Labor Day

 Posted by at 22:40  Politics
Aug 312003

Labor Day / Subdued economy, subdued holiday

At a Labor Day extravaganza on St. Paul’s Harriet Island today, a group of Minnesota union activists will celebrate this old-fashioned holiday with music, food and a cast of populist stem-winders including Texas barnstormer Jim Hightower and the political reformer known as Granny D.

But for many Americans, this will be a subdued holiday, a time for staying close to home and counting modest blessings. War and terrorism in far-off places explain much of this somber mood. But for an explanation that lies closer to home, one need look no further than the latest employment data. For today is a Labor Day without labor, celebrated in an economy that cannot seem to create jobs.

During the last two economic rebounds, in 1983 and 1993, Americans became acquainted with the phrase “jobless recovery.” This describes the sensible tendency of employers, in the early months of an expansion, to book new orders and ramp up production before actually putting new employees on the payroll.

But the current expansion defies all precedents. Since the economic recovery started in November 2001, the economy has actually lost 1 million jobs, a development that appears unprecedented. The nation’s unemployment rate, though low by historical measures, is still rising after 20 months of economic growth, another economic anomaly. The average spell of unemployment has reached a 21-year high, and some 2 million Americans have exhausted their government unemployment benefits. The government reported Friday that the economy grew a solid 3.1 percent in the spring quarter, but economists say it must grow much faster to draw down the pool of jobless workers.

Experts say there is some good news buried in these numbers. Steven Cochrane of says that employers who invested billions of dollars in computer technology during the 1990s have finally harnessed it in ways that allow them to produce more goods without hiring more workers, a fact that explains the nation’s strong productivity performance in the last three years. Over the long haul, that should bode well for the competitiveness of the American economy.

But another explanation has to do with simple caution: Americans who have endured the terrorist attacks of September 2001, a wave of corporate scandals in 2002 and now a grueling conflict in Iraq are simply not feeling especially bullish. “What you expect in the early stages of an expansion is a growth spurt, where the economy makes up its lost ground,” says University of Minnesota economist Tim Kehoe. “This time we have not had that.”

This has been a good summer for those in a position to take money out of the stock market and for families with children, who got hefty federal tax refunds in recent weeks. But with millions of workers sitting on the economy’s sidelines, this is a Labor Day to be observed rather than celebrated.

Well, anyway, happy Labor Day all! We’ll have to make the best of it for another year or so until we can get the Republicans out of office. And to those of us seeking employment… Good Luck!

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 Posted by at 08:14  Election 2004
Aug 312003

Rob Humenik (Get Donkey!) wrote the following in his blog:

The other night at the house party someone (okay this someone) was asking me what it was I liked about Dean. I wanted to deliver a reasoned account of how Dean’s proposals will function for the betterment of the nation, but when it came right down to it, I had to admit the truth — that a lot of my reasons are emotional. Sure, I agree with a majority of Dean’s positions on the issues, but when you boil it down, I just like the guy.

It got me to thinking. You know, a lot of the reasons I like Governor Dean are emotional also. He’s smart and he seems to enjoy what he’s doing. He enjoys people and likes being around them. He listens and he reacts. If you haven’t had the chance to see Howard Dean in action yet, get on over to and watch some of the videos, or click on “Howard Dean TV” under Dean Links in the left column (takes a while to load the first time). He just makes me feel good! (Not like I want to throw a shoe through the television screen, which is how I feel every time George W. Bush appears there.)

It’s not all emotion, though. Like Rob, I agree with his positions and I like his ideas. Well, all except one — he thinks the implementation of civil unions should be left up to the individual states; I think it should be federal law. But it’s like he always says, “You may not like where I stand on some of the issues, but you will always know exactly where I stand.”

I believe in Governor Dean, and I believe he is going to be an outstanding President of the United States. He has earned my trust and I plan on backing him all the way.

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Not interested?

 Posted by at 06:34  Politics
Aug 312003

From “Schwarzenegger Gave Racy Interview in ’77” published by the Washington Post on August 29th:

Today, the campaign director for conservative state Sen. Tom McClintock (R), who is also running in the recall election, declined to comment about Schwarzenegger’s remarks in the adult magazine. “We’re not interested in his secret sex life,” John Feliz said. “What we’re interested in is his secret political views.” Asked if he thought the interview is relevant to the current race, Feliz replied, “I don’t think so.”

Republicans not interested in somebody’s secret sex life? Will somebody please notify Bill Clinton? I think he’d find that most interesting.

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Letter to Time

 Posted by at 04:03  Election 2004
Aug 312003

Governor Dean writes a letter to Time magazine:

I deeply appreciated your article “The Cool Passion of Dr. Dean,” but I must correct one thing. You said I seem to regard the use of U.S. military power with “a mixture of contempt and suspicion.” I supported American military intervention in the first Gulf War and in Afghanistan, which I considered to be a matter of U.S. national security. I did not back President Bush’s attack on Iraq because I thought that the American people were not being told the truth about the reasons for invading. I do not believe any President should be given blanket authority to invade another nation unless the President sets forth clear and truthful reasons. That does not make me contemptuous of using military power; it makes me a candidate who is more judicious in the use of U.S. military power than President Bush and many of my Democratic competitors.

South Burlington, Vt.

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Self Defeat

 Posted by at 03:42  Election 2004
Aug 312003

This cartoon, by Ward Sutton, appears in today’s Village Voice.

If anybody in the cartoon reminds you of yourself, you need to pull yourself together. Now! Please, I’m begging you. We will not survive another four years of George Bush.

The Challenge

 Posted by at 22:51  Election 2004
Aug 302003

Think about it. You are the party of the sitting Republican president. Your future and your fortune depend upon this man remaining in office. There is an election coming up in about a year, and one man has emerged as the front runner for the Democratic nomination. This man is telling the truth about your man… that he lies, that he has destroyed the economy, that he is weak on national security, that he wants to destroy Social Security and Medicare. What are you going to do?

The logical thing would be to do everything you can to ensure that this man does not get the nomination of his party. You don’t want your man to have to run against him in the election, because you know your man would lose. So you play your games. You get the word out that this is the man you really want to run against. You say that your party will do the same thing to this man that your party did in the past to McGovern and Dukakis, even though this man is nothing like McGovern or Dukakis. You hope and pray that by doing this, you will discourage the Democrats from nominating this man and you won’t have to run against him.

This is exactly what the Rove machine is now doing to Governor Howard Dean, the one Democratic candidate whom they fear really can beat George W. Bush in the 2004 election. Unfortunately, a lot of Democrats appear to be falling into their trap. The result, if they are successful, will be another four years of the Bush administration and the ruination of the United States.

So, I offer you this challenge… If you are in the camp who really wants Governor Dean to win the Democratic nomination because you believe he will be easily beaten by George W. Bush (as Karl Rove claims he believes), put your money where your mouth is. Contribute to his campaign right now. Help him win the nomination. Prove, once and for all, that you are right and I am wrong. (Could it be that I am sensing a little hesitation there?)

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Rove tactics

 Posted by at 02:45  Election 2004
Aug 302003

Mike Hersh writes in his article “Republicans Fear Howard Dean“:

Howard Dean emerged from back of the Democratic pack because he’s taking the fight directly to Bush, and Dean is using the media to inform millions of Americans about Bush’s failed policies. Some of the other candidates who were reluctant to speak out are following Dean’s lead. Democrats are finally finding their voices.

The right wing is not taking this sitting down. FAUX News, Rush Limbaugh, and other GOP tools slam Dean every day. Sean Hannity calls him “Howard Dean McGovern.” This is because – whether or not Dean eventually ends up with the nomination – Dean is helping us against Bush. The right wingers understand that. Unfortunately some on our side apparently don’t get it.

Someone else may end up as the nominee, but as Dean begins to pull away from the pack, unfair accusations against him circulate like the “SOBIG” virus. Some of his rivals are making these desperate attacks, but I’ve traced some directly to Republican National Committee talking points. No shock there.

Right wingers love the DDT method. That stands for Distort, Distract and Trash. They put out attack faxes and post messages to trick unwitting tools into distorting Dean’s record. They do this to distract attention from Bush’s lousy record and away from Dean’s strong anti-Bush message. They do this hoping to trash Dean himself.

Karl Rove knows if he can discredit Dean he can bury Dean’s message. As Democrats blame and bloody each other in this internecine struggle, Rove laughs. The right wing is a minority in America, and can only stay in control through divide and conquer tactics. They need us infighting and so they foster and relish these attacks against Dean — and against any Democrat.

The RNC is encouraging attacks on Dean now, even as they funded Nader’s attacks on Gore in 2000. If someone else emerges as a threat, their venom will shift to that candidate. Was Al Gore perfect? No. Was he light-years better than Bush? Yes. Are the Democratic contenders perfect? No. Are they light-years better than Bush? Yes.

One question for Dean / Democrat bashers: Unless you actually want to help Bush win so the right wing can continue to screw us over, please think before attacking any Democratic candidates. Don’t be an unwitting tool of the right wing.

I’d recommend you go read the entire article.

Voting machines

 Posted by at 01:18  Election 2004
Aug 302003

This is amazing…

Voting machine controversy

Columbus – The head of a company vying to sell voting machines in Ohio told Republicans in a recent fund-raising letter that he is “committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year.”

The Aug. 14 letter from Walden O’Dell, chief executive of Diebold Inc. – who has become active in the re-election effort of President Bush – prompted Democrats this week to question the propriety of allowing O’Dell’s company to calculate votes in the 2004 presidential election.

O’Dell attended a strategy pow-wow with wealthy Bush benefactors – known as Rangers and Pioneers – at the president’s Crawford, Texas, ranch earlier this month. The next week, he penned invitations to a $1,000-a-plate fund-raiser to benefit the Ohio Republican Party’s federal campaign fund – partially benefiting Bush – at his mansion in the Columbus suburb of Upper Arlington.

The letter went out the day before Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, also a Republican, was set to qualify Diebold as one of three firms eligible to sell upgraded electronic voting machines to Ohio counties in time for the 2004 election.

Will Your Vote Count in the Next Election?

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Mind changing

 Posted by at 23:13  Election 2004
Aug 292003

Jim VandeHei writes in The Washington Post:

Dean Invites More Scrutiny By Switching Key Stances

Howard Dean, who sells himself as the presidential campaign’s straightest shooter, is starting to throw voters some curves.

As he transitions from insurgent to the man to beat in the Democratic primary, Dean is modifying or switching his positions on several political issues. In recent weeks, Dean, the former Vermont governor, has softened his support for lifting the trade embargo on Cuba — an important issue in voter-rich Florida — and suggested he might opt out of the public campaign finance system he endorsed weeks earlier.

Dean also has backed off his support for raising the age at which senior citizens can collect their full Social Security benefits, a change that would save the government money by trimming monthly payments to thousands of older Americans. Dean initially denied he ever supported raising the retirement age, but later admitted he did.

While it’s not unusual for politicians to flip-flop, massage or tailor their positions to placate politically important audiences, Dean is inviting greater scrutiny and criticism by running as a truth-teller who doesn’t bend to prevailing political winds, campaign strategists said.

With Dean pulling ahead in Iowa and New Hampshire polls, and surging nationally, several rival campaigns are gearing up to hammer him for switching positions over the years for what they consider purely political reasons. They hope to dilute Dean’s appeal nationally as the anti-politician in the crowd .

“He has sold himself as the straight-shooting candidate, the truth-teller, the one who will say what’s hard and unpopular,” said Jim Jordan, campaign manager for presidential candidate Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.). “In truth, he’s a very crafty politician, very calculating.”

Dean said what differentiates him is his willingness to speak his mind, change his positions and admit when he’s wrong. “They won’t beat me by claiming I switched positions,” Dean said in an interview Wednesday. “They better come out with better ideas.” Dean said he has no qualms about “changing his mind” when facts warrant it.

I’d have to agree with Dr. Dean on this one. I think you should be willing to change your mind and your position when the facts warrant.

We do not live in a static world. Things change daily. Heck, things are changing by the minute. The current administration has set their course, and refuses to deviate from it. This is very dangerous, as we have seen with the situations in Afghanistan and Iraq. You have to be willing to reevaluate the circumstances constantly, and change your positions accordingly. What Jim Jordan and the Post are complaining about here is an essential component of something called leadership.

Don’t you agree?

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On the military thing

 Posted by at 02:34  Election 2004
Aug 292003

From Slate:

The Worst of Howard Dean
A troubling tale from his past. Is it true?

Charge: In 1971, Dean, who had been a wrestling team captain in high school, received a draft deferment for an unfused vertebra in his back. In the Aug. 15, 2002, Aspen Times, Dean said he “skied 80 days” in Aspen during the winter of 1971-72. The Times reported that Dean “loved skiing bumps,” otherwise known as moguls. (Some health publications note that moguls can put particular stress on the spine.) “It was a great time to be a kid and do something relatively fun,” Dean recalled. He added that he also worked that year “pouring concrete.” Time reported on Aug. 11, 2003, that Dean spent the year “skiing and bumming around. … He hit the slopes, tried pot, washed dishes, poured concrete and drank impressive amounts of beer.” On June 22, 2003, Tim Russert asked Dean on Meet the Press, “Why were you able to ski on Ajax Mountain, pounding your back, and pouring concrete, and not serve in the military?”

Defense: Dean told Russert, “I was given an examination. I had a previous back problem, which is evidently congenital, which prevented me from doing any sustained running, a problem that I’ve had since then, since that time, which requires that when I get out of the car I often have some pains up and down my leg and back and so forth. But I have been able to exercise [and have] a vigorous athletic life except for some things. One of those is long-distance running, which is how the problem came to my attention in the first place. I noticed the pain when I was in high school running track. … After the physical, I received a 1-Y deferment, [which] means you can only be called in times of national emergency. I didn’t have anything to do with choosing any draft deferment. … The United States government said this is your classification. I’m not responsible for that.”

In the May 25, 2003, Washington Post, Dean’s campaign manager, Joe Trippi, said, “[Dean’s] view is, ‘Look, I went in, got a physical and was rejected, and then I went on with my life.’ “

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