Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

The Spoils of War

The Texas Republicans, with the aid of the cowardly John Whitmire, have won the battle in Texas. Governor Perry has called a third special session and redistricting (to give Republicans 5-7 more seats in the US House) will soon be underway. The one bright spot is that redistricting may not go anywhere for a while, as Republicans are now fighting each other over how to redraw the districts.


P.S. Let’s root for the Democrats to gain narrow majorities in California, New York, and Illinois and then respond in kind. It’s not as far fetched as it sounds.

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Foreign Policy?

Or just a Visa commercial?

National security adviser Condoleezza Rice defended the administration’s supplemental spending request. “Yes, the price tag may be very high,” she told Washington-based foreign reporters. But, she added: “Freedom is priceless.”

In the same story, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Richard Meyers–apparently unaware that for a few years in the twentieth century a hostile Germany and its allies controlled most of continental Europe, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Pacific Ocean–said this:

“You may have to go back to the Civil War to find a time when the values that we hold dear have been threatened like they’ve been threatened today,” Myers said.

Yes, you may have to go that far back, if you’re an idiot. Just under 50 million people died in World War II, including about 40 million Allied dead, of whom about 400,000 were Americans.


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Since We Invaded Iraq…

…a few other things have happened on the world stage

And, domestically, the economy continues toshed jobs.


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Health Insurance Rates Up 13.9 Percent in 2003

Which is, of course, bad news for the job market–at least, it’s bad news in the market for jobs that come with benefits. Even for jobs that carry benefits, look for rising premiums, rising copayments, and higher deductibles. Apparently, prescription drug costs and rising prices for hospital services are the primary culprits.


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Brushed Off by the World

I guess insulting much of the world and then asking for help wasn’t such a great idea. Here are some salient excerpts from a story, Brushed Off by the World, Bush Calls India for Help, in today’s Washington Post:

From Asia to Europe to Africa, President Bush’s televised appeal Sunday night for international help in rebuilding Iraq drew as much scorn as sympathy in the online media.

…In Brunei, the oil-rich enclave in southeast Asia, the headline in the Borneo Bulletin minced no words: “U.S. Admits Failure in Iraq.”

…reported Michael Settle in the Glasgow Herald, “drew an embarrassingly muted response across the globe.”

…Even Norway, which has already sent 150 soldiers to Iraq, was critical. Foreign minister Jan Petersen was quoted in the English-language Norway Post as saying that he regretted that Bush didn’t offer “a greater political role for the U.N. in Iraq. This he could have done and should have done.”

…The real acid test for Bush’s appeal is India, where recent developments give the Bush administration at least some hope of a positive response…By itself, India nearly could satisfy the Bush administration’s immediate desire for 20,000 fresh troops in Iraq.


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Tours of Duty

Just heard on NPR that some reservists tours will last for one year, rather than six months.


UPDATE: Here’s a link to the story.

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Democratic Ranks Swelling in Texas

Not really, but there are now or will soon be ten more Democrats in Texas than there were last week:

The runaway senators had vowed to stay out of Texas until another redistricting session was called and a quorum established on the Senate floor. However, Ms. Van de Putte said, the decision last week of Houston Democrat John Whitmire to return to Texas changed the other Democrats’ thinking.

They will still stay out of Austin until Mr. Whitmire helps the Republicans reach the 21-member quorum needed to do business but will return to their families in Texas, she said.

Nuts to you, Mr. Whitmire.


P.S. Note to Texans: patriotism and love of State and Country come from the heart and mind, not from statutorily mandated recitation.

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2004 Projected Deficit Now Over Well Over $500 Billion

Way back on 8/24 the projected deficit was $480 billion (see this post). Now it’s $525b and counting. That’s another $45 billion in 15 days–deficit projections for the next year are growing by $3 billion per day. If current trends continue then by New Year’s Eve, the projected deficit will reach $846b or about $3,400 per U.S. citizen. That’s extreme. Most likely, the fiscal year 2004 deficit will turn out to be in the $550b to $600b range.(*) That’s a mere $2200-$2400 per person over the next year.

Fortunately, the grown-ups are in control. They understand the simple economics of trade-offs and tough choices. From CNN:

Senior administration officials told reporters there were no plans at the White House to seek “offsets” — or spending cuts elsewhere in the budget — to ease the strain of the new war budget request on the Treasury.

Nor is the White House open to scaling back tax cuts already passed by Congress, these officials said.

Officials still maintain that the deficit will be cut in half over the next few years. They don’t really say how this will happen, but I’m guessing it involves the magic of tax cuts and possibly the awesome stain-fighting power of Oxiclean.


(*) Because Fiscal Year 2004 starts on October 1, 2003, I’m playing a bit fast and loose with this example, but you get the point.

UPDATE: Via corrente, I find this impressive bit of buck-stops-here-ism:

Asked who bears the blame for the nation’s growing budget deficit, Bush said “It’s nobody’s fault.”

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More Christianistanity

Can we, based on the worthless jackasses in the top picture, now say that the entire Right is composed of diversity-hating, first-responder-hating, and freedom-hating morons–much in the way the entire Left is held to account whenever ANSWER does something stupid? No, you say? Well then quit blaming “Liberals” when Chomsky says something goofy. In the meantime, the answer to my original question is yes.


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