Friday, January 21, 2005

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

I've survived another week of shepherding three young'uns through the tribulations of elementary school projects, quizzes and tests. I've saved my bosses the usual piles of money, for which I am grossly under-compensated, and my house is a mess. Friday will never be an ultimate post day; my hot damns and hallelujahs are all tapped out.

However, here are three little nuggets to mull over while I consult the restorative grape residing in my refrigerator.

The Good

You need to be reading Sister Joan. She's that good. Go on! I'll wait for you. Here's a snippet.

Try to look surprised.

The official word, according to the report of the Iraq Survey Group released last week, is that the search for Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq is over. Why? Because, as most of the world knew at the outset of the debacle, Iraq didn't have any. So much for the satellite photo of one warehouse with a tractor trailer parked behind it on which we based our pathetic little case for so-called "pre-emptive" war -- and on international television, no less. Or, to put it another way, contrast this presentation of
materials to the photos taken from outer space during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962.

Forty years ago we could count every Russian missile in every
pile on Cuban soil. Now, on the brink of mass invasion of another country, there was nothing to count and nothing to see. (If you're inclined to be disappointed that, contrary to popular opinion, our photographic technology has not been getting better as time goes on, try to remember that in a case like this it can be very difficult to take pictures of what isn't there.)

See? I strive for her clarity and ability to cut the BS. Someday, perhaps.

The Bad

According to John W. Schoen, a senior producer at MSNBC, looking at the budget impact of Bush's first term is one way to determine how much new Treasury debt the government sold to make up for the deficits since he took office. In Jan. 2001, the total Treasury debt held by the public stood at $3.9 trillion. As of Wed. Jan. 19, the figure was $4,423,975,930,565.56 (or $4.4 trillion.) Whether you attribute this increase to tax cuts or war spending (or both), the U.S. government is $500 billion further in debt after Bush's first term.

The second term's outlook isn't much better. It depends on if tax cuts scheduled to expire at the end of the decade become permanent, and on when U.S. troops finally leave Iraq. Last June, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the final bill for the war could hit nearly $400 billion. The CBO figures the accumulated federal budget deficits will hit $2.3 trillion by the end of the decade. The White House's own estimates for the second term estimates the total Treasury debt held by the public will reach $5.5 trillion by 2008. (See Table 20, bottom of the page.) That would put the accumulated price tag for both terms at around $1.6 trillion, or a little over $200 billion a year. (That's not counting the White House plan to overhaul Social Security. Until the details of the proposal are formally unveiled, it's impossible to say what it will cost. But if some payroll taxes are diverted to individual accounts (the main idea behind the plan), Congress would have to kick in more money to pay for people who are already retired or expect to do so soon. That could easily add another $1 trillion or more to the Bush deficits.)

God Dem!

Start writing your representatives now, and make sure they understand that you do NOT support mucking about with Social Security. We are bankrupting our country just to please a few financial institutions who stand to profit through privitazation.

The Ugly

The VA is NOT authorized to recruit eligible veterans for the benefits they earned through service to our country.

A directive issued last year for the VA MidSouth Healthcare Network, which includes the Louisville hospital, said "facilities may not aggressively take steps to recruit new enrollees or new workload."

That directive followed a national VA memo issued in July 2002 that said recruiting veterans is "inappropriate" because of a tight budget and growing demand for services.

This means the service personnel out there with NO LEGS OR ARMS OR SHATTERED MINDS due to the horrific situation they volunteered to be put into in order to serve the country you and I live, drive, surf the net and eat at Olive Garden in cannot be searched out and told where and how to obtain their benefits.

That is unacceptable.

Words of encouragement come from Pope John Paul II, in his address Monday to an annual gathering of world diplomats:
"The arrogance of power must be countered with reason, force with dialogue, pointed weapons with outstretched hands, evil with good."

I've added a counter and a link to the sidebar called 10 x 10. This site pulls the 100 top words from the internet every hour and pairs them with the top 100 images. It sounds very cool, but as you drag your mouse over the images, the words are all sad.

It's hard, sometimes, to maintain perspective and humor in the face of misrepresentation and meanness. But we will, because we're Dems. And, because we are right.


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