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As noted earlier with

As noted earlier, with all our chattering about our TPMCafe Fundraiser we want to bring you some news today about what we'll be including in the initial launch of TPMCafe.com.

One of the features of the site we're most excited about is a group blog focusing on foreign affairs and national security.

This is a subject that I haven't written about recently as much as I have in the past. But, as you know, it's one that interests me greatly. And this group blog will provide an informed and lively discussion of national security issues both as events develop in the news day to day, but also taking a broader view, thinking about the challenges that face the United States in the years and decades to come, and how to meet them.

The blog will have about half a dozen contributors who mix backgrounds in government work on the National Security Council, international relations and journalism. We're still finalizing the list. But two of the contributors we're ready to announce are Ivo Daalder of Brookings and Anne-Marie Slaughter of Princeton University.

Ivo served as director for European Affairs ('95-'96) on President Clinton's National Security Council staff, where he was responsible for coordinating U.S. policy toward Bosnia. And from 1998-2001, he served as a member of the Study Group of the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century (i.e., the Hart-Rudman Commission).

To find out more about Daalder's work you can read the Foreign Affairs review I wrote last year of the book he recently wrote with James Lindsay, America Unbound: The Bush Revolution in Foreign Policy.

Slaughter is the Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of International Affairs and an expert in international relations and international law. Her most recent book is A New World Order. And, no, I didn't review that one. But, hey, I can only write so much.

Needless to say, we couldn't be happier that such impressive folks have signed on.

We'll be bringing you more on other contributors to the new site shortly ...

House Republicans say theyre

House Republicans say they're ready to vote on a Social Security phase-out bill. Will Democrats succumb to latent Faintheartedness? Will the Conscience Caucus fall into line?

Everyone on our Conscience Caucus list has either said they're opposing phasing out Social Security or has expressed reservations about doing so. Now would be the time to check back with these folks and find out whether they've changed their minds in favor of phase-out.

As noted a bit

As noted a bit earlier, a bunch of you would love to send food and drinks to these students filibustering Frist. And I've actually got numbers of several places who can deliver to them. But let's hold on a second so that this can be coordinated. Otherwise, they're just going to end up with 50 pizzas in front of their stand in the next hour. And despite the great college student capacity to consume pizza, a lot of it will still go bad. I'm trying to figure out a way this can be done to keep these kids swimming in party food as they continue their filibustering. So I'll be updating you shortly.

Late Update: While you're waiting, here are pictures of Rep. Rush Holt filibustering Frist (reading from Aesop's Fables, we're told) earlier today. By the end of this filibuster Aesop himself may even stop by.

Uchchchch Beantown Bamboozled Bad


Beantown Bamboozled Bad by Bush!

Headline of article in the Boston Globe: "Bush would trim benefits of well-to-do."

As this post at ThinkProgress shows, Bush is defining the "well-to-do" as anyone making over $20,000. I had no idea the staffer I'm going to hire with the help of all your contributions was going to make out like such a friggin' tycoon ...

(ed.note: Thanks to TPM Reader EF for bringing us the ugly truth.)

By George I think

By George, I think we've got it!

As we've been telling you, we needed get past a minimum of a thousand contributors for our TPMCafe Fundraiser, which ends tonight at midnight tonight and you came through. We not only got past 1000, as of this morning we're at 1272 contributors. And that means we've now awarded six brand-new and official TPM Privatize This! T-Shirts to contributors #1000 (John Fredland), #1050 (Ralph Lemley), #1100 (TPM Reader FJ), #1150 (Anon.), #1200 (Alex Navarro) and #1250 (Peter Swarth).

We've got just a little more than twelve hours to go, so we really need those last-minute contributions. So please keep them coming. Thanks in advance. And we'll keep awarding the amazing TPM Privatize This! T-Shirts to every fiftieth contributor. Number 1300 isn't that far away!

Just so everyone knows, your privacy means a great deal to us. So rest assured that while we're eager to show our appreciation we would never publicize anyone's name without their explicit permission. The two anonymous contributors above we haven't yet heard back from. So if and when we do, and if they choose to go public, we'll bring you their names too.

Actually, one other thing. One winner said thank you, but he didn't need a t-shirt. And another was beside himself with joy, but said his fiancee would probably fight him for the prized TPM t-shirt. So we've made the executive decision to transfer that unclaimed t-shirt over to the enfianced couple to make sure the prize doesn't lead to any relationship difficulties.

Now, with all this razzle-dazzle about our fundraiser, over the course of today we're going to be bringing you more details about TPMCafe.com. And we'll start in our next post with details about the new national security and foreign policy blog at TPMCafe.

I take it that

I take it that we will be forced to allow at least 48 hours for the collective media swoon over President Bush's embrace of "progressive indexing.

Here's a bit from CNN's "Morning Grind" ...

When President Bush takes his new (Democrat-friendly?) pitch for "progressive indexing" across the Potomac this morning, look for signs of his new resolve. His Social Security plan still faces an up(Capitol)hill climb, and nothing he said last night changed that. But few things embolden Bush more than bold strokes, and from Social Security to North Korea to the filibuster/faith debate, he made a few of those strokes last night.


Progressive indexing might not sound sexy. But the idea (developed by financier Robert Pozen) of offering bigger checks to low-income retirees, and cutting benefits for the middle class and wealthy, is the most dramatic move Bush has made to broaden his reform plan's appeal since he publicly embraced the largely unappealing private accounts last year. Bush may have addressed millions of TV viewers last night, but his remarks were narrowly targeted to people named Snowe, Chafee, Nelson and Lincoln -- moderates in both parties who say they want Bush to focus less on private accounts and more on shoring up the system's long-term solvency. He did that last night. (So far this morning, no one's used the word "welfare" to describe Bush's plan. But stay tuned).

If you've dewobbled your knees and caught your breath, let's remember a few elementary points.

First, the White House has <$Ad$> been saying the president supports 'progressive indexing' for months. So I'm not sure it counts either as dramatic, let alone a move. Second, let's state specifically what this to-some-sexy-sounding proposal offers: steep benefit cuts for all but the lowest income Americans and meager increases in benefits for them. It's hard to see how there's anything particularly progressive about gutting Social Security for the entire middle class. And how this comes off as a politically attractive proposal once anyone understands it is hard to figure.

All that has happened here is that the president has temporarily bamboozled a few folks in the media by trying to spin phase out. He is calling for steep and growing benefit cuts for everyone in the middle class and he still demands a partial phase-out of Social Security to be replaced by private accounts.

Social Security's support of the poorest Americans is a critical part of what it accomplishes. But Social Security is not poor relief. That is only what the president wants to make it -- in part because, once it is, it is far easier to cut further, since it has no organized political constituency.

Social Security is the sheet anchor of the modern American middle class. It's why working Americans can approach retirement with an assurance of security and a modicum of leisure. It stimulates economic vitality by creating a floor of security that facilitates economic risk-taking in investment and business. It's why parents don't have to shortchange investment in children's education by supporting parents in their old age. It provides economic security to families hit by catastrophe and misfortune in mid-life. As I said, it's the sheet anchor of what we've come to know in the last century as middle class life.