Friday, January 28, 2005

Bush Plays the Race Card on Social Security – How Low Will He Go?

Bush is demonstrating once again that for him the ends, destroying Social Security, justifies the means, lying in general and now playing the race card. In his latest installment on the Bush Administration’s seemingly endless series of lies on the state of Social Security, Paul Krugman highlights the our President’s efforts to exploit tragedy in our nation’s African American community(see Krugman's column in the New York Times):

This week, in a closed meeting with African-Americans, Mr. Bush asserted that Social Security was a bad deal for their race, repeating his earlier claim that "African-American males die sooner than other males do, which means the system is inherently unfair to a certain group of people." In other words, blacks don't live long enough to collect their fair share of benefits.

Krugman’s main points:

First, Mr. Bush's remarks on African-Americans perpetuate a crude misunderstanding about what life expectancy means. It's true that the current life expectancy for black males at birth is only 68.8 years - but that doesn't mean that a black man who has worked all his life can expect to die after collecting only a few years' worth of Social Security benefits. Blacks' low life expectancy is largely due to high death rates in childhood and young adulthood. African-American men who make it to age 65 can expect to live, and collect benefits, for an additional 14.6 years - not that far short of the 16.6-year figure for white men.

Second, the formula determining Social Security benefits is progressive: it provides more benefits, as a percentage of earnings, to low-income workers than to high-income workers. Since African-Americans are paid much less, on average, than whites, this works to their advantage.

Finally, Social Security isn't just a retirement program; it's also a disability insurance program. And blacks are much more likely than whites to receive disability benefits.
Put it all together, and the deal African-Americans get from Social Security turns out, according to various calculations, to be either about the same as that for whites or somewhat better. Hispanics, by the way, clearly do better than either.

Add it all up and you find that rather than trying to remedy the high mortality rate of African American males in the US our President exploits it to push a lie about the amount of Social Security benefits African Americans actually receive. How low will our President stoop to push his agenda? Well, if he is willing to support torture to pursue liberty then deceiving African Americans about their stake in Social Security seems like child’s play.

Now at this point I thought that James Dobson and the good people at "Focus on the Family" would step in to help our President understand the impact of his policies on African American families. But then again, Dr. Dobson seem to be all caught up in Sponge Bob's square pants.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Life Imitating Art – Torture, Perversion and the Bush Administration

Mandrake: Colonel! Colonel, I must know what you think has been going on here!
Guano: You wanna know what I think?
Mandrake: Yes.
Guano: I think you're some kind of deviated prevert. And I think General Ripper found out about your preversion, and that you were organizing some kind of mutiny of preverts. Now, move!

“Dr. Strangelove,” Stanley Kubrick

Because the descriptions are so graphic and disgusting I won’t print them on this blog, however in a forthcoming book former Army Sgt. Erik R. Saar describes in graphic detail the methods used by US female interrogators against Muslim detainees at the Guantanamo detention facility. The story is reported on MSNBC.

Needless to say, what the Bush administration has done not only violates any standard of human decency it also removes whatever moral authority the US had hoped to demonstrate in the war on terror which in the end, is a battle over ideals. For my readers from the conservative Evangelical realm, take note that in the eyes of many Muslims this is a religious conflict. While we may characterize Muslims as bomb throwing hate mongers, they may now characterize Christians as torturers and perverts.

The Christian Right remains silent.

Torture: Bush’s High Sounding Words VS. Reality

Blogger Rogier van Bakel notes the Orwellian contradictions between the words spoken by our president during his inaugural address and the reality he presides over. Here is an excerpt (read Rogier’s entire post here):

The President:

"Our goal ... is to help others find their own voice, attain their own freedom and make their own way." •

"...the Pentagon acknowledged that, according to an autopsy report, Mowhoush died of “asphyxia due to smothering and chest compression” showing 'evidence of blunt force trauma to the chest and legs' and said that a homicide investigation was underway. Reportedly, Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer and another officer slid a sleeping bag over Mowhoush’s head and rolled him over and over while asking questions. Welshofer is accused of sitting on Mowhoush’s chest and placing his hands over his mouth."

In the mean time, we are still waiting for the guardians of “moral values,” America’s Religious Right, to take a stand on the issue of torture. A note to James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, D. James Kennedy and the rest of the gang, silence is acquiescence.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Sojourner’s Jim Wallis on the Daily Show

Jim Wallis, the founder of the progressive Evangelical organization Sojourners was a guest on John Stewart’s Daily Show. Here’s a great quote from Wallis:

“It’s hard for me to believe that Jesus’ first priorities would be a capital gains tax cut and the occupation of Iraq”

The rest of the interview can be found on comedy central.