It is the Palestinian leadership's rejection of the Barak-Clinton peace proposals of July-December 2000, the launching of the intifada, and the demand ever since that Israel accept the "right of return" that has persuaded me that the Palestinians, at least in this generation, do not intend peace: they do not want, merely, an end to the occupation - that is what was offered back in July-December 2000, and they rejected the deal. They want all of Palestine and as few Jews in it as possible. The right of return is the wedge with which to prise open the Jewish state. Demography - the far higher Arab birth rate - will, over time, do the rest, if Iranian or Iraqi nuclear weapons don't do the trick first.-------- TITLE: AUTHOR: Just Some Poor Scmuck DATE: 2/21/2002 01:13:00 AM ----- BODY:
U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio shared his plan to stabilize the nation's Social Security system at a town hall meeting in Albany that drew more than 60 people Tuesday night. He started the meeting by reassuring seniors that the system is not broke and will continue honoring its current obligations. "We've been talking about the looming problem of Social Security for a number of years. Social Security's current finances are sound," DeFazio said. But he said the system will run into serious problems in about 37 years. Projections show that by that time the system will have used up all its reserves and will be on a "pay-as-you-go" basis. Because of an aging population, the amount of benefits due then will outstrip the amount of money coming in by approximately 25 to 30 percent.Problem #1: The system is already “pay-as-you-go” Money comes in and is immediately sent out to current recipients. The remainder is put into a”trust fund” where it is exchanged for Treasury notes that are used to pay down the national debt. There is nothing in the “trust fund” except I.O.U.’s from the Treasury backed by the government’s taxing power.
DeFazio said proposals to privatize part of Social Security -- by allowing people to invest a portion of their Social Security dollars -- will only make the situation worse because it will draw money away from paying current obligations and will hasten the day when all the reserves are gone.So, the system is sound but could be driven into problems by people wanting to invest their own money. .
He proposes to solve the problem by eliminating the cap on earnings subject to the payroll tax. Currently, income above $84,900 is not taxed for Social Security. .Oh, another “tax the guy behind the tree” plan. Will these higher tax payers also be entitled to higher pensions?.
DeFazio would make the first $4,000 in income exempt from social security, but would make all remaining wages subject to the tax, no matter how high the income. This change would bring in a vast amount of new revenue to the Social Security system and make it solvent until at least 2076..At which time he would be safely out of office and it would be someone else’s problem .
DeFazio would use the new income to increase some Social Security benefits. He would also support allowing the Social Security system's trustees to invest some of the money in order to increase returns and further extend the solvency of the system..Oh, Good. Social Security Trustees get to invest our tax money in their friend's businesses. This couldn't possibly be used to steer money into some politicians' pet projects could it?. .
Albany City Councilor Dick Olsen applauded DeFazio's plan and asked how much support it had in Congress. "I wish I could tell you there was a groundswell of support," DeFazio said, but he acknowledged that not many of his fellow representatives had signed off on the idea..It only has support among DeFazio’s “progressive” caucus because it is the same plan they have been trying to sell for the past twenty years..
State Rep. Jeff Kropf, R-Halsey, said he appreciated DeFazio's efforts to be creative and flexible in thinking about the problem. But he strongly disagreed with the idea of eliminating the income limit on payroll taxes. "My concern is that a person of upper income whose entire income was taxed, would never begin to receive this money back. That creates class warfare and inequity in taxing," Kropf said..That's interesting DeFazio is a U.S. Rep., Mr. Olsen is an Albany City Councilor, but Jeff Kropf is not only a State Rep. he is an R-Halsey. Nope, no Democrats here.
Kropf said he was interested in pursuing privatization ideas and noted that such a system was working fairly well in Chile and could be done better here. DeFazio questions the wisdom of private retirement accounts because they would increase the administrative costs of the system, and because individual investments could go wrong and leave the retiree in a bad financial position.Actually DeFazio questions the wisdom of any private system. He believes that the important questions should be left to bureaucrats. -------- TITLE: AUTHOR: Just Some Poor Scmuck DATE: 2/19/2002 05:26:00 PM ----- BODY:
Nine months after Secretary General Kofi Annan called on wealthy nations to contribute at least $7 billion a year to a global fund to fight AIDS, donations have fallen far short of that goal. Advocates and some lawmakers blame the White House, saying its pledge of $200 million this year sets a poor example for other countries-------- TITLE:
A big round of applause for Sherron Watkins. The Enron vice president has done her coworkers and the country a commendable public service.Then We have the treatment of another whistleblower, Linda Tripp by the SF Chronicle and USA Today.
She tried to help save her employer.
It nearly cost her her job.
LINDA TRIPP, whose betrayal of Monica Lewinsky set up President Clinton for the Republican-driven House impeachment, thinks the country owes her a living for being a palace tattletale.-------- TITLE:
Charles Pickering, a federal trial judge in Mississippi and now President Bush's nominee for the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, has become something of a political lightning rod.This, of course, is the intent of the Democrats. Any nominee submitted that will not pass muster with the far-left wing of the party will be vigorously opposed
Civil rights and pro-choice advocates strongly oppose his nomination. Some Democrats are raising questions about a possible violation of the judicial canon of ethics because of a phone call Pickering made to one party in a 1994 trial over a cross-burning incident.If the editor had taken the time to get the details of what transpired, this might not have been such a big deal. The Reno Justice Department had cut a deal with the other two defendants which allowed them to avoid long sentences even though at least one of them was the clear ringleader. Judge Pickering called the Justice Dept to ask why his requests for information were not being answered.
Conservatives and, most particularly, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss.,(obligatory boogey-man alert) strongly support the nominee as a principled, courageous judge.Flash! Editor to U of O Law School: Law students will no longer be allowed to criticize laws they disagree with.
On the civil rights front, Pickering's opponents have reached back to 1959, when Pickering was a law student and wrote a three-page note for the school's law review, pointing out flaws in Mississippi's anti-miscegenation law prohibiting marriages between blacks and whites. The note said that the law was vulnerable unless the state legislature made changes. The suggested changes were made.
Questions have also been raised (good way to get a slam in without attributing it to anyone.) about an alleged connection in the 1960s to the notorious Mississippi Sovereignty Commission, which sought to maintain segregation in the state. Pickering has said he had no contact with the commission, but a document disclosed in 1998 showed that, as a state senator, he asked a commission official to inform him of labor unrest in his home county.It is of no importance that the labor union in question was controlled by members of the Ku Klux Klan and were intimidating black employees
And, finally, Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., raised the ethics issue relating to the phone call.Though exactly whether a millionaire trial-lawyer has any standing to talk about ethics is not clear
Pickering's supporters told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Pickering was not and had never been a racist and that it was unfair to reach back 40 years to find fault. Others (we won't talk about them. It would weaken our argument). said the judge had helped, not hindered, the recruitment of black Mississippians to run for public office. And Pickering himself testified at the committee's confirmation hearing that he didn't consider his phone call to the U.S. Justice Department to complain about a mandatory five-year sentence for the cross-burner to be a violation of judicial ethics.The interesting thing is, that there have been some very good rebuttals to this editorial published before it was written. (Supposing of course that it was actually written by the newspaper editors and not spoon-fed to them.)
The Pickering nomination is seen as a precursor to later Bush nominees to the federal bench. With Democrats in control of the Senate and willing to use any pretext to smear his nominees, the president would do well - for himself and for the country - to choose middle-of-the-road (not an overt Socialist) nominees and not conservative ideologues (liberal ideologues are O.K<.). Lott's support for Pickering will certainly help the nominee on the political front, but what's at stake here is the judiciary, not hometown buddies and political cronies (Unless they’re OUR hometown buddies and loyal Democratic party cronies.)
Charles Pickering's background suggests a mixed view on race, an inability to bow to the tenents of political correctness, a strong opposition to women's right to choose an abortion even post-term abortion in Andrea Yate’s case , a possible fib about his connection to the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission that’s right! The Sovereignty Commission was comprised of good Democrats and it is never, never allowable to oppose Democrats.) and a relaxed view of judicial ethics (I like that. Ethical millionaire trial lawyer politician. Are you guys really writing for South Park?). None of that adds up to a good reason to put him on the appeals court that covers Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. If anything, it adds up to a reason to reject his nomination. The Senate should do just that.
Reuters Feb. 07, 2002 12:32:00
LOS ANGELES - Some 300 translations of the Koran, donated to Los Angeles schools by a local Muslim foundation to promote religious understanding after Sept. 11, have been removed because of an accompanying anti-Semitic commentary, school board officials said on Thursday.
Let's see if I have this straight. Anti-Semitic content equals vandalism? The comments were printed in the Korans by the publishers.-------- TITLE: AUTHOR: Just Some Poor Scmuck DATE: 2/11/2002 10:09:00 PM ----- BODY:
New York Times reporter Frank Bruni "describes the 43rd President of the United States as affable and good-natured, but shallow and largely clueless about many aspects of the culture of the nation he heads":
Bush viewed the musical "Cats" as modern theater at its finest, Bruni writes, and openly admitted that martial artist Chuck Norris was his favorite film actor. The candidate had never heard of actor Leonardo DiCaprio or television newscaster Stone Phillips--despite the enormous nationwide exposure of both, Bruni writes. Asked about HBO's smash hit "Sex and the City," Bush thought it was "an inquiry into his erotic and geographic whereabouts," Bruni writes.A Dollar Short
The Detroit Free Press reports on the dispute between Gov. John Engler and Michigan Democrats. "Sen. Alma Wheeler Smith, D-Salem Township, handed out mock $2 bills with Engler's face in the middle. She said the fake bills represent a budget that's 'phony as a $2 bill.No one knows if Mr. Bruni considers Sen Smith shallow and largely clueless -------- TITLE: AUTHOR: Just Some Poor Scmuck DATE: 2/11/2002 02:44:00 PM ----- BODY:
European Minister Patten lays into Bush's AmericaMr Patten's broadside came as the French prime minister, Lionel Jospin, warned the US yesterday not to give in to "the strong temptation of unilateralism".
Like France, Mr Patten singled out Mr Bush's branding of Iraq, Iran and North Korea as "an axis of evil".
I wonder if he asked these guys? Oh, Maybe he did.
N. Korea Defectors Claim Aid Sham
The defectors, who now live in South Korea, gave a detailed picture of misery in the North: rivers flowing with the bodies of those who starved to death, labor camps where live burials and flayings are common, an atmosphere of paranoia in which relatives denounce each other to the authorities.
Despite their brutal experiences, the defectors had mixed feelings about President Bush's appraisal of Pyongyang as forming part of an "axis of evil."Mixed feelings about President Bush's appraisal of Pyongyang as forming part of an "axis of evil."? They apparently were tortured. They're not making any sense. -------- TITLE:
WASHINGTON -- A Democratic economic stimulus bill was blocked today in the Senate by Republicans who had no chance of winning approval of their own version, guaranteeing that recession relief efforts will end in gridlockNo chance of succeeding? As determined by who? Aren't Senate Democrats equally guilty of guaranteeing gridlock
.The vote was 56-39 on legislation introduced by Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (S.D.), which fell four votes short of the 60 needed to prevail under Senate procedural rules. The Daschle bill would have provided $69 billion in stimulus this year.O.K. The Democratic plan failed under the procedural rules set up my the Democratic Senate leadership. So what comes next?
The Senate was to immediately follow with a vote on a House-passed $89 billion stimulus bill backed by President Bush, but neither side expected it would get the necessary 60 votes.So far, so good. Now what was the outcome of the vote on the Republican bill? That is what was supposed to follow wasn't it?
Daschle said he would later seek unanimous Senate approval of a simple 13-week extension of jobless benefits for the unemployed. The White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, voicing frustration over failure of the stimulus bill, said that aid extension is "the least they should do."But what was the outcome of the vote?
Daschle said Republicans were to blame for insisting on attaching major tax cuts with little bearing on the immediate recession, such an amendments ensuring the estate tax repeal stays in place and making all of the 10-year, $1.35 trillion tax cut permanent. Both wouldn?t take effect until the next decade. "Frankly, it has nothing to do with the recession of 2002," Daschle said before the vote.O.K. Then you voted against the bill right? What was the outcome?
Republicans condemned Daschle?s decision to move on to other business. Minority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) said the failure to act is "sending a very dangerous and reckless message to an uncertain economy."You mean they didn't have a vote on the Republican bill? How do they know that it wouldn't pass then?
Bush, returning Tuesday from a trip to Pittsburgh, said he, too, was disappointed. The president has been pushing since October for an economic stimulus plan that blended individual and business tax cuts with aid to the jobless to reverse a recession that got worse after the Sept. 11 terror attacks. "Our economy, while there?s some good news, needs more stimulus," Bush said upon arriving at the White House. "Workers need help, and we need to stimulate the economy." Republicans and Democrats were unable to compromise on the level of tax relief in the package, particularly an acceleration of individual income tax cuts, and how best to deliver aid to the unemployed. The GOP-led House passed two different measures last year, but neither could clear the 60-vote threshold necessary to pass a Senate divided between 50 Democrats, 49 Republicans and an independent. Daschle, who was labeled an ``obstructionist?? by Republicans because of the stimulus deadlock, suggested in January that the Senate pass a bare-bones stimulus bill composed of the most popular items. Republicans derided the Democratic bill as virtually stimulus-free and argued for deeper tax cuts to spur growth.So, what were 'the most popular items and how would they stimulate the economy? Come on, Democrats, make your case.
"If in fact the Senate, under its current leadership, can do nothing good, we are better off with them doing nothing at all," said House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas). Democrats, however, said Republicans were trying to showcase their tax-cut priorities for voters in an election year, knowing they would not become law. "It was tied in with their tax breaks that are not justified," said Rep. Gerald Kleczka (D-Wis.). Some Republicans had begun to question whether money earmarked for the stimulus bill might not be better used to balance the federal government?s budget. A group of 70 House conservatives is pushing for that goal if no stimulus bill is passed. "If we can?t pass a solid economic stimulus bill, we should balance the budget this year," said Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).Well, that has something going for it. Then we wouldn't be running deficits.
Other lawmakers expressed frustration that election-year politics already were dominating the congressional agenda. Voters will think "we?re too busy down here trying to figure out who?s going to control the U.S. Senate" to address crucial issues, said Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio). The Bush administration supports a package that would provide $89 billion in stimulus in 2002 and $73 billion in 2003. It would accelerate income tax cuts now set to take effect in the future and provide a new round of rebate checks of up to $600 aimed at lower-income Americans. It would extend unemployment benefits by 13 weeks, help laid-off workers pay for health insurance and give corporations and small businesses more generous tax breaks for new investment. Daschle?s bill, which would provide $69 billion in stimulus in 2002, includes the unemployment benefits extension, more limited business tax breaks, tax rebate checks and an increase in Medicaid money to help states balance their budgets.Copyright © 2002, Chicago Tribune -------- TITLE: