December 5, 2008 archive

Hands in the Air- Step Away from the Real Food

Manna Storehouse.  Yup, it appears to be real.…

Biden Econ Advisor: “The American Workforce is Too Big To Fail.”

I like this guy.  A lot.  And I like that Biden picked him.  I know Biden voted bad on the bankruptcy bill, but I think that was for his Deleware banks.  That he picked Jerod Bernstein today to be his economic advisor is good news for progressives.

Vice President-elect Joe Biden on Friday named Jared Bernstein as his chief economic policy adviser, a new post created as the nation faces a recession.

Bernstein, a senior economist at the liberal Economic Policy Institute, has been an informal economic adviser to President-elect Barack Obama’s campaign. He also served as deputy chief economist under Labor Secretary Robert Reich during the Clinton administration.…

Today, he published an article about job losses.  This is Bernstein:

Our job market is now shedding jobs at a truly alarming rate, a rate measurably worse than past recessions. We face an emergency that certainly equals those in the financial markets in recent months. The American workforce is too big to fail.

No shit.  But it’s good to hear it from those who will be in power.

More on Bernstein and other good signals from Obama today, after the fold.  

Diary of a Suicide: Iraq Veteran

For two years Jason Ermer fought to make it home from Iraq. Last New Year’s Eve, he gave up.

It was just after midnight on Dec. 31, 2007, and bitterly cold outside, when two Ogden police officers knocked on the door of Jason Ermer’s home.

Earlier that night, Danny Murchie, an addictions counselor at the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) Salt Lake City office, had called Ogden police and asked for a courtesy check on Ermer, his 28-year-old client, a recent Iraq war veteran. Murchie had talked with Ermer and feared he might harm himself.

When no one answered at the Ermer home, police followed footprints in the snow a few blocks into the Ogden Canyon foothills. Near a large boulder, a man’s body lay in the snow, blood pooling near his head. His breathing was slow and gargly.

Four at Four

  1. As ek hornbeck has been documenting, the Dow has closed down more than 500 points on seven different days since September 15th. “Two weeks ago, the averages were down nearly half from their peak. Brokers report thousands of Americans are closing their accounts, fed up with a market that has made their 401(k) accounts look like 201(k)s.”

    Back in in 1996, the idiot Alan Greenspan, former Fed chairman, said the stock market boom was due to “irrational exuberance”. So now, the CS Monitor asks has the reverse happened? Is the U.S. now stuck with irrational pessimism?

    Irrational? Does losing 1,250,000 jobs since September seem like cause for celebration? The NY Times reports the Jobless rate soars to 6.7% in November.

    With the economy deteriorating rapidly, the nation’s employers shed 533,000 jobs in November, the 11th consecutive monthly decline, the government reported Friday morning, and the unemployment rate rose to 6.7 percent.

    The decline, the largest one-month loss since December 1974, was fresh evidence that the economic contraction accelerated in November, promising to make the current recession, already 12 months old, the longest since the Great Depression. The previous record was 16 months, in the severe recessions of the mid-1970s and early 1980s…

    The report on Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics included sharp upward revisions in job-loss figures for October (to 320,000, from the previously reported 240,000) and for September (to 403,000, from 284,000).

    And 6.7% is not the real jobless rate as BruceMcF hopefully will explain again at some point. The real number of unemployed Americans is significantly higher.

    In addition to increasing unemployment, the Washington Post reports Mortgage distress reaches record highs. One in 10 American homeowners are behind on their payments or in foreclosure, according to a survey by the Mortgage Bankers Association.

    America was allowed to rot from within. What Americans are expressing now isn’t pessimism, it is the profound realization that our country has made a colossal mistake that no one really knows how to fix.

    Americans need jobs. Right now the military is hiring. Over the weekend, the Washington Post reported the Downturn drives military rolls up.

    The economic downturn and rising unemployment rate are making the military a more attractive option, Pentagon officials say… Since the military became an all-volunteer force in 1973, recruiters have generally struggled in times of private-sector job growth and done well during recessions.

    The Army has met it’s recruiting goals for the past three years and “during that time, the ranks of the unemployed grew by 2.8 million, to 10.1 million.” So we have a de facto economic draft. Enlist or starve is not an honest way to build an all-volunteer force.

Four at Four continues with Obama and McCain campaign fundraising, military base pollution, and update from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Midnight Knock When You’re All Alone

Egyptian blogger and former law student Abdel Karim Suleiman looks out of a police bus in Alexandria. Reporters Without Borders called on Egyptian authorities to release Suleiman for insulting religion and President Hosni Mubarak as he has now served half his four-year sentence. (AFP null)

You’ve always thought that blogging is a nice, pleasant, no risk activity anyone can do from the safety and sanctity of their own home?

Think again.

Abdel Karim Suleiman, 24, Egyptian blogger and former law student, blogged in Egypt under the name Karim Amer.

Reporters Without Borders on Wednesday called on Egyptian authorities to release Suleiman, who has served two years of a four year sentence after being arrested in 2006 for insulting religion and President Hosni Mubarak.

Suleiman was sentenced in February 2007 to three years in prison for “inciting hatred of Islam” and one year for “insulting” the Egyptian president.

“Two years have gone by and nothing has changed,” the press freedom group said in a statement, according to an AFP article in the Middle East Times today:

“His family have never come to visit him. Only his lawyer reports to the outside world, about his morale, which weakens day after day, and his fragile state of health.

“His parents, probably as a result of intimidation, have even publicly disowned their son and called for him to be sentenced to death… Two years, that’s enough. It is time to free him,” said Reporters Without Borders.

Suleiman was convicted of insulting religion and defaming Mubarak after posting an entry on his blog lashing out at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University — the highest seat of learning in Sunni Islam.

“I say to Al-Azhar and its university and its professors and preachers who stand against anyone who thinks differently to them: ‘You are destined for the rubbish bin of history, where you will find no one to cry for you, and your regime will end like others have’,” he wrote.

His conviction was based on a series of vaguely worded articles in the penal code that forbid the spreading of false information, insulting Islam or other revealed religions, and “affronting the President of the Republic.”

The decision was seen by international rights groups as an attempt to intimidate Egypt’s blogging scene.

Citizens Petition for a Special Prosecutor…..New Draft

To Eric Holder, the next Attorney General of the United States:

Dear Attorney General Holder, we the undersigned citizens hereby petition you to appoint a Special Prosecutor to aggressively investigate and prosecute the many and various crimes that we believe have been committed both by, and under, the Bush Administration.

For eight long years the citizens of the United States have witnessed the President, the Vice President, and Bush administration officials commit crime after crime. In an atmosphere of deliberate politicized corruption that has shocked the conscience of our nation, all attempts at investigation and accountability have been blocked or deflected. Ultimately, by the corruption and politicization of the Department of Justice itself. The very Department that you are soon to head.

The corruption of the most basic tool of justice and accountability, the subpoena process, has been particularly alarming. By refusing to enforce the Congressional power of subpoena, and thus their power to hold the Executive Branch of our government accountable, former Attorneys General Gonzalez and Mukasey have subverted the very concept of justice, and the Rule of Law upon which our nation was founded.

We as citizens are subject to the Rule of Law, and we demand that our government and its officials be as well. We as citizens have lost faith in the credibility our justice system, due to the abuse, corruption, and subversion by the political appointees of the Bush Administration. Only you Attorney General Holder, can restore that faith. And it it is our belief that it may only be restored by the aggressive and unrelenting prosecution of those who have corrupted it, and by bringing to the light of day the crimes that have been covered up or rendered “legal” by that corruption.

The most important founding principle of America is that no man is above the law. Our Constitution itself is meant to guarantee that principle. Perhaps the most egregious crime of all has been to subvert the Department of Justice to place the President and the members of his administration above the law itself. That principle must be restored and we insist Attorney General Holder, that it is your responsibility to do so. As citizens of a democracy meant to be by, for, and of The People, and thus your “employers,” we in fact demand that you do so. The eyes, and the hopes, of our nation are upon you Attorney General Holder, at this critical time for our entire system of justice.

The list of offenses is long, ranging from minor violations of the Hatch Act, to torture, and to what a former president and head of the CIA classified as treason, the exposure of an entire CIA counter-terrorism network in the Plame case:

  GEORGE H.W. BUSH: “I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious of traitors.”

The case in which which Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald, who we strongly urge you to consider for this position, was thwarted in his pursuit of justice by, as he put it, the Bush Administration “Throwing sand in the face of the umpire.”

(insert rest of list, which we shall build, here)

These investigations and prosecutions that we so strongly urge you to undertake and pursue will have many consequences. Some of them could prove to be politically inexpedient for our new President, and especially for the Democratic Congress who due partly to the obstruction of justice so prevalent in these last eight years has failed to fully pursue and enforce their own investigations and prosecutions. To this end, we remind you that you work not on behalf of or for the President or the Congress, but for the People of the United States of America. We urge you to, unlike your predecessors Attorneys General Mukasey and Gonzales, ignore these political considerations and consequences in the pursuit of justice, no matter what, or to whom, the cost.

To that end, we petition you to appoint and fully empower an Independent or Special Prosecutor and to fully fund and support their investigation and prosecution of all the parties implicated therein.

Our justice system has been corrupted and compromised. Our standing as an nation that hews to the Rule of Law above all else has been gravely and perilously threatened.  Only one man, standing independent from all other considerations, can restore both our standing, the Rule of Law in our great nation, and the integrity of the Department of Justice itself, Attorney General Holder. And that man is you.

I know a couple of cops

The other day NPK wrote an essay titled Let’s Start at the Very Beginning where she posed the following question.

What would make you as a citizen feel safe?  And what would you be willing to do, have done to others and agree to accept for yourself, in order to maintain that safety and security?

It sparked some interesting discussion and really got me thinking in lots of different directions. I’d like to write about one of those today.

Due to the fact that my professional life involves working with kids who are making dangerous decisions that could potentially lead to deep involvement with the juvenile justice system, I’ve worked with alot of police officers over the years. I must confess, however, that I don’t understand the people who choose that work and I certainly don’t understand the culture of police departments. While I’ve watched and tried to learn as much as I can, its still a mystery to me in many ways.

Breaking: Fragging Charge Acquitted

U.S. Soldier Acquitted In “Fragging” Trial

National Guardsman Cleared Of Murder Charges In Deaths Of Two Superior Officers At Iraqi Base

(AP) A soldier was acquitted of murder Thursday in the 2005 bombing deaths of two superiors in Iraq, triggering loud outbursts and gasps from the slain officers’ families.

A military jury found National Guard Staff Sgt. Alberto Martinez not guilty of two counts of premeditated murder in the deaths of Capt. Phillip Esposito and 1st Lt. Louis Allen. Both officers were killed when an anti-personnel mine detonated in a window of their room at a U.S. military base in Iraq in June 2005.


Open Thread


I see thread people.

Zimbabwe Imploding, South Africa Moving in

Zimbabwe is in a condition of complete collapse. Cholera is spreading because the government is out of money to pay for water purification. Over 500 people have died. Troops went on a rampage in Harare yesterday when they couldn’t get funds out of banks. People are starving.

Today, South Africa’s president is announcing a plan for South Africa to go into Zimbabwe to deal with the crisis.

President Kgalema Motlanthe’s cabinet will today unveil a plan for rescuing the country, which is buckling under the weight of a shattered economy, food shortages, a cholera outbreak and rioting soldiers.

also in Orange.

Docudharma Times Friday December 5

Auto Executives Drive To Washington For Money

Get Handed Their Hats Instead    

Friday’s Headlines:

A mixed bag for women this election year

School accused of Mumbai terror role opens its doors

Sectarian tensions simmer over a pig in Cotabato City

Israeli riot police evict settlers in Hebron

Palestinian bickering strands Gaza’s pilgrims

Fiat heiress set for court fight over will

500 years on from the Inquisition, DNA is able to show the Moors never went home

In Ghana, a political neophyte, with a household name, campaigns

S.Africa must fight climate change, poverty

As Mexico’s drug war rages, military takes over for police

Jobless Rate Rises to 6.7% as 533,000 Jobs Are Lost


Published: December 5, 2008

With the economy deteriorating rapidly, the nation’s employers shed 533,000 jobs in November, the 11th consecutive monthly decline, the government reported Friday morning, and the unemployment rate rose to 6.7 percent.

The decline, the largest since December 1974, was fresh evidence that the economic contraction accelerated in November, promising to make the current recession, already 12 months old, the longest since the Great Depression. The previous record was 16 months, in the severe recessions of the mid-1970s and early 1980s.

“We have recorded the largest decline in consumer confidence in our history,” said Richard T. Curtin, director of the Reuters/University of Michigan Survey of Consumers, which started its polling in the 1950s.

Auto Executives Face a Hard Sell on Capitol Hill


Published: December 4, 2008

WASHINGTON – The chief executives of America’s foundering automobile manufacturers returned to Capitol Hill on Thursday and found themselves confronting years of pent-up anger, the harsh politics of a recession and the realization that even their strongest supporters might not be able to muster the votes to save them.

Fiscal hawks are worried that taxpayers will lose billions. Pro-labor lawmakers are furious that union workers are being blamed for causing the automakers’ problems, even as tens of thousands face layoffs. Environmentalists like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are fed up after years of battles over fuel-efficiency rules. And Congress, as a whole, is suffering from acute bailout fatigue.

Many Children Lack Stability Long After Storm


Published: December 4, 2008

BATON ROUGE, La. – Last January, at the age of 15, Jermaine Howard stopped going to school. Attendance seemed pointless: Jermaine, living with his father and brother in the evacuee trailer park known as Renaissance Village since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, had not managed to earn a single credit in more than two years.

Not that anyone took much notice. After Jermaine flunked out of seventh grade, the East Baton Rouge School District allowed him to skip eighth grade altogether and begin high school. After three semesters of erratic attendance, he left Baton Rouge in early spring of this year and moved in with another family in a suburb of New Orleans, where he found a job at a Dairy Queen.



Retailers Report a Crisis in All Aisles

November Sales Slump as Shoppers Stow Credit Cards

By Ylan Q. Mui

Washington Post Staff Writer

Friday, December 5, 2008; Page A01

Retailers posted the worst November sales in more than 30 years yesterday, as holiday shopping not only failed to lift the economy but showed that the financial crisis is further distressing everyday consumers.

About 30 major companies — including Macy’s, Abercrombie & Fitch and Target — posted sales declines at established stores. Overall, retail sales in November fell 2.7 percent compared with the same month last year, marking the second consecutive negative month, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers, a trade group.

And American consumers, whose spending accounts for the bulk of the economy and who have powered the nation out of previous recessions, are turning away from their most potent tool: credit cards.

Unemployment Rates and the Domestic Automotive Industry

This very interesting map is from The Economist and one of my favorite people, manfrommiddletown.  

The Economic Policy Institute has a new report out today about the economic impact of an auto industry collapse. A previous report by the Center for Automotive Research (CAR)estimated that a total collapse of the big 3 would result in the loss of almost 3 million jobs, and $554.6 billion(4% of US GDP) in economic losses. What was missing was a state by state breakout. I’ve mocked up the state by state job losses consequences of a GM only collapse, and what would happen if the big 3 all failed.


So while AIG pays bonuses, gives raises, and sponsors sport’s team, Harry Reid and our limp dick useless Democrats continue to fiddle while the real economy burns.  With friends like these, who needs enemies.  

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