DOING BETTER THAN YOU THINK?
Economist Robert J. Samuelson had an interesting piece in the July 26 Washington Post that included this interesting paragraph:
On average Americans are the best-housed people in history. Since 1973 the median size of new homes has jumped almost 40 percent, from 1,525 square feet to 2,114 square feet in 2002. Meanwhile, average household size has fallen almost 20 percent, from 3.14 people to 2.58 in 2002. (There are more singles, fewer children and more elderly couples.) Americans have bigger homes for smaller families. Now 36 percent of new homes have four bedrooms or more; in 1987 that was 23 percent. And everyone needs a bathroom. In 1971, 15 percent of new homes had 2.5 bathrooms or more; by 2003, 56 percent did.
WHO’S GONNA WIN
Mark Wilson: ‘Another electoral college map is Dale’s Electoral College Breakdown. I prefer it over those other two you posted since his methodology is transparent.’
RON REAGAN IN THE SEPTEMBER ESQUIRE
Here are two (separate) paragraphs from a piece called ‘The Case Against George W. Bush,’ by Ron Reagan:
… [C]hances are your America and George W. Bush’s America are not the same place. If you are dead center on the earning scale in real-world twenty-first-century America, you make a bit less than $32,000 a year, and $32,000 is not a sum that Mr. Bush has ever associated with getting by in his world. Bush, who has always managed to fail upwards in his various careers, has never had a job the way you have a job—where not showing up one morning gets you fired, costing you your health benefits. He may find it difficult to relate personally to any of the nearly two million citizens who’ve lost their jobs under his administration, the first administration since Herbert Hoover’s to post a net loss of jobs. Mr. Bush has never had to worry that he couldn’t afford the best available health care for his children. For him, forty-three million people without health insurance may be no more than a politically inconvenient abstraction. When Mr. Bush talks about the economy, he is not talking about your economy. His economy is filled with pals called Kenny-boy who fly around in their own airplanes. In Bush’s economy, his world, friends relocate offshore to avoid paying taxes. Taxes are for chumps like you. You are not a friend. You’re the help. When the party Mr. Bush is hosting in his world ends, you’ll be left picking shrimp toast out of the carpet.
. . . Understandably, some supporters of Mr. Bush’s will believe I harbor a personal vendetta against the man, some seething resentment. One conservative commentator, based on earlier remarks I’ve made, has already discerned “jealousy” on my part; after all, Bush, the son of a former president, now occupies that office himself, while I, most assuredly, will not. Truth be told, I have no personal feelings for Bush at all. I hardly know him, having met him only twice, briefly and uneventfully—once during my father’s presidency and once during my father’s funeral. I’ll acknowledge occasional annoyance at the pretense that he’s somehow a clone of my father, but far from threatening, I see this more as silly and pathetic. My father, acting roles excepted, never pretended to be anyone but himself. His Republican party, furthermore, seems a far cry from the current model, with its cringing obeisance to the religious Right and its kill-anything-that-moves attack instincts. Believe it or not, I don’t look in the mirror every morning and see my father looming over my shoulder. I write and speak as nothing more or less than an American citizen, one who is plenty angry about the direction our country is being dragged by the current administration. We have reached a critical juncture in our nation’s history, one ripe with both danger and possibility. We need leadership with the wisdom to prudently confront those dangers and the imagination to boldly grasp the possibilities. Beyond issues of fiscal irresponsibility and ill-advised militarism, there is a question of trust. George W. Bush and his allies don’t trust you and me. Why on earth, then, should we trust them?
TOM OLIPHANT ON JOHN KERRY
Boston Globe columnist Tom Oliphant has known Senator Kerry for 34 years. His piece in The American Prospect concludes:
In his remarkably thorough book on Kerry’s formative youth, Douglas Brinkley tells a story about the two of us in the moments just before Kerry began his [famous] statement to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971. . . . When we entered the Dirksen Senate Office Building and raced up the stairs a few minutes before he was due to speak, we were struck by the absence of people in the stairwell and in the long corridor approaching the hearing room. It felt like a Sunday.
But when we reached the door and opened it a crack, Kerry drew back suddenly, stunned at the sight of a completely packed room. I nudged him forward again and attempted to cut the tension by saying, “Go ahead. Be famous. See if I care.”
It never occurred to me or to him where that moment might one day lead. I think it’s important that the presidency looms on his horizon not as a codicil in some trust fund, a virtual entitlement by virtue of lucky birth. Instead, it looms at the end of a long climb up the ladder from assistant county prosecutor.
John Kerry is a good, tough man. He is curious, grounded after a public and personal life that has not always been pleasant, a fan of ideas whose practical side has usually kept him from policy wonkery, a natural progressive with the added fixation on what works that made FDR and JFK so interesting. I know it is chic to be disdainful, but the modern Democratic neurosis gets in the way of a solid case for affection. Without embarrassment, and after a very long journey, I really like this guy. . . .