Today's Note from Lots of Mad-People


Monday, December 20, 2004


"Bush not bothered by conflicts of interest"

by Eddie Konczal


George W. Bush never met a conflict of interest he didn’t like.  After all, his own Vice-President, Dick Cheney, continues to draw compensation from his old company, Halliburton, who are the main profiteers of the war in Iraq that his current boss started.


Bush’ latest pick from the “conflict of interest” crowd, Bernard Kerik, self-detonated before accepting the post of Secretary of Homeland Security.  Kerik holds stock in a company that sells stun guns to the Department of Homeland Security.  Bush wasn’t bothered by the obvious conflict of interest; in fact, he probably liked it.  Kerik would have fit right in with Cheney and company.  Fortunately for the country, Kerik withdrew his name from nomination when it was learned he had employed illegal aliens.  I guess that’s one conflict of interest Bush couldn’t ignore.


If Bush wants to avoid an apparent conflict of interest, perhaps he should tap a disgruntled former employee, Richard Clarke, to run Homeland Security.  After all, Clarke actually did keep America safe when running the Counter Terrorism Security Group during the Clinton years.  Sure, Clarke bashed Bush in his book, “Against All Enemies,” but Bush could show he’s the bigger man by letting bygones be bygones.  Somehow, I don’t think that’s going to happen.


Killing Social Security

by Robert Scardapane - (


The Bushies are attempting to divide the young from old.  We have seen this tactic many times - divide and conquer. 


In fact, I saw a show on CSPAN hosted by Rich Lowry - the repulsive  editor of the repulsive right-wing National Review. The audience was  all YOUNG PEOPLE. Lowry had the nerve to say to this group of people  something like "why should you pay taxes so a bunch of wealthy baby  boomers can spend it in the country club". 


Yeah right - wealthy baby boomers.  For 1/5 of the people on SS, it  is their only income. For 1/2, it is at least 50% of their income.   Given that the average SS payout is less than $900 per month, I  hardly think most retirees are at all wealthy ($10,000 to $20,000  per year is not much these days).


Sure, there are wealthy people getting SS but that's more the  exception. The SS critics emphasize the exceptions for propaganda  reasons.


If you can stomach it, read the propaganda at CATO institute some day... These people have been trying to kill SS for 20 years


It's The People, Not Star Wars

by Robert Scardapane - (


On December  15, 2004,  a missile  streaked through  the Alaskan sky and crashed  into the ocean.


Meanwhile, an interceptor missile refused to launch.


Indeed, that cold war oldie, the "Star Wars" program is still playing. The cost to the American taxpayer for this one failed test:


$85 million dollars.


"Star Wars" was essentially finished until President “G”(lobal) “W”(arming) Bush came to town. He  made  it a  priority of his administration in 2000 over nuisance issues such as: terrorism; health care; and education. The system being tested is a stripped  down version of lasers in space shooting down missiles. It  relies on an interceptor missile launched from an Earth-bound base. Critics  of the current system argue that the interceptor missile can be easily decoyed.


Since 1985, the defense department has  spent $85 billion  on the "Star Wars" program. The Pentagon is pressing on with plans to build bases throughout the world. I wonder how we can find money for a dubious weapon system while slashing the 2005 budget for Medicaid and Education. Aren't the people of this nation a higher priority than "Star Wars"?


Financial Twilight Zone

by Robert Scardapane - (


Welcome to the financial Twilight Zone where anything is possible. Consider the odd quotes from the President on December 16, 2004:


"People can buy  more United States products if they're worried about the trade deficit."


"We'll   do everything  we can in the upcoming legislative session to send a  signal to  the  markets  that we'll  deal with  our deficits, which hopefully will cause people to want to buy dollars."


The  President endorses a trade policy that hallows out American industry but thinks the problem can be solved by buying American products.  Perhaps, he should  take a trip to  the local shopping mall and carefully examine the product labels.


The President counts on foreign investors to believe that he will be a budget deficit hawk and then hopes for foreign investors to finance more debt! Borrowing two trillion  dollars to jump start private social security accounts may only signal that America has lost it's financial sanity.


For the year, the dollar lost  5 percent against the EURO and 4 percent against a basket of foreign currencies. In theory, a weak dollar should decrease the trade deficit but has failed to do so. When such a relationship breaks,  there is reason to suspect that the economy is structurally unsound. Indeed, it is time to leave the financial Twilight Zone and enter the realm of fiscal responsibility.


Social Security – Keep it out of the Corporate Conservatives’ Hands

by Deirdre Des Jardins


Social Security is designed to be an insurance program - no matter how long a person lives,  they will always have something  to  live on.  If  someone is married and dies, their kids will have something to live on until they turn 18 (22 if they attend college full-time).  If they become disabled,  they will have something to live on even if their savings are not large.


If you print out the Neo-Cons’ report and wade through it, you can  see where the dirt is being swept under the rug -- the section on minimum benefits simply says that minimum benefit must be "carefully  considered" - not proposing any solutions.  Similarly with  disability benefits.


The problem with the President's Commission on Social Security is  that they were not allowed to consider any other options  than private accounts.  We could get the same benefits for the Social Security system as are being proposed with private accounts - if we invested the surplus in the same ways that large insurance companies invest their funds.  A combination of bonds (which yield  about 7% on average) and the Russell 3000 (which yields about 10% on  average) would greatly benefit the U.S. economy, lowering interest  rates and providing capital for America's businesses, without  relying on massive borrowing.


It leaves many retirees in poverty.



Social Security, Medicare, and How to Rip Us Off


Yes indeed. Bush is on record for wanting to eliminate ALL of the Entitlement Programs. A cherished dream of the NRC since the days of FDR.


The obvious solution is in the category of the elephant in the room story.


If these people would repay, with the proper amount of interest, all of the Trust Fund money they have been "Borrowing" from Social Security, and quit raiding these funds, Social Security would be in good shape for many years to come.


These Corporate Conservatives are doing the same thing to Medicare. In Medicare’s case, it gets even worse. These, for the most part, use HMO’s, and the newly proposed ones under the new "save Medicare" Act, are being increasingly funded by money from Medicare, and are allowed to bargain with Drug Companies, while the "Save Medicare" Act strictly prohibits Medicare from doing bargaining themselves. They have raised the Medicare premiums so high, and increased the deductibles so much, that many seniors can no longer afford to use the program.


This patently false message about Social Security is turning more and more young payees off. It has them worrying, “Why are we paying all of this money, when , according to what we hear, the system, will probably not exist by the time we are ready to benefit from it.”


Stupid Quote of the Day


"There are some jobs in America that Americans won't do,"

-President "G"(Lobal) "W"(arming) Bush


HEY! High School kids need jobs. Just ask them. They'll work at those jobs that, according to President Bush, "American's won't do." Black men ages 16 to 65 years old are unemployed at a 50 percent rate in New York City. Why don't you ask them what jobs they will and won't do?


President Bush's friends won't do those jobs. They employ those who will do them. The President wants to let "Day Workers" into the United States, then let them leave, with their American Dollars to spend at night.


You can't write this stuff.


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-Noah Greenberg