Friday, February 20, 2009

Jobless Rate Rises, Stock Market Dives

The employment market and the stock market both took major hits Thursday, with new jobless claims registering as high as 627,000 and market indicators like the Dow Jones industrial average and the Nasdaq composite index dipping alarmingly low.

AP via

The jobless numbers were worse than expected and new projections from the Federal Reserve show unemployment rising for the rest of this year.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that the number of people receiving regular unemployment benefits rose 170,000 to 4.99 million for the week ending Feb. 7, marking the fourth consecutive week those receiving benefits have been at a record level on data going back to 1967.

The continuing claims figure also was significantly above the year-ago level of 2.77 million and underscored the difficulty people are having in this recession finding another job once they are laid off.

An additional 1.5 million people are receiving benefits under an extended unemployment compensation program approved by Congress last year, bringing the total number of people receiving unemployment benefits to 6.54 million for the week ending Feb. 7.

“The labor market is in disarray,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s It’s possible that job losses for all of February could total between 700,000 and 750,000 based on what weekly claims have done so far this month, he added.

Employers slashed a net total of 598,000 jobs in January, the

The Shoe-Thrower Speaks

Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi, who quickly became renowned throughout the world after chucking his shoes at President George W. Bush during a press conference in Baghdad last December, took the stand in court Thursday to defend his memorable act as a gesture of self-expression, on behalf of both himself and “the Iraqi people.”

The Washington Post:

Throwing his shoes, fastball style, at the leader of the free world was not, Zaidi argued, a crime.

Zaidi, 30, who is charged with assaulting a foreign head of state, posited that Bush’s Dec. 14 trip to Baghdad was not an official visit by a foreign dignitary because he arrived in the country without prior notice and didn’t leave the Green Zone, which at the time was still under U.S. control.

“I am charged now with attacking the prime minister’s guest,” he said stoically, making his first public remarks since the incident. “We Arabs are famous for being generous with guests. But Bush and his soldiers have been here for six years. Guests should knock on the door. Those who come sneaking in are not guests.”

Health Care Reform Can’t Wait

y Bill Boyarsky

Who needs Tom Daschle? The national health care crisis, intensified by the recession, is so bad that nothing can be permitted to stop reform of the system, not even the implosion of the former Senate Democratic leader. Daschle, remember, was paid big speaking fees by the health business before President Barack Obama chose him to lead the health reform fight.

After losing his South Dakota seat in 1994, Daschle began a lucrative career based on his connections. He was an important early Obama supporter. He knew the Senate and understood the health care issue. But early this month he withdrew as Obama’s nominee for secretary of health and human services. He had failed to pay taxes on a car and driver provided him by the founder of a private equity firm where he worked as a high-priced consultant. The position had brought him, according to Politico, more than $2 million in fees. Politico also reported that Daschle received more than $200,000 for speeches to health care industry groups that will be affected by health care legislation.

Daschle paid more than $100,000 in back taxes for use of the car, but not soon enough to save his nomination.

That’s the way it works for financially ambitious officials who feel impoverished by the limitations of public service. After leaving the Clinton White House and before his election to Congress, Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel made $16.2 million as an investment banker, according to The New York Times. And Richard Holbrooke, a former high-level diplomat, was vice chairman of an investment firm before becoming Obama’s special representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan. Jodi Kantor of the Times reported Holbrooke had “what friends say was a relatively undemanding job and lavish compensation.”

Daschle’s entrance into this privileged world would have passed hardly noticed if tax troubles of other Obama appointees had not made the news.

And there was the opaque role of an old Daschle foe, Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. His committee was screening Daschle’s nomination, and though Baucus eventually said something supportive about his old colleague, it took him a couple of days to do it.

Baucus’ slow reaction wasn’t surprising, considering his relationship with Daschle, as described by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada in his book “The Good Fight.” Reid wrote that “Baucus was the only Westerner to vote against Daschle in his race for Democratic leader in 1994, which Daschle had only won by a single vote, and they had been driven farther apart on the issue of taxes. ... [T]hey really couldn’t stand each other. …”

The Finance Committee will shape the health reform legislation in the Senate. Now Baucus, along with Sen. Edward Kennedy, will determine its fate. Baucus has proposed a combination public-private health plan along the lines of Obama’s.

Baucus said he doesn’t think Daschle’s absence will hurt health care reform. “I don’t think it sets it back very much at all,” he told NPR. “Tom Daschle is a terrific fellow. He knows more about health care than anyone else. But there is such momentum now for health care reform. The stars seemed so aligned.” (In politics, it should be explained, everyone is “a fine fellow” or “my good friend,” no matter how much dislike might exist.)

But what kind of health plan will emerge?

The best health reform would be something along the lines of Medicare, an excellent program for those over 65 in which doctors bill the government. We should have Medicare for everybody, administered by the government and without insurance companies involved. Anyone on Medicare will tell you how well it works.
It is, pure and simple, government health insurance. Advocates call it “single payer” in an effort to defang critics of government involvement. But the “single payer” is the government, supported by our tax dollars. It’s simple, it works—and we’re probably years away from it.

I talked about this with Dr. Len Nichols, health policy director for the New American Foundation, who has been involved in every recent effort to fix the health system, including the unsuccessful Clinton health initiative of 1993-94. “I want a bill passed,” he said. But he conceded the lobbying power of the insurance companies, which will fight any move to keep them out of the system. “We can’t get from here to there without the private insurers,” he said.

Nichols has been working with Sen. Ron Wyden, a liberal Democrat from Oregon who has a plan that would take employers out of the health insurance mix. You’d buy coverage from state and regional insurance pools. Insurance companies would compete for business in the pools. Insurers would have to cover everybody. Everybody would be required to be insured, with full and partial subsidies for the low-income and the unemployed.

This is just one proposal in the mix, but it seems to have more legs than most of the others because Wyden’s co-author is a conservative Republican, Bob Bennett of Utah. Seven other Republicans have joined Bennett as co-sponsors of the bill. Seven Democrats have signed up with Wyden.
Nobody knows what will come out of this. But with more people losing their jobs every day—and their health insurance—fear is spreading through the land. The many interests vested in the present system will fight to prevent change.

But logic leans toward the sentiments of Sen. Baucus and Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., whose House Energy and Commerce Committee will also have a major role in drafting the legislation. “We need to get this job accomplished this year and get the bill to the president,” Waxman told Families USA, a liberal health reform group.

Health care reform is what Obama promised during the campaign. He made the pledge with increasing emotion as the recession worsened during the fall.

Despite the need, it won’t be easy. The ease with which Daschle moved from his position as a Senate health care reformer to a paid speechmaker for health business groups shows how deep this industry’s tentacles extend and how high they reach.

the case 4 big govt

Zachary Karabell

With Congress passing a nearly $800 billion spending and tax-cut bill and with the Federal Reserve taking trillions onto its balance sheet, we are if nothing else plunging into a new era of big government. The extent of these actions would have been unthinkable even six months ago, and the scale of these measures—as well as the fact that they are probably the first of many—has taken many by surprise. Even those who have been advocating for years that the federal government play a more active role in addressing economic imbalances and inequalities could not have predicted or imagined what has happened of late.

It is both Jeff Madrick’s fortune and misfortune to have “The Case for Big Government” published in this climate. Madrick has for many years been a voice crying in the wilderness. His essays in The New York Review of Books in particular have been acerbic and astute critiques of the absurd and glaring inequities of modern American laissez-faire capitalism. Some of the current spending plans, as well as the ideological shift in Washington away from the dogmatisms of the past, are a vindication of much of what he has been championing for years.

book cover

The Case for Big Government

By Jeff Madrick

Princeton University Press, 224 pages

Buy the book

Unfortunately for his book, however, events have somewhat overtaken him. While it’s likely that Madrick prefers reality to have changed even at the expense of his book sales, he is nonetheless a victim of timing. One obvious indication that events have overtaken his argument? He makes an impassioned case for government spending of 3 percent of GDP a year on a variety of social, employment and infrastructure programs, which would amount to about $400 billion a year. A year ago, that was a bold call that even he knew would be met with skepticism and resistance. Today, it is half of what Congress has just authorized.

Still, even though government spending has increased, it’s unclear that public attitudes about government have changed much. As Madrick notes, the past decades have been defined by “an ideological antagonism toward government.” While that was cemented most notably by Ronald Reagan, it became even more ingrained under centrist Democrats led by Bill Clinton, who famously declared the end of the era of big government. Yet, says Madrick, the central tenet of the anti-government argument—namely the belief that government impedes economic growth—has never been proved.

“If the case made that big government is detrimental to economic growth is as simple and unambiguous as some economists and political commentators claim it is … the statistical evidence should be easy to demonstrate and virtually impossible to refute.” Madrick points to Western Europe as well as periods in U.S. history in which there has been aggressive government intervention to show that, indeed, the argument against government rests more on ideology than fact.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that more government in and of itself creates growth, a fact which Madrick acknowledges. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. Madrick spends a considerable portion of his brief book showing that there never was a “laissez-faire” ethos in the United States and that government has always been woven into the economy, a fact that should be obvious. That said, he is perhaps too quick to dismiss the strong anti-government currents that have coursed through the American past. It has never been either-or, and in seeking to show how involved government has always been, Madrick risks supplanting one caricature with another.

The heart of his argument is that the rise of income inequality in the United States was intimately connected to the waning of government and its delegitimization by conservatives. Particularly troubling has been the economic fate of men. “The U.S. economy no longer raises the income of workers the way it once did … and has profoundly affected the fortunes and prospects of males.” Madrick goes on to cite a litany of statistics about wage stagnation over the past three and a half decades, statistics that are familiar talking points on the left and dismissed as sour grapes on the right, especially since overall economic growth has been steady during this time (at least until now).

The issue as Madrick sees it lies with the harm that wage stagnation and declining standards of living do for the American dream. He adamantly rejects the notion that things like cars and televisions are luxuries and makes an effective case that they are in fact necessities that are required for one to be a full participant in contemporary American society. Furthermore, amid yawning gaps between rich and poor and the insecurity that tens of millions feel because of soaring health care costs and tenuous wages, there has been “an erosion of faith in American fairness” which threatens to undermine society.

It’s hard to argue with the sentiment, but there is something, well, sentimental about that perspective. The notion of an idyllic American dream that has been undermined takes a brief moment of the 1950s when all seemed well with the world (except for those pesky McCarthyite witch hunts and fear of nuclear annihilation) as the set point for the American psyche. It is not, and while the belief that the future will offer more growth and more affluence than the present was ingrained for part of the mid-20th century, it has not always been so clear or simple. Some Americans—especially immigrant groups defined by religious creed—looked to America as a land where they could worship unmolested by government, not as a place where their children would enjoy more material prosperity

Madrick has a particular view of what constitutes the American dream, and the irony is that it is every bit as materialistic as the right that he excoriates. His ideas for what to do are predicated on the belief that “rapid economic growth remains among the nation’s most potent weapons for spreading opportunity, freedom and democracy.” But one could argue that the very goal of “rapid economic growth” is what has fueled the crises of recent decades, including the Internet bubble of the 1990s and the housing and credit bubbles.

book cover

The Case for Big Government

By Jeff Madrick

Princeton University Press, 224 pages

Buy the book

The United States finds itself in an increasingly affluent and competitive world, where growth is not quite as easy as it was when there was a continent to conquer or a post-World War II world to rescue and protect. There is a case to be made that this phenomenon, more than lack of government, has eroded the standard of living and benefited those who have access to global capital over those who labor and work, hence the massive income inequalities. There are forces at work, in short, other than good policies or bad policies, good ideologies and destructive ones. It is undoubtedly true, as Madrick aptly demonstrates, that the case against big government has always rested on the flimsiest of foundation, and now at least, with crisis at hand, few are making that case with the same vigor of yore.

But one key issue few have addressed is that our current plight will lead to less ability for our society as a whole—government included—to unilaterally determine its own fate, and that all of the new and future spending programs do not and will not change that. Big government, small government, the United States is unlikely to return to what defined much of its history, which was independence from outside forces. Today, our government can spend what Madrick demands only because China is willing to lend us the money. That is a radical departure with radical and not yet understood implications. Madrick’s argument for big government has carried the day, but it is a fight of the last war, a passionate case made by a critic whose arguments have been vindicated but designed for a world that is receding into the past.

Zachary Karabell is president of River Twice Research and a commentator on CNBC’s “Fast Money.”

Gary Lamourboy, 2009



Rise ritually! Be deliberate, regular, & scheduled.
Shine! See the light! Turn on! Tune in! Use the lights!
Focus on my goals! Prioritize; plan ahead, step by step, towards that future I see myself living.
Recommit first to me, my peace, my serenity, my good health and happiness!
Only then will I make commitments in good faith to others.


I am a good, strong, honest man, and will remain confident in that today.
I will not turn coward before its difficulties or prove recreant to its duties.
I choose to live honestly and fearlessly, that no outward failure will dishearten me,
Or take away the joy of conscious integrity.
The eyes of my soul are wide open, I see goodness in all things.
My heart is clean. Within it, I hold the truth and true light.
I set an example for others. My outward spirit, joy, and gladness is inspiring,
And I lend my strengths to those who are less fortunate.
I choose to remain sweet and sound of heart,
Despite others ingratitude, treachery, or meanness.
I will not react to their little stings, or get even.
I will not lose faith in good, honest people.
I am the decider, and the deliverer! I am the better man!


I will live a simple, sincere, and serene life,
Promptly repelling negative thoughts of discontent, anxiety, discouragement, and selfishness,
Cultivating cheerfulness, magnanimity, charity, and discretion,
Exercising economy in expenditure, generosity in giving, carefulness in conversation,
Diligence in appointed service, fidelity to every trust, and confidence in myself.
In particular, I will be faithful to the good habits of meditation, work, study, physical exercise, eating, and sleep that my own knowledge and experience has shown me to be right.
On my honor, I resolve to remain focused on the light in my life,
To do this from my own strengths and lean on no o thers,
And to do all that may be done to be a better human being today.


Gary Lamourboy, 2009

Monday, February 9, 2009


and when the next one occurs...

think about keeping refrigerators and freezers working

and here's another reason to consider it now

Tap Water Toxins: Is Your Water Trying to Kill You?
Video: Tap Water Toxins: Is Your Water Trying to Kill You?
What you need to know about the water contaminations the EPA considers so toxic their standard should be zero!

New Guidelines for Safe Usage of Colloidal Silver

Finally! Knowing how to select a high quality product, and following these simple directives, can allow you to safely take full advantage of this marvelous natural antibiotic.

Stunning Examples of Long Exposure Photography

Don’t view these photos unless you have a few minutes of free time as these photos have a magical quality about them that is mesmerizing!

Why Economics Drives Most Food Options You Have

Most people are simply unaware of the powerful financial influences that are making them overweight.

Cornography: A Video You Need to See
Video: Cornography:  A Video You Need to See
Why do Americans consume more corn than any other country in the world?

Shocking Surprises About Those Mammograms...

Why risk missing detecting cancer with a questionable technology?
Homeland: Four Portraits of Native Action

From Alaska to Maine, Montana to New Mexico, Native American activists are fighting the "New Indian Wars" to both preserve their sovereignty and protect Indian lands against disastrous environmental hazards. Nearly all Indian nations sit on land threatened by toxic waste, strip mining, oil drilling and nuclear contamination. At time when 30 years of environmental law is being dismantled, Native Americans are organizing to fight corporations and government.

2:30pm EST :: Tues, Feb 10

Beyond Treason

It reveals a history of profiteering by chemical companies such as Monsanto who used war as an occasion to sell their latest products, such as agent orange. The film gives details of US government testing of chemicals on its own citizens such as Operation Whitecoat and MKUltra. The film makes a compelling case that this policy is responsible for Gulf War syndrome, still referred to by the US military as a 'mystery illness'.

12:30pm EST :: Mon, Feb 9
5:30pm EST :: Wed, Feb 11

Featured Online Video of the Week:

August in the Empire State

The 2004 Presidential Election was one of the most politically divisive moments in recent American history. Amidst the division, the Republican Party held its first ever convention in New York City, a potent symbol for both President Bush and the local progressives energized to defeat him. .

Click here to watch this video

book cover

The Truthdig Book Review Edited by Steve Wasserman
"David Rieff on ‘Africa’s World War’

" -- Why does the Darfur violence arouse outrage but the slaughter of millions more in Congo does not? An indispensable new book by Gerard Prunier attempts an answer by combining cool analysis and scholarly dispassion without losing sight of the horror of its subject.

Davos Walk-Off

Sandy Tolan on the Gaza Spat in Davos
"Erdogan, Peres and the Souffl├ęs of Davos

" -- Dear Mr. Prime Minister: I write with grave concern over your impertinent remarks to the president of Israel at the World Economic Forum last week, which threatened to delay dinner for hundreds of extremely important global thinkers.

Barack Obama and Howard Dean

Chip Fleischer on Howard Dean for HHS
"Howard Dean Should Have Been Obama’s Pick All Along

" -- Now that Tom Daschle has withdrawn his name from the running to be health and human services secretary, President Obama should revisit the idea of nominating former Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean for the position, an idea he abandoned last November for all the wrong reasons.


Marie Cocco on Wall Street Greed
"Dear Wall Street

" -- The reason you are such a big story is that you’ve stolen our money. Or at least that’s how most of the country sees it. You think those auto executives looked bad when they flew into Washington on their private jets? Just you wait.

Joe Conason on the Stimulus Debate
"Stimulus Skeptics Wrong (Again)

" -- Mythology is overshadowing history in the debate over Obama’s plan to stimulate the depressed economy. Excessive airtime is devoted to the prejudices of cable hosts and radio personalities who regurgitate ideas they barely understand.

E.J. Dionne on the Stimulus Media Wars
"GOP Revs Up the Spin on Stimulus

" -- Republicans have been winning the media wars over Obama’s central initiative. They have done so largely by defining the proposal by its least significant parts.

Ellen Goodman on the Octuplets and Ethics
"Eight Is (More Than) Enough

" -- It turns out that the woman who recently gave birth to eight babies already had six in vitro kids at home, no spouse, no job and a pending bankruptcy. There’s a word for this achievement of medicine’s reproductive business: nuts.

William Pfaff on Washington Politics
"In Washington, Public Policy and Private Wealth Are Hopelessly Tangled

" -- Barack Obama in Washington reminds one of Diogenes in Athens, with his lantern in search of an honest man.

David Sirota on Obama's Disappointing Lackeys
"A Team of Zombies

" -- Only weeks ago, the political world was buzzing about a “team of rivals,” but instead President Obama has populated his administration with Bush yes-men and Wall Street kleptocrats whose discredited theologies cannot be killed.

we had to conquer Grenada before they conquered us

you can be the experimentals and I'll be the control

here's a disturbing forecast

an explanation of/link to
; who writes/edits articles

How Dangerous is Your Daily Shower?
Video: The Unholy Alliance Between Psychiatrists and Psychotropic Drugs: 36,000 Deaths a Year?
You wouldn’t knowingly load yourself up with potentially harmful chemicals and pollutants, would you? Well, a typical shower can expose you to nearly 10 times more chlorine than you’d get by drinking unfiltered tap water all day long. Not to mention other contaminants. See my simple and easy solution for a truly smart and healthful shower.

Freaky Facts about Spray-On Tans: Are You in Danger?

A tan gives the appearance of health because if obtained naturally, it is. Fake it with chemicals to “look healthy,” and you won’t like what you get.

Most Clever Billboard Advertising You Have Ever Seen

Some extremely creative uses of billboards.

The Unholy Alliance Between Psychiatrists and Psychotropic Drugs: 36,000 Deaths a Year?
Video: The Unholy Alliance Between Psychiatrists and Psychotropic Drugs: 36,000 Deaths a Year?
Comprehensive video expose on the shocking practices of the psychiatric profession. You need to know this information for you, your family and friends.

Here’s Your Chance to Change the FDA - I Need Your Help on This One

Americans continue to suffer and die because of the FDA. Take the time to help reform the FDA and stop this injustice.
fda playbook...follow the money

"holocaust" gas chamber analysis by an expert

emanuel has a plan for the 2nd Amendment

and he's not the only one