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

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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Jesse has a great series of posts on those who would like to see this country become a theocracy–Christianists(*). It starts here with a Phillis Schlafly smackdown, but keep scrolling up to see more. Why do they insist on defying the Constitution? Are they Enemies of Freedom?


(*) I believe Dave Neiwert coined this phrase as an amalgam of Christian and Fundamentalist.

P.S. While at Pandagon, be sure to check out Jesse’s play-by-play recounting of his thoughts while watching DC 9/11: Time Of Crisis, Showtime’s Bush puff-piece “docudrama that traces the nine days after the terrorist attacks on America of September 11, 2001, a week and a half that challenged…”

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I got a hit today from someone Googling this:

economy’s budget deficit graphs that do not start at 0 and have good artwork to deceive the public

I wonder who the Googler thinks is likely to issue misleading deficit graphs?

In Lying Liars, Al Franken has two graphs that illustrate the point about scaling graphs in a misleading fashion. I’ll add an update with the page number this evening, or someone can do it for me in the comments.


UPDATE: It’s on p. 174 of Lying Liars.

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Bush Tax Cut Jobs Scoreboard

Mike at The 18½ Minute Gap has a nice graph showing the jobs promised by Bush and the jobs delivered, with the former category consisting of positive numbers and the latter consisting of only negative numbers so far. The predictions are plotted through 12/04 while the results only go through 8/03. If the eventual results for 9/03 thorugh 10/04 look at all like Bush’s results to date, the 2004 Democratic nominee just might be the favorite.


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Subliminal Programming, or “Strategic Ambiguity”?

No one should underestimate the power of the Bush administration’s subtle but persistent efforts for the past two years to link Iraq to 9/11:

The Washington Post: Nearing the second anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, seven in 10 Americans continue to believe that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein had a role in the attacks, even though the Bush administration and congressional investigators say they have no evidence of this.

Sixty-nine percent of Americans said they thought it at least likely that Hussein was involved in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, according to the latest Washington Post poll. That impression, which exists despite the fact that the hijackers were mostly Saudi nationals acting for al Qaeda, is broadly shared by Democrats, Republicans and independents.

How did they do this? They never overtly stated that there was a connection, but they used two other techniques:

a) continually putting the words “Iraq” or “Saddam” and “9/11” in the same sentence – they appeared in the same sentence 11 times during the 2003 State of the Union address, for example.

b) putting together facts that lead to the desired (though incorrect) conclusion. Here’s an example from a Bush speech on Oct 7, 2002 (quoted in a nice piece about the use of this technique more generally by Spinsanity):

”We know that Iraq and the al Qaeda terrorist network share a common enemy — the United States of America. We know that Iraq and al Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade. Some al Qaeda leaders who fled Afghanistan went to Iraq. These include one very senior al Qaeda leader who received medical treatment in Baghdad this year, and who has been associated with planning for chemical and biological attacks. We’ve learned that Iraq has trained al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases. And we know that after September the 11th, Saddam Hussein’s regime gleefully celebrated the terrorist attacks on America.”

Obviously the techniques work: you don’t have to explicitly tell people what conclusion to draw (because you would get called a liar, given that it’s an incorrect conclusion), but rather simply put things together in a way that most reasonable people would draw the incorrect conclusion you’re hoping for. Spinsanity calls this technique “strategic ambiguity.” I’d say that’s a generous way of putting it.


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More Freeway Signs

Reader Scarlet Pimpernel continues to find intersting signs Interstate 5 between San Diego and Los Angeles. Here’s one:

For I-5 travelers who, like Scarlet but unlike me, are fluent in Latin and familiar with the works of Wilfred Owen, there’s also a sign on the fence of Camp Pendleton that reads, “Dulce et Decorum est por Halliburton Mori” (“it is sweet and honorqable (or ‘decorus’) to die for Halliburton”).


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