For some time now, in place of the usual lorem ipsum text, I’ve been using the following text:

Because the — all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculate, for example, is on the table; whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There’s a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those — changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be — or closer delivered to what has been promised.

Does that make any sense to you? It’s kind of muddled. Look, there’s a series of things that cause the — like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate — the benefits will rise based upon inflation, as opposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those — if that growth is affected, it will help on the red.

It’s taken from a White House transcript, of course.


Alexander Lukashenko, the authoritarian president of Belarus, is to be banned from travelling to the EU and US after riot police in Minsk arrested hundreds of opposition activists protesting against the results of last weekend’s elections.

Meanwhile on Newsday:

“We are concerned that false police statements may have tainted hundreds of cases of people arrested at the two largest mass arrests during the convention,” NYCLU attorney Christopher Dunn wrote to New York Police Department Commissioner Raymond Kelly and Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau.

City law officials have said the arrests were justified.

The accusations stem from the tense standoff in 2004 between the nation’s largest police department and the tens of thousands of demonstrators at the GOP convention at Madison Square Garden, where President Bush accepted his party’s nomination for a second term in office. While anti-war and other demonstrations were mostly peaceful, sporadic clashes between police and protesters resulted in more than 1,800 arrests, mostly on misdemeanor charges like obstructing governmental administration.


An interesting article in NY Magazine discusses conspiracy theories and the secret history of 9/11.

As well as mentioning a few of the suspicious facts about what happened that day, it cites a score to categorize just how far along the conspiracy theory path you are: the HOP level.

Me, I’m about a Level 3.5. Everyone has to have a theory, and here’s mine:

Consider the October surprise conspiracy. Whether that conspiracy is true or not, the Iran-Contra scandal is at the level of documented fact, and it’s hard to deny that the sudden freeing of the hostages immediately after Reagan took office was a vital popularity boost for an otherwise unpopular president.

Wind the clock forward to 2000, and we have an unelected President, so unpopular that he had to skip the usual inaugural parade to avoid being pelted with projectiles. He’s making a routine PR visit to a school, reading The Pet Goat to the kids, when someone tells him that some planes have been hijacked.

I think it was news to him. To me, he looks like he’s worrying about it as he continues to sit there. But I think he’s been told that it’s under control.

I think that one or more people high up in the chain of command decided it would be best to let the hijackings go ahead, then send in the Marines to kick ass, and get a cheap PR victory for the new administration.

That’s why US air defenses weren’t scrambled; that’s why the plane was allowed to get so close to the Pentagon. The expectation was that it would be like every other hijacking and hostage taking, and that the only people in danger were a few hundred civilians. The planes would land somewhere, there would be negotiations, troops would be sent in, Bush’s approval rating from handling the difficult challenge would rocket no matter what happened or how long it took.

I think that those people high up who made the decision to let the hijackers get away with whatever they wanted, were as horrified as the rest of us when they saw what happened next. They had been prepared to risk a few lives, but nothing on the scale of 9/11. If their decision ever became public knowledge, they would be lynched.

Hence, the general level of secrecy and coverup, and the eventual whitewash of the 9/11 Commission Report.

I think my conspiracy theory is better than the Reichstag Fire kind, because it’s a conspiracy of dunces. Remember Hanlon’s Razor: never attribute to malice that which can adequately be explained by stupidity.

Is it really plausible that there was a conspiracy over the course of several years, spanning several countries, started long before the election, and that the people now in the Bush administration managed to keep it totally quiet?

I think not. Cheney, Rumsfeld and friends didn’t manage to keep arms sales to Iran and Iraq quiet, so there’s not a hope they could pull off 9/11 as a deliberate act. Look at their performance at running the economy and dealing with Iraq—they’re not evil geniuses, they’re naïve idiots who value blind faith over reality.

And even if I believed they had the skills, ultimately I just don’t believe Republicans are that evil. They might want to run Social Security into the ground and rip up the Bill of Rights, but I don’t think they’d kill thousands of Americans just to boost Bush’s popularity and get a few spying laws passed. That’s just unrealistic.

President Bush was visiting a primary school and he visited one of the classes. They were in the middle of a discussion related to words and their meanings. The teacher asked the President if he would like to lead the discussion on the word “tragedy”.

So the illustrious leader asked the class for an example of a “tragedy”. One little boy stood up and offered:

“If my best friend, who lives on a farm, is playing in the field and a tractor runs over him and kills him, that would be a tragedy”.

“No,” said Bush, “that would be an accident.”

A little girl raised her hand:

“If a school bus carrying 50 children drove over a cliff, killing everyone inside, that would be a tragedy.”

“I’m afraid not,” explained the President. “That’s what we would call a great loss.”

The room went silent. No other children volunteered. Bush searched the room.

“Isn’t there someone here who can give me an example of a tragedy?”

Finally at the back of the room a small boy raised his hand. In a quiet voice he said:

“If Air Force One carrying you and Mrs Bush was struck by a friendly fire missile and blown to smithereens, that would be a tragedy.”

“Fantastic!” exclaimed Bush. “That’s right. And can you tell me why that would be a tragedy?”

“Well,” said the boy, “It has to be a tragedy, because it certainly wouldn’t be a great loss, and it probably wouldn’t be a fucking accident either.”