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Watercooler – October Added Jobs, But Unemployment Remains Steady

7:18 pm in Economy, Executive Branch, Government by Jim Moss

photo: solid state via Flickr

ADP, a privately run employment report, just released it’s findings for October:

Private-sector employment increased by 43,000 from September to October on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the latest ADP report released today. The estimated change of employment from August to September was revised up from the previously reported decline of 39,000 to a smaller decline of 2,000. Since employment began rising in February, the monthly gain has averaged 34,000 with a range of -2,000 to +65,000 during the period.

October’s figure is within this recent range and is consistent with the deceleration of economic growth that occurred in the spring. Employment gains of this magnitude are not sufficient to lower the unemployment rate. Given modest GDP growth in the second and thirds quarters, and the usual lag of employment behind GDP, it would not be surprising to see several more months of lethargic employment gains, even if the economic recovery gathers momentum.

The longer this sloth-like recovery continues, the more people will be dealing with long-term unemployment and will slip over that cliff from middle class into poverty. This isn’t going to be pretty for anyone, but perhaps it will generate enough populist momentum to break the two-party/corporate stranglehold on public policy.

What’s on your mind tonight?

Watercooler – Announcing My Candidacy For President

7:00 pm in Executive Branch, Government, Politics, Progressivism by Jim Moss

photo: afagen via Flickr

This evening, exclusively on MyFDL, I would like to announce that I am throwing my hat in the ring as a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president in the 2012 election. It is my sincere belief that President Barack Obama, along with the Democratic Senators and Representatives who have held majorities for four years, have as a group failed miserably on their promises to change the direction of our great nation.

It is also my sincere belief that the progressive point of view is the most likely source for true reform, but that progressive efforts will be futile if they cannot form alliances with other groups. As a progressive blogger and a pastor in a small-town Presbyterian Church in the South, I believe that I can offer inside perspectives on two different worlds that hold a surprisingly large amount of convictions in common.

Over the coming weeks and months, I will be writing a book (UnCommon Ground) that outlines the theory behind my campaign and practical examples of how to advance the movement. I will also be developing a platform for my campaign to unseat Obama, and I encourage all FDL readers to add their “two cents” to the conversation. Let’s get this fire going!

(OK. I’m not really going to run for president. I have done some foolhardy things in my life, but that would be beyond the pale. But I am going to launch a campaign as if I were. My hope is that a bona fide progressive challenger will eventually emerge – if not to actually win the nomination, at least to force Obama to move to the left to keep his base .

When that person presents themselves, and if her or his platform relatively resembles mine, I will throw my full support that way. But seriously, it is time to light a fire and get more aggressive about getting the progressive message out!)

What’s on your mind tonight?

Watercooler – United States Falls To All-Time Low In Corruption Rankings

7:13 pm in Culture, Government by Jim Moss

Stencil art found on wall in Washington, DC. (photo: IntangibleArts via Flickr)

We’re not as bad as Somalia and Afghanistan, but we’re not that good, either – according to the annual rankings of national corruption done by the Berlin-based group TI:

The United States fell to 22nd from 19th last year, with its CPI score dropping to 7.1 from 7.5 in the 178-nation index, which is based on independent surveys on corruption.

This was the lowest score awarded to the United States in the index’s 15-year history and also the first time it had fallen out of the top 20.

In the Americas, this put the United States behind Canada in sixth place, Barbados at 17th and Chile in 21st place.

Jointly heading the index — in which a score of 10 indicates a country with the highest standards, and 0 as highly corrupt — were Denmark, New Zealand and Singapore with 9.3. They were also at the top of the table last year.

Somalia scored 1.1. The watchdog group said its table was based on “different assessments and business opinion surveys carried out by independent and reputable institutions.”

Anyone care to place a wager on where we’ll stand in another 15 years?

What’s on your mind tonight?

Watercooler – Washington Is Silent On The Alarming New Poverty Numbers

7:38 pm in Economy, Government by Jim Moss

On Thursday, it was announced that 1 in 7 Americans now live in poverty – a disturbing fact which received little attention on Capitol Hill:

The reluctance of political leaders on both sides of the aisle to directly confront the fact that growing numbers of Americans are slipping into poverty reflects a stubborn reality about the poor: They are not much of a political constituency.

"We talk to many people on Capitol Hill who do believe poverty is important and is a blight on our nation," said Weinstein, executive director of the Coalition on Human Needs, an alliance of national organizations that advocates for the poor. "But we are also up against a general recognition that poor people don’t vote in great numbers. And they certainly aren’t going to be making campaign contributions. That definitely puts them behind many other people and interests when decisions are being made around here."

Matthew 25:40 – "Whatever you did for the least of these, you did also for me." I guess Jesus wouldn’t have been much of a politician.

What’s on your mind tonight?

Watercooler – Boehner Admits That Only 3% Of Small Businesses Would Benefit From Extending Tax Cuts

7:00 pm in Business, Economy, Government, Legislature by Jim Moss

Yesterday, John Boehner was challenged by Bob Schieffer with the indisputable fact that only 3% of small businesses would benefit from extending the tax cuts — but he quickly shifted his attention to a different stat and unwittingly revealed his priorities:

Well, it may be three percent (of small businesses), but it’s half of small business income. Because, obviously, the top three percent have half of the gross income for those companies that we would term small businesses. And this is why you don’t want to punish these people at a time when you have a weak economy.

In a later statement, Boehner’s spokesman focused on the second stat without even mentioning the first one.

So let me get this straight: The small businesses that Boehner is worried about are the 3% that make 50% of the income — not the 97% that are really struggling. I guess that makes sense, since he also seems to favor the minority of super-wealthy individuals who hold the vast majority of wealth in this country — not the regular Joes who are getting swamped in this recession. At least he’s consistent.

What’s on your mind tonight?

Watercooler – Less Than Half Of Obama’s Judicial Appointments Have Been Confirmed

8:21 pm in Executive Branch, Government, Judiciary by Jim Moss

For those who believe our federal government is broken, here’s some more evidence:

The Obama administration is aware of the growing alarm over its inability to fill long-standing judicial vacancies. White House officials frequently voice displeasure with the pace, offer heated indictments of the GOP’s stalling tactics, and occasionally threaten to circumvent the Congressional process. But for all the rhetoric, threats and critiques, even sympathetic observers acknowledge that the president is largely powerless (if not helpless) on the matter.

That’s because both he and allies in Congress simply lack the tools to force the Republican Party’s hand.

This past Friday, the Associated Press published a rather shocking report about just how poor Obama’s record on judicial vacancies is. "Fewer than half of Obama’s nominees have been confirmed," the news wire wrote, "102 out of 854 judgeships are vacant," and "forty-seven of those vacancies have been labeled emergencies by the judiciary because of heavy caseloads."

So who’s to blame? Everyone? What’s on your mind tonight?

As Troops Leave Iraq, Why Is Obama Sounding Like A Neocon?

6:04 am in Afghanistan, Countries in Conflict, Executive Branch, Government, Iran, Iraq, Military, Pakistan by Jim Moss

President Obama is looking about ten years older than candidate Obama did – and about ten light years further to the right. In last night’s speech from the Oval Office, when he talked about Iraq, it was as if Obama was accidentally reading one of George Bush’s old speeches:

We have sent our young men and women to make enormous sacrifices in Iraq, and spent vast resources abroad at a time of tight budgets at home. We have persevered because of a belief we share with the Iraqi people –a belief that out of the ashes of war, a new beginning could be born in this cradle of civilization. Through this remarkable chapter in the history of the United States and Iraq, we have met our responsibility. Now, it is time to turn the page.

Then, after acknowledging his disagreement with Bush throughout the war, he turned around and praised the former president:

This afternoon, I spoke to former President George W. Bush. It’s well known that he and I disagreed about the war from its outset. Yet no one could doubt President Bush’s support for our troops, or his love of country and commitment to our security. As I have said, there were patriots who supported this war, and patriots who opposed it. And all of us are united in appreciation for our servicemen and women, and our hope for Iraq’s future.

Without a single hint of irony, Obama drew common cause with the man and the war policy he eviscerated as recently as 2008. The speech consistently reflected neocon talking points such as the need for nation-building and the spread of democracy, and the belief that the Iraqi people will be better off because of the U.S. invasion.  . . . Read the rest of this entry →

Watercooler – Teen Employment At Dismal Low

7:00 pm in Education, Government, Legislature by Jim Moss

Getting a part-time or a summer job used to be a rite of passage for the American teenager. No more:

Summer and after-school jobs have been in decline for the past decade, said Andrew Sum, an economist and director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston. In June 2000, according to Sum’s research, 51 percent of teenagers had jobs. In June 2010, that number fell to 28.6 percent. July’s official unemployment number, which only includes teenagers who are still looking for work, not those who have given up searching, was higher than for any other age group in the country.

The downward trend is largely due to economic forces outside teens’ control, Sum said. The recession of the early 2000s hit teen jobs hard, and they never fully recovered. Even before the current recession, the teen work rate was below 40 percent.

Now, adults are accepting low-paying, low-skill jobs once filled by teens. The problem is further exacerbated by a trend toward downsizing, outsourcing and the use of undocumented immigrant labor in jobs once held by teens, Sum said.

What might seem to be a relatively unimportant problem is actually a troubling sign of how the American economy is changing. We’re not in Kansas anymore.

What’s on your mind tonight?

Watercooler – Obama: There Is No Social Security Crisis

7:00 pm in Financial Crisis, Government, Legislature by Jim Moss

Today, Obama held a backyard discussion in Columbus, Ohio that focused on economic issues. Here’s what he had to say about Social Security:

So here’s the thing.  Social Security is not in crisis.  What is happening is, is that the population is getting older, which means we’ve got more retirees per worker than we used to.  We’re going to have to make some modest adjustments in order to strengthen it.  There are some fairly modest changes that could be made without resorting to any newfangled schemes that would continue Social Security for another 75 years, where everybody would get the benefits that they deserve.

And what we’ve done is we’ve created a fiscal commission of Democrats and Republicans to come up with what would be the best combination to help stabilize Social Security for not just this generation, but the next generation. I’m absolutely convinced it can be done.  And as I said, I want to encourage people to save more on their own, but I don’t want them taking money out of Social Security so that people are putting that into the stock market.  There are other ways of doing this.

Obama was also positive about the economic recovery, brushing aside concerns that we are heading into another collapse.

Is he being falsely optimistic? What’s on your mind tonight?

Watercooler – Legislator Resigns Over “Dead Palin” Remarks

7:00 pm in Government, Politics, Republican Party, State Government by Jim Moss

New Hampshire state representative Timothy Horrigan has stepped down in the midst of outrage over the following Facebook comment:

Just for the record, I don’t wish Sarah Palin dead… but not merely for compassionate reasons. I also want her to live because a living Sarah Palin is less dangerous than a dead one. Her rise to the status of Head Tea Partier had nothing to do with anything she ever said, did or accomplished— but as long as she lives she might be able to say or do things which could serve as a moderating influence. And she also might also commit a gaffe bad enough to shock her followers, though that is unlikely. Unless of course she endorses Obama for President in 2012.

It’s funny how a joke that merely speculates about someone dying costs a politician his job, while failed policies that lead to hundreds and thousands of actual deaths do not.

And why does Horrigan only have 301 Facebook friends? Is he that bad at networking?

What’s on your mind tonight?