Monday, June 27, 2005

Rumination and explanation

I'm not fishing for sympathy, really. I just wanted to spend a few minutes thinking and writing about what a diagnosis of cancer has done to me. Each step along this path has provided more specific and worse news, ending in today's "You have 'B-cell type' lymphoma". The survival rate given for the more general umbrella category of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, under which "B-cell type" lies, is between 52-59%, depending on the source, but I'm sure there are even more variations on that theme to come, once we know where I fall in the staging, exactly which "B-cell type" I've got, etc. But just think about those numbers abstractly for a minute: 5 years from now, my chances of being alive are potentially 52-59%. That is, of course, not that much more than a coin flip. What do I make of that information? What can I make of it? I realize it's a good thing to be on the + side of 50%, to be sure; many cancers fall far below that, as did my Uncle's. Even so, for a 42 year old man with no serious health issues to speak of, the chances that "tails will come up" by the time I'm 47 is pretty freaking lousy, I'd say.
I'm not going to stand here and preach about early detection, and go see your doctor regularly, etc. You either do that already or you don't, and besides, finding my cancer was entirely due to some pretty odd doctoring meanderings. I'm not going to say I've found God and that you should too, lest you go to Hell--my vision of whatever's out there is more quizzical anyway; if there is an Almighty, how would our puny human brains/minds/souls even be able to fathom it? I'm also not going to cry about what a bad deal I've gotten either--for the most part, at any rate--who needs that?
I suppose the point of this entry is less about what has happened than about what will be happening. I'll probably be leavening the Smirky the Chimp illuminations with some more personal statements about the course of my treatments, for example, which will probably not be to everyone's (anyone's?) tastes, and I wanted to warn those of you who might like to opt out of reading those. Other than that, let's go see what trouble we can get into, ok? We can't let the McGrortyites have all the fun, can we?

Book review--Collapse

Collapse is a tour de force of eco-geographical study. In it, Jared Diamond lays out a thesis that encompasses (or tries to, at any rate) all time and space in order to explain why certain societies throughout human history have failed to survive and why others seemingly faced with similar obstacles thrived, or at least have lasted until the present day. Broadly speaking, Diamond argues that there are only a small number of discrete factors that can cause a society to collapse, but that each can also be somewhat interdependent as well, and he examines how each of the failed/succeeding societies addressed each factor. Diamond makes his case by looking at a variety of human settlements, ranging from Viking Greenlanders to the Polynesian Easter Islanders, to discover how each settlement used its natural resources. Those societies that engaged in destructive behavior--in other words, did not use renewable strategies in using their resources--in regards to the found native materials at hand inevitably declined and eventually died out. A very limited few who did pursue a strategy of restricted use of natural resources, such as those inhabitants of New Guinea or Iceland, have managed to keep themselves alive and their societies more or less intact.
The obvious point Diamond is making is that regardless of whether a society starts with a huge abundance of energy, food, or shelter resources, or with very few, using more than what gets replaced by nature is a recipe for long-term disaster, and that a usage strategy that incorporates "renewability" is the only real answer to that potential downfall. While Diamond touches on the First World's reluctance (and our current government's refusal) to implement a strategy of renewability, he does so only lightly--this is hardly a polemic condemning us all to death if we don't stop using oil, for example. The power of Diamond's argument is instead wielded more subtly, as he delineates case after case of societies that failed due to their ignorance of the tenuousness of their grasp on their environment. By implication, of course, those societies that consciously choose to use up all of their non-renewables almost deserve their fate, which any sensible person would logically infer to be a quick decline and subsequent failure.
Diamond's writing is concise, even though the book is over 500 pages--there is simply a whole lot of information/evidence he wants to convey to us all. Some of the historical treatments of the failed societies are more interesting than others, although which ones are so may be a matter of personal taste. The modern societies Diamond covers that appear to be proving his points even as we watch, including Haiti and Rwanda, are each unique enough in their own right to help show the universality of his argument. This book should be read by anyone who needs to be told that our ecological and energy policies are wrongheaded; it would be hard to remain unconvinced that we are doing things stupidly ourselves after reading it. For the rest of us, Collapse provides a useful compendium of arguments to use against those who choose to remain ignorant.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

"That dusty old dust/ keeps rollin' along"

As loath as I am to jump into this morass again (due to his supporters' vocal and obviously blind faith in his abilities and ideals), Michael McGrorty's done it again. His latest post, found here, is a scolding of the librarians he professes to love so much, based on the hiring practices used in most public library systems. While his entire rant might be completely written off as the ravings of a man whose grapes have turned exceedingly sour, unfortunately it is also ignorant to the ways of the world, and offensive to those people who work very hard to find good candidates for their limited job openings.
McGrorty notes at the outset that he is not a good interviewee, although I would point out that he has apparently had ample opportunities to practice; he is clearly not one to bend his notion of what is right or sensible to accommodate others' points of view. "Generally, when they ask me those idiotic questions--you know, the ones like, 'What would you do if a patron came to the desk and was very angry about a kid using the Internet,' I tend to treat them like idiotic questions, and I probably look like it as well."
Gee, Michael, do you think it might be possible that the person who wrote that question may indeed be sitting opposite from you? It's not that big a wonder you are still unemployed . . . And regardless of whether you think that is an "idiotic" question, these kinds of "situational questions" are drawn from real-life episodes, and the managers who are judging your potential worth as a professional working for them are interested in seeing how you handle yourself. Customer service, which is a large part of librarianship, requires an inordinate amount of self-control, and treating a patron's actual question as "idiotic" is a quick way to involve not just you, but your entire library in an (at best) embarrassing lawsuit.
McGrorty continues his paragraph, "I am not good at concealing amusement, and it is not beyond me to inquire whether the panel is satisfied that such questions reveal the better candidates. Among librarians there is a saying that there are no dumb questions; most likely those who say this have never served on an interview panel."
Get a freaking clue! Librarians say that there are no dumb questions because we must have that attitude when dealing with the public. We are trying to encourage people to use our resources and thereby prove our continued worth to a society that wants to eliminate us. Part of the interview process is, at least in your case, Michael, figuring out ways of answering even the most practical of queries intelligently and equably, because in this way the managers can reasonably assess your ability to do so at the desk. Treating the process as some sort of joke provides a big hint to those whom you are presumably trying to impress that you are not serious about their profession.
McGrorty posits that librarians have no actual standards of conduct, which has resulted in our hiring practices being determined by non-professionals. "The hiring rules and procedures for librarians in many parts of this land were established by default: the libraries simply did nothing to maintain their own systems and the county or the municipality stepped in and took over. Librarianship has engaged in a century-long debate with itself over standards, yet somehow come away without any decent examinations for the job?at least that hiring authorities accept."
Even given that McGrorty offers no references or citations for his assertion--just another odd bugaboo that librarians, in addition to any responsible writers or researchers, are required to provide--the fact remains that public libraries are, well, public. We are funded by the cities, townships, counties, etc., and that means that they have an obvious stake in what goes on inside our walls. Why shouldn't they have a say in how our professionals are hired? The whole notion of "civil service" was to reduce the chances of political corruption, but it plays out in our arena as a curb on nepotism or cronyism. (Check out the old, but still useful Outlawing the Spoils and the newer Politics of Civil Service Reform.) Allowing "outsiders" (as McGrorty calls these funding bodies) to at least oversee our hiring process is the price we pay for not having to defend the institution from lawsuits every time a new librarian is hired. Ideal? Maybe not. Cause for condemnation and ridicule? Certainly not.
McGrorty then shows his solipsism and grandiosity once again by assuming that all people are as smart as he is:
I fear for the future of any library system whose professionals are sifted from the mass of humanity on the basis of questions like: 'If you were to be assigned to a children's [sic] section, what sort of preparation would you undertake for the work?' Mind you, I have chosen the very best of the questions--one that can actually be answered with some reference to materials and processes. But there is no need to have attended library school to answer even this question; what normal human being would not respond, 'To begin with, I'd have to undertake a review of children's [sic] reading materials at all levels, including reference works, and the subject guides to these as well. I would also consult with the children's [sic] librarians of my acquaintance, and of course with those employed at this library.' I have a couple of terriers at home who could probably have given that answer. And they, like me, never took a class in children's [sic] librarianship.
Michael, if your terriers could have given those answers, then you should have had them do your interviews for you. It's obvious to me that you have virtually no idea how little understood our profession is by the general public, making it wonderfully clear to me that you will probably never be hired to work as a public librarian. Is there a reason why you've chosen to denigrate this completely lucid answer to the question? Do you have any notion that the vast majority of people in the world don't know the difference between a "reference work" and a "novel", and therefore wouldn't know the first thing about how to actually decide what books to purchase following any rationale? Do you really think so little of this profession that you think any "normal human being" can do this job? That's what you're saying here . . .
Screw you, pal. The librarians I work with and know take a great deal of pride in themselves and the jobs they do for little or no recognition beyond the internal pats on the back we give each other. Calling the hiring process a "farce" or "dust and fluff" is marking you as more than a malcontent who can't get a job; you're belittling the efforts not only of the questioners, but also those of us who have pursued this career seriously enough to answer those questions you think so little of. Take your snide self-aggrandisement and cram it.
And before all the McGrorty groupies come all unglued and flame me mercilessly, telling all about what a scumbag I am for calling him out, let me say this: I don't want to hear from anyone who has not worked with him personally, ok? Because every single person I know that has worked with him, and that number is probably in the teens by now, thinks little of him, to put it nicely.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Book review--Planet Simpson

Planet Simpson, by Chris Turner, is, without a doubt, the most detailed study available on that venerable and important television institution, "The Simpsons". Turner's work, while written from a fan's point of view, is nevertheless a serious look at how the show has both mirrored and inspired societal changes through its run. Turner notes the main theme of the show as being one of a consistently anti-authoritarian sarcasm, leavened, of course, with many moments of sheer absurdity played just for laughs. Turner points out, though, that underlying all of the show's biting and supremely intelligent humor is a strong current of good old-fashioned family values. The Simpsons (the cartoon family itself, that is), after all, stick together through most of their adventures, recognizing by the end of each episode--at the latest--that they are better off with each other than they ever could be separately.
Turner cites an impressive number of episodes as evidence of his points throughout the book, and his citations and footnotes are rife with insider's glimpses into the rich world of Simpsoniana, gleaned either from his personal viewing or gathered from online resources. Each chapter addresses one of the main characters of the show to relate some aspect (or many aspects) of that character to a larger analysis of North American society (Turner is Canadian).
For example, Turner uses the chapter on C. Montgomery Burns to outline the increasing dehumanization of corporate America. The magic of the book, though, is that Turner's points are rarely that bluntly stated. Instead, Turner illustrates how the sarcasm of "The Simpsons" writing staff manifests itself in the plotlines and jokes that the show presents as a coherent whole. In other words, even shows not ostensibly about corporatism will have some sort of joke at Burns' (or some other capitalistic character like Lindsay Naegle, the omnipresent blond, upbeat, marketing whiz) expense that reveals the theme of anti-corporatism somewhat more obliquely. "The Simpsons", in Turner's description, is a show about subversion. (As distinctly opposed, of course, to the "Seinfeld" self-defined and nihilistic description as being a "show about nothing".)
While clearly aimed at Simpson fans, "Planet Simpson" is also a book that can be useful to anyone aiming to grasp just what the hell happened to/in America in the 1990s and slightly beyond. Turner's writing is dense with detail but elegant in design, as each paragraph and chapter flows naturally (mostly) from one idea to the next. Good stuff!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Something else, and another great man

As some of you already know, this past week has pretty much sucked. In addition to my own troubles--I've been given a preliminary diagnosis of lymphoma, for those of you I've mistakenly neglected to contact--my dissertation adviser of many years died at the waaaaay too early age of 62. Eric Monkkonen was a brilliant historian, with an inquisitive and penetrating mind. More importantly than that, though, Eric was a good person through and through. He never failed to support my decisions, even when they were wrong-headed, and when I was frustrated or awash with insecurities, he consistently brought me out of my funks. He gave me the strength and wisdom I needed to get through the amount of the Ph.D. program I did, and he gave me the direction I lacked. When it came time for me to exit the program due to a lack of funds, he continued to support me whenever I sought him out. When I decided to apply to library school, he characteristically said, "That's a great idea! You can always come back to your dissertation later."
I last saw him about 4 years ago, I guess--far too long ago, yet it feels like mere days instead--and he was his usual chipper self as he inquired about my path. He had never given me any inkling that since 1995 he had been fighting cancer, and you sure couldn't tell from his attitude or demeanor, so it's been a great shock to me to learn of his death. I know his colleagues at UCLA and around the world mourn his death; we are all the poorer for his leaving us. As for me, I feel like I've lost my rudder when it comes to my history degree, and even more than that, I know I'll never find a greater sponsor or a more loyal mentor.
If I can navigate my way through the dark days ahead with half as much aplomb and good cheer as Eric showed me, I will consider that an incredible accomplishment. His death may not affect my everyday existence, but I will feel the loss keenly enough as it is. One of the bright spots in my life has been cruelly dimmed too soon. Even if I had just a small role in your life, Professor Monkkonen, I hope you knew that you were a major player in mine, and any future success I have in academic pursuits will be entirely due to your influence and good will. The personal support you showed me without fail marks my endeavors already.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Smirky's speech, pt. 2

So I look forward to welcome the Congress back and working together with them. And now, I'll be glad to take some of your questions. Terry, why don't you start.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. President, since Iraq's new government was announced on April 28th, more than 60 Americans and 760 Iraqis have been killed in attacks. Do you think that the insurgency is gaining strength and becoming more lethal? And do you think that Iraq's government is up to the job of defeating the -- defeating the insurgents and guaranteeing security?
THE PRESIDENT: I think the Iraq government will be up to the task of defeating the insurgents. I think they dealt the insurgents -- I think the Iraqi people dealt the insurgents a serious blow when they -- when we had the elections.
How so? They are still attacking, aren’t they?
In other words, what the insurgents fear is democracy, because democracy is the opposite of their vision. Their vision is one where a few make the decision for many, and if you don't toe the line, there's serious consequences.
Just like when someone doesn’t follow your directions, huh? Shall we recount all the resignations from your cabinet, for example? Now, in what way is your vision different from theirs?
The American people have just got to think about the Taliban if you're interested in thinking -- understanding how the insurgents think.
The Taliban? What does the former, legally constituted government of a completely different country have to do with Iraqis who are trying to eliminate foreign oppression, as they see it?
They have a -- they support an ideology that is the opposite of freedom, in my judgment,
You’re using “judgment” through all this? Yikes! Gee, what would have happened if you had simply asserted your power through the “knowledge” that you were right and attacked both Afghanistan and Iraq? Hmm.
and they're willing to use the tools necessary -- the terror tools
“The terror tools”. That’s an absolutely idiotic way to phrase it, Smirky. Good thing no one in the press corps has any desire to question your brilliance.
necessary to impose their ideology. And so what you're seeing is a group of frustrated and desperate people who kill innocent life.
I don’t think there’s any way you can define our troops imposing martial law over citizens in theirtheir country as being “innocent life”, Mr. Chimp.
And obviously, we mourn the loss of every life.
Unless it’s an Iraqi, in which case you ignore it completely. Or if it’s a wounded or killed American, in which case you ignore them completely as well. Or have you changed your policy of not letting anyone take a picture of any bodybags or coffins? I didn’t think so.
But I believe the Iraqi government is going to be plenty capable of dealing with them, and our job is to help train them so that they can. I was heartened to see the Iraqi government announce 40,000 Iraqi troops are well-trained enough to help secure Baghdad.
Unless you are actually there, apparently.
That was a very positive sign. It's a sign that they -- they, the Iraqi leaders, understand they are responsible for their security, ultimately, and that our job is to help them take on that responsibility.
Well, either they are responsible or the UN is, apparently, since they are asking for UN forces to remain longer . . .
So I'm pleased with the progress. I am pleased that in less than a year's time, there's a democratically elected government in Iraq;
That has no power whatsoever to control its country.
there are thousands of Iraqi soldiers trained and better equipped to fight for their own country;
Weren’t there far more before we invaded? What happened to Saddam Hussein’s massive army that was threatening our very existence? Did all those soldiers simply go away? Did we kill them all?
that our strategy is very clear in that we will work to get them ready to fight, and when they're ready, we'll come home.
That’s your strategy? Ever heard of Vietnam before? Sounds incredibly similar, and similarly stupid. I am not surprised that you came up with a used, useless strategy, but I am surprised that you’re admitting to it . . .
And I hope that's sooner, rather than later.
(At which point, Bush actually chuckles on the video.) Our troops (and their citizens) dying makes you laugh? You will burn in Hell for this, Smirky. “And I hope that’s sooner, rather than later. Heh heh.”
But, nevertheless, it's very important that we complete this mission, because a free Iraq is in our nation's long-term interests.
What do you mean by “free”, here, Smirky? I highly doubt that you understand the concept of freedom as even the US defines it officially.
A democracy in the heart of the Middle East is an essential part of securing our country
How? Isn’t Israel a democracy (cough cough)? Isn’t it in the “heart of the Middle East”? Why haven’t we been secure since 1948, then? How many democracies do you plan on forcibly implanting there to secure our country?
and promoting peace for the long run. And it is very important for our country to understand that.
What we don’t understand, Smirky, is why we have to do this kind of thing against the wishes of the countries in question, against their people’s wishes, and against the will of the majority of people in every other major country in the world?
A free Iraq will set such a powerful example in a neighborhood that is desperate for freedom.
Just like a free Israel has done.
And, therefore, we will complete the mission and support this elected government. Of course, they've got other tasks. They've got to write a constitution, and then have that constitution ratified by the Iraqi people, and then there will be another election. And we, of course, will help them, as will many countries around the world.
But to answer your first question, Terry, um, er, oh, let’s move on.
Q The former head of Russia's oil company, Yukos, was sentenced to nine years in a prison camp today. Do you think the Kremlin went after him because he was a political threat? Are there any repercussions to U.S.-Russian relations as a result of this case?
THE PRESIDENT: I expressed my concerns about the case to President Putin because, as I explained to him, here you're innocent until proven guilty, and it appeared to us, or at least people in my administration, that it looked like he had been judged guilty prior to having a fair trial. In other words, he was put in prison, and then was tried.
Being jailed awaiting trial is eerily similar to how we do things here. You wouldn’t know, of course, because when you, or Laura, or your kids get in trouble (and you all have been in trouble with the law, haven’t you?), you have your attorneys on hand immediately to make sure you don’t spend any time in jail. In any case, Russia isn’t here, and their criminal justice system, I would guess, is probably radically different from ours.
I think what will be interesting -- and so we've expressed our concerns about the system.
Um, the question was about foreign relations with Russia. Would you like to try again, Mr. Chimp?
What will be interesting to see is whether or not he appeals -- there's a -- I think we think he is going to appeal -- and then, how the appeal will be handled. And so we're watching the ongoing case.
So, your interest in merely legal? You don’t care about why he was arrested or how it affects us? That seems odd, given that you’ve been hypersensitive to the inner politics of countries on the other side of the globe that have little direct contact with us . . .

Monday, June 13, 2005

Smirky's speech, pt. 1

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Please be seated. I hope you enjoyed your Memorial Day weekend. My message to Congress when they come back is this; that our economy is strong, but we need to work together to make sure that we continue to have a prosperous economy, so people can find jobs. I say it's strong because we've added over 3.5 million new jobs over the last two years,
Sure, but that merely offsets the number of private sector jobs lost since you took office! We’re finally back to that level, and it took the longest time ever to regain what was lost.
and the unemployment rate is 5.2 percent. More Americans are working today than ever before.
A disingenuous claim if I ever heard one! There are more Americans than ever before, too. That’s why we use percentages, Smirky . . .
Homeownership is at an all-time high.
For now. Just wait until the interest rates, which have been incredibly and ahistorically low for years now, begin to climb—all those variable rates and home equity rates are going to kill those who’ve purchased homes too expensive for their incomes.
Small businesses are flourishing. Families are taking home more of what they earn.
And which families are getting the actual benefits of the outrageous deficits we’re running because of those cuts? Of course, your running buddies among the rich and richer. Anyone who might need any kind of assistance from the stripped junk-heap that is the federal government, though, is in dire straits. And lest anyone out there think this doesn’t apply to them, think about how many years it’s been since anybody’s worked on your local interstate freeway . . .
Obviously, these are hopeful signs. But Congress can make sure that the signs remain hopeful, and here are four good things they need to do. First, they need to finish the work on an energy bill. We've gone more than a decade without an energy strategy.
Whose fault is that? The Republicans have been in charge of Congress that entire time, give or take a few months, and Dick Cheney himself was supposed to do something about it 4 years ago, wasn’t he? He convened the “Cheney Energy Task Force”, right? Or did they not do anything except cackle over how much money the oil companies that Cheney represents (and profits from, even now) were going to make during your Administration, hmmm? Gee, I wonder . . .
And as a result, we have grown more dependent on foreign sources of energy
That is hardly the result of a lack of a strategy, and besides, you guys have had all this time to put money and resources into an actual plan—the Executive Branch is fully capable of providing suggestions for laws and regulations (in fact, that’s what would ordinarily be called “leadership”, which is apparently a concept of which you are plainly ignorant)—and you have failed to do so. Why are you blaming anyone but your Party and yourself, Smirky?
and consumers see the consequences of that at the gas pump on a daily basis. For the past four years I've called on Congress to pass legislation that encourages energy conservation;
Really? When, exactly, have you done that? Your VP went on record saying that conservation was “not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy.”
that promotes domestic production in environmentally friendly ways;
What? You have got to be joking, Smirky. How many environmental groups oppose your plans for drilling in the Arctic? All of them, right?
that helps diversify away from foreign oil; that modernizes the electricity grid; that's got a substantial amount of research and development money to help us transition from the hydrocarbon economy to a diversified source of energy economy. The House passed a bill, and the Senate Energy Committee passed an energy bill this past week -- I appreciate their good work. Now they need to get the bill off the floor, into conference, resolve their differences, and get me a bill before the August recess. That's what the American people expect, and that's what I expect. Second, Congress needs to be wise about the taxpayers' dollars.
Congress does? Who keeps going to them asking for billions of off-the-books cash to prosecute your war aims? You do. Who has violated all known “conservative” fiscal policies since taking office? You have. Get real, Mr. Chimp.
I proposed a disciplined federal budget that holds discretionary spending growth below the rate of inflation and reduces discretionary spending for non-security programs.
In other words, anything that doesn’t have to do with war and martial law will be cut until it dies, right? You are unmitigated scum.
The House and the Senate have worked together to pass a responsible budget resolution that meets our priorities and keeps us on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009.
Oh, yeah, I’m holding my breath for that. We were on our way to doing just that when you took office, Smirky, and then you gutted the tax structure and went on an unprecedented spending spree to kill people. Nice going.
The weeks ahead will bring important decisions on spending bills, and the weeks ahead will bring in efforts to rein in mandatory spending. We look forward to working with Congress to do just that. Congress must keep its commitment to spending restraint if we want this economy to continue to grow.
The economy is hardly growing, given that our domestic personal debt and our national debt is exploding.
Third, Congress needs to ratify the Central American and Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement -- that's called CAFTA. This agreement is a good deal for American workers and farmers and small businesses.
Hardly, if our experience with NAFTA is any indication. It’s a good deal for big businesses and owners, of course, because they get to freely export jobs to countries with lower standards of living. Americans’ incomes plummet as our money flies out of the country.
See, about 80 percent of the products from Central America and the Dominican Republic now enter the United States duty-free; yet, our exports to Central America and the Dominican Republic face hefty tariffs. CAFTA will level the playing field by making about 80 percent of American exports to those countries duty-free. I've always said I'm for free and fair trade -- this makes our trade with the CAFTA countries fair. And that's important. After all, the CAFTA agreement will open a market of 44 million consumers to our producers, to our workers, the products that our workers make, to our farmers.
But none of those people can, or will soon be able to, afford “the products that our workers make”, Smirky. Flooding their markets with cheap American goods will only destroy their own industries, leaving even more destitution and even less employment than they have now. Why do you think they have tariffs in the first place? So they can stimulate their own industrial bases! Free trade works among economic equals who have goods and services that the other countries want, and that’s unfortunately not the case here.
We'll lower barriers in key sectors like textiles, which will make American manufacturers more profitable and competitive in the global market,
But since we are the global market’s #1 consumer, that won’t help too much, will it?
and keep jobs here in America.
Which hasn’t happened under NAFTA . . .
And it will support young democracies.
Yeah, it’s well known that countries who’ve recently lost their industrial base are rife with democratic leanings. And they don’t begin exporting black market goods like drugs, either.
And that's going to be important. There's a geopolitical, as well as economic, concern for CAFTA. And Congress needs to pass this piece of legislation. And, finally, Congress needs to move forward with Social Security reform.
It is amazing, isn’t it? Everyone in the country knows that your “reform” is a scam, Smirky, yet you keep hammering away at it. I guess you don’t have any reason not to—every other lie you’ve thrown at the country has stuck, and that’s a whole heck of a lot of garbage we’ve swallowed.
I'm going to continue traveling our country talking about Social Security reform. I'll remind our seniors who are getting a check today that nothing will change.
Luckily for us, “our seniors” seemingly have more of a social conscience than you do, Mr. Chimp, and they are also smart enough to see that your “reform” simply means that their children and grandchildren will get screwed by your duplicitous and ideologically-based thievery.
And yet I'm going to continue to remind the people that we've got a serious problem for younger workers. Part of Social Security reform, Congress should ensure that future generations receive benefits equal to or greater than the benefits today's seniors get.
Which they would anyway if you would simply stop cutting taxes that go toward paying those benefits, you lying sack of filth.
And Congress should help those who rely most on Social Security by increasing benefits faster for low-income workers than those workers who are better off.
Because we all know that any means-tested benefits are far easier to eliminate, because it’s a lot simpler to make up Reaganesque stories of “welfare queens” to stir up class hatred than it is to convince the whole country to destroy a program that has held up for over 65 years.
And as we permanently solve the Social Security problem,
And by “solve”, you mean “eliminate”, right Smirky?
we need to make Social Security a better deal for younger workers by allowing them to take some of their own money and invest it in a voluntary personal savings account.
They already can and do, Mr. Chimp. Ever heard of a 401(k)? Oh, that’s right, you probably haven’t, because those of you rich enough don’t need them because you don’t pay taxes anyway . . .
A voluntary personal savings account is very similar to the personal savings account members of Congress can do. See, my attitude is if a personal savings account -- a voluntary personal savings account is good enough for a member of the United States Congress, or a member of the United States Senate -- in other words, they felt that was a good enough deal for them so they could get a better rate of return -- it surely seems like it's good enough for workers across the country.
Great. Let everyone “voluntarily” make the same amount of money that Congressmen and Senators do and we’ll talk. Until then, go away, wouldja?
And so I look forward to working with the United States Congress on these priorities to help strengthen the long-term economic security of the country. The American people expect people of both parties to work together. They look forward to the Congress setting aside partisan differences and getting something done. And so do I. I'm looking forward to that.
What makes you say that haven’t been getting something done? The Republicans have controlled both houses for 3+ years. If they haven’t been getting anything done, maybe it’s your party’s fault, Smirky . . .

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Compromise? What compromise?

Let's see . . .
Owen? Confirmed.
Brown? Confirmed.
Does anyone seriously think Pryor will be voted down?
What exactly did the Dems win by compromising here?

I know; it's been awhile, hasn't it?

To all my loyal readers (I know there are at least 2 of you!), I apologize for slacking off. The Beautiful One and I have adopted the sweetest and prettiest cat in the world, and preparing for and taking care of Amber has taken a few days of my attention away from the larger picture. That she has a cold (only, we hope!) has made things even more worrisome. And anyone wondering why a couple of recent posts have been deleted might have noticed that I was misled by into thinking that I was reading the latest Bush Rose Garden press conference, but in reality I got ahold of one from 2003. A big Oops! from the Surly Librarian, but I've got the real deal now, so I'll be releasing my commentary over the next few days. (And don't get me started on my visits to the doctors!)