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John Tierney the Times

John Tierney, the Times new conservative columnist, has another column on Social Security today jumping on to the president's new bandwagon. His premise is that Democrats are "aghast" at the president's 'new' Social Security proposal because he "has finally called their bluff." He's proposing a way to make big cuts in Social Security while still protecting the poor. And as Tierney goes on to explain, this has given the lie to the established arguments for Social Security, which Democrats commonly make.

Tierney's piece is woven through with various misleading arguments, which you'll probably be able to catch when you read it. But look more globally at the argument that he, taking the president's lead, is now embracing.

The privatizers have spent almost six months arguing that Social Security is bad as an investment plan because it doesn't have a high enough rate of return. Now they have taken to arguing that it is bad as a welfare program because it gives too much to those who aren't poor.

Social Security is also, I'm willing to concede, an abysmal hair dryer. But the point isn't relevant.

And here we have the essence of the matter. In their effort to phase out Social Security, privatizers continually try to evaluate it in terms of something that it is not. Tierney reveals his own assumptions and prejudices by claiming that Social Security is simply a poorly designed old age welfare program that unwisely provides benefits for middle class people too.

Social Security is neither a poorly designed welfare program nor an investment plan with a poor rate of return. And the privatizers are losing this national debate because Americans, overwhelmingly, understand that.

Social Security is a defined-benefit Social Insurance program that provides a baseline level of retirement security for everyone. Middle class people pay into the program during their working lives and they get benefits back when they retire.

That is not a flaw in the design. That is the design.

By a decisive margin, Americans understand that system and they approve of it. Yet it is a system that offends the sensibilities of privatizers like Tierney.

So their attempts to bamboozle continue apace.

911 really does change

9/11 really does change everything.

Here's Sen. Wayne Allard (R) of Colorado justifying Republican use of the nuclear option in a letter now being sent to his constituents ...

In light of recent terrorist attacks, it is readily apparent that we face a new age of global unrest, a world in which terror has replaced formal declarations of war as the major threat against freedom and democracy. A necessary component of providing justice to those who would do harm to our nation is to maintain an efficient court system - a court equipped with the personnel and resources that enable it to fulfill its role as a pillar of our constitutional system of governance.

The current filibusters of President Bush's Circuit Court nominees clearly demonstrates an active effort by a minority of Senators to block the confirmation of well-qualified judicial nominees. I firmly believe that these tactics have damaged the judicial nomination process to an unacceptable degree, and now it must be corrected. It is shameful that the action of a handful of Senators has created a vacancy crisis that threatens the service of the very justice upon which our great nation depends.

Without the nuclear option, the terrorists will <$NoAd$> have won.


Okay were done. Our

Okay, we're done. Our TPMCafe Fundraiser went from the morning of April 20th through the evening of the 29th. And over those ten days 1522 TPM Readers contributed online. A few dozen more did so by mail. Needless to say, if you didn't get a chance and would still like to contribute, we will not turn you away. As it always is, the 'contribute' link is down there on the left sidebar beneath the ads. But for now no more harping or pitches in the posts. The Fundraiser has been a great success. I cannot thank you enough. More tomorrow on TPMCafe and what's coming next week.

As of 511 PM

As of 5:11 PM this evening we have 1373 contributors to our TPMCafe Fundraiser (here's a brief description of what TPMCafe will include).

We've got a bit more than six hours remaining. And given that it's Friday evening, the pace of contributions seems certain to slow. But we're holding out for 1400 contributors before we finish up at midnight.

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.