Monday, 05 April 2010

HIGHER UNEMPLOYMENT IS "A GREAT SIGN": CHRISTINA ROMER

Ken Berwitz

Christina Romer is chairperson of the President's Council of Economic Advisors. 

If I didn't see this in the Washington Post I would not have believed she said it.  But here it is, via excerpts from an article in today's paper by V. Dion Haynes (bold print is mine):

Jobless rate may rise as many are drawn back to labor forceBy V. Dion Haynes

Monday, April 5, 2010

The increase in jobs highlighted in the nation's most recent unemployment report carried the sound of economic promise, but Obama administration officials said Sunday that the public shouldn't expect any dramatic improvement in the jobless rate, largely because of the effect of thousands of "discouraged" unemployed people who have resumed their search for work.

Some economists assert that the unemployment rate, which held steady at 9.7 percent in March, is likely to be driven higher as many more such people are lured into looking for work by signs of recovery.

The number of people looking for jobs rose by more than 200,000 last month compared with February, according to the Economic Policy Institute -- and that's a good sign, economists say. It means that Americans are seeing more jobs being created and that they're optimistic about their prospects.

But the supply of new jobs -- 162,000 in March, the biggest monthly increase in three years -- will accommodate only a fraction of the unemployed. Some economists say the jobless rate will not recede to pre-recession levels near 5 percent for four more years.

Those described as discouraged -- who are available and want to work but have stopped looking for jobs -- can affect the data significantly because of how the government calculates the jobless rate. They are considered part of the labor force and are counted in the official unemployment rate only if they are looking for work. So dropping out can deflate the rate, and resuming a search can inflate it.

Behind the high unemployment rate, "there's just been a tremendous increase in the labor force," Christina Romer, chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"Over the last three months, we've added more than a million people to the labor force. And that's actually, that's a great sign," Romer added. "That's a sign that people that might have been discouraged dropped out because of the terrible recession, have started to have some hope again and are looking for work again."

 So Christina Romer, chairperson of the council of economic advisors, thinks it is "a great sign" that unemployment numbers will rise

Why?  Because some people will go from "discouraged":  i.e. not looking for work - to looking for work and not finding it.

Whoopee doo.

Tell me:  If potentially higher unemployment is "a great sign" because people are going from being discouraged to being unemployed, does that mean the rates we saw over the past year are "even worse" because those same people went from being unemployed to being discouraged, thus resulted in an artificially low unemployment rate? 

Do you recall reading that Ms. Romer said this?  Me neither.

And here is another little piece of the article to think about:

Long-term unemployment has reached record levels in this downturn, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In March, about 44.1 percent of the 15 million unemployed people across the country were out of work 27 weeks or more, up from 40.9 percent in February. The previous peak of 26 percent was reached in June 1983. About 20 percent of the people on the unemployment rolls have been out of work a year or longer, economists say.

Their circumstances exemplify the severe economic situation. In the past, people who lost their jobs could move to a better labor market in another part of the country. Not so now.

Let's recall that the so-called "stimulus package" was enacted in February of last year - about 59 weeks ago.  So the data for long-term unemployment (27 weeks or more) are well within the time frame Mr. Obama told us unemployment would cap at 8% and, presumably, start falling as his stimulus initiatives took effect. 

So where are those results?  And why isn't the Washington Post talking about the fact that they do not exist?

See, this is why the Christina Romers of the administration are able to barf out ridiculous comments that seem to fly in the face of logic.  Because by burying the other side, our wonderful "neutral" media are enabling them to do so.

Then they wonder why people call them biased.


OILBAMA

Ken Berwitz

A quick question:

When President Obama took office, oil was at about $33 a barrel, and it has done nothing but go up since then.  As I type this it is at $87 a barrel. 

President Obama's reaction has been to do nothing for over a year, and then claim to advocate exploratory studies to see where oil could be drilled (as if the oil companies don't already know and haven't been telling us for years and years).  This accomplishes two things:  it effectively puts off oil drilling for years to come, and leaves the gulf of Mexico free and clear for foreign countries to drill in - which they are doing already.

My question is:  When do our wonderful "neutral" media start asking why Obama & Co. are behaving this way?

Ever?


CURRY AND MADDOW'S OBAMA LOVE-FEST

Ken Berwitz

I will skip the first part of the fawning, unadulteradly worshipful interview/love story spun by the Today Show's Ann Curry and MSNBC's snarky, increasingly hard to watch Rachel Maddow.  Let's cut straight to the segment about job growth.  Their comments are in rust, mine are in blue:

CURRY: Let's move on to the jobs numbers that came out, we, Chuck just talked about them. The unemployment rate is holding steady at 9.7 percent. The President said, quote, "The worst of the storm is over" and he trumpeted that the news that the economy has gained 162,000 jobs in March. Now Republicans are reacting to that much like liberals reacted to Bush calling the Iraq war "Mission Accomplished." A lie - and an often-told one at that.  George Bush neveer said "mission accomplished", no matter how many times NBC and MSNBC people claim he did (keith olbermann suggests that he said it at the end of almost every one of his shows).  It is true that Bush made the speech in front of a "Mission Accomplished" banner that was put up on the ship whose crew he was speaking to.  But here is his entire speech:  I dare you to find where he said "mission accomplished" to describe the war in Iraq, or anything like it.   The closest he comes is at the beginning when he says we prevailed in the main fighting (which was and remains 100% correct). But then he says we have difficult work to do and that The Battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on September the 11th, 2001, and still goes on, which obviously is the opposite of a "mission accomplished" claim.  Significantly, he also says "Our mission continues.  al qaeda is wounded, not destroyed" and that "the war on terror is not over".  These people lie like cows chew cud.  It seems to come very naturally to them. Because we have House Minority Leader John Boehner saying, "A 9.7 unemployment rate is no cause for celebration and any politician who takes a victory lap for it is out of touch with the struggles working families and small businesses are facing." Is the White House out of touch on this economy?  Boehner, of course, is dead right.  Obama promised the so-called stimulus package" would  cap unemployment at 8%.  Now, a year later, it is at 9.7%, 4,000,000 jobs have been lost, and Obama - incredibly and dishonestly - is proclaiming he improved the job situation.  He and his people are talking to us as if we are unthinking, uncomprehending idiots.  And he is being seconded by Curry and Maddow.  What a surprise.

MADDOW: I think when you look at the monthly jobs lost versus jobs gained. I mean it was going like this (points down) during Bush administration, it's going like this (points up) in the Obama administration. Wrong.  The job losses went negative in 2008, after almost 4 1/2 years of unbroken growth (52 consecutive months!).  Maddow makes it seem like those growth years never happened.  And thats before we get to the fact that the job numbers started going south a year after Democrats took over both houses of congress.  I wonder why?  It's going the right direction overall. Now is the unemployment rate unacceptable? Absolutely. Nobody is saying that it isn't. I think the White House has been pretty much downplaying their economic success.

CURRY: Well has the White House done enough to increase jobs in this climate?

MADDOW: Well I mean what can - the White House doesn't, they don't have a magical wand. They can't do anything magical. But job numbers are going in the right direction. The economy is growing, job numbers are going in the right direction. ONE MONTH, Rachel.  And over half the jobs youre talking about are temporary.   It's a very deep recession. And they've, really, in terms of the tone, they do have a very fine line. They've really got to just titrate (Thats got to be a typo. Titration is a way of determining the concentration of a substance). it exactly right to make people feel like that they're not being insensitive, even while they are talking about the progress that's being made.

CURRY: Meantime the President's approval rating is now just 47 percent. New York Times columnist Frank Rich wrote on Sunday, "Not since Clark Kent changed in a phone booth has there been an instant image makeover to match Barack Obama's, in the aftermath of his health care victory." Frank Rich regularly makes a fool of himself and this is no exception.  When George Bushs poll numbers went from the 50s to 90% after his impassioned ad lib comments at the 9/11 site (look ma, no teleprompter), that wasnt as strong an image makeover as Obama going to 47% after health care passed???????  Get this man a cerebrum. So if they're has been, do you agree there's been a makeover, and if you do, what do you think the President would use his momentum for first?

MADDOW: I think winning works. That's the best political tonic in any administration. When you win something, when you're seen as having an accomplishment, it gives you political capital and you get to decide what to do with it. Agree. And so I think you saw that when people decided, as soon as health reform passed, it seemed like a better idea than before it passed. And had it failed people would've thought it was a worse idea than they had thought before that was decided. And so winning does work. Agree again, at least in the short run.  The question, as you zoom in on, is, is whether or not, what it is he's gonna decide to spend that on? Some people are talking immigration reform. I think it is more likely that we will see him put that into Wall Street reform, Wall Street regulation.  Er, that capital is already almost gone.  While Rasmussens polling shows him up a good deal from pre-health care, Gallup has him right back about where he was at that time.  And CBS and NBC have him lower.  Sorry, Rachel, this isnt working out the way you want.

Hey, that was fun.  Every time I interject my opinions into the conversation I enjoy myself.  Not surprisingly, therefore, I'll do this again in the future.


WHO ARE THE TEA PARTIERS?

Ken Berwitz

That's a stupid question, isn't it?  Everybody knows tea-partiers are almost all right wing Republicans, don't they?

Or maybe not.

From Sean J. Miller, at www.thehill.com:

Survey: Four in 10 Tea Party members are Dems or independents

By Sean J. Miller - 04/04/10 03:29 PM ET

Four in 10 Tea Party members are either Democrats or Independents, according to a new national survey.

The findings provide one of the most detailed portraits to date of the grassroots movement that started last year.

The national breakdown of the Tea Party composition is 57 percent Republican, 28 percent Independent and 13 percent Democratic, according to three national polls by the Winston Group, a Republican-leaning firm that conducted the surveys on behalf of an education advocacy group. Two-thirds of the group call themselves conservative, 26 are moderate and 8 percent say they are liberal.

The Winston Group conducted three national telephone surveys of 1,000 registered voters between December and February. Of those polled, 17 percent more than 500 people -- said they were part of the Tea Party movement.

Its a good sample size, said David Winston, the polling firms director. It will certainly give us an initial base to follow where these folks are.

The group is united around two issues the economy/jobs and reducing the deficit. They believe that cutting spending is the key to job creation and favor tax cuts as the best way to stimulate the economy. That said 61 percent of Tea Party members believe infrastructure spending creates jobs. Moreover, given the choice Tea Party members favor 63-32 reducing unemployment to 5 percent over balancing the budget.

It isnt a purely homogeneous group, said Winston.

The group has a favorable view of Republicans generally but that drops from 71 to 57 percent if theyre asked about Congressional Republicans. Congressional Democrats are viewed very unfavorably by 75 percent of Tea Party members a uniquely strong antipathy. An overwhelming 95 percent said Democrats are taxing, spending, and borrowing too much.

The group also vehemently dislikes President Barack Obama even more so than those who called themselves Republicans in the survey. Over 80 percent of Tea Party members disapprove of the job hes doing as president, whereas 77 percent of Republican respondents said they disapprove of Obama. The Tea Party members are also strongly opposed to the Democrats healthcare plan, with 82 percent saying they oppose it --  only 48 percent of respondents overall were opposed.

Tea Party members are more likely to be male, slightly older and middle income. Almost half the members of the group reported getting their news about national issues from Fox News, 10 percent of respondents said that talk radio is one of their top two sources, which is seven-points higher than the average voter.

Whoops, how'd that happen?

Let's think about this:

-It stands to reason that a lot of Republicans would be tea-partiers, because tea-partiers are against what a Democratic President and his administration are doing.  But, assuming these data are accurate, it is a considerable surprise that only 57% of the group is comprised of Republicans.  I would have expected it to be a lot higher.

-That 28% level of independent voters - who, it stands to reason, are the most likely to be swayed in an election - is horrific for Democrats.  President Obama won in 2008 by attracting the independent vote.  This is another indication (among others in recent months) that they are turning away from him in droves.

-Then we have the news that 13% are Democrats.  Hooboy.  You don't need an analysis to figure out who this is bad news for, do you?

-And what about the fact that a vast majority of tea-partiers are White?  Well, something like 96% of all Black voters cast their ballots for Barack Obama, and this movement is in direct opposition to his policies.  Therefore, OF COURSE there aren't many Blacks among tea-partiers. 

That isn't racism.  No part of the tea party movement that I know of has stated or in any way implied that Blacks are unwelcome.  It is that, since Blacks as a group voted almost monolithically for Mr. Obama and the Democratic Party, there obviously won't be many of them in an opposition movement.  That's plain common sense.

These facts aside, however, our wonderful "neutral" media have done their level best to portray the tea party movement as a bunch of right wing Republican conservative racist unpatriotic yahoos.  But, y'know what?  It hasn't worked.  From all appearances, the tea party movement is getting stronger and stronger.

Many media venues even tried using a clearly fake, clearly debunked lie about tea-partiers calling John Lewis and Emanuel Cleaver "nigger" last week.  

Not one recording has been found of any such thing happening, despite there being literally dozens of media and non-media people chronicling it with audio and video equipment.   But that didn't stop them from relentlessly repeating the charge so that it would indelibly be in the public's mind -- and then summarily dropping the story when it turned out that there wasn't a shred of evidence to back it up.  

How edifiying to see that our media are this, er, evenhanded.

So what do you figure they'll try next?  Calling tea-partiers communists?  Muslim shari'a law fanatics?  Martians?  Hey, if you're going to lie about what they are and what they said, why not go all the way?

I guess we'll find out soon enough.


AFGHANISTAN COMING APART

Ken Berwitz

The brilliant diplomacy and general foreign  policy expertise that the Obama administration has displayed with the UK, France, Germany and Israel, apparently is in full force for Afghanistan as well.

Excerpted from Matthew Rosenberg's and Habib Zahori's article in the Wall St. Journal.  Please pay special attention to the last three paragraphs, which I've put in bold print:

APRIL 4, 2010, 8:23 P.M. ET

Karzai Slams the West Again

By MATTHEW ROSENBERG And HABIB ZAHORI

KABUL, AfghanistanPresident Hamid Karzai lashed out at his Western backers for the second time in three days, accusing the U.S. of interfering in Afghan affairs and saying the Taliban insurgency would become a legitimate resistance movement if the meddling doesn't stop.           

Mr. Karzai, whose government is propped up by billions of dollars in Western aid and nearly 100,000 American troops fighting a deadly war against the Taliban, made the comments during a private meeting with about 60 or 70 Afghan lawmakers Saturday.

At one point, Mr. Karzai suggested that he himself would be compelled to join the other side that is, the Talibanif the parliament didn't back his controversial attempt to take control of the country's electoral watchdog from the United Nations, according to three people who attended the meeting, including an ally of the president.

Mr. Karzai blamed the lawmakers' resistance to his move on a foreign conspiracy, they said. The Afghan president's latest remarks came less than 24 hours after he assured U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that he was committed to working with the U.S. That phone call was precipitated by a similarbut less vitriolic--anti-Western diatribe Mr. Karzai delivered earlier last week.

Coalition and Afghan forces are planning a major offensive in coming months to secure Kandahar, the Taliban's birthplace and spiritual heartland.

Mr. Karzai sought to reassure anxious residents there during a meeting with tribal elders. "There won't be an operation unless you are happy about it," Mr. Karzai told the crowd, assuring them they would be "consulted first."

As in February's offensive in the southern town of Marjah, Mr. Karzai will have a say over when major operations in Kandahar begin. The idea, say U.S. officials, is to give him the chance to take up the challenge of leading the fight against the Taliban.

Mr. Karzai's Saturday round of accusations against the U.S. and its allies was the strongest indication to date that the strategy is having little effect on the president.  

Instead, the Afghan leader seems as mistrustful of the West as everand increasingly willing to tap the resentment many ordinary Afghans feel toward the U.S. and its allies. Many here view the coalition as enabling the Afghan government's widespread corruption, and blame U.S.-led forces for killing too many civilians.

At the same time, Mr. Karzai is working to improve relations with American rivals, such as Iran and China. The result is further strain on an already-tense partnership. The U.S. Embassy in Kabul declined to comment on Saturday's speech.

One lawmaker who attended the meeting, Gul Badshah Majidi, said that if Mr. Karzai persisted in attacking his government's Western allies so openly, the situation would become untenable.

Lawmakers who attended the 2 1/2-hour meeting said it largely consisted of the president lambasting them for rejecting a few days earlier his attempt to take control of the country's Electoral Complaints Commission. They quoted Mr. Karzai as saying the lawmakers were being used by Western officials who want to install a "puppet government" in Afghanistan.

Waheed Omar, a presidential spokesman, denied that Mr. Karzai said he would join the Taliban or accused the West of trying to control Afghanistan."He talked about the new electoral law and asked the members of parliament to reconsider their decision," Mr. Omar said.

On Saturday, Mr. Karzai went a step further, saying foreign interference in Afghan affairs fueled the insurgency, according to five lawmakers who attended the meeting.

"He said that the only reason that the Taliban and other insurgent groups are fighting the Afghan government is that they see foreigners having the final say in everything," said one of the lawmakers.

All five lawmakers said Mr. Karzai told those who gathered at the palace that the Taliban's "revolt will change to resistance" if the U.S. and its allies kept dictating how his government should run. The word "resistance" is a term often used to convey a legitimate struggle against unjust rulers, such as the Mujahedeen's fight against the Soviet Union's occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Mr. Karzai's remarks were the latest sign of the growing rift between the Afghan leader and the U.S., which is pouring troops into the country in a bid to reverse the Taliban's momentum and win the support of ordinary Afghans.

Key to the surge strategy is restoring the battered domestic reputation of the Karzai administration. President Barack Obama, during a brief visit to Kabul Monday, pressed Mr. Karzai to clean up the pervasive corruption in his government.

If anything, Mr. Obama's visit appears to have backfired. A businessman with close ties to Mr. Karzai said the Afghan leader was insulted by Mr. Obama's comments and left with even greater doubts about the American commitment to Afghanistan

This, let us recall, is the war that Barack Obama called necessary.  The one he has agreed to two troop surges for.  

And what has it gotten us?  Are things better in Afghanistan?  Nope.  Is the taliban on the run?  Not apparently. 

But is violence in Iraq - where we are removing troops to conduct this folly in Afghanistan - up significantly?  Yes it is.

We're walking away from Iraq, a country that functions as a country, and committing more and more troops and treasure to Afghanistan, which, other than Kabul Kandahar and a couple of other "cities" is ungovernable and indefensible. 

Brilliant.

By the way, what happened to that campaign pledge about catching osama bin laden?  Since Mr. Obama made it seem as though bin laden's remaining at large was because George Bush couldn't or wouldn't go after him effectively, when do we ask just how effective Mr. Obama's efforts have been?  Or if there have been any at all?

But never forget, folks, this is our faultWe handed the governance of our country to a Chicago machine politician with no qualifications for the Presidency, and gave him a lopsided congressional majority to boot.  We have no right to expect any more than what he is giving us.

The 2010 elections cannot come fast enough.

And that goes double for 2012.

Zeke ... .... Afghanistan is NOT coming apart. .... .... It was NEVER a nation .... merely a collection of tribes with one flag in common. .... .... Loyalty in Afghanistan means allying with the power dropping gold coins in your palm ... ... and staying loyal at least until the ring of the last coin has faded. ... ... Changing sides, even in the middle of a battle, is not a surprise -- merely clever statesmanship. ... ... "The Great Game" of realpolitik has been going on for centuries there. ... ... Since the days of Catherine the Great, Russia has wanted Afghanistan as a route to a warm water port. ... ... After 8 years of fighting there, and now 100,000 troops in country, Afghanistan remains the worlds largest opium source ... with record crops. The US can rely on Karzai to remain loyal ... to Karzai. ... .... The US was initially involved in Afghanistan to stop it from being an al Q'aida training camp .. which has been accomplished. ... Now, they train in Pakistan's tribal (lawless) areas, Somolia, Eritrea, and other parts of Africa. (04/05/10)

ken berwitz Zeke - you're right, of course. I've mentioned in several previous blogs that President Bush had it right, because his objectives were only to remove the taliban regime and keep it away from Afghanistan's cities (which was accomplished with a relatively low number of US troops). Obama, by contrast, seems determined to replicate Russia's disaster there. I regret not having mentioned this again in today's blog. (04/05/10)


MARK STEYN ON FAKE HATE

Ken Berwitz

Mark Steyn has written a short, but excellent piece on the fake claims that congressional Black made about being called "nigger".

Here it is:

The Democrats' Fake Hate Crime   [Mark Steyn]

Jonah mentioned this the other day in his column, but the tireless Andrew Breitbart returns to the theme, to devastating effect.

On March 20th, something truly extraordinary happened. On the eve of the health care vote, a group of black Democrat Congressmen (eschewing the private tunnels they usually use to cross from their offices to the Capitol) chose to walk en masse through a crowd of protesters, confident that the knuckledragging Tea Party goons they and their media pals have reviled for a year now would respond with racial epithets.

And then, when the crowd didn't, the black Congressmen made it up anyway. Representative Andre Carson (Democrat, Indiana) insisted he heard the N-word 15 times. He's either suffering from the same condition as that Guam-flipper from Georgia, or he's a liar. At a scene packed not only with crews from the Dem poodle media but with a gazillion cellphone cameras, not one single N-word has been caught on audio. (By contrast, see my post yesterday for how easy it is to get it on tape when real epithets are flying.)

I disagree with John Lewis (Democrat, Georgia) politically but I have always respected him as a genuine civil rights warrior. And I feel slightly queasy at the thought that he would dishonor both the movement and his own part in it for the cheapest of partisan points - in the same way I would be disgusted by a Holocaust survivor painting a swastika on his own door and blaming it on his next-door neighbor over a boundary dispute.

But that's what the Democratic Party has been reduced to - faking hate crimes as pathetically as any lonely, mentally ill college student. Congressmen Carson, Lewis, Cleaver and the rest have turned themselves into the Congressional equivalent of the Duke University stripper. Except that they're not some penniless loser but a group of important, influential lifetime legislators enjoying all the privileges and perquisites of power, and in all probability acting at the behest of the Democrat leadership.

Isn't that what societies with functioning media used to call "a story"?

Apparently not. As they did at Duke, the brain-dead press went along with it - and so, predictably enough, did much of the Republican leadership.

Exactly.  Thank you Mark..

Zeke ... ... Sounds like the noose found on the door of that Columbia University professor's office. .... .... Strange that in the many months since the noose was discovered, no one has seen the security camera tapes that monitored the area. . . . . . . . . . Perhaps the lefttards might read Aesop's "The Boy Who Cried Wolf". (04/06/10)


TOPLESS SOMETIMES REFERS TO BRAINS TOO

Ken Berwitz

In an effort to keep readers abreast of news, the following has been uncovered.  It comes to us from the Portland (Maine) Breas...er, Press Herald:

April 3

Women march topless in Portland without incident

The marchers want to call attention to the double standard in society's attitudes toward male and female nudity.

By Edward D. Murphy emurphy@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND About two dozen women marched topless from Longfellow Square to Tommy's Park this afternoon in an effort to erase what they see as a double standard on male and female nudity.

The women, preceded and followed by several hundred boisterous and mostly male onlookers, many of them carrying cameras, stayed on the sidewalk because they hadn't obtained a demonstration permit to walk in the street. About a thousand people gathered as the march passed through Monument Square, a mix of demonstrators, supporters, onlookers and those just out enjoying a warm and sunny early-spring day.

After the marchers reached Tommy's Park in the Old Port, some turned around and walked back to Longfellow Square, but most stayed and mingled in the park. Some happily posed for pictures.

Police said there were no incidents and no arrests nudity is illegal in Maine only if genitals are displayed.

Ty McDowell, who organized the march, said she was "enraged" by the turnout of men attracted to the demonstration. The purpose, she said, was for society to have the same reaction to a woman walking around topless as it does to men without shirts on.

However, McDowell said she plans to organize similar demonstrations in the future and said she would be more "aggressive" in discouraging oglers.

I'm fascinated by Ms. McDowell's being "enraged" that men were more than passingly interested in seeing dozens of women with their breasts exposed.  Did she think that no one would notice?  Does this genius expect that because she has decided topless women should be seen as matter-of-factly as topless men, the rest of Portland agrees? 

Maybe the fact that so many men were so eager to look at (and take pictures of) all those bouncing boobies will give her a better idea about reality.  Heck, she might even decide not to have another march.

In other words, their reaction could nip this in the bud. 

(Yikes, I didn't say that, did I?)

Zeke ... ... Going Topless in Portland ? .... .... Ty McDowell has a divine right. .... .... Her Left isn't bad, either. (04/05/10)


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