William Ayers spins back
"Symbolic acts of extreme vandalism." True, illegal, maybe necessary, ultimately fruitless, and, all the while, five words sure to make Pat Buchanan's head explode. Awesome.
(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)
(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)
The economy shed 533,000 jobs in November, according to a government report Friday - bringing the year's total job losses to 1.9 million.
November had the largest monthly job loss total since December 1974.
"This is a dismal jobs report," said Keith Hall, commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, at a congressional hearing. "There's very little in this report that's positive. This is maybe one of the worst jobs reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics (founded in 1884) has ever produced."
The just-under 1.9 million jobs lost in the current recession, which began in December 2007, surpasses the 1.6 million jobs lost in the 2001 recession.
As in many other areas, the biggest education debates are happening within the Democratic Party. On the one hand, there are the reformers like Joel Klein and Michelle Rhee, who support merit pay for good teachers, charter schools and tough accountability standards. On the other hand, there are the teachers’ unions and the members of the Ed School establishment, who emphasize greater funding, smaller class sizes and superficial reforms.If it were that simple, then the problems would have been solved years ago and we wouldn't be having this conversation. However, what he thinks he can cram into his column and the choices he offers are superficial at best and don't even begin to scratch the surface.
What a difference three months can make. Of all Europe's leaders, no one has suffered from the economic crisis quite as much as Merkel, because no one has mishandled the crisis quite as badly as Merkel. Germany is facing its biggest economic challenge since World War II -- the Bundesbank is predicting GDP to shrink by at least, 0.8 percent in 2009; many think that's overly optimistic -- and economists, politicians, media and the public across the spectrum are calling for tax cuts and stimulus spending of the sort being rolled out in France and other EU states.
UnitedHealth to sell insurance policies that insure individuals against becoming uninsurable
UnitedHealth to Insure the Right to Insurance
First, I agree with Rachel Maddow that something seems off when the (white collar) financial sector can get a quick bailout with few strings attached with no blame placed on employees and CEOs compensation structure (or any suggestion that it be revamped to take the federal funds), but in the case of the auto manufacturing (blue collar) sector, the quick blame is placed on the unionized workers, with their outrageous expectation for health care and decent wages. These worker "demands" are unreasonably passed on to consumers in the form of higher vehicle prices, according to conservatives like Cal Thomas, and that's the real reason US car manufacturer's cannot compete. Meanwhile, CEOs still rake in overly inflated incomes, benefits, stock options, and other perks instead of lowering vehicle prices so as to not "pass on" health care costs to the consumer. Be sure to check out this excellent analysis of the cost-per-employee figures being used to blame union labor.
Class warfare, indeed. I don't mind criticizing compensation structure, but how is unionized labor being blamed for the failure of the auto industry? What about the auto CEOs? And finance CEOs compensation is irrelevant to their bailout? This is akin to blaming welfare to the poor for the economic strain on the middle class, while the average compensation for an S & P 500 CEO in 2007 is projected to have been $14.2 million; in 2006 the average Fortune 500 CEO received $10.8 million, which is 364 times the average worker. In 2007, the Ford CEO's total compensation was $21,670,674, and GM's CEO's was $14,415,914. The average of auto worker's wages (not the pay of the average worker, but the average of workers' pay) is $20.53/hour, or $42,702/year--just below the median income. And it's the unions' fault?
Second, why is the troubled banks seen as economically "necessary" and an industry with $1.1 direct workers (in 2005) and several million related workers is not? Auto manufacturing, like the manufacturing sector of time past, has been a way for lower-skilled, less educated workers to have jobs with security, with decent wages, and health care. Sure, they can get new jobs, but what will these new jobs look like? In our deindustrialized economy, when these jobs go, they aren't going to be replaced with like jobs. The loss of these jobs will undoubtedly create new economic hardships for a slew of families. When we start talking about "necessary" industries, I want to ask, Economically necessary for who, and why?
Third, and this is really what's been getting me, I am absolutely floored that when corporations are coming to the government for help in a state of desperation and vulnerability, that we are not adequately using this leverage to make demands for corporate change. We have the position of power here. These CEOs don't want their companies to go down--think of their company stock and stock options that would become valueless! Why aren't we using it to get the regulations and accountability we've desired of them?
I just used the excellent film The Corporation (watch it in installments here) in my sociology classes this week in doing the Politics and the Economy chapter, so after watching it again -- 3 times this week -- it's been invading my thoughts. Underlying the definition of the modern corporation is that it's only legal obligation is to the shareholders, and that under a ridiculous usage of the 14th Amendment, the corporation itself is a person, meaning that no actual human being is held responsible for the actions of the corporation. This was not always so. Originally, corporations existed for the purpose of the public good. Now, they do not have any commitment to the community or tho their employees; they are legally required to act in the best interests of their shareholders in the pursuit of short-term profit (which, not surprisingly, is tied to a huge chunk of CEOs' compensation). Corporations and their activities are not held accountable to the democratic process, which is supposed to keep institutional power in check. Well, until now. To me, our economic crisis ought to be an opportunity to evaluate the way we do business (literally) in the United States, and to make steps that will hold corporations ultimately accountable to the interests of the public good (environmental, social welfare, whatever), not the interests of pure profit.(Cross-posted to Speak Truth to Power.)
"There is no attack on American culture more destructive and more historically dishonest than the relentless effort to drive God out of America's public square," Gingrich says in a trailer for the documentary on his website. Among the program's talking heads is David Barton, a former math teacher and Texas fundamentalist who has fashioned a career as a prominent revisionist historian, reinterpreting the American past along theocratic lines. Barton started out on the fringe -- in the early '90s, he was a speaker at white supremacist Christian Identity conferences -- but in the modern GOP, he's hardly an extremist. Indeed, in 2004, the RNC hired Barton to give get-out-the-vote speeches to groups of clergy nationwide. What's surprising is not that Gingrich would associate with Barton, whose work he's been praising for years. What's surprising is that, at a time of serious collapse on the right, Gingrich is hitching his bid for renewed relevance to the most exhausted culture war tropes.
The Franken camp's methodology involves taking down the opinions of the local election officials regarding the challenged ballots, and assuming that all the challenges will result in those local officials being upheld by the state canvassing board. As such, we are dependent on the Franken camp being complete and accurate in their homework, and also on their underlying assumption proving to be correct.
The incoming Obama administration has notified all politically-appointed ambassadors that they must vacate their posts as of Jan. 20, the day President-elect Barack Obama takes the oath of office, a State Department official said.
The clean slate will open up prime opportunities for the president-elect to reward political supporters with posts in London, Paris, Tokyo and the like. The notice to diplomatic posts was issued this week.
Political ambassadors sometimes are permitted to stay on briefly during a new administration, but the sweeping nature of the directive suggests that Obama has little interest in retaining any of Bush's ambassadorial appointees.
Most ambassadors, of course, are foreign service officers, but often the posts involving the most important bilateral relations (such as with Great Britain, Japan and India) or desirable locales (such as the Bahamas) are given to close friends and well-heeled contributors of the president.
Judge Walker has long seemed keen to reach a point where he can rule on the legality of the surveillance program -- something the government would hate.
He seemed to take most issue with the portion of the immunity provision that let the attorney general tell a judge to dismiss a case because there was no surveillance. That, Walker indicated, was unprecedented and alluded that the provision could be used to hide shenanigans.
So, folks, let me stand and applaud the power of one. One man who is not shirking his responsibility. One man who is not doing the lazy thing, the easy thing or the expedient thing. I don't know how he will eventually rule, and the outcome may disappoint me. But in this instance, I think I will be satisfied that the decision was actually reached on its merits. That's been too rare in recent years.
The poll, conducted by Florida International University's Institute for Public Opinion Research and funded by the Brookings Institution and the Cuba Study Group, indicates that 55 percent of those polled favor discontinuing the trade embargo imposed in 1962. Sixty-five percent favor reestablishing diplomatic relations with Cuba.
''The poll has an extraordinary historical importance,'' said Guarione Díaz, president of the Cuban American National Council, a nonpartisan advocacy group in Miami.
The results, particularly as they relate to the embargo, reflect ''the fact that the Cuban Americans who were born in the United States or left after 1980 do not have the same vision as those who came in the 60s,'' Díaz said.
Ninoska Pérez, director of the conservative Cuban Liberty Council, dismissed the results.
''I am tired of these polls that mean nothing,'' she said. ''The point is that three Congress members who support the embargo were elected by an overwhelming majority of the people. The reelection of these Congress members tells me that this sample is not a majority. I don't believe this poll.''
The embargo question has been consistent since FIU began conducting the poll in 1991. Beginning in 1997, the trend showed a gradual decrease of support for maintaining the embargo. But this year's poll is the first to show a majority in favor of lifting it. In 2007, 42 percent of those polled were in favor of ending the trade ban.
''It's a significant jump,'' said Hugh Gladwin, director of the Institute for Public Opinion Research at FIU.
''I'd give two explanations. The first one is that there's been this continuing demographic change. The other factor is the election of Obama. There's a process of change. People see the handwriting on the wall,'' he added.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The U.S. economy shed a quarter-million private-sector jobs in November, according to a payroll processor's report that was worse than economists expected.
Non-farm private employment fell by 250,000 jobs from the previous month on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the ADP National Employment Report.
The report was expected to show a decline of 200,000 jobs in November, according to a consensus of economist projections compiled by Briefing.com.
The goods-producing sector lost 158,000 jobs last month, its 24th consecutive month of decline, according to the report. This includes 118,000 positions in manufacturing and 44,000 construction jobs.
The service industry shed 92,000 jobs, its second month of losses since the ADP reports began tracking employment in 2002.
Several Israeli-based technology companies are developing detection systems that pick up signs of emotional strain, a psychological red flag that a passenger may intend to commit an act of terror,
One firm, WeCU (pronounced "We See You") Technologies, employs a combination of infra-red technology, remote sensors and imagers, and flashing of subliminal images, such as a photo of Osama bin Laden. Developers say the combination of these technologies can detect a person's reaction to certain stimuli by reading body temperature, heart rate and respiration, signals a terrorist unwittingly emits before he plans to commit an attack.
I can guarantee it would be a very tough election... If she wants to be president, I don't think the way to the presidency is a short stop in the United States Senate.
In the interview with ABC's Charles Gibson, Bush also admitted to errors and regrets in several key areas. He said he wished "the intelligence had been different" on Iraq but declined to speculate on whether he still would have decided to go to war. "That is a do-over that I can't do," he said.
Perpetual denial has been another hallmark of the current administration. Think Progress (12/1/08) headlined, "For Nearly A Year After Recession Started, Bush White House Insisted That 'We're Not In A Recession'."# This most recent instance of avoiding the truth had rather large consequences, an almost 700-point drop in the stock market on Monday. To quote:
Earlier today, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) announced that “the U.S. has been in a recession since December 2007, making official what most Americans have already believed about the state of the economy.” The group, which the White House has previously pointed to as the determinative body for declaring a recession, said in a statement that the “decline in economic activity” after Dec. ‘07 “was large enough to qualify as a recession.”
White House Deputy Press Secretary Tony Fratto commented on the news “without ever actually using the word ‘recession.’” Instead, Fratto released a statement saying the White House was focused on what they “can do for the economy right now.”
It’s not surprising that Fratto would avoid the word “recession.” Though economic analysts and experts were predicting in late 2007 and early 2008 that the U.S. economy was likely to face a recession, Fratto declared on Jan. 8, 2008, “I don’t know of anyone predicting a recession.”
Democratic leaders and lawmakers are being forced to deal with the truth. The economic meltdown persists and ever-widening ripples affect state and local circumstances. President-elect Obama is doing his part, and Congress will be getting back to work on it this week. Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was to meet with Governors association leaders to discuss their states' needs that could be included in any possible stimulus package. The ideas include transportation and infrastructure projects that are ready to go, and help with Medicaid shortfalls. The President- and Vice-President-elect are set to meet with the Governors' representatives today, Tuesday. If everything worked perfectly, such a multi billion dollar economic stimulus bill would land on President-elect Obama's desk the day he takes office. Congressional Quarterly Politics has the details.
What should Congress do about the ailing auto industry? The auto executives' last appearances before Congressional committees presented a very discouraging picture of lagging behind, staying in denial, and succumbing to greed. Committee members were not impressed and told them to come back with something reflecting a more realistic picture. Tuesday is the due date for the Big Three car makers to present their separate plans to Congress in order to receive financial aid. To quote the Politico article:
Detroit’s Big Three take center stage in Congress this week, with Democrats working to stave off bankruptcy but insisting that any government loans will be callable if a company fails to live up to the restructuring plans due Tuesday. . . . But with new unemployment numbers due Friday, the immediate priority for Democrats is keeping the companies afloat through the first quarter of 2009 and thereby buying time for the new Obama administration to get its feet on the ground and address the situation.
. . . This week’s hearings — beginning Wednesday at the Senate Banking Committee and then Friday before the House Financial Services Committee — are pivotal given the political landscape. And even if the leadership opts to press ahead with an aid package, it could become entwined with other demands by states for aid to help with food banks and health care for the poor.
Monday’s official confirmation that the nation is in recession punctuated bad economic reports for manufacturing and construction — followed by a nearly 680-point drop in the stock market.
It does not look very good for Charley Rangel. The truth of the matter is not yet known. Because he is facing an enlarging Ethics Committee investigation for several alleged instances of wrong-doing, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi faces pressure to replace Rangel (D-NY) as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. The investigation could be settled before the end of the 110th Congress on January 3, but it is not a sure thing. Tuesday's Politico story by John Bresnahan explores Rangel's concerted challenge of the truthfulness of The New York Times, which recently exposed new potential ethics problems for Rangel. And Republicans, of course, are all over those problems.
Democrats also face their own internal divisions in Congress. Politico has a good analysis of how that the differences might play out. To quote:
With nearly complete control of Washington for the first time in three decades, Democrats are entering a treacherous power zone in which many of their priorities could easily be undone by the geographic, demographic and ideological factions that compete for supremacy within the party.
Unless Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) can whip their caucuses into unity, numerous fault lines will be revealed: Southern Democrats vs. Northern liberals on labor law; California greens vs. Rust Belt Democrats on global warming; socialized medicine adherents vs. go-slow health care reformers; anti-war liberals vs. cautious centrists on national security. And don’t forget the anti-bailout crowd vs. the powerful Michigan Democrats in both chambers when it comes to money for Detroit.
Republicans insist they will fight for their issues when they can, but they also might simply take a front-row seat to see if Democrats implode.
The truth is coming out. OCP will not change, nor will his legacy. The economic crisis will not improve very much between now and January 20. And by then, most of the money in the bailout bill will have been spent by Henry Paulson. There will be none available to help states and local governments. That must wait for a new Congress and a new president. Truthfully, the auto makers could also be forced to wait. Speaker Pelosi, rightfully, must wait for her Ethics Committee members to decide what is the truth of Rangel's troubles. And both Senate and House leaders will have to accept the truth of how weak or strong are their law-making majorities. It will be very interesting to watch it all play out.
Hat Tip Key: Regular contributors of links to leads are "betmo"* and Jon#.
(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)