Thursday, June 17, 2004

'A serious man for a serious time'

The Philadelphia Daily News endorses John Kerry:

Unlike the current White House occupant, Kerry can lead America to a brighter, better future. He has shown the personal courage, compassion, intellect and skill to lead this country in a time of war abroad and economic troubles at home. He is a serious man for a serious time.

....He is not the indecisive waffler the Bush team would have you believe. Instead, he is offering a concrete, pragmatic direction for the nation.

On the issue of high unemployment he is proposing changing the tax laws that give U.S. companies incentives to outsource jobs to India and China.

Kerry promises to roll back the Bush tax cuts for people making more than $200,000 to help cut the federal deficit and help pay for his health-care program, which seeks to expand coverage. He will withdraw the special privileges given to polluting industries and the oil companies as we work toward freeing ourselves from dependence on oil from the Middle East.

On homeland security, Kerry understands that if we are attacked again, the first to respond will be firefighters and emergency medical teams, which have been largely ignored by the Bush administration. Kerry is proposing recruiting an additional 100,000 firefighters. Bill Clinton did the same with police during his term. Afterward, crime went down across the country. Coincidence? Hardly.

On Iraq, there's little evidence that Bush can enlist the international help necessary to bring more of our troops home. There's reason to believe that Kerry, who understands the human cost of war, will.

There's a lot more -- all of it worth reading.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

A vote of confidence -- from someone who knows

From the Cincinnati Enquirer:

Ronna Greff Schneider, a law professor at the University of Cincinnati, was John Kerry's moot-court partner at Boston College Law School in 1974 and 1975, when they won the school competition and the New England regional before losing in the national finals.

"I worked so intensely with him in a way that, granted, was not like running the country. But I saw in him qualities I so admire that I know will make him a wonderful president," she said. "He's very, very smart, and he can take a tremendous amount of complex information, listen to both sides of an argument, and then focus in on what's important."

The clueless commentariat

Sometimes the commentariat leaves me dumbfounded. How in the hell do some of these people get to be journalists -- at major media outlets, no less? Judging from their output, some of them couldn't get a job at the weekly Car Trader.

Today I ran across a Richard Wolffe column on the Newsweek Web site that was so atrocious it simply could not pass unchallenged. I fired off an e-mail, which I'm sure he'll never see, but at least I have the satisfaction of reprinting it here:

Really, now -- in this column, you seem almost as clueless as George W. Bush.

* Bush cannot possibly talk about pocketbook issues, because he knows nothing about them. The concept of financial problems is utterly foreign to him. His father's wealthy friends provided the financial backing for GWB's every business venture, and they were always there to bail him out when he failed: he's never had to face the consequences.

* I'm not at all surprised that Bush got off the subject of Medicare ASAP and moved on to his favorite topic, the "war on terra." Remember, this is the same guy who told a professor at Harvard Business School that Medicare and Social Security constituted "socialism." While he now pays lip service to them as every politician must, I've seen nothing to indicate that he's actually changed his mind.

* Why on earth would a giveaway to the pharmaceutical industry disguised as a "Medicare prescription drug benefit" (and a confusing program at that) provide a "winning message on the cost of living for seniors"? Surveys show that the majority of seniors oppose the program (which means they're a lot less gullible than some journalists).

* "Populist president"? The guy who's given us government of, by, and for big corporations and the wealthy? Could we possibly be talking about the same person?

Next time, you might want to do your homework. It's always advisable to know what you're talking about.

Another reality check

From Ruy Teixeira's excellent Emerging Democratic Majority blog (a/k/a Donkey Rising):

[L]et me add a salient point here: the economy has to add about 140,000 jobs a month simply to keep up with labor force growth and prevent the number of unemployed workers from rising. And 140,000 jobs a month over nine months comes to 1.26 million jobs. Therefore, the seemingly impressive addition of 1.4 million jobs is just barely over the number of jobs the economy needed to add over that period simply to prevent the number of unemployed from increasing.

Doesn't sound so impressive that way, does it?

No, it doesn't. Of course, when anyone points out inconvenient facts like these (or the statistics John Kerry cited in the previous post), the Bushies yell "Pessimist!" Actually, the correct term is "Realist."

John Kerry provides a useful reality check

From the LA Times:

The creation of new jobs in recent months belied the worsening conditions that most Americans live in, Kerry said.

He said that jobs today paid an average of $9,000 less annually and that household income was disappearing because of 50% increases in healthcare, 35% jumps in college tuitions and other increased expenses.

Besides the rollback of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, Kerry has proposed tax credits for businesses that create jobs and the cancellation of tax breaks for some companies that move jobs overseas.

The more I hear about John Kerry, the better I like him.

3 of every 10 new jobs going to non-citizens

According to the nonpartisan Pew Hispanic Center (and reported in the LA Times):

Immigrants are filling nearly three out of every 10 new jobs in the rebounding U.S. economy, a development that may dilute the political dividend to President Bush from an election-year recovery....

The share of jobs going to noncitizens — 28.5% — was particularly notable because workers who were not U.S. citizens accounted for fewer than 9% of all those holding jobs in the United States....[According to the report] "noncitizens are benefiting disproportionately from the turnaround in the labor market."

At the risk of sounding like Pat Buchanan (and believe me, I don't want to sound like him), I must admit I have a problem with that.

David Letterman, political prognosticator

Tonight David Letterman aired a video clip in which Dubya explained that "Twenty-four/seven means 24 hours a day, seven days a week." Then Dave chuckled and said:

"I'm gonna miss that guy."

The studio audience erupted in cheers.

Let's head for the polls in November and prove Dave right. (It stands to reason that comedians would miss Dubya, but they're the only thinking individuals who will.)

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Kerry focuses on middle-class woes

From AP via Boston Globe:

Twenty years ago, middle class families with one parent working used to be able to buy a home and pay for college. But today, two incomes barely cover the basics. And, as you know too well, if anything at all goes wrong -- an illness or a temporary layoff -- most families can't pay the bills and they risk losing everything they've built and saved for. That's wrong. And we're going to change it. -- John Kerry

Why the middle class is hurting: the increasing costs of health insurance, child care, tuition, and gasoline; overall job losses; and "new" jobs that don't pay as well as those that have been lost.

If you get D-minuses for three-and-a-half years in college, one semester with a B-minus doesn't put you on the honor roll. And our economy does not recover after three-and-a-half extremely weak years of job creation with just a few positive months. -- Kerry economic advisor Gene Sperling

John Ashcroft: Worst AG in history

Paul Krugman builds an airtight case. In case you haven't noticed the emerging pattern, an embarrassing revelation about the Bush administration (such as the torture memo) is generally followed by an Ashcroft announcement about some development in the war on terrorism -- this time, the arrest of a man allegedly to plotting to bomb a shopping mall (in the swing state of Ohio, no less).

If you read the fine print, however, the plot had not advanced beyond the discussion phase and the would-be perp didn't have the resources to pull it off. The only reason this would warrant an Ashcroft press conference is to distract the media from the mess in Iraq.

How many Bushies does it take to change a light bulb?

Currently making the rounds:

How many Bush administration officials it takes to change a light bulb? Seven.

• One to deny that a light bulb needs to be replaced.

• One to attack and question the patriotism of anyone who has questions about the light bulb.

• One to blame the previous administration for the need of a new light bulb.

• One to arrange the invasion of a country rumored to have a secret stockpile of light bulbs.

• One to get together with Vice President Cheney and figure out how to pay Halliburton one million dollars for a light bulb.

• One to arrange a photo-op session showing Bush changing the light bulb while dressed in a flight suit and wrapped in an American flag.

• And finally, one to explain to Bush the difference between screwing a light bulb and screwing the country.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Wingnuts try to block showing of "Fahrenheit 9/11"

Well, you knew it was coming....

According to Atrios, the Republican PR firm of Russo Marsh & Rogers has rolled out a "Stop Michael Moore" Web site. Of course, the site features lots of convenient links for wingnuts to use in e-mailing theatre chains around the nation -- in an effort to keep them from showing Michael Moore's new film, "Fahrenheit 9/11."

I think these theatre chains ought to hear from those of us who want to see the film. (They've already heard from me.) If you can find some time to send a few e-mails, head on over to Stop Michael Moore and make good use of those convenient links. (I suggest using the subject line, "I WANT to see Fahrenheit 9/11.")

And while you're at it, stop by Atrios, scroll down to his convenient list of e-mail addresses at Russo Marsh & Rogers, and let 'em know how you feel about this attempt at censorship. (I told them that if they prefer a society in which citizens can be muzzled, I'm sure they'd be welcome in Saudi Arabia.)

Yet another double standard

Time magazine takes note of yet another double standard for the presidential candidates:

For all the attention that has been given Kerry's problems with the clergy of his church, "there have not been an equal number of stories about the way Bush has ignored his own faith group, the United Methodist Church, by declining to accept a delegation of bishops that wanted to talk to him about the war," says Philip Amerson, president of the Claremont School of Theology, a United Methodist seminary in Claremont, Calif.

Having been brought up in the United Methodist Church, I hate to see that excellent organization tarred by association with George W. Bush. The UMC has a long history of social activism, dating back to the church's very beginnings -- when John Wesley ministered to working-class people who were essentially ignored by the Anglican church. In the US, Methodists took a leading role in racial healing by merging their black and white denominations in 1968.

I find it hard to believe that Bush acquired his fundamentalist beliefs in the UMC. He has not attended church on a regular basis in Washington, ostensibly because he doesn't want to "disrupt" worship with security measures (although oddly enough, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter managed to worship regularly in Washington without causing too much hassle for others in attendance). I suspect Bush may be more concerned about the pointed messages he might hear from a DC pulpit.


"And so at long last, George W. Bush has found a flag-draped coffin he doesn't mind standing next to."

Democratic Underground notes that Dubya "is trying to attach himself to the legacy of Ronald Reagan in much the same way a horny cocker spaniel tries to attach itself to your pantleg."

Sunday, June 13, 2004

George W. Bush, phony

Frank Rich examines the "similarities" between Dubya and Reagan in today's NY Times:

Mr. Bush's aw-shucks persona, by contrast, has been manufactured from scratch. He has rarely, if ever, ventured out of the cocoon of privilege. He "lost a lot of other people's money in the oil business," said Ron Reagan Jr. in 2000. "What is his accomplishment? That he's no longer an obnoxious drunk?"...Mr. Bush made a killing on a baseball team with the help of cronies and sweetheart deals. He has no history of engagement with either issues or people beyond big oil or the Andover-Yale-Harvard orbit until he belatedly went into the family business of politics....

Mr. Bush is so inured to the prerogatives of his life of soft landings that his attempts to affect a jus' folks geniality are invariably betrayed by nastiness whenever someone threatens to keep him from getting his own way. It's impossible to imagine Reagan countenancing the impugning of the patriotism of war heroes like John McCain and Max Cleland as the Bush machine has done in the heat of close campaigns.
[emphasis mine]

It's true that Bush is no longer an obnoxious drunk. Now he's simply obnoxious.