Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Governor Strickland Sets Up New Process for Judicial Appointments

Governor Ted Strickland is creating a bi-partisan advisory board for filling judicial vacancies. This board will be supplemented by six members from the community where the judicial vacancy occurs. This process will probably result in most judicial vacancies being filled by Democrats, but at least there will be a vetting process to make sure that the Governor appoints qualified judges. Under Taft, the local Republican Party sent three names to the Governor and Taft appointed a judge from one of those names. Governor Strickland's process will be more transparent. It is just another example of Ted Strickland putting his stamp on the Ohio Governor's office.

Update: Chief Justice Thomas Moyer, a Republican, issued a statement supporting Governor Strickland's action and commending him for taking this step to improve judicial quality in Ohio. You can read the Chief Justice's statement here:

Is Obama Putting Fox News in the Freezer?

According to the article linked to in this entry's title, Barack Obama has put Fox News in the freezer. While he has given interviews to CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC, he has not given an interview to Fox News since commentators from Fox News claimed that he had attended an Islamist school. This report, which was thoroughly debunked by CNN, was picked up various right-wing outlets.

In the article there is a quote from an Fox News reporter who whines about Fox's reporters being punished for commentary by Fox analysts. Well, boo-hoo. If Obama is putting Fox in the freezer, good for him. Democratic candidates don't need Fox News to get their message out. If Fox News wants to be the official network of the Republican Party, that's fine, but don't whine when Democrats refuse to co-operate with Fox's reporters.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Dems Have to Challenge "Market Fundamentalism"

Here is a phrase that we just ran across: "market fundamentalism." It is a term used by critics of conservatives who insist that "free markets" will cure every social ill known to man and that government is never the solution, but always the problem. The author of the article linked to in this entry's title points out that progressives need to start attacking this philosophy. She argues that until we attack this philosophy, we will not be able to make permanent political gains because the underlying philosophy that has shaped politics over the last 27 years will not have been culturally discredited.

Since the 1960s, conservatives have pushed the idea that government is inherently wasteful and inefficent. They push the idea that government programs don't work and can't compare with the marketplace.

This philosophy is behind charter schools, privatizating Social Security, Bush's new health plan, which will tax working families for employer furnished health insurance, and the decision to shut down Iraq's state owned companies putting thousands of people out of work. In the past while Democrats argued against certain policies advocated by market fundamentalims, they usually have not argued against the philosophy itself.

This is starting to change. More and more progressives and Democrats are challenging the idea that unfettered markets always produce good results for society. They are challenging the idea that government programs are inherently bad. This is good because progressives have to do to conservatives what they have been doing for the last 27 years: attack the underlying philosophy of the opposition. Read the article linked to in this entry's title. We think you will find it thought-provoking.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Hillary Clinton Drives the Washington Media Nuts

First of all, let us make the following observation: this entry is not an endorsement of Hillary Clinton for President. MCDAC does not endorse candidates in primaries, including presidential primaries. That being said, however, we're going to tell you that we like the fact that Hillary Clinton being elected would drive pundits like David Broder nuts. Why? Because the Clintons don't care if the pundits in D.C. like them. They don't care if Republicans like them. They don't care if they're liked at all, they just care about winning. They are single-minded about winning. They will do what it takes to win, and they don't apologize for being that way either.

David Broder wrote this column criticizing Hillary Clinton for not asking one question of General Petraeus when he appeared before the Senate Armed Service Committee for his confirmation hearing. He contrasted her lack of questions with McCain's asking 14 questions. Now, we don't know if Clinton should have asked questions. We can understand why she chose to use her time to basically make a campaign speech, and we can also understand why Broder wants Senators to ask questions. But here is the point: Hillary Clinton won't worry for one minute what David Broder thinks about what she should have done at that hearing. Not one minute, and that is what drives the media crazy about the Clintons. If Hillary Clinton is elected it will be fun to watch the heads of Republicans and national pundits figuratively explode.

Representative Betty Sutton Named to Budget Committee

Representative Betty Sutton has been named to the Budget Committee as well as the Rules Committee for the United States House of Representatives. Previously we had discussed her being named to the Rules Committee but not the Budget Committee. This is quite a coup for a newly elected member of Congress. The Rules Committee sets the rules for how a bill is handled on the House floor. The Budget Committee deals with how money is spent.

Newsweek Poll: 58% of Americans Wish Bush Presidency Was Over

According to a new Newsweek Poll, 58% of Americans wish this Presidency was "simply over." The poll breaks down to 86% of Democrats feeling that way, 59% of independents, and even 21% of Republicans. The number of Americans who think that Congress should be more assertive in challenging the Bush administration on the way is 64%. The number of Americans who are satisfied with the direction of the county is 30% while the number of Americans who think that the country is headed in the wrong direction is 61%. (The link in this entry's title takes you to the Newsweek story about the poll.)

The challenge for Democrats is to take the distrust of this administration on Iraq and drive home the point that the Bush administration is the natural result of a radical conservatism that is in control of the Republican Party. A conservatism that believes that government is the enemy and that America should go in alone in foreign affairs. A conservatism that brought us reckless tax cuts, the Iraq War, and no response to Hurricane Katrina. A conservatism that cares more for the rich than the middle class. A conservatism that wants to dismantle the government's safety net for the middle class as well as the poor.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Gov. Strickland Reviews Minimum Wage Exclusion

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported on its website Sunday that Gov. Ted Strickland is reviewing legislation passed by the GOP-controlled General Assembly in the last days of the late, unlamented Taft Administration, that exempts certain occupations from Ohio's new minimum wage amendment. (You can link to the article by clicking on the arrow next to this entry's title.)

The irony is that if a business doesn't pay the minimum wage and relies on the bill passed by the General Assembly, it could end up paying the attorney fees of an employee suing to enfore the provisions of the amendment. The sponsors of the minimum wage amendment were smart enough to insert that provision into the amendment's language. It would have been smarter, and even easier, to have just adopted the language of the amendment and not tried to exempt certain industries from paying the new minimum wage, but that would not have helped the GOP's business allies. Because, in the end, it all comes down to following the money.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Columbus Dispatch Reports 2006 Manufacturing Job Losses

The Columbus Reported that 2006 tied 2003 for record number of job losses in Ohio's manufacturing sector. Ohio has now lost over 200,000 manufacturing jobs. It's percentage of people employed in manufacturing has gone from 17% of the work force down to 14%. A big reason is competition from overseas companies. This state is seeing the loss of good paying jobs.

The media likes to report on unemployment figures. Unemployment figures, though, are only the tip of the analysis. If you are replacing manufacturing jobs with service industry jobs and if such jobs don't pay as much, then consumers have less money to spend. Consumers spending less will eventually result in fewer jobs in the service sector. It means consumers having less money to spend on doctors, lawyers, insurance, dentists, and other professions who think their education will protect them from the effects of Ohio losing manufacturing jobs.

Secretary of State Brunner Has New Ideas for Ohio Elections

The Columbus Dispatch reported that Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner set forth several new proposals at the winter meeting of Ohio election officials in Columbus. One was to have conduct elections totally by mail if only issues are on the ballot. Another was to try to select poll workers like we do jurors and allow poll workers to work 8 hour shifts. Brunner also announced plans to retest all Ohio voting systems to make sure that voting machines are working correctly. Finally, she announced that she and her staff would not be attending receptions at the meeting that were sponsored by companies that sell electronic voting machines such as Diebold.

After putting up with Ken Blackwell's machinations as Secretary of State, it is refreshing to see someone like Brunner in that office. Brunner is trying to make the office work for Ohio's voters. Blackwell tried to make the office into a subsidary of the Ohio GUP. We especially like her policy not to attend receptions sponsored by companies like Diebold. Brunner is sending a message that she is in charge of the office and that policy reinforces that message.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Rep. Betty Sutton Signs on as Co-Sponsor for Education Bill

Representative Betty Sutton has signed on as a co-sponsor to H.R. 627, also known as the Keep Our Promise to America's Children and Teacher Act or Keep Our PACT Act. This bill would require full funding of the No Child Left Behind Act. One of the things that Bush has done is get the Congress to pas the No Child Left Behind Act, but has never provided the money to make good on all its provisions. This is a bill that is long overdue and if it can get passed, it will be hard for Bubble-Boy to veto it. You can review the bill by clicking on the link in this entry's title.

Congressman Regula Backs Five of Six Dem Bills in 110th Congress

Congressman Ralph Regula, (OH-R), representing the 16th Ohio Congressional District supported five of the first six Democratic bills passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. He supported adopting the 9-11 Commission recommendations; allowing stem-cell research; increasing the minimum wage; cutting the interest on student loans; and for negotiation with drug companies to lower the cost of prescription drugs for Medicare beneficiaries. He voted against the Democratic energy bill.

There are a couple of explanations for Regula's support of these bills. One is that Regula is a moderate to conservative Republican and found these bills philosophically compatible with his views. The other is that he is getting ready to run for re-election in 2008 and wants to make sure he goes toward the center in case he gets a viable Democratic opponent. Or, of course, his reasons for voting for these bills is a mixture of both. In any event, however, Democrats in Ohio's 16th Congressional District should not be assuming that Regula is not running in 08.

Ford Posts Record Losses, Considers Bonuses for Top Executives

Let's say that you were the Board of Directors of a company that just posted a loss for 2006 of over 12 Billion Dollars. Would you give your executives a bonus because of their performance? According to the story linked to in this entry's title, that is exactly what Ford Motor Company is considering. At a time when over 30,000 employees are looking at losing their jobs at Ford, its market share is falling, and it is struggling to stay ahead of Toyota as the number two car seller in America, Ford Motor Company is considering bonuses for their executives.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Union Membership in US Drops to 12% of Workforce

This is disappointing news for Americans workers and for all of us who want a viable American middle class. Union membership is down to 12% of America's workforce. In the 1950s, with a much smaller population, union members accounted about 33% of America's workforce belonged to an union. Twenty years ago, the figure was over 20%.

The reason why this is bad for American workers is that unions drive up wages for all workers, not just those in the unions. When non-union employers have to compete for workers with unionized workers, they have to offer more money and more benefits. When there isn't such competition, then there isn't that incentive to improve wage and benefits packages.

This country was built on increasing the standard of living for the middle class, and especially for workers did not have a college degree. Those workers are now seeing their standard of living eroding. It will continue to erode as long as workers are not able to effectively bargain with employers for better wages.

Hopefully the new Democratic controlled Congress will pass legislation to make it easier to join an union. It is almost a certainity that such legislation would be vetoed by Bush, but it would set the stage for getting it passed and signed during the upcoming Democratic presidency.
You can read the whole article by clicking on the link in this entry's title.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Another Reason Why Sherrod Wins: People Like Him

We recently received this email message from a Wadsworth Democrat about meeting U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown in Washington:

I have been appointed as an FPC (Federal Political Coordinator) for the National Association of Realtors. I was in Washington DC the Jan 9-11th for training and called Sherrod Browns office to ask if he had any time to see me while I was there. His office scheduled me for a visit on Thursday the 11th for about a 10 minutes. I knew with this being a new year and his first tour as Senator his schedule would be packed. I arrived at Sherrod's office about 15 minutes early and was told that Sherrod was on the Senate floor and would be back in about 15-20 minutes. Sherrod´s Assistant Diana then came out to tell me that Sherrod was running late on the Senate floor and to please bring me over there to meet with him. WOW, how impressed and honored I was that she took me on the train underneath the Capitol and up to the Senate floor where he was voting. Sherrod came off the Senate floor to spend some time with me and give me a quick tour of the area where the voting was all done.

He was so very thankful for the Meet and Greet we had here in Wadsworth at the Masonic Temple the end of October. He asked me to please tell everyone at the Medina Democratic Headquarters HELLO and to THANK everyone here for all of the support he received. Sherrod said he never imagined such a large crowd would show up for him in Wadsworth!!

That was the highlight of my day!! Just had to share my experience!!

Marti Hallstrom

Marti's experience is typical of how Sherrod Brown treats people. He genuinely likes people and people like him because they recognize that he is sincerely interested in them. This is a little commented on, but very important character trait for politicians to possess. In the final analysis people aren't going to volunteer to do the grunt work of campaigns if they don't like you.

AP: Voinovich Opposes Bush Plan for More Troops

According to the Associated Press, Ohio Republican Senator George Voinovich is now listed as opposing the troop increase that Bush announced for Iraq. The number of GOP Senators who now opposing Bush on this matter is 8. The link for the AP article is in this entry's title.

Monday, January 22, 2007

GOP House Leadership Complains About Five Day Work Week

Raw Story reports that the House GOP leadership is upset that Pelosi and the Democrats are making the House stay in session five days a week. Apparently working a five day work week is too much for these men and women. Just one more reason to be glad there is a Democratic controlled Congress. (The link to the Raw Story article is in this entry's title.)

Washington Post Shows Bush At Record Low

The Washington Post and ABC News released a poll showing that Bush's approval rating is at 33% while his disapproval rating is at 65%. It also shows that there is no issue on which they poll that his approval rating is above 50%. 71% of those polled think the country is on the wrong track, up 12% since 11/4/2006. Meanwhile 54% of those polled approve of the job that Nancy Pelosi is doing as Speaker of the House.

The poll also asked about preference among Democrats for President for 2008 and the results were as follows:
1/19/07 12/11/06
Hillary Clinton 41 39
Barack Obama 17 17
John Edwards 11 12
John Kerry 8 7
Al Gore 10 10
Wesley Clark 1 1
Tom Vilsack * 1
Evan Bayh NA 1
Bill Richardson 1 2
Joe Biden 3 2
Chris Dodd * *
Dennis Kucinich 1 NA
Mike Gravel * NA
Other (vol.) 1 *
None of these (vol.) 2 2
Would not vote (vol.) * 1
No opinion 3 4

The poll also showed Clinton beating either McCain or Guiliani in head to head trial heats, with Clinton polling 49% to 47% against Guiliani and 50% to 45% against McCain. Obama polls stronger than McCain at 47% to 45% but is trailing Guiliani by 45% to 49%. What is interesting is that McCain's attempt to get closer to Bush by supporting him on the war is driving his popularity down with the public at large. Smart move, John.

Revolt of the Kool-Aid Drinkers

GOP Senators, especially those who are up for re-election in 2008, are signing on to a resolution being drafted by Sen. John Warner, R-VA, which will put them on record as opposing the escalation of troops being implemented by Bush. GOP Senators who are now on record as opposing Bush's escalation include Hagel of Nebraska, Snowe of Maine, Coleman of Minn, Collins of Maine, Warner of Virginia, and Smith of Oregon. (You can read the Washington Post article about Warner's resolution by clicking on the link in this entry's title.)

This means that Republican members of Congress, who have marched in lockstep with Bubble-Boy while he took them over the proverbial cliff, are beginning to see that the Republican Party could sustain even more losses in 2008 unless it begins to distance itself from the Bushies. Of course, we have to wonder if they hadn't lost control of Congress whether they would be seeing the light, but, maybe we are just being cynical.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Reader Submission: Some in GOP Consider Voters to be "Mob"

There is a revealing term being used in the editorial pages and partisan political chatter that, I think, unjustly criticizes our great Democracy. Some members of the Republican minority have been calling the majority of voters from the last election, well, a Mob, and. I think the use of the term is more that the petulant name-calling of poor losers.

When I think of a Mob, I imagine the powerful end of the Boris Karloff movie, Frankenstein. The scene where the villagers storm the castle with torches and pitchforks held aloft is what pops into my mind’s eye when I hear the word.

I expect the Republican mouthpieces might be afraid of that end for their Dr. Frankenstein, George W. Bush and his creation, The Iraq War. Of course, it won’t be pitchforks and torches that oust them; it will be the media, and polls and honest voting booths that remove our monsters from our castle.

Remember, we put the monsters in the castle and we will take them out the same way – nonviolently and systemically. I am optimistic. 70% of us understand the nature of this monster. Congress is aware that we understand, and consequently will do its job and represent the will of the people – like they always do - eventually.

Each of us can and should work to end this madness sooner. You can help. Put away your pitchfork and torch and pick up a pen and contact your Congressperson and both Senators and encourage them all to ask the hard questions and to demand honest answers from the creators of this Monstrous War.

After all, the Castle is ours and it is not just our right to take it back; it is our responsibility.

John Galish.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Did Politics Influence Bush Administration on Katrina Response?

The AP reports that Micheal Brown, former head of FEMA and also known by his Bush nickname of "Brownie", told college students that politics influence the Federal government's response to FEMA. Brown claims that he recommended to Bush that all 90,000 square miles of the Gulf Coast be placed under Federal control for purposes of Katrina hurricane assistance. Brown claims that unnamed members of the Bush Administration wanted to put Louisiana under such control but not Mississippi. Why? Because, according to Brown, Louisiana had a white, female Democratic governor and Mississippi had a white, male Republican governor. (You can read the whole article by clicking on the link in this entry's title.)

The Bush administration is, of course, denying that politics motivated the Katrina response. Since, however, it seems that all policy in this administration is subordinated to politics, it makes sense. It will be interesting to see if Brown's remarks leads to Congressional hearings on the Katrina response. As Bush might say, "Heck of a job, Brownie", for bringing this to the public's attention.

Over 700 American Civilians Have Died in Iraq

When we talk about American deaths in Iraq, we almost always talk about military deaths. This past week a family in Ohio lost their daughter in Iraq. She was working for an organization headed by former American Secretary of State Albright that promotes democracy. She was killed along with three other workers from that organization. By clicking on this entry's title you can read an article about an American family that lost a son in Iraq who was a civilian contractor. That article mentions that over 700 American civilian contractors have died in Iraq and over 3000 have been wounded. (Those figures are based on insurance claims that have been filed with the U.S. Defense Department.)

If you add in those causalities, then close to 30,000 Americans have been killed or wounded in Iraq. Most of these deaths have come after Bush had his "Mission Accomplished" photo-op opportunity back in May of 2003. Which, of course, brings up the question: Mr. President, if the mission was accomplished, then why are we still losing Americans in Iraq?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Reader Submission: Commissioner Geissman is being an obstructionist

Medina County Commissioner Pat Geissman is playing the old and stale republican argument against helping school districts. In her recent "Gazette" article she asked if the governor and legislature should have a chance to do something about school funding. The legislature’s political balance has been republican for about 16 years now. The past 13 years that same legislature has ignored 4 rulings by the Ohio Supreme Court to fulfill their legal duty and follow the Constitution of the State of Ohio. Is Ted Strickland going to make them suddenly change their posture? She states the obvious that voters don’t like property taxes. Evidently her obstructionist attitude has caused brain lock. A sales tax is not a property tax. It is the fairest way to spread an increase. The amount of the tax you pay is based on what you spend. Her shortsightedness also seems to ignore the fact that everyone who buys something in Medina County would pay not just those of us who live here. She has not done her homework when she says that a sales tax isn’t meant for schools. The very law language, which requires the county to put it on the ballot specifically, references school districts. Geissman’s blockading of a new concept is further supported by her argument that maybe the county will need an increase although she doesn’t think so. Thinking like that can be applied in almost every situation anyone ever faces. Something may impact on my decision someday so I will not have the courage to make a decision today. She admits that she isn’t an expert on school funding and that local school boards are very capable and responsive. Those boards put the issue on her desk and she has admitted she isn’t capable in school funding so she is going to ignore the wishes of the school boards and be unresponsive. Obviously Geissman has learned well from her school-funding mentor Chuck Calvert. Over 60% of Ohio spoke loudly last November and elected Democrat Ted Strickland Governor with the directive to fix school funding. Geissman evidently didn’t hear or read about that message. She needs to be sent her own message when she is next up for election.

Dave Osborne

Monday, January 15, 2007

Bloomberg Reports Wolfowitz Driving Away Managers at World Bank

Bloomberg News reported that managers of the World Bank are very concerned that Paul Wolfowitz, one of the geniuses who came up with idea of the Iraq War, is driving away experienced managers and replacing them with political allies. These political allies are connected to American action in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Once again the Bushies show that when it comes to government, what matters isn't competence but loyalty. Loyalty to Bush, to neo-con principles, loyalty to the cause. The Bushies trash every governmental agency or function they touch. One can only imagine the damage they will do to our country before they leave office.

The Rise of Suburban Populism?

David Ignatius is a columnist for the Washington Post who wrote a column recently quoting Rahm Emanuel, who led the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in the 2006 election. Emanuel referred to something he calls "suburban populism." Here is a quote from the Ignatius's column:

Middle-class voters are angry because they feel that their standard of living -- from education to health care to retirement -- is under assault. For a generation, GOP strategists encouraged these suburban voters to focus their anxiety and resentment on urban minorities, but Emanuel argues that isn’t working anymore.

“Today, the new welfare queen is corporate America,” he says. Suburban voters, like those in the inner cities, “are angry at powerful citizens who are getting a better deal than they are.” Thanks to this suburban populism, the Democrats picked up Republican seats in Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut and other states.

The Democratic leadership is fashioning a legislative programme that tries to respond to this public anger quickly and decisively. Pelosi’s agenda for the first 100 hours is a set of tight, doable proposals -- raise the minimum wage, ease terms for student loans, tighten budget rules on congressional spending, cut subsidies for the oil industry, cut drug costs.What’s interesting is that these proposals, so far, have been getting scores of Republican votes. For the rest of the year, Emanuel says, the leadership hopes to stress energy independence (with fuel-saving efficiency standards for appliances and cars) and a move toward better health care for children. (You can read the whole column by clicking on this entry's title. )

Now, readers of this blog may know that we believe that concentrating on economic issues is the way Democrats win elections. We think that the Sherrod Brown's successful campaign here in Ohio shows how this works. As a friend of ours pointed out, Sherrod was the first politician in a long time to come out and explicitly say he was going to fight for the middle class. The result was a stunning victory over an established Republican, even in counties like Medina County which usually votes Republican.

What progressives and Democrats need to do is sit down and come up with policy proposals that can be used in the 2007 off year elections to show suburban voters that electing Democrats at the local level will make their communities better. Perhaps what is needed is a conference that focuses on using local government, like township, village council, and city council positions to make life better for voters.

In a democracy political campaigns are about what is the proper role of government. That question is, or should be, at the root of all political campaigns. Democrats need to make it the issue in this year's local elections.

Kucinch to Chair Domestic Policy Subcommittee, Attempt to Reinstate Fairness Doctrine

The Center for Public Integrity reports on a speech given by Dennis Kucinich where he announces that as chair of Domestic Policy Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives, he is going to open the issue of re-establishing the "Fairness Doctrine". Until its demise in the 1980s, the Doctrine assured that opposing viewpoints were heard on electronic media such as radio and television. Since its demise, we have seen the rise of virulent talk radio represented by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Laura Ingram, etc. The reason why these shows predominate on the public's airwaves is because the owners don't have to give opposing viewpoints an opportunity to respond.

The article also reports that Kucinich wants to conduct hearings on the concentration of media into fewer and fewer corporations and on the role of the Federal Communications Commission in regulating the media. Kucinich also said that he supported a Federal shield law for both bloggers and journalists.

Kucinich gave his remarks at the National Conference for Media Reform. He made his remarks in an unannounced speech to about 2,000 delegates. You can read the Center for Public Integrity's report on Kucinich's speech by clicking on the link in this entry's title.

Find Out Who Owns the Media

The Center for Media Integrity has a really cool website in which you can find out who owns the media in a particular area using zip codes as a search term. You can see how this works by clicking on the link for the search page for the 44256 zip code by clicking on the link in this entry's title. The map that the site uses is interactive and you can find out ownership for both cable and broadband television stations, radio stations, and newspapers. The map allows you to change the area that you are looking at and to zoom in and out to make the area bigger and smaller.

The site tells you who owns what and links to websites of the owning companies. It is good to know which company owns what in the event you are organizing campaigns to pressure advertisers, or you want to know where to send complaints or inquiries.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Long Wait for Bush's New Way Forward a Mistake

Interesting article from the Washington Post about how the long delay in announcing Bush's plan from the release of the Iraq Study Group Report has hurt Bush's political support. The article also contains a short but significant sentence about how Democrats have offered several alternatives to Bush's plan. The fact that the writer decided to mention the fact that Democrats have offered alternatives is significant because it shows that the media is no longer accepting Bush's spin on events. Bush is going to have a difficult final two years in Washington getting anything done if Republicans keep bailing on him and the media doesn't cover for him. Of course, his problem is a nation's hope. (The WP article is linked to this entry's title.)

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Bogus GOP Outrage over Boxer's Comments to Rice

Okay, so the Republicans thought about it overnight and realized that Sen. Barbara Boxer handed Secretary of State Rice her lunch on Thursday in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. This happened when Boxer pointed out to Rice that neither she nor Boxer had family members in harm's way in Iraq. Boxer doesn't because her children are too old and her grandchildren too young. Rice doesn't because no one from her immediate family serves in the U.S. Armed Forces. Boxer's point was that Rice like most of the Bushies don't have any family members who are sacrificing by being in Iraq.

Now, the Bushies understand this point. Even they aren't that stupid. They don't want people dwelling on this because people might begin to wonder why the Bush twins aren't over in Iraq helping to advance Daddy's noble crusade. So, they did what they normally do, they attacked Boxer for supposedly being against single women, being anti-feminist, (that came courtesy of Tony Snow and the New York Post) and being anti-black (That last one was courtesy of Rush Limbaugh.)

Now, we all know this is a crock. Tony Snow and the rest of the Kool-Aid drinkers who are still loyal to Bubble-Boy could care less about feminists. Rush could care less about black people. This is just some bs to try and distract attention from the point Boxer was making. For the Bushies sacrifice is for the other guy.

House Republicans Splintering

According the article linked to in this entry's title, House Republicans, freed from the heavy hand of Tom DeLay and his henchmen are leaving their party to vote with Democrats on issues such as increasing the minimum wage, adopting PayGo budgeting, and authorizing stem-cell research. This in the face of the Republican's leadership claims that the GOP would fracture the Democrats.

One of the facts that most of the mainsteam media doesn't really talk about is the ability of Nancy Pelosi to keep the House Democrats united. On the minimum wage bill, not one Democrat defected. Last year when Bush unveiled his Social Security plan no House Democrat supported it. As we go deeper and deeper into this legislation session, Democrats should pick up momentum which doesn't bode well for the Republicans. Increasingly Bush will be vetoing popular legislation, which will set the stage for the 2008 election cycle.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Bush Doesn't Ask for Tax Increase for War

According to the Bloomberg Reports, George W. Bush, aka Bubble-Boy, is the first president in 150 years not to seek a tax increase to finance a war.(You can read the whole Bloomberg article by clicking on this entry's title.) This is going back to the Mexican-American war in the 1840s. All other presidents were smart enough to realize that you can't fight a war without a tax increase unless you are willing to go into debt. Now, the Republicans will try to argue that the national debt is going down. This is because the national debt doesn't count intra-governmental debt, ie, what the American government borrows from the Social Security trust fund to finance the government.

If Democrats wanted to go after Bush on the deficit, the first step would be to resurrect the lockbox concept that Al Gore talked about in 2000. This means passing a law that prohibits Social Security and Medicare funds from being used for anything other than those two programs. The immediate effect of this would be to illustrate how bad off the government finances are and to force reality into the debate about our government's spending and tax policies. It would also put the Bush administration into a real bind. They couldn't support such a move and opposing it would be politically unpopular. It would also reinforce the Democratic Congress's reputation as a defender of these two very popular programs.

The Iraq-Iran War?

According to the article linked to in this entry's title, NBC News anchors were very puzzled by comments Bush made to them during an off the record briefing on his speech. This article quotes Tim Russert as saying that apparently Bush expects Iran to surface as a problem very soon.

This would also explain why, during his speech on Wednesday, he announced that the U.S. is sending Patriot missiles to Iraq. Since these are missiles used against military airplanes and missiles, and since the insurgents in Iraq don't have such military assets, why are these units being sent to Iraq? Could it be because the Bush administration expects a military confrontation with Iran?

A friend of ours once told us that Bush will get out of Iraq by trying to go through Iran. We thought he was joking. He said that he wasn't joking and was being serious. It sounds like the same sort of thinking that got us embroiled in this war in the first place.

Sacrifice Increases for Army Reserve & National Guard

The U.S. Army is increasing the time that a Army Reserves or National Guard may be called for service in either Iraq or Afghanistan. In the past the Army had a policy that the Reserve and Guard could not be called for duty in Afghanistan or Iraq for more than 24 cumulative months. The new policy is that they may not be called for duty for more than 24 consecutive months, but there is no limit on the total amount of time they may be called. The Pentagon spokesperson said, however, that the Pentagon wants to limit deployments to 12 consecutive months. (Click on the entry's title to read the whole article.)

Let's see: Bush won't tax the rich to pay for his war, he won't call upon his supporters to join the Army to fight the war, but he will extend the amount of time that citizen-soldiers are ordered to fight in the war. Yep, that's Bubble-Boy's idea of shared sacrifice.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Newsweek's Fineman Sees Fear in Bush's Eyes During Iraq Speech

Howard Fineman has a well deserved reputation in Washington as being an exceptional purveyor of conventional wisdom. His reputation doesn't depend on original thinking or on pungent analysis. It depends on his ability to figure out what the conventional wisdom is among the Washington elite and then report on it. So, when he writes that he sees fear in Bush's eyes, it is significant. Not because it is true, although it may very well be true, but because this may become the conventional wisdom of the Beltway elite.

If you click on the link in this entry's title and read the article another fact jumps out at you. He apparently believes that one thing that drives Bush is his fear of being branded a "loser." Not that over 3,000 Americans have lost their lives in Iraq. Not that thousands of Iraqis have lost their lives in Iraq. Not that our reputation around the world has been totally trashed or that we have lost the moral high ground that we had after the attacks on September 11, 2001. No, according to Fineman what Bush is afraid of it being branded a "loser."

This brings up the problem with George W. Bush and indeed the whole Bush clan. They are in government not to serve the public, but to satisfy their egos. It is not about us, it is about them. It is not about solving America's problems, but about filling their need for public adulation. As far as we can tell, the history of the Bush family in politics is a history of self-gratification.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

New American Troops Going to Iraq Without Better Humvees

The Baltimore Sun is reporting that new troops bound for Iraq will be arriving without the more armored transports that are supposedly being made for the Pentagon. So let's see if we have this right: initially Bubble-Boy doesn't send enough troops to do the job. Then he doesn't have body armor for the ones that he sent over. Not only doesn't he have enough body armor, but he also doesn't have appropriately armored transport vehicles. When all this is pointed out to the Pentagon, it promises to develop a better transport vehicle, only its not ready in time to be used by the troops that are being sent as BB escalates the war. If the consequences weren't so terrible for our troops, this would almost sound like a bad joke. (You can read the Sun article by clicking on the title of this entry.)

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Strickland Vetoes First Bill within 16 Hours of Taking Office

The Columbus Dispatch noted in the story linked to in this entry's title that in his first 16 hours after taking the oath of office, Ted Strickland issued tough ethics regulations for his administration. His regulations are stricter than the law passed by the General Assembly. He also did something that took former Governor Robert Taft four years to do and that was veto a bill. In the waning days of the last session of the General Assembly, the Republicans passed a bill that limited damages for lead paint manufactuers. The bill was then sent to Taft, who neither signed it nor issued a veto. Instead his plan was to allow this bill to become law without his signature. Under the Ohio Constitution, a governor has 10 days to either sign the bill or veto the bill. If he does neither, then the bill becomes law without his signature.

Now, in this case, Taft believed that since the General Assembly ended his session on December 26, 2006, the ten days started then and consequently would end on January 6, 2007, before Strickland took office. The problem for the Republicans, though, is that while the General Assembly ended its session on December 26th, the bill wasn't received in the Governor's office until December 28th, 2006. By this calculation, the ten day period had not yet expired when Strickland issued his veto. Naturally, of course, Republicans are outraged by this position and are vowing to wage "war" against Strickland.

What's important isn't whether Strickland is right or wrong. What's important is that he just showed the GOP-led General Assembly that he won't be pushed around and that he will use his powers to stop them from unilaterally enacting their agenda. If the Republicans in the General Assembly thought they could bully Ted Strickland, they just got a quick lesson in gubernatorial prerogatives. Let's hope they heed it.

Gallup Poll Finds Big Majority Opposes Iraq War Escalation

The Gallup organization ran a pre-Bush speech (scheduled for Wednesday) poll on the issue of escalating the Iraqi War and found that a big majority opposes such escalation. (You can get the details by clicking on this entry's title. ) Gallup believes that support for the Bush's plan may increase after he gives the speech, but initially over 60% of the public is opposed to increasing the number of troops in Iraq.

Note that we are avoiding using the term "surge" to describe the planned troop increase. The word "surge" implies a short-term increase in troops, but there is nothing in this administration's recent history to give us confidence that the troop increase will be short-term, no matter what Bush says or doesn't say Wednesday night. We also think that the media is playing into Bush's hands when they allow him and his supporters to decide what language is going to be used to describe their actions.

One of the ways that Bush controls the media is by getting it to accept his language. His supporters use a label and if the media doesn't accept that label, it is accused of "bias" or more specifically, "liberal bias." Apparently the charge of "liberal bias" is so intimidating that grown men and women feel that they have no choice but to give in to the demands of Bush and his radical right-wing supporters.

Here is a news flash for the media: you get to decide what language to use to describe Bush's actions. That's part of your job. You are more than just stenographers blindly reporting what Bush and his supporters say.

Why Hawks Win: A Provocative Essay

Foreign Policy magazine has an article about why "hawks' prevail over "doves" when it comes to influencing policy-makers. The article, which can be linked to by clicking on this entry's title, argues that humans have a built in "bias" that leads policy makers to prefer the advice of "hawks" over "doves." It is a fascinating article and if you are interested in a psychological explanation of why Bubble-Boy got us into Iraq, this article is for you.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Hunters Pressuring NRA to Break With Bush Administration on Access to Public Lands

According to an article in the Washington Post, (which you can link to by clicking on this entry's title). hunters inside the National Rifle Association are pressuring the NRA to resist the Bush Administration's efforts to open Federal lands to development. Why? Because such development destroys hunting habitats. The Clinton Administration proposed and adopted a regulation during the 1990s that allowed hunters to walk in and ride horses into Federal lands, but prohibited the building of roads on such lands. At first both hunters and wildlife officials resisted such regulations, but now, after watching the Bushies turn over the Federal lands to mining and drilling interests, are beginning to support such regulations.

Is Bush Losing Utah?

According to a poll by the Salt Lake City Tribune only 42% of Utah residents support Bush's handling of the war. Only 44% support a escalation of the number of U.S. troops in Iraq. Just six months ago support for Bush on Iraq was over 50% in Utah. If Bubble-Boy is losing Utah, the GOP is in BIG trouble. _____________________________________________________________________
Click on the title of this entry to read the Tribune story about the poll.

Advice to Progressives: Dream Bigger Dreams!

Katha Pollitt of the Nation magazine has advice for liberals: dream bigger dreams! Advocate universal healthcare for all, cheap or free higher education, and a minimum wage of $9.00 an hour and indexed for inflation. Build a movement and stop worrying about finding a leader. If you have the right movement, leaders will emerge and come to you. It is a provocative article and can be read by clicking on the link in the title heading.

Will 2008 Mark the End of "Boomer" Obessions in American Politics

Since 1968, when Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew first used what was perceived as the rise of the counter-culture to gain political power, presidential politics has been shaped by the forces unleashed in the 1960s. Most of the time this has been to the detriment of the Democratic Party. In that period Republicans won elections in 1968, 1972, 1980, 1984, 1988, 2000, and 2004. During that period Democrats won elections in 1976, 1992, and 1998. If you are keeping score, that's Rs 7 and Ds 3.

The decade of the sixties unleashed a form of passionate politics because the challenges of that era were very divisive. America faced challenges to the established order from movements that advocated civil rights for blacks, women, and gays, from the anti-Vietnam War movement, from the environmental movement, and from people who challenged the existing sexual mores of the time. All of those movements found a political home in the Democratic Party and all of them were bitterly opposed by other Americans. It is not surprising that their opponents found a political home in the Republican Party.

It is no wonder, then, that the politics spawned by that era was and remains very personal and divisive. Time, however, changes everything. The "baby boom" started with people born in 1946 and ended with people born in 1960. The oldest boomers are now 60 and the youngest are 46. They are starting to give way to the next generation.

According to Howard Fineman of Newsweek this could lead to a politics that is no longer dominated by boomer obsessions. (You can read his article by clicking on the title of this entry.) Although his article doesn't go on with this analysis, Democrats far more than Republicans will benefit from America moving past the "culture wars." From our perspective it can't happen soon enough.

Reader Submission: Getting the Government We Deserve

A Cleveland columnist recently said no one should expect state government to save the state. He said it should get out of the way so the entrepreneurs and big business can save us. Do we actually believe that?

State government is the 500-pound gorilla. Ohio has been terribly ill-served by this state government and particularly this legislature for more than 10 years. They have taken university and public school systems that were once considered in the elites of this country and practically dismantled them. Think employers want poorly educated workers?

This legislature has sent a resounding message around the country that Ohio is not an inclusive and welcoming state. Think cutting-edge industry and innovative entrepreneurs want to locate here with a message like that?

While declaring they've lowered taxes, this legislature has ferociously pushed the tax burden down to the local level. Upset about your local school taxes? Point your finger at this legislature.
What concerned parents will move to a state that doesn't value public education?

Look around this country and you find prospering areas have forward-thinking, innovative governments unafraid to lead. Those areas not doing well often have self-serving governments more interested in the next election than defending the people's interests.

We usually get the government we deserve. Unfortunately, right now we are getting exactly what we deserve. We swept the executive offices clean this last election. We'll see how our new leaders perform. However, the lame duck legislature's performance this month should have shamed all Ohioans. A majority of those folks are back next year. That does not bode well for our state.

Wake up, Ohio. Government does matter. Until we begin voting our economic interests we will continue our descent into the lowest-tier states. You and I and Ohio deserve much better.

Michael E. Kovack
Medina County AuditorMedina, Ohio
Mike Kovack is a Democrat and has been county auditor for Medina County since 1993. He was re-elected in 2006 without opposition.

Ken Blackwell: A Sore Loser Until the Bitter End

Ken Blackwell, the outgoing Secretary of State, has decided that he will not turn over the keys to his office until 12:01 am on Monday, January 8, 2007. Since the election he has refused to meet with Jennifer Brunner, the incoming Secretary of State. We have always wondered whether Republicans are worse losers than they are winners. As far as Blackwell is concerned, we know the answer, he is equally obnoxious in defeat as in victory.

You have to wonder where this kind of attitude comes from, since it is shown by a lot of Republicans. Basically we think that it stems from a belief that they are better than others, and that kind of mindset cannot handle voter rejection. We believe that they are overlooking the opportunity their recent state-wide defeats have given them. Now they will be able to put into practice their belief that the private market is better at economic evaluation than government. They will now have a chance to show everyone just what the private market thinks of their abilities. On second thought, maybe that is exactly what they are afraid of and could explain why they are so bitter about losing power.
Click on the title of this entry to read a news article on the transition of power in various state offices.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

ABC News Reports: Senators Regret Iraq War Vote

ABC News is reporting that at least 57 Senators would vote against the Iraq War Resolution if it was presented for a vote today. ABC News reports that, at most, only 43 Senators would vote for the resolution. _________________________________________________________________
You can get the full details by clicking on the arrow next to this entry's title. Thanks to the blogger Minor Ripper who sent us the link to this story.

State Senator Capri Cafaro's Swearing-In

State Senator Capri Cafaro was sworn in this week as a new Ohio State Senator. Capri had run for Congress in the 13th District and had campaigned extensively in Medina County. She was kind enough to send us photos of her swearing in and we decided to share them with our readers. If you have photos of Democratic events and would like to share them with MCDAC, send them to us at the email address below the picture of State Senator Cafaro.

Dems Adopt "PayGo" in the U.S. House

The Democratic controlled U.S. House of Representatives voted yesterday to change the budget rules for the U.S. House. They went back to a system that the Republicans used during Clinton's presidency, but abandoned when George W. Bush became president. The system's nickname is PayGo and works like this: any new spending increase proposed has to be backed by either tax increases or spending cuts elsewhere and any new tax cuts have to be backed by either spending cuts or tax increases elsewhere. (You can link to the CBS News story about PayGo by clicking on the arrow next to this entry's title.)

Adopting PayGo will help to restore fiscal sanity to Congress, but only a third of the Republicans voted for it. Why? Because it will make it harder to extend Bush's reckless tax cuts when they expire in 2010. Given a choice between cutting taxes and moving toward a balanced budget, most Republicans chose cutting taxes. This vote, more than any other that will be taken this session, shows that Republicans are not the party of fiscal responsibility, they are the party of reckless tax cutting. Republicans used to call Democrats "tax and spend liberals". Well, the vote on PayGo shows that they are "borrow and spend radical conservatives."

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Republican County Treasurer vs. Republican County Commissioners

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported on Wednesday that earlier this week Republican Medina County Treasurer John Burke sent a letter to the three Republican Medina County Commissioners demanding that they personally help reimburse his office for a missing tax payment. (The story can be viewed by clicking on the arrow next to this entry's title.)

In 2006 approximately $1,000.00 that was received as a tax payment was found to be missing from the County Treasurer's office. Employees of the Treasurer's office made up the missing money from personal funds. In the letter Burke claimed that the missing payment was the result of the Medina County Commissioners not providing him with adequate computer software and equipment. He therefore suggested that the County Commissioners each contribute $12.00, which was the same amount contributed by each of his employees. The Commissioners are refusing this request.

Bush to Blame General George Casey for Iraq Problems?

The New York Times published a report that Bush has supposedly lost confidence in General Casey, the head of the American military in Iraq, and is going to replace him as the top commander. The article, which can be read by clicking on the arrow next to the title of this entry, quotes unnamed administration sources as saying that Bush lost confidence in Casey over the last year. Never mind, of course, that Bush and Cheney kept singing Casey's praises in 2006, someone has to take the fall for Bubble-Boy's screw-ups, and Casey's name has come up.

The attempt to blame Casey for the mistakes of the Iraq War brings this question to mind: is there anyone involved with George W. Bush who has not suffered a loss to their reputation? Think about it. Tony Blair, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenet, even Dick Cheney, to name just a few, have all suffered damage to their reputations. The United States Supreme Court has seen its reputation decline since it put him in office with the dubious reasoning of Bush v. Gore. The American people have suffered an enormous blow to its reputation because of the Iraqi War. Bubble-Boy trashes the reputation of everyone involved with him.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Bush to Call for Sacrifice?

The BBC is reporting that President Bush, aka "Bubble-Boy", is going to call for sacrifice when he announces to America that he is increasing the number of troops in Iraq. (You can read the article by clicking on the arrow next to this post's title.) That brings up this question, just who is sacrificing for Bush's war?

The over 3,000 American troops killed have made the ultimate sacrifice. Their families have sacrificed. The over 22,000 American troops wounded have sacrificed. Their families have sacrificed. The men and women serving in Iraq are sacrificing. Their families are sacrificing. That's it. No one else. Why? Because George W. Bush has not demanded that his supporters, who don't fall into one the above categories, sacrifice anything to support his war.

He has not demanded that they support a tax raise to pay for the cost of this war.
He has not demanded that they consider enlisting to support this war.
His children are not enlisting to support this war.

In short, he has not demanded any sacrifice of the American people or of his supporters in support of this war, unless they fall into one of the groups listed above. It just seems to us that if our government is going to send American men and women to war, it should at least ask the rest of us to bear some cost of that war.