Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Gore Speaking Out at

The DLC loves Gore, or at least likes him, but they don’t like Howard Dean. Meanwhile, Gore is starting to out-Dean Howard Dean:

Former Vice President Al Gore, assailing U.S. policies in Iraq and at home, on Thursday argued that the Bush administration “routinely shows disrespect” for the “honest and open debate” that produces the truth…

“…I think it’s partly because they feel they already know the truth, and aren’t very curious to learn about any facts that might contradict it”


“…The direction in which our nation is being led is deeply troubling to me, not only in Iraq but also at home, on economic policy, social policy and environmental policy.

Millions of Americans now share a feeling that something pretty basic has gone wrong in our country, and that some important American values are being placed at risk, and they want to set it right.”


The Department of Defense’s planned surveillance system, Total Information Awareness, was “right out of George Orwell’s ‘1984,”‘ Gore said.

…Gore argued that the administration used false pretenses to launch the war against Saddam Hussein, including claims that the Iraqi leader was involved in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and was on the verge of providing terrorists with chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

“As a result, too many of our soldiers are paying the highest price for the strategic miscalculations, serious misjudgments and historic mistakes that have put them and our nation in harm’s way.”

And, in case you missed it, there’s a growing Draft Gore movement and this will surely increase his standing with such groups, though sadly it probably does little for his electability.


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Red vs. Blue Update

Nathan Newman reports that The Tax Foundation has issued its latest report on who pays and who gets paid. The results: the Red States are subsidized by the Blue States. In Newman’s words,

“And large industrial “blue states” inevitably receive less. California receives only $5592 per capita for its citizens, New Jersey only $5509, Illinois only $5373. New York is doing better on getting aid than a few years ago, but still ranks only 26 on list of per capita receivers of aid.

So the next time you hear about a “welfare state”, think Bush-voting state.

Meanwhile, Atrios links to this NYT analysis of changes in housing prices from 1983 to 2003. In a nutshell, if you believe that people vote with their pocket books, then they are overwhelmingly voting for the Blue regions.

For previous Red vs. Blue posts, see the Topics section at the top left.


P.S. Here’s a project for someone with lots of time on their hands: Take this map of red and blue counties in 2000. It’s one that Fox News and various conservatives love to cite because it is in fact overwhelmingly red, although most of the red areas are sparsely populated (if democracy were “one square mile, one vote” instead of “one person one vote” then Republicans would rule the country, but it’s not). Back to the project: Now find county-by-county data on changes in housing prices over the last 10 or 20 years. Sort them in decending order of changes in housing values. Identify the top 677 and the bottom 2,434 (the respective number of counties carried by Gore and Bush). Now use mapping software to color-code the map in Red (top 677 counties) and Blue (bottom 2,434 counties). Finally put the maps side by side–can you tell them apart?

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Good News, but Where are the Jobs?

“America’s business productivity soared in the second quarter of 2003 and new claims for unemployment benefits dropped to a six-month low last week, a double dose of good news as the economy tries to get back to full throttle.” Productivity in the second quarter grew at an annualized rate of 5.7%, which is extremely high by historical standards (note that the number is still subject to revision, but even if it’s cut by 1/3, it’s still very high).

New application for jobless benefits stayed below 400,000 per week for the third consecutive week. However, a slowing of the rate of layoffs is not the same as creating more jobs (recall that the recent drop in unemployment from 6.4% to 6.2% was triggered by people abandoning their job search, not by people finding new jobs; also see Matt Stoller’s post at ISTES). But the productivity growth in the second quarter, if it reflects a trend and not an aberration, is good news in the long run: it will mean that when the economy starts expanding, inflation will not be a major concern.

On the other hand, excess capacity and the accompanying downward pressure on prices have been a major business problem of late. Because of that excess capacity, it would not be difficult for measured productivity (output divided by hours of labor) to increase quite a bit in the short run without reflecting what is typically thought to cause long run productivity growth–new, more efficient, technologies and processes (think 1990s). Time will tell. At the least, the latest news is not bad news; how good it is unknown.


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Mike Hawash Update

You may recall the story of Mike Hawash, a U.S. citizen arrested in March and held without access to council for five weeks until charges were filed. The eventual charges were for attempting to aid the Taliban, conspiring to levy war against the United States, and conspiring to provide material support for terrorism. Yesterday, Hawash plead guilty to the attempting to aid the Taliban charge and agreed to testify against the other members of the Portland Seven in exchange for the government dropping the latter two charges (full plea agreement here).

Not, as far as I can tell, part of the plea agreement was an explanation of why civil liberties and the Constitution had to be taken down along with Hawash.


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Did you hear that Arnold Schwarzenegger is, should Gray Davis be recalled, running for for Governor of California? What? You already knew that? Ok.

Here’s a Terminator-worthy line from Mr. S.:”I will go to Sacramento, and I will clean house.” Still, I think it would have been better if he held his press conference in Sacramento, just he could end with his trademarked “I’ll be back.”


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Ahh, The Daily Show

Tonight, Jon Stewart gave Dean a bit of a hard time, which is a good sign for Dean–it means the writers think viewers now know who Dean is, unlike, say, Dennis Kucinic. Then he turned to Lieberman and played his wilderness line, which I wrote about here. Here’s Jon, echoing my thoughts, only funnier:

Yes Dean could lead the Democrats into an unpredicted wilderness where they would have no control over the White House, both Houses of Congress, or the Supreme Court. Oh, wait, nevermind. It appears they’re already in the wilderness…I wonder who lead them there?

[Flashes Gore-Lieberman poster from 2000]

Oh riiiight.


P.S. Hey, Angry Bear, how are you able to so easily quote TV shows that don’t publish transcripts? The answer is the magic of TiVo.

UPDATE: For undisclosed reasons, I was visiting and the first post I saw was hilarious

Gov. Dean Heals Leper, Walks on Water…Gov. Howard Dean cemented his Democrat presidential frontrunner status today when he healed a man of leprosy then walked across the surface of a small lake to his next campaign appearance.

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Thank the Lord

The Rev. Cn. Gene Robinson was cleared today of the ridiculous on their face charges against him. On Sunday, Rev. Robinson won confirmation in the first of two votes required for him to become the first gay Bishop of the Episcopal Church. That victory led to last minute charges of inappropriate contact and porn-linkery.

Though he denies involvement in one of the two last-minute smears, the Rev. David Anderson, president of the American Anglican Council (AAC) is apparently the leader within the church of the anti-Robinson faction. Rev. Anderson basically said that he would oppose Robinson by any means necessary and that, should Robinson be confirmed, the Episcopal church would split:

“There are apparently many in the Episcopal Church who have decided that homosexuality is more important than remaining a part of the vibrant and growing Anglican family. Sadly they are willing to divide the family over an issue that the vast majority of the Communion has already concluded to be inconsistent with the Biblical faith.

We will see at Convention if their voices win out. If they do, the Anglican Communion will see one of its family members leave the fold. As for the AAC, we are committed to remaining very much a part of the Anglican family. We’re staying.”

Curious about Rev. Anderson, and mindful of how easy it is to find wacky quotes from conservative Christians, I took a quick look and found this:

“The Episcopal Church needs people who are called to stand, and perhaps even to suffer, for doing the right thing. This is the most exciting time to be an Anglican since the days when Bloody Mary was burning people at the stake every day.”

Bloody Mary was known, among other things, for turning the English Church over to the Vatican and executing many Anglicans along the way, including the Archbiship of Canterbury. (Hence the “Bloody” appellation). Seriously, is one gay Bishop, or even a host of them, really that bad?


UPDATE: OK of Gay Bishop May Split Anglicans.

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What’s Wrong With This?

Texas Dems are still safely holed up in New Mexico. Meanwhile Republicans are launching a radio offensive. From an Austin-American Statesman story today:

State Republican leaders will take to the airways today…Hosts of four talk radio shows will interview Gov. Rick Perry, House Speaker Tom Craddick and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst at the Capitol. The shows air on stations in Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio and Corpus Christi.”

Perry was recently outed as Tom DeLay’s Bitch; Craddick was the one who successfully requested that The Homeland Security Department take a break from fighting terrorism to help track down Democrats back when the House Democrats went to Ardmore, Ok. And Dewhurst is the one who triggered Operation Town Lake by announcing that–despite his promises otherwise–if Gov. Perry called a second special session then he would recind the Senate rule requiring approval of 2/3 of the Senate before a matter can go to a floor vote.

It makes perfect sense to have these guys on the radio in Texas–they are making news after all. But there’s no mention of having any Democrats on at all, even though they are available by phone and video. If not some of the Texas Eleven, at least bring on one or two hapless Colmes-like Democrats to take the other side, so you can make a pretense of being fair and balanced.


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Dean Responds

See the previous post for some comments Lieberman made about Dean. Now Dean is firing back–by focusing on his own record and positions rather than attacking fellow-Democrats like Joe Lieberman. Here’s Dean:

“I am in the center. I balanced budgets. The president hasn’t done so. I believe that states have the right to make their own gun laws, after enforcing the federal laws vigorously. There’s nothing that’s not centrist about me…”

…Dean, who was Vermont’s lieutenant governor in 1991 when Gov. Richard Snelling died, balanced the state’s budget for 11 consecutive years — although Vermont is the only state in the union that does not require a balanced budget…

“…They all say, ‘He’s so liberal. Well, if liberal is balancing budgets, please do call me a liberal. … If you want jobs and investment in the country, you’re going to have to have a Democrat because the Republicans simply can’t handle money.”

More impressively, Dean also realizes that the next election is about much, much, more than who gets to be the nominee. Here’s more Dean:

“I will support the nominee. It is essential that George Bush not be re- elected for the future of this country. It is essential for our economy. It’s essential, so we can regain the respect we had around the world…

…Any one of [the Democratic candidates] would be better than the president they have now,” he said. “But what our party really has to have is some backbone.”

I’m starting to like this guy more and more, though it’s still far too early for the coveted AB-endorsement.


UPDATE: In comments, Moebius reminds me of Reagan’s Eleventh Commandment: “Thou Shall Not Speak Ill of a Fellow Republican.” Reagan followed his own rule for the most part and now Republicans are trying to name everything in the country after him. Think about it.

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Joe Lieberman

Kos recently defended Lieberman, mostly by pointing out that, based on American Conservative Union ratings of Senators, “the most liberal GOoPer is FAR MORE CONSERVATIVE than Lieberman!” Kos advised laying off Lieberman, a sentiment echoed by CalPundit and Yglesias, and I agree: Lieberman on his worst day is miles better than Bush on his best day. Still, this doesn’t make it easy to like the guy:

WASHINGTON— Presidential contender Joe Lieberman warned Tuesday that rival Howard Dean, the hottest candidate in the field, could be “a ticket to nowhere” for Democrats in 2004 by advocating discredited Democratic policies on taxes and national security.”

“A candidate who was opposed to the war against Saddam, who has called for the repeal of all of the Bush tax cuts, which would result in an increase in taxes on the middle class … could lead the Democrat party into the political wilderness for a long time to come,” Lieberman said when asked about the former Vermont governor during an appearance at the National Press Club.

“I share the anger of my fellow Democrats with George Bush and the direction he has taken this nation,” the Connecticut senator said at another point. “But the answer to his outdated, extremist ideology is not to be found in the outdated extremes of our own.”

Hey Lieberman and Kerry: notice how the guy attacking Bush and Bush policies–rather than other Democratic candidates–just made the covers of Newsweek and Time? Or how before that the guy criticizing Bush policies, not other Democrats, raised more money than you? Maybe you could follow suit perhaps? Just a thought.


P.S. In fairness to Kerry, his campaign is only cosidering attacking Dean; Lieberman’s is actually doing so.

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