Couple of additions to the blogroll today. First off, an new boldfaced entry: Conceptual Guerilla's Strategy and Tactics. You should read this fellow before you come looking at my wee blog.

And also a new e-zine: Commotion.

Have fun storming the castle.

500 Days

I've been using one of my trackers here for 500 days today. It lists 19487 unique visitors. Thanks for dropping by.

A friend from Middle Earth, Ron Beasley, is posting some pictures at a new blog he started, Just Pictures. The guy's got a knack with the shutter - I particularly like the iris photo.

His news blog, Middle Earth Journal, is over in the blogroll. Go say hi.

Latest FOX Lie: School Didn't Ban Declaration

Media Matters for America

An elementary school teacher was using handouts in his class that excerpted several references to God in the Declaration of Independence, along with other statements that emphasized the singular importance of Christian faith in U.S. history. Several parents complained that the handouts were crossing the line into evangelism, and the principal began supervising the teacher's lesson plans. Here's an example of one of the handouts that the principal blocked from usage:

Looks like that violates California code to me:

The California Education Code allows “references to religion or references to or the use of religious literature…when such references or uses do not constitute instruction in religious principles…and when such references or uses are incidental to or illustrative of matters properly included in the course of study.”
Teaching kids that the Christian Bible is the only right and proper way to live is kinda outside that line, wouldn't you say?

That quote, by the way, comes from a press release from the Alliance Defense Fund, a group trampling on the Constitution in the name of Jesus promoting the First Amendment rights of Christian teachers to proselytize their young students. They've filed a lawsuit against the school district on behalf of the teacher.

FOX News has been reporting that the Declaration of Independence has been banned from a classroom. Surprisingly, that's the headline of the Alliance Defense Fund's press release about the lawsuit. That is complete elephant dung, by the way - what's been kept out of the classroom are the teacher's proselytizing handouts, which selectively quote the Declaration to show how much it focused on God.

Silly me. I thought the small matter of King George was what had the colonists all worked up, but I also didn't have Stephen J. Williams as a history teacher.

Meanwhile, The Other Half Of The Federal Budget Speaks Up...

The Smirking Chimp > Boston Globe

A forthcoming request for additional funds to continue waging war in Iraq will not begin to address the "hidden cost" of the conflict, according to Pentagon officials and other government authorities who say that tens of billions of dollars more will eventually be needed to repair or replace heavily used equipment and to compensate for the wear and tear on members of the armed services.
Well, well, well. Can't you see the Carlyle Group and Halliburton lining up at the trough?

Over 90% Of Americans Would Be Unaffected: Fixing Social Security

I've been a one-trick hobbit here recently. The only thing that works me up enough to post is this outlandish Social Security debate we're having in this country, thanks to Our Georgy Boy. He wants us to imagine a Social Security "flat broke", the same way we imagined that international terrorism could never pull off an attack on America. The same way we imagined that Saddam helped plan 9/11 and had weapons of mass destruction.

Think about that "busted" Social Security. Think about it hard.

I was just watching Green Acres the other day, and Our Everbeloved Leader reminds me more and more of Mr. Haney. Why the hell would Jeb ever buy anything from that greasy salesman? Because Jeb is a simplehearted knucklehead, that's why.

And that's what Bush is after - the knuckleheads. He's already got the mainstream media clucking around, looking for cracks in the Social Security sky. Get enough knuckleheads in the fold and maybe we can put Reagan on the dime in the same bill that fatally wounds Social Security. Who'd vote against Reagan? Who'd want to run against that headline next election?

The truth is: Social Security is like a car with a slow leak in the tire. We've taken it to the shop and Bush the mechanic is telling us that we need to replace the transmission. "You see," Bush says, wiping his greasy hands on a red rag, "if you drive this car for an infinite number of miles, that transmission's gonna grind itself into tooth fillin's. Think about that transmission snarling around your axle at eighty miles a hour while you got the baby in the car. Let's go 'head and pop you a new one in there, 'kay?"

There's a simple fix to the minor problem in funding Social Security: eliminate the ceiling on payroll taxes. Currently, Social Security taxes are only paid on the first $90,000 you make in a year. Most Americans don't know this, because most Americans don't make $90,000 a year as individuals.

But I started wondering: How many Americans would be affected by eliminating the payroll tax ceiling?

According to these latest figures from the IRS (Excel file), there were 110 million individual tax returns filed in the year 2002.

101 million of these returns had an adjusted gross income of under $100,000.

That means that over 90% of all Americans will see no increase in payroll taxes if we lift the payroll tax ceiling.

Some will ask: "How do you figure that, Bolo? The payroll tax ceiling isn't $100,000; it's lower. And adjusted gross income is after a lot of deductions have been made, so that number's inaccurate."

I understand that. I also know that we should be hauling in the next higher bracket to account for double income returns (married) whose combined income exceeds $90,000, but whose individual incomes would never have hit the ceiling. So I think the number of "over 90%" is fair and accurate.

We can fix the slow leak in Social Security with one simple proposal that will not burden the vast majority of individual Americans with one single cent more in tax. But this common sense solution isn't being discussed by anyone in Washington or on our public airwaves because they'd be seeing an increase in the tax they're currently paying.

If anyone's got a more charitable motive for why this solution is off the public table, I'd be happy to hear it.