Friday, September 03, 2004

Deficit Threatens the Globe

I.M.F. Report Says U.S. Deficits Threaten World Economy

Published: January 7, 2004

WASHINGTON, Jan. 7 — With its rising budget deficit and ballooning trade imbalance, the United States is running up a foreign debt of such record-breaking proportions that it threatens the financial stability of the global economy, according to a report made public today bythe International Monetary Fund.

In nearly 60 pages of carefully worded analysis, the report sounded a loud alarm about the shaky fiscal foundation of the United States, questioning the wisdom of the Bush administration's tax cuts and warning that large budget deficits posed "significant risks" not just for the United States but for the rest of the world.

The report warned that the net financial obligations of the United States to the rest of the world could equal 40 percent of its total economy within a few years — "an unprecedented level of external debt for a large industrial country" that it said could play havoc with the value of the dollar and international exchange rates.

The dangers, according to the report, are that the United States' voracious appetite for borrowing could push up global interest rates and thus slow down global investment and economic growth.

"Higher borrowing costs abroad would mean that the adverse effects of U.S. fiscal deficits would spill over into global investment and output," the report said.

White House officials dismissed the report as alarmist, saying President Bush had already vowed to reduce the budget deficit by half over the next five years. The deficit reached $374 billion last year, a record in dollar terms but not as a share of the total economy, and it is expected to exceed $400 billion this year.

Administration officials have made it clear they are not worried about the the United States' burgeoning external debt or the declining value of the dollar, which has lost nearly one-fifth of its value against the euro in 18 months and which hit new lows earlier this week.

Though the International Monetary Fund has repeatedly criticized the United States on its budget and trade deficits in the last few years, this report was unusually lengthy and pointed.

Fund officials said the new report reflected the views of the authors and not the institution as a whole, whose largest shareholder is in fact the United States. But fund officials also seemed intent on getting American attention.

"It's encouraging that these are issues at play in the presidential campaign now under way," said Charles Collins, deputy director of the I.M.F.'s Western Hemisphere Department and a principle author of the report. "We're trying to contribute to persuading public opinion that this is an important issue that has to be dealt with."

Fund officials warned that the long-term fiscal outlook was far grimmer, predicting that underfinancing of Social Security and Medicare would lead to shortages as high as $47 trillion over the next several decades, or nearly 500 percent of the current gross domestic product in the coming decades.

Many outside economists remain sanguine, noting that the United States is hardly the only country to run big budget deficits and that the nation's underlying economic conditions continue to be robust.

"Is the U.S. fiscal position unique? Probably not," Kermit L. Schoenholtz, chief economist at Citigroup Global Markets, said. Japan's budget deficit is much higher than that of the United States, Mr. Schoenholtz said, and those of Germany and France are climbing rapidly.

The dollar has lost nearly one-fifth of its value against the euro in the past 18 months, and the dollar hit new lows against the euro this week.

Many economists predict that the dollar will continue to decline for some time, and that the declining dollar will help boost American industry by making American products cheaper in countries with strengthening currencies. "In the short term, it is probably helping the United States," said Robert Hormats, vice chairman of Goldman Sachs International.

Mark Morford Seeks the Hallowed Balm

Where Is Your Hallowed Balm?
Music? Yoga? Porn? These are the things that can defy the savage GOP gloat and give you hope
- By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist
Friday, September 3, 2004

I am searching for a few good things.

Things to counteract, to dissolve the simmering dread, to deflect the waves of nausea and karmic pain induced by the incessantly depressing media maelstrom and the appallingly hateful gloat of the GOP convention and by the most tyrannical administration and least articulate American president in 100 years. You know how it is.

And you say to yourself, these things, these radiant gems that live outside the mass-media miasma, I need them because they provide some balm, soften the fact that the nation feels massively off track and blinded and war torn and jaded and polarized and fractured and dehumanized and frigid and drunk and pimp slapped and bipolar and schizophrenic and molested and more than a little lost.

And when you find a few of these cultural charms, you pull them in close, wrap them around you like a cloak, like a shield, like a personalized custom-built metal-studded force field that does to those feelings of despair and anxiety what a large bug zapper does to a screaming blood-sucking mosquito.

Do you look first, maybe, as I do, to popular culture? To artists? To music? To people trying to make some sort of unique mark outside the mainstream, thwarting convention and defying categorization and reinforcing the fact that you can still succeed on actual talent and vision and acumen and cool French accents and bizarre haircuts? I do.

Is it the brilliantly weird new Bjork CD? Smoldering smoky multilingual Lhasa? The ethereal birdlike croon of Keren Ann? These are brilliant voices of vision and quirk and beauty. Can they help melt that icy pain and dissolve that knot in your gut? Maybe, just maybe.

What about the word-of-mouth phenomenon of the brilliantly offbeat metaphysical indie flick "What the Bleep Do We Know!?" Hell, yes. Or maybe the grass-roots success of "Outfoxed" and" Super Size Me" and "The Hunting of the President," of "Hijacking Catastrophe" and "There's Something About W and the new expose of the most sinister and heartless figure in all of conservative politics, Karl Rove, in the new documentary "Bush's Brain"?

Is it John Sayles' brilliant new "Silver City," which has Chris Cooper playing a bumbling, slightly moronic, grammatically challenged son of a Colorado senator who stumbles into a murder mystery while campaigning for governor? Or what about the funky indie cred of ""? Are these all usable balms? Well, why not?

It comes in all shapes and sizes and colors and smells. And here's the thing: When you start to look, when you finally turn away from the news feeds and the embarrassing Fox News propaganda, and begin to re-notice the wide array of genuine voices of hope and progress and dissent in the country, all the creative types operating off the media grid and striving like calm dedicated Zen-like maniacs to make the world better and to carve out a slice of humanity amidst the clamor and the rabid postindustrial capitalistic cry, well, you begin to feel a little better. A little.

Because there is always magic. There is always the paranormal, the mystical, the vibrational. There is the old man who plants fresh flowers in Buena Vista Park in San Francisco every week because no one else is taking care of them. There is utterly brilliant Indian quantum physicist turned ecologist Vandana Shiva, and local organic farms, volunteer disaster clean-up crews and meditating monks who endlessly strive, in total silence, sans ego and self-consciousness, to up the vibe of the world.

Do you ever hear about these people? Of course not. Do they make a huge and immeasurable difference to the quality of human life overall? Absolutely.

I am not advocating hemp and dreadlocks and living on food stamps and stale Rice-a-Roni. This is not about some sort of moneyless vegan hemp-wearing New Age group-hug utopia. This is about nourishing the soul and treading as lightly as possible while still digging the living hell out of your Peets and your Pradas and your Powerbook all while laughing at the contradictions even as you live smack in the middle of them.

And there is media of a different sort, underground and alternative and groundbreaking, media that is flourishing just beneath the CNN/Fox/NYT prepackaging factories. Of course you know them. But they always, always bear repeating: AlterNet and TruthOut and DemocraticUnderground, N+1 magazine and Mother Jones and the McSweeney's comics issue, CommonDreams and BuzzFlash and CounterPunch, Molly Ivins and Paul Krugman and the utterly dry-as-ink genius of Maureen Dowd, alongside a whole brilliant litany of damning and best-selling anti-Bush exposés.

And there are, of course, dogs. Oh my God yes. And what of all the amazing and open-hearted people who run all those dog shelters and rescues, people so generous of spirit and kind of heart and who feel so disenfranchised that they've chosen, as so many are wont to do these days, to switch away from people entirely and focus on a breed that doesn't give a good goddamn how angry your God is and will love you no matter what your hair looks like or how painful that tumor of anxiety in your heart? Pure salvation, that is.

I find solace in intense sweaty yoga, in people attuning to their bones and wringing the gunk from their minds via a modernized and dance-like and equipment-free 5,000-year-old practice of movement and breath and refreshing the body and purging the toxins wrought by BushCo and SUVs and gunfire and the sneering cyclist who spit on your car because you were blocking the bike lane for 10 seconds.

Can you find that oasis of hope in your lover? In your mate? In your search for a mate, or in the mate you once had and the mate you will have in the future and the mate you dream above all dreams of having because you somehow understand deep deep down that you karmically deserve it? Of course you can.

Because if nowhere else, you can find it in the search for love. This is a solace in and of itself, if for no other reason than that the love quest is the singlemost universal truth we all share. Nothing, not religion, not porn, not the glorious enjoyment to be found in watching Olympics gymnastics while lying on the floor naked and stoned and covered in tiny candied sprinkles, nothing unifies us more than the fact that we want to have the hot ink of true love tattooed directly onto our eager souls.

And then it hits you all over again for the very first time: This stuff, love and alt-media and dogs and music, it is everywhere. When you look just a tiny bit deeper, just past the screaming rhetoric and the legalized homophobia and the ugly foreign policy and the mad incessant race for money and power, you begin to realize that all these seemingly small gems and tiny random oases of hope are, in fact, much larger, and more potent and more common than you realized. You just, you know, tend to forget.

You realize there are far, far too many people, and events, and movements and divine underground alternative superlative surreptitious energies already out there, right now, combating the rank dank demons of hate and homophobia and homeland security for you to possibly wallow in hopelessness or lame sitcoms or Bush's vacant, stupefied, sad little eyes.

You realize that, far from being a threadbare tattered fractured scattershot hodgepodge of diminishing hope and lost possibility, the resistance is actually alive and thriving and pulsing all around you, constantly, all the time, everlasting and unstoppable and eternally refreshed and well lubricated and smiling like the divine trickster. You just gotta know where to look.

And, perhaps more importantly, where not to.


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Bob Herbert Today on the RNC

September 3, 2004
Heads in the Sand

hen asked this week on CNN how long the U.S. military is likely to remain in Iraq, Senator John McCain replied "probably" 10 or 20 years. "That's not so bad," he said, adding, "We've been in Korea for 50 years. We've been in West Germany for 50 years."

Reporters have come to expect candor from Senator McCain, and in this case he didn't disappoint. But there weren't any speakers mounting the podium at the Republican National Convention to hammer home the message that G.I.'s would be in Iraq for a decade or two.

That's not the understanding most Americans had when this wretched war was sold to them, and it's not the view most Americans hold now.

If Senator McCain is correct (and the belief in official Washington is that he is), then boys and girls who are 5 or 10 years old now will get their chance in 2015 or 2020 to strap on the Kevlar and engage the Iraqi "insurgents" who, like the indigenous forces we fought in Vietnam, will never accept the occupation of their country by America.

Marcina Hale, a protester who came to New York this week from suburban Westport, Conn., said she has two teenage boys and that Iraq "is not a war that I'm willing to send my sons to." As the years pass and the casualties mount, that sentiment will only grow.

The truth is always the first casualty of politics. But there was a bigger disconnect than usual between the bizarre, hermetically sealed perspective that was on display in Madison Square Garden this week and the daunting events unfolding without respite in the real world.

Iraq is a mess. While the cartoonish Arnold Schwarzenegger was drawing huge laughs in the Garden and making cracks about economic "girlie men," reports were emerging about the gruesome murder of 12 Nepalese hostages who had traveled to Iraq less than two weeks earlier in search of work.

At the same time, an effort to disarm insurgents in the militant Baghdad slum of Sadr City collapsed, and the death toll among American forces in Iraq continued its relentless climb toward 1,000.

The Los Angeles Times noted yesterday that a report by the respected Royal Institute of International Affairs in London has concluded that Iraq will be lucky if it avoids a breakup and civil war. The often-stated U.S. goal of a full-fledged Iraqi democracy is beyond unlikely.

In Afghanistan, a legitimate front in the so-called war against terror, much of the country remains in the hands of warlords, and the opium trade is flourishing. Experts believe substantial amounts of money from that trade is flowing to terrorist groups.

In Israel, 16 people were killed by suicide bombers who blew themselves up on a pair of crowded buses on Tuesday. In Russia, a series of horrific terror attacks, in the air and on the ground, have cast a pall across the country.

Despite all the macho posturing and self-congratulating at the Republican convention, the wave of terror that's been unleashed on the world is only growing. The American-led war in Iraq is feeding that wave, causing it to swell rather than ebb.

Any serious person who looked around the world this week would have to wonder what the delegates at the G.O.P. convention were so happy about.

The Republican conventioneers spent the entire week reminding America that we were attacked on Sept. 11, 2001. But interestingly, there was hardly a mention by name of those actually responsible for the attacks - Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda.

Discussions about the nation's real enemies were taboo. We don't know where they are or what they're up to. The over-the-top venom of some of the speakers and delegates was reserved not for Osama, but for a couple of mild-mannered guys named John.

What Americans desperately need is a serious, honest discussion of where we go from here. If we're going to be in Iraq for 10 or 20 more years, the policy makers should say so, and tell us what that will cost in money and human treasure. The violence associated with such a long-term occupation is guaranteed to be appalling.

Vietnam tore this nation apart. As we've seen in this campaign, the wounds have yet to heal. Incredibly, we're now traveling a similarly tragic road in Iraq.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

Absentee Ballots for the Military? Hmmm?

September 3, 2004
Denying the Troops a Secret Ballot

Members of the military will be allowed to vote this year by faxing or e-mailing their ballots - after waiving their right to a secret ballot. Beyond this fundamentally undemocratic requirement, the Electronic Transmission Service, as it's known, has far too many problems to make it reliable, starting with the political partisanship of the contractor running it. The Defense Department is making matters worse by withholding basic information about the service, and should suspend it immediately.

The Defense Department is encouraging soldiers to use absentee ballots or fax votes directly to local officials, when possible. But it also provides an alternative: Omega Technologies, a private contractor, will accept soldiers' faxed and e-mailed ballots on a toll-free line, and then send them to the appropriate local elections office. Handling ballots is always sensitive, but especially so when, as in this program, they are not secret. An obvious concern is that votes for a particular candidate could be reported lost in transit, or altered.

Omega Technologies is not an acceptable choice to run the program. Its chief executive, Patricia Williams, has donated $6,600 in this election cycle to the National Republican Congressional Committee, and serves on the committee's Business Advisory Council. And while everything about the conduct of elections should be open to public scrutiny, Omega is far too secretive. In an interview, Ms. Williams refused to say who would handle military votes, and whether they could engage in partisan politics. "I will not allow the public to invade the privacy of the employees of Omega," she said.

The secrecy of ballots could be breached at several points: when they are faxed or e-mailed from the field, when they go through the contractor and when they are received by local officials. The Pentagon has not explained why it is acceptable, or legal, to ask soldiers to waive their right to secret ballots. Laughlin McDonald, director of the Voting Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, says he cannot recall another group of voters being asked to give up such secrecy. It is particularly inappropriate, he says, for soldiers, who are under the direct control of the Defense Department.

Nor is it clear that voting by nonsecret ballots is legal. In Missouri, one of two states that will allow votes to be e-mailed through the Pentagon this year, the Missouri Supreme Court held as early as 1895 that its State Constitution requires that voting be by secret ballot. North Dakota has also approved the use of the e-mail voting system for military personnel; about 20 states will allow them to vote by fax.

The Electronic Transmission Service operates with a lack of transparency that is unacceptable in elections management. The Pentagon is allowing Omega to keep its staffing secret. There are no provisions for parties or candidates to inspect Omega's operations or monitor the transmittal of votes. The Pentagon says the procedures for doing so are an "internal working document," which it refuses to make public, and it does not routinely make public how many ballots pass through the system each year. The Electronic Transmission Service operated in 2000 and 2002, and in earlier elections, but Ms. Williams says Omega did not handle ballots in those years. The Pentagon is refusing to say who did.

The Defense Department has taken a "trust us" attitude. Soldiers have to trust that military higher-ups will not try to learn their political choices and hold it against them, and that local elections officials at home will not reveal those choices. The voters have to trust that no one at the contractor or the Pentagon will make errors, or intentionally alter ballots. In a democracy, matters like these should not have to be taken on faith.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

Chris Matthews Interviews Zell Miller

MATTHEWS: Joe Scarborough, thank you.

Let me go now to the—go right now. We‘re going to joined right now as we speak, and stop speaking, with Zell Miller, the man who made the speech.

Senator, thank you. You have...


MATTHEWS: Well, don‘t listen to them. Don‘t listen to those people.

We want to hear from you, Senator.

Senator, let me ask you.

MATTHEWS: I want to ask you about the most powerful line in your speech. And it had so many.

“No pair has been more wrong, more loudly, more often than the two Senators from Massachusetts, Ted Kennedy and John Kerry.”

Do you believe that John Kerry and Ted Kennedy really only believe in defending America with spitballs?

MILLER: Well, I certainly don‘t believe they want to defend America by putting the kind of armor and the kind of equipment that we have got to have out there for our troops. I mean, nothing could be clearer than that, than what John Kerry did when he voted against that $87 billion in appropriations, that would have provided protective armor for our troops and armored vehicles.

MATTHEWS: All right, let me ask you. Senator, you are the expert. Many times, as a conservative Republican, you have had to come out on the floor and obey party whips and vote against big appropriations passed by the Democrats when they were in power.

You weren‘t against feeding poor people. You weren‘t against Social Security. You weren‘t against a lot of programs that, because of the nature of parliamentary procedure and combat, you had to vote against the whole package. Didn‘t you many times vote against whole packages of spending, when you would have gladly gone for a smaller package?

MILLER: Well, I didn‘t make speeches about them and I didn‘t put them in my platform.

Right here is what John Kerry put out as far as his U.S. Senate platform, was, he was talking about he wanted to cancel the M.X. missile, the B-1 bomber, the anti-satellite system. This is not voting for something that was in a big bill.


MATTHEWS: Which of those systems was effective in either Afghanistan

or Iraq? The M.X. certainly wasn‘t, thank God, nor was the other


MILLER: Look, this is front and—wait, this is front and back, and it‘s two pages. I have got more documentation here than they have got in the New York Public Library and the Library of Congress.


MILLER: I knew you was going to be coming with all of that stuff.

And I knew that these people from the Kerry campaign would be coming with all this kind of stuff.

That‘s just baloney. Look at the record. A man‘s record is what he is.

MATTHEWS: I agree.


MILLER: A man‘s campaign rhetoric—what?

MATTHEWS: I‘m just asking you, Senator, do you mean to say—I know there‘s rhetoric in campaigns. I just want to know, do you mean to say that you really believe that John Kerry and Ted Kennedy do not believe in defending the country?

MILLER: Well, look at their votes.

MATTHEWS: I‘m just asking you to bottom-line it for me.

MILLER: Wait a minute. I said I didn‘t question their patriotism.

MATTHEWS: No. Do you believe that they don‘t believe in defending the country?

MILLER: I question their judgment.


MATTHEWS: Do you believe they want to defend the country?

MILLER: Look, I applaud what John Kerry did as far as volunteering to go to Vietnam. I applaud what he did when he volunteered for combat. I admire that, and I respect that. And I acknowledge that. I have said that many, many times.



MILLER: But I think his record is atrocious.

MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you, when Democrats come out, as they often do, liberal Democrats, and attack conservatives, and say they want to starve little kids, they want to get rid of education, they want to kill the old people...

MILLER: I am not saying that. Wait a minute.

MATTHEWS: That kind of rhetoric is not educational, is it?

MILLER: Wait a minute.

Now, this is your program. And I am a guest on your program.

MATTHEWS: Yes, sir.

MILLER: And so I want to try to be as nice as I possibly can to you. I wish I was over there, where I could get a little closer up into your face.

MILLER: But I don‘t have to stand here and listen to that kind of stuff. I didn‘t say anything about not feeding poor kids. What are you doing?

MATTHEWS: No, I‘m saying that when you said tonight—I just want you to...

MILLER: Well, you are saying a bunch of baloney that didn‘t have

anything to do with what I said up there on the


MILLER: No, no.

MATTHEWS: OK. Do you believe now—do you believe, Senator, truthfully, that John Kerry wants to defend the country with spitballs? Do you believe that?

MILLER: That was a metaphor, wasn‘t it? Do you know what a metaphor is?

MATTHEWS: Well, what do you mean by a metaphor?

MILLER: Wait a minute. He certainly does not want to defend the country with the B-1 bomber or the B-2 bomber or the Harrier jet or the Apache helicopter or all those other things that I mentioned. And there were even more of them in here.

You‘ve got to quit taking these Democratic talking points and using what they are saying to you.

MATTHEWS: No, I am using your talking points and asking you if you really believe them.

MILLER: Well, use John Kerry‘s talking points from the—from what he has had to say on the floor of the Senate, where he talked about them being occupiers, where he put out this whenever he was running for the U.S. Senate about what he wanted to cancel. Cancel to me means to do away with.

MATTHEWS: Well, what did you mean by the following.

MILLER: I think we ought to cancel this interview.

MATTHEWS: Well, I don‘t mean...


MATTHEWS: Well, that would be my loss, Senator. That would be my loss.

Let me ask you about this, because I think you have a view on the role of reporters in the world. You have said and it has often been said so truthfully that it is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us the freedom of the press. Was there not...

MILLER: Do you believe that?

MATTHEWS: Well, of course it‘s true.

MILLER: Do you believe that?

MATTHEWS: But it‘s a statement that nobody would have challenged. Why did you make it? It seems like no one would deny what you said. So what‘s your point?

MILLER: Well, it evidently got a rise out of you.

MATTHEWS: Well, I think it‘s a


MILLER: Because you are a reporter.

MATTHEWS: That‘s right.

MILLER: You didn‘t have anything to do with freedom of the press.

MATTHEWS: Well, you could argue it was not nurses who defended the freedom of nursing. Why did you single out freedom of the press to say it was the soldiers that defended it and not the reporters? We all know that. Why did you say it?

MILLER: Well, because I thought it needed to be said at this particular time, because I wanted to come on...

MATTHEWS: Because you could get an applause line against the media at a conservative convention.

MILLER: No, I said it because it was—you‘re hopeless. I wish I was over there.


MILLER: In fact, I wish that we lived in—I wish we lived in the



MATTHEWS: I‘ve got to warn you, we are in a tough part of town over here.

MATTHEWS: But I do recommend you come over, because I like you.

Let me tell you this.

MILLER: Chris.

MATTHEWS: If a Republican Senator broke ranks and—all right, I‘m sorry.

A Republican Senator broke ranks and came over and spoke for the Democrats, would you respect him?

MILLER: Yes, of course I would.


MILLER: I have seen that happen from time to time. Look, I believe...


MATTHEWS: What does Jim Jeffords say to you?

MILLER: Wait a minute.


MATTHEWS: Jim Jeffords switched parties after getting elected.

MILLER: If you‘re going to ask a question...

MATTHEWS: Well, it‘s a tough question. It takes a few words.

MILLER: Get out of my face.

MILLER: If you are going to ask me a question, step back and let me answer.


MATTHEWS: Senator, please.

MILLER: You know, I wish we...

MILLER: I wish we lived in the day where you could challenge a person to a duel.

MILLER: Now, that would be pretty good.

Don‘t ask me—don‘t pull that...


MATTHEWS: Can you can come over? I need you, Senator. Please come over.

MILLER: Wait a minute. Don‘t pull that kind of stuff on me, like you did that young lady when you had her there, browbeating her to death. I am not her. I am not her.


MATTHEWS: Let me tell you, she was suggesting that John Kerry purposely shot himself to win a medal. And I was trying to correct the record.

MILLER: You get in my face, I am going to get back in your face.


MILLER: The only reason you are doing it is because you are standing way over there in Herald Square.

MATTHEWS: Senator, Senator, can I speak softly to you? I would really like you to...

MILLER: What? No, no, no, because you won‘t give me a chance to answer. You ask these questions and then you just talk over what I am trying to answer, just like you did that woman the other day.

MATTHEWS: Well, Senator...

MILLER: I don‘t know why I even came on this program.

MATTHEWS: Well, I am glad you did.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you this about John Kerry‘s war record.

MILLER: Well, are you going to shut up after you ask me?

MILLER: Or are you going to give me a chance to answer it?

MATTHEWS: Yes, sir.

MATTHEWS: I am going to give you a chance to answer.

You used very strong words tonight about the Democratic candidate, much stronger than you are using with me. And they will be remembered a lot longer than anything you say to me now. So I am not really worried about what you say now, except that this country was promised unity after the last election by the president that you are supporting. And he urged the country to come together. Do you think you helped that cause tonight?

MILLER: I think I helped the cause of trying to tell the American people why John Kerry is unfit for the presidency and why we need to keep George W. Bush in as the president, because it‘s the way that we can keep this nation more secure and my family more safe.

MATTHEWS: Did I ask you about your role in the Democratic Party, because you have caused such a hit tonight, because you are a man of the Democratic Party? Long before this election, you had to watch as a Southern conservative the nomination by your party of people like George McGovern, Fritz Mondale, Jimmy Carter, liberal after liberal after liberal, including Mike Dukakis, perhaps the most liberal of them all. What caused you to cross the aisle tonight?

MILLER: By coming to Washington and seeing firsthand what a mess it is and how far out the Senate Democrats are.

They are off the chart as far as being with the mainstream of America. I think the straw that broke the camel‘s back was the homeland security measure, when, time after time, John Kerry and the Democrats put collective bargaining above homeland security. That did it for me.

MATTHEWS: Well, that did it for Max Cleland as well, didn‘t it?

MILLER: It surely did. And probably Jean Carnahan.

And nobody is to blame, except—well, they are to blame because they voted that way. But who is really to blame is Tom Daschle for insisting that they do it 11 times over a four-months period. It was dumb.

MATTHEWS: And, well, you could argue that it was politically dumb of Max Cleland to support the labor unions in Georgia against what looked like the national interests. My question is, is it good for America to impugn that vote as a vote against the security of this country?

MILLER: That vote was not impugned. He did not get defeated because of that ad that you like to talk about. You can‘t vote with Tom Daschle 85 percent of the time and be expected to be able to be reelected in Georgia. You know that much about Georgia and the South.

MATTHEWS: Well, sir, I also know the—and I completely agree with the need to get reelected as a statesman. Jefferson said the first order of a statesman was to get elected.

I am just wondering if you think tonight‘s speech and advertisements that show people like Max Cleland standing next to Saddam Hussein are helping bring this country together?

MILLER: That didn‘t have anything to do with Max Cleland‘s defeat.

We have already—we have already beat that dog to death.

MATTHEWS: Well, maybe the war did that, too.

But thank you very much for coming here tonight. I hope we can have a more civil conversation in closer terms. I would love you to come tonight. In fact, you can meet with Joe Scarborough, who will probably be nicer to you.

MATTHEWS: But we will both try to get the truth out of the conversation.

And I feel bad that you are upset with me, Senator. I have never had this kind of a fight with you before.

MILLER: I know it.

MATTHEWS: I think you misheard me. But please come over tomorrow night. We‘ve got a convention ending.

And, by the way, you will help our ratings tremendously if you come over tomorrow night, because everybody thinks you are going to beat me up.

MATTHEWS: But since somebody tried to do that last night, I don‘t think it‘s going to be a surprise.

WATTS: Hey, Chris, can I say


MATTHEWS: J.C. Watts wants to talk to you, Senator.

MILLER: All right.

WATTS: Hey, Senator, this is J.C. Watts.


WATTS: You can put your feet under my dinner table any day of the week.


MILLER: Thank you. Thank you.

MATTHEWS: Well, I guess everybody loves the senator.

MILLER: Good to be with you.

MATTHEWS: Hey, it‘s great having you on. Let‘s be friends. Let‘s be friends.

MILLER: See you later.

MATTHEWS: Thank you.

Well, that was unexpected turn of events.


MATTHEWS: I simply wanted him to say again in the vernacular what he said on that stage. And I think we all agreed here, didn‘t we? Stick by me here.


MATTHEWS: Didn‘t we all agree those were strong words?

WATTS: Well, I think they were strong words.

But, Chris, I think you got a good feel of the political process, but let me tell you, when the senator—you really were trying to have the Senator answer what you were—there was no hidden agenda in what you were asking.

MATTHEWS: No, but I do know that you know parliamentary procedure better than I do.

WATTS: Right. Right.


MATTHEWS: You often vote directly against a large appropriation when you clearly would have voted for a smaller one. It‘s the way the game is played.

WATTS: But let me tell you something.

When we have this movie , this filmmaker, that says worse things about the president of the United States than he says about Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden or the terrorists, and then the Senator has to come on any show...


WATTS: ... or talk to any reporter and go through that, he kind of feels like there is a double standard. I‘m not saying that there is.


WATTS: Because I know exactly what you were asking him there.

MITCHELL: He was asking him just about his words from the speech. We



WATTS: No, you didn‘t.

But I am saying, the senator understands all these other things that are out there in the echo chamber about what is being said about the president, what is being said about him.


MITCHELL: One of the things in the speech was, John Kerry wants to refight yesterday‘s war.

Now, John Kerry isn‘t the one right now attacking himself on Vietnam. I mean, this sort of—this speech—and I think, Chris, appropriately was questioning him as to whether he was throwing up straw men. In the senator‘s defense, Chris, I think, with all the noise of the buses that are taking the delegates that are now leaving...

MATTHEWS: I love that sound.


MITCHELL: Well, that sound makes it very hard if you‘re over in the hall.

MATTHEWS: Can I make noncontroversial statements like, I love the sound of buses?


MEACHAM: I don‘t know. I don‘t know.


MEACHAM: Only if they are hybrid buses.


MITCHELL: I think he may have misunderstood the analogy you were drawing.

MATTHEWS: I think he couldn‘t hear me.


MATTHEWS: I was trying to defend conservatives tonight, which probably they don‘t need defending.

But, oftentimes, there are debates over Social Security. And every time a Republican, for example, tries to reform Social Security, somebody from the left says, you are trying to destroy Social Security, when they are simply trying to reform it. Every time somebody tries to cut back on school lunches or Head Start or any kind of Social Security, they are accused of being killers of old ladies and killers of kids.

I tried to explain to him that the rhetoric of complete destruction of other side‘s point of view is not helpful.

MITCHELL: Right. I don‘t think he understood that.


MEACHAM: You made history tonight, because this was the first presidential—the first presidential politics issuing a challenge for a duel since Andrew Jackson wanted to hang John C. Calhoun.


MATTHEWS: Well, no, no. I did not invite him to a duel.

MEACHAM: No, he did. He did.





MEACHAM: He said he wished we lived in an age when you could duel.

And Andrew Jackson carried two bullets in him his whole life and wanted to



WATTS: I want to sell the popcorn and Coke.

MATTHEWS: Well, I do


WATTS: I want to sell popcorn and Coke at that door.


MEACHAM: I‘ll do it.

MATTHEWS: I think he wanted to have a conversation in closer quarters. Sort of a Joe Lieberman-Dick Cheney sit-down schmooze, I think he wanted.

Hey, look, we got to come back. We‘ve got—well, we‘re going to come back. We‘re going to have pollster Frank Luntz to settle the situation here and his focus group of Ohio voters—maybe they decided between the other arguments tonight—anyway, to see what they are saying about the speeches tonight by Senator Zell Miller and Vice President Dick Cheney.

We‘re going to have some news for you tonight. What do people out there think about what we all heard tonight?

You‘re watching HARDBALL. What a name for the show tonight. Live coverage of the Republican National Convention on MSNBC.

MEACHAM: That was great.



MATTHEWS: The senior senator from Georgia visited us tonight.

There‘s still time, Senator (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I mean that seriously. I think it‘s great to have the nerve to come back and meet so—I think there was a miscommunication.

Just to clear this up, I was trying to point out that, having worked on Capitol Hill for so many years, I know that these are debates that occur. And they seem so black and white. And what happens is, you establish, you take a position against a defend spending bill, for example, and you end up losing 80-20, and you make your point for maybe your local press. And you also may be trying to negotiate some amendment which fails. And if you are a conservative, you try to cut down on the ag bill, perhaps, or the school lunch program or something, and you will say, I don‘t want to spend $100 billion.

I‘ll spend maybe 80, so you vote against the $100 billion‘s final passage. So you end up looking like Scrooge if you are conservative, and you end up looking like Bella Abzug if you‘re a Democrat, a real old-time lefty liberal. So it does give you kind of an unclear picture. I tried to draw that out of him.

I think when he goes back and starts reading what I said, instead of checking on the latest blog site, he will learn a lot more about what‘s going on here.


MATTHEWS: Just a thought there, Senator.

But it seems to me, while looking at—Norah is just laughing at my predicament. You are enjoying this so much.

NORAH O‘DONNELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT: I have just shown up here.

MATTHEWS: Norah O‘Donnell, Norah O‘Donnell.


O‘DONNELL: I have been in the heartland with the president.

MATTHEWS: Tell us something that we don‘t know. Tell me about the president‘s ride in here.


MATTHEWS: Coming in with the president. We saw you fly in at JFK.

What kind of mood is there on that plane?

O‘DONNELL: I think they feel good.

I mean, obviously, they planned this to be a late convention, so they could get a late bounce heading into the final 60 days. They feel good. The polls show that John Kerry has lost a lot of his—any bounce that he had or any momentum that he had, so they feel good about that.

But I was struck in listening to Zell Miller and Cheney tonight, this is a campaign that doesn‘t just want to win. They want to destroy opposition, and they want a mandate. And while that hasn‘t been something that they talked about or really can talk about at this point, it‘s something that they, before this whole campaign started, before the Democrats had picked someone, this is a president who didn‘t come into office with a mandate. They tried to create a mandate through legislative action and try to get some...


MATTHEWS: Excuse me.

What was John McCain‘s role the other night when he came in rolling through the convention hall, saying we‘ve got to learn how to argue with each other without questioning each other‘s legitimacy, patriotism; we‘ve got to be calmer and treat each other as friends and that whole mood? Who was he preaching to? The Democrats.


O‘DONNELL: There are clearly two different messages.


O‘DONNELL: There were messages of moderation and the message of meat today, where they were throwing the meat out.

And I think part of this whole thing we talk about, the media says, well, they are putting a more softer side on this, a more compassionate side and all that kind of stuff. That‘s important. But if you look at where we have gone with the president, the places we have traveled with the president, they are not so concerned about swing voters. Why? Because there‘s this many swing voters left. There aren‘t that many there.

MATTHEWS: They‘re trying to shake loose the Democrats.

O‘DONNELL: They are going to places where there are already strong Republican turnout.


O‘DONNELL: That they won 2-1, they are trying to get it 2.5-1. They are trying to crank up those people and bring them to the polls.


MATTHEWS: Tell me again. Tell me again. I want you to finish the thought. Tell me again why they‘re going to Scranton tomorrow night, right from here.

MITCHELL: Because they—they‘re competitive in Pennsylvania.

MATTHEWS: But what do you know on the plane?

O‘DONNELL: Well...

MATTHEWS: That‘s a Democratic area.

O‘DONNELL: It is a Democratic area. It also happens to have more bars in Scranton than anywhere else in the country.


MATTHEWS: Well, if your name wasn‘t O‘Donnell, I would say that was an ethnic slur, because it‘s an entirely Irish town. But it has a lot of bars.



MITCHELL: Those are conservative Democrats. You know, that‘s the Bob Casey area. Those are conservative Democrats who are winnable for this president among people who are concerned about national defense if, as Norah says, they can persuade...


O‘DONNELL: For them, it‘s also is that—is that they are reachable people. And it‘s also somewhat of a tactical move for them to say, they are going to the same place that John Kerry went to. It‘s this tit for tat. They follow him around sometimes to places he went, and they get a lot of coverage for doing that.


MITCHELL: One teeny little thing.

Talking about Pennsylvania, the AFL-CIO endorsed Arlen Specter today.


MITCHELL: So that means that labor is going to have divided loyalties. That is important.

MATTHEWS: True. And he earned that rating, because he‘s about 100 percent COPE rating in voting.

WATTS: And let me ask, Chris, are we having identity crisis of

reporting? Now, the first two nights, we were talking, oh, this is



MITCHELL: That was Monday. That was Tuesday.

WATTS: We had Arnold Schwarzenegger. We had John McCain. And these guys really don‘t represent the party. And now, man, they‘re red meat guys and it‘s too tough.

MEACHAM: You‘re not suggesting that this convention was choreographed to make several different points on different nights, are you, Congressman?



WATTS: We‘ve got a 380 here tonight. The first two nights, we were talking about, oh, there‘s John McCain and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rudy Giuliani.


MEACHAM: I think Norah‘s point is exactly right and sheds a light on a very important political difference that‘s happened in the last 50 years, which is that Republicans are street fighters.

They wear Brooks Brothers suits and they have better cotton in their shirts, but, damn it, they are better at it in actual hand-to-hand combat. And the Democrats, for all sorts of very important governance reasons, to go to what you and Andrew Jackson Jr. were talking about with Senator Miller.


MEACHAM: And what John Kerry, who makes very intellectually honest, but often politically difficult statements, they see complexity where the Republicans don‘t mind, and they are going to hammer it and hammer it and hammer it.

MITCHELL: Jon, who did George W. Bush work side by side with in the 1988 election? Lee Atwater.

MEACHAM: Atwater, right.


MITCHELL: That‘s exactly who


MEACHAM: And there‘s no Carville of this campaign.


WATTS: And let me tell you something.


WATTS: In this business, you better have some alley cats on your team. This is a physical kind of—this is a physical business.

MITCHELL: Well, they‘ve got them.

MEACHAM: Oklahoma alley cats.

MATTHEWS: We saw some tonight.


MATTHEWS: Excuse me.

We are joined right now by pollster Frank Luntz. He‘s in Cincinnati, Ohio, with a group of Ohio voters who watched tonight‘s speeches, both of them.

Frank, your ruling by your group?

FRANK LUNTZ, POLLSTER: Chris, it‘s been a very interesting reaction.

Even though the focus of tonight was supposed to be Dick Cheney, actually, it was Senator Miller who had an even more favorable reaction from them.

In fact, let‘s do a show of hands. How many of you thought that Zell Miller‘s speech was stronger than Dick Cheney‘s?

LUNTZ: I want you to give me a word or phrase to describer Zell Miller‘s speech.

Kim (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fantastic. Very upbeat.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Focused on the family.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Powerful, but one-sided.




LUNTZ: Now, you all are swing voters. And you said to me to get in here that you‘ve not decided who you vote for.

Zell Miller‘s speech was very partisan and very strong. And yet most of you had a favorable reaction to it. Why?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was a Democrat.


LUNTZ: He‘s a Democrat. And what does that mean to you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, he was sharing some of the impressions that the Republicans have.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he seemed like the person next door.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That‘s how strongly he feels about these current issues.

LUNTZ: So the fact that he is a Democrat gives him more credibility?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And a Marine, ex-Marine.


LUNTZ: And why does that matter?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because he‘s more in tune with what‘s going on in the issues and how all that is going on behind the scenes and where he is, being from the Democratic Party and being a military guy.

LUNTZ: You didn‘t feel that he was overboard?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I don‘t think he was. I think he was dead on, but it was so much more convincing coming from a Democrat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he was totally overboard, because his whole focus was on terrorism and why we should all be afraid.

Now, we asked you to use these dials. Let me borrow one.

Chris, they used these dials to indicate whether or not they agreed with what they were hearing. Zell Miller focused a lot on what John Kerry had voted for and what he had voted against.

In the segment that you are about to see, the red lines represent Republicans. The green independents and Democrats. The higher that you see the lines climb over here, the better the response. Watch the reaction when Zell Miller talks about John Kerry‘s voting record on defense.


MILLER: I could go on and on and on. Against the Patriot missile that shot down Saddam Hussein‘s Scud missiles over Israel, against the Aegis air defense cruiser, against the Strategic Defense Initiative, against the Trident, missile, against, against, against.

AUDIENCE: Against, against, against!

MILLER: This is the man who wants to be the commander in chief of the U.S. armed forces?


MILLER: U.S. forces armed with what? Spitballs?



LUNTZ: Spitballs, U.S. armed with spitballs. I listened. You laughed at that.


LUNTZ: Your reaction.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I did laugh at it because from what he was describing, Kerry is not going to support the military, that if we were attacked, that‘s about all we would have left.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I agree. Spitballs. There‘s no support of the military. It‘s very expensive to purchase all of these items, and John Kerry voted against expanding our horizons in the military fields.

LUNTZ: But, Barbara (ph), you don‘t agree.


LUNTZ: Why not?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it‘s ludicrous to refer to something so significant as spitballs. I think that Kerry is somebody who actually was in an operation, who actually fought and who actually had experience in the military, and I have not been able to personally find anything where it is that he was against anything in terms of the U.S. military.

LUNTZ: Now, you also heard from Vice President Cheney. And he talked about John Kerry‘s record and where John Kerry stands on some of the issues. And, in particular, he focused on 9/11 and the reaction to terrorism. And, again, you had a very dramatic response to what the vice president had to say.

Let‘s take a look and then we will talk about it.


DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Even in this post-9/11 period, Senator Kerry doesn‘t appear to understand how the world has changed. He talks about leading a more sensitive war on terror.


CHENEY: As though al Qaeda will be impressed with our softer side.



CHENEY: He declared at the Democratic Convention that he will forcefully defend America after we have been attacked. My fellow Americans, we have already been attacked.



LUNTZ: That‘s a remarkable response. That‘s a response from almost all of you.

I know that you weren‘t supportive of the speech, but I even think you agree with that statement.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, we were attacked, but I just don‘t necessarily agree with the people we went after following 9/11.

LUNTZ: Douglas (ph).


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it was pretty poignant. I think we have to do something. It‘s a fight in our backyard or theirs.

LUNTZ: Now, explain to me, when he attacks Kerry using the phrase fighting a sensitive war on terror, how do you react to that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don‘t think you could be sensitive with terrorists. You have got to be firm. You have got to show what you are going to do when something happens.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But the whole term sensitivity was taken out of context. I don‘t think that that is what was intended in Kerry‘s speech about that.

LUNTZ: You are the youngest person in this room. This is your first time voting for president.


LUNTZ: When the vice president talks about Kerry talking about sensitive, your reaction to that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that Kerry has consistently proving with his voting for the military and voting not for certain weapons, I think he has been consistent about being sensitive to a war on terror. And, in this day and age, we have to be very powerful and we have to be very strong against terrorists.

LUNTZ: For you, sensitive is a negative term.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, sensitive—I think the way he used it, the way Dick Cheney used it, the vice president, was very, very much necessary.

LUNTZ: Patricia, agree or disagree?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I agree. I think it was very poignantly put.

LUNTZ: There‘s one other segment that I want to show you all. And it also relates to the principle of prevention. And, again, you had a very sharp reaction. Let‘s take a look and you will explain why.


CHENEY: We are faced with an enemy who seeks the deadliest of weapons to use against us, and we cannot wait until the next attack.


CHENEY: We must do everything we can to prevent it, and that includes the use of military force.



LUNTZ: Again, you had a very sharp reaction, even up to the point of military force. But then some of the Democrats and independents started to react a little bit more negatively to it.

John (ph), your reaction to that clip.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I agree that you have to have a military force of some sort, but I think the question is, how are you going to use it? That really wasn‘t addressed here.

LUNTZ: Did Dick Cheney go too far?


LUNTZ: Why not?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, because I, remember many years back, if someone had stood up to Hitler back in the ‘30s, 70 million people wouldn‘t have been killed in that Second World War.

LUNTZ: Daniel (ph), did Dick Cheney go too far?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I don‘t think so. I think that he took a good position on being strong and being decisive about it. And that‘s what I want to see. I don‘t want to see a bunch of wobbling.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was very focused.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don‘t think he went too far. He was defending their position. How could he—he had to say that or he would have been waffling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, but he is not trying to appease everybody.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don‘t think he‘s trying to appease anybody.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is trying to defend preemptive strike.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I think that we set a very, very dangerous precedent doing that.


LUNTZ: Reactions?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Cheney went too far, though, in saying what he said, because he just painted the one picture of fear. He tried to instill fear in the American public and to make Kerry seem too sensitive.

LUNTZ: Last question. Show of hands very quickly. How many of you are now more likely than when you walked in here to vote for Bush-Cheney because of what you saw tonight? Raise your hands. Three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10, 11 out of 17.

Chris, it‘s a pretty good showing. We are over here.


LUNTZ: Chris, it‘s a pretty good showing for Dick Cheney tonight.

MATTHEWS: OK, thank you very much, Frank Luntz.

Well, we saw that applause lines do achieve their goal. And the question is, did they achieve a lasting goal? I know, speaking for myself, I am in love with the cleverly turned phrase and, in fact, if it‘s sort of funny, but it‘s always a little bit out of context. The best humor denies a bit of the information. And that‘s why it‘s so delightful to listen to.

The question is, John, do you think that the applause line readings we just got from Frank are indicative of how people are going to turn their heads on probably the most important election of their lives over the next two months?

MEACHAM: It‘s part of a mosaic.

I think everything is going to be dwarfed by what the president says

tomorrow and then by what happens in the debates. But what clearly is

going on here is that Bush-Cheney is going at the base, at the base, at the

base. And I wonder if we are going to wake up on November 3 and realize,

as Norah was saying, that these eight undecided voters weren‘t what was on

their minds, that it was more about turning out people who already


MATTHEWS: Excuse me, the dog that didn‘t bark tonight, you didn‘t hear a really long argument for why we had to go to Iraq or a lot about the war on terrorism.


MATTHEWS: And the vice president chose to win—to march on the line where he is most successful. In every poll we read, it says the president is trusted on terrorism. The war in Iraq remains controversial.

O‘DONNELL: Privately, advisers will admit that, if this election were a referendum on the president, they would lose. But they know because it‘s a comparison between two candidates that they have a good shot, though when you were asking about those catchphrases, the simple messages, of course they matter. And, of course, they are the kind of things that people turn at work the next day and say, hey, did you hear what Cheney said last night?

He said that John Kerry is for the softer side of—and is sensitive on the war on terror. I must say that also having been on the road for so long, too, people know the phrases. And they repeat them when the president says them. He actually voted for the $87 billion before he voted against it. People know that and they communicate that to their friends.


MATTHEWS: I wish we had a second vote on the ballot, “Should we have gone to war with Iraq?” and ended this argument. That would a great vote.

We‘ll be right back with more with our panel here at Herald Square at 34th and Broadway,.

You‘re watching HARDBALL‘s live coverage of the Republican National Convention on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS: Welcome back to Herald Square and HARDBALL‘s very live coverage of the Republican Convention.

We‘re here with the panel. And I‘m going to give you each 45 seconds tonight. I want a policy and political assessment of the two great speeches heard tonight. And throw in a little tonal estimate as well. Were they the right tone?


MITCHELL: I still think that—and especially because of what John McCain apparently said to Tom Brokaw earlier—that the Zell Miller speech may have been too tough. It was really a brim fire—firestone and brim fire—brimstone, rather, speech, when maybe what was called for was a tough policy speech, but one that could be a little bit more accessible to women who haven‘t yet decided.

MATTHEWS: It was an Old Testament speech by a New Testament president.


WATTS: Let me give you a policy assessment—a political, policy...

MATTHEWS: Make it, sir.

WATTS: The left is tone-deaf about values the way the right is tone-deaf about poor people‘s issues.

MATTHEWS: Was tonight about values?

WATTS: I think it was. I think they framed it.


MATTHEWS: I think it was about firepower.


MATTHEWS: And you know it was about firepower.

WATTS: We‘ve got to have it.

MITCHELL: And spitballs.

MEACHAM: I think this was a corporate merger of two wars, the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq. They want to talk about war. They don‘t want to talk about where it is.

And I think to link the Reagan bit to the end of it is, when Reagan said in the great speech in 1964, you and I have a rendezvous with destiny, this is our last chance.


Mass Layoffs In July

Technical information: (202) 691-6392 USDL 04-1712

For release: 10:00 A.M. EDT
Media contact: 691-5902 Tuesday, August 31, 2004


In July 2004, employers took 2,094 mass layoff actions, as measured by
new filings for unemployment insurance benefits during the month, according
to data from the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Each action involved at least 50 persons from a single establishment, and
the number of workers involved totaled 253,929. (See table 1.) Both the
number of events and initial claims were higher than a year ago, with the
number of mass layoff events and the number of associated initial claims
higher than any July since 2001. However, July 2004 contained 5 weeks for
possible mass layoffs, compared with 4 weeks in each July of the prior 4
years. From January through July 2004, the total number of events, at
10,208, and of initial claims, at 1,049,541, were lower than in January-
July 2003 (11,947 and 1,183,024, respectively).

Industry Distribution

The 10 industries reporting the highest number of mass-layoff initial
claims accounted for 82,562 initial claims in July, 33 percent of the
total. (See table A.)

The manufacturing sector had 42 percent of all mass layoff events and
57 percent of all initial claims filed in July. A year ago, manufacturing
reported 45 percent of events and 60 percent of initial claims. Within
manufacturing, the number of claimants was highest in transportation
equipment (72,492, mainly automotive-related), followed by plastics and
rubber products manufacturing (13,053) and primary metals (8,177). (See
table 2.)

The administrative and waste services sector accounted for 12 percent
of events and 9 percent of initial claims filed in July, with layoffs
mainly in temporary help services. Temporary help services, with 13,227
initial claims, accounted for 5 percent of all initial claims in July.
Five percent of all layoff events and 4 percent of initial claims filed
during the month were in retail trade, primarily in general merchandise
stores. Transportation and warehousing accounted for 5 percent of events
and 4 percent of initial claims, mostly in school and employee bus
transportation. Construction accounted for an additional 6 percent of
events and 3 percent of initial claims during the month, primarily among
specialty trade contractors.

Government establishments accounted for 7 percent of events and 5 percent
of initial claims filed during the month, mostly in elementary and secondary

- 2 -

Table A. Industries with the largest mass-layoff initial claims in July 2004p
| Initial | July peak
Industry | claims |-------------------------
| | Year | Initial claims
Temporary help services ..................| 13,227 | 1998 | 24,601
All other motor vehicle parts mfg. .......| 9,691 | 2004 | 9,691
Light truck and utility vehicle mfg. .....| 9,467 | 1997 | 14,618
All other plastics product mfg. ..........| 8,864 | 2004 | 8,864
Automobile manufacturing mfg. ............| 8,417 | 1996 | 22,644
Motor vehicle power train components | | |
mfg. ...................................| 8,407 | 2003 | 8,905
Motor vechicle seating and interior trim | | |
mfg. ...................................| 7,807 | 2004 | 7,807
Motor vehicle metal stamping .............| 7,061 | 2004 | 7,061
Elementary and secondary schools .........| 4,963 | 2003 | 7,069
Motion picture and video production ......| 4,658 | 1998 | 12,310

Compared with July 2003, the largest increases in initial claims were
reported in transportation equipment manufacturing (+12,383), administrative
and support services (+4,657), motion picture and sound recording (+3,754),
and professional and technical services (+3,592). The largest over-the-year
decreases in initial claims were reported in electrical equipment and ap-
pliance manufacturing (-3,784) and machinery manufacturing (-3,243).

Geographic Distribution

Among the four regions, the highest number of initial claims in July
due to mass layoffs was reported in the Midwest, 118,913. (See table 3.)
Transportation equipment manufacturing accounted for 48 percent of all
initial claims in that region during the month. The South region was next,
with 55,404 initial claims, followed closely by the West, with 52,412, and
the Northeast, with 27,200.

The number of initial claimants in mass layoffs rose over the year in
three of the four regions. The largest increase was in the Midwest
(+17,380), followed by the West (+6,592) and the South (+6,509). The
Northeast had the only over-the-year decline (-2,987). Six of the
nine geographic divisions had over-the-year increases in the number of
initial claims associated with mass layoffs, with the largest increase
in the East North Central division (+20,253). The largest over-the-year
decreases occurred in the New England (-3,381) and West North Central
(-2,873) divisions.

Among the states, California recorded the highest number of initial claims
filed in mass layoff events in July (41,702), mostly in administrative and
support services and motion picture and sound recording industries. Michigan
reported 35,562 initial claims, followed by Ohio (26,605), and Indiana
(20,435). These four states accounted for 47 percent of all layoff events
and 49 percent of all initial claims for unemployment insurance.
(See table 4.)

Michigan reported the largest over-the-year increase in the number of
initial claims (+13,915), followed by Ohio (+9,519), Kentucky (+5,834), and
South Carolina (+5,028). The largest over-the-year decrease occurred in
Georgia (-5,497).

From January to July, California reported 252,330 mass layoff initial
claims, 24 percent of the national total. The states with the next largest
number of claims over this period were Michigan (71,077), New York
(66,849), and Ohio (65,954).

- 3 -


The monthly data series in this release cover mass layoffs of 50 or
more workers beginning in a given month, regardless of the duration of the
layoffs. For private nonfarm establishments, information on the length of
the layoff is obtained later and issued in a quarterly release that reports
on mass layoffs lasting more than 30 days (referred to as "extended mass
layoffs"). The quarterly release provides more information on the industry
classification and location of the establishment and on the demographics of
the laid-off workers. Because monthly figures include short-term layoffs
of 30 days or less, the sum of the figures for the 3 months in a quarter
will be higher than the quarterly figure for mass layoffs of more than 30
days. (See table 1.) See the Technical Note for more detailed


The report on Mass Layoffs in August 2004 is scheduled to be released
on Thursday, September 23, 2004.

Mass Layoffs Technical Note
Table 1. Mass layoff events and initial claimants for unemployment insurance, July 2002 to July 2004
Table 2. Industry distribution: Mass layoff events and initial claimants for unemployment insurance
Table 3. Mass layoff events and initial claimants for unemployment insurance by census region and division
Table 4. State distribution: Mass layoff events and initial claimants for unemployment insurance

Text version of entire news release
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Last Modified Date: August 31, 2004

Bandaids, Bullets, and Broken Hearts - John Cory

Band-Aids, Bullets, and Broken Hearts
By John Cory
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Thursday 02 September 2004

It must have been a proud moment for Johnson & Johnson, watching their product passed around opening night at the GOP convention: Band-Aids with painted purple hearts and snarky comments about self-inflicted wounds. Who says conservatives don't have a sense of humor? This was funny stuff.

I wonder how funny that Band-Aid stunt was to the nearly 7,000 troops who have lost legs, and arms, and eyes, and suffered other mutilations in the Iraq War, and now wear a real Purple Heart. I'll bet they rolled around in their wheelchairs and fell off their crutches in roaring laughter. Can these GOP Band-Aids reattach limbs?

I'll bet they were laughing in Idaho, too. Especially Tom Titus, former Army Ranger and Vietnam vet with two Purple Hearts. On Monday he received another Purple Heart, for his son Brandon, killed in Iraq. A father and son, both veterans, both with Purple Hearts, except the father had to bury his son. Is there a funny Band-Aid for death?

In Florida last week, Carlos Arredondo was informed that his son Alexander had been killed in Iraq. Mr. Arredondo poured the gasoline of his sorrow on the van that delivered the news, and in the process, set himself aflame in grief. Is there a Band-Aid for that pain?

And the GOP is the party that supports our troops?

Don't expect a GOP denouncement of the Band-Aid debacle, and certainly not from George Bush. These folks are busy building platforms on the graves of American citizens and soldiers in order to appear tall and patriotic.

The GOP wages war on heroism, vilifies suffering, and exonerates smearing the valiant service of all veterans, in the name of partisan gamesmanship.

For all the talk of conservative compassion and the American way, the GOP has proved itself to be the party of Band-Aids, Bullets, and Broken Hearts.

And isn't that funny?

Our Blessed Economy Under King George II

Census: Poverty up in 2003
Number of poor Americans increases by 1 million

PERONET DESPEIGNES GANNETT NEWS SERVICE WASHINGTON -- The number of Americans in poverty and those without health insurance each rose by more than 1 million in 2003, the Census Bureau reported Thursday. The median household income was virtually unchanged, but women lost ground against men for the first time since 1999.
The Census report showed the number of Americans in poverty rising by 1.3 million to 35.9 million, or one in eight people. That represents the third straight year poverty has risen. The number of Americans without health insurance rose by 1.4 million to 45 million, or 15.6 percent of the population -- also a three-year trend.

The income of the median U.S. household was virtually flat at $43,318 after two years of declines. The divide between rich and poor also was basically unchanged, although some alternative measures suggested a slight widening of the income gap.

The results were expected, coming on the heels of more current reports showing rising long-term unemployment, slow wage growth and surging health care costs through 2003.

Still, they were interpreted by Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry as proof that President Bush's economic policies have failed the middle class. "Under George Bush's watch, America's families are falling further behind," he said.

Kerry and other Democrats have sought to make a lackluster economic recovery the top issue in the campaign, as it is in most presidential elections.

Many surveys show that Iraq and terrorism are of equal or greater concern to voters. But in a close election, perceptions of the economy could tip the balance.

Gene Sperling, a Kerry campaign economic adviser, called 2003 "the second full year of the recovery, when one typically expects to see strong job growth, income starting to rise and poverty starting to fall. In that sense, the report is a triple disappointment."

The White House said the reports were old news, reflecting an economy struggling from three tough years of stock market drops, corporate scandals, wars and unprecedented terrorist attacks. Median incomes are rising slowly in 2004 as the economy picks up speed; jobs have been added in fits and starts.

The Census report showed:

- Income declined among female workers as compared to men, widening the gender gap for the first time since 1999. The median full-time female worker made 75.5 cents for every dollar earned by a man, down from 76.6 cents in 2002. Hispanics and whites also lost income.

- Poverty increased among whites and Asians, but did not significantly change for Hispanics and blacks. The 2003 poverty level for a married couple with two children was $18,660.

- Health insurance rates dropped among almost all major demographic and geographic groups.

©2004 The Olympian

60 Minutes Should Set The Record Straight on Bush's "Service Record"

Ben Barnes to Break Silence on "60 Minutes"
By Eric Boehlert

Wednesday 01 September 2004

The Republican campaign gets ready for shock waves, as the former Texas official who says he pulled strings to get George W. Bush into the Air National Guard finally goes public.

The campaign battle over Vietnam War records is still raging, but President Bush may soon be the one answering uncomfortable questions about his past service. Ben Barnes, the former lieutenant governor of Texas, will finally break his silence and talk to the press about what role he played in helping Bush get a coveted slot in the Texas Air National Guard in 1968. Sources say Barnes has already sat down for a "60 Minutes" interview that will air a week from Sunday. A "60 Minutes" spokesperson declined to comment, saying the program does not discuss reports that are in progress.

Barnes made headlines last week when his videotaped comments that he was "very ashamed" of getting Bush into the National Guard began circulating on the Web. He said the remorse was prompted by a recent visit to the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, where he saw the names of thousands of other young men who did not enjoy the connections of the Bush family. Barnes made his comments in May and the video was posted on a pro-Kerry Web site in June, but word of it only began to spread widely last Friday.

Over the weekend, the national press, which for weeks has been amplifying factually challenged allegations against John Kerry by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, gave Barnes' stunning remarks only cursory coverage. The Washington Post, for instance, ran a brief wire story on Saturday, the same day it printed yet another exhaustive piece about allegations surrounding Kerry's war past. In a subsequent online chat, the Post reporter covering the Swift boat story suggested Barnes' comments didn't qualify as "fresh information," and consequently he wasn't interested in "simply regurgitating old controversies." The New York Times ran a brief item on Barnes' statements deep inside its Saturday news section, next to yet another lengthy profile of Kerry's longtime Swift boat nemesis, John O'Neill.

With Barnes now being featured in a sit-down interview with "60 Minutes," the highly rated CBS news magazine, reporters may finally be forced to address the consistent curiosities of Bush's National Guard record. Such as why, after nearly a decade of sifting through military records, neither Bush nor his team of longtime advisors can piece together a coherent explanation for his whereabouts, particularly after April 1972 when Bush inexplicably stopped flying and moved to Alabama, failed to take his physical exam, was grounded by his superiors, and by all accounts failed to show up for weekend training for months at a time. Bush received an honorable discharge in 1973 in order to attend Harvard Business School. Bush supporters insist the honorable discharge proves his service was above reproach. But military legal experts note honorable discharges, particularly in the early '70s as the Vietnam War was winding down, do not indicate unblemished military records.

Rather than offering insight into Bush's so-called missing year, Barnes has firsthand knowledge of how Bush was able to get into the Guard. During the Vietnam War, Guard members were rarely called up for duty in Vietnam, making it a top choice among those seeking to avoid serving in war torn Southeast Asia. (On his Air Force pilot application, when asked about an overseas assignment, Bush checked "do not volunteer.") In fact, Bush's Guard unit was known as the Champagne Unit, because among its members were sons of prominent Texas politicians and businessmen.

Throughout his political career Bush has adamantly denied that he got a Guard pilot spot through preferential treatment. That, despite the fact Bush was jumped ahead of a nationwide waiting list of 100,000 Guard applicants, while achieving the lowest possible passing grade on his pilot aptitude test for would-be fliers, and listing "none" as his background qualifications.

Barnes, once a rising star in Texas politics, insists strings were pulled on Bush's behalf, and he helped pull them. Speaking to Kerry supporters in Austin, Texas, in May, he said, "I got a young man named George W. Bush into the Texas National Guard ... I got a lot of other people in the National Guard because I thought that was what people should do when you're in office, and you help a lot of rich people." Recalling a recent visit to the Vietnam Memorial, Barnes added, "I looked at the names of the people that died in Vietnam, and I became more ashamed of myself than I have ever been, because it was the worst thing I ever did, was help a lot of wealthy supporters and a lot of people who had family names of importance get into the National Guard. And I'm very sorry about that, and I'm very ashamed."

That story is entirely consistent with the statement Barnes made five years ago, when he revealed that in 1968 he made the phone call to the head of the Texas Air National Guard at the request of the late Sidney Adger, a Houston oil man and longtime Bush family friend. At the time, neither Bush nor his campaign directly denied the story. Bush simply stressed that neither he nor his father had made a call on his behalf, and he was unaware of any other such string pulling.

"Ben Barnes is a key to this election because he knows firsthand what happened in 1968," says Paul Alexander, director of "Brothers in Arms," a new pro-Kerry documentary about the Democratic candidate's Vietnam experience. Alexander has also written extensively about Bush's past. "Barnes is an eyewitness."

Barnes is a Kerry supporter, and the White House last week tried to depict him as a longtime partisan. But the fact is, Barnes for years resisted any attempt to get dragged into a political debate about Bush's war record. It was only under threat of legal action back in 1999 - and only after efforts to assert "executive privilege" failed - that Barnes came forward with his statement about helping Bush. (And even then, Barnes issued it through his attorney, refusing to answer press questions.) The lawsuit was brought by a disgruntled Texas lottery executive who charged that his former company, which Barnes lobbied for, was able to keep a lucrative Texas state contract in exchange for Barnes' remaining silent about helping Bush get into the Guard. The case was later settled out of court, with the executive receiving $300,000.

In 1998 Barnes even met privately with Bush's then-campaign manager and current commerce secretary, Donald Evans, in order to give him a heads up about the unfolding Guard story. Bush himself sent Barnes a note thanking him "for his candor" on the matter.

Whether Bush still appreciates Barnes' "candor" next week remains to be seen.