Let’s Talk About Jobs & Unemployment

‎”The Republicans have no credibility on deficits. The Republicans have no credibility on national security. For decades, both have been all but ceded as Republican strengths, despite plenty of evidence that they shouldn’t be. On those issues, Democrats have often played on the Republican home field, to the detriment of everyone. The Republicans would like for the same dynamic to pertain on the economy and unemployment. At the end of last week, while President Obama was enjoying the early indications of what we now know is a substantial post-Convention bounce, Republicans rejoiced at the release of a lousy jobs report. They were sure that would deflate what they deluded themselves into believing was but a temporary Obama polling bubble. It’s the economy, stupid—Republicans rejoiced. And it is the economy. And unemployment still will be one of the key issues in this election, up and down the ballot. But not in the way Republicans think.

President Obama and the Democrats have tried to pass jobs bills. The Republicans killed the American Jobs Act. The Republicans killed the jobs bill that would have repaired our badly crumbling national infrastructure. The Republicans killed the jobs bill that would have given tax cuts to small businesses that create jobs. They’re even holding up a bill specifically designed to create jobs for military veterans. The Republicans don’t care about creating jobs. Republicans do care about playing politics over jobs, obstructing bills that would actually create jobs so they can exploit the lack of jobs for political gain.”


Taking Us Back to 1897

We’ve been listening to the GOP and their Tea Party brethren talk about “taking our country back” and most folks have wondered “from what?”  But the question isn’t “from what?” … it’s “to when?”  And now, FOXnew has given us the answer …. 1897.

I’m surprised they didn’t include a bullet point denoting the elimination of laws prohibiting child labor as well.

Absolutely none of those bullet points would increase job growth, but they would improve the ability of Corporations to further subjugate their all-white-male workforces.  If you’re female, or if your skin has any tinge of color … good luck getting a job at all.

If these guys get their way they might as well rename our country to the United Corporations of America, because this will no longer resemble the country in which we grew up and we can mourn the American Dream as they will have effectively slaughtered it.

Under the Reading Lamp — 10/24/2010

Why (Almost) Everything Women Are Told About Work Is Wrong
That’s the message of the career advice book Rachel and I are working on together, and that’s the message of this new report from nonprofit research group Catalyst. Despite all the advice women receive telling them that they fall behind men in the workplace because they don’t ask for raises; because they don’t network; because they don’t promote themselves, it turns out that women actually do all of these things, as much as or more than men. The problem isn’t us, it’s them.

Defending Bloated Military Spending
Ryan Alexander, News Analysis: “Had the political leaders tackling our budget mess visited this spectacle, they would have gotten a good lesson on federal spending. The Pentagon’s budget stands the risk of being subjected to a process known as ‘sequestration,’ which would impose $600 billion in defense cuts over 10 years if Congress doesn’t approve a $1.2-trillion deficit-slashing plan that the panel of lawmakers known as the super-committee will propose later this year. In his address to the convention, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called this plan a ‘doomsday mechanism.’”

Bank of America Makes 6.2 Billion Tax Free Dollars in Third Quarter Profits
Brian Walker, News Report: Bank of America reported $6.2 billion in third quarter gains this year, nearly recouping a $7.3 billion loss from the same time last year. Bank of America ceded its ranking as the largest bank to J.P. Morgan & Co after CEO Brian Moynihan began a campaign of mass asset sales in an effort to boost the bank’s capital. Moynihan has suggested that new regulations mean the bank will have to start charging fees for services that have traditionally been free, such as debit cards and checking accounts.

Republicans in Congress Are in a Quandary on Jobs
Kathleen Hennessey, News Report: “[Republican Rep.] Tom Rooney’s candid assessment puts a fine point on the political predicament facing GOP lawmakers when it comes to jobs bills. With President Barack Obama touring the country to sell his $447 billion plan, Republicans increasingly are under pressure to present an alternative vision for reviving the economy. For months, the party has focused on shrinking the government, sparking ugly battles with Democrats over the budget and the debt ceiling.”

Without Credit Card Donations, WikiLeaks Facing Funding Crisis
Mark Seibel, News Report: “WikiLeaks, the whistleblower website that has been at the center of some of the world’s most controversial news for the past 18 months, is facing dire economic times, largely, the website says, because Visa, MasterCard and PayPal have refused for more than 10 months to process donations made on its behalf. The total financial cost of what WikiLeaks calls a blockade is uncertain, but the lack of resources mixed with turmoil that has surrounded the organization has kept the website from accepting new documents from would-be leakers for much of the year, its spokesman says.”

Captured Government’s Increasing Irrelevance Shows Occupy’s Importance
Dave Johnson, Op-Ed: “Our captured political institutions make themselves increasingly irrelevant by not addressing the problems of the 99%. Each day we see more examples of our government being ‘captured’ by and serving the interests of the top 1% against the rest of us. Even as more and more people take to the streets in protest, Washington ignores We, the People, continuing to serve only the top few.

Throw Them Out With the Trash
What the Occupy Wall Streeters are beginning to discover, and homeless people have known all along, is that most ordinary, biologically necessary activities are illegal when performed in American streets – not just peeing, but sitting, lying down, and sleeping.

Robert Reich | The Flat-Tax Fraud, and the Necessity of a Truly Progressive Tax
Robert Reich, Op-Ed: “Herman Cain’s bizarre 9-9-9 plan would replace much of the current tax code with a 9 percent individual income tax and a 9 percent sales tax. He calls it a ‘flat tax.’ Next week Rick Perry is set to announce his own version of a flat tax. Former House majority leader Dick Armey – now chairman of Freedom Works, a major backer of the Tea Party funded by the Koch Brothers and other portly felines (I didn’t say ‘fat cats’) — predicts this will give Perry ‘a big boost.’”

Occupy the Mortgage Lenders
Simon Johnson, Op-Ed: “Participants in the Occupy Wall Street movement are right to argue that the big banks have never properly been investigated for the mortgage origination, aggregation, and securitization behavior that was central to the financial crisis – and to the loss of more than eight million jobs. But, thanks to the efforts of New York’s attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, and others, serious discussion has started in the United States about an out-of court mortgage settlement between state attorney generals and prominent financial-sector firms.”

Sending Troops Home Could Pave Way for More Non-Competitive Defense Contracting
R. Jeffrey Smith, News Analysis: “Out go all the U.S. troops by year’s end, President Obama said Friday about Iraq. And in go the contractors, along with some familiar contracting problems, say other government officials and independent experts. As the United States pulls out its remaining 50,000 or so troops after a decade of conflict costing around $1 trillion, many of the soldiers’ non-fighting functions will be pursued by a force of State Department-funded government contractors expected to near 15,000.”

Is the National Security Complex Too Big to Fail?
Tom Engelhardt, Op-Ed: “Whatever Washington turned over to the banks, the Complex has it so much easier. After all, its managers essentially pay themselves more or less what they desire in the name of supporting the troops and promoting American safety. Yes, our congressional representatives officially dole out the money, but they have little choice when it comes to offering less than what’s asked of them. And presidential election campaigns always lock candidates into yet more of the same.”

Shocking Report Reveals the Pentagon’s Addiction to Fraudulent Contractors
George Zornick, News Analysis: “The report, released today, showed that hundreds of defense contractors found guilty of civil fraud received more than $1.1 trillion in defense contracts since 2001. The study took into account only companies that were found to have defrauded taxpayers of more than $1 million dollars.More than $573 billion went directly to companies that were guilty of defrauding taxpayers, and when you factor in the awards that went to the parent companies of those contractors, the total is $1.1 trillion.”

The Choice Between Democracy and Autocracy
David Sirota, Op-Ed: “This might all sound like Medieval Europe, but it’s not. It’s America circa 2011, as these clashes are now taking place everywhere. Alas, it’s a predictable situation. Horrifying economic inequality has prompted the bottom 99 percent of income earners to finally exercise their constitutional rights to protest. In response, the nobles in the top 1 percent are demanding their political puppets make clear that such dissent will not be tolerated — and they expect their demands to be followed.”

Montana Looks North for Health Care That Works
Rebecca Leischer, News Report: “A little over a decade ago he was busing Montana senior citizens to Canada to fill their prescriptions at reasonable prices—a way of protesting the American pharmaceutical industry. Now, Montana governor Brian Schweitzer is planning to establish a state-wide universal health care system modeled after that of the state’s Canadian neighbor, Saskatchewan. The governor, a Democrat, announced last month he will seek a waiver from the federal government to design his own health care system in Montana.”

Robert Reich | The Austerity Death-Trap
Robert Reich, Op-Ed: “Under these circumstances, the harder a country works to cut its debt, the worse the ratio becomes — because the economy shrinks even faster. The only way out of this vicious cycle is for the government – the spender of last resort – to boost the economy. The regressives are all calling for the opposite. But even without these hare-brained Republican plans, we’re heading in their direction anyway. Unless Republicans agree to a budget deal before the end of the year (don’t hold your breath), the temporary payroll tax cuts and extended unemployment benefits we have now will end.”

Republican Field Shies Away From History on Insurance Mandate
Wendell Potter, News Analysis: “In the Republican presidential debate Tuesday night, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich acknowledged, apparently in an unguarded moment, that a core element of “ObamaCare,” the requirement that all Americans be enrolled in either a private or public health insurance plan, was a proposal originated by the Heritage Foundation, a powerful conservative think tank. I’m sure the other presidential hopefuls on the stage in Las Vegas were holding their breath.”

Progress on government transparency threatened by proposed budget cuts

Alexandra Duszak | iWatchNews:  “Groups pushing for more government transparency agree with the Obama administration’s recent self-assessment that  progress is being made —but budget-cutting efforts on Capitol Hill could threaten both recent gains and the prospect of future progress.”

Robert Reich | The 7 Biggest Economic Lies
“The President’s Jobs Bill doesn’t have a chance in Congress — and the Occupiers on Wall Street and elsewhere can’t become a national movement for a more equitable society – unless more Americans know the truth about the economy.

Here’s a short (2 minute 30 second) effort to rebut the seven biggest whoppers now being told by those who want to take America backwards.”

Billionaire Tycoon Claps For Herman Cain’s Attacks On Occupy Wall Street Movement
Lee Fang, News Analysis: “Many people in the crowd began clapping for Cain’s response. But one person in particular stood out: casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson. Adelson owns casinos in Las Vegas and China, including the Venetian, where the debate was held tonight. Adelson has served as a major donor to far-right causes. This New Yorker profile reveals Adelson’s many years of funding stealth attack group and Bush-era Republican politicians.

Super Congress Hauls in Super Donations as Special Interests Try to Influence Budget Cuts
Aaron Mehta and Josh Israel, News Analysis: “Formed as part of a compromise in late July between Republicans and Democrats in Congress, the committee faces a serious uphill task: they must come up with $1.5 trillion or more in budget savings, enough to match increases in the government’s ability to borrow enough money to pay its bills through the beginning of 2013. It requires a bipartisan majority of at least seven of the committee’s 12 members to recommend legislation to be presented to the whole Congress for an up-or-down vote by Dec. 23.”

House GOP Wants to Waive Environmental Laws on US Borders
Rob Hotakainen, McClatchy Newspapers | Report: “In a move aimed at improving national security, House Republicans want to give the U.S. Border Patrol unprecedented authority to ignore 36 environmental laws on federal land in a 100-mile zone stretching along the Canadian and Mexican borders.”

Graphic | Border zone bill would waive environmental laws — In Washington state alone, the zone would apply to about 1/2 of the land area within the state and would include three of the largest cities and it’s capital.

Hispanic Alabama Schoolchildren Face Bullying In The Wake Of Anti-Immigrant Law
Ian Millhiser | ThinkProgress: “In a sadly predictable development, Hispanic public school students in Alabama — some of whom are United States citizens — are now facing racially motivated bullying in the wake of the state’s unconstitutional attack on undocumented school children”

Effort to Cut Medicare, Medicaid & UEC Waste

September 14, 2011
Contact: HHS Press Office
(202) 690-6343

Vice President Biden announces over $2 billion in anti-waste measures at Cabinet meeting

New initiatives led by campaign to cut waste will save Medicaid waste and strengthen partnership with states to reduce improper unemployment insurance payments

WASHINGTON – At the White House today, Vice President Biden convened a cabinet meeting to discuss waste reduction at federal agencies as part of the administration’s Campaign to Cut Waste. The vice president announced a new initiative to fight waste in Medicaid that is estimated to save taxpayers over $2 billion, unveiled new efforts to track state progress in reducing improper unemployment insurance payments, and directed each Cabinet secretary to undertake a waste and efficiency review that will target unnecessary, wasteful, and inefficient federal spending.

“Today’s announcements on cutting waste in Medicare, Medicaid and Unemployment Insurance shows that we can make our government more efficient and responsible to the American people,” said Vice President Biden.  “If we’re going to spur jobs and economic growth and restore long-term fiscal solvency, we need to make sure hard-earned tax dollars don’t go to waste.”

Joined by Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the vice president discussed a new initiative to fight waste and fraud in Medicaid that will save taxpayers an estimated $2.1 billion.  HHS today released its final rule for the Medicaid Recovery Audit Contractor Program, a waste-cutting program created by the Affordable Care Act. HHS projects the program will save $2.1 billion over the next five years, of which $900 million will be returned to states.  The new program is based on the successful Medicare Recovery Audit Contractor program, which the vice president announced has already recovered nearly $670 million to date in 2011 – increasing the taxpayer dollars recovered by nearly 800 percent compared to 2010.

“Today we are building on an already successful program that targets improper payments in our health care programs and recovers those dollars, making Medicare and Medicaid more reliable and responsible,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “We simply can’t afford to see even one penny of our health care dollars wasted and expanding this program will help us reach that goal.”

The vice president also unveiled new Labor Department efforts to reduce improper Unemployment Insurance payments and hold states accountable for progress as part of the administration’s comprehensive efforts to crack down on waste, fraud and abuse. Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis joined the vice president to discuss the department’s next steps in combating these improper payments:

  • A New Transparency Initiative to Make It Clear Where States Stand: The Department of Labor is launching a new effort to clearly show every state’s performance on improper payments.  The agency unveiled an online map that will show citizens their state’s payment errors, which types of problems are driving its error rate, and the steps it has taken to address its rate.
  • Comprehensive Turnaround Plans for High Priority States: DOL has identified six high priority states — Virginia, Indiana, Colorado, Washington, Louisiana, and Arizona — based on their high rate of improper payments. DOL is working with these states to ensure they develop a comprehensive turnaround plan to reduce their improper payments. In addition, high-performing states will be paired with these states to offer guidance and aid as the plans are developed and implemented.  High priority states will be subject to additional monitoring and technical assistance until they achieve an improper payment rate under 10 percent and sustain that performance for at least six months.
  • New Awards to States to Automate and Improve Unemployment Insurance Data Collection:  The Department of Labor today awarded nearly $92 million to 42 states to implement waste-cutting initiatives and improve the Unemployment Insurance program, including upgrading technology systems to more accurately collect data and process claims.

These steps build on other efforts to address improper payments the administration launched earlier this year.

“The Unemployment Insurance system is a unique partnership between the federal government and the states. States bear the responsibility of operating an efficient and effective benefits program, but as partners the federal government must be able to hold them accountable for doing so,” said Secretary Solis. “These new measures, demonstrate our commitment to working closely with states to ensure the integrity of the system, turnaround underperforming programs and save taxpayer dollars.”

Finally, as part of efforts to cut waste and inefficient spending, the vice president asked the Cabinet to report back on wasteful and inefficient agency spending on travel, auto fleets, publications, and office equipment and supplies, from cell phones to software, or in any other areas identified by agencies.

The vice president highlighted the Department of Homeland Security’s Efficiency Review as a model effort. Since 2009, the agency has identified more than $1 billion in cost avoidances and implemented 30 efficiency initiatives across the agency – from buying software licenses in bulk to using government offices for meetings instead of renting private space.  As a result of these savings and other ongoing efficiency initiatives, the agency’s 2012 budget request included more than $800 million in reductions.  As he did with the Recovery Act, the vice president called on secretaries to be personally involved in these reviews, and will hold cabinet members personally responsible for the performance and results of the process.

“Over the last two years, we have made an unprecedented commitment to efficiency in order to support frontline operations by building a culture of fiscal discipline and accountability throughout the department,” said Secretary Napolitano. “Through the Department of Homeland Security’s Efficiency Review, we’ve taken a hard look at how we do business, and identified ways to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of limited taxpayer dollars we receive.”

As part of the launch of the Campaign to Cut Waste in June, the president asked the vice president to take on a new role holding the Cabinet accountable for cutting waste in their agencies – part of the administration’s ongoing effort to make government more efficient and responsive to the American people. The vice president will hold regular Cabinet waste cutting meetings and is working closely with Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew and the administration’s Chief Performance Officer Jeffrey Zients to root out waste across the agencies and make government work for America’s families.

“We have made great strides in the last two years – shrinking contract spending for the first time in 13 years, identifying $3 billion in cost reductions from information technology projects across government, and getting rid of property we no longer need,” said Lew. “Particularly now in these challenging fiscal times, it is critical that each and every member of the Cabinet take personal ownership of aggressively rooting out waste and being vigilant stewards of taxpayer dollars.”


Under the Reading Lamp: 8/17/2011

Sanders says he doesn’t know who would step up to primary Obama
Sen. Bernie Sanders said he still supports the concept of a primary challenge for Obama, because, Sanders said, even Republicans have done a better job of keeping their campaign promises than Obama.

DAILY KOS: Medicare: Why is it on the table?
Let’s at the outset establish something about entitlements: Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are not the same program, don’t have the same financing, don’t have the same problems and don’t have the same solutions. That’s important, because it’s easy to start talking about one and slip into talking about another. The complexities of individual state-supported Medicaid won’t be covered today at all, and for the purposes of today’s discussion, let’s just get Social Security off the table, just like Congress ought to do.

Daily Kos: Republicans directly to blame for S&P credit downgrade

It is now becoming readily apparent that yes, rational policy makers, economists, and business leaders do very much resent the moronic stances of the current Republican Party, and have no particular interest in seeing them continue.

What Happened in Wisconsin? We Don’t Know, and That’s Not Good
The results of our exit polling are presented below.In every case there are sizeable disparities between the computer-tabulated votecount percentages and the percentages indicated by our exit polls respondents.And in every case the disparity is a “red shift,” the votecount percentages more favorable to the Repub candidate than are the exit poll percentages. the disparities indicated below may be considered “orange flags,” suggestive of at least the possibility of widespread computerized mistabulation, and indicative that follow-up voter canvassing is warranted. In addition, analysis of prior voting patterns,turnout anomalies,and other data is being undertaken.We hope to continue to build the awareness and involvement on the part of citizens of WI and America that will be needed to preserve our democracy through the restoration of observable vote counting and honest elections.

Romney says corporations are people, so why aren’t HMO hoodlums going to jail?

Mitt Romney’s quote about corporations as people raises the question of why all the HMO hoodlums, caught stealing from taxpayers multiple times, aren’t in jail. Obama, the Republicans and the big insurance companies are complicitly hiding the dirty secrets of the privatization of Medicaid and Medicare.

Smoke Screen
Scattered throughout Afghanistan, the U.S. military’s burn pits have added their own unique mix to the pollution, in blatant contravention of environmental laws the U.S. applies to itself.  A lawsuit filed last year in the U.S. by Burke PLLC and later joined by Motley Rice Attorneys at Law, one of the nation’s largest plaintiffs’ litigation firms, contends that Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR) and its former parent company, the military contractor Halliburton, exposed servicemen and women and civilian contractors to huge quantities of toxic dust, fumes and other air pollutants by unsafely burning garbage in burn pits. The litigation mentioned burn pits at Bagram Airbase, Forward Operating Base Salerno, Kandahar Airbase, and many others in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Robert Reich | How Austerity Is Ushering in A Global Recession
Robert Reich, Op-Ed: “The United States has been moving in the same bizarre direction. Cutbacks by state and local governments have all but negated the federal government’s original stimulus, and no one in Washington is talking seriously about a second. The pitiful showdown over increasing the debt limit has produced the opposite: a Rube-Goldberg-like process for capping spending rather than increasing it, and a public that’s being sold the Republican lie that less government spending means more jobs.”

Robert Scheer | The Biggest Little Hypocrite in Texas
Robert Scheer, Op-Ed: As a bit of irony, it was U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, who pioneered the passage of federal legislation preventing government oversight of those mortgage-backed securities. Perhaps because Texas homeowners were better protected than those in the rest of the nation, the Texan Bush managed to be splendidly indifferent during his presidency to the dire consequence of the housing bubble. Indeed, how can Perry seek the presidency largely on the basis of his Texas governorship without conceding that it is his Texas predecessor, himself purely a product of Texas state government, who is far more responsible for the economic meltdown than the current president?

Jim Hightower | ‘Governor Supercuts’ for President?
Jim Hightower, Op-Ed: “Perry is an exuberant corporate Republican, unabashedly hugging any big business lobbyist bearing a campaign check and a wish list. Although he dresses alluringly for the right-wing extremists, the corporate powers are his true love — and vice versa. Even though he’s entering the GOP primary late, with little time to put together a national campaign, The New York Times notes that Perry has, “a vast network of wealthy supporters eager to bankroll his presidential ambitions. Why? Because he’s already proven to be a trusted peer of the corporate-political establishment.”

Texas’ Low-Paying Jobs Are Not The Whole Story
Mitchell Schnurman, News Analysis: As Gov. Rick Perry ramps up his campaign for the presidency, critics are seizing on the fact that the state has created hundreds of thousands of minimum-wage jobs during his tenure, including many without benefits. Texas and Mississippi have the highest share of this low-paid workforce: 9.5 percent of all hourly employees were paid the minimum wage or less last year, compared with 6 percent of workers nationwide.

How Safe Are You?
Christopher Hellman, Op-Ed: “In the decade before the 9/11 attacks, the Pentagon base budget added up to an impressive $4.2 trillion, only one-third less than for the past decade. But add in the cost of the Afghan and Iraq wars and total Pentagon spending post-9/11 is actually two-thirds greater than in the previous decade. That’s quite a jump. As for homeland-security funding, spending figures for the years prior to 2000 are hard to identify because the category didn’t exist (nor did anyone who mattered in Washington even think to use that word “homeland”). But there can be no question that whatever it was, it would pale next to present spending.”

Republicans Call Out Buffett For Views On Wealthy Taxpayers
Kim Geiger, News Report: “This is not the first time that Buffett, a friend and donor to Obama, has used his personal tax bill – and those of his employees – to make the case that super-wealthy Americans are under-taxed. In 2007, Buffett raised the issue at a fundraiser for then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, arguing that secretaries pay higher tax rates than their millionaire bosses and offering to pay $1 million to anyone who could prove him wrong. This time, Buffett’s words come as a bipartisan committee of 12 members of Congress sets out to trim the federal budget gap by $1.5 trillion over 10 years, with the growing national debt becoming a central issue as the 2012 presidential race heats up.”

Kucinich to Obama: Free Trade = Fewer U.S. Jobs
Dennis Kucinich, Letter: “We cannot have a strong economy without a strong manufacturing base. Investments to put Americans back to work by rebuilding our infrastructure would be beneficial for manufacturing. However, these investments will be significantly undermined by the passage of free agreements which will further damage our manufacturing sector. Two-thirds of the more than 2.3 million American jobs displaced between 2001-2007 as a result of the U.S.-China Free Trade Agreement were in the manufacturing sector. This has resulted in the outsourcing of hundreds of thousands of American jobs.”

True Cost of Afghan, Iraq Wars is Anyone’s Guess
Nancy A. Youssef, News Analysis: “How much do the wars actually cost the U.S. taxpayer? Nobody really knows. Yes, Congress has allotted $1.3 trillion for war spending through fiscal year 2011 just to the Defense Department. There are long Pentagon spreadsheets that outline how much of that was spent on personnel, transportation, fuel and other costs. In a recent speech, President Barack Obama assigned the wars a $1 trillion price tag. But all those numbers are incomplete. Besides what Congress appropriated, the Pentagon spent an additional unknown amount from its $5.2 trillion base budget over that same period.”

Riots and the Underclass; The View from America
Alexander Cockburn, Op-Ed: “Twenty years ago, conservative criminologists here were drawing up graphic scenarios of cities held hostage by gangs of feral black youth. City police forces compiled vast computer data banks of “gangs” and suspects linked to a gang drew heavier sentences, shoved into a penal system where remedial counseling and post release job training had vanished. Simultaneous to the drop in violent crime rates, has come the discovery that America can’t afford to lock up 2.3 million people for years on end. It’s too expensive.”

FBI Brags About Chasing Down Mortgage Fraudsters But Big Banks Are Left Untouched
Ben Hallman and Michael Hudson, News Analysis: “In a new report , the Federal Bureau of Investigation pats itself on the back for using “sophisticated investigative techniques” to target mortgage fraudsters. The FBI’s 2010 “Year in Review” mortgage fraud report says the agency has used wiretaps, undercover operatives and “tactical analysis coupled with advanced statistical correlations and computer technologies.” Not everyone is impressed. Consumer advocates say the FBI is missing the big picture, focusing its investigative muscle on small-time crooks and turning a blind eye to misconduct by big banks.”

Democrats Must Push Back
Norman Solomon, Op-Ed: “The negative trends in the Nation’s Capital are mostly due to extreme GOP ideologues in Congress. But they’ve been enabled by too many Democrats who keep giving ground while Republican leaders refuse to give an inch. ‘A day after signing legislation that raised the government debt ceiling and authorized steep budget cuts,” the satirical magazine reported, “President Obama thanked Democrats as well as Democrats for their willingness to make tough, but necessary, concessions during negotiations.’”

Juan Cole | President Bachmann: Another Mideast Messiah
Juan Cole, Op-Ed: “Michele Bachmann made waves in June when she said in an interview, “I’m tired of Afghanistan and Iraq, too. I think we need to get out. I think Afghanistan is—on many, many levels, it doesn’t seem we’re gaining any ground. I want to reduce U.S. exposure in Afghanistan. So, let’s get them [U.S. troops] out as quickly as we can.” This quote is often now taken out of context, and in conjunction with her opposition to the NATO intervention in Libya, to suggest that she is a neo-isolationist. But other statements make it clear that Bachmann is actually no more eager to get out of Afghanistan and Iraq than are the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”

The Jobs Question
Robert Borosage, Op-Ed: “Twenty-five million Americans are in need of full time work. One in four teenagers not in college can’t find a job. Wages aren’t keeping up with prices. Our trade deficit is rising, as more and more good jobs get shipped abroad. It’s projected that a staggering 48 percent of homes with mortgages could be underwater – worth less than the mortgage – by the end of the year. Moreover, there is no recovery to an old, healthy economy. The old economy didn’t work for most Americans even when it was growing. The cancer was spreading before it metastasized in the financial panic. In the so-called Bush recovery years before the collapse, the few captured all the rewards of growth.”

Special Ops: The New Face of War
John Grant, Op-Ed: How does modern warfare in a nation-state system that evolved out of feudalism continue to evolve as new communication systems increase? What does modern warfare look like as that nation state system breaks down, to be replaced by a confusing, “globalized” world of power centers and power vacuums? The answer for the United States seems to be a growing concentration on what is known as Special Operations, which includes Special Forces, Seals and a host of other lethal military forces that emphasize mobility, efficiency, secrecy and unaccountability.”

New Study Blames Human Beings for Ice Melt
Richard Mauer, News Analysis: “About half the recent record loss of Arctic sea ice can be blamed on global warming caused by human activity, according to a new study by scientists from the nation’s leading climate research center. The peer-reviewed study, funded by the National Science Foundation is the first to attribute a specific proportion of the ice melt to greenhouse gases and particulates from pollution. The study used supercomputers and one of the world’s most sophisticated climate models to reach its conclusions, said lead author Jennifer Kay, a staff scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. The paper was published last week in the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters.”

Jim Hightower | The Illegal Foreclosure Epidemic
Jim Hightower, Op-Ed: “That’s the virtue of the “ouchie” that Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and other big financiers got last year when they ran into the law after racing wildly through home foreclosure paperwork. They were caught falsifying thousands of documents and taking illegal shortcuts that were causing innocent families to lose their homes. They had to pay fines, make restitution, suspend foreclosures, and pledge to clean up their act. But at least they learned their lesson. Oh, but wait …”

President Obama Joins the Cult of Economics Deniers
Dean Baker, Op-Ed: “President Obama is no longer paying attention to economists and economics in designing economic policy. Instead, he will do what his campaign people tell him will get him re-elected, presumably by getting lots of money from Wall Street. resident Obama intends to focus on reducing government spending and cutting programs like Social Security and Medicare. In other words, President Obama intends to ignore the path for getting the economy back to full employment that most economists advocate. Instead he is going to cut government spending because his chief of staff and former J.P. Morgan vice-president Bill Daley and his top campaign adviser David Plouffe both say this is a good idea.”

Our World in a Few Pictures

First … we have an unbelievable income dispartity between ordinary Americans and the super-rich …

Of the richest 10% … well, they control approximately two-thirds of America’s net worth …

Perceptions are not the actual reality …

And given our war on this, war on that, winner takes it all focus, who do you think has been taking it all?

So … who’s winning and who’s losing the ‘battle’?


Are you outraged yet?  The GOP is vehemently attempting to eliminate unions, the last bastion of protections for the working class so they can complete their pillaging of America.  They’re not out to protect America’s liberty and freedom, their out to turn our nation in to a plutocracy, one governed by and for the super-rich and at the expense of it’s mere peons … that would be you.

Wake up America, before it’s too late to overcome the avalanche that will become America’s dark ages.  For the first time in America’s history, today’s children absolutely have less hope of doing just as well as their parents, let along better.  If we let the GOP do their bidding, it lead only to the death of what once was a great nation.

My point … and for further reading:

News in Brief–11/29/2010

Obama to Freeze Federal Worker Pay

President Obama, today, announced plans for a 2-year pay freeze for civilian federal workers in an effort to curb an increasing deficit [NYTimes]. His proposal will eliminate a 1.4% across-the-board pay raise scheduled for 2011 for 2.1 million civilian federal government employees (the freeze wouldn’t apply to uniformed military personnel). It would also mean government workers would see no raises in 2012 either. It’s estimated that the freeze would save more than $60 billion over the next 10 years.

With the deficit citing at $1.3T, the pay freeze will save $2 billion in the current fiscal year that ends in September 2011.  That’s just a tiny little blip in budgetary expenses and it’s anti-stimulative.  Plus, with the National Debt rapidly approaching the legislated debt ceiling of $14.3T, $60B over the next 10 years isn’t going to make any type of sizable dent in rectifying the financial abyss into which we’re rapidly descending.

So, why did President Obama propose this today?  Does he expect to get anything in return?  If everything goes as it has over the first two years of his presidency, we can expect to see him get bumpkiss.

Unemployment Benefits to End for 1.2 Million Americans

As indicated in an earlier post, tomorrow, just a week after corporations posted their biggest profits ever, 1.2 million Americans, who cannot find gainful employment, will lose their unemployment benefits.

Republicans are already indicating they will vote once again, en bloc, to oppose any further extension of unemployment benefits, unless of course, they’re paid for.  Well, the President has already proposed a 2-year pay freeze for federal workers without conditioning that freeze on the passage of any bill.  You can bet your bottom dollar that they’ll not let Democrats use that freeze as a budgetary offset for unemployment since President Obama already couched that freeze in terms of deficit and debt reduction.

As Democrats, we appear not to understand ‘when to hold them’ and only let go of ‘them’ when we have something for which to trade ‘them.’  We just keep giving things up for nothing in return.  So you can bet, the Senate Republicans will vote en bloc tomorrow or sometime this week to disallow any further extensions of unemployment benefits.

Republican Obsession with Tax Cut Extensions for the Richest 2%

Now, given the Republican obsession with paying for an extension of unemployment benefits, one would think they would be equally obsessed with paying for an extension of any tax cuts as well.  Well, think again.  These are the guys who campaigned and won their seats in the next Congress based on doing what is fiscally responsible for this nation … and the first thing they’re not only planning to do, but are demanding that is done, is to extend and make permanent the tax policies that took this nation from having a budget surplus and a debt of $5.4T, to a nation that has a $1.3T budget and that is $14.3T in debt.

Over the next couple of weeks, expect to see the Republican caucuses in both Houses of Congress throwing one hissy fit after another without offering up one single budgetary offset.  You can also expect to see them attempt to hold any extension of unemployment compensation benefits hostage, unless they get to make the Bush tax cuts for the upper 2% permanent.  The other thing you can expect to see is Democrats begin to cave on the upper-limit of those receiving tax cuts.  They’re already floating bumping the $250K target up to $1M, but the revenue loss from raising the threshold from $250,000 to $1 million would be significant.  Leaving the threshold at $250K, would generate $70oB toward retiring some of our national debt over just the next 10 years.

Where’s My Health Care?

Dr. Andrew P. Harris (Representative-elect R-MD) arrived in Washington for his orientation session and made quite a stir when he demanded to know why he had to wait 30 days before his health insurance would take effect, and why he couldn’t buy into it to cover himself during the waiting period.  All of this hubbub was created by a man who campaigned against health care reform.

All of this … and we haven’t yet gotten to two other big ticket items: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell or the START treaty.

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No Job? No Merry Christmas for You!

Tomorrow, just a week after corporations posted their biggest profits ever, 1.2 million Americans, who cannot find gainful employment, will lose their unemployment benefits.

Looking around the potential employment landscape, you’re lucky to find one job for each five unemployed Americans, and in some areas of the country, odds of finding any job at all are far worse than that.   Thus, no matter how motivated the unemployed are, no matter where they relocate, no matter if they retrain, no matter how willing they are to take minimum wage jobs, for every one unemployed American that finds a job, four will not.

That, however, doesn’t stop people like John Tammy, writing for Forbes, from implying, like Sharron Angle, that people are lazy and would rather sit home and collect unemployment benefits than find a job. From his Nov. 28, 2010 post:

… “unemployment insurance pays individuals out of work to stay unemployed.  Though the benefits aren’t substantial, the funds paid out are a cushion of sorts that make finding the work necessary to feed oneself less of a near-term necessity. Not only does jobless compensation make securing work less of a pressing issue, it also raises the cost of luring workers from the sidelines.  Indeed, in deciding whether to take on new employment, the unemployed must consider the wage offered through the prism of what will be lost thanks to the cessation of government paychecks. Looking at the above, jobless benefits in a very real sense artificially prop up wage demands, and the results are predictable.”

He goes on to say that if we discontinue extensions of unemployment benefits, people would immediately find work” at wages that reflect actual demand for labor in the marketplace.”  In other words, businesses could hire anybody they wanted at minimum wage or less and pocket even greater profits going forward.

I found Mr. Tammy’s article totally revolting.  When exactly was it that we stopped being citizens of a wonderful Country and instead became nothing more than consumers and production workers for corporations to manipulate, use, and abuse?