“Now, people ask me all the time how we got four surplus budgets in a row. What new ideas did we bring to Washington? I always give a one-word answer: arithmetic.”
Former President Bill Clinton took the stage at the Democratic National Convention last night and systematically dismembered the Republican Party’s memes, schemes and misrepresentations that make up the body of their work in building a case against the Obama administration and for electing the men at the top of their ticket. In a fifty minute speech that strayed significantly from the version released in advance to the press, the former chief executive effectively used all the rhetorical skills in his arsenal to argue for another four years of Democratic control of the White House.
I have plenty of reservations about Bill Clinton’s tenure as President; his role in de-regulation of the financial industry and his shortsightedness about the repercussions of NAFTA immediately come to mind. But when it comes to his ability to mount a political offensive, nobody in recent memory can top the combination of ah-shucks populism and wonk-like command of facts that was on display last night.
I know that there was a football game last night; the Giants and the Cowboys opened the NFL season on TV; from what I saw in the first half it was a sloppy affair made worse by blown calls by the strike breakers the league has brought in to replace the locked-out regular referees. (The Cowboys won, by the way, 24-17)
I also know that political conventions have lost the luster with much of the American public. These days the partisan get-togethers are often little more than commercials for the already converted. Last night was different.
Clinton’s speech, with all of its plugs for Democratic constituencies and platform planks, brought back something that’s been sadly lacking in politics lately: actual facts. I’ll grant that they were strung together in a way that favored his party and the Democratic nominee, but at least there was (at a minimum) an underlying element of truth.
“We simply cannot afford to give the reins of government to someone who will double-down on trickle-down.”
The fact checkers have already chimed in this morning as I write this and they agree: if more politicians did what Bill Clinton did last night, fact checking would be a disappearing profession. Fortunately for them, we know that isn’t gonna happen anytime soon.
Here’s a link to the transcript of what President Clinton said last night.
GOP reaction to Clinton’s speech
My favorite, of course, was Alex Castellanos, GOP talking head and former aide to Mitt Romney:
“I would recommend to my friend Paul [Begala] here, tonight when everybody leaves, lock the doors. You don’t have to come back tomorrow. This convention is done. This will be the moment that probably re-elected Barack Obama.”
From the alternative universe of the Romney campaign, spokesman Ryan Williams:
“President Clinton’s speech brought the disappointment and failure of President Obama’s time in office clearly into focus,”
From Joel Pollack, who works in the most common complaint from the GOPers-that the speech was too long:
In a long, languorous address to the Democratic National Convention Wednesday night, former President Bill Clinton showed how much Democrats and the mainstream media have lowered the standards for President Barack Obama.
And from the “I used to be a Republican’ world of Andrew Sullivan:
“I never liked Clinton but it is now pure churlishness to cavil at his remarkable skills. He is able to reach middle class voters with clear argument, grasp of detail and narration of history that very few others can. If Obama has said that his main failing in this campaign is that he hasn’t told the story of the past few years well enough, then it is surely fitting that it was the husband of his former rival and former president Bill Clinton who finally told that story.”
Advocacy groups report on crimes in progress in City Heights
A video and report detailing shocking conditions and substandard housing in San Diego has been released by the Media Arts Center and Speak City Heights. Profiling the story of an undocumented immigrant who fears both deportation and eviction, the report details what’s life is life in the her apartment: no heat, a broken window, roach& rat infestation and a landlord who refuses to do anything about it. And that’s not even the shocking part.
Although residents should be protected by laws forbidding these kinds of degrading and inhuman living conditions, the City of San Diego has no provider for fair housing services and the County’s Healthy Department refuses to take the cases of substandard conditions or infestations, referring complaints back to the City. Those who bother to complain end up caught in a bureaucratic loop; their only allies are various under-funded non-profits, who are hamstrung by the current economic realities in their quest to advocate for residents. Watch the video. Read the report. Get outraged.
Convention Center expansion driven by a conspiracy of misinformation
Don Bauder over at the SD Reader reports this week on the cooked books and outright deceptions that have come into play to propel the City of San Diego’s endorsement of the planned expansion of the Convention Center. City Auditor Eduardo Luna has even verified that backers of the development plan have misreported and inflated hotel room nights along with hotel-tax receipts, attendee spending, and the center’s impact on the local economy. A well regarded expert brought in to verify the numbers being bandied about by Mayors Sanders and his cronies was dismissed as a “whack job” for trying to tell them that their numbers were wrong.
The figures both inflated and real are there in Bauder’s story. It’s a primo example of how City Hall ignores the needs of our neighborhoods while catering to the developers of big shiny toys that end up being a burden on tax payers. Money quote:
It’s no surprise that one of San Diego’s most prominent financial experts, when asked to characterize his adopted city, responds with one word, “Mayberry.” That’s the rural Southern hamlet of television fame.
The Summer of Hate Concert in El Cajon
Two days after police reported large amounts of hate filled graffiti, including swastikas, in El Cajon’s Kennedy Park, SDCity Beat’s Dave Maass has an eye opening report up about an event at the VFW’s Veterans Memorial Hall in El Cajon back in July, run by the Western Hammerskins, the SoCal section of the most powerful and best-organized skinhead group in the United States. Maas identifies the group sponsoring the concert as the “same hate group that had inspired Wade Page, the gunman who two weeks later killed Sikh worshippers, then himself, at a temple in Wisconsin”.
More bad news for the GOP, maybe. Jobs report looking up
In keeping with their ‘what’s bad for American is good for the Republican ticket’ philosophy, GOP spinmeisters have been saying that any ‘bounce’ that Obama might get out of the Democratic convention would probably be negated when the monthly jobs report come out Friday. Not so fast, fellows (From Daily Kos):
According to Automatic Data Processing’s monthly report released Thursday morning, the U.S. nonfarm private business sector added 201,000 new jobs in August on a seasonally adjusted basis. That was a third more than a consensus of experts surveyed by Bloomberg had estimated would be the case. The estimated gain for July was revised up from 163,000 to 173,000.
While ADP numbers often vary considerably from those announced by the federal government each month, the numbers of both tend to move in the same direction. That could mean that the official report on job growth released Friday by Bureau of Labor Statistics will also be better than expected. The consensus forecasts that the number of jobs in the BLS report will be 120,000, well below last month’s 163,000.
Bike corral installations underway in District Three
Riding a bike in San Diego has gotten a little easier over the past few months with the installation of designated areas in business districts for parking bicycles. Thanks to the efforts of Bike San Diego, City Councilman Todd Gloria, County Supervisor Ron Roberts, the City of San Diegoand area Business Improvement/Community Parking Districts, three “corrals” have now been installed. They are located at Fifth & university in Hillcrest, on Louisiana Street (Next to the Lafayette Hotel) and at 30-th Street and North Park Way, in front of the Linkery. It’s especially appropriate that the installation site included the Linkery, since owner Jay Porter (no relation, but we are friends) has long been among the most vocal of the City’s advocates for a more friendly environment for the two-wheeler set.
On This Day: In 1959 the first Barbie Doll was sold by Mattel Toy Corporation. In 1961 Bob Dylan debuted at the Gaslight Cafe in New York City In 1995 Cal Ripken played his 2,131st consecutive game setting a new record. Lou Gehrig previously held the record.
Eat Fresh! Today’s Farmer’s Markets: Carmel Valley (Canyon Crest Academy 5951 Village Center Loop Road) 3:30 – 7:00 pm, Chula Vista(Downtown, Center St. & Third Ave.) 3 –7 pm, Linda Vista (6900 Linda Vista Road Between Comstock & Ulric) 2 – 7 pm, North Park (CVSPharmacy parking lot 3151 University & 32nd St.) 3 – 7 pm, Oceanside Market & Faire (Pier View Way & Coast Hwy. 101) 9 am – 1 pm,Oceanside Sunset (Tremont & Pier View Way) 5 –9 pm, San Carlos (Pershing Middle School 8204 San Carlos Drive) 4 – 7 pm, SDSU Farmers’ Market (Campanile Walkway btw Hepner Hall & Love Library) 10 – 3 pm, University Town Center (Genesee Ave. at UTC Westfield Shopping Plaza) 3 – 7 pm.
Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to “The Starting Line” and get an email every time a new article in this series is posted!
I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter@SanDiegoFreePress.