Where's the Dem's 'Contract With America'?

I hear this from people all the time. I always try to explain that this was a late development in 1994. As usual, professiona writers can explain it better than I. Read the whole story here, but here is an important excerpt:

It's understandable that pundits take one look at congressional Democrats today and declare them to be a far cry from the mighty mighty Gingrich revolutionaries of 1994. The implosion of the Bush administration and congressional Republicans has led to speculation not about whether Democrats could regain power but about how they will muff up the opportunity. Turn on a television these days, and you won't have to count to 10 before you hear, "Where is the Democrats' Newt?" or "Why don't Democrats have a Contract with America?"

But the truth is that Newt Gingrich and his Contract loom so large—and today's DC Democrats seem so small—largely because of the magic of hindsight. Back in 1994, Republicans were at least as divided as Democrats are now, if not more so. Traditional statesmen like Robert Michel, Howard Baker, and Robert Dole were constantly at loggerheads with the conservative bomb-throwers like Gingrich, Bob Walker, and Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas). As for unity of message, the now-revered Contract with America didn't make its debut until just six weeks before the election; Democratic pollster Mark Mellman recently pointed out that one week before Election Day, 71 percent of Americans said they hadn't heard anything about it. And while political journalists rushed to hail Gingrich's genius after the election, before November they were more likely to describe Republicans in terms we associate with Democrats today. "Republicans have taken to personal attacks on President Clinton because they have no ideas of their own to run on," wrote Charles Krauthammer in the summer of 1994, while a George F. Will column in the fall ran under the headline, "Timid GOP Not Ready for Prime Time."

What the GOP did so brilliantly in 1994 was exploit Clinton's weaknesses (his 1993 tax increase, his wife's failed health-care initiative), as well as the sense among voters that reigning congressional Democrats had become complacent and corrupt (reviving the Keating Five and House banking scandals). Well, guess what? This is precisely what congressional Democrats have been getting better at doing over the past 18 months. And just as most observers missed the coming Republican revolution in 1994, so they're missing a similar insurgency today.

The Gutting on American Manufacturing

From the Baltimore Post via Altercation:

Job growth over the last five years is the weakest on record. The US economy came up more than 7 million jobs short of keeping up with population growth....Over the past five years the US economy experienced a net job loss in goods producing activities. The entire job growth was in service-providing activities--primarily credit intermediation, health care and social assistance, waiters, waitresses and bartenders, and state and local government.

US manufacturing lost 2.9 million jobs, almost 17% of the manufacturing work force. The wipeout is across the board. Not a single manufacturing payroll classification created a single new job.

The declines in some manufacturing sectors have more in common with a country undergoing saturation bombing during war than with a super-economy that is “the envy of the world.” Communications equipment lost 43% of its workforce. Semiconductors and electronic components lost 37% of its workforce. The workforce in computers and electronic products declined 30%. Electrical equipment and appliances lost 25% of its employees. The workforce in motor vehicles and parts declined 12%. Furniture and related products lost 17% of its jobs. Apparel manufacturers lost almost half of the work force. Employment in textile mills declined 43%. Paper and paper products lost one-fifth of its jobs. The work force in plastics and rubber products declined by 15%. Even manufacturers of beverages and tobacco products experienced a 7% shrinkage in jobs.

The knowledge jobs that were supposed to take the place of lost manufacturing jobs in the globalized “new economy” never appeared. The information sector lost 17% of its jobs, with the telecommunications work force declining by 25%. Even wholesale and retail trade lost jobs. Despite massive new accounting burdens imposed by Sarbanes-Oxley, accounting and bookkeeping employment shrank by 4%. Computer systems design and related lost 9% of its jobs. Today there are 209,000 fewer managerial and supervisory jobs than 5 years ago.

These statistics are followed by a discussion of how economists are getting the story on American jobs, unemployment and the economy wrong.

Of course, some people will read this and say liberal' - however this was written by:

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.

FOX: Bush at (yet another) new low:

President Bush’s job approval rating slipped this week and stands at a new low of 33 percent approve, down from 36 percent two weeks ago and 39 percent in mid-March. A year ago this time, 47 percent approved and two years ago 50 percent approved (April 2004).

Approval among Republicans is below 70 percent for the first time of Bush’s presidency. Two-thirds (66 percent) approve of Bush’s job performance today, down almost 20 percentage points from this time last year when 84 percent of Republicans approved. Among Democrats, 11 percent approve today, while 14 percent approved last April.

"It seems clear that many Republicans, while they may still like and support George Bush, are growing uneasy with what may happen to their candidates — and the policies they support — in the November elections," comments Opinion Dynamics Chairman John Gorman.

Building for Habitat for Humanity

Yesterday, I spent the day working on a home in Neenah that the company I work for, J. J. Keller & Associates is building along with Habitat for Humanity of the Greater Fox Cities.

It was a great experience. Yesterday we shingled the home. It is being built for a couple that are refugees from the wars and ethnic cleansings in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The homeowner, Baijro, worked side by side with us all day, even double checking my measurements on the trusses (it needed it).

All in all it was a very rewarding experience. I urge you to get involved if you can. Here is some info on Habitat for Humanity from their website:

About Habitat
Mission Statement
"Habitat for Humanity works in partnership with God and people everywhere, from all walks of life, to develop communities with God's people in need by building houses so that there are decent houses in decent communities in which people can live and grow into all that God intended."

Our Beginning

Local citizens who were concerned about the housing problems in our area attended meetings in 1992 and organized a steering committee. This group worked with Habitat for Humanity International and developed a set of bylaws in keeping with the principles of Habitat for Humanity. The group was recognized as Neenah-Menasha Area Habitat for Humanity on February of 1993, but expansion plans led to the change of our name to Greater Fox Cities Area Habitat for Humanity in 1996. As an affiliate we follow the philosophy and operation guidelines setup by Habitat for Humanity International, but operate as a separate entity. Each affiliate is registered with their state as a non-profit organization and completely responsible for funding and building homes in their area. Affiliates are governed by a local board of directors and operate through working committees.

What We Do

Greater Fox Cities Area Habitat for Humanity builds houses using volunteer labor and funds raised from the support of local businesses, churches, individual donors and fund-raising events. These houses are sold at no profit and no interest to a partner family chosen through a nondiscriminatory selection process. Partner families become 'Habitat Homeowners' after they have completed the required number of sweat equity hours. A small down payment of $500 is required, and the interest-free mortgage is held by our affiliate. Homeowners are required to pay monthly mortgage payments and obtain homeowners insurance.

What is Sweat Equity?

Each partner family is required to complete 300 hours (single adult family) or 500 hours (two adult family). Homeowners are required to work on the construction site of their home, other Habitat homes, attend budget classes, attend homeowner education courses, and complete community service hours with other non-profit organizations. Habitat has this requirement because we are a hand-up, not a hand-out. We want the family to develop a sense of ownership through hard work on their own home. Applicants who lack interest or motivation to help themselves are not viable candidates for our program.

Greater Fox Cities Area Habitat for Humanity celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2003. Since our beginning we have built 60 homes for needy families and individuals.


George W. Bush, Heavy Metal Lyricist?

George W. Bush - 2006:

I hear the voices and I read the front page
and I know the speculation
But I'm the decider and I decide what's best
And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld
to remain as the secretary of defense

Suicidal Tendencies - 1988:

I hear voices-when I'm all alone
Hearing voices-but there's nobody home
Hear the voices-could it be they're calling out to me
Hearing voices-I look, why can't I see

Now the voices I start to understand
They have to do with the master plan
You think about what you'd do
Cause one day the voices will be calling out to you
The voices I hear now I know are true

Take it from here, Ed...

Ed Thompson in the Wisconsin State Journal:

The guy who ran for Wisconsin governor as "the voice of the common man" is calling state lawmakers bigots for picking on gays and lesbians.

Ed Thompson says the No. 1 issue in Wisconsin this year is defeating a Republican-backed constitutional amendment that would emphatically ban same-sex marriage and similar civil unions.

The proposed amendment is an "evil thing" that is "so incredibly wrong" it amounts to "lunacy," Thompson declared last weekend at the state Libertarian political convention in Madison.

The GOP-run Legislature is attempting to "pass laws of prejudice against people," Thompson told convention-goers. "If you can accept that, you're not a Libertarian. You're not even an American. You're a bigot."

Those are strong words coming from a hard-working, fun-loving, small-town bar and restaurant owner whose appeal in rural areas remains strong.

It's also a sign that Wisconsin could become the first state in the union to defeat a needless and divisive constitutional attack on gay and lesbian love.

County Board Meeting Notes

I posted them to winnebago17.


Burke Tower New Deputy Mayor

I just stopped home over lunch and saw.

I think he's a sensible choice.

No Oversight for Iranian Intelligence

Iranian Nukes? Hey, What's the Rush?

The main lesson that the Senate Intelligence Committee drew from the run-up to the Iraq war was that Washington needs intense scrutiny of intelligence on weapons of mass destruction. So with all the buzz about nukes in Iran, it would be safe to assume that the committee is deep into an inquiry, right? Well, not quite. Kansas Republican Sen. Pat Roberts, the committee chair, warns that "we have not made the progress on our oversight of Iran intelligence, which is critical." The panel has done only piecemeal scrutiny of the spy agencies' work on Iran. "There is no organized committee staff effort to look at Iran right now," says majority staff director Bill Duhnke. "It's all sort of on hold." Roberts blames it on Democrats who are "more focused on intelligence failures of the past." Committee staffers who would conduct the Iran inquiry are instead tied up with the long-awaited second phase of the panel's review of prewar intelligence on Iraq (which covers how the Bush administration used the intelligence). Democrats say Roberts is stalling on Phase 2. "If the committee has not conducted a review of Iran intelligence, it's not because of a lack of resources," says Wendy Morigi, spokeswoman for Sen. Jay Rockefeller, the committee's ranking Democrat. Roberts says he is pushing hard to complete the Iraq inquiry, which could take several more months. Then, the committee can focus more on Iran. Perhaps Tehran will be kind enough to wait for them.

Onw would hope that the committee could do 2 things at once, unless the Republican Chair doesn't want them to....

I agree with the Northwestern here...

I hope not to have difficulty getting a committee assignment. I am lucky enough to have flex-time with work to be able to work with my schedule.

by making a concession to evening or later afternoon committee meetings, the county may attract civic- minded residents who would be able to run for a supervisory seat. County supervisors could build a lot of credibility for government at 38 seats now by shifting their meeting times to become more accessible to working men and women.

I agree with that statement, however there are other things to think about. Are there committee members that cannot drive at night to be there? Where is the best place to hold the meeting?

Hopefully, the board members will look at a balance of member's and the public's needs when assigning members and scheduling meetings.

Hopefully they do not say that the time of the meeting should dictate the members.

I am looking forward to tonight's meeting. I have found board members to be responsive and flexible. I am excited to join them.


Which Side Are You On?

Seth Zlotocha if the blog 'In Effect' has a roll call of for and against TABOR/TPA...

Go here.

Quote of the Day - Branding Edition:

"This is the mother of all branding problems," Trout says now. "What do you do to rebuild America's brand and image? When a business has had a bad run and turned off a lot of its customers, they hang out a big sign that says 'under new management.' And we will get nowhere until we have that sign hanging out there."

This article also goes in depth on our economic propblems as well as global. Long, but worth the read.

Newsweek CW on Bush Tax Cuts/Class War

Maybe people are staring to figure it out....

Thanks to the AMT, middle-class homeowners get whacked while superrich make out like bandits.

MSNBC First Read on the Class War:

Whether you know it or not, you are fighting it...

Since the start of Bush's second term, the economy has added more than 2.5 million jobs (an average of more than 171,000 a month). But during that same time, according to the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, his approval rating on the economy has plummeted from 47% in January 2005 to 36% last month. What's going on here? One reason, besides the war in Iraq potentially affecting people's overall view of him, is that the economy is a mixed bag. Jobs have been created, unemployment is down, and the Dow has once again spiked above 11,000. However, the poverty rate has inched up, real median household income has stagnated, and the number of those without health insurance has increased. As Bush and Snow prepare to tout how the Bush tax cuts have bolstered the economy today, news analyses note that the wealthy and the middle class are paying taxes at close to the same rates, with the effects being felt more by the wealthy than by the middle class.

meliorism \MEE-lee-uh-riz-um\ noun

Here was the "Word of the Day' from Merriam-Webster for April 16th:

meliorism \MEE-lee-uh-riz-um\ noun
: the belief that the world tends to improve and that humans can aid its betterment
Example sentence:
Jane's resolute meliorism fueled her insistence that both world peace and the worldwide eradication of hunger were indeed attainable within her lifetime.

Just a nice thought for the week!


Announcing Winnebago17.org!

If you look at jefhall.com - you will see some changes.

I secured the url www.winnebago17.org - I will be using that to post information on Winnebago County Board issues. I will also be using jef@winnebago17.org as my email box for county issues.

Along with that I have the created the blog Winnebago 17 as well.

I will still use the jefhall.com website and the jef4wi blog for general political and personal updates and information. Please stop back often.

Thanks! Contact me with questions at anytime.