Friday, September 05, 2003

You Gotta Love The Guy 

I'm talking about John Bolton -- bushy hair and mustache -- undersecretary of state for arms control, under whose watch two countries previously non-nuclear are on the nuclear verge -- not any two countries, that would be Iran and North Korea, two-thirds of the Axis of Evil -- yes, that John Bolton. Why gotta love him, you are asking yourselves? Because out of the mouths of babes and neo-cons often emerge truths that would be embarrassing to all but babes and neo-cons.

Where Condi Rice, Cheney, even Sec. Powell and the President himself have felt the need to obsfucate in defense of their various Iraq policies, often speaking as though any menacing fact provably true about Iraq or Saddam at any time since 1970, could be commandeered as an on-going threat in 2003, John Bolton, in an interview with the AP, has blurted out what all the others really meant:

".....whether Saddam's regime actually possessed weapons of mass destruction "isn't really the issue."

"The issue I think has been the capability that Iraq sought to have WMD programs," Bolton said at the U.S. Embassy in Paris.

Bolton said that Saddam kept "a coterie" of scientists he was preserving for the day when he could build nuclear weapons unhindered by international constraints.

That fact, combined with Iraq's history of deceiving U.N. inspectors, showed that Saddam could not be trusted to abandon his ambition to develop unconventional weapons, Bolton said.

"Whether he possessed them today or four years ago isn't really the issue," he said. "As long as that regime was in power, it was determined to get nuclear, chemical and biological weapons one way or another."

Who can argue with that? I'm certainly ready to concede that Saddam hadn't given up his dreams. Saddam needed to be dealt with at some point. The woeful impact on the Iraqi people of the sanctions regime needed to be dealt with sooner than that.

Now, maybe, we can have a sensible discussion of whether or not the choice of a full-scale invasion of Iraq, whose purpose was not only to remove Saddam, but just as important to the administration though rarely discussed in the SCLM, to deliver the country of Iraq, its land, resources and people, into the hands of Americans, was really the best use of our resources in our struggle against Al Queda and other forms of stateless terrorism,

Now, maybe, we can talk about what could or could not have been accomplished through the UN, and what "international constraints" short of war and occupation, could have been brought to bear to hinder his dreams of reconstituting his WMD. (More on this subject in a later post)

Mr. Bolton made these remarks in Paris, where he was attending an international conference whose subject was interdiction at sea of nuclear materials, a subject of great importance to this administration, since it's North Korean policy seems designed to force North Korea to arm itself with nuclear weapons, at which point the President will have another golden opportunity to play tough guy, threaten a blockade, promise to interdict unilaterally and at will, and warn that if NK attempts to export either bombs, technology, or fissionable material, such will be regarded as an act of war, and could invite a nuclear response. Gosh, I feel safer already.

Perhaps this administration's worst, most lasting legacy will be to have dismantled the entire international infrastructure for the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, although among the sheer number of tragic Bush legacies in the works it's difficult to choose. And no policy is more likely to undo current constraints on proliferation than development of a whole new generation of more useable (i.e., easier to think about as conventional) nuclear weapons.

If you like Wm Wegman, Weimaraners, or just dogs in general, click here and do something about it.

Let's privatize everything! 

AP here:

With Illinois facing a $5 billion budget deficit, Gov. Rod Blagojevich said Friday he is considering selling corporate sponsorships for everything from state vehicles to state programs to raise cash.

"We're not going to raise taxes to deal with this budget deficit ... so you've got to think outside the box and find creative ways to raise revenue," Blagojevich said.

The Democratic governor said his staff is working on a plan to sell such advertising.

Reality imitates art—in this case, Neal Stephensen's Snow Crash...

Admiral Bob's Navy...

General Jim's Army....

The Criminal Justice System, brought to you by Fox News...

"The State of the Union address, brought to you by Halliburton..."

Guess it does make it clear who really owns and runs the country, eh?

Our CEO President 


Asked who bears the blame for the nation's growing budget deficit, Bush said "It's nobody's fault."

You, to a six-year-old: "Who broke the lamp?"
Six-year-old: "Nobody!"


UPDATE: Alert reader qubit points out that at least aWol is not blaming The Clenis™. There's a first time for everything....

Top 10 reasons not to hate Bush, #5 

He restored honor and dignity to the oval office.

Republican tactics 101: When you lose, change the rules 

MoveOn connects the dots:

Moveon.org , which has raised more than $1 million in recent weeks for the new campaign, announced that it will run television, radio and print ads in eight battleground states and the District of Columbia -- aimed primarily at Latino voters, who the group said would be disenfranchised by what the GOP wants to do in Texas.

Their effort is part of a broader campaign by the online group to "connect the dots," as one official put it, between the Texas fight, the recall election in California, the 2000 Florida election recount and President Bill Clinton's impeachment.

"The pattern is clear. When they can't win elections fair and square, the Republican leadership will go to any lengths to undermine the Democratic will of the voters," said Moveon.org co-founder Joan Blades.

Focusing on The Big Picture 

As happy as I was to see the Dems come out swinging at Bush in the debates last night, I remain incredulous that they still seem incapable of painting a larger canvas. It's no overstatement, and long overdue, to call the Administration's Iraq policy a "miserable failure," but what remains missing is the devastating argument that incompetence and irresponsibility is the Bush family trademark. As far back as TANG, Harken and Arbusto, continuing with the Silverado Savings and Loan bailout, right through the wrecking of the Texas economy, to the looting of federal treasury and now their unfunny ripoff of South Park's "Operation Get-Behind-the-Darkies" riff at the UN, the Bushes have specialized at indulging their ruinous appetites, then bolting on the check.

If we'd had a functioning press during Campaign 2000, the electorate would have known what they were being sold going in, but of course the price of Al Gore's dog's prescription medications was far more important. I think it's about time to hold a Bush accountable for a change, and the catastrophe in Iraq is the Bush modus maloperandi writ large. If the Dems can't frame these elements into one picture of lifelong personal, political and fiscal recklessness, they are wasting a god-given opportunity to visit on these people the karma they so richly (no pun intended) deserve.

Oh--and while they're at it, I want to see the Dems reprise the Dukakis tank commercial with Herr Codpiece on the USS Lincoln in the starring role. Imagine the scrolling text, reminding voters of the accrued and unaccrued costs of President Inigo Montoya's obsession with Saddam Hussein. "We Can't Afford the Risk" indeed. The damn script practically writes itself. Bush in the White House is like a spoiled, petulant child with a live hand grenade. C'mon guys. You can do it.

From bully to Wussy in four short months 


Still, even a modest currency shift by Beijing would allow Mr. Bush to say that he was doing something about the loss of manufacturing jobs other than appointing a "jobs czar." And so John Snow, the Treasury secretary, went off to Beijing to request an increase in the yuan's value.

But he got no satisfaction. A quick look at the situation reveals one reason why: the U.S. currently has very little leverage over China. Mr. Bush needs China's help to deal with North Korea — another crisis that was allowed to fester while the administration focused on Iraq. Furthermore, purchases of Treasury bills by China's central bank are one of the main ways the U.S. finances its trade deficit.

Nobody is quite sure what would happen if the Chinese suddenly switched to, say, euros — a two-point jump in mortgage rates? — but it's not an experiment anyone wants to try.

There may also be another reason. The Chinese remember very well that in Mr. Bush's first few months in office, his officials described China as a "strategic competitor" — indeed, they seemed to be seeking a new cold war until terrorism came along as a better issue. So Mr. Bush may find it as hard to get help from China as from the nations those same officials ridiculed as "old Europe."

Sic transit and all that. Just four months after Operation Flight Suit, the superpower has become a supplicant to nations it used to insult. Mission accomplished!


Contractors are like anyone else (except dying for Halliburton isn't the same as dying for your country... Except to Bush and his gang, of course.)

The Wecovery 

The Times via AP here:

The civilian unemployment rate improved marginally last month -- sliding down to 6.1 percent -- as companies slashed payrolls by 93,000. Friday's report sent mixed signals about the nation's overall economic health.

August was the seventh consecutive month of cuts in payrolls, a survey released by the Labor Department showed, indicating continuing weakness in the job market. But the overall seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell from 6.2 to 6.1 percent of the labor force, as reflected by a broader survey of U.S. households.

"But" these household numbers aren't as reliable as the payroll numbers.

Labor Department analysts believe the survey of businesses provides a more reliable picture of the jobs market than the household survey. The payroll report is based on a larger sample and estimates ``are regularly anchored to'' counts derived from employment insurance tax records, said Kathleen P. Utgoff, Bureau of Labor Statistics commissioner.

And now the balance paragraph. I love this part.

Recent data indicate an improving economy, yet favorable conditions have yet to trickle down to the jobs market. Businesses still are cautious about hiring and adding new positions, the major factor holding back the economy.

But business isn't being "cautious"—the rest of the story shows that. Business is laying people off and making the survivors work harder. What's "cautious" about that?

I'm going to pay my phone bill now—I'll just write "favorable conditions have trickled down" in the payment box. (Trickled down from where, one asks?)

If this is a recovery, where are the jobs?

Democracy Not Now! 

Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything."
--Russian Dictator Joseph Stalin

Read: Will Bush Backers Manipulate Votes to Deliver GW Another Election? - by Amy Goodman and the staff of Democracy Now!

In at least two states, companies with very close ties to the Bush administration are in prime positions to control the voting systems in the 2004 presidential elections.

In Illinois, Populex is the company that is creating the electronic voting system for the state. It was recently revealed that Ronald Reagan's former Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci now serves on the company's five-member Advisory Board. Carlucci is also the chairman emeritus of The Carlyle Group, the defense contractor often called the "Ex-President's Club" because of the high profile partners and advisors on its payroll. These include key players from George W Bush's inner circle, such as former President Bush and former Secretary of State James Baker III.

Meanwhile in Ohio, Diebold Inc. is one of the companies vying to sell electronic voting machines in that state. Diebold and its CEO have strong Republican ties, specifically to the Bush administration.

A recent article by Julie Carr Smyth in The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that the head of Diebold is also a top fundraiser for President Bush's re-election. In a recent fund-raising letter Diebold's chief executive Walden O'Dell said he is "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."

Read all about it. Full article mirrored via Common Dreams.

Backtrack: See also - Lambert's prior post here: How safe is your vote with a Diebold machine?

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Mush from the Wuss 

Elizabeth Bumiller of the Times writes:

While this six-point plan was a restatement of ideas the president has pushed for months, it was the first time he had pulled the policies together in such detail under the central theme of economic recovery.

Warmed over mush, at that.

Booblicans to poor: FOAD 

I'd be a lot more supportive of the Booblicans siccing the IRS on poor tax evaders if I had the feeling they did the same for rich ones.

Mary Dalrymple of AP writes:

"This precertification program [for the Earned Income Tax Credit] would in essence create a two-tiered tax enforcement system, one for high-income Americans and one for low-wage workers," Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut wrote to fellow Democrats, asking them to vote against the program.

No problem! They can just have their accountants handle the "precertification" paperwork!

Instant analysis of the Democrats Debate 

Bush looks vulnerable on national security. Surprise!

Ron Fournier of AP writes:

Now Bush must "go back to the very people he humiliated," said Dean, who by the luck of the draw got the first question at a televised debate among eight of the nine Democrats seeking the party's presidential nomination.

Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts said that "the swagger of a president who says 'bring 'em on' does not bring our troops peace or safety." Added Gephardt: "We have a president who has broken up alliances that Democratic and Republican presidents have put together over 70 years."

What's that old saying? "Be nice to people on your way up, since you could meet them on your way down?" Guess Blotchy never heard that one...

Oh, the the Dems managed to avoid forming a circular firing squad:

[The] Democrats who want to replace President Bush brushed aside their own differences ...

Good news, but Ron? No Democrat (or democrat) wants to replace Bush—hopefully, that's impossible. We want to remove him.

Dear Leader's New Fall Product Rollout continues 

Gosh! New AQ threats right when Bush returns from vacation! They sure know how to time things, don't they? The fathomless subtlety of the Middle-Eastern mind... The CNN headline: Laundry list of possible attack scenarios.

Not that I don't think that AQ is a danger—heck, I live in a city with a port and an airport, and in a Blue State, so we aren't getting the money we need.

It's just that the malAdministration's handling of the "war on terror" is so sloppy, and so politicized, and they lie so often, that they don't have any credibility on the specifics.

Unemployment flypaper 

You see, unemployment is really good, since it lures all the unemployed people out into the open where we can... Give them tax cuts ... Hand 'em a Bible .... Or something...

Booblican tactics to backfire with Latinos 

Robert T. Garrett of the Dallas Morning News writes:

On Tuesday, MoveOn.org began airing radio ads on Texas stations that reach Hispanic and African-American audiences.

"Hispanic Texans would lose representation under the immoral, Perry-Dewhurst congressional redistricting plan," the Spanish-language spot says.

One aimed at black listeners urges them to call Mr. Perry and "tell him no more special sessions. Tell him to be a man and stand up to Tom DeLay," the U.S. House's GOP leader from Sugar Land who has lobbied hard for a new Texas map.

[Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio] said the boycotting senators must take their case to a national audience to persuade President Bush to stop his party's push for redistricting.

"He's trying to play both hands," Ms. Van de Putte said of Mr. Bush. "He's reaching out to Latinos and yet [Bush political strategist] Karl Rove is trying to disenfranchise millions of Latino voters. Does ... [Mr. Bush] think we're stupid?"


Meanwhile, Scott "Sucker MC" McClellan tries to maintain plausible deniability.

Bush press secretary Scott McClellan declined to answer questions about whether the president would object if GOP congressional leaders tried to expel Texas Democrats from the U.S. House to pressure state Democratic lawmakers to end their boycott.

"Very nice try to try to draw us into a Texas state legislative matter," Mr. McClellan said. While Mr. Bush "is always concerned about Texas," redistricting "is a matter for the state of Texas," Mr. McClellan said.

Right. Except when Tom DéLay gets the Department of Homeland Security involved....

Coo-coo-ka-choo Mrs. Robinson... 

First Democratic TV debate in Albuquerque, New Mexico, 8 p.m. EDT PBS, with simultaneous Spanish translation (excellent!), writes Loie Fecteau of the Albuquerque Journal.

Laugh about it, Shout about it.... Wonder if any candidates besides Gephardt met with the Texas 11 - 1 Democrats?

Dear Leader's New Fall Product Rollout continues 

Yes, the remedy for the greatest number of jobs lost since World War II is—wait for it!—tax cuts!

The Times headline: Bush Firm on Tax Cuts as Remedy for Economic Languor.

Well, I'm glad he's firm. And not limp... Or flaccid...

Republican tactics 101: Bait and switch 

The latest: African AIDS money (thanks to alert reader Ari).

If they break America's promise on AIDS, they will be cynically using suffering Africans as nothing more than a photo opportunity.

Yeah? So what's your point?

The Wecovery 

"We" as in weak...

"We" as in "Whaddaya mean, we?"

"Wecovery" as in "W," who's AWOL from this as in everything other than collecting "contributions" from bagmen...

Mark Gongloff of CNN writes:

Payrolls are still 2.7 million jobs thinner than they were when the economy entered a recession in March 2001, the longest period without job growth since World War II.

In fact, though enthusiastic economists see signs that the economy is set to post skyrocketing gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the third quarter, they still doubt payrolls will grow very fast or that the unemployment rate will fall much any time soon.

Great! I'll pay my phone bill with a "skyrocketing economy" ... Oh, wait, I need a paycheck to do that...

The labor market's going to have a long, slow climb," said Ethan Harris, chief economist at Lehman Brothers, which expects payrolls to add 20,000 jobs in August. "Corporate America is going to use whatever means it can to boost output without hiring."

Yikes! And the Bush gang will use whatever means it can to help them—abolish your overtime, slash unemployment benefits, keep the minimum wage to third world levels, outsource its very own phone banks to India....

Say, maybe I could get security guard work—over in Iraq!

Top 10 reasons not to hate Bush, #6 

He only turns vicious when cornered.

Dear Leader's New Fall Product Rollout begins 

Ted Barret of CNN reports:

According to the GOP aide, the president said the White House will "seriously ramp up the public relations effort" to counter Democratic criticism of the administration's Iraq policy.

And this would be a change how?

Bush promised a "campaign style" drive to bolster public support in which "we're going to say exactly why we're in Iraq", the aide said.

About time! I'd been wondering...

"Seriously ramp up", though... I have the feeling this is going to get very, very ugly... (Thanks to alert reader ABH for the pointer.)

Underfunded pensions doubled last year 

$80 billion. Gosh, privatizing Social Security is going to work out just great, isn't it?

Of course, the $65 billion we're about to throw down the rathole in Iraq would almost solve this little problem, wouldn't it?

Everything's up to date in Kansas City 

Including the unemployment figures. Peter G. Gosselin and Edwin Chen of the LA Times write:

As President Bush heads for the Midwest today to trumpet his economic program, his first stop, in Kansas City, Mo., illustrates the trouble that he faces with the election year's approach. The metropolitan area has been walloped by the loss of nearly 10,000 high-paying telecom jobs and — in a recovery that's so far jobless — there is little relief in sight.

In picking Kansas City for his speech, Bush is, in effect, dodging one economic problem — the steady loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs — that the administration might actually be able to do something about. The area has a comparatively small manufacturing sector, with only 7% of its labor force in factories compared to 20% or more in such nearby cities as Joplin, Mo.

"Kansas City is one of the few places in the Midwest where you can make an economic speech and not end up hearing about the loss of [manufacturing] jobs to low-cost producers overseas," said Thomas.

Many observers say Bush's proposal for a manufacturing czar is intended to make him appear decisive without actually having to make those decisions. The administration hopes that the economy will solve the problem for the White House by beginning to generate new jobs before political pressure grows for Bush to act.

In the meantime, however, the president and his political advisors will have to pick their stage sets carefully.

"Dodging" a problem? "Appearing decisive without actually having to make decisions"? Not our aWol!

Double your pleasure, double your fun! 

By Glenn Kessler and Mike Allen of WaPo via the Austin Statesman here:

The request, which congressional budget analysts said would be nearly double what Congress expected, reflects the deepening cost of the 5-month-old U.S. occupation and serves as an acknowledgement by the Bush administration that it vastly underestimated the price tag for restoring order to Iraq and rebuilding the country's battered infrastructure.
... One proposal would allocate about $55 billion for the Pentagon and $10 billion for reconstruction.

We're waiting for the apology from the neo-cons and the chickenhawks on this one...

And only $10 billion availab for more no-bid contracts to wired Booblican firlems? Chump change, my friends!

But not to worry! The $55 billion will surely be for only this year!

Corporate impunity 

Yawn, more security updates from Microsoft. Not that fixing bugs ever introduces more bugs...

Let's you and him fight! 

D'Arcy Dornan of AP writes:

The top U.S. commander in Iraq said Thursday he needs more international forces to deal with potential security threats but he and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld both emphasized that they do not see a need for more U.S. troops.

The adminstration keeps saying this, but I don't see why it's an attractive proposition for the international forces. It sounds like we're saying "We're tired of getting shot at so close to the 2004 election, and besides we don't have the money, so why don't you come get shot at?" Maybe some Booblican can clarify?

Gray didn't get it quite right 

Listening to the candidates debate:

Davis: "The Republicans took this position: they would not raise taxes at all cost. They would rather shoot their mother than increase any taxes. I say that figuratively.

That's not quite it. The Republicans would rather shoot your mother, after first robbing her (by gutting the medical services she needs, and by increasing the cost of what's left, all to subsidize big pharma).

The Wecovery: Lay 'em off, make the survivors work harder 

The AP headline: "Productivity Soars as Businesses Produce More With Fewer Workers"...

The economy shows signs of gaining momentum.

Productivity - the amount an employee produces for each hour of work - soared at an annual rate of 6.8 percent in the April-to-June quarter, even stronger than the government's first estimate of a 5.7 percent growth rate.

Gosh, I sure wish I could pay my phone bill with "momentum." Unfortunately, it takes a paycheck to do that, and fewer and fewer people have them....

The Wecovery: More lucky duckies 


[The Labor Department] said new applications for jobless benefits jumped by a seasonally adjusted 15,000 to 413,000 for the work week ending Aug. 30.

The rise propelled claims to their highest point since the week ending July 12 and pushed them above 400,000, a level associated with a weak job market. In the prior two weeks, claims managed to move below that threshold, raising hopes among economists that the pace of layoffs was slowing.

Administration to heave Estrada over the side 


"At root, base politics drove the Democrats' decision to deny the president the chance to someday name the first Hispanic to the Supreme Court. That is what it was all about," said C. Boyden Gray, a former White House legal counsel and now chairman of the Committee for Justice, a conservative organization that worked for Estrada's confirmation.

Base politics?! I'm shocked! Shocked!

Watch Blotchy come up with someone even worse ....

Top 10 reasons not to hate Bush, #6 

He doesn't have pasty white thighs.

Texas Dem Whitemire's rationale for wussing out 

Ralph Blumenthal of the Times writes:

Mr. Whitmire said that he still strongly opposed redistricting as "a horrible power grab and waste of time and money," but that he was now prepared to carry the fight to the floor of the State Senate.

"We cannot remain in New Mexico indefinitely," he said.

He said that fleeing the state initially "was a smart move and I wouldn't undo it" but that when the governor threatened to keep calling special sessions, the Democrats were left without an "exit strategy." Now, he said, they need to look ahead to their own possible future majority status in Texas and preserve the potential for future cooperation with the Republicans.

"Future cooperation" .... Yeah, that's the ticket.... Max Cleland tried to do the same thing, and it sure worked out for him... Good luck, pal!

They'll sell anything, won't they... 


Rules prohibiting commercial marketing on the Mall do not apply to this week's NFL extravaganza because the promotional aspects constitute "sponsor recognition" and not advertising, National Park Service officials said yesterday.

"This is the first time the Park Service has had a proposal of this magnitude," said Bill Line, a spokesman for the agency's national capital region. "This is different from advertising; these are sponsor recognition. . . . The NFL is turning to other sponsors to generate the money necessary to put on this event."

Mr. Orwell? Mr. Orwell? We have another example for your book!

The mind reels at the possibilities.... "This State of the Union Speech brought to you by Exxon-Mobil Corporation" ....


Now the adminstration wants $60 billion—double what Congress expected.

Wonder how much of it will get spread around in no-bid contracts to wired firms like Halliburton?

"Get out of jail free" card for Saudis after 9/11? 

Erich Lichtblau of the Times reports:

Top White House officials personally approved the evacuation of dozens of influential Saudis, including relatives of Osama bin Laden, from the United States in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks when most flights were still grounded, a former White House adviser said today.

Wonder which one of 'em bailed out Harken...

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Red Sta—uh, Homeland Security 


Officials are still wrestling with how to distribute counterterrorism money to the states, [Director of Homeland Security Ridge] said. At issue is how much to weigh factors like population density, the presence of landmarks and threat intelligence in deciding who gets more federal dollars.

And factors like the 2004 election...

Not that the Booblicans would ever, ever politicize homeland security. I mean, except when they're trying to do something really, really important, like ram through the Texas redistricting plan.

Sorry, Rupert... 


PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A federal appeals court Wednesday issued an emergency stay delaying new Federal Communications Commission rules that would allow a single company to own newspapers and broadcast outlets in the same city.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said a coalition of media access groups called the Prometheus Radio Project would suffer irreparable harm if the new rules were allowed to go into effect as scheduled Thursday. The Philadelphia-based coalition campaigns for greater radio access and provides technical support and advice to groups seeking to establish low-power radio stations.

Thank you, Prometheus Project! And have some extra Cheez Whiz on that Philly Steak for me...

"Skepticism Greets Bush's Multilateral Move" 

Gosh, you think?

Anyhow, that's the headline over Jefferson Morley's World Opinion Roundup in WaPo.

Could it possibly be... that the Bush administration's lies, bullying, bait and switch tactics, disrespect for the rule of law, betrayal of those who try to make deals with them, and their uniquely toxic mixture of wishful thinking, arrogance, viciousness, and incompetence have had consequences?


You know, I keep chastising myself for not coming up with something positive... The sort of thoughtful paragraph that would begin "To win the peace in Iraq, the United States can and should do the following four things. First..."

But then I realize that job one is to Get These Guys Outta There. Nothing can be accomplished while they are in office, because at this point we know them; they have a track record. They will not change.

Why on earth would anyone—the UN, "old" Europe, "new" Europe, anyone—try to make a deal with these guys? Quick, name the head of state who's dying to be the Max Cleland of international relations...

Why not move the CEO jobs offshore?  

Let's see: $150 million to the chairmain of the NY Stock Exchange... That would save 3000 American jobs at $50,000 each. Not a bad deal!

Wake up, America!


I've been through one, two, three, four, five technology "revolutions" in my life, at least. And each time I "lost" a job and had to find another in a new field. And each time I did a little better. So in some ways these words from WaPo's Steven Pearlstein make some sense to me:

ll of these factors reflect an accelerated pace of structural change in the U.S. economy -- one that has now reshaped the business cycle, according to a recent paper by two researchers at the New York Fed. Erica Groshen and Simon Potter found that recessions are no longer characterized by companies temporarily laying off employees when sales fall, only to rehire them back a year later. Rather, recessions are periods in which industries representing 80 percent of the economy are undergoing fundamental changes in how and where work is done -- a complex and time-consuming process that explains the "jobless" quality of early-stage recoveries.

What all this suggests is that there is no manufacturing crisis that suddenly requires some new bureaucracy, a new round of protective tariffs or another big package of tax cuts.

Actually, it is pretty funny that the Pubicans aren't pushing tax cuts as The Solution to joblessness. I guess they figure that dog won't hunt anymore ('til they need to give another round to their contributors in 2005—or, pray God, not.

And it's also pretty funny that the solution to joblessness that the Pubicans are pushing is an a Special Under Assistant Associate Secretary of Commerce (or something). Which will doubtless create at least one job—for a wired hack from the AEI or the Heritage Foundation...

So, like any other Lucky Ducky, I laugh to keep from crying.

But what truly frosts me about this administration isn't that they can't abolish the business cycle, or that they can't make joblessness go away. Those are impossible dreams. What frosts me is their rotten attitude.

If Bush and his gang aren't trying to take away overtime from people who do have jobs, they're trying to slash unemployment benefits for people who don't. We get little lectures from Elaine Chao about training for new jobs—as if there was enough training, as if we were fools who didn't know it existed, and as if we could just uproot our lives, abandon our homes and families, and move to where the training was. Amazingly, their rotten attitude carries over from working people to the troops, as the Bush gang tried to cut combat pay.

What a bunch of chisellers....

How safe is your vote with a Diebold machine? 

Interesting, if true....

New Lows in Race Baiting 

According to Instahack, fretting about U.S. casualties without gloating over Taliban deaths makes one a "racist". I'm not making this up.

I see. So, during Vietnam, the Pentagon was following Martin Luther King's example when it touted weekly body counts of dead Viet Cong. It was the antiwar forces who were the real racists.

And I thought the Bustamante/Mecha smearjob was rock bottom.

I try to be cynical, but I can't keep up.

The slightly stale CW of "Dean" Broder 

His latest on the political science of predicting election results contains this gem:

Mayer said that Bush may have a slight advantage going into 2004 (a point Teixeira readily conceded), but basically, Mayer said, "another 2000 is what you should expect -- a random result."

Right. Random like a mugging...

Bush still seeks to gut overtime 


Democrats and their labor allies renewed their drive Tuesday to block proposed Bush administration rules that opponents say would cost 8 million workers their overtime pay.

See, when Bush talked about the manufacturing sector "hurting", he was talking about the "sector," not the people actually doing the manufacturing....

There's a good definition of recovery: working harder for less money!

More scams at the stock market 

Marcy Gordon of AP writes:

NYSE Chairman Dick Grasso's deal - which includes an 8 percent guaranteed, risk-free return on an undisclosed portion of his $139.5 million in deferred compensation - drew scrutiny from critics and the Securities and Exchange Commission when it was disclosed last Wednesday.

"Scrutiny"... Right...

See, if you're rich enough, your risk gets socialized—that is, there isn't any. People who don't have jobs and still have kids to feed and medical bills take real risks.

Oh, wait! With his $139.5 million, Grasso can afford to hire some servants for his big house! So he's creating jobs after all. My mistake.

Dog lover? 

Yep, yet another family-values Pubican (Govenor Owens of Colorado) is getting a divorce—though we don't know why yet. Give the man credit, though, at least he's cancelling his public appearances. Why? His press secretary says:

"It was precisely because of his family that he made the decision," said Owens spokesman Dan Hopkins. "He didn't want to take the chance again of having his family again in the glare of the media spotlight."

Let me get this straight. A lot of marriage ceremonies contain the words "for better, for worse"... So how can it be OK for these clowns to put the "glare of the media spotlight"on their own families when they want votes, but it's not OK when they're going to lose votes?

Stock market scams continue 

Meg Richards of AP writes:

New York's attorney general announced Wednesday he had evidence of widespread illegal trading schemes that may have cost mutual fund shareholders billions of dollars each year.

"The full extent of this complicated fraud is not yet known," Spitzer said. "But one thing is clear: The mutual fund industry operates on a double standard. Certain companies and individuals have been given the opportunity to manipulate the system."

Good thing our Republican administration is right on top of this, levelling the playing field for people who follow the rules...

What's that you say? Spitzer's a Democrat? From New York state? Never mind ... Heck, maybe Spitzer can put "Kenny Boy" in jail, since Bush sure won't.

The Wecovery 

"We" as in What do you mean, "we"?

Lynette Clemetson of the Times writes:

The number of Americans living below the poverty line increased by more than 1.3 million last year, even though the economy technically edged out of recession during the same period, a Census Bureau report shows.

So I suppose I can "technically" pay the phone bill now...

If this is a recovery, why are more people becoming poor?

Texas Dem wusses out 

Wussy Wednesday...

From the El Paso Times:

Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, the longest-serving senator, slipped back to his hometown during the Labor Day weekend despite telling colleagues that he would visit New Orleans.
"I am disappointed to see him (Whitmire) surrendering so easily," Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, said. "All 11 of us have made true sacrifices to be here in Albuquerque. I have a newborn baby at home that doesn't even know what I look like. We have senators with serious health problems, new grandchildren, and suffering businesses with us. I hope that Senator Whitmire feels as we all do, that no personal sacrifice is so great as to outweigh the constitutional issues at stake."

So, I wonder what Whitmire's payoff was?

However, this is interesting:

A TV ad campaign is already in production after an Internet site raised slightly more than $1 million in one week in an effort to raise the profile of the summerlong redistricting battle.

Clearly, Whitmire is part of the politics of the past. However, it looks like DéLay's coup in Texas is going through. Let's hope the same doesn't happen in California.

The Arnis™ wusses out 

He's skipping the first candidate's debate in the California recall.

Maybe we should start calling Arnis™ "Skippy" ...

But is he chunky? Or creamy?

Bush wusses out 

And by "wussing out" I mean doing the reasonable, non-ideological thing that the liberals and the wiser heads from George I's administration told him to do: get the UN involved.

Why should we have all the fun?

And why should we pick up the whole tab for $29 billion a year... (Yes, that's on the high side of the CBO estimate, but since when has this administration been able to control its credit card habits?)

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Clark boomlet? 

E.J. Dionne.

Rapture index up 1 


Because oil prices went up. (Now I know who's running this index!)

Texas Democrat wavering... 


It's State Rep. John Whitmire; here's his email address.

Stephen Glass Would Have Been Just Too Tacky 

Ethically challenged Rick Bragg has signed on to "co-write" the Jessica Lynch story.
"I feel a kinship with Jessica and her family..," Bragg said in the statement issued by Knopf.
I bet he does. For her part I suspect Ms. Lynch's $1 million advance has had a wonderfully refreshing effect on her memory; or does Knopf think it's paying a million simoleons for the considerably less jingoistic reality pieced together by the British press? Money indeed changes everything.

Meanwhile I keep waiting for the U.S. media to air the Beeb's "War Spin: The Jessica Lynch Story." Wonder what's taking them?

The administration that can't administer 

David Ignatius of WaPo writes:

The [national security] interagency process is completely dysfunctional," says one Republican former Cabinet secretary with decades of foreign-policy expertise. "In my experience, I've never seen it played out this way."

Even the Republican know "wise men" the system is broken—although I assume they're leaking this stuff now so aWol has a chance to patch things up or at least fake it by 2004.

Whatever Rice's political weaknesses, several experts agreed that the current disarray is less her fault than the president's. "In a situation where there are Cabinet-level divisions, something's got to give. That's where I fault the president himself," says the Republican former Cabinet secretary.

Right. And we know how (weak, though vicious) aWol likes to take responsibility...

The administration's poor planning for postwar Iraq is a case study: The effort was hobbled by sharp policy disputes between State and the Pentagon that were never resolved.

For weeks, the two agencies and the CIA quarreled about the personnel and policies that would govern postwar Iraq. The Pentagon dithered in approving State's nominees for the civil administration, which made effective planning almost impossible during the crucial months of March and April.

Adding to the confusion was the bizarre battle over Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmad Chalabi, who became an ideological litmus test for administration neoconservatives.

A similar lack of clarity has hobbled efforts to deal with the North Korean nuclear threat. For two years, hard-liners blocked continuation of the Clinton policy of engaging Pyongyang. When the Bush administration finally reversed itself and decided to hold direct talks, it had wasted crucial time and allowed North Korean to push toward deploying nuclear weapons.

Tell me again why the Republicans are supposed to be better at protecting the country? Somehow, I just keep forgetting.

Bush formula for "growth" in manufacturing: fire some, speed up the rest 

The Fox headline: "ISM: U.S. Manufacturing Growth Accelerates in August" but the fair and balanced reportage from Reuters:

New orders for goods poured in at a faster pace, and as a result manufacturers boosted production to the highest level since June 1999 [according to the Institute for Supply Management].

But factory owners increased layoffs, a trend in place for nearly three years that has led to about 2.6 million job losses in the hard-hit sector.

So the Chinese are causing this problem how, exactly?

Another candidate for privatization 

"Scientists today warned that an asteroid was on a possible collision course with Earth. " By 2014.

Look out, Imelda! 

From Tom Infield and Nancy Petersen of our own Inky: Alan P. Novak, the chairman of our own Pennsylvania Republican Party

has so many pairs of pointy-toed, big-heeled boots that he says he "stopped counting at 40."

Maybe if Novak spent less time sucking up to the Texans—he actually bought a ranch—and more time helping to solve Pennsylvania's problems (let's start with unemployment and health care), Pennsylvania would be a Red State. Fat chance. Tom and Nancy burble on:

No one, [Novak] understands, is going to issue orders to the likes of U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum or state House Speaker John Perzel. These and a handful of other powerful, independent figures are "the stars" of state Republican politics, he said.

But stars need someone to organize them into a galaxy. Novak is that man.

Barf. And if Tom and Nancy spent less time sucking up to Novak, there'd be more news in the Inky.

Insiders not buying 

Great headline from our own Inky: "Executives have not been buying into the recovery, reports show. Investors wonder what that means."

Uh, investors? Maybe it means that the executives know how deep the fraud and the fake accounting still goes. Too many still try to bag their loot from pensions, golden parachutes, and options trickery... not by building value for shareholders.

From May through July, executives, directors and other insiders in corporations sold far more of their companies' shares than they purchased, which could suggest that stock prices are too high, an author of the [reports released last month by Thomson Financial] said.

Winger meme transmitters target Bustamante 

It's the usual suspects, says Orcinus. Exegesis saves.

They just can't help themselves, can they?

Bush administration legalizes Enron looting after the fact 

On the Friday before Labor Day. What a coincidence!

From Krugman:

Last Friday the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, known as FERC, announced settlements with energy companies accused of manipulating markets during the California energy crisis.

Most independent experts now believe that during 2000-2001, price manipulation by energy companies, mainly taking the form of "economic withholding" — keeping capacity offline to drive up prices — added billions of dollars to California's electricity bills. A March FERC report concluded that there had been extensive manipulation of prices in both the natural gas and electricity markets.

Yet the charges energy companies agreed to added up to only a bit more than $1 million. That is, the average Californian was bilked of more than $250, but the state will receive compensation of about 3 cents.

Laughing all the way to the bank. Funny thing, the $250 ate up most of the "average" Californian's tax cut. Say, is Blotchy's good friend, "Kenny Boy" Lay, in jail yet? I didn't think so.


No one wants to help pay for our war of choice in Iraq, and there are increasing casualties in the guerilla war against homegrown resistance, and at least one member of the "governing" council wants us out.


Meanwhile, another car bomb.

Be sure to check the Farmer's latest 

Here, in case you missed it over the weekend.

Jobs czar: We'll check back in six months 

By now we have a history with this crowd, so we'll look for the a typical Republican bait-and-switch operation. That, and some 2004-driven China-baiting.*

Of course, the announcement contained more fuzzy numbers from Dear Leader: "Bush said the nation has lost "thousands of jobs in manufacturing." In fact, the losses have soared into the millions."

* Please, PNACers, don't go to war with China! After you've looted Social Security, I need Chinese goods in the Dollar Stores to live on if and when I retire!

Contest: "What I did on my summer vacation, by George W. Bush" 

By now, "our" President wil have returned from his hide-out in Crawford. You remember what the Bush krew cooked up last year about this time—they figured out how to "market" the war of choice in Iraq (and that turned out so well for all of us).

Suitable topics include "How I decided what to do with the $200 million in campaign contributions I got, even though I am running unopposed," "How, Where, and Why I am still a Christian," "Thou Shalt not Bear False Witness," "How to Choose the Codpiece that's Right for You," "Xanax Cowgirls," "George Bush omorashi", and "How I kept my Complexion Clear and Clean in 100 Degree Heat," but let your imaginations have full scope!

So, "What I did on my summer vacation, by George W. Bush"

Submit as many entries as you like to us with subject heading "Contest" and we guarantee to have to our home office treat them in an entirely random and discourteous fashion. Employees and relatives of Corrente are, of course, encouraged to enter.

There should be a prize, but we don't know what it is yet. Any suggestions? Contact the blog.

UPDATE: This is a repost, but I foolishly posted this just before the Labor Day weekend.

Republican exploitation of 9/11 shifts into a higher gear for 2004 

If that were possible. Now, the movie! J. Hoberman of the Village Voice gives us a first look:

The upcoming Showtime feature DC 9/11: Time of Crisis is a signal advance in the instant, ongoing fictionalization of American history, complete with the president fulminating most presidentially against "tinhorn terrorists," decisively employing the word problematic in a complete sentence, selling a rationale for preemptive war, and presciently laying out American foreign policy for the next 18 months.

YABL, YABL, YABL ... Down the memory hole with Bush flying round the country without telling us anything, Cheney being hustled down into his bunker, the shadow government (remember them?) ... And the entire administration and all the winger MWs (for hefty consulting fees, no doubt) are in on it:

Screenwriter and co-executive producer Lionel Chetwynd had access to top officials and staffers, including Bush, Fleischer, Card, Rove, and Donald Rumsfeld—all of whom are played by look-alike actors in the movie (as are Cheney, Rice, John Ashcroft, Karen Hughes, Colin Powell, George Tenet, and Paul Wolfowitz). The script was subsequently vetted by right-wing pundits Fred Barnes, Charles Krauthammer, and Morton Kondracke.

"Showtime", indeed. Ready for your closeup, Mr. Bush? I guess sending the video to every household in America would be one thing to spend your $200 million in campaign funds on...

Monday, September 01, 2003

Make Big Money Handing Out Free Vacations! 

Amazing End of Labor Day Weekend Offer!

"Wages have done very poorly the past couple of years, but wages did very well from 1996 to 2001," Lawrence Katz, labor economist, Harvard University.

You've heard right my friends. And things got even better in 2002! And now, through this amazing offer from Golden Parachute Productions, you too can make BIG $$$ handing out free vacations to your friends, neighbors and even people you have never met. I can show you how. I can now reveal to you my secrets for success, all for the low low one time introductory cost of a single FREE mouse click!

No, my program is not one of those cheesy envelope stuffing scams or some annoying door to door sales shuffle that leaves you with nothing but a bad taste in your mouth and sore swollen feet. My way is BIG business. My way earns BIG $$$ and respect and power!, power!, power! And I can help empower you too!

But first, dear reader, you must understand that helping others go on free vacations is not only good for you, but good for America. And thats my America. A freedom loving America taking a free vacation that you yourself provide.

You may ask, "But what about my free vacation? -- Don't I get to go on a free vacation?" The answer of course is simple. You are either on vacation or not on vacation. If you'd like to profit from the BIG $$$ that can be made handing out free vacations to others you will need to remain vacation free. I know, work-work-work...all I do is work. But think of how good you'll feel each evening when you come home from a long hard honest days work spent handing out free vacations to others. You'll be able to look back at your long work day and reflect upon all of those folks you made happy because you were able to provide them with FREE VACATIONS!

Allow me to be plain spoken with you. Listen. I made 71 million dollars one year handing out free vacation opportunities to thousands of friends and neighbors and regular folks just like you! That was a 95% pay increase from my previous year! Just by making thousands of people who otherwise would not have had the opportunity to take a vacation, instant vacationers! And I can tell you how to do it too! In one easy to understand plain spoken free low cost introductory mouse click.

Granted, earning that kind of BIG $$$ involves punching some long hours on the old time clock. And, had I been on vacation myself I could never have made that kind of BIG $$$. Instead, I'd be moping around my Hardscrabble summer digs in the Hampton's polishing silver gravy boats and wishing that I had stayed behind to help others less fortunate than myself enjoy their vacation summer homes. Making people happy by helping others enjoy their vacation opportunities is what I do best - and I can help you, help others, be happy, and make BIG $$$ doing it!

"How" you ask? Its simple....remember that FREE mouse click I promised? Well, I've provided it below.....this FREE link will explain my entire program, "The Kozlinski Way to Riches and Free Vacation Opportunities!" Start today, what do you have to loose? What else do you have to do? Afterall, you're probably on vacation right now!

The "Kozlinski Way" is available for the low introductory price of your conscience. Other programs from Golden Parachute Productions, such as "Loose John's Roadmap to Vacation Hideaways" and "Carly's Computer Cottage and Spur of the Moment Vacation Splendors" are also available with this low introductory offer. Less successful but equally challenging has been "Joe Cisco's Vacation Skydiving Adventures" which ultimately netted Joe a harrowing 100% free-fall vacation of his own, so to speak. But not too worry...."The Kozlinski Way" will also show you how to fold your parachute in just the right way, insuring you a nice smooth landing on a well tended lawn when the time comes for you to take that well earned vacation of your own.

Yours in entitlement,
Denny Kozlinski,
Entrepreneur, CEO of Golden Parachute Productions, and author of "The Kozlinski Way to Riches and Free Vacation Opportunities!"

Now - Here's the FREE link I promised - you're one mouse click away from BIG $$$, opportunity, and power! power! power!

As an added bonus, and because I like to make people happy, I've added several more links to this amazing generous End of Labor Day Weekend offer, all yours, completely FREE of any extraneous burdensome responsibilities or costly obligations! See ya at work!

1 Cash in BIG on Free Vacations!
2 Collect Valuable Baseball Cards While on Vacation!
3 Make BIG $$$ while paying no taxes and still be able to afford to give away all the vacation time you like!
4 Slim down and tone up in Fat City!

Oh, you thought the voting machine folks were tinfoil hat types? Think again 

Julie Carr Smyth of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes:

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.

The Republicans? Steal a presidential election? Naah...

Here's the AP coverage via the Akron Beacon Journal—buried on Labor Day weekend, alas:

Diebold appears to have conflict
CEO lobbies for Bush while seeking contract to sell voting machines
A wealthy businessman helping the Ohio Republican Party try to win the state in 2004 for President Bush also is the head of a company competing for a state contract to sell voting machines.

Walden O'Dell, chief executive of Diebold Inc., told Republicans in an Aug. 14 fund-raising letter that he is ``committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year.''

The letter invited guests to a $1,000-a-plate fund-raiser at O'Dell's suburban Columbus mansion and asked them to consider donating $10,000 each. 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 companies eligible to sell upgraded electronic voting machines to Ohio counties in time for the 2004 election.

"Upgraded" how, one wonders... Like, can they be audited? Like a transaction at an ATM? Or—incredible as it may seem under a Republican administration—is money more important than my vote?

Molly Ivins... 

Molly Ivins writes:

In the summer of 2002, when Ted Kennedy and the since-deceased Paul Wellstone were working to get an emergency extension on unemployment benefits -- something that has been largely pro forma under earlier administrations -- Rep. Tom DeLay protested that Democrats want "unlimited unemployment so people could stay out of work for the rest of their lives."

Actually, 1 million unemployed workers had already exhausted their benefits before the House finally acted in January 2003 and were simply left in the streets with nothing under the too-little, too-late Bush bill.

The idea that workers lead the life of Riley on unemployment compensation and want to "stay out of work for the rest of the lives" is so blatantly untrue that it would be comical if one could dredge up a laugh. Anyone who has been through the mill of unemployment, with the endless rounds of appointments, waiting, applications, interviews, taking the bus to the job training program and finally walking when you can't afford a bus, knows precisely how insulting this hooey is.

I like Molly a lot, but sometimes she's just too shrill.

The Wecovery, 3 

That's "W" as in W's "weak" "recovery"....

Gregg Fields of the Miami Herald writes:

This Labor Day, however, the plight of workers has uncharacteristically defied a resurgent economy. Last week, for instance, the government said the economy grew at a 3.1 percent annual rate in the second quarter of the year, a healthy clip. At the same time, initial jobless claims also rose. Florida has lost 20,000 jobs over the past year.

Way to go, Jebbie!

After the debilitating recession of 1980-82, the nation entered a prolonged economic expansion -- but workers grappled with unemployment that averaged 7 percent for most of the decade. ...

Then, as now, the economy was characterized by huge federal deficits, rising inequality of incomes, and economic stimulus that owed much to military spending.

Today, the economy is also enjoying a boom in productivity, but [Jared Bernstein, an analyst at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington], said he isn't sure that will translate to putting more people to work. In fact, it may help companies put off hiring.

''The question for me is, will the benefits of greater productivity be shared, like in the late '90s?'' he said. ``The answer is, only if unemployment goes below 5 percent.''

Unemployment under 5% under a Bush regime? You're joking, right?


On this Labor Day, while the Bush Administration looks benignly on falling wages and hacks away at overtime pay regulations, unemployment benefits and what remains of our progressive tax code, imagine an economy where workers can expect
  • One year paid parental leave;

  • Guranteed vacations;

  • Limits on overtime;

  • No at-will employment;

  • Guaranteed medical coverage

  • While maintaining a quality of life for its citizens that's second to none.

    That world is right next door. I particularly liked this part:

    Since Canada's employment laws already provide a higher floor than the United States, companies that want to attract the best workers or prevent unionization have to offer even more benefits. [25% of Canada's workforce is unionized, vs. 11% in the U.S. --TK]

    Toronto-based Royal Bank of Canada, for example, offers its employees an "income-protection program" to soften the blow in case of a layoff.

    A midlevel executive who loses his job gets a minimum two months' severance pay, plus more depending on age and income. It's possible for a longtime employee to get up to a year's worth of severance.

    Under wingnut doctrine that's the reigning American ideology today, such burdensome labor laws would not encourage worker-friendly competition between companies, but rather the opposite. Read the whole damn thing.

    Of course no article about Canada would be complete without cautionary tales about relatively high taxes, which of course omits the cost of privatized health insurance on the U.S. side of of the ledger. Still, it is worth bearing in mind that

  • For the one-third of families in Canada and the United States with incomes of less than C$25,000 in 1997, average effective tax rates were the same or lower in Canada.

  • The largest difference (5.3 percentage points) in effective tax rates between the two countries was for families with incomes of $50,000 to $99,999.

  • Except for the lowest income group, effective tax rates varied more widely in Canada than in the United States.

  • The average effective tax rates in 1997 for families with incomes of $150,000 or more were 32.8% in Canada and 27.6% in the United States.

  • I expect that even that gap will close once the bills for Whistle Ass's shooting gallery in the Middle East come due.

    Top 10 reasons not to hate Bush, #7 

    No issues with dogs.

    (Or not. From Kos.)

    Laura likes having servants 

    Isn't that special!

    John F. Dickerson of Time writes:

    In Ladies' Home Journal, Laura Bush chats about the President's penchant for leaving his towels lying around. "Things that might have irritated me — like not hanging up his towels," she says, "I don't have to worry about anymore. Someone in the White House hangs up the towels."

    At least the servants have jobs....

    Apparently, Laura's one of Blotchy's biggest campaign "assets" and no wonder, given his record. And speaking of records, Laura, how about that driving record?

    Forgotten but not gone 

    No, not the American worker—OBL!

    The Wecovery, 1 

    "Wecovery" as in "Weak."

    Even the Timesmen get it. David Greenhouse:

    Even though the recession ended nearly two years ago, polls show that American workers are feeling stressed and shaky this Labor Day because the nation continues to register month after month of job losses and wages are rising more slowly than inflation.

    One factor above all has fueled the insecurity: the nation has lost 2.7 million jobs over the last three years. The recovery has been so weak since the recession ended in November 2001 that the nation's payrolls are down one million jobs from when economic growth resumed.

    Indeed, the current economic expansion is the worst on record in terms of job growth. The average length of unemployment, more than 19 weeks, spiked this summer to its highest level in two decades.

    "American workers are doing very badly," said Carl Van Horn, director of the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University. "All the trends are in the negative direction. There's high turnover, high instability, a reduction in benefits and a declining loyalty on the part of employers. At the same time, expectations for productivity and quality are going up. It's a bad situation from a worker's standpoint."

    And, oh yeah—

    Lawrence Katz, a labor economist at Harvard, said that even though the labor market was weak and real wages were slipping, workers were better off than in the mid-1990's, largely because of the boom in the late 1990's.

    "Wages have done very poorly the past couple of years, but wages did very well from 1996 to 2001," Dr. Katz said. "That was the only time they did really well in the last 25 years because of the low unemployment rate and huge growth in productivity."

    Hmmm.... Let me see... What party was in power then? And who was President?

    The Wecovery, 2 

    David R. Francis of the Christian Science Monitor via The Arizona Daily Sun here:

    If Labor Day is the time to celebrate the American worker, someone forgot to tell the American worker.
    The economy is in the throes of one of the most baffling "jobless recoveries" since the union movement created the first Labor Day more than 120 years ago in New York City.

    Consider these facts: Employment growth at the moment is the lowest for any recovery since the government started keeping such statistics in 1939. The labor force shrank in July as discouraged workers stopped seeking employment. The number of people employed has fallen by more than 1 million since the "recovery" began in the fall of 2001. The upshot: Better throw a ballpark frank on the barbecue this weekend instead of a T-bone.

    True, the economy is showing signs of improving. The government reported Thursday that the economy grew at a 3.1 percent annual rate in the second quarter -- better than many expected. Consumer and business spending, in particular, was robust. Many retailers are experiencing strong back-to-school sales, too, as kids buy the latest SpongeBob shirt to go along with their intent to conquer "Ulysses."

    Yet the recovery is probably not vigorous enough yet to reduce unemployment much this year, or even well into 2004 from the jobless rate of 6.2 percent in July, economists figure.

    So if this is a recovery, where are the jobs?

    Sunday, August 31, 2003

    Labor Day  

    Jim Hightower posts a brief history of Labor Day.

    The First Labor Day. The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883.


    The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation's strength, freedom, and leadership - the American worker.

    Below: Greg Palast commenting on the "Son King's"** Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao's announced beheading of time-and-a-half overtime pay requirements.

    Nevertheless, workers getting their pay snipped shouldn't complain, because they will all be receiving promotions. These employees will be re-classified as managers exempt from the law. The change is promoted by the National Council of Chain Restaurants. You've met these 'managers' - they're the ones in the beanies and aprons whose management decisions are, "Hold the lettuce on that."

    My favorite of Chao's little amendments would re-classify as "exempt professionals" anyone who learned their skill in the military. In other words, thousands of veterans will now lose overtime pay. I just can't understand why Bush didn't announce that one when he landed on the aircraft carrier.

    Full article here: The Grinch That Stole Labor Day

    ** For "Son King" origin, see Bruce Webb's comment posted at Whiskey Bar

    "Is Labor on the Edge of a New Upsurge?" by Dan Clawson... writing for Labor Notes.

    If you look at labor history, the U.S. labor movement hasn't grown slowly, bit by bit, year after year. Most of the time the movement is losing ground. But once in a while there is a sudden burst of growth. The number of members shoots up, and labor's power increases even faster. For example, from 1933 to 1945 the number of union members quintupled, from under 3 million to 15 million.

    That kind of explosive growth can't be created from the top down, and when it happens it totally changes the labor movement. Conditions today are ripe for another such explosion: people are working harder to stay in the same place, it's clear conventional politics won't bring change, business and the rich are plundering people in increasingly obvious and obscene ways, labor groups are forming once unheard of coalitions with other social movements, and the anti-war movement shows the global nature of the problem.

    When an explosion comes it will change everything we think we know about the labor movement and what we mean by "union".

    Full article at Labor Notes

    Publishing notes:
    1- Dan Clawson's "The Next Upsurge: Labor and the New Social Movements" is available from Cornell University Press.

    2- Doug Henwood's "After the New Economy" is set for an October 2003 release.

    After Doug Henwood's scorching appraisal, all that remains of the new economy boosters is a faint smell of burning plastic. -Greg Palast

    Nathan Newman and Martin Wisse at Progressive Gold, post comments and links on the "Politics of the Minimum Wage" Newman also reminds readers of the upcoming November 21-22 global justice protests in Miami. See: "Mark your calendars"


    In spite of oppressors, in spite of false leaders, in spite of labor's own lack of understanding of its needs, the cause of the worker continues onward. Slowly his hours are shortened, giving him leisure to read and to think. Slowly his standard of living rises to include some of the good and beautiful things of the world. Slowly the cause of his children becomes the cause of all. His boy is taken from the breaker, his girl from the mill. Slowly those who create the wealth of the world are permitted to share it. The future is in labor's strong, rough hands.- Mother Jones

    Bush not poll-driven? Oh, puh-leeze... 

    Kathryn Dunn Tenpas does a quantitative analysis of the Bush political operation based on public records and gives the results in "Words and Deeds":

    President Bush's use of polling is by no means pathbreaking, nor is the amount of polling particularly astounding. What is unusual about the Bush team's polling operation is the chasm between its words and actions. Never before has a White House engaged in such anti-polling rhetoric or built up such a buffer between the pollsters and the president. The placement of longtime Bush loyalist Dowd at the RNC to coordinate the polling means that the pollsters do not have contact with the White House. Such unusual behavior reflects a broader tension between a determined attempt to avoid the mistakes of Bush the elder—especially the failure after the Persian Gulf War to consider the implications of a stagnant economy for the 1992 reelection campaign—and a continuous effort to shed the vestiges of the Clinton administration. The Bush team fully understands the value of polling, but the perceived overuse of polling within the Clinton administration has led to serious overcompensation, which in turn has bred secrecy and denial.

    Say one thing, do another? The Bush administration? Who knew?!

    Boiling it down: Blotchy's gang just don't want to be caught doing it, that's all. Think Unka Karl never picks up the phone?

    A history lesson 

    Martin Sieff of UPI writes:

    Although Britain came to Iraq as its military conqueror in 1918 with a 300-year long record of imperial conquest and colonial administration unequalled by any other power in modern history, it failed to successfully transplant any of the institutions of freedom and Western democracy there, even though it tried hard to do so for 40 years.

    Read the whole thing.

    Bush to air-breathers: Drop dead! 

    Andrew Bridges of AP writes:

    The federal government is backing a lawsuit before the U.S. Supreme Court that seeks to overturn a California clean-air agency's attempt to curb pollution from buses, taxis, trash trucks and other fleet vehicles.

    The brief marked the third time in a month the federal government has weighed in on issues that affect Southern California's fight against the nation's worst smog.

    Previously, the EPA refused to commit to any emission reduction measures that the AQMD sought for the region. The AQMD requested the action in the latest update to its plan to clean up Southern California's air by 2010.

    And on Wednesday, the EPA unveiled revisions to the 40-year-old Clean Air Act that will allow power plants and factories to upgrade without adopting the most up-to-date pollution control equipment.

    Heck, California is a Blue State. Fuck 'em.

    Labor Day Coverups 

    Atrios, here. A really good one, that the California Dems will take advantage of if they aren't too mesmerized by the possibilities for slagging The Arnis

    Yet more Tomposity 

    Bigfoot Tom Friedman opines:

    Our Iraq strategy needs an emergency policy lobotomy. President Bush ...

    Stop right there, Tom. No need to go farther. More...

    I don't know what Mr. Bush has been doing on his vacation, but I know what the country has been doing: starting to worry. People are connecting the dots ...

    No thanks to you and your fellow MWs, Tom.

    But Tom—Join our contest! We don't know what Bush did on his vacation either! (Here.)

    Bush to clean air industries: Drop dead! 

    Elizabeth Shogren of the LA Times writes:

    Cormetech Inc.'s state-of-the-art manufacturing plant makes big pollution-control devices that clean millions of tons of smog-producing nitrogen oxides from the smoke that billows out of power plants.

    But on Friday, like all Fridays these days, most of the factory's machines were still. Since June, the Durham-based company has cut its workforce and production by more than half and shrunk its workweek from seven days to three or four.

    Business is very slow for companies like Cormetech. And it is about to get even slower, industry experts say.

    The companies that belong to the trade group, which account for a third of the industry, booked about $1 billion in sales in 2001. In 2002, sales fell to $800 million, and in the first half of this year revenues plunged to $75 million.

    "Orders for the future are almost nonexistent," Foerter said. "It's like falling off a cliff."

    Of course, power plant poison blows from the Red States to the Blue States, so of course Blotchy can't be expected to care about it ...

    Meanwhile, let's hope the Pubicans don't trash the pollution control industry (and the jobs that go with it) so badly it can't be started up again when under an elected President.

    "In your heart"? Sure, as long as you're not in my face 

    One of those monument loons sums it up:

    "They can move it* out of view but they can't move it out of our hearts," said Rick Moser, 47, of Woodstock, Ga., a demonstrator outside the building.

    Right. So who's trying?

    * The massive Ten Commandments monument.

    Throwing his HTML into the ring? 


    Why do the flag desecrators hate America? 

    Take Bush, for example:

    Mr. Bush, at a political event in Livonia, Mich., autographed supporters' flags, an apparent violation of an obscure provision of American law that details the respect with which flags should be treated. "The flag," reads the code, "should never have placed upon it . . . any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature."

    Actually, I've never been able to make sense of the phrase "flag desecration." Desecrate is something you to do religious symbols, and last I checked, the American flag was not a religious symbol.

    And this is a two-fer for our Godly President (barf):

    He was breaking the law after prating about the "rule of law," just like a typical Pubican (though, to be fair, the law is obscure law—not like the speed limits that Publican Congressman broke for years before finally killing someone). Sigh....

    If this is a recovery, where are the jobs? 

    Mark Fineman of the LA Times writes:

    The department reported that first-time unemployment-benefit claims went up by 3,000 during the week ending Aug. 23, for a seasonally adjusted total of 394,000.

    Lucky duckies!

    Top 10 reasons not to hate Bush, #8 

    He pronounces "nuclear" like a regular guy.

    A Shining Country Club on a Hill 

    Country Club Crowd - by Roaldus Richmond. August 20, 1940.

    The clubhouse was set high in the hills. On all sides forested uplands rolled away, and on far horizons the mountains were banked against the sky. Here and there farmstead clearings broke the woods. The city itself was hidden, sweltering far below in its busy bowl, overridden with traffic, overburdened with sound and heat and the strife of everyday living. In the hills a clean breeze stirred the leaves and the sun tinged the green turf with gold. The golf course was picturesque, stretching over a varied and interesting terrain.


    There were the young married set and the middle-aged married set. They lived in elaborate homes on the terraces of Trow Hill. They wore expensive clothes and drove expensive automobiles. They traveled together eternally, and nobody outside the circle mattered or even existed. There was nothing beyond the rounds they made -- weekend parties, cocktails in the Cellar Grill, Italian dinners at the Venetian, trips to New York and Montreal, skiing in the winter and golfing in the summer. In one way or another their money had come from granite. There were granite manufacturers, quarry and shed owners, who had inherited all that their fathers, rough strong men with steel-sharp minds and steel-sinewed hands, had sweated and died for. There were lawyers, doctors, dentists, bankers, businessmen, who had been educated with the money wrought from monumental stone. The beautiful cemeteries of Barre were filled with the men, prematurely dead, who had drilled and chiseled and carved the granite, that these people might live in ease and luxury. The country club was a far cry from the clamor of the grim sheds on the river flats. And if these people did not scorn the stonecutters, it was simply because they ignored them altogether.

    Downstairs in the dim coolness of the locker room a poker game was in progress on a glass-ringed table. Men with soft hands and flabby faces nonchalantly lost or won the amount that a stonecutter might earn in a full-time week. A week in the ear-shattering chaos of the shads, standing on a wet dirt floor, bending patiently over a block, guiding into intricate patterns a pneumatic tool that shuddered with a hundred-pounds pressure. Upstairs the swing music went on, but the young couples slouched and sprawled about, glasses in languid brown hands. On the porch the session continued and most of the women were showing their drinks. Laughter and voices were shriller and louder, jokes were coarser... They mentioned John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath , and the fat woman said she found it unspeakably filthy and vile. A man proclaimed it nothing but propoganda. Another man announced feebly that he thought it a damn fine book. The subject was dropped.

    [...] below, author quotes a young woman present at the clubhouse. [...]

    "They're wondering now who you are, where you come from, what college you went to, how much money you have, what you do for a living. They won't be satisfied until they find out. I didn't realize until lately how sick and tired I'm getting of them, of all this. It's so damned small and smug, so narrow and mean. And they're so completely satisfied with it. Yes, it's quite true that this money they fling around all came from granite, directly or indirectly. Everything that they have they owe to the granite. And you should see their nostrils twitch when some stonecutters come into the Venetian after work and take a table next to theirs."


    The session at the other end of the porch was getting louder and bawdier all the time. Shouts of laughter drowned the clink of ice in glasses. A sweet breeze from the woodlands passed unnoticed across flushed cheeks. A strong reek of perfume lingered like nausea in the head. The clouds above the western mountains were pink and lavender in the lowering sun.

    And down in the valley beside the river the terrific din of the granite sheds was stilled; the silence of closing time hung heavy on the dust-laden air. Out of the long gloomy sheds straggled the workers, dust-covered, grime-smeared, with weary eyes and faces, cramped hands, aching backs, and damp stiff legs. The riot of noise still throbbed in their skulls, the vibration of high-pressure tools still trembled through their arms and bodies. But as they walked away the voices started, accents from Italy, Scotland, Spain, Ireland, and Sweden. And rich laughter rang in the slant of afternoon sunlight. The laughter of strong men coming from a hard day's work. The laughter of the unconquered and the unconquerable. It was true. They were as oblivious of the country club crowd as the club was of them. The girl stared out over green treetops and smooth golden fields to the distant ramparts of the mountains, blue, gray and purple against the transient colors of the western sky. "Well anyway," she said. "it's a beautiful country -- Vermont. That's one thing we have -- always."

    Written in 1940, the story excerpts above are part of the Library of Congress collection, American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940. For entire account see: Country Club Crowd/Men Against Granite

    more on the subject from the American Memory Project:

    One of the workers' chief concerns was stonecutters' tuberculosis, a deadly condition caused by inhaling airborne granite particles. Labor unions organized to insist employers install dust-removing equipment. One Vermont granite worker explained, the workers were "pretty well resigned to their fate. These stonecutters expect that one day sooner or later they will get [stonecutters' tuberculosis]." Interviewed in an era when when workers' rights were very narrowly construed, he recounted:

    The big worry of some of [the quarrymen] is that they'll die before they have made good provision for their families. That's the real reason behind the strikes. They feel that since they're 'marked' men with perhaps less time to provide for their families than the average man, that they are entitled to higher wages. Besides there are certain periods in the year - we call them slack time and dead time - when there is little work to be done. Sometimes only a few men work during these slow weeks; sometimes, none at all." Granite Worker:

    For a greater perspective on the stonecutters of Vermont via AMP, see: "Take Granite Out of Barre,..." scroll halfway down the page.

    corrente SBL - New Location
    ~ Since April 2010 ~

    ~ Since 2003 ~

    The Washington Chestnut
    ~ current ~

    Subscribe to
    Posts [Atom]


    copyright 2003-2010

      This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?