One of my entries to the Biden Meme. Open Thread below...
Analysts are still poking around in the entrails of Friday's monthly jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Given the raised eyebrows caused by the sharp drop from the three previous reports, that analysis is likely to continue right up until the forecasting for the next report takes over the discussion in about three weeks.
The big double-headed question: In what has been a generally upward employment trend, was March a fluke, a one-off, brought on by a warm winter or some other factor? Or was it the start of a new trend, potentially a pre-recessionary trend? Theories abound. Some persuasive, some sounding a whole lot like those deals where you send your scrap gold in an envelope to somebody whom the ads say will accurately weigh it and pay you accordingly.
Some analysts say the tepid growth in gross domestic product we've seen just isn't substantial enough to account for the improvement in employment for the December-February period. In other words, they imply the drop from a seasonally adjusted 240,000 net new jobs in February to half that in March should have been expected given the weakness in GDP growth That growth was just 1.8 percent for all of 2011, though considerably better in the final quarter of the year.
The economy overall seems to be in better shape than it was last year at this time when the Arab Spring (and rising oil prices) combined with the disruptions from the Fukushima nuclear meltdown caused a retreat in what had appeared at the time to be the beginning of a breakout from stubbornly slow growth. Leading indicators now show positive in nearly every category. Layoffs, at least of people eligible to collect unemployment benefits, have been running at a four-year low for two months. Consumer confidence is way up, the best in four years. But within those positives can be seen troublesome data.
For instance, consumer purchases?or in the jargon, personal consumption expenditures?are up. But that's not because wages are up. In the aggregate, wages did rise 2.1 percent in the past 12 months. But inflation right now is running at 2.9 percent. Which means consumers lost ground. After, again in the aggregate, paying down their debt over the past three years, consumers are going into debt again or spending out of their savings to buy stuff even as they slip behind in the earnings department. This is unsustainable behavior. The only thing that will make it sustainable is more jobs, which creates demand for more goods and services, which is met by creating more job openings.
But as the chart above shows, at the current rate of job growth?215,000 net jobs a month for the past four months?it will be 10 years from the time the recession began in December 2007 until that rate covers all the lost jobs and adds enough new ones to absorb increases in the working-age population and get us back to where we were before the Great Recession began. That population increase is now running at about 90,000 a month. As that chart also shows, the 2007 recession got started before employment recovered from the 2001 recession. A shortfall like that could easily happen again.
And that's hardlythe only dark shadow when it comes to jobs in this "recovery":
Analysis of government data by Moody?s Analytics shows that median household income, in 2011 dollars, peaked at $56,000 in 2000, and did not rebound to that level. When the Great Recession hit, income fell again. Though there has been some progress in the last two years, median income, now at $52,000, is about where it was in 1997.As Heidi Shierholz points out, the usual reasons apply. High unemployment holds wage growth down because employers are under no pressure to give raises to keep workers on the job. The fellow who must not be named had a term for this: the reserve army of the unemployed. That army keep wages down and employed workers' noses to the grindstone because there are plenty of other noses to take their place. Desperate to collect a paycheck, even if it's less than before, even if it's less than enough to live on, workers accept what they get because of fear they could become part of that army. The consequences can be see in the chart below (which would be worse if the figures were inflation adjusted:
Stopping that cramdown and getting to a new place will require, if you can stand the cliché, a new paradigm. That kind of talk sounds radical and it could be. But radical need not mean extremist. What we've been getting and are being told we need to get much more of? austerity, smashed unions, reduced wages, reduced pensions, reduced benefits, privatized everything?that's extremism. When will putting up with it reach our limit?
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2004:
The lid is off. As DemFromCT showed below, the news is tumbling out from multiple sources that the Presidential daily briefing proves that George W. Bush was warned on August 6th that al Qaida was planning an attack to take place within the United States before the end of 2001:
The sources said the presidential memo included a series of bullet items that brought Bush through a history of mostly uncorroborated intelligence that cited al-Qaida's interest in hijacking planes to win the release of Islamic extremists who had been arrested in 1998 and 1999 as well as the trips of suspected al-Qaida operatives, including some U.S. citizens, in and out of the United States. It suggested al-Qaida might have a support system in place on U.S. soil, the sources said.
The document also included FBI analytical judgments that some al-Qaida activities were consistent with preparation for airline hijackings or other types of attacks, some members of the commission looking into the Sept. 11 attacks said earlier this week.
The second-to-last bullet told the president that there were numerous?at least 70?terror-related investigations under way by the FBI in 2001 involving matters or people on U.S. soil, the sources said. [...]
Romney completes the hat trick in West Virginia, picking up the last remaining superdelegate:
Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who is considered one of the front runners in the 2012 Republican presidential primary, is the "right person" for the job, West Virginia Republican Party Chairman Mike Stuart said.
Stuart becomes Romney's 34th superdelegate:Romney: 34
As a result, I will resign as Chairman of the West Virginia Republican Party effective as of May 9, 2012.And Romney goes back to 33 superdelegates.
Title: Bad For MeArtist: Brendan Benson
My friend (and former boss) Brendan Benson has released the first single off of his forthcoming release What Kind Of World, due out on 4/23. Strings, glorious voices and great production abound, and 'epic' would be a good way to describe it. What's your favorite 'epic' song?
Guys, I tried, but there's just too much stupid today and we don't need more reminders of how people suck. We need a snowy owl story.[...]
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Remember, this is the guy who flip-flopped on catfish. We shouldn't be surprised that his story on guns keeps changing too. ABC reminds us of Romney's previous odd statements about guns:
During a virtual debate with the Boston Globe in 2007 Romney was corrected when he claimed to own a gun that he later clarified actually belonged to one of his five sons.
?I have a gun of my own. I go hunting myself. I?m a member of the NRA and believe firmly in the right to bear arms,? said Romney, to which the interview corrected him, ?Ah, excuse me, but isn?t that son Josh?s gun??
Romney responded, ?Um, well, yes, but so what? He has several guns out at our vacation place in Utah, and I use them from time to time.?
Also in 2007, Romney explained during an interview exactly what kind of hunting he likes.
?I?m not a big game hunter. I?ve always been, if you will, a rodent and rabbit hunter all right, small varmints if you will,? Romney said.
Yesterday, Ben Smith quoted a conservative lawyer offering a way the Supreme Court's conservative majority may think about striking down the Affordable Care Act. Essentially, this lawyer said, they think that the last 70 years of the Court's interpretation of the Constitution's commerce clause, which underlies much of what the modern American government does, is a giant fraud perpetrated by liberals. Even though they know they can't toss out that last 70 years all at once, they have no problem finding some ridiculous justification for striking down the ACA, no matter whether they really believe it or not. "You have built a fantasy mansion on the Commerce Clause," the lawyer tells Smith. "You can hardly blame us if, in one wing of this mansion, down a dusty corridor, we build a fantasy room called 'inactivity,' lock the door, and don't let you in." None of us have any way of knowing if this is what the justices are actually thinking, persuasive as it sounds. But there's something going on among liberal commentators, both those who think the Court will strike down the ACA and those who think they might uphold it, to try to look through the oral arguments in the case and in recent decisions to determine, not necessarily the outcome of the decision, but the reasoning that might accompany it. This, I fear, is fruitless.
I'll get to why in a second, but here are a couple of good examples just from yesterday. At TPM, Sahil Kapur looks at Justice Roberts' concurrence in a recent case to suggest that he may be particularly sensitive to preserving the Court's integrity and reputation, which could lead him to be reluctant to take such a partisan action as overturning the signature legislation of a president from the other party. Jonathan Bernstein, in a post not far from the position I'm taking, says, "The core problem here is that those who want a pre-New Deal reading of the Commerce Clause and the rest of the Constitution want to impose something that, in practical terms, would be highly unpopular, affecting laws such as the minimum wage. There?s really no easy way to do what conservative judicial activists want to do. And that leaves them with options that are going to look, to most people, very arbitrary." But I really don't think they care.
If the Court's conservatives do strike down the ACA, the reasoning they'll use to do so is irrelevant. That's the whole point of having a Court like this one: it's all about the outcome. Let's recall the most revealing line in the Bush v. Gore decision: "Our consideration is limited to the present circumstances, for the problem of equal protection in election processes generally presents many complexities." In other words, don't even think about ever trying to use this case as precedent for anything, because we don't even believe what we're saying. And the Roberts Court is even more conservative and partisan than the Court that decided Bush v. Gore was. William Rehnquist was replaced by Roberts (not much difference there), and the centrist Sandra Day O'Connor was replaced by the hard-right Samuel Alito. They would be more than happy to hang their invalidation of the ACA on the novel "inactivity" justification, then never consider the rationale again. Imagine there was some future piece of conservative legislation passed by a Republican president and Congress that regulated "inactivity" in some similar way, and liberals sued to overturn it. Is there anyone of any ideology who actually believes the conservatives on this Court would say, "Well, we'll have to be consistent about this"? Of course they wouldn't. The outcome is the only thing that matters.
So it isn't that they'll build a room called "inactivity" down that dusty corridor and lock the door. It would be more accurate to say that they'll grab the nearest unlabeled closet and cram the ACA inside, leaving no room for anything else before they shove the door closed and break off the key in the lock. Then they'll never look at the closet again, unless it serves the purpose of striking down more progressive legislation.
There Is No New Black Panther Party: An Open Letter From the Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation I decided to post this after listening to the nonsense that Sean Hannity has been spouting about The New Black Panther Party’s call for violence. Hannity is only bring up their ridiculous comments to try to muddy the [...]
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This is Julianna Forlano in her weekly report that was called Ironic News - then The Forlano Factor and now Absurdity Today. Still funny.
Columnist, The Daily Caller
Author, "A Tremor of Bliss"
Dear Mr. Judge,
I'm very sorry that your bicycle was stolen. I read your column in the Daily Caller, "The End of My White Guilt" and I understand why you believe that the denizens of the unheatlandishly hued neighborhoods surrounding "Little Rome" invaded the large Catholic enclave and kifed your Schwinn.
But I think you're ignoring the obvious. The bike was parked in an area bounded by the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Catholic University, the Little Sisters of the Poor, the Dominican House of Studies, and numerous good, Catholic homes. Isn't it more likely that a gang of Irish Catholics stole your bike. You watch television. You've seen movies like "The Town." You know how they are when they've had a few drinks--ain't nothing safe from their thieving hands. But then again, how could the drunken bastards ride off on it without falling off every few feet.
It's more likely your bike was stolen by a ring of degenerate priests. I may even have evidence. Take a look at the enclosed photo. Is that your bicycle seat those priests are sniffing? Could they have possibly mistaken it for a boy's bike?
I was raised by god-fearing Conservative parents who taught me to respect the Catholic Church--there was very little "Whore of Babylon" talk in my house. Heck, my favorite movie growing up was "Boys Town." I was envious of all the love those young boys received from Father Flannagan.
But then, I grew up and learned that a whole lot of Father Flannagans loved a whole lot of boys, over and over again, generation after generation. I tried to resist blaming all Catholics for the sins of thousands of priests, bishops, and cardinals, but then I caught a priest licking his lips while he looked at my butt. That was the end of my Protestant guilt.
Let me know if that's your bike. If so, I'll tell you how I found the photo.
Gem. JC Christian, patriot