Sunday, February 27, 2005

You just gotta love the Right

Ann Coulter's current column on her website, "Republicans, Bloggers, and Gays, Oh My!" currently reads:

Press passes can't be that hard to come by if the White House allows that old Arab Helen Thomas to sit within yards of the president.

This is one of those occasional moments where I am absolutely speechless with rage. (Well, not entirely speechless; I'm here.)

This didn't go unnoticed. It appears that Coulter's racial comment was edited out by someone or another, but the rest of the column ran anyway. Every place on the Web I can find has this line as:

Press passes can't be that hard to come by if the White House allows that dyspeptic, old Helen Thomas...

Now you may or may not like Helen Thomas, but she has been a reporter on the White House beat for decades. She flew with Nixon to China. She has certainly earned her place in the White House press room, unlike a particular male prostitute. Ann Coulter is not worthy to lick her boots.

The Bush adminstration moved her from her seat in the front row to the back, and now rarely calls upon her in press conferences. She is no longer permitted to close press conferences with her traditional, "Thank you, Mr. President." All this is presumably because she is not sufficiently obedient to their agenda. Or maybe she wouldn't take a payoff.

And here's what really chafes: you won't hear word one from the Right about this. They are too protective of their own. (Commandment #11: Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican.)

It just makes me wonder what Coulter calls Jesse Jackson before her editor catches it.

(Via Crooks and Liars.)

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Why, yes!

I found this poll on the News-Gazette site this week.

News Gazette poll

Reloading didn't help. Not surprisingly, the results showed a lot of people voting "Yes."

Thursday, February 24, 2005

HotmilitarystudGate.com

Apparently eager to ride his 15 minutes for another couple of hours, "Jeff Gannon" now has a blog. (Via Americablog) Right now, it largely seems to be a collection of links to conservative apologists for his behavior. He says he's being attacked just because he's a conservative. Um, hello? There are plenty of conservatives more visible than one White House reporter for a website, who's only apparent purpose is to ask softball questions of the President and his press secretary.

Gannon claims that had he "been a liberal reporter with the salacious past now attributed to me, I would be the Grand Marshall of the next Gay Pride Parade as well as a media darling, able to give softball interviews. But because I am a conservative, they continue to try to smear me with allegations of behavior that they otherwise would vigorously defend." Quick, think. How many liberals have you heard defending prostitution lately?

Jim, err, Jeff, the Evil Baby-Eating Liberal Bloggers aren't criticizing you because you're gay. It's not because you're a prostitute. It's because you're gay (or at least gay-for-pay) and write for an organization that refers to the murder of Matthew Shepard as a "so-called hate crime." It's because you're a hustler with access to the White House, the President, and possibly classified materials. It's because you're a gay prostitute given special access to the "Family Values" White House when it was politically convenient.

Interestingly, his website doesn't address the prostitution angle. How many conservatives when falsely accused of being a hustler wouldn't at least say something to the effect of, "No, I'm not"? The website does say that he has been "advised by my attorneys not to comment on any of the details pending the outcome of any possible legal action I might pursue." Might those attorneys be your criminal defense team, perhaps?

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Gayroomie spammer

This is interesting. I blogged some months ago about the gayroomie spammer in the local gay.com chatroom. The whois info for them now reads:

Organization:
MoveOn Media. LLC
Domain Admin
PO Box 1825
Denver, CO 80203
US
Phone: 505-238-1234
Email: admin@gayroomie.com

Previously, it had read a different Colorado address, and not a post office box. But that phone number is a New Mexico number, not Colorado. Maybe poor Toby Benjamin went off to college. Let's hope he's found some action at last.

But there's more! Checking with the Colorado Secretary of State shows that MoveOn Media had its incorporated status dissolved after neglecting to file an annual report. I don't think that's a particularly big deal, though. The SoS lists the address for MoveOn Media as 1825 Logan St., Ste. 305. Interesting to note that the suite number wasn't in the original whois information for this domain.

Friday, February 18, 2005

HotmilitarystudGate on CNN

Anderson Cooper just interviewed Gannon on CNN. In that interview, and in other places, he's said it's fine that he's a partisan agent for a news organization with a conservative bent. In another CNN interview, he said, "Call me partisan, fine, but don't let my colleagues off the hook. They're partisan too, but they don't admit it." I guess that's the "but they started it" defense.

The problem with his claim is that Talon News, his former employer claims not to be partisan. From their web page:

Talon News is your source for unbiased news coverage and no-spin reporting. If you want the facts without all the slant, Talon News is the place to go for political, national, and international news.

So which is it? Are they deliberately partisan or unbiased and "no-spin?" Conservatives like to bitch and moan about the "liberal media," but even the media they're always complaining about isn't trying to deliberatly foster a political agenda, while claiming impartiality. Talon News is.

That's the problem. It's not the bias, it's the deception. They're trying to claim they're not doing something, while they are underhandedly doing that exact thing.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Dean

It looks like Dean is a lock for the head of the DNC. But I just saw on CNN yet again the famous footage of the Dean Scream, as they're doing a bit of a story on him. I mean, really, are we ever going to be shown Dean on the news without a clip of that? The guy mobilized Democrats in a way not really ever seen before, and was one of the first people to effectively use the Internet to get out his message (a blog) and to rainse funding. And yet all we see is that arm wave and a high pitched, "Yeahhh!" When George Bush I is on TV, we don't get cut-away clips of him vomiting in the Japanese Prime Minister's lap, the pretzel jokes about Bush II stopped fairly quickly, and Bob Dole fell off a fucking stage. How come we don't see the clip of that anymore?

Liberal media, my big fat ass.

Monday, February 14, 2005

HotmilitarystudGate hits the fan

It looks like the allegations about Jeff Gannon, the White House "reporter" of being a hustler, may well be true. Americablog has the scoop. (Link NOT safe for work.) If those pictures aren't the same guy, then this is a case of mistaken identity on a scale not seen since Dickens.

I worry that this will just get shoved under the rug as being his "personal life," something of which I'm sure Monica Lewinsky will find very comforting. The White House Press Secretary says there's nothing wrong with a Republican hack sitting in on the press conferences because, "There are a number of people in the room who express certain points of view and cross the lines of advocacy journalism." He claims that Gannon passed White House security checks under his legal name, but that doesn't explain why McClellan referred to him as "Jeff," his pseudonym. A married woman isn't allowed to use a pseudonym, even if if is her own name.

So either the White House didn't notice that this guy used to be a hustler, suggesting serious inadequacies in the vetting process, or they didn't care. If they didn't daily claim the "moral values" high ground, this wouldn't be nearly the big deal it is. White House interns don't pull a salary. Do you think that if Monica Lewinsky was stripping to make ends meet, we wouldn't have been reminded of it every night?

Sunday, February 13, 2005

More gossip

Americablog is promising a big revelation on the Gannon scandal will break tomorrow. He's such a tease. I want to know now!

The sad thing is that I saw the picture from his AOL profile, with him in just the boxers in the dogtags, and thought he was pretty hot.

The Keyes to the bedroom

When Alan Keyes was carpetbagging for the Illinois Senate seat, his daughter Mara was right there beside him for much of the race. Now, Alan Keyes is a rabid "family values" man, and his daughter is a 19-year-old, out lesbian. Politics makes for strange bedfellows, indeed.

Now the story has taken a rather sad turn:

Now Maya Keyes ... finds herself out on her own. She says her parents ... threw her out of their house, refused to pay her college tuition and stopped speaking to her.

She wrote in her blog last fall, "I'm all about working for global justice. THEY don't care about that. THEY only care that I am an evil dyke."

Although I don't agree with a lot of her politics, you have to feel rather bad for Mara Keyes. It must be incredibly difficult to be disowned by your parents a 19 and have them stop speaking to you. And she must be rather conflicted. She is a vocal activist, and her father is a public figure. How much of this should be played out in public? Does she endanger any future relationship with her family by calling them on their shit?

Fortunately, I have no such personal stake in this matter. And from what I've learned about this, two conclusions can be drawn:

  1. "Family values" means disowning your children if you don't like their lifestyle.
  2. Alan Keyes is a big fat pig.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Entrepreneurship at work

You have been following the Jeff Gannon story, haven't you? If not, naughty, naughty.

I don't know how someone got ahold of his credentials, but you can take a look at, and even bid on, his White House press pass here. Go now, because it ain't gonna be there long!

(Link courtesy of Americablog.)

Thursday, February 10, 2005

HotmilitarystudGate

The mainstream media is starting to pick up on the Gannon story. Not entirely unsurprising, they seem to be focusing on whether he was a plant from the Bush administration in the press briefing room and the propaganda angle and largely ignoring what they euphamistically refer to as his "personal life." I'm sorry, but when a conservative, born-again Christian, holier-than-thou guy runs a website called hotmilitaryescortsm4m.com, that's about a bit more than his "personal life."

This was the lead story on Salon today, and Americablog has a good summary of the media links.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Not just politics, but juicy gossip!

Oh God, this is good stuff. There is a scandal rapidly developing around Jeff Gannon, a reporter who may be a White House plant, as CNN just suggested. Media Matters wrote about him a few weeks ago, pointing out that he is notorious in the press corp for asking softball questions of the President and his press secretary, and that many sections of his news reports are copied verbatim from White House press releases and RNC talking points. And it gets sooo much better.

  1. First, he appears to be part of a news organization that is a "news organization" in name only. Talon News appears to basically be an offshoot of something called GOPUSA, "dedicated to promoting conservative ideals." After this started getting some attention, and after the linked Media Matters story, staff bios disappeared off the Talon News website. Having a GOP activist as a member of the White House press corps sounds pretty scandalous to me.

  2. Atrios points out that Jeff Gannon is not his real name, even though it's what's on his White House credentials. His real name is J. D. Guckert. Not such a big deal, but married female reporters who write under their maiden names are not permitted the same. Why is he given special permission to use a pseudonym?

  3. Gannon had unique access to a CIA memo that identified Valerie Plame, and may have leaked her name in October.

  4. Rep. Louise Slaughter has written a letter to the President calling for a full investigation of the Gannon matter. CNN just 5 minutes ago reported that the White House claims that Gannon was not credentialed as a reporter, but just each day with a daily White House pass. I'm not sure what the difference means, but, I guess, that means just any yahoo off the street can get access to White House press briefings? Maybe I should go next time I'm in Washington.

  5. Here's where it gets really scandalous. Even after writing an article for Talon News titled, "Kerry could become first gay president," and other "family values" oriented articles, it turns out that Gannon may be gay himself. The Talon News site pulled all of Gannon's articles today. And wait, it gets even better.

    Now, this is a bit speculative, I'll admit. But it looks like "Jim Guckert" lives at the same address as "Bedrock Corp.", which owns "Jeff Gannon's" website, jeffgannon.com. But this Bedrock Corp also owns Hotmilitarystud.com, Militaryescorts.com, and Militaryescortsm4m.com. (Don't bother to try, none of the sites are live anymore, and I can't find them cached or on the wayback machine) Yeah, escorts. So the scandal has now morphed into whether or not this reporter is really a reporter and not a GOP plant, but whether this reporter is now a male prostitute. The CNN report a few minutes ago referenced his "private life" but not this issue.

You just can't make this stuff up.

If you want to read even more, AmericaBlog is running with this story today.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Bunny payback is a bitch

PBS's Lesbo Bunnygate is just another example of this administration trying to force it's religion down the throats of the rest of America. The completely harmless episode focused on a kid being raised by lesbian mothers. At no point in the episode is their sexual orientation discussed.

It's not like the show took an informative segment on maple sugar making and turned it into a lesbian infomercial. The whole point of Postcards is to introduce kids to cultural diversity. This Boston Globe editorial remarks on how unoffensive the episode actually is. But it's unoffensiveness isn't the point is it? From the point of Christian extremists, PBS had the unmitigated gall to portray lesbians at all. From the BG editorial:

Against the pastoral glories of Vermont, with maple trees dripping and cows in need of milking, the lesbian families are almost Waltonesque in their rural charm. For those who'd rather pathologize and exclude same-sex couples and their children, that normalcy must spark a lot of anguish. To them, showing and telling about lesbian families is the same as promoting... Buster's parents are divorced, although I don't think the show is promoting marital breakup.

David posted an editorial from the Portsmoth Herald asking PBS stations to have the intestinal fortitude to air the episode anyway.

Unfortunately, I don't think that's going to happen in most markets. Retaliations against PBS by the Department of Education have begun. The executive producer of the Postcards from Buster show has been disinvited from a children's television conference cosponsored by the Department of Education and PBS. I'm sure it was just a coincidence that Margaret Spellings, the same public "servant" that objected to the show in the first place, now runs the Department of Education. If such retaliation is expected from the government, it could have a chilling effect throughout all of media.

The GLADD Executive Director commented that Spellings is trying to enforce an official policy of invisibility on gay and lesbian families. And that's exactly what they're trying to do.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

The State of the (other) Union

There has been a bit of a silence from the left about the Iraq elections. I guess maybe because if you aren't a hawk, being happy about them makes you seem a bit as if you are. While the President gave a very self-congratulatory State of the Union, and Republican lawmakers pointed purple fingers around, as if they had done something heroic themselves, actual Iraqi voters risked death in their first elections. (I think this last particularly arrogant. See: You Do Not Own Their Courage.) It just reeks of some powerful imperial force civilizing the savage natives, and patting themselves on the back for their moral superiority.

But I've heard no one doubt that elections in Iraq are unequivocally a good thing. For the first time, a nation of people gets to control their own destiny. Unfortunatly, it doesn't look like it's the sort of destiny Americans probably want for them. The majority Shiites seem to be flexing their new political muscle. And conservative Islamic clerics seems to be a very powerful force in that movement. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, a Shiite cleric,and those like him may be very influential when writing the Iraqi constitution. They are trying to get Shariah law enshrined as the law of the land in the dawn of this new nation.

From the linked NY Times article:

The clerics generally agree that the constitution must ensure that no laws passed by the state contradict a basic understanding of Shariah as laid out in the Koran. Women should not be treated as the equals of men in matters of marriage, divorce and family inheritance, they say. Nor should men be prevented from having multiple wives, they add...

"We don't want to see equality between men and women because according to Islamic law, men should have double of women," said Muhammad Kuraidy, a spokesman for Ayatollah Yacoubi. "This is written in the Koran and according to God."

Remember Shariah law is what Muslims invoke when they require women to move about dressed in black burkahs (Afghanistan) or stone adulterous women to death (Nigeria). Women in Basra (second largest city in Iraq) are already being pressured to wear the burkhas in public. I haven't read anything about it, but something tells me it won't be particularly safe for me to visit the New Iraq.

It's great that Iraqis are finally electing their own government. But what will we do if they decide to elect another Taliban?

Friday, February 04, 2005

Geez

From the State of the Union

It is time for an immigration policy that permits temporary guest workers to fill jobs Americans will not take, that rejects amnesty, that tells us who is entering and leaving our country, and that closes the border to drug dealers and terrorists.

We might as well call it it the migrant farm worker bill. It's not that there are jobs that no American will do, it's just that American's won't do them for $3 an hour with no medical insurance.

I don't get it, when we're talking something like health care, the market is all-powerful. When we're talking cleaning bathrooms and picking cabbage, we have to import workers because snotty Americans are too good for those jobs. Why not just let the market decide?

And now the lies about Social Security begin:

And instead of 16 workers paying in for every beneficiary, right now it's only about three workers - and over the next few decades, that number will fall to just two workers per beneficiary. With each passing year, fewer workers are paying ever-higher benefits to an ever-larger number of retirees.

The scary ratio of workers to retirees is often thrown around as a sign SS is in imminent danger of failure. But it's not. Consider that workers in the future are expected to have fewer dependent children, even as they support more elderly. So if these balance out, it doesn't matter. Here is a better summary of this.

If you are a younger worker, I believe you should be able to set aside part of that money in your own retirement account, so you can build a nest egg for your own future.

We have that. It's called an IRA. It allows you to plan for your retirement by putting money away tax-free for the future (in the case of a traditional IRA). You can put it in just about any investment that you want, from stocks to mutual funds to bonds. Social Security is the back up plan in case you're one of the many people that doesn't make good investment choices. By eliminating Social Security and replacing it with an IRA-like scheme -- and make no mistake, that's exactly what we're talking here -- we'd be eliminating that backup, and putting all our eggs in one basket.

Your money will grow, over time, at a greater rate than anything the current system can deliver - and your account will provide money for retirement over and above the check you will receive from Social Security.

Ah, there's the rub. What happens when (not if) it doesn't? Another economic slowdown at some point in the future is inevitable. And since Social Security won't be funded as much as it has been in the past, it won't be able to make up the shortfall.

...raising the yearly limits on contributions over time, eventually permitting all workers to set aside four percentage points of their payroll taxes in their accounts.

Something tells me this is wrong. He probably means four percent of income, not four percent of payroll taxes. For a worker making $50,000, 4% of that 6% would be $120 a year. Hardly enough to support a retirement. So that should probably be 4% of a worker's total income.

But hey, 4% isn't a lot, is it? If you're making less than the SS cap (and pretty much everyone does), then about 6% of your income is taken out as Social Security. So he's talking about diverting 4% of income to the SS privatized accounts. That's 66% of the total SS contribution from the worker. (The employer contributes an additional 6%.)


Here was the big lie from the SotU:

[Social Security] is headed toward bankruptcy.

I don't use the term "lie" loosely. But I can think of no other appropriate term. From the Center for Economic and Policy Research, "Even after 2042 the program would always be able to pay retirees a higher benefit (in today's dollars) than what current retirees receive." Did you get that? That's even if the trust fund runs out! Paul Krugman agrees, "...even after the trust fund is gone, Social Security revenues will cover 81 percent of the promised benefits." That's a problem, yes, but it's hardly a catastrophic crisis.


This isn't a small deal. This is about one political party making radical and drastic changes to a very important program, and justifying it through distortion, half-truths, and spin. They are relying on the American public's poor math skills and general ignorance about Social Security to remake it how they will.

This is important shit. They can't be allowed to get away with it.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

This week in stupidity

There simply is nothing so low that the pro "family" organizations will not stoop to it. Last week was No Name Calling Week, basically an anti-bullying project aimed at schoolkids. The Illinois Family Institute is all up in arms becase one of the forty-two sponsoring organizations was GLESN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. This project wasn't targeted at defending gay kids, but anyone bullied, whether for their weight, height, intelligence, and, yes, sexual orientation. Other sponsors of the project include the Anti Defamation League, the Girl Scouts, and National Association of Secondary School Principals, a notoriously well-known terrorist organization.

But no, we can't have that. David Smith, Senior Policy Analyst for the IFI, objects to the Week because "No Name Calling Week targets young impressionable children in fifth through eighth grades with messages that seem harmless enough - 'diversity' and 'tolerance.'" Yeah, we can't have that, can we? "Their main objective is ... part of an overall effort to promote the homosexual agenda to children." Exactly. The radical agenda of not getting the queer kid's ass kicked in gym class.

So I'm now officially proposing February 7-11, 2005 as Call David Smith a Cocksucker Week.

The other Social Security shoe

Here we go. From today's LA Times:

In a significant shift in his rationale for [privatized] accounts, Bush dropped his claim that they would help solve Social Security's fiscal problems — a link he sometimes made during last year's presidential campaign. Instead, he said the individual accounts were desirable because they would be "a better deal," providing workers what he said would be a higher rate of return and "greater security in retirement."

So, apparently, all that stuff about SS being "bankrupt" and too few workers paying in for the number of retirees was just a red herring.

I think what we're seeing here is the beginning of an attempt to reframe perceptions of Social Security from a insurance policy that would protect you you from living out your retirement in poverty to an investment account. Part of that whole "ownership society" nonsense.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

So Trident doesn't work too?

Oh, God, I just laughed so hard, I think I swallowed my tongue. You are supposed to chew this stuff, right?

SocSec

I'm sure that Social Security will be a big part of tonight's State of the Union, and so this may be completely moot by the time you read it.

I can't find any good citations on the Web right now, but it seems that the Bush administration is playing three card monte with economic predictions when it comes to Social Security. They seem to be assuming good economic growth when it comes to privatized SS accounts, but poor economic growth when direly predicting the fall and collapse of the SS program in general. You don't get to have it both ways.

This is what steams my potatoes. Look, I'm a scientist, and a fairly rational guy. (Or so I like to think.) I am, as they said when I interviewed at Intel (but didn't get the job), very data-driven. If privatizing Social Security will help it financially, I'd be all for it. Numbers don't lie. Unfortunately, you can lie with numbers.

Yes the governments budget office is making some fairly low numbers when they do their economic forecasts. There's nothing wrong with that. In fact, it's a good idea to make a conservative estimate when you're forecasting something, so if things do a little bit better than that, you have extra to work with. But when they pull a rosy forecast out of their ass when talking about growth of these private accounts?

That's cheating.

The fact that they are making these distortions suggests something else entirely. This isn't about trying to save Social Security. It's about marketing a decision that's already been made. Note how everything used to be about "privatizing" SS, then moved to "private accounts?" Those terms didn't focus test well, and so now it's about "personal accounts." The administration even critisizes those in the press that use the verboten terms, even though they were using them themselves a few weeks ago.

And quibbling about rates of return in SS is a red herring. Social Security isn't a retirement plan. It's insurance against retirement planning. It's a compact between this generation and their parents that they won't be forced into poverty when they retire. It's not supposed to replace sensible retirement savings, it's supposed to protect you if it catastrophically fails. (Just ask Enron employees about how bad stocks can do.) No one thinks of fire insurance as a great investment. It's not there to be collected on eventually;, it's there to stop you from being homeless if your house burns down.

So that's why Lost is a rerun...

I didn't realize it until this morning, but tonight is the State of the Union address. Just as David likes to predict the Oscars, I've been thinking about what's going to be in tonight's speech.

What we will hear: Iraq, democracy, voting, etc.; winning the War on Terror, capturing xx% of Al Qaeda; Social Security and personal accounts; tort reform; tax cuts; and possibly steroids in sports;

What we won't hear: WMDs, civilian casualties in Iraq; war-cause sacrifice by anyone other than the military; Social Security and privatization or private accounts; the profit margins of large insurance and/or drug companies; tax reform

What I'm not sure about yet: a culture of "life"; gay marriage