1) On December 28, 2002 (that's three days after the Spirit of Giving has been put back in the attic with the rest of the decorations), 800,000 unemployed people will lose their unemployment benefits. For every week thereafter, approximately 90,000 more will lose theirs. Why? Because the House of Representatives neglected to extend unemployment benefits before they adjourned. The Democrat controlled Senate passed an extension with bipartisan support, and some Senate Republicans, to their credit, are as furious and disgusted with the House as I am.
Anyway, we can approach this from a number of different angles. First, the vicious callousness of it is appauling. Second, when you recall that the House of Representatives had plenty of time to smuggle a huge windfall for pharmaceutical companies into the Homeland Security bill, you really start to get angry. Third, this is precisely the wrong thing to do in this economy. I realize that talking about the economy when 800,000 people are about to be put in such a desperate situation is itself a little callous, but that doesn't change the fact that this is bad news, even for those of us with jobs (or who, like me, are fortunate to be full time students living with Mom and Dad, who have jobs). Think of it like this: how much holiday shopping would you do if you were one of those 800,000? Let's see, should I buy a bike for Junior or pay January's rent? This economy is absolutely desperate for a strong holiday shopping season, and leaving 800,000 people out in the cold is a step in the wrong direction.
Lastly, I can't help but be reminded of my own pet issue: economic/tax priorites of the Republican party. It doesn't get any clearer than this, friends. The Republicans care more about protecting corporate money than in taking even the most minimal steps to ease the burden of the poor and unemployed. For more on this outrage, see here.
2) The media is in a veritable tizzy over Al Gore's comments about the influence of the Republican party in the mainstream media. While your reading all this stuff, imagine what would have happened if John Edwards or Howard Dean had said this stuff. Would that have caused a media firestorm? Doubtful. Exhibit A in the case for nominating Gore.
Anyway: Step One: read the interview with Josh Benson in the latest New York Observer. Step Two: read Dan Kennedy's comments, which are the most thorough and on the mark I've yet seen. Step Three: read Joe Conason's reaction here. By the way, I wouldn't have found Kennedy's comments without Conason's link, so cheers for that, Joe! Keep reading, and follow the link to Conason's latest column for New York Observer, and that will take you to topic number....
3) Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot. Sorry, I just had to say that. Of course, he's no more an idiot than he is fat. He's a bald-faced liar, a hypocrite, and an insufferably self-satisfied, smug, arrogant, petty, juvenile blowhard. But he's not an idiot. Anyway, Conason's column addresses the whole Daschle-Limbaugh flap, where Daschle didn't accuse Limbaugh of deliberately inciting violence and Limbaugh didn't retract any of the hideously inflammatory, innaccurate, and inciteful things he said about Daschle, which unintentionally resulted in a sharp uptick in lunatic threats of violence from the lunatic fringe of Limbaugh listeners. Conason cuts through the bullshit, nails the "librul" media for sucking Rush's cock, and provides one delectable example of irresponsible punditry resulting in real threats of violence (delectable because the perpetrator was Pat Buchanan's crazy brother... you just can't make this up). Conason also gives us, as a parting gift, a sublime quote from Senator McCain, abjectly apologizing for calling Limbaugh a "circus clown". It certainly was a low blow, and an apology was in order.
That's all for now. Enjoy your Thanksgiving, everybody!