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ed.note The following is

[ed.note: The following is a guest post from our correspondent on the scene at this weekend's Social Security shredding rally on Capitol Hill. Asheesh Kapur Siddique is a student at Princeton University and was one of the organizers of the recent Filibuster against Frist effort.]

This past weekend, the Washington, DC area played host to the College Republican National Committee's annual convention, and as TPM reported, a group called Fix Our Future capitalized on the presence of so many aspiring Ronald Reagans by staging a pro-privatization rally attended by about 50-60 people. Intermittently chanting "stop the raid; I want my PRA," the crowd of (mostly) students listened to speakers not too much older than themselves crisis-monger about the state of Social Security, and call for an intergenerational war against AARP-loving seniors conspiring to "rip us off."

As a blues band jammed before the spectacle began, I chatted with some of the young attendees over warm, though complementary, sodas (it was a blistering 95 degrees, and they didn't have any ice). Wearing a pink shirt emblazoned with the word "HERO" under a black-and-white image of President Bush, Kasie from Utah told me that by the time she retires, "not only is there going to be $0, it's going to be in the negative." The solution, Nathaniel from Virginia advised, is private accounts, because "they allow us to give ourselves a chance to stand outside of government." They all seemed completely sold on the idea that Social Security must be 'saved,' and that privatization is the only way to do so.

The highlight of the rally came when participants formed a conga line in front of seven paper shredders. Dancing to the wails of the musicians' electric guitars, they shredded fake (and a few real) social security statements to express their dislike for the program. I snapped some pictures. As a participant in some recent political theater myself, I've got to compliment the privatizers on creatively expressing their message. But I didn't come away sold on their scheme to gut social security; indeed, I'm more determined than ever to defend a program that's helped so many of our seniors retire with dignity.

An interesting note from

An interesting note from TPM Reader RW ...


In case you hadn't caught this, check out this astounding coincidence.

"MZM opened its doors in 1993, but its first federal contract was a $140,000 deal in July 2002 to provide "office furniture" and "custom computer programming services" for the executive office of the president of the United States, according to the Federal Procurement Data System." San Diego Union-Tribune, June 25th, 2005.

"Wade purchased the boat in August 2002 for $140,000 and officially changed its name to the Duke-Stir – an apparent play on Cunningham's nickname – in January 2003, according to U.S. Coast Guard records." San Diego Union-Tribune, June 28th, 2005.

Small world, ain't it?


Before the whole Duke

Before the whole Duke mess broke out, MZM Inc. was an awfully popular place.

Buried down in Marcus Stern's piece in today's San Diego Union-Tribune is the news that shortly before the CunningScam story broke someone named Kay Cole James had signed on as the company's "senior executive vice president for national security transformation". She just resigned on Friday.

Before signing on with MZM, Kay Cole James was President Bush's highly-controversial Director of Office of Personnel Management.

A few days ago

A few days ago one reader who's well-versed in the federal contracting biz told me he thought MZM's (Duke Cunningham's favorite company) profile looked like it was basically trolling for work. What he meant by this was that the company didn't seem to have any particular specialty as much as it was looking for politically-available contracts and then searching out people to do the work on them.

This came to my mind when I saw this graf at the end of the piece in today's Post ..

Government procurement records show that MZM, which Wade started in 1993, did not report any revenue from prime contract awards until 2003. Most of its revenue has come from the agreement the Pentagon just cut off. But over the past three years it was also awarded several contracts, worth more than $600,000, by the Executive Office of the President. They include a $140,000 deal for office furniture in 2002 and several for unspecified "intelligence services."

Office furniture<$NoAd$>? At the White House?