Tuli Can't Stop Talking

These are just my thoughts on contemporary issues and an attempt to open up a dialogue.

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Location: New York City

A citizen who cares deeply about the United States Constitution and the Rule of Law.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

The Push to Destroy Social Security

Do most Americans want to destroy Social Security? I think not. But, are they going to fall for the Orwellian discussion which now dominates the political discourse? This commentary from the LATimes is a thoughtful message.

Be afraid, be very afraid!

Keeping in Touch with the Blogosphere

The DAOU Report is a really great site and invaluable for anyone interested in what is going on out there.

Just passing it along. Check it out.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

The Coronation: What it Means!

I am frankly unable to write about the recent event on Thursday. However, Juan Cole has a post that says it all.

I concur.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

I'm Thinking These People Are Insane!

I can’t remember when exactly I saw the interview with the Shah’s son, but it was about approximately two years ago. In that interview which was on NBC, I think, he announced that he was willing and able to assume the Throne, the Mantel of leader of the New Iranian Democracy which was to be forthcoming soon.

So, taking that in to account along with the “Axis of Evil,” the latest by Syemour Hersh makes total sense. And, as we all know he was right on about the Prison Abuse Scandal. So, you should take him very seriously with his latest reporting.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The Fake Crisis

Here is an interview with Paul Krugman about the “Fake Crisis” of Social Security. I think that the MSM is picking up on this and making it impossible for the Pres. to use the term “Crisis,” instead of “problem,” or some other thing. Maybe Thomas is right and this is a “dead horse.” But, what will the MSM present to the American Public? So, far they have been unwilling to tell the truth. I am bereft.

Let this not be WMD.

Josh Marshall Gets It Right!

Well, I was pretty upset about Rahm Emanuel’s showing on this weekend’s Tim Russert. So, I think that you should take a look Josh Marshall’s take on the experience. He, of course, does a very thorough and thoughtful analysis of the not very pretty picture. That is why we need TPM. And, Lord knows, the loyal opposition needs all the help it can get.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Conservatives in the North Country

Ever wonder what it is like being a liberal in Canada? Well, MyBlahg is a good place to go for that experience. Liberals are not just under attack here in the Bottom of the North American Continent. Their ideals are also under attack in one of the most liberal countries: Canada.

Check it out. The strategies are remarkably the same.

Okay, so they aren’t as obviously out of the “Goebbels Book” as the Bush/Rove strategies are, but the rhetoric is often the same.

JMHO, as one Canadian.

Do the Dems Need Help?

Perhaps if they took a little advice from Oliver Willis they might do better. Mr. Willis is cogent, coherent and pithy.

I think that the values debate could use these qualities.

Dr. King's Legacy

Though on this anniversary most are talking about the “I Have a Dream” speech, I believe that his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” is more appropriate to focus on. As Dr. King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” I believe that is the message that is of great import in this day and age of “Be afraid, be very afraid.”

Tell me what you think!

Just My Humble Opinion!

Are Democrats Really This Incoherent?

Today Rahm Emanuel, the Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was on Meet the Press. He is usually a very thoughtful guy. But, what was he thinking this morning? And more importantly, what was the Democratic Leadership thinking letting him go on this program totally unprepared and uninformed?

It wasn’t as if the questions Tim asked were off the wall. The questions were totally expected, except that Mr. Emanuel (D-Ill.) didn’t expect them. He was incoherent and totally misinformed. He spouted numbers that no one has heard before and was unable to answer any question coherently. His responses to the Social Security debate were particularly painful as the numbers and dates are out there for everyone to see.

If this is how the Dems are preparing for the up coming fight, they and we, the public, are in deep do-do!

Get the message and the talking points together folks. It’s not that difficult. And oh, by the way, pass them out after you write them down.


Molly Nails It!

Once again our sage in Texas, nails this administration. So, I am posting the whole column. Why, because, it deserves to be posted in Toto.

AUSTIN, Texas -- In the Texas legislature, they are called "prior-roarities," such a happy coinage. What should come prior?
When the pitter-patter of falling year-end columns comes again, not necessarily next year, but certainly four years from now, I fearlessly forecast a dismal unanimity: that the Bush Administration II suffers from bad and dumb prior-roarities.

Actually, the passage of time is not required for proof -- look around. The Bushies are about to launch a $50 million to $100 million propaganda campaign to convince us the Social Security system is in crisis. Actually, it's not. It's quite robust and has astonishingly low administrative costs, less than 1 percent.

According to President Bush's own Commission to "Strengthen Social Security," the administrative costs of keeping track of private accounts will be 10 to 30 times the cost of administering the current system.
The Social Security System is in no danger whatsoever of going broke or even of having to pay out less than full compensation for at least 50 years. There are any number of statistical models and premises one can argue about here, but when the administration begins with a premise that requires fixing Social Security based on an extrapolation to infinity, you know you are not dealing with people who argue in good faith.
Even if Social Security were in full-fledged crisis, none of the sensible, cheap, effective ways to fix it would involve the massive trillion-dollar boondoggle this administration contemplates.

Let's get this straight. The Republicans do not want to fix Social Security, they want to kill it. Period. They don't want to "partially privatize" Social Security, they want to end it. What they want is a private pension system like the one their pointy-headed heroes at the University of Chicago dreamed up for Chile, the poster child of why we should not do this.

This same rigid, inflexible, impractical the-market-is-always-best ideology is like a form of mania with these folks. As Paul Krugman patiently points out, "Claims that stocks will always yield high, low-risk returns are just bad economics."

In fact, it's more than passingly reminiscent of another rigid, inflexible, politico-economic orthodoxy: communism. And just as capable of robustly ignoring reality.

And for robustly ignoring reality, you can't hardly beat spending $50 million to $100 million on a propaganda campaign to convince America there's something seriously wrong with Social Security while you ignore the collapse of the American health care system. It is common to begin all discussions of American health care with a complete lie, uttered in this example by President Bush: "We live in a great country that has got the best health care system in the world, and we need to keep it that way."
The peerless investigative team of Donald Bartlett and James Steele reports in their new book, "Critical Condition: How Health Care in America Became Big Business -- and Bad Medicine," one of our most enduring myths is that we have "world class health care."

"To be sure, it does offer the very best of care to some folks," they write. "It does offer world-class high-tech surgery and some space-age medical procedures. But these benefit 2 or 3 percent of the population at most, along with the richest citizens of other countries who come here for the highly specialized treatment. ... Many countries around the world take far better care of their people, achieve better results for their health care system and do it all with far fewer dollars. ... The statistics are even grimmer when life span is counted in years of healthy living. ... By this measure, the United States in 2002 ranked a distant 29th among the countries of the world, between Slovenia and Portugal."

Now, that's a problem. So is global warming. So is dependence on foreign oil. Social Security is not a problem. We are, however, about to be swamped by an election-style campaign to convince us it is.

According to The Washington Post: "Several GOP groups close to the White House are asking the same donors who helped re-elect Bush to fund an extensive campaign to convince Americans -- and skeptical lawmakers -- that Social Security is in crisis and that private accounts are the only cure.

"Progress for America, an independent group that backed Bush, has set aside about $9 million to support the president's Social Security plan. ... The group is asking its donors for more.

"Stephen Moore, head of the Club for Growth, has raised $1.5 million, and hopes to reach a $15 million target. ... Those contributions are likely to be dwarfed by those from corporate trade associations, spearheaded by the National Association of Manufacturers. Other likely contributors include the financial services and securities industries. ..."

I'll say they're likely contributors. This is a giant fee-generating scheme for Wall Street.


Death Squads Redux

Billmon is thankfully back. And, he has put it together right here. I guess that if we are going to make Alberto Gonzalez our lead lawyer this shouldn’t bother or surprise us.

How far down this slippery slope are we going to go?

The British Are Coming, The British Are Coming!

So, this system was so successful in the UK that we need to import it here. Just in time of course for the UK to decide to emulate our system of Social Security that this administration wants to destroy. Why, does this administration want to destroy it, because they finally have a chance to after 60 years! Why does the UK want to import it? Because it actually works unlike theirs which the Bush Administration is pushing.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Better Late than Never!

So, Clearer Heads Should Prevail!

My heroes Krugman and Herbert are on the same page as it were. So, I must post what they have to say, as America is, and what it supposedly stands for, is in question. Oh, where are we going? Democracy is endangered.

So this is Krugman, from his Worse Than Fiction column(you'll have to pay to read it there):

“I've been thinking of writing a political novel. It will be a bad novel because there won't be any nuance: the villains won't just espouse an ideology I disagree with - they'll be hypocrites, cranks and scoundrels.

In my bad novel, a famous moralist who demanded national outrage over an affair and writes best-selling books about virtue will turn out to be hiding an expensive gamblinghabit. A talk radio host who advocates harsh penalties for drug violators will turn out to be hiding his own drug addiction.

In my bad novel, crusaders for moral values will be driven by strange obsessions. One senator's diatribe against gay marriage will link it to "man on dog" sex. Another will rant about the dangers of lesbians in high school bathrooms.

In my bad novel, the president will choose as head of homeland security a "good man" who turns out to have been the subject of an arrest warrant, who turned an apartment set aside for rescue workers into his personal love nest and who stalked at least one of his ex-lovers.

In my bad novel, a TV personality who claims to stand up for regular Americans against the elite will pay a large settlement in a sexual harassment case, in which he used his position of power to - on second thought, that story is too embarrassing even for a bad novel.

In my bad novel, apologists for the administration will charge foreign policy critics with anti-Semitism. But they will be silent when a prominent conservative declares that"Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular."

In my bad novel the administration will use the slogan"support the troops" to suppress criticism of its war policy. But it will ignore repeated complaints that the troops lack armor.

The secretary of defense - another "good man," according to the president - won't even bother signing letters to the families of soldiers killed in action.

Last but not least, in my bad novel the president, who portrays himself as the defender of good against evil, will preside over the widespread use of torture.

How did we find ourselves living in a bad novel? It was not ever thus. Hypocrites, cranks and scoundrels have always been with us, on both sides of the aisle. But 9/11 created an environment some liberals summarize with the acronymIokiyar: it's O.K. if you're a Republican.

The public became unwilling to believe bad things about those who claim to be defending the nation against terrorism. And the hypocrites, cranks and scoundrels of the right, empowered by the public's credulity, have come outin unprecedented force.

Apologists for the administration would like us to forget all about the Kerik affair, but Bernard Kerik perfectly symbolizes the times we live in. Like Rudolph Giuliani and,yes, President Bush, he wasn't a hero of 9/11, but he played one on TV. And like Mr. Giuliani, he was quick to cash in, literally, on his undeserved reputation.

Once the New York newspapers began digging, it became clearthat Mr. Kerik is, professionally and personally, a realpiece of work. But that's not unusual these days among people who successfully pass themselves off as patriots and defenders of moral values. Mr. Kerik must still be wondering why he, unlike so many others, didn't get awaywith it.

And Alberto Gonzales must be hoping that senators don't bring up the subject.

The principal objection to making Mr. Gonzales attorneygeneral is that doing so will tell the world that America thinks it's acceptable to torture people. But his confirmation will also be a statement about ethics.

As White House counsel, Mr. Gonzales was charged with vetting Mr. Kerik. He must have realized what kind of man he was dealing with - yet he declared Mr. Kerik fit to oversee homeland security.

Did Mr. Gonzales defer to the wishes of a president who wanted Mr. Kerik anyway, or did he decide that his boss wouldn't want to know? (The Nelson Report, a respectednewsletter, reports that Mr. Bush has made it clear to hissubordinates that he doesn't want to hear bad news aboutIraq.)

Either way, when the Senate confirms Mr. Gonzales, it willmean that Iokiyar remains in effect, that the basic rulesof ethics don't apply to people aligned with the rulingparty. And reality will continue to be worse than anyfiction I could write.”

So, then in case you didn’t get it there was Mr. Herbert(also NYTimes):

”January 7, 2005


If the United States were to look into a mirror right now, it wouldn't recognize itself. The administration that thumbed its nose at the Geneva Conventions seems equally dismissive of such grand American values as honor, justice, integrity, due process and the truth.

So there was Alberto Gonzales, counselor to the president and enabler in chief of the pro_torture lobby, interviewing on Capitol Hill yesterday for the post of attorney general, which just happens to be the highest lawenforcement office in the land. Mr. Gonzales shouldn't be allowed anywhere near that office. His judgments regarding the detention and treatment of prisoners rounded up in Iraq and the so_called war on terror have been both unsound and shameful. Some of the practices that evolved from his judgments were appalling, gruesome, medieval. But this is the Bush administration, where incompetence and outright failure are rewarded with the nation's highest honors. (Remember the Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded last month to George Tenet et al.?)

So not only is Mr. Gonzales's name being stenciled onto the attorney general's door, but a plush judicial seat is being readied for his anticipated elevation to the Supreme Court. It's a measure of the irrelevance of the Democratic Party that a man who played such a significant role in the policies that led to the still_unfolding prisoner abuse and torture scandals is expected to win easy Senate confirmation and become attorney general. The Democrats have become the 98_pound weaklings of the 21st century.

The Bush administration and Mr. Gonzales are trying to sell the fiction that they've seen the light. In answer to a setup question at his Judiciary Committee hearing, Mr. Gonzales said he is against torture. And the Justice Department issued a legal opinion last week that said "torture is abhorrent both to American law and values and international norms." What took so long? Why were we ever _ under any circumstances _ torturing, maiming, sexually abusing and even killing prisoners? And where is the evidence that we've stopped?

The Bush administration hasn't changed. This is an administration that believes it can do and say whatever it wants, and that attitude is changing the very nature of the United States. It is eroding the checks and balances so crucial to American_style democracy. It led the U.S., against the advice of most of the world, to launch the dreadful war in Iraq. It led Mr. Gonzales to ignore the expressed concerns of the State Department and top military brass as he blithely opened the gates for the prisoner abuse vehicles to roll through.

There are few things more dangerous than a mixture of power, arrogance and incompetence. In the Bush administration, that mixture has been explosive. Forget the meant_to_be_comforting rhetoric surrounding Mr. Gonzales's confirmation hearings. Nothing's changed. As detailed in The Washington Post earlier this month, the administration is making secret plans for the possible lifetime detention of suspected terrorists who will never even be charged. Due process? That's a laugh. Included among the detainees, the paper noted, are hundreds of people in military or C.I.A. custody "whom the government does not have enough evidence to charge in courts." And there will be plenty more detainees to come.

Who knows who these folks are or what they may be guilty of? We'll have to trust in the likes of Alberto Gonzales or Donald Rumsfeld or President Bush's new appointee to head the C.I.A., Porter Goss, to see that the right thing is done in each and every case. Americans have tended to view the U.S. as the guardian of the highest ideals of justice and fairness. But that is a belief that's getting more and more difficult to sustain.

If the Justice Department can be the fiefdom of John Ashcroft or Alberto Gonzales, those in search of the highest standards of justice have no choice but to look elsewhere. It's more fruitful now to look overseas. Last month Britain's highest court ruled that the government could not continue to indefinitely detain foreigners suspected of terrorism without charging or trying them. One of the justices wrote that such detentions "call into question the very existence of an ancient liberty of which this country has until now been very proud: freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention." That's a sentiment completely lost on an Alberto Gonzales or George W. Bush.”

We, as Americans, have totally made America a sad place and a place where the rule of law is inconsistent with the U. S. Constitution. I am humbled.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Have We No Decency?

Prior to November 2nd, the American Public could claim they had no responsibility for the actions of this administration. All that has changed as it was actually elected, though by a narrow margin, and not selected by a 5 – 4 vote of the SCOTUS. Now, we the citizens of the United States of America are equally culpable for the Administration's actions. And their actions are not painting a pretty picture of the USA.

Are we really going to put a man in charge of the Justice Department that doesn’t believe in JUSTICE, the U. S. Constitution and the Rule of Law? I personally don’t care if he is the first of anything. In fact, if it was the first Black-Hispanic Woman to be nominated, s/he should be roundly rejected for her/his behavior.

A rewritten TORTURE memo doesn’t work. Once the genie is out of the bottle, the genie is out and can’t be returned.

So, as Huey Long is reported to have said: “When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in an American Flag.” And, as A.O. Scott has pointed out in the NYT, it may even look like this.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

What Happened to Due Process?

Why are we having a discussion about the detaining of prisoners indefinitely as if it were a subject that we should be discussing in civil society? Where is the moral outrage of the citizens of this country? Are they not concerned about the U.S. Constitution and the rights of their fellow citizens?