Most Important Issues
cnn.com is running a poll right now asking users which issues is most important in the election. Here are the results:
The economy: 47%
National security: 30%
If this is true, I'd say Bush is in trouble.
New Bush Campaign Slogan
Bush's new campaign slogan is ""we've turned a corner, and we're not turning back." I kid you not. Of course, my question is is this the corner on the road to hell?
The economic news is not so good. Economic growth in the second quarter was slower than expected (around 3% -- 3.8% had been expected). The government released figures indicating a record budget deficit of $445 billion. As Kevin Drum
notes, retail sales are down, factory orders are declining, housing starts are down, and the stock market is flat.
Kevin also says of Bush: "Too bad he didn't use his term in office to genuinely try to improve the economy. Instead he used it to pursue ideological tax cuts for his corporate pals and a hodgepodge of little initiatives aimed at every interest group he could think of in key states — all the while hoping the economy would recover on its own and his policies wouldn't matter. Unfortunately for Bush — and for all of us who have to suffer through it — it's not looking as if his gamble will pay off."
I've been busy and haven't been able to watch much of the convention, let alone post. But I did see much of Edwards' and Kerry's speeches. I love John Edwards and his speech was very, very good. I especially liked his stories of individuals and the repeated refrain "Hope is on the way." Same with Kerry -- I like him telling about people he'd met on the campaign trail and the refrain "Help is on the way." Hope and help are what we need right now. I also liked Kerry bringing up and effectively dismissing the religion thing. And I hope we hear a lot more of calling Bush to task on his record and on Republican manipulation of the media.
Obviously, I'm partisan, but I think the convention set the right tone for the campaign. We're Democrats, we love America, we want a return to those true American values that unite us all. I've actually been working on a piece for awhile now about the kind of America I want to live in, and much of what I've written corresponds to what Kerry and Edwards are saying.
I like the positive energy accompanied by the in-you-face attitude about Republican tactics. We need to call BS on the media, too, every time we see it.
I donated last night (the last time you could give to the candidates, rather than to the DNC); it wasn't much but it felt good doing it. I plan to place a Kerry-Edwards sign on my front lawn and a bumper sticker on my car. And I'm asking every one of my son's friends if they are registered. He just graduated from high school, so his friends are all 18 -- this election has the potential of being the most important one in their lives.
Bush: Flip Flopper in Chief
I was discussing the convention yesterday with a co-worker who mentioned seeing some protestors toting huge flip flop sandals, obviously aimed at promoting the right wing message point about Kerry being a flip flopper.
Well nobody tops W as a flip flopper. Here's a list of issues on which he's flip flopped. Click here
to read the details.
1. Social Security surplus
2. patient's right to sue
3. tobacco buyout
4. North Korea
7. Iraq funding
8. Condoleeza Rice testimony
10. Ahmed Chalabi
11. Department of Homeland Security
12. Weapons of Mass Destruction
13. Free trade
14. Osama bin Laden
15. the environment
16. WMD commission
17. creation of the 9/11 Commission
18. time extension for the 9/11 Commission
19. one hour limit for 9/11 Commission testimony
20. gay marriage
21. nation building
22. Saddam - al Qaeda link
23. UN resolution
24. involvement in the Palestinian conflict
25. campaign finance
Did you hear about his speech to the Democrats' first-ever Veterans Caucus? He said: "That flag is our flag. We served under that flag. We got up and stood reveille formation, we stood taps, we fought under that flag. We've seen men die for that flag, and we've seen men buried under that flag. No Dick Cheney or John Ashcroft or Tom DeLay is going to take that flag away from us."
The vets surged to their feet, cheering and applauding.
And this was interesting, from Salon
For veterans like Peter MacDonald, the event was emotional and profound...(snip)...He used to vote Republican, he said, but he watched as the religious right took his party away from him. Now he's an independent, in the process of registering as a Democrat, and he'll vote for Kerry in November...(snip)..."Because he'll get us out of this damned mess in Iraq. He knows we shouldn't be there. He doesn't want any more Vietnams."
I'm not able to watch the convention, since I work a second job at night to pay the bills. From what I can glean from the news, bloggers and, most importantly, The Daily Show:
Clinton was great and is still the greatest politician of our time.
Obama is the new bright light of the party (at least until Edwards speaks tonight).
Nearly everyone is working to be positive and upbeat, but the code words about just how bad Bush is are there for everyone to hear.
Democrats have a self-deprecating sense of humor (as witnessed by Clinton, Dean and others).
The media bites, big time. Did you hear about CNN's Bill Hemmer saying to Michael Moore "some people want you dead" and Moore saying to him, apparently off camera after the interview was over, "why would you say that? Would you say that to Kerry or Bush?"
Teresa Heinz Kerry speaks five languages and believes opinionated women should be seen as smart and informed.
The media bites, big time. Did you hear that Faux Snooze put up graphics while Ron Reagan was speaking that read "left school to be a dancer...sometimes appears on Animal Planet..."
Bloggers are the coolest and the media bites, big time.
You Can't Make This Stuff Up
Did you hear the new one the noise machine is running up the flagpole? That the electorate is so worn out from Bush’s many successes that they may vote him out just to get a breather? Unbelievable.
How Could I Forget? More Celebrities
How could I forget these liberal celebrities?
I suppose I could go on and on.
Very, very long piece on Atlantic by Eric Alterman
about Hollywood and politics.
Carville Predicts Kerry Win
Heard Carville on the Imus droolfest this morning. He predicted a Kerry win (no surprise there) but his reasoning was interesting. He asked Imus how many people do you know who say "I voted for Gore in 2000 but I'm so impressed with Bush's accomplishments that I'm considering voting for Bush." Then he asked how many people do you know who say "I voted for Bush in 2000 but given the mess in Iraq and other stuff that's gone wrong, I'm considering the alternatives." His point was that there's a lot more of the latter than the former. Interesting.
As usual, the man from Hope gets it right.
"Wisdom and strength are not opposing ideas."
"Now, since most Americans aren't that far to the right, our friends have to portray us Democrats as simply unacceptable, lacking in strength and values. In other words, they need a divided America. But we don't."
And I loved this comment from Billmon
at The Whiskey Bar:
"What was important to me was what I saw when the camera panned the delegates - black and white and every shade in between, male and female, gay and straight, young and old, union guys from Cleveland and lesbian couples from San Francisco, Irish pols from Boston and Hispanic pols from East L.A. Asian American businessmen from Seattle and African American teachers from Harlem.
God knows it's not perfect - not even close. I'm sure there was no shortage of vile hacks and corporate fat cats in the audience. And when it comes to actual policies, it's pretty clear the Democratic Party has about as much progressive backbone as a bowl of corn meal mush.
But compared to the sea of sour-looking honkies and fundamentalist zealots that have filled the seats (if not the stage) of every GOP convention I've ever watched, there's no question in my mind which side I'm on in this fight."
Ronstadt Spin Straightened
She was not booed off the stage
, the crowd did not riot, she wasn't even asked to leave the Aladdin Hotel.
She has received support from a number of other celebrities, and the Aladdin's new owner, the owners of Hard Rock Cafe, called to ask her back, she said.
"Michael Moore called me and said he would go with me. We could sing, ‘America the Beautiful' together and he would screen his movie for free for anyone who wants to come and see it," she said.
"Irving Azoff, who is the Eagles' manager, immediately pulled all his acts from the Aladdin. I've had phone calls and messages from all over. Elton John sent me flowers last night. Keith Richards, Sting - the list goes on and on of people pouring in support."
Our Celebrities are Better than Their Celebrities
Let's see, we have:
Mary J Blige
The Dixie Chicks (or at least Natalie)
Sheryl Crow (what about her boyfriend, Lance Armstrong?)
a bunch of crappy country singers
(and maybe some others who haven't come out yet for Bush, like Kelsey Grammar, Dennis Miller, Dennis Hopper, Drew Carey, Patricia Heaton, Roseanne, Danny Aiello, Robert Duvall and of course Mel Gibson)
Hmmm...let me see. Who would I choose? Wyclef Jean or Jessica Simpson? Robert DeNiro or Tom Selleck? Meryl Streep or Shannon Doherty?
Yep. I think our celebrities are better than their celebrities.
Bush, the 9-11 Commission Report, and Friday
The rumor floating around the blogosphere is that on Friday, Bush will issue executive orders and/or call Congress back to DC to implement some of the recommendations of the 9-11 Commission. This, of course, would be the day after Kerry and Edwards accept their party's nomination and would take some of the wind out of the sails of that post-convention moment. If this is true, I hope Kerry will be prepared to go on the offensive about Bush's miserable record on national security.
Theresa Heinz Kerry Comment
OK let's get this straight, instead of parroting RNC talking points. The guy Theresa Heinz Kerry told to "shove it" was NOT a reporter; he is the editorial page editor of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. This conservative rag is owned by Richard Mellon Scaife, the prime funder behind the Republican noise machine. This newspaper has been viciously attacking the Heinz Foundation for some time now and apparently without any basis in facts.
But our lazy media will eat this up and never once look into the facts. This is how they operate and the conservatives have taken full advantage of it. So juicy tidbits like this wind up being used in their lame, gossipy crap that passes for news.
More Analysis of 9-11 Report
Dan Froomkin in the WaPo offers this
"The report, for instance, criticizes the concept of the "war on terror" that has been the signature issue of Bush's presidency. It concludes that what is required to defeat Islamist terrorism is something more nuanced than that. And it does not support the argument that the war on Iraq was either related to or helpful in that quest."
Froomkin quotes the LA Times: "So far, at least, the effect appears to have put President Bush on the defensive -- and to have handed his Democratic rival, Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), an opportunity to question the president's record."
Finally, the US calls for UN sanctions
on the Sudan. And the US House last night passed a resolution calling the situation genocide
, although Colin Powell keeps insisting its not genocide.
I doubt you know anything about this story. I know very little. Its an ethnic cleansing backed by the Sudanese government. Black Sudanese in the Darfur region are being attacked by the Janjaweed, a group of Arab militants backed by the Sudanese government (although the government denies this support, its widely believed that the government actually established the Janjaweed).
About 30,000 have been killed (although that figure may be very, very low) and 1.2 million have been left homeless. The rapes, I've read, are taking place with the specific intent of impregnating the black women with lighter skinned children, so the darker skinned people will be wiped out.
Everyone involved is Muslim, so this seems to be a racial thing.
At any rate, it seems to be something Americans should be paying more attention to, but the US news media doesn't seem very interested. The BBC
is a good source for news on the Sudanese situation.
Blame the Acronyms
Pierce has an excellent piece today on Altercation
about the 9-11 Commission report. My favorite part:
"Read the footnotes, and remember, every time a conversation with either George Bush or Dick Cheney is cited, that this testimony was not given under oath, and under circumstances that were flatly bizarre, and that the testimony was given by two men who fought hard against the very existence of the commission, especially the former, who has made no mistake that he can recall, and is not specifically contradicted in any way by this report. Instead, it was an exercise designed -- as was the Tower Commission before it -- to reassure us that the problem is in structural institutional details, and not in the men tasked to do great deeds for us so that we don't strain ourselves in the exercise of self-government. (To his everlasting credit, Bob Kerrey seemed to be rather pissed on this very point.)"
"Terror" in the Skies
This is the funniest smackdown
I've seen of the ridiculous "terror in the skies" story being shopped by wingnut Annie Jacobsen. If you haven't heard of this story, its an unintentionally hilarious story this woman wrote for the Women's Wall Street Journal (huh?) about 14 Arab men aboard a flight she and her husband took to Los Angeles. She claims the men were acting suspiciously and that this must've been a "dry run" for another terrorist attack. The men, it turns out, were a Syrian band on the way to a gig. All I can say is "oy."
Good News, Bad News
has some good news, bad news on the 9-11 Commission recommendations regarding privacy. The ACLU has given its take on the report. The good news is that the "report is critical of the Adminstration's excessive secrecy and of the USA Patriot Act. It does not recommend that any of the provisions scheduled to sunset be made permanent." The bad news, from a civil liberties perspective, is that there "are calls for the backdoor creation of national ID cards in the form of a standardized drivers licenses and a cabinet-level intelligence czar. " The ACLU feels the latter, in particular, would wind up being a tool of the president. I think there is no need for this position; its important to have several tracks of intelligence, and one could argue that the military has a need for its own, independent intelligence. Yes, there is a need for coordination between intelligence agencies, but isn't that what the National Security office does (except when Condi is on the job)? Our government has a pretty crappy track record with "czars" anyway. Have the drug or energy czars been effective at all? I didn't think so.
Asleep at the Wheel
It appears that Chapter 8 is the key one in the 9-11 Commission Report. According to Seeing the Forest
, this chapter shows "Bush, Ashcroft, and Rice repeatedly being briefed about a rising threat level by Tenet and an increasingly agitated Clarke, without any of the three of them ever taking any initiative on the issue whatsoever."
You can buy the report at your local bookstore for $10. Worth it as an historical document, even if you don't read it.
Presidents and Prosperity
Guess who leads the list
Thanks to Skippy the Bush Kangaroo
for the tip.
I Send Letters
My latest letter to the editor of my local paper, which they printed yesterday. It was in response to a letter claiming that liberals are pathetic idiots who are to blame for all bad things.
Bush policies have increased world dangers
If I were to engage in the amateur psychoanalysis of writer Jeff Davidson (“Hatred for Bush is a sign of deep fears,” June 30), I would speculate that Mr. Davidson is projecting when he claims that liberals fear death. However, I prefer not dwell on groundless speculation, but instead to look at the facts.
A recent poll (CBS/New York Times) shows that 55 percent of the public think that U.S. involvement in Iraq is creating more terrorists who are planning to attack the United States rather than less (17 percent). Also, the poll shows that 47 percent of the public think that the U.S. military action against Iraq has increased rather than decreased (13 percent) the threat of terrorism against the United States. Even the State Department admits that terrorism increased sharply last year with the highest number of fatal terrorist shootings and bombings since 1998 and the highest number of significant terrorist incidents in at least 20 years.
The liberal argument is not that Islamo-facists do not want to kill us, but that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with the Islamo-facists or Osama bin Laden. Since there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq nor any connection between Saddam and bin Laden, why did we stage a pre-emptive strike on that country? So we could “spread democracy”? Or is it just the justification this week? What does the “Bush doctrine” say about Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, well-known hotbeds of Islamo-facism?
The so-called clash of cultures is a radical, right-wing idea, and it is meaningless. Why, even President Bush himself said last week that the simple act of including Turkey in the European Union “would expose the ‘clash of civilizations’ as a passing myth of history.”
The belief that Bush’s policies are ineffective and indeed harmful is no longer just a liberal viewpoint. Numerous well-respected conservatives (William F. Buckley Jr. and George Will, just to name two) have recently stated that they no longer support the President’s policies on war in Iraq.
Liberals do not “hate Bush,” nor do they have unrealistic fears. The reality is that the president’s policies have made the world a more dangerous place. No matter how hard the fear-mongers of right-wing radio and TV (and local letters to the editor) work at blaming liberals, this is no longer a conservative vs. liberal issue. An ever-increasing majority of the public recognizes that the current administration’s policies are not working and that change at the top is needed.
The Arabian Candidate
Oh you have to read Krugman
today. You really do. Yes, I know the NY Times requires registration, but do it.
Well I see the media is still responding well to its training by Repugnicant operatives. Put the words "Clinton" and "scandal" in the same sentence and the media is off and running. Even when its a non-story (can you say Whitewater?). Which the Sandy Berger thing is. Stupid, on his part, but not a lead-your-newscast story. And as Josh Marshall points out, the timing
of this little episode is quite interesting.
Trading One Brutal Baathist for Another?
So let me get this straight: the US got involved in Iraq to depose a Baathist known for his brutality only to install a Baathist, about whom rumors of his brutality are swirling, and who allegedly personally executed 6 suspected Iraqi insurgents who were prisoners
in Baghdad right before the US let him take over. So, over 800 of our guys are dead and thousands injured and maimed to do this?
And now the talk of whether Iran was invovled in 9-11 rachets up a notch. October surprise?
More Bad Poll News for Bush
From The Emerging Democratic Majority
, which you should be reading regularly! It helps me keep the faith that we can win in November.
"Kerry-Edwards beats Bush-Cheney by 5 points (49-45), including an 8 point lead among independent voters."
"Bush's approval rating on foreign policy is his worst ever at 39/55, as is his rating on handling the campaign against terrorism (51/43)."
"...the number who think gays should be allowed to either marry or form civil unions continues to climb--from 55 percent in March, to 57 percent in May to 59 percent in this latest survey." (so all that crap last week in Congress was just a sop to the nutcase base of the party).
Perfectly Legal: The Secret Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich -- and Cheat Everybody Else
. I can only read a chapter or so at a time because my blood pressure soars as I read. Its truly shocking how the super rich with the complicity of the government have rigged the system and in the process stagnated or even set back the rest of us (which means 95% of the population of the US).
The last book I read (last week) was Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World
, an excellent (if dry and academic) book about the Mongol conqueror's progressive policies and influence on western politics and cultures. Like I've always said, Genghis Khan got a bad rap.
My Guy Wins Sumo Basho
My guy, the Mongolian Asashoryu, won the Emperor's Cup at the Grand Sumo Tournament
on Sunday. Not that anyone cares, but it was his fourth straight tournament win. Its a dream of mine to see a sumo tournament in Japan one day. I often wonder why we have 500 channels on cable and I can't watch sumo anywhere. Frustrating!
Great piece from Billmon about the Florida felon mess
Shorthand: The list left off Hispanic felons in a state where 1 in 5 residents in Hispanic. Hispanics tend to vote Republican.
As Billmon puts it: "So once again, coincidence had conspired to create a fraudulent felon list heavily slanted in favor of Jeb Bush's big brother. How unlucky can you get? This is the very same list, mind you, that the Bush administration (Florida branch) had been promoting as squeaky clean - right up until it was released and the mysterious law-abiding zeal of the state's Hispanic population was discovered. Then, of course, the story changed. A simple clerical error, the Jebster said - the wrong button pushed, a computer glitch, resulting in a failure to merge two different felon lists (exactly why the names of Hispanic convicts were being kept in a separate file has never really been explained, as far as I know.)"
In the DVD Player
This weekend were Bubba Ho-tep and Shattered Glass. The former was an amusing horror-comedy film starring cult star Bruce Campbell as Elvis and Ossie Davis as JFK (yes, JFK) in a nursing home battling a soul sucking mummy in cowboy boots. It was worth seeing if you like strange movies. Shattered Glass was a fabulous movie. It stars Hayden Christiansen as Steven Glass, the young New Republic writer who fabricated 27 of the 41 stories he wrote for the magazine. Well acted, well written, beautifully directed -- I really, really liked this film. This film received a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes
. Definitely worth seeing.
What Liberal Media?
Most likely, you haven't heard of the Riggs Bank scandal. Its a DC based bank under scrutiny for money laundering activities on behalf of the Saudis and Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. One of the bank's directors is Shrub Jr.'s uncle Jonathan Bush and another partner in the bank is longtime Bush family friend and financier Joe Allbritton.
Now yesterday, the Times wrote about Riggs, but as Holden (guest blogging on Atrios) points out
, the article failed to mention either of the men mentioned above. And he adds:
"If a blood relative and close friend/financier of Bill Clinton or John Kerry were deeply involved in a bank that laundered money for dictators and terrorists, what do you think the focus of the Times story would be?"
Maryland has Wacko Legislators Too
Nice to know that my home state doesn't have a monopoly on wacko legislators. Maryland has 'em, too, like this guy
who "stood up" to a 70 year old woman who objected to a Christian prayer being said before meals at a state-funded senior center.
Low Post Day
No, not about basketball.
Feeling kinda uninspired today.
Had a meeting at work this morning about our merger with another company. The good news is, top management all have secured their jobs. Woo hoo. The two key ideas I took away from this meeting were there will be no opportunity to apply for high level positions but lower level positions will be posted and "behind the scenes" decisions are being made about each of us ("don't you worry your pointy little head"). Alrighty, then.
Second, I'm upset about Martha. Yeah, what she did was stupid, but she should not serve time. She had an unbelievably incompetent legal team. Keep in mind that Martha is a major Demcratic party supporter. This is a trophy conviction.
Hey guess who compiled those Florida felon rolls that were so inaccurate? Accenture. Accenture IS Arthur Anderson. Accenture, BTW, has major, major contracts in Iraq. I know this surprises you.
But here is some truly good news: Kerry is leading in the electoral college according to the latest predictions. Bookmark this Electoral Vote Track
to keep an eye on the situation.
So Disney has yet to release a film in 2004 that has hit the $100 million
mark. These include "The Alamo," "Home on the Range," and "Hidalgo." And with a first weekend take of only $15.2 million, it doesn't look like "King Arthur" will make it either.
Meanwhile, a film Disney declined to distribute has made $85,071,000
as of July 14, 2004, in the US alone. Its made another $6.6 million overseas. It may come closest to the $100 million mark of any film released by Disney in the first 7 months of 2004.
(In all fairness, the second half of the year will probably be good for Disney with "The Village," "The Princess Diaries 2" and "The Incredibles," the latter a Pixar film. And of course we know where the Disney-Pixar relationship is headed.)
When Close is Good Enough
When you are white and your school is about to have its first black valedictorian:
Racism Allegations Mar Valedictorian Selection
2004, isn't it?
Ready? Here we go:
What is the percentage of US population that is black?
Answer: about 12%. Most people (of any race) answer 30%.
What is the percentage of US budget allocated to foreign aid?
Answer: less than 1%. Most people answer 25%.
How much does the average taxpayer pays in income taxes?
Answer: about 25%. Most people answer 50%.
How much of the US budget goes to Social Security?
Answer: about 22%
How much of the US budget goes to the Department of Defense?
Answer: about 18%
How much of the US budget goes to the Department of Education?
Answer: less than 3%
What percentage of the world's population is Christian? Muslim? Jewish? Non-religious?
Answer: Christians = 33%, Islam = 22%, Jewish = less than 1%, non-religious = 14%. I didn't ask about Hindus, but they're about 15%.
I join the great Charles Pierce in asking why hasn't this guy been fired from every media job -- including that new one at PBS, of all places -- he has.
"In 1994, an eight-year old girl named Valerie Lakey was playing in a wading pool. She got caught in a defective drain. Her intestines were ripped from her body by the suction. She is now 17. She will have to be fed through a tube, 12 hours a day, for the rest of her life. In 1997, John Edwards won her family a $25 million judgment, of which he took a portion. The judgment helped jump-start his political career.
On the first day of last year, as part of his opening comments on Crossfire, this is how the incident was described by Tucker Carlson, whom public and private broadcasting networks tumble all over themselves to hire: "Four years ago, he (Edwards) was a personal-injury lawyer specializing in Jacuzzi cases."
An eight-year old who got disemboweled.
A child who'll have to be fed through a tube for as long as she lives.
Now, I know it's a terrible thing when Whoopi Goldberg makes salacious fun of C-Plus Augustus's last name. I know that society may simply collapse. But here is a professional communicator at the top of his profession who, because he couldn't come up with anything else to say at the moment, smugly dispatches the tragedy of a child whose guts were ripped out. (Later in the same show, he told co-host James Carville to "Lighten up," about his comments.) It was an interesting evening -- not only should Tucker Carlson have lost every job in the professional media that he has, and not only did he lose forever any right to criticize anyone for intemperate speech, he at that moment should have been shunned by decent people for the rest of his sorry life."
which you should read every day, but particularly on Fridays, Pierce's regular slot.
Answer These Questions
Ask yourself and your friends or co-workers these questions. Remember the answers. I'll post the real answers later.
What is the percentage of US population that is black?
What is the percentage of US budget allocated to foreign aid?
How much does the average taxpayer pays in income taxes?
How much of the US budget goes to Social Security?
How much of the US budget goes to the Department of Defense?
How much of the US budget goes to the Department of Education?
What percentage of the world's population is Christian? Muslim? Jewish? Non-religious?
Whoopi vs. Rush
You know, its really laughable that Bush and the Repugnicans are up in arms about the Democratic fundraiser the other day at which Whoopi and a few others cussed out Bush and his administration. This is the kind of crap that Rush, Hannity, O'Lielly and others have been doing for years, and with much more hateful intent. Bush is demanding that the Kerry campaign release the video of the event. OK sure -- but let's release a video that juxtaposes Whoopi with Rush, Chevy Chase with Hannity, etc.
I do have to admire Kerry campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill who told her GOP counterpart that she would release the video when Bush released various documents like Bush's military records, Cheney's notes about no-bid contracts for Halliburton and his energy task force; any contact between the Bush administration and the pharmaceutical industry about the Medicare drug bill, and documents about prison abuse in Iraq.
Go, go, go, go, go!!!!
I don't have the smarts or the patience to write lengthy intelligent posts, but fortunately Billmon at The Whiskey Bar does. This one on class warfare
is a must read.
I'm known to launch into long rants about why the middle class in this country has not revolted. My theory is that its because of three factors: easy credit (which allows the middle class to maintain its lifestyle even when income is down and the quantity and quality of jobs has deteroriated), racism (which leads people to believe that their tax dollars are going to fat black women churning out thugs in the ghetto) and religion (which diverts the middle class from what's being done to them economically to so-called "values" issues like gay marriage and abortion).
Look at the numbers: (from Winning Argument
* 257,000 taxpayers with incomes of more than $1 million received a bigger combined tax cut than the 85 million taxpayers who make up the bottom 60 percent of the population.
* Real wages are still shrinking. Although weekly wages appeared to grow .3% in the month of May, adjusting for inflation yields a wage decline of .4% in May, and.5% during the last year. On average, then, it has become more difficult for people to afford goods and services.
* Healthcare costs are rising. Annual employer-based health insurance premiums have risen 37% for individuals and 41% for families since 2000. Out-of-pocket costs associated with these plans are up 52% for individuals and 49% for families during the same period. Almost 20% of household personal income now goes towards healthcare costs.
And from the old Calpundit (Kevin Drum) blog:
The figures below, which are adjusted for inflation, show household incomes since 1967.
Top 5% Households
If median incomes had increased at the same rate as those of the top 5%, the median household income in America today would be $56,000. In reality, it's only $42,000. This difference of $14,000 should be dubbed the "Republican Income Gap."
Median Family 5.3%
Top 1% 76.9%
Median Family 24.63%
Top 1% 26.7%
Also, "...if the standard personal exemption had kept up with inflation since 1948, it would be $12,941 today. In reality, it's only $3,000...For the middle class, the standard exemption has decreased significantly while payroll taxes have increased. For the rich, the top marginal rate has plummeted, the estate tax has been eliminated, and rates have been halved on capital gains...this has been accompanied by steady declines in both economic growth rates and labor productivity."
"A vigorous and growing middle class is essential to the health of a nation, and ours has been mostly stagnant for the past 30 years. One of these days the middle class is going to learn just how rich the rich really are and just how little of our country's enormous prosperity ever "trickles down" to them. But when?"
Where's the Outrage?
A guy I work with had an interesting question after seeing "Fahrenheit 9/11." He asked, "Where is the outrage? Where are the anti-war protestors? Why aren't people marching in the streets?"
What do you think? Where is the outrage at Bush and his policies?
Teresa Heinz Kerry
From The Note
Turning her attention to the opposing political team, the potential first lady exclaimed, "Bullies attack and leaders inspire."
Heinz Kerry continued, "We need, above all, a president who is not fazed by complexity. A president who likes to read. A president who loves history. A president who is rightly proud of the sacrifice of our ancestors."
I've turned on comments, so feel free to join in.
I love this South Knox Bubba
"How many more reports like the Senate report on bogus WMD intelligence being used to justify the invasion of Iraq will it take before people figure out that the Bush is a liar and a thug?"
Be sure to read the Grand Slam Question.
You’re heard about the Election Assistance Commission, right? (This is the newly formed group, headed by a Baptist minister appointed by Bush, to analyze what to do if the election is disrupted by terrorism. The proposal is to get congress to act now to give Homeland Security the decision making power in such a situation.) Given that, under this administration, acts have the reverse intent of their name, should we assume this is really meant to be the Election Prevention Commission?!
Elizabeth Edwards profile
In the Christian Science Monitor
. She appears to be as smart as Hillary and a lot less threatening (to those who fear Hillary, for whatever bizarre reason).
The Real Message of the Senate Report on the CIA
I agree with Kevin (Washington Monthly's Political Animal) on this one. Here's what's really important in that report: "Iraq didn't have any WMD or even any serious WMD programs and Iraq didn't have any serious relationship with al-Qaeda."
And Kevin adds: "Democrats should stop whining about Jay Rockefeller signing off on this report and get to work publicizing what it actually says."
Read the whole thing here
War in Iraq? Collapse of intelligence community? Homeland security? Middle class economic meltdown? Genocide in the Sudan?
This week, our legislators will be debating a constitutional amendment outlawing gay marriage.
Because its not like we would want adult people who, you know, like love one another and want to be together for life to be able to legally validate that. Unless those people who are, like, poor (code word, code word!!). Because then, we're gonna force them to get married before we'll give 'em even the slightest help.
Middle Earth Becomes Narnia
New Zealand is now also Narnia, as the filming of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" is underway. The young stars
have been identified. I'm not a huge fan of the books, but I hope they pull this off. Other filmed versions have been disappointing.
New PlayStation Console
Debuts in May
. No word on when it will be in stores.
So, it appears in violation of Texas law, Tom "The Exterminator" DeLay pressured Enron into giving him money that was channeled into the re-districting fight in that state (which DeLay directed). Problem is, Texas law prohibits corporate financing of state election campaigns. The WaPo
has the skinny. The details have emerged as a result of the Enron investigation. The Texas re-districting mess is yet another example of how these guys will do just about anything to secure their hold on the government now and forever.
This movie is pretty darn lame. I never liked the first one but the second one got such good reviews, I went to see it Saturday with my daughter and her friend (13 year olds).
First, Spiderman violates the first rule of movies which is show, don’t tell. There was so much talking, I just wanted to scream shut up already!
Second, how many times in the first 45 minutes of the movie do we need to be told that Spidey is conflicted?! Unless you’re 7, you got it the first time or two.
Third, Spidey’s dilemma over being a superhero or having his girlfriend is just not enough to make me care; I could not have cared any less about any of these characters throughout the whole movie. At least X-Men is about racism at its core; Spiderman seems to be about teeny bop love.
Now to be fair, Doc Ock is a good villain and Alfred Molina is good. The FX are pretty good and the action is good. And Bruce Campbell’s turn as the snooty usher is a hoot.
On the other hand, James Spano is terrible. But then James Marsden in X-Men 2 is pathetically terrible, so its mox nix.
But what a waste of 2 plus hours of my life! Give me X-Men 2 anytime if you want a good fantasy-action movie.
Postponing the Elections
This is the nightmare scenario I fear the most: the wingnuts being able to make a decision about the election in the event of a terrorist attack. Digby makes a lot of sense to me in this post
"...why would there be any need to do this? We lived under the threat of nuclear war for decades --- real weapons of mass destruction pointed at all of our major cities --- and nobody ever contemplated suspending elections and devised no plans to do so. We have held elections during every war, including the civil war, and didn't contemplate suspending them in case of an attack."
Scientists Protest Political Manipulation
The Union of Concerned Scientists
continues to express deep concern about the Bush administration's distorting scientific integrity. To quote the website in the previous link, "the scientists charged the Bush administration with widespread and unprecedented 'manipulation of the process through which science enters into its decisions.'" This includes "suppressing, distorting, or manipulating the work done by scientists at federal agencies and on scientific advisory panels" and "the use of political litmus tests for scientific advisory panel appointees."
More here from CNN
It has to stop.
The announcement yesterday of a "new terror alert" was a triple play. First, it got Kerry-Edwards off the front page. Second, it pushed Kenny Boy's perp walk to below the fold. And third, it probably helped defeat an effort to weaken the Patriot Act
The specific effort was "to block one section of the law that lets authorities get special court orders requiring book dealers, libraries and others to surrender records such as purchases and Internet sites visited on a library computer."
My favorite quote: "In the fight against terrorism, we've got to keep our eyes on two prizes: the terrorists and the United States Constitution." Bernie Sanders, I-VT.
Enron Ties to Bush Administration
Good read here
of an online chat the Washington Post had yesterday with Robert Bryce, author of Pipe Dreams: Greed, Ego, and the Death of Enron. His new book is Cronies: Oil, the Bushes, and the Rise of Texas -- America's Superstate. The WaPo requires free registration.
From the transcript, here's a partial list of people with direct Enron ties to the Bush administration:
Tom White, former secretary of the Army, was at Enron Energy Services, a company that was little more than a sham from the get go.
Ed Gillespie, current head of the Republican National Committee, was an Enron lobbyist.
Marc Racicot, former head of the RNC, was an Enron lobbyist.
Robert Zoellick, current US Trade Representative, worked for Enron as an adviser.
James Baker III, former secretary of state -- and the man who was crucial to Bush's win in Florida -- was an Enron lobbyist.
Alberto Gonzales, current White House counsel and former partner at the Vinson & Elkins law firm. V&E was one of Enron's primary law firms and signed off on some of the controversial partnership structures. Gonzales still has strong ties with V&E.
Bryce also says this: "...it appears the prosecutors are trying to prove that Lay knew that Enron was in bad shape when he was selling stock. My guess is that Andy Fastow is playing a key role in showing that Lay knew the company was failing. Of course, had he bothered to look at the cash flow statement he would have known that. Alas, Lay is a PhD economist who can't read a cash flow statement."
Even though Bush is trying to distance himself from Ken Lay, now that he's finally done the perp walk, The Smoking Gun
has extensive correspondence between the two, including personal notes and discussions of energy legislation and tort reform.
BTW, Bush walked away
from a media briefing yesterday when asked about his relationship with Lay.
David Bowie is recovering after angioplasty
on a blocked artery. When he first complained of pain, doctors told him it was a pinched nerve in his shoulder. Uh huh.
I saw Bowie on his "Young Americans" concert tour many years ago. I'm a big fan of his enormous talent and wish him the best.
Health vs. Wealth
Krugman, as usual, is a must read
today. Its on Kerry's health care proposal.
Time in Public Office
Josh Marshall has a good post up today on the charges that Edwards lacks experience
. People like Adlai Stevenson and Thomas Dewey had about the same or even less time in public office than Edwards and were nominated for president.
Of course, let's keep in mind that George Bush's only prior public office was governor of Texas, which basically qualified him to be elected president of the Peoria Chamber of Commerce.
And I loved Kerry's response to Bush saying, in reply to a question about Edwards' qualifications, "Cheney can be president." (From AP
:) Kerry said "He was right that Dick Cheney was ready to take over on day one, and he did and he has been ever since, and that's what we got to change."
What the H*ll?
OK my heart is pounding and I don't think its because of the granola bar I just ate. Its because of this post from Digby
. Its long, but worth it, and terribly, terribly scary. What happens in America when innocent people can be treated in this way? Upsetting.
Making the Case
This is a great site to help you make the case for the liberal viewpoint
Keep in mind that these are swimsuits
Just imagine how this case would've played out in America: Europe Rejects Foetal Rights Bid
The case is very tragic, but the court made the correct decision. Obviously, the doctor in this case deserves reprimand, but legally, the fetus is not a viable person and therefore cannot be murdered.
One of the reasons that the Scott Peterson case is getting so much attention is because the right wingers want it to. It will make their case that, if he is convicted of killing not only Lacy but the "unborn" child too, then the unborn can be murdered, and that will aid their legal case against abortion. (BTW, there is some debate about whether the Peterson baby had actually been born prior to being killed; its very important in terms of what this case represents.)
When 70 Feels Cold
OK a non-political post for my friends from up north: it was 70 degrees when I got up at 6:30 this morning and it felt cold, so I opened the windows to get some fresh air. It will be close to 100 by this afternoon; days like today is when 70 feels cold.
It is not unusual for guys up north to take off their shirts when it reaches 50 in the so-called spring. People down here run the heat full blast when its 50 here.
True story: one of my co-workers moved here from Miami. She called her dad in October and complained about how cold it was at night (maybe mid-40s). He had to explain to her that she had a furnace in her apartment and that she should turn on the heat if she was cold.
Time for Another Terror Alert
'Scuse my cynicism but isn't it interesting that after new polls
show a bounce for the Kerry-Edwards ticket, there's a "new" terror threat announced
? Once again, nothing specific. But we are assured that the Bush administration is working diligently and fearlessly on this. I have no doubt terrorists are working to disrupt the election, but why tell us this now and provide absolutely no details? Could it be to get Kerry-Edwards off the front page? Ya think?
The Conservatisation of Public Broadcasting
This whole SCLM (so-called liberal media) joke continues with that bastion of liberalness, public broadcasting.
How bizarre that Tucker Carlson now has his own show on PBS where, according to Media Matters, he can spread the same misrepresentations
he is given to on other media outlets.
And then there's Gwen Ifill parroting GOP talking points
, as David Sirota points out on his excellent website
And let's not forget about Juan Williams, whom David Neiwert
refers to as a Bush apologista
I've come to expect the mainstream media to swallow the GOP kool-aid without question, but to see it happening at PBS and NPR is harder to take.
Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo
comments on The New Republic piece about the Bush administration pushing Pakistan to come up with a high profile Al Qaeda target during the Democratic convention.
Where's "Man on Dog" Santorum?
Have you seen the line-up of who is speaking at the GOP convention in prime time? McCain, Guiliani -- the moderate wing. But where are the true believers, like Rick Santorum and Tom DeLay? Kevin Drum over at Political Animal asks Where are the Real Republicans?
. Do they have something to hide?
Edwards on the Economy
"This [the conservative economic approach] is the most radical and dangerous economic theory to hit our shores since socialism a century ago. Like socialism, it corrupts the very nature of our democracy and our free enterprise tradition. It is not a plan to grow the American economy. It is a plan to corrupt the American economy.
Our economy, our people, and our nation have been undermined by the crony capitalists who believe that success is all about working the angles, working the phones, and rigging the game, instead of hard work, innovation and frugality.
And these manipulators find comfort in an Administration which, through its own example, seems to embrace that ethic.
Look at the choices they make: They have driven up the share of the tax burden for most working people, and driven down the burden on the richest few. They got rid of even the smallest tax on even the largest inheritances on earth. This past month, in a $350 billion bonanza of tax cuts on wealth, they couldn’t find $3.5 billion to give the child tax credit to poor people who work. Listen to this: They refused to cut taxes for the children of 250,000 American soldiers who are risking their lives for us in Iraq, so they could cut dividend and capital gains taxes for millionaires who were selling stocks short until the war was over.
It is wrong to reward those who don’t have to work at the expense of those who do. If we want America to be a growing, thriving democracy, with the greatest work ethic and the strongest middle class on earth, we must choose a different path."
Shubert Must Be a Native American Name
Fern Shubert is a Republican state senator who is running for governor of North Carolina on an anti-immigrant platform. For those not from NC, the state has had a huge wave of Hispanic immigration over the last few years. She mouths all the usual (and untruthful) claims that "Illegal immigration is affecting costs on our health care system, education system, and is eroding state and national security."
Every large immigration movement has sparked this kind of rhetoric. Its never been true and its not now. It doesn't matter whether the immigration is legal or illegal -- it has always, in the long run, been good for the country. Diversity and tolerance are keys to the continued success of American democracy.
Shubert is currently running an outrageous ad blaming the current governor, Democrat Mike Easley, for Sept. 11. Yep, you read that right. She claims that "Easley helps illegal aliens and the terrorists who hide among them" because the Democrats in this state stopped the Republicans from passing an extreme bill designed to make it nearly impossible for immigrants to get a NC driver's license.
At any rate, I figure Shubert must be a Native American name, since the senator is so opposed to immigration she has to be from a family that has been in America forever. Take a look
and decide for yourself.
Bush Pushes Judicial Nominees
Bush is in Edwards' home state today
, attending a $25,000 a plate fundraiser. He's also making his case for his judicial nominees from North Carolina; Senator Edwards is exercising his priviledges to keep those nominations from moving forward.
Bush has been attempting to change the make-up of the judicial system ever since he got elected to further his radical right wing agenda. As Talk Left
"It is imperative to us that Bush be replaced so that his attempts to pack the federal courts with right-wing ideologues and judicial activists be stopped. And so that he can't wreak further havoc by putting unacceptable replacements on the Supreme Court."
Yet another reason to make sure Bush gets booted back to Crawford come November.
Will Bush Drop Cheney?
Purely idle speculation, but will Bush drop Cheney in favor of McCain or Guiliani or someone like that? I would not be surprised.
Acute Case of Inanity
Rhymes with Hannity, with good reason. But this isn't about Banjo Boy. The Repugnicans have unleashed on Edwards with a fury. The RNC called Edwards a "disingenuous, unaccomplished liberal." Right after the announcement, the GOP sent out a bunch of e-mails seemingly showing the two candidates attacking each other during the Democratic primaries.
Then there's that television ad showing Sen. John McCain which is clearly designed to remind voters that Kerry supposedly considered St. McCain as a possible running mate. Why, the stalwart governor of Kerry's home state, Mitt Romney, called Edwards "not a bad choice for his second pick" and added, "This is a fellow who has been a trial lawyer, so he's pretty glib."
There you have it -- all of the RNC talking points about Edwards in one fell swoop: unaccomplished, second choice, trial lawyer.
What a pack of inane arguments. But get ready -- it'll get a whole lot nastier.
Network Potential of Skin
Microsoft has been granted exclusive rights to using the human body as a computer network
The $25,000 Lunch
Bush is coming to Edwards' hometown of Raleigh, NC, Wednesday. He will attend a $25,000-a-plate luncheon at the home of Cliff and Peggy Benson in north Raleigh. The luncheon is to raise money for the state Republican Party's "Get Out and Vote" campaign.
When Bush loses in November, can someone who paid $25,000 for lunch sue him, like the guy who paid $126,626 in one night at a strip club
More on Edwards
From his hometown newspaper: http://www.newsobserver.com/politics/politicians/edwards/eyeonedwards/
Lots of background and other good stuff.
Rumsfeld Meets a Real Reporter
Imagine that: Donald Rumsfeld is asked some tough questions by a real reporter -- from the BBC
. And of course recently President Bush had the same experience in Ireland and an official protest was lodged because the reporter did not show "proper deference" to the President.
The sorry state of the American media is a major, major problem for democracy in this country. People would not be flocking to Michael Moore's movie if they were getting what they need and deserve from the mainstream media.
Krugman: Jobs Scarce, Earnings Fall
Paul Krugman in today's NY Times (July 6) lays it on the line:
"If you want a single number that tells the story, it's the percentage of adults who have jobs. When Mr. Bush took office, that number stood at 64.4. By last August it had fallen to 62.2 percent. In June, the number was 62.3. That is, during Mr. Bush's first 30 months, the job situation deteriorated drastically.
"And economic growth is passing working Americans by. The average weekly earnings of nonsupervisory workers rose only 1.7 percent over the past year, lagging behind inflation. The president of Aetna, one of the biggest health insurers, recently told investors, "It's fair to say that a lot of the jobs being created may not be the jobs that come with benefits." Where is the growth going? No mystery: after-tax corporate profits as a share of G.D.P. have reached a level not seen since 1929."
to view the article (free registration required).
Corporate Profits Skyrocket
A CBS/New York Times poll indicates that 52 percent disapprove of Bush’s handling of the economy. Nearly 2 million jobs have been lost since Bush took office; even in the teeny tiny recovery, 35 states still have fewer jobs than when the Bush recession started.
The economy is growing, but the vast majority of workers aren't seeing any benefit. Employment levels are still very low and the people who are employed are either treading water or losing ground.
In the so-called recovery, workers have lost ground nothing (income down 0.6 percent) while corporate profits have skyrocketed (up 62.2 percent).
Kerry picks Edwards for veep. Strengths: incredibly smart, great speaker and campaigner, represents the liberal economic argument very well, great personal story and charisma, Southern, handsome but not a lightweight. Weaknesses: not a lot of experience -- first-term senator who did not hold office previously (he was a trial lawyer).
Edwards has always been my man; I supported him for president because his economic message resonates with me. And believe me, he had to win me over. He's so pretty, I thought he must a be a lightweight. Then, I read what he has to say and I was sold.
This is a strong choice. The Dems have got to turn this election into a debate over the economy. Bush is already weak on the war in Iraq and public confidence in him in the "war on terra" is weakening too. Somehow, we've got to wake up the populace in the red states to how the Republicans have sold them out economically and diverted their attention from that to "values" issues. Edwards can help do that.
Celebrating Freedom the American Way
With lots of food. Pork butt in the oven, known where I live as barbecue. Not to be confused with grilling. Chicken soaking in buttermilk, about to be fried. Still have to make coleslaw and maybe deviled eggs. Peach and blueberry pie already made. Will be making shortcakes and brownies later. Don't you wish you were here?!
What is this blog's reason for being? To express my views and opinions on politics and culture. Simple, eh?!