and had to remove it; it's really buggy and the browser kept shutting down.

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TAKE THEM OUT OF THE BALLGAME

Buzz Bissinger on steroid use in baseball:
But the true villains are baseball's owners, greedy and feckless throughout the game's history, and in the case of this latest mess, guilty of cynically jettisoning the game's subtlety and complexity to turn it into a slugfest circus - home-run madness passed off as baseball. Regardless of who knew what when, steroids helped to advance that master plan.

***
Rejecting the singular pace and flow of the game, owners decided that fans instead wanted to see interminable contests where home runs became as prevalent as peanuts.

***
The owners put other changes in play to further enhance their vision of baseball as T-ball. They started building smaller ballparks, in part to make the game more enticing for fans, but also because smaller ballparks potentially meant more home runs. As a result of willy-nilly expansion, the quality of major league pitching worsened in the 1990's, another boon to home-run madness. So was the advent of a smaller strike zone, as well as a ball that seemed juiced-up to players, despite official denials. With the use of steroids allowed to fester, all the pieces were in place for a radical revision of the game.
Yep. The steroid problem wasn't the beginning. They also changed the height of the pitcher's mound and stopped enforcing the regulation strike zone; that lengthened the games and turned them into hours-long snoozefests.

I rarely go to a MLB park anymore. The tickets are too expensive, the games are too long and it doesn't hold the same thrill it used to. I go to the local AA stadiums (we're lucky enough to have three of them in the Philadelphia area) or I go to see friends and relatives play in the local league. (I saw a pitching duel of a game the other week that rivaled anything I've seen in the major leagues.)

But I'm in a growing minority. These management changes helped turn off an entire new generation of potential fans, who complain (not without justification) that baseball is "boring" and "too long."

It wasn't. And if you didn't learn to love the game before they ruined it, you probably never will.

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RUNNING GOVERNMENT LIKE A BUSINESS

And see how well that worked:
Numerous breakdowns in management and oversight occurred when the Interior Department, on behalf of military forces in Iraq, hired private sector interrogators to work in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, according to a Government Accountability Office report released last week.

Government employees in many cases failed to understand their responsibility for overseeing the hired employees, and this created an environment in which the contractor took on roles and responsibilities normally reserved for government employees, the report (GAO-05-201) stated.

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Wednesday, May 04, 2005


HIDING

From the Washington Note, more ass-covering:
Wow. Richard Lugar is a decent, respectable, "fair and balanced" guy -- but I really don't understand this.

He has weighed in on the question of what materials the State Department should send at Senator Biden's request and which not to worry about. This is unprecedented in an otherwise collegial Senate committee -- one of the view where a spirit of collaboration and mutual respect between both sides still burned strong.

Well, that light of bipartisanship is flickering.

To cut to the chase -- until I can write more -- Lugar has written a letter today to Condi Rice praising the State Department for complying with various materials and information requests from Senator Biden. He then indicates that given the limited time, State should comply with just four of the nine information requests that the Minority on the Foreign Relations Committee has made.

Here are copies of the Lugar letter and the nine items requested. A check mark is next to those Lugar feels are a priority.

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RECUSAL

Way to cover your ass:
WASHINGTON May 4, 2005 — Two Republican members of the House ethics committee will not participate in any investigation of Majority Leader Tom DeLay because they contributed to DeLay's legal defense chairman, the ethics panel chairman said Wednesday.

The chairman, Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., said Reps. Lamar Smith of Texas and Tom Cole of Oklahoma agreed with him that the past contributions "raised doubts however unwarranted about whether those members would be able to judge fairly allegations of impropriety against Mr. DeLay."

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BREAKING NEWS

IBM to cut 10,000-13,000 jobs.

Oh yeah, we're booming right along. Thousands of families with the ground kicked out from under them...

UPDATE: The bulk of the layoffs will be in Europe. That doesn't make it any less devastating.

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WHAT I'M LISTENING TO: "Oh Well," Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine.

Maya was telling me how much she liked the newest Fiona Apple album, the one they wouldn't release. I told her I thought Fiona was a tad precious; that I'd listened to it and it didn't really impress me.

Well, I listened to it again. I was wrong.

What you did to me made me see myself
Somethin' awful
A voice once stentorian is now again
Meek and muffled
It took me such a long time to get back up
The first time you did it
I spent all I had to get it back
And now it seems I've been outbidded

My peace and quiet was stolen from me
When I was looking with calm affection
You were searching out my imperfections

What wasted unconditional love
On somebody
Who doesn't believe in the stuff

You came up on me like a hypnic jerk
When I was just about settled
And when it counts you recoil
With the cryptic word and leave a love belittled

Oh what a cold and common old way to go
I was feeding on the need for you to know me
Devastated at the rage you found below me

What wasted unconditional love
On somebody
Who doesn't believe in this life

Oh, well.

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GOING IN CIRCLES

The Rude Pundit takes a trip down memory lane to reminisce how many times we've "turned the corner" in Iraq.

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JUST PLAIN EVIL

Well, Jesus H. Christ. The All Spin Zone has a real doozy:
AIDS campaigners have welcomed a decision by Brazil to turn down US funds because of a clause in the agreement condemning prostitution.

The US development agency, USAid, had offered Brazil around $40m (£21m).

But Brazil's top Aids official, Pedro Chequer, said the US' conservative approach to treating the disease would not help.

Correspondents say references to prostitution are likely to become a condition for all US Aids funding.

Washington says it is important not to promote prostitution, and does not want any of its funds to be spent on treating prostitutes.
Prostitutes spread AIDS (and other STDs). But we shouldn't treat them, because that way, men will simply stop going to prostitutes!

Oh yeah. Just like they did in Victorian England.

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BREAKING NEWS

Judge declares a mistrial in England case:
May 4, 2005 — FORT HOOD, Texas (Reuters) - A military judge on Wednesday rejected a guilty plea by Lynndie England, a key figure in the Iraq prisoner abuse scandal, after evidence in her trial indicated she considered herself innocent.

Two days after initially accepting England's plea of guilty to seven of nine charges, which was submitted after negotiations with the prosecution, Judge Col. James Pohl told the court: "The plea deal is canceled."

He had repeatedly interrupted proceedings to warn that testimony by England, 22, and other witnesses speaking on her behalf, which was meant as mitigation to secure a shorter prison term, was verging on a statement of her innocence.

"Both sides have indicated to me there is no way to resolve this inconsistency," Pohl told the court after a recess to discuss the issue on Wednesday afternoon.

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FOUR DEAD IN OHIO

From reader Tom Ware on the 35th anniversary of Kent State:

Of Tin Soldiers, and The Day the Music Died

“Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.” “Fascism is an extreme right-wing ideology which embraces nationalism as the transcendent value of society. The rise of Fascism relies upon the manipulation of populist sentiment in times of national crisis. Based on fundamentalist revolutionary ideas, Fascism defines itself through intense xenophobia, militarism, and supremacist ideals. Although secular in nature, Fascism's emphasis on mythic beliefs such as divine mandates, racial imperatives, and violent struggle places highly concentrated power in the hands of a self-selected elite from whom all authority flows to lesser elites, such as law enforcement, intellectuals, and the media.”

- Il Duce Benito Mussolini, 1935

"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."

- Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961


“It’d be easier if it were a dictatorship, if I was the dictator.”

- G.W. Bush, 2002

Thirty-five years ago today, four young Americans were gunned down by members of the neo-fascist military industrial complex, the very same military industrial complex departing Republican President and Supreme Commander Allied Forces WWII Dwight D. Eisenhower just ten years earlier had warned the nation to beware. The very same military industrial complex that now controls this government, controls this state, this land, this nation… driving what was once a beacon of freedom to the world into a Fascist Theocracy.

Three were exercising their First Amendment right to express their opinion. The fourth…

was merely walking between classes.

What if you knew her and
Found her dead on the ground
How could you run when you know?

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Posted by Hello


I decided to read up on the side effects of the radioactive crap they put into my veins today, and found that the most common side effect was "special senses," followed closely by "taste perversion" and parosmia. (Whatever the hell that is.)

Does this mean I'm going to develop x-ray vision or be able to fly? Gee, I hope so.

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IN MEMORIAM

Go read TBogg. Now.

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HERDING CATS

These Democrats better get in line:
Seven House Democrats skipped town before the major budget vote last Thursday, infuriating some of their colleagues and giving a handful of vulnerable Republicans a virtual hall pass to vote against their party.

As the whereabouts of two or three truant Democrats were unknown for the 8:30 vote on the House-Senate budget resolution, Democratic Party leaders were disappointed that lawmakers would put their political and parochial interests ahead of the party’s plan to force vulnerable Republicans to vote for a budget that Democrats insist will be difficult to defend in swing districts.

By holding the vote open for 30 minutes, GOP leaders were able to pressure some Republican holdouts to back the budget while releasing others to vote against it. The bill passed, 214-211, with 15 Republicans voting no along with every present Democratic member. For most of the roll-call vote, Democrats had more votes.

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INTERESTING

Finally, an arrest:
WASHINGTON -- The FBI arrested a Pentagon analyst Wednesday on charges that he illegally passed classified information about potential attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq to employees of a pro-Israel group.

Larry Franklin, 58, of Kearneysville, W. Va., turned himself in Wednesday morning, FBI spokeswoman Debra Weierman said. He was scheduled to make an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Virginia later Wednesday, Weierman said.
Go here for background.

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That's City Hall over to the right, in the background. Posted by Hello

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BULLSHIT

Flounder plays moral equivalence games:
Scott McClellan, President Bush's press secretary, said Tuesday evening that he would be glad to end the use of background-only briefings--if White House reporters would stop using anonymous sources in their reporting. "I told them upfront that I would be the first to sign on if we could get an end to the use of anonymous sources in the media," McClellan told E&P;, referring to a meeting he had with a half-dozen Washington bureau chiefs last week. He said that "people in the heartland" feel that "anonymous sources use them to hide behind efforts to generate negative publicity."

McClellan's comments followed E&P;'s report Tuesday that a group of top Washington bureau chiefs had launched a campaign to pressure government officials, including McClellan, to allow briefings with reporters to be held on the record. The bureau chiefs contend that the background-only briefings force them to use sourcing that is, essentially, anonymous, reducing their credibility.

Some veteran journalists have suggested that Washington reporters boycott background-only briefings to send a stronger signal. "Maybe it's time to take another shot at it," Ben Bradlee, former executive editor of The Washington Post, told E&P.; He recalled a failed boycott attempt in the late 1960's, which he says did not work because it did not have unified support. "There is certainly more interest in it now," he declared.
Fucking lazy reporters with no backbone... look, the White House press corpse is made up of the young guns who covered the campaign - chosen mostly for physical stamina, because it's so punishing to be on the road.

After the election's over, they move them to the White House. But since they're so young, they're lacking in the all-important institutional knowledge and context, leaving them much more open to intimidation, flattery and manipulation.

Absolutely, they should boycott this nonsense, and their bosses should back them. When are they going to figure it out? The real stories aren't in the White House briefing room. They're in the paperwork - and they're out in the departments, where people are willing to talk.

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DON'T PISS ON MY LEG AND TELL ME IT'S RAINING

Matt Yglesias dropkicks the unctuous little Joe Klein:
What can you do about a guy like Joe Klein? As if his support for the Bush phase-out wasn't bad enough, he needs to insist that Democratic opposition to Bush's plan is not only misguided (by his lights), but is, in fact, comprised of "phony bleats of outrage from leading Democrats" who are "more interested in the demagogic exploitation of the issue than they are in the impact of baby boom retirement on their grandchildren."

I can assure everyone that my outrage is entirely genuine. It's also never been clear to me why the High Lords of Punditry think it's unacceptably "demagogic" to point out that the Republican Party wants to gut middle class retirement security. And then there's this shameful effort to pretend that privatization is all about helping out young people. But as I've point out before, under Bush's plan the younger you are the more your benefits are cut!

If you think it's crucially important to the future of the country to finance tax cuts for today's wealthiest individuals by sharply reducing the living standards today's twentysomethings will enjoy when we retire, then fine. I'll say you're wrong, but lots of people have misplaced priorities. But to pretend that you're doing my generation some kind of favor is just absurd.

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ONE STEP CLOSER TO DISPOSABLE LABOR

I got this yesterday from Jordan:
AFL-CIO staff wore black to work today, and for good reason. Coming only a few days after Workers Memorial Day, 169 positions were eliminated, including half of the four-person Health and Safety Department's professional staff. Deborah Weinstock and Rob McGarrah have been given notice that their positions will no longer be funded, although it is unclear when these changes will take place. What's left of the department will be merged into the newly-created Government Affairs Department. 52 new positions will be created at the federation.

This is a sad day for workers, for the labor movement and for all those who care about the health, safety and working conditions of American workers.

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FREEBIE

Still plenty of Gmail invites left if you want one.

The useful thing is, because they have so much storage, you can forward all that stuff you need to keep but don't want cluttering up your drive - old emails, pix, etc.

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GUERRILLA IN WONDERLAND

I was a tad grumpy because I couldn't eat before the test. I was sitting in this room where they make you wait for the radioactive Drano to finish coursing through your veins before they take the spooky pictures with their Super Gamma Camera.

My fellow inmates were Lenny, Steve and Stephanie. Stephanie was the only one having actual symptoms - pain that shot up her arm into her jawbone. Steve had high cholesterol; Lenny's doctor thought it was a good idea, since all his blood tests were on the high side of normal. I was the only one there because of their EKG.

The room where they take the pictures of your heart was so cold, my teeth were chattering. They wouldn't let me wear my hoodie because of the zipper, so I was freezing. I had to lie back and be an ice sculpture for ten minutes. Then it was on to the treadmill, where I had a strange (for me, anyway) reaction: I started to feel lightheaded, and then I watched the wall turn into this vibrating geometric grid. (It was a lot like the optical migraine thing I see when I'm in sunlight, only bigger.) Hopefully, it was just hyperventilation. Who knows?



The thing that was cool, though, was I talked the technician into letting me see the pictures of my heart. She showed me how she sliced the pictures to look at different layers, showed me closeups of my left ventricle and made my heart rotate on the screen. It was so interesting. (And I'm such a geek.)

I was surprised at how small and lean my heart looked. Somehow, I thought it would be bigger.

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I am:
6%
Republican.
"You're a complete liberal, utterly without a trace of Republicanism. Your strength is as the strength of ten because your heart is pure. (You hope.)"

Are You A Republican?

[Via our new friend from Upyernoz.]

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FUN

I'm off at this ungodly hour for a treadmill stress test (it won't be pretty). I'll catch up with y'all when I get back - assuming I haven't keeled over, because now that I look at the instructions I probably should have read yesterday, I wasn't supposed to have any caffeine for the 24 hours preceding the test.

Hah hah hah....

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GOD'S WILL

Interesting piece from a fundamentalist who deconstructs the Dominionist fringe taking over the Republicans:
The significance of the Reconstructionist movement is not its numbers, but the power of its ideas and their surprisingly rapid acceptance. Many on the Christian Right are unaware that they hold Reconstructionist ideas. Because as a theology it is controversial, even among evangelicals, many who are consciously influenced by it avoid the label. This furtiveness is not, however, as significant as the potency of the ideology itself. Generally, Reconstructionism seeks to replace democracy with a theocratic elite that would govern by imposing their interpretation of "Biblical Law." Reconstructionism would eliminate not only democracy but many of its manifestations, such as labor unions, civil rights laws, and public schools. Insufficiently Christian men would be denied citizenship, perhaps executed. So severe is this theocracy that it would extend capital punishment beyond such crimes as kidnapping, rape, and murder to include, among other things, blasphemy, heresy, adultery, and homosexuality ("Christian Reconstructionism: Theocratic Dominionism Gains Influence: Part 1 -- Overview and Roots," by Frederick Clarkson, 3/94 The Public Eye).

- The "Christian" Reconstruction movement (CRM) claims that believers possess a cultural mandate from God to reclaim in this age dominion over human society -- a dominion forfeited by the fall, but supposedly regained for immediate claim with the New Birth experience. As believers obey this mandate, gradually gaining dominion over earthly society, this present world will supposedly become "Christianized," inaugurating the Millennium. In reality, if effected, the entire earthly society would be placed under an O.T. "Theonomy" law system, rather than the N.T. teaching of believers as a group of "called out" saints from the world. They want to apply Old Testament law to today's society. This includes slavery as an alternative to prisons and capital punishment for a variety of offenses (murder, homosexuality, etc.).

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Tuesday, May 03, 2005


SOCIALISTS

Lots of nice people at Drinking Liberally tonight. The smoke wasn't too bad and I understand when the weather's warm, they open all the windows.

Jim C. from Rittenhouse was showing everyone his inclusion in The Advocate's big article on "must read" blogs. Way to go, Jim!

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YEE HAW

Perfect:
NEW YORK (AP) - If Comedy Central's Jon Stewart is the comic version of Peter Jennings or Brian Williams, Stephen Colbert promises to be the same for Bill O'Reilly and others like him. The Daily Show regular will star each night in The Colbert Report, likely starting in September. Comedy Central is revamping its schedule, recognizing that late-night programming is essentially prime time for its youthful audience.

... Besides lampooning O'Reilly, the king of the cable TV opinion shows, he's sending up people such as Sean Hannity, Joe Scarborough and Anderson Cooper, he said.

One segment of his show, Worthy Opponent, will feature Colbert debating Colbert.

"I always wanted to do more with this character," he said. While The Daily Show skewers reporters, its primary focus is on newsmakers. The Colbert Report will look full time at the news process, with a backstage look at his character and interview subjects.

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PERSONAL APPEARANCE

Hey kids, I'll be over at Drinking Liberally tonight if you want to drop by and say hi. I should be there after 7 p.m.

Tuesdays at Ten Stone (21st and South), 6-9pm

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DAY LATE, DOLLAR SHORT

You'll notice Bob Woodward never has anything useful to add until it's too late:
CBS/AP) Investigative reporter Bob Woodward of The Washington Post reveals, in his new book "Plan of Attack," how plans for the Iraq war began, in secret, shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Woodward talked exclusively to CBS News' Mike Wallace for this Sunday's "60 Minutes." [CBS and Simon & Schuster, the publisher of Woodward's book, are both owned by Viacom.]

The Woodward book is packed with hitherto secret stories out of the mouth of the president and his top aides in the year preceding the president's final decision to go to war against Saddam Hussein.

Among them:

Just 72 days after 9/11, President Bush ordered Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to come up with a secret war plan to get Saddam. Rumsfeld passed the order on to Gen. Tommy Franks and gave Franks a blank check worth hundreds of millions of dollars. But the Congress was kept in the dark about it.

It was Vice President Dick Cheney who Woodward describes as the powerful, steamrolling force who had developed what his colleagues called a "fever" to take down Saddam by armed attack.

Cheney and Secretary of State Colin Powell, who was dead set against going to war against Iraq, barely speak to each other. Their relationship remains hostile.

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CARL JUNG: STILL A GENIUS

I rest my case:
SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (AP) - A pastor and his wife have been charged with arson in a fire that gutted their church last week, authorities said Tuesday.

The Monday arrests of The Rev. Harold Hunter and Patricia Hunter came just one day after the pastor gave a sermon in which he said he prayed for the "sick, sadistic" person who burned down the church. No one was hurt in the blaze.

Police would not discuss a possible motive, but said they had suspected that Thursday's fire and three earlier acts of vandalism at the 64-year-old Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church were an inside job.

"We found some gas that was located on the pastor's shoes and we also found clothing in the residence that had gasoline on it," said Summerville Police Capt. Craig Legates.

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Another view of the Delaware River from Penn's Landing.  Posted by Hello

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MAN BITES DOG

Judge upholds law in Florida:
PALM BEACH COUNTY, FL (AHN) - The controversy over whether a 13-year-old girl in DCF custody can have an abortion ended Monday after a Palm Beach County judge ruled she had a constitutional right to the procedure despite DCF's objections.

"Legally speaking, it's not a difficult decision to make," Circuit Judge Ronald Alvarez said. "Morally speaking, it's a very difficult decision for this court to make. ... But I'm not here to make the moral decision. I'm here to make the legal decisions."

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POWER TO THE PEOPLE

Screw these corporate predators. Anyone who has cable knows how exploitive these bastards are - because they have no real competition:
More than 50 U.S. cities have set up or plan to install wireless broadband networks. Minneapolis is the latest to join the list.

A number of think tanks oppose such moves. And some state lawmakers look to ban cities from going into the wireless business.

Critics say city wireless networks waste tax money. The goal of city networks -- low-cost broadband Internet access for all -- is noble. But business, not cities, should meet that goal, they say.

Cities are "proposing to cover large areas with wireless," said Steve Titch, a researcher for the Heartland Institute, a libertarian think tank. "But this is a very dubious proposition for cities."

Advocates say city-owned wireless is needed, since private services don't provide adequate access at fair rates. And the backlash against municipal plans was spurred by corporate wireless providers, they say, not individuals.


"This isn't a grass-roots backlash," said Ron Sege, chief executive of wireless gear firm Tropos Networks, which supports municipal wireless plans. "This is an organized campaign of disinformation."

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FUNDRAISER

Investigative reporter Greg Palast needs money to keep going. We need Greg Palast. If you can help, please do so.

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PROTECTING US

I was just thinking about the viral nature of Bush's hardcore support - viral, in that it changes and adapts all the time to changes in the environment. All those people who said they voted for him because he'd "do a better job protecting us" - what's their reason this week?
When asked during the campaign debates to name the gravest danger facing the United States, President Bush and challenger Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) gave the same answer: a nuclear device in the hands of terrorists.

But more than 3 1/2 years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the U.S. government has failed to adequately prepare first responders and the public for a nuclear strike, according to emergency preparedness and nuclear experts and federal reports.

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RIGHT FUCKING ON

The normally mild-mannered E.J. Dionne kicks ass today:
There is a name for those who continue to sit at a gambling table even after they learn that the game is fixed. They are called fools.

Now that President Bush has proposed Social Security benefit cuts through "progressive indexing," his critics are said to have an obligation to negotiate in good faith to achieve a solution. There are just two problems with that sentence: The words "good faith" and "solution."

***
That the president is fixing the Social Security reform game should be obvious. The most basic corruption of the process is the way the Republican congressional leadership has transformed the bargaining that once took place between the House and the Senate.

In the old days, when each house produced different versions of the same bill, a "conference" committee typically including members of both parties from both houses would thrash out the details and reach a compromise. Now the Republicans will concede whatever is necessary to get a bill out of the Senate, even as the lockstep-Republican House produces a right-wing version of the same proposal. In conferences, Republicans routinely freeze out all but the most pliable Democrats. The supposed "compromise" that emerges is not a compromise at all. Democrats who go along become enablers of a game being played with a stacked deck.

The game is also fixed because the president has narrowed the range of Social Security options to protect his most questionable policy choices.

***
Walking away from a rigged game is hard for some people, especially when those running it and the respected opinion-makers who support them insist that this time the game will truly be on the level. But, especially when the danger involves gambling away the future of Social Security, the truly responsible thing is to leave the table.

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SECURE

Feeling safer yet?
Adding to concerns about the security of personal information, Time Warner yesterday reported the loss of computer backup tapes containing sensitive data, including the names and Social Security numbers of about 600,000 people. They include current and former employees, some of their dependents and beneficiaries, and even individuals who have simply provided services for the company.

Time Warner said the data, on 40 tapes in a container the size of a cooler, disappeared more than a month ago while being shipped to an offsite storage center.

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PRESSURE

Ethics start at the top, so as you can imagine, it's a real problem:
It was late September when the 21-year-old man, fresh from a three-week commitment in a psychiatric ward, showed up at an Army recruiting station in southern Ohio. The two recruiters there wasted no time signing him up, and even after the man's parents told them he had bipolar disorder - a diagnosis that would disqualify him - he was all set to be shipped to boot camp, and perhaps Iraq after that, before senior officers found out and canceled the enlistment.

Despite an Army investigation, the recruiters were not punished and were still working in the area late last month.

Two hundred miles away, in northern Ohio, another recruiter said the incident hardly surprised him. He has been bending or breaking enlistment rules for months, he said, hiding police records and medical histories of potential recruits. His commanders have encouraged such deception, he said, because they know there is no other way to meet the Army's stiff recruitment quotas.

"The problem is that no one wants to join," the recruiter said. "We have to play fast and loose with the rules just to get by."

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REASSURING

Let's see. Not enough troops, not enough people signing up for the military and Rummy says it's absurd to think there'll be a draft. Don't you feel better now?
WASHINGTON, May 2 - The concentration of American troops and weapons in Iraq and Afghanistan limits the Pentagon's ability to deal with other potential armed conflicts, the military's highest ranking officer reported to Congress on Monday.

The officer, Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, informed Congress in a classified report that major combat operations elsewhere in the world, should they be necessary, would probably be more protracted and produce higher American and foreign civilian casualties because of the commitment of Pentagon resources in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A half dozen Pentagon civilian and military officials were discussing the outlines of the report on Monday as it was being officially delivered to Congress; one government official provided a copy to The New York Times. The officials who discussed the assessment demanded anonymity because it is a classified document.

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