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Friday, July 02, 2004
 
Inflation, part II

I had a brief conversation with a woman who preps at the restaurant. She definitely falls into the category of the "working poor". She works two 30 hour jobs. (Nobody wants to hire her full time or they would have to offer her benefits)We were talking about inflation.

The 90%+ of her income goes into:

-Rent
-Food
-Gasoline (for an older paid off car)
-Utilities
-Medical Bills (old and new)

The experts say that steep inflation has been limited to the energy, food and medical sectors while manufaturing and services have been fairly stable.

Obviously this lady's income is shrinking *severely* when you index it for inflation. She is not alone.

Bush's mismanagement of the economy, mainly heating it up to produce election year growth regardless of the inflationary risks, is a cruel joke. I pray that the Fed's 0.25% rate hike will help, but somehow I doubt that inflation's ripples can be slowed. Too little too late.....
 
Thursday, July 01, 2004
 
Time to fish.
Mr. Allawi, you need to be very, very careful over the 4th of July weekend. I will be fishing and unable to assist you with your sovereignty and security concerns. If you have a problem, call Mr. Bremer or Mr. Negroponte. They are on call to assist you with any issues that may explode or otherwise inconvenience you, at least I think they are:

This is a walleye. It is fun to catch, and it doesn't explode, usually.
Avoid anything that looks like this:
This is not a walleye. It is bad. Do not touch it.

Have a nice 4th of July. Your turn, Def. Call me at the lake.
 
 
I wonder if Fox will cover this?
Link.
"...The activist group MoveOn.org has produced a documentary film called "Outfoxed" that, it claims, "exposes Fox for what it is: partisan spin, not news." The film purportedly includes interviews with seven ex-Fox News employees "who describe how, every day, highly partisan talking points are drawn up to influence newscasts..."
Sad to see money spent on a film like this. It would be like making a film about rain being wet. Or night being dark.
 
Wednesday, June 30, 2004
 
So, how's that sovereignty thing going?
I don't think the folks in Fallujah can tell much difference:


 
 
Michael Moore


The political right is pretty exercised over Moore's latest film. I went to see it last night in a packed theater and came away wondering why this particular political statement has caused so much uproar. F 9/11 doesn't break any new ground. In it, Moore rehashes the same issues many of us here in the blogosphere have been addressing for quite some time, albeit set to good music.

The film has several different themes running: First and foremost, that *W has abused the office of President and is not competent to hold it, for a wide variety of reasons. Second, that the war in Iraq has created terrible human tragedies on both sides of the conflict and the brunt of the pain on the US side has fallen on those from impoverished economic backgrounds. Third, and for me the most compelling, that the media and government-created "culture of fear" has allowed *W and friends to run roughshod over the separation of powers, the bill of rights, and most accepted standards of ethical and legal behavior in the wake of 9/11.

This last theme is a continuation of what Moore addressed in 'Bowling For Columbine' and is one that I strongly agree with. The mass media, especially broadcast media, in this country knows that bad news sells. The best kind of bad news for the camera is violence--or its graphic aftermath. If the crew has missed the violence, and the aftermath is too unpleasant for the viewing audience, then a good chase-and-arrest sequence is a fair substitute.

What does a steady diet of this fare do to the American psyche? It convinces us that we are only a breath away from danger. It keeps us on edge, always waiting for the violence that we see regularly on the small screen to explode around us. It makes us more prone to react violently and unpredictably. It makes us afraid.

Since 9/11, the Government has been an active participant. Yellow alert. Orange alert. An attack is coming, but we don't know when, where, who or how. Be afraid--but go shopping. Privacy and liberty are small things to give up in return for safety. Trust us, we know how to neutralize the evil-doers.

As with most of his projects, Moore mixes satire and fact and it can be difficult at times to keep them sorted out. I assume he does this in an attempt to make his messages more marketable, using the principle that humor sells better than polemics. He may be right, but it is this quirk of his that gives his critics most of their ammunition (and has made him most of his money). But the most powerful parts of F 9/11 are not accomplished with a good score, or clever editing, or loaded interview questions.

The real power of this movie happens when he just lets the camera run.
 
Tuesday, June 29, 2004
 
Could it really be this simple?
Interesting Krugman column today:
"...Mr. Fleischer told The Chicago Tribune that part of his job was educating Iraqi businessmen: "The only paradigm they know is cronyism. We are teaching them that there is an alternative system with built-in checks and built-in review."

Checks and review? Yesterday a leading British charity, Christian Aid, released a scathing report, "Fueling Suspicion," on the use of Iraqi oil revenue. It points out that the May 2003 U.N. resolution giving the C.P.A. the right to spend that revenue required the creation of an international oversight board, which would appoint an auditor to ensure that the funds were spent to benefit the Iraqi people.

Instead, the U.S. stalled, and the auditor didn't begin work until April 2004. Even then, according to an interim report, it faced "resistance from C.P.A. staff." And now, with the audit still unpublished, the C.P.A. has been dissolved..."
Was the war in Iraq just about stealing a few hundred billion dollars for the administration's cronies and supporters? $60 million, $100 million missing I could understand. Heck, Halliburton loses track of that much money on a routine basis and no one bats an eye.

But we are talking about $200 billion or so. Nobody seems to know where it went. You have to hand it to these guys--they don't think small.
 
Monday, June 28, 2004
 
The one lesson we learned from Vietnam

"We should declare victory and leave."
The immortal words of the late Sen. George Aiken (R-Vt)

OK, only Bremer and the rest of the suits are leaving to come back and lobby for Halliburton, et al. The Military will still be there. But it's a start.
 
 
Quick! Look behind you!
June 30, June 30, June 30....June 28! Ok, we got the handover done without half of the country blowing up, by using a little sleight-of-hand move. Good idea. Probably saved a few lives, in the short term anyway.

ALLAWI: "Thank you Mr. Bremer. Today is a great day for the newly sovereign nation of Iraq and for the Iraqi..." (Sound of door slamming, footsteps running away down the hall) "...Mr. Bremer? Mr. Bremer? Where was he going in such a hurry? Oh well, where was I..."

The Iraqi government still has June 30 to look forward to. And then July 1, etc, etc. The country still has a major problems. It also has a half-dozen permanent US military bases and over 100,000 US troops who didn't leave with Mr. Bremer. What Iraqis want most right now is security, not sovereignty. They don't care too much about freedom or Democracy--not when shoppers and worshipers are being blown up by random car bombings, not when electricity is available for only a few hours a day and foreign troops are conducting full-scale military operations two blocks away.

It's going to be a long, hot, bloody summer in Iraq. Thanks, George 'n' Dick.
 
Sunday, June 27, 2004
 
... if you show me yours.

It appears that the Rove machine is out to get Kerry's sealed 1988 divorce records. They seem to like the following quote from the LA judge who unsealed Illinois Republican Jack Ryan's divorce papers:
"They were aware they were in a public court system and protection from embarrassment cannot be a basis for keeping from the public what's put in public courts," said Schnider, referring to Ryan and his ex-wife, actress Jeri Ryan. "The openness of court files must be maintained, so that the public ... can be assured that there is no favoritism shown to the rich and powerful."
Fine... That means W's expunged 1970s drug convictions can now be part of the record.

Two quick side notes:
1) I disagreed with the release of Ryan's custody battle records. (And who the hell cares that his wife didn't like his penchant for public sex? He seemed to respect her rejection of it. Sheesh!) It seems that the real problem was that he had fibbed to the GOP vetters about there being "any embarassing info" in them.
2) Kerry should do a Bush style document dump with his own records. Unannounced at 6:30 on a Friday night, he should allow a handful of blindsided reporters to have access to the documents for 1 hour. No photos. No notes. .... just like the Junior pulled with his National Guard records.
 
 
Dear Vice President Cheney,

Fuck you, too!

Patriotically yours,
Def
 
Shouting into the closet to inform and entertain the 10 people who actually read this thing. In our new format as an online magazine, we take pride in our reporting and opinions. Please leave reader feedback on our online magazine message board so that we can better serve you.

“There’s a lot of money to pay for this that doesn’t have to be U.S. taxpayer money, and it starts with the assets of the Iraqi people…and on a rough recollection, the oil revenues of that country could bring between $50 and $100 billion over the course of the next two or three years…We’re dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.” -Paul Wolfowitz

Cost of the War in Iraq
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