Thursday, August 30, 2007

Who the Hell is Friedrich von Hayek and Why Should I Care?

Click on the link in this entry's title to get the answers to both questions. You will increase your awareness of the philosophical underpinnings of attempts to do with the social safety net that has been constructed since the Great Depression.

Washington Post Article on how Terrorism Laws are Splitting the Democrats

On August 30, 2007, the Washington Post ran an article on how outrage over Congress's inability to stop Bush's abuses of power is splitting the Democratic Party from it's more liberal members. The article starts out by focusing on an ad that the ACLU is running which depicts Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as sheep. It goes on to explore the anger that the ad represents in more detail.

Not suprisingly, the split is between those Democrats who have to run in more conservative states and districts and activist groups who don't have such restrictions. This is always the problem with a party built around coalitions. The coalitions can be split. The Southern Democrat/Northeast Democratic split started in FDR's time and continues to this day. The question is whether the Democratic party activists will continue to work for the defeat of Republicans or whether at least some of them will take a "pox on both your houses" approach.

John Edwards New Strategy

Salon, an online magazine, is running an article about the change in John Edwards' strategy. The change is that he is beginning to sharpen his attacks on his two main Democratic rivals, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. His populist rhetoric, which has always included attacks on corporate lobbyists and the ultra-rich, now includes attacks on Democrats who accept money from corporate lobbyists and Washington insiders. It is an interesting article. Check it out.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Gonzales Resignation Is Result of Democratic Control of Congress

If you read this article in the August 28, 2007 online edition of the Washington Post, you realize that Gonzales's resignation is the result of Democratic control of the Congress. Without the Dems taking control of the Congress, there wouldn't have been Congressional hearings about the firing of the U.S. Attorneys. Without those hearings the country wouldn't have seen Gonzales lying under oath about his involvement in the firings, as well as his lying under oath about his pressuring Ashcroft during his infamous hospital visit. Without hearings, aides to Ashcroft wouldn't have had to testify under oath about the inner workings of the Justice Department.

There is a tendency these days for writers on various blogs to act as if the Democrats being in control of Congress has not changed anything. Well, if you think that things haven't changed, just ask good ole' Alberto. He probably has a much different perspective.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

American Commanding General in Iraq Sees U.S. In Iraq for 9-10 Years

If you click on the link in this entry's title, you can read an article about a anti-war Democratic Representative who visited Iraq with some colleagues. She quotes General Petraeus as saying that American troops would have to be Iraq for the next 9-10 years. Wonder how many Americans would have supported the Iraq War in 2003 if they had been told that the U.S. would be in Iraq for 9-10 years?

Of course, given the fact that N.A.T.O troops, including American troops, are still in Kosovo some 10 years after we intervened in that country, Patraeus's predication seems accurate. Still, though, it gets your attention to read that over the next decade, according to the U.S. Iraq Commander, we will have to continue to pour billions of dollars and risk thousands of American lives because of George W. Bush's mistake.

How Karl Rove Used Washington Media's Desire for "Saviness"

Jay Rosen, a communications professor, had an interesting blog entry on the reaction of political reporters and pundits to Rove's resignation. This is a quote from his entry:

Whereas I believe that the real—and undeclared—ideology of American journalism is savviness, and this is what made the press so vulnerable to the likes of Karl Rove.

Savviness! Deep down, that’s what reporters want to believe in and actually do believe in— their own savviness and the savviness of certain others (including operators like Karl Rove.) In politics, they believe, it’s better to be savvy than it is to be honest or correct on the facts. It’s better to be savvy than it is to be just, good, fair, decent, strictly lawful, civilized, sincere or humane.

While politicians and political reporters both love politics, there is a profound difference in the results of that love. When politicians and their helpers engage in politics, the purpose is not to be political, it is to gain power. With power comes the ability to make decisions that affect our society.

Political reporters, however, don't engage in politics at all, at least not in the sense of trying to obtain power. They are like sportswriters in that they are covering an activity that they love, but, like sportswriters, they can't play.

This means that they end up focusing on the part of politics that is concerned with winning elections as opposed to actually exercising power. Hence their love of writing about operators like Rove and their dislike for covering politicians who are actually interested in policy.

Combine those character traits with the fact that most political reporters who work for large corporations like Time, the Washington Post, CNN, Fox News, and others, don't really need government programs that help the average American, and you end up with a media that is just interested in being "savy" and not interested in actual policy. It is relatively easy for an intelligent guy like Karl Rove to manipulate those personalities.

Click on the link in this entry's title to read Professor Rosen's complete blog entry.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Time Magazine Writers Predicts Attack on Iran, Cites Administration Source

There is an article on the Time magazine website, which can be read here, claiming that an administration source told one of its writers that there will be an attack on Iraq later this year. This is from the article:

Strengthening the Administration's case for a strike on Iran, there's a belief among neo-cons that the IRGC is the one obstacle to a democratic and friendly Iran. They believe that if we were to get rid of the IRGC, the clerics would fall, and our thirty-years war with Iran over. It's another neo-con delusion, but still it informs White House thinking.
And what do we do if just the opposite happens — a strike on Iran unifies Iranians behind the regime? An Administration official told me it's not even a consideration. "IRGC IED's are a casus belli for this Administration. There will be an attack on Iran."
(emphasis added).

How dumb do you have to be to start a third war when you have finished the first two wars? As dumb as they get, which means that war with Iran could be around the corner.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Conservatives Read Less Books Than Liberals

According to this article 34% of conservatives as opposed to 22% of liberals and moderates haven't read a book during the past year. After all, why read books when you can watch Fox News?

Is Mitt Romney Against Birth Control Pills?

Read this article that appeared on the Baltimore Sun's website on Tuesday, August 21, 2007 and see what you think.

Monday, August 20, 2007

White House Works to Stop States from Insuring More Uninsured Children

This article in the New York Times that appeared on its website on Monday, August 20, 2007, illustrates the difference between the Bush Administration and Democrats. This administration will spend billions, billions on a war in Iraq, a war that has done nothing to enhance American security and has done so much to damage that security, but it won't spend money on providing more American children with health insurance coverage. The Bush Administration cares more about Iraq than it does about the health of American children.

Why is Rove Attacking Clinton?

This article that appeared on an Australian newspaper's website on Monday, August 20, 2007, raises an intriguing question: why is Karl Rove going on television and saying that Clinton won't win the presidency? Does he worry about her or is he trying to get Democrats to rally to her because he thinks that she is easy to beat? According to the article this is the tactic that Rove used in 2004 because he thought that Kerry would be easier to beat than John Edwards. Of course, it could just be that Rove is, as Clinton herself says, "obsessed" with her.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Run on Banks in LA & Walmart Says Customers Are Running Out of Money

A reader named D.J. McVey puts out his own newsletter and gave us permission to use some of his stuff. Here is a recent article he sent us:

Earlier this week, consumer juggernauts Home Depot and Wal-Mart reported softer than expected earnings. Wal-Mart CEO H. Lee Scott Jr. says customers are "running out of money."

Penned the New York Times, "the sober forecasts reverberated across Wall Street, sending the Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index down by nearly 2 percent, with the Dow dropping more than 200 points. Shares of both Wal-Mart and Home Depot fell around 5 percent.

"Economists said the sluggish performance of the chains — Wal-Mart missed its profit forecast and Home Depot’s earnings dropped — could signal broader troubles in the economy."

Buried in the article was a sobering remark indeed: “Many customers are running out of money at the end of the month,” said H. Lee Scott Jr., the chief executive of Wal-Mart.

In Los Angeles, economic concerns hit close to home.

Anxious customers of Countrywide Bank jammed its phone lines, branches and website after the nation's largest mortgage lender -- which owns the bank -- announced it was facing problems from a credit meltdown.

"Countrywide Financial Corp., the biggest home-loan company in the nation, sought Thursday to assure depositors and the financial industry that both it and its bank were fiscally stable," wrote the LA Times Friday. "And federal regulators said they weren't alarmed by the volume of withdrawals from the bank."

"The rush to withdraw money -- by depositors that included a former Los Angeles Kings star hockey player and an executive of a rival home-loan company -- came a day after fears arose that Countrywide Financial could file for bankruptcy protection because of a worsening credit crunch stemming from the sub-prime mortgage meltdown," the paper continued.

"At Countrywide Bank offices, in a scene rare since the U.S. savings-and-loan crisis ended in the early '90s, so many people showed up to take out some or all of their money that in some cases they had to leave their names," the Times added. "Bill Ashmore drove his Porsche Cayenne to Countrywide's Laguna Niguel office and waited half an hour to cash out $500,000, which he then wired to an account at Bank of America."

"It's because of the fear of the bankruptcy," Ashmore, president of Irvine's Impac Mortgage Holdings, which escaped bankruptcy itself recently by shutting down virtually all its lending and laying off hundreds of employees told the paper. "It's got my wife totally freaked out. I just don't want to deal with it. I don't care about losing 90 days' interest, I don't care if it's FDIC-insured -- I just want it out."

Bush's Justice Department Believes Presidential Authority Trumps Federal Law

This is a very interesting quote from an article in the Sunday edition of the New York Times posted online:

Yet Bush administration officials have already signaled that, in their view, the president retains his constitutional authority to do whatever it takes to protect the country, regardless of any action Congress takes. At a tense meeting last week with lawyers from a range of private groups active in the wiretapping issue, senior Justice Department officials refused to commit the administration to adhering to the limits laid out in the new legislation and left open the possibility that the president could once again use what they have said in other instances is his constitutional authority to act outside the regulations set by Congress.

At the meeting, Bruce Fein, a Justice Department lawyer in the Reagan administration, along with other critics of the legislation, pressed Justice Department officials repeatedly for an assurance that the administration considered itself bound by the restrictions imposed by Congress. The Justice Department, led by Ken Wainstein, the assistant attorney general for national security, refused to do so, according to three participants in the meeting. That stance angered Mr. Fein and others. It sent the message, Mr. Fein said in an interview, that the new legislation, though it is already broadly worded, “is just advisory. The president can still do whatever he wants to do. They have not changed their position that the president’s Article II powers trump any ability by Congress to regulate the collection of foreign intelligence.

And we always thought that conservatives relished the idea of separation of powers under the United States Constitution.

Non-Coms of the 82 Airborne Have Great NTY Op-Ed Piece

Talking Points Memo alerted its readers to an excellent article in the New York Times for Sunday, August 19th, 2007. The article is written by enlisted men and non-commissioned officers of the 82nd Airborne. It is a realistic look at what is going on in Iraq. It is definitely not going to make the White House or its supporters of the Iraq War happy.

This is a quote from the article:

The claim that we are increasingly in control of the battlefields in Iraq is an assessment arrived at through a flawed, American-centered framework. Yes, we are militarily superior, but our successes are offset by failures elsewhere. What soldiers call the “battle space” remains the same, with changes only at the margins. It is crowded with actors who do not fit neatly into boxes: Sunni extremists, Al Qaeda terrorists, Shiite militiamen, criminals and armed tribes. This situation is made more complex by the questionable loyalties and Janus-faced role of the Iraqi police and Iraqi Army, which have been trained and armed at United States taxpayers’ expense.

A few nights ago, for example, we witnessed the death of one American soldier and the critical wounding of two others when a lethal armor-piercing explosive was detonated between an Iraqi Army checkpoint and a police one. Local Iraqis readily testified to American investigators that Iraqi police and Army officers escorted the triggermen and helped plant the bomb. These civilians highlighted their own predicament: had they informed the Americans of the bomb before the incident, the Iraqi Army, the police or the local Shiite militia would have killed their families.

Clearly the authors of this piece see this war far differently that politicians like Joe Lieberman or John McCain who go into Iraq for a few days, are heavily guarded, only talk to officers or troops picked by officers, and then come back and tell us how much better things are going. People like Lieberman and McCain don't want to hear that our efforts in Iraq are leading to us being viewed as an occupation, not a liberation, army.

Check out this piece and then see that your friends, relatives, everyone you know gets a link to this article. It is a powerful indictment of where we have been in Iraq and under Bush's leadership, where we are going.

Do You Worry About "Islamists" Taking Over the U.S.? Some Conservatives do.

Roger Simon writes for the conservative website Pajamas Media. He is convinced that America faces Islamist takeover. Such a takeover will result in women wearing burkas, gays being executed, and genocide against American Jews. You can read his article here. As Talking Points Memo has noted, this is apparently a very serious concern about American conservatives.

Now we have no doubt that there are Muslims who would like nothing better than to forcibly and violently convert the world to Islam. We have no doubt that such Muslims would gladly kill others in the pursuit of this goal. We also have no doubt that there are Christians who would gladly do the same. The point though isn't whether such people exist, the point is whether they have any ability to accomplish that goal.

Right now the United States has the most powerful military force in the world. We have a large Army, Navy, and Air Force. We have nuclear weapons. We are the only country in the world that has ever used nuclear weapons in a war, which means that we have demonstrated a willingness to use them. How in the world does such a country get taken over by Islamists? We just don't see it happening.

Driven by that curiosity, we left a comment on Simon's article last night asking him just how he sees Islamists accomplishing this goal. We checked this morning, (8/19/2007), and so far no answer. All this is not to say, however, that we doubt Simon's sincerity.

We think he is very sincere in his fear and we think that other conservatives are equally sincere. We just think that they are wrong. We also think that attributing power they don't have to people like bin Laden plays into their hands because it leads to overreactions. Such overreactions, like say invading a Arab country that doesn't pose a threat to our security, will in the long run harm American security. It will harm our security by radicalizing an increasing number of Muslims. Such radicalization will lead to more attacks on America and Americans. Will such attacks destroy our country? No. Will they lead to Americans dying needlessly in the sands of the Middle East and here at home? Definitely.

Bush "Works the Refs" Over Ranch Clothing Story

A reporter from the Austin Statesman writes this article about the clothing Bush has worn over the years when he is down at his ranch in Texas. It leads to a call from a deputy White House press secretary telling the reporter that Bush was unhappy with the article. (Scroll down for the article.) As a writer at points out, this is the same George Bush who blew off a briefer who told him that there was indications that bin Laden was determined to attack the United States before September 11, 2001.

This incident is telling for at least two reasons. One is what the writer at Talking Points Memo notes and that is that far from being a nice guy, Bush often comes across as insecure, mean, and arrogant. The other is that this is how the Republicans control the media. They complain when the media does something they don't like. They don't do it because it is going to lead to a correction, they do it so that the reporter who wrote offending story won't do it again, or so that his or her editors won't allow such a story to be written in the future.

Eric Alterman, who wrote What Liberal Media, calls this "working the refs." The term comes from basketball where coaches often complain to referees about calls hoping to get more favorable calls in the future. Why do Republicans do this? Because it works. Over the last 40 years the working press in this country has given increasingly favorable coverage to Republicans because of all the complaining that Republicans do about so-called "liberal bias."

The reason why so many Republicans can do this so effectively is that they really believe that the media shouldn't criticize them. Such Republicans operate from a sense of entitlement when it comes to politics. A sense of entitlement that comes from the belief that they are simply better than other Americans and ought to be in charge of running things. This sense of entitlement allows them to act genuinely outraged when dealing with the media over critical stories.

Most Democrats don't usually have this same sense of entitlement and so it is much harder for them to "work the refs." They have to get over that reluctance. Often liberals, progressives, and Democrats take the attitude that Republicans shouldn't do what they do because it is just not nice. It is the equivalent of stamping your feet in protest. It doesn't work. It makes Democrats look weak.

Now we are not saying that Democrats ought to develop the same sense of entitlement, but what we are saying is that Democratic politicians, consultants, and voters ought to emulate this tactic of Republicans. When the media writes, prints, broadcasts, blogs and you don't like the offending article, make sure that someone knows. Over time it will help restore even-handiness to the media.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Trouble in the Elephant Herd: State Senator Tries to Oust Summit County GOP Chair

The Akron Beacon Journal is reporting that State Senator Kevin Coughlin is challenging Summit County GOP Chair Alex Arshinkoff. You can read the whole article by clicking on the link in this entry's title.

Like all family feuds, this one promises to be bitter. One of Arshinkoff's allies, Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Robart, refers to Coughlin as being "nuttier than a fruitcake." Coughlin says that Arshinkoff is "too paranoid, too vindictive" and is vengeful and, apparently for those reasons, should be replaced as county chair.

Of course Coughlin didn't mind Arshinkoff's personality traits when he was helping Kevin become a State Senator. It is hard to imagine any Republican office-holder objecting to a person being vindictive and paranoid since Bubble-Boy Bush and his brain, King Karl Rove, built their entire political operations out of fear, mistrust, and vindictiveness.

The only difference is that Coughlin is term-limited in 2010 and doesn't know what he is going to do next. He apparently wanted to run for State Auditor in 2006 but Arshinkoff backed Taylor instead of him. So now he plans to get even by replacing Arshinkoff on the grounds that Alex is too vindictive? Only to a self-righteous Republican like Coughlin would that make any sense. Republicans just don't have a sense of irony.

From the There is a God Department: Feds Pay $80,000 to Married Couple Arrested for Wearing anti-Bush T-Shirts

We can't really add anything to this entry's title, so here is the link.

Washington Post Article on Rove's Use of Taxpayer Dollars for Political Power

The Washington Post has a great story on how Karl Rove used the power and largess of the Federal government to try and bolster the political fortunes of Republicans. The Post also has a map that shows how often two cabinet officials and/or their deputies visted various states before the 2006 mid-term elections. The two cabinet officials were the Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao and the Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton. There is an investigation going on by a committee of the House of Representatives to see if this practice violated Federal law.

Friday, August 17, 2007

It Doesn't Matter Who Dems Nominate, Rove & His Allies Will Try to Smear Them

Here is an article that appeared on the Forbes website on Friday, August 17, 2007, about Rove attacking Hillary Clinton. The thrust of the article is that while Rove attacking Clinton may help her in the short term, it could hurt her in the long term by raising her negatives and concerns about her electability.

Look, here is the problem with that analysis: Rove and his allies will attack anyone the Democrats nominate and try to smear them. This is the party that attacked Vietnam vets like Max Cleland and John Kerry to help elect Republicans who avoided service in Vietnam. This is the party that impeached a Democratic president for allegedly lying about private consensual sex. This is a party that launched over 150 investigations of the Clinton administration when it was in office. It doesn't matter who Democrats nominate, they are going to attack him or her.

There are problems with Hillary Clinton as a nominee, but there are also problems with Obama, Edwards, or anyone else. There is no such thing as a the perfect candidate and there is no candidate who won't be attacked by Rovian Republicans. The question for Democrats is whether our candidate can take a punch and whether he or she can deliver a punch.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Good PD Article on Senator Sherrod Brown & How He Won Ohio

The Cleveland Plain Dealer has an article in the Sunday, August 12, 2007 edition about Ohio United States Senator Sherrod Brown. The article points out that Sherrod's populist campaign in 2006 was successful in winning Ohio and defeating a third term incumbent United States Senator. Here is a quote from Sherrod on winning Ohio: "I think that you can stand up for the middle class and stand up for workers and low-income people and win," he says.

As the article by Stephen Koff of the PD's Washington Bureau points out, Sherrod, and not the Republicans, has been proved right over the last several months since he was elected. He was right to be opposed to the Iraq War; right to be worried about healthcare in America; and right to be worried about trade with China. Sherrod Brown far more than Mike DeWine had his finger on Ohio's pulse.

Of course the Republicans quoted in the article disagree with Brown's analysis of why he beat their guy. They prefer to blame it on the ethical lapses of Taft and the other Columbus Republicans. They don't want to face the reality that America has seen how conservatives govern when they have total control and are rejecting it. Americans don't want to destroy government, they want to make it work. Conservative Republicans only want the government to work for them, not for the rest of us. That's why DeWine lost and that's why Democrats can carry Ohio in 2008.

New York Times Article on How War in Afghanistan Went Bad

The New York Times, in its Sunday edition for August 12, 2007, takes a look at the war in Afghanistan and how it went bad. As usual a deadly combination of American hubris, Bush incompetence, and blind focus on Iraq offers an explanation. This is a quote from the article:

President Bush’s critics have long contended that the Iraq war has diminished America’s effort in Afghanistan, which the administration has denied, but an examination of how the policy unfolded within the administration reveals a deep divide over how to proceed in Afghanistan and a series of decisions that at times seemed to relegate it to an afterthought as Iraq unraveled.

Statements from the White House, including from the president, in support of Afghanistan were resolute, but behind them was a halting, sometimes reluctant commitment to solving Afghanistan’s myriad problems, according to dozens of interviews in the United States, at NATO headquarters in Brussels and in Kabul, the Afghan capital.

At critical moments in the fight for Afghanistan, the Bush administration diverted scarce intelligence and reconstruction resources to Iraq, including elite C.I.A. teams and Special Forces units involved in the search for terrorists. As sophisticated Predator spy planes rolled off assembly lines in the United States, they were shipped to Iraq, undercutting the search for Taliban and terrorist leaders, according to senior military and intelligence officials.

One of the amazing things about Democratic statements before the Iraqi war vote in 2002 is why prominent Democrats didn't use the theme that Bush wanted to start a second war before he had won the first one. Such a theme would have made sense to the American people and would have been instinctively understood. How many of us heard our parents tell us when we were growing up not to start a new project until the old one was finished? Yet, although it is hard to remember all that was said about Iraq back in the fall of 2002, Democrats using that theme doesn't stick out.

Granted, given the lock-step approach that the Republicans who controlled Congress took when it came to backing Bush back in 2002, it wouldn't have made much of a difference in policy terms. It could have, however, made a difference in political terms. Such a theme would have given Democrats a way to distinguish themselves from Bush on national security and might have limited Democratic losses in the 2002 mid-term elections. It also would have set up Democrats for the 2004 presidential campaign which Bush and Rove planned to make about national security.

United States Ranks 41st In Life Expectancy

While Americans are living longer, they are not living as long as people in 40 other countries, according to a this article by the Associated Press. The article is based on statistics that are obtained from the Census Bureau. This quote is from the article:

For decades, the United States has been slipping in international rankings of life expectancy, as other countries improve health care, nutrition and lifestyles. Countries that surpass the U.S. include Japan and most of Europe, as well as Jordan, Guam and the Cayman Islands

There are several causes, but this one is particularly shocking: A relatively high percentage of babies born in the U.S. die before their first birthday, compared with other industrialized nations.

It is also interesting what one expert sees as a reason for America's decline in international health rankings:

Murray, from the University of Washington, said improved access to health insurance could increase life expectancy. But, he predicted, the U.S. won't move up in the world rankings as long as the health care debate is limited to insurance.

So when a politician, like Rudy Giuliani, speaks out against the United States government providing access to health care for all Americans by calling it "socialized medicine" he is really advocating allowing babies to die at a higher rate in this country than in other countries. This coming from a member of a political party that presumes to lecture Democrats on "family values."

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Village Voice Prints Article About Guiliani, aka, the Political Transvestite

Village Voice has an interesting article up on the PT and his the truth of his claims about his record on terrorism and 9-11. Click here to read it. Basically the author calls Rudy a liar.

Summer 2007 Issue of Common Sense, Medina County's Only Democratic Newspaper

You can view a larger version of each page by moving your cursor over the page and click on the image. Once you have read a page you can use the "Go Back" button on your browser to return to the MCDAC blog to read another page. On Internet Explorer it is the button with the arrow on the upper left hand side of the screen.

Are GOP Representatives Leaking Classified Information for Political Purposes?

ABC News reported on how two Republican Representatives, including Ohio's own John Boehner, apparently leaked classified information for political purposes. Boehner stated on a Fox News program that the secret court established under the FISA had issued a ruling against the Bush Administration and that was why the FISA needed to be amended. Now "Representative Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., reported the top-secret budget for human spying had decreased -- the type of detail normally kept under wraps for national security reasons."

In both cases the reason for the leaking of apparent classified information was to gain a political advantage. In the case of Boehner it was to help pass the FISA amendment. In the case of Hoekstra it was to take a shot at funding for national intelligence set by a Democratic controlled House of Representatives. In neither case, however, has there been any repercussions for the Republican involved.

Can you imagine the manufactured outrage if Democrats had done something similar? There would be gnashing of teeth at Fox News and condemnations from the White House. This is just another example of Washington Republicans believing that the rules apply to others but not to them.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Is the Era of Americans Using Their Home as a Cash Register Coming to an End?

A friend once remarked that over the last decade or so Americans had stopped thinking of their homes as a place to live and had started thinking of them as giant cash registers. A lot of Americans have second mortgages on their homes which they are using to finance the purchase of consumer goods, vacations, or college tuition. This trend has in turn pumped up the economy and helped George W. Bush get re-elected. This trend, however, may be coming to an abrupt end.

If you click on the link in this entry's title you can read an article from the Washington Post about how the credit crunch in America is spreading into global markets. Yesterday, August 9, 2007, the New York Stock Exchange suffered its second worst decline of the year as the cost of borrowing money for corporations continues to rise. Central banks in the U.S.and Europe pumped more than 150 billion dollars into global markets on Thursday, August 9, 2007. This is a quote from the article:

The first signs of trouble appeared in February after lenders reported record defaults in subprime mortgages, or loans sold to people with questionable credit histories. More recently, companies with poor credit have been denied loans. Now, even credit-worthy borrowers are struggling to obtain access to debt.

This tightening of credit markets will, in turn, affect consumer spending. This is how the article puts it:

The problems are also beginning to affect consumer spending, a key component of the economy. A report Thursday showed that July was a difficult month for retailers, a sign that a slumping housing market may have reined in spending, said Ken Perkins, president of the research firm Retail Metrics. Last month, 61 percent of retailers missed sales growth expectations for stores open at least a year. The norm is 42 percent.

The era of the American home as cash register is coming to an end. It will be interesting to see both the economic and political fall-out.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Free Advice from MCDAC for Representatives Sutton, Ryan, Kucinich, and Senator Brown

There should be a simple theme when dealing with Republicans and Iraq. It's this: Republicans want to spend money on Iraqis but not on Americans. They want to help Iraqis but not Americans. It is simple, it is direct, and it is true. It takes less than four seconds to say.

Are Reublicans Starting to "Stand By Their Man", aka, Bubble-Boy Bush?

If you click on the link you can read a story on the CNN website about how Bush's approval ratings rose to 35% from 32% since the last time they polled his approval ratings. Apparently the poll shows a rise of 16% among Republicans, but no difference in his approval among independents and Democrats. This is a good news/bad news situation for the Republicans. On the one hand they have to have their Republican base turn out next year because if they don't, then Republicans have no chance of winning the presidency or taking back control of either or both Houses of Congress. On the other hand, if his popularity is still in the tank about independents, then their "no chance" is only a "slim chance." A slim chance that will be hard to maintain if the only thing that Bush is doing in D.C. is playing to the Republican base.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Cleveland Plain Dealer's Kevin O'Brien is Nuts

Okay, stop us if you have heard this one before, but according to the PD's own Kevin O'Brien the reason why the bridge collapsed in Minnesota is, are you ready, big government. Yes, that's right, the fallen bridge in Minnesota is a symptom of America's dependence on big government. You see, according to Kevin, big government is doing too much and because it is doing too much, it can't do things right.

Now, of course, the problem with Kevin's take on things is that most people would say that building an interstate highway system to facilitate the movement of people and goods across the country is a function of government. It encourages the creation of jobs, it helps bind the nation together, and it drives down the cost of goods by making it easier to ship them. Well, if that's what they think, then apparently, according to Kevin, their wrong.

You see Kevin is a right-wing kind of guy and these last few years haven't been easy for him. We have seen screw-up after screw-up from the Bushies. Iraq, Katrina, cost overruns in government projects, Republicans going to jail for ethics violations, and generally making a mess of government. So Kevin is in a hard spot. He can either come clean and admit that Republicans, at least this bunch in D.C., aren't very competent or he can write crazy articles apparently calling for the Federal Government to stop maintaining the interstate highway system. He chose the crazy article route.

This is What Control of the U.S. Senate Means

This article in the Washington Post shows what Democratic control of the U.S. Senate means in terms of judicial appointments. While most attention is focused on the U.S. Supreme Court, the various appellate courts in the Federal system are very important courts. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has been a reliable ally of the Bush administration in its so-called "war on terror." That is ending as Republican appointed judges retire and Bush is not able to name reliable conservatives to replace them because of a Democratic Senate. This wouldn't be happening if Democrats hadn't taken control of the U.S. Senate last November. Remember this article the next time you read someone saying that there is no difference between the two political parties.

Republians, not Democrats, Responsible for Passing Bush's Security Plan

This is very interesting. The media, notably the Washington Post and Huffington Post, on their websites portrayed the Democrats as responsible for passing the "Protect America Act". The problem with this portrayal is that it is misleading and totally lets the Republicans off the hook.

In the House 41 Democrats voted with the Republicans to pass the Protect America Act. That is only 17% of the Democratic Congressional delegation. In the Senate 16 Senators joined with the Republicans. There the percentage is greater, 33%, but again less than 50% of the Democratic Senators. In both Houses the majority of the votes necessary to pass this legislation came from the Republicans. It was because Republicans voted nearly in unison that this legislation passed, especially in the House of Representatives.

Now it is true that if the Democrats had voted entirely against the Act in both Houses it wouldn't have passed. How realistic, though, is it to assume that all 285 Democratic members of both Houses were going to vote as a block on this legislation? Given the diversity of the United States, and the diversity of opinions inside the Democratic caucuses of both Houses, not very likely.

As much Democratic activists may want it, the Democratic Party is not nearly as homogeneous as the Republican Party. Sometimes this works for us, as in it is easier for Democrats to attract new people and groups to the party, and sometimes it works against us, as in the recent vote over the Protect America Act.

Why are Democrats being portrayed as responsible for passing this legislation when, in both Houses, a substantial majority of Democrats voted against this act? The reasons probably vary but one reason may be, at least as far as editorial staffs like the Post are concerned, with weakening the Democratic opposition to Bush by dividing activist Democrats from their elected Democratic officials.

None of this is to say that Democrats shouldn't be upset with the passage of this bill. It is very risky to give this particular administration any more power to spy on Americans, especially without getting the resignation of Attorney General Gonzales in return. Putting Gonzales partly in charge of deciding whether surveillance should be undertaken is much, much worse than putting the proverbial fox in charge of the proverbial hen house. Foxes only eat chickens when they have a reason, but Gonzales seems to want to spy on Americans even when he has no reason.

What I am saying, though, is that spreading the idea that Democrats and only Democrats are responsible for the passage of this legislation is playing into the hands of those who support Bush and his war, especially media supporters like the Washington Post.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Chinese Threaten to Dump Dollars if America Increases Pressure to Revalue Currency

Well, the chickens are coming home to roost in the Chinese hen house. The English newspaper, the Telegraph, is reporting that the Chinese government is threatening to dump American dollars if the United States continues to pressure the Chinese to revaluate its currency. The following is the first three paragraphs of the Telegraph's story:

The Chinese government has begun a concerted campaign of economic threats against the United States, hinting that it may liquidate its vast holding of US treasuries if Washington imposes trade sanctions to force a yuan revaluation.

Two officials at leading Communist Party bodies have given interviews in recent days warning - for the first time - that Beijing may use its $1.33 trillion (£658bn) of foreign reserves as a political weapon to counter pressure from the US Congress. Shifts in Chinese policy are often announced through key think tanks and academies.

Described as China's "nuclear option" in the state media, such action could trigger a dollar crash at a time when the US currency is already breaking down through historic support levels.

The article notes that this threat plays into the campaign of Hillary Clinton who has said that foreign control of 44% of the U.S. Government's debt threatens our economic soverignity.

You can read the whole article here.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Meet the Women of Hillary Clinton's Campaign

New York magazine has an article posted online about the women who are helping Hillary Clinton campaign for the White House. It is a very good article. It points out how Hillary Clinton's team is obsessed with staying on message, avoiding leaks, avoiding "process" stories and making sure that the media doesn't do to her what it did to Al Gore and John Kerry. If you are supporting Senator Clinton, or even if you aren't, this is a great article.

Upset With Congress Over Bush Security Plan? Tell 'em!

One of our readers sent us the following letter about the recent vote over the Bush security plan:

This Friday, everyone needs to call their Congressperson's home office (since they're on recess) and express their outrage over this FISA bill. Let them know how we feel. If they voted the right way, tell 'em good job. If they didn't, tell 'em what you think.

It's not hard. Go to or and find your Senator or Representative, and look for their contacts. It takes 2 minutes or less. And it takes about that long to call, or you can find a comment form on their site if you would rather do that.

We have to make our voices heard.


Sunday, August 05, 2007

Gingrich Tells Young Conservatives that "War on Terror is Phony and We are losing."

Listen to what Newt Gingrich told the Young America's Foundation National Conservative Student Conference:

"Republican political doctrine has been a failure. Look at New Orleans. How can you say that was a success? Look at Baghdad ... We've been in charge for six years and I don't think you can look around and say that was a great success."

"We have got to get beyond this political bologna. I'm not allowed to say anything positive about Hillary Clinton because then I'm not a loyal Republican, and she's not allowed to say anything positive about me because then she's not a loyal Democrat. What a stupid way to run a country."

"How can we tolerate systems more likely to send young Americans to prison than college? Republicans have this maniacally dumb idea of red versus blue. They say Detroit is a blue place, so we're not going to go there."

Then there was this tidbit for the young conservatives regarding Bubble-Boy's "War on Terror":

"None of you should believe we are winning this war. We are in a phony war ... we have not been taking this seriously."

You can read the Salon Magazine story about Gingrich's appearance and the reaction to it by clicking here. Wonder what Fox News will do with this?

MCDAC Blog Stats

Of the last 4000 visitors to the MCDAC blog, 3587 came from the United States and of those 3587, 1268 came from Ohio. In percentage terms, this works out to 89.6% of the last 4000 visitors came from the US and of those 35.3% came from Ohio. Almost half of the visitors, 49.2%, came to our blog came from Google websites.

The story used most often as an entry page was one about the gas boycott planned for May 15th, 2007 and that particular entry was posted on May 3rd, 2007. The local story used most often as an entry page was the one posted about Medina County Democrats visiting the Governor's Mansion in July.

Overall since August of 2006 11361 visitors have come to the MCDAC blog. MCDAC thanks all those who have visited our site. We hope you found it interesting.

Ohio Congressional Dems Split Over Bush's Wiretap Plan

Ohio's Democratic Congressional delegation split over support of the Bush's wiretap plan. Of Ohio's seven United States Representatives, five voted against the bill while two voted for it. The five who opposed it were Jones, Ryan, Sutton, Kucinich, and Kaptur. The two who voted for it were Space and Wilson. Before readers start to condemn Wilson and Space, it should be remembered that both of them will probably be on the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee's target list for the 2008 election. The actual vote results can be seen here. That's also overlooking the fact that both Representatives Space and Wilson didn't back the bill because they agreed with its provisions.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Dems Should Demand Gonzales Resignation as Price for Bush's Security Plan

Sixteen Democratic Senators joined 43 Republican Senators to pass the bill sought by Bush regarding FISA surveillance. This bill will allow the United States Government to intercept certain communications between foreign suspects even if the communications are intercepted inside the United States. This bill was made necessary by a decision of one of the judges of the secret FISA-established court that issue search warrants for intercepting communications.

One of the hang-ups was that Bush wanted the Attorney General to be given the power to authorize intercepts under the new law. Not surprisingly, Democrats balked at that provision. Under the Senate-passed legislation, both the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence will have to authorize such intercepts. After 120 days, the administration would have to get a warrant to continue intercepting the communications being tracked.

What the Democrats should have done is say to Bush "We don't trust Gonzales and if you want the AG to have that kind of authority, then you need to appoint a new AG." The public would have backed that position and it would have been easy to explain to the news media. Instead 16 Dems rolled over for Bush and got nothing back from him.

Aren't American Bridges Just as Important as Iraqi Bridges?

In this article in the Nation magazine, John Nichols points out that the Federal Government has delayed for years in repairing America's infrastructure. This is a quote from the article:

But there is simply no question that the steady neglect of the crying need for repair and improvement of bridges, levees and other vital pieces of the nation's infrastructure, and the resolute stinginess of a federal government that is much better at finding money to repair the Middle East than the middle west, makes disasters more likely to occur and more extreme in their consequences.

Meanwhile, the cost of the Iraq War, according to a website called "Cost of War", run by the National Priorities Project, is now over 448 Billion dollars. Think about what that money would have done if it would have been spent in America fixing our roads, bridges, levees, dams, etc. Think about the jobs it would have created and the businesses that it would have supported.

Which brings us to this point: Democrats need to point out to Americans that it is past time for us to focus on our own country. We should stop trying to rebuild the Middle East and start rebuilding the Midwest, and the North, South, East, and West while we are at it. We have an administration that seems to think that helping Iraqis rebuild their country is more important than helping Americans rebuild our country.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Strickland Backs Unification of Ohio's State-Run Colleges and Universities

Governor Ted Strickland and Chancellor Eric Fingerhut to push for unification of Ohio's state-run higher education institutions. Click here for an article about their plan.

Regula Votes Against Troops, Again

On August 2, 2007, the United States House of Representatives passed the Ensuring Military Readiness Through Stability and Predictability Deployment Policy Act by a 229 to 194. This bill was summarized by the Congressional Research Service as follows:

Prohibits units and members of the regular Armed Forces from being deployed for Operations Iraqi Freedom or Enduring Freedom (including participation in the NATO International Security Assistance Force (Afghanistan)) unless the period between deployments is equal to or longer than the period of the previous deployment. Expresses the sense of Congress that the optimal minimum period between such deployments should be equal to or longer than twice the period of the previous deployment.

Prohibits units and members of the reserves from being deployed for such Operations (including such NATO participation) if the unit or member has been deployed within three preceding years. Expresses the sense of Congress that units and members of the reserves should not be mobilized continuously for more than one year, and that the optimal minimum period between such deployments should be five years.

Authorizes the: (1) President to waive such limitations after certifying to Congress that the deployment is necessary to meet an operational emergency posing a threat to vital national security interests; or (2) chief of staff of the military department concerned (including the Coast Guard) to waive such limitations with respect to a member who has voluntarily requested mobilization.

This bill would prevent the Bush Administration from extending the tours of duty for military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Bush Administration went from a policy of tours of duty for members of the American Army in Iraq being 12 months to 15 months. The administration has also been continuously calling up reserve units and redeploying them into Iraq. Both policies are causing hardship to the families of such soldiers, not to mention exposing them to more danger.

Representative Regula voted against this Act. Keep that in mind if he runs for re-election.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Who Would Have Thunk It?

Defense Secretary Gates admits that political reform in Iraq is proving harder than the Bushies anticipated. Who would have thunk it?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Ralph Regula Backs Health Insurance Companies Over Uninsured Children

Democrats in the House passed a bill that will increase the number of children covered by the States Health Insurance Program, (SHIP), while decreasing the amount of money paid to Medicare HMOs by the Federal Government. Republicans opposed this bill because (1). they don't think that the Federal government should be covering more uninsured children and (2). they think that private insurance companies should get Federal money even when, as in this case, the Federal Government pays 12% more for these private Medicare HMOs than it pays for traditional Medicare coverage. In short, as Paul Krugman recently wrote, they believe that insuring children is less important than helping private health insurance companies. Krugman was right when he called that philosophy "immoral."

Representative Ralph Regula, (OH-16), backed the Republican position and voted against expanding access to health insurance for America's children. Congressman Regula, we are sad to say, put the interest of private health insurance companies ahead of uninsured children. Think about that if he runs for re-election in 2008.