The Mr. Nice Guy Show Blog

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My thoughts on what's goin' on in the world,

just like years ago on the radio.

Saturday, December 20, 2003

What Recovery?

From the 12/22 issue of The Nation (which I love and actually subscribe to), Katrina vanden Heuvel does an excellent job of answering Too Stupid to Be President's contention that the economy's on a roll.

Third-quarter GDP grew by 8.2 percent, October unemployment dropped to 6 percent, manufacturing orders are soaring, the stock market is up-as are profits, the value of stock options and CEO salaries. The President boasts that his tax cuts are working and we're on the right track. But is it time to celebrate?

Before boasting too loudly, shouldn't the Bush Administration pay attention to what Robert Borosage of the Campaign for America's Future has called "economics for real people"? More than 3 million private-sector jobs have been lost since Bush took office. Nine million people are out of work, wages and salaries are stagnant or down, healthcare costs have increased to staggering double-digit rates, retirement savings have been ravaged by the stock-market meltdown, school budgets are taking severe hits, tuition at public universities is soaring and personal bankruptcies and debt are at an all-time high.

Headlines like the New York Times's BLOOM IS ON THE ECONOMY, or the Washington Post's TOUGH TIMES OVER? seem foolish, even meanspirited, when families, communities and whole states are struggling to survive. Consider that in Bush's home state of Texas, according to the Houston Chronicle, 54,000 children have been dropped from the federal-state health insurance program because of budget cuts. Texas and other states are also cutting back on subsidies for healthcare, further increasing the number of people with no coverage-now conservatively estimated at 43 million, with the number rapidly increasing. And paying for health insurance is becoming a problem for more than just people living on low or fixed incomes, with many hospitals and neighborhood clinics saying that middle-class people are now joining the poor in seeking their care.

More than 12 million American children live in poverty, and indeed, the United States has the worst child-poverty rate of all the industrialized countries. Last year alone, another 1.7 million Americans slipped below the poverty line, bringing the total to 34.6 million-one in eight of the population-up from 31.6 million in 2000.

And as Trudy Lieberman reported in our pages this past July, the ranks of the hungry are also increasing. About 33 million are now considered "food insecure" (they literally do not know where their next meal is coming from). Hunger is epidemic in Ohio, which has lost 1 in 7 manufacturing jobs since Bush won there in the 2000 election. According to the Guardian, 2 million of the state's 11 million people used food charities last year, an increase of more than 18 percent from 2001.

Economic realities on Main Street, not Wall Street, haven't stopped the White House from trumpeting "mission accomplished" when it comes to our supposed economic recovery. Nor has it stopped the Administration's hucksters at the Heritage Foundation from using faulty numbers to "prove" that Bush's tax cuts are working. But according to the Center for American Progress, the White House Council of Economic Advisers projected that the most recent round of tax cuts would lead to an economy that produces 306,000 jobs a month. That means that even in the past two months of purportedly "strong economic growth," which produced about 125,000 jobs per month, the economy has produced around 180,000 fewer jobs than the White House promised. A report by the center notes that just to keep pace with population growth, the economy would have to produce 140,000 jobs per month. The real "bottom line," taking into account the 3.4 percent gain in population since March 2001, shows that the economy is 6.9 million jobs short of where it would be if payroll levels had remained steady. And, according to Treasury Secretary John Snow's own projection, Bush will end his term with the worst jobs record since Herbert Hoover in the Great Depression.

"The economic policies of the Bush Administration," economist Jeff Madrick observes, "have been about as crude and destructive a cocktail of stimulants-lavish income and estate tax cuts for upper-income Americans, elimination of taxes on dividends, stepped-up military and homeland security spending-as we have ever seen. The result is short-term growth and long-term damage. . .the administration's policies will weaken the economy over time, fall particularly harshly on its working middle- and low-income citizens, and fail to prepare the nation for a century of far more intense global competition."

"The test of our progress," said Franklin Roosevelt, "is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." But does this current President care that there are tens of millions in this country, many of them children, who have too little? And if Bush does care, is it conceivable that he believes the best way to feed, clothe, educate and care for them is through tax cuts that add to the abundance of the superrich? We may no longer be the country that Roosevelt saw as one-third "ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished," but this holiday season Bush's boast that America is on the right track rings hollow.


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Get Sirius

David Pogue had an excellent column in Thursday's NY Times on satellite radio.

I signed-up for the Sirius service about a month ago...and I love it. XM, the bigger of the two companies, was my first choice, but the receivers available wouldn't install easily in my car. Plus, I learned that XM is partially owned/run by Clear Channel, the monopolistic bastards who have single-handedly turned commercial radio to homogenized, mindless shit.

Choosing satellite radio gives you some excellent choices, f-a-r better than the crap on the dial, good fidelity, and a way to tell commercial broadcasters that they don't have us by the gonads after all.

Prices have come down on the service. I recommend it.



Today's the first day of Chanukkah.
The first of the eight candles was lit last nite.

Whoda thunk it that in our time, the anthem commemorating an event that took place 2168 years ago would be a Peter, Paul and Mary song.

Light One Candle
Light one candle for the Maccabee children
With thanks that their light didn't die
Light one candle for the pain they endured
When their right to exist was denied
Light one candle for the terrible sacrifice
Justice and freedom demand
But light one candle for the wisdom to know
When the peacemaker's time is at hand

Don't let the light go out!
It's lasted for so many years!
Don't let the light go out!
Let it shine through our love and our tears.

Light one candle for the strength that we need
To never become our own foe
And light one candle for those who are suffering
Pain we learned so long ago
Light one candle for all we believe in
That anger not tear us apart
And light one candle to find us together
With peace as the song in our hearts


What is the memory that's valued so highly
That we keep it alive in that flame?
What's the commitment to those who have died
That we cry out they've not died in vain?
We have come this far always believing
That justice would somehow prevail
This is the burden, this is the promise
This is why we will not fail!


Don't let the light go out!
Don't let the light go out!
Don't let the light go out!

Peter Yarrow- ©1983 Silver Dawn Music ASCAP


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Thursday, December 18, 2003

More on Anti-Semites

Excellent cover story in the 12/15 issue of New York magazine: The Return of Anti-Semitism.


Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Good Radio

Not always an oxymoron.

Mike Malloy was in rare, wonderful form on last nite's show.

So nice to hear radio that isn't always a conduit to the White Hou$e Pre$$ Office.


Tuesday, December 16, 2003

My Job

'Think all librarians do is sit around reading and shooshing people. Oooooooh nooooo, as we learn in this article from Library Journal, looking at the year past and year ahead in librarianship.


Saddam Funhouse

*From the 1983 scrapbook - almost 20 years ago to the day - Donald Rumsfeld, Ronnie Reagan's special envoy, shaking hands with our nation's buddy, Saddam Hussein.

*Robert Scheer in today's LA Times: "We got him ... now what?"

*Steve Gilliard, another Blogger, says "In the end, Saddam's only a footnote"


Monday, December 15, 2003

Saddam Frankenstein

Oooooh, this is a nice angle on the big story.
Funny how the mainstream media isn't reporting it this way.

Sunday, December 14th, 2003
We Finally Got Our Frankenstein... and He Was In a Spider Hole! -- by Michael Moore

Thank God Saddam is finally back in American hands! He must have really missed us. Man, he sure looked bad! But, at least he got a free dental exam today. That's something most Americans can't get.

America used to like Saddam. We LOVED Saddam. We funded him. We armed him. We helped him gas Iranian troops.

But then he screwed up. He invaded the dictatorship of Kuwait and, in doing so, did the worst thing imaginable -- he threatened an even BETTER friend of ours: the dictatorship of Saudi Arabia, and its vast oil reserves. The Bushes and the Saudi royal family were and are close business partners, and Saddam, back in 1990, committed a royal blunder by getting a little too close to their wealthy holdings. Things went downhill for Saddam from there.

But it wasn't always that way. Saddam was our good friend and ally. We supported his regime. It wasn’t the first time we had helped a murderer. We liked playing Dr. Frankenstein. We created a lot of monsters -- the Shah of Iran, Somoza of Nicaragua, Pinochet of Chile -- and then we expressed ignorance or shock when they ran amok and massacred people. We liked Saddam because he was willing to fight the Ayatollah. So we made sure that he got billions of dollars to purchase weapons. Weapons of mass destruction. That's right, he had them. We should know -- we gave them to him!

We allowed and encouraged American corporations to do business with Saddam in the 1980s. That's how he got chemical and biological agents so he could use them in chemical and biological weapons. Here's the list of some of the stuff we sent him (according to a 1994 U.S. Senate report):
* Bacillus Anthracis, cause of anthrax.
* Clostridium Botulinum, a source of botulinum toxin.
* Histoplasma Capsulatam, cause of a disease attacking lungs, brain, spinal cord, and heart.
* Brucella Melitensis, a bacteria that can damage major organs.
* Clostridium Perfringens, a highly toxic bacteria causing systemic illness.
* Clostridium tetani, a highly toxigenic substance.

And here are some of the American corporations who helped to prop Saddam up by doing business with him: AT&T, Bechtel, Caterpillar, Dow Chemical, Dupont, Kodak, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM (for a full list of companies and descriptions of how they helped Saddam, click here.

We were so cozy with dear old Saddam that we decided to feed him satellite images so he could locate where the Iranian troops were. We pretty much knew how he would use the information, and sure enough, as soon as we sent him the spy photos, he gassed those troops. And we kept quiet. Because he was our friend, and the Iranians were the "enemy." A year after he first gassed the Iranians, we reestablished full diplomatic relations with him!

Later he gassed his own people, the Kurds. You would think that would force us to disassociate ourselves from him. Congress tried to impose economic sanctions on Saddam, but the Reagan White House quickly rejected that idea -- they wouldn’t let anything derail their good buddy Saddam. We had a virtual love fest with this Frankenstein whom we (in part) created.

And, just like the mythical Frankenstein, Saddam eventually spun out of control. He would no longer do what he was told by his master. Saddam had to be caught. And now that he has been brought back from the wilderness, perhaps he will have something to say about his creators. Maybe we can learn something... interesting. Maybe Don Rumsfeld could smile and shake Saddam's hand again. Just like he did when he went to see him in 1983 (click here to see the photo).

Maybe we never would have been in the situation we're in if Rumsfeld, Bush, Sr., and company hadn't been so excited back in the 80s about their friendly monster in the desert.

Meanwhile, anybody know where the guy is who killed 3,000 people on 9/11? Our other Frankenstein?? Maybe he's in a mouse hole.

So many of our little monsters, so little time before the next election.

Stay strong, Democratic candidates. Quit sounding like a bunch of wusses. These bastards sent us to war on a lie, the killing will not stop, the Arab world hates us with a passion, and we will pay for this out of our pockets for years to come. Nothing that happened today (or in the past 9 months) has made us ONE BIT safer in our post-9/11 world. Saddam was never a threat to our national security.

Only our desire to play Dr. Frankenstein dooms us all.


Michael Moore


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If the Library...

...were like!

Funny stuff.



In yesterday's Guardian from the UK, William Shawcross reports on "the new face of a deadly and ancient bigotry."


Sunday, December 14, 2003


Something to smile about; to calm the savage breast:

1) Nice AP story about showbiz vets Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme. Quit laughing. I think they have a wonderful sound.

2) Two women I absolutely adore: Nelly Furtado interviewed and performing in the Live Lounge on BBC1's Jo Whiley show a few weeks back.




I'm glad Saddam Hussein's been captured.
He's a scary, dangerous man who has taken and ruined many lives. The world is a better place with him in captivitiy.

That said, we must remember that his capture yesterday doesn't do a thing for the families of the 456 Americans killed in Iraq so far. I check this page often to remember.

Prez gets some points today for the capture.
Halliburton keeps making billions off it all [overcharging, of course].
Families are torn apart...and there's no indication things in Iraq will improve.

Was it worth it???
Prez and Dull Joe Lieberman and Dickie Gephardt seem to think so. I don't.