Saturday, July 03, 2004

A flag waving mea culpa

I was getting upset recently when I kept seeing businesses all over town that were still flying their flags at half-mast. I figured the flags would have been raised after Reagan's funeral was over. When they were not I suspected some folks of making a political statement. ("We liked Reagan so much we are going to leave our flags at half-mast longer than anyone else", or something like that.)
Then I figured that maybe there had been some government edict come down to leave them at half-mast til the end of the month. But they were still down on July 2! Now I was really getting ticked!!
Well it turns out that I was wrong. The U.S. flag code says flags should be flown at half-mast for 30 days after the death of a president. So for Reagan that means through July 5. So I'm a little ashamed for thinking all those bad things of those people. As long as we have the same observances for all presidents then I have no right to complain. My apologies.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Bill Cosby's "tirade"

Bill Cosby had some good advice for everybody the other day.
Unfortunately, the Associated Press labeled his comments as a “tirade” and the rest of the national media has jumped on that bandwagon to portray him as some kind of crank with nothing but “harsh words” for the black community.
Now, I’m sure that Cosby could have phrased his comments more delicately and he could have been more politically correct, but when you get to be his age I’m sure you start to lose patience with those kinds of niceties and you just cut to the chase.
Now I realize that Cosby was addressing the black community with his comments, but I believe that we could all benefit by listening to what he had to say. Pretending that his criticisms only apply to poor blacks really misses the point.
It is not like poor blacks are the only ones who have a problem with keeping their kids in school and out of prison, finding jobs and dealing with domestic violence.
I still believe that government has a role and a responsibility to help people who are down and out, but it makes that job a lot easier when the folks needing help are actively working to pick themselves up rather than sitting around blaming the system for all their problems.

More evidence of Bush's economic leadership

Oh dear, it looks like Bush’s economic recovery, such that it is, is stalling once again. Such a shame.

“The nation's expanding economy produced 112,000 new jobs in June, the Labor Department reported today, far fewer than expected and well short of the numbers generated in the previous three months...

“The 112,000 job growth number was a bit of a shock to economists, who had predicted steady increases in the range of 240,000 for June. The most significant slowdown occurred in the manufacturing sector, which shed 11,000 jobs after four months of growth. Five thousand government jobs were lost and construction employment was flat.
All of June's job growth came in service industries.”

Oh goody! More service sector jobs!

As Atrios notes, it takes at least 140,000 jobs just to keep up with population growth in the job market.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

A president that conservatives can admire

Bruce Bartlett, a senior fellow at the conservative National Center for Policy Analysis, has an Op-Ed in the NYTimes today that makes the obvious point that conservatives should rethink the Clinton presidency and admit that he was a better president than they have given him credit for.

Here are some of Clinton’s accomplishments (as summarized from the article) that should have pleased any fair-minded conservative:

*Bringing the federal budget into surplus is obviously an achievement. After inheriting a deficit of 4.7 percent of gross domestic product in 1992, Mr. Clinton turned this into a surplus of 2.4 percent of G.D.P. in 2000 — a remarkable turnaround...

*Clinton achieved his surplus in large part by curtailing spending. Federal spending fell to 18.4 percent of G.D.P. in 2000 from 22.2 percent in 1992. Although he raised taxes in 1993, he cut them in 1997. He even reduced the capital gains tax — something his predecessor, George H. W. Bush, tried but failed to accomplish.

*Clinton signed welfare reform into law in 1996, the only time in American history when an entitlement program was abolished.

*Clinton was also steadfast in his support for free trade. It is doubtful that anyone else could have persuaded Congress to approve the North American Free Trade Agreement.

*...he reappointed Alan Greenspan, a Republican, as chairman of the Federal Reserve, thereby helping to bring inflation down to its lowest sustained level in a generation.

By contrast, Mr. Clinton's Republican successor has caused the surplus to evaporate, raised total federal spending by 1.6 percent of G.D.P., established a new entitlement program for prescription drugs and adopted the most protectionist trade policy since Herbert Hoover.

I think he makes a very persuasive argument. If you want to go back to the good old days of balanced budgets and fiscal responsibility... vote Democratic!