Friday, December 4, 2009

Unemployment drops? What!??!

Basically I've spent the past could of days stewing over the prospect of a rising unemployment rate and no real relief in sight due to a staggering economy. Then a funny thing happened...

WASHINGTON — A surprising drop in the November unemployment rate and in job losses cheered investors Friday and raised hopes for a sustained economic recovery.

The rate unexpectedly fell to 10 percent last month, from 10.2 percent in October, as employers cut the fewest number of jobs since the recession began. The better-than-expected figures provided a rare dose of good news for a labor market that's lost 7.2 million jobs in two years.

The average work week also rose, along with average earnings. And the Labor Department said 159,000 fewer jobs were lost in September and October than first reported.

How the hell did that happen? At least that's some good news going into the holiday season.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A government-supported media?

If you ask me, this is a terrible idea. Never has a government-supported media been free and unbiased. It would be very easy for even the highly touted (cough cough) US government to put the brakes on certain investigative stories and journalists if this model were supported.

The newspaper industry is suffering "market failure" and the government will need to help preserve serious journalism essential to democracy, an influential US congressman said Wednesday.

"The newspapers my generation has taken for granted are facing a structural threat to the business model that has sustained them," said Representative Henry Waxman, a Democrat from California.

"The loss of revenue has spurred a vicious cycle with thousands of journalists losing their jobs," he told a meeting on journalism in the Internet age hosted by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Waxman, who chairs the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which has jurisdiction over the FTC, said the "depression in the media sector is not cyclical, it is structural."

"While this has implications for the media it also has implications for democracy," he added. "A vigorous free press and vigorous democracy have been inextricably linked.

"We cannot risk the loss of an informed public and all that means because of this market failure," he said.

Now I agree that the United States would be in trouble off with no media at all to inform the public, but a government supported media means it would awfully easy to spread propaganda instead of news for the country. That's just as bad if not worse than no hard news media.

This isn't a problem of people not wanting to be informed, it's more because newspapers are refusing to change their 100-year old business model, it's because their content is old and stale, it's because journalists refuse to think outside the box. I'd say that perhaps in five years the current media landscape will look completely different and we could have a lot more "freelance" or "independent" journalists working for themselves on a blog. The newspaper model may not survive, because general media is falling to the wayside and more focused, specialized sources of information are becoming more valued.

And if that's being supplemented by the government, who knows if it's good information at all.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What is Obama supposed to do?

I understand that Obama is now our president and he can't keep blaming the previous administration but the war in Afghanistan and Iraq are not his fault. He was put in a position where he couldn't please anyone, especially the right, no matter what he did. And here we are, sticking it out in Afghanistan, sending 30,000 troops and now the comparisons to Vietnam are flying everywhere.

But let me be the first one (and I'm sure I'm the first one to do this) to agree with Obama's move. By reinforcing troops in Afghanistan, he's hoping to stop the decline of conditions in that country. However, this "winning" and "losing" concept by most Americans is completely ridiculous and unrealistic. In occupation wars such as the war on terror, troops are on the ground but there's no clearly defined battle lines or signs of progress except for the stability of the country itself. If Obama were to leave the same number of troops or pull out immediately, the destabilizing effects it would have in the region would be disastrous. So those that say "why are we wasting more American lives? Why are we risking more troops!?" are off base since a complete withdrawal would have basically been nixing the sacrifices that the military has made since the initial invasion of the country.

And it's funny how fundamental and value-based the Republicans are, and then they flip-flop, now questioning a war that they basically started. Saying it was a war we can not win. Calling it hopeless and a waste of American troops. Saying that it's just Obama pushing an agenda.

Sound familair? It's what the left said about Iraq a few years ago. Funny how things have changed.

And funny how things have changed in Iraq, where violence is down and US forces are slowly reducing their numbers. But you won't hear anything positive about that, definitely not from the right. Apparently staying the course is fine when Bush is in office, but not when Obama is. Nevermind that the troop increase in Afghanistan may create the same result in Iraq. Yeah, there's no possibility that it's going to happen.

What is he supposed to do?

Full withdrawal may be years away, it may not be an option at all. I know Obama has set a time table but doesn't everyone realize that it could change regarding conditions. If things improve I'd imagine that troops coming home would happen. If they don't... we'll probably stick it out.

You know, that thing Bush did in Iraq, regardless of public opinion. And now look what is finally happening there.

Funny. Same philosophy. Different faces. Same criticism.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The man is making money off of Man-Bear-Pig

And you thought his long distance calls from the White House were expensive. Al Gore, who famously has defeated global warming with his awesome Man-Bear-Pig theory, will be in Denmark pulling in some serious mula. Being a former Vice President (and failed presidential candidate) must be a pretty easy life considering how much he's charging for a handshake..

"Meet Al Gore in Copenhagen." The official announcement from this fair Danish city says it all. The former vice president is getting star treatment when he arrives with an entire swarm of green-minded gadflies for the United Nations' global warming extravaganza, which begins on Dec. 7.

"Have you ever shaken hands with an American vice president? If not, now is your chance. Meet Al Gore in Copenhagen during the UN Climate Change Conference," notes the Danish tourism commission, which is helping Mr. Gore promote "Our Choice," his newest book about global warming in all its alarming modalities.

"Tickets are available in different price ranges for the event. If you want it all, you can purchase a VIP ticket, where you get a chance to shake hands with Al Gore, get a copy of Our Choice and have your picture taken with him. The VIP event costs DKK 5,999 and includes drinks and a light snack."

Wait, what? How much is that in American dollars? The currency conversion says it all, too: 5,999 Danish kroners is equivalent to $1,209.

"If you do not want to spend that much money, but still want to hear Al Gore speak about his latest book about climate challenges, you can purchase general tickets, ranging in price from DKK 199-1,499 depending on where in the room you want to sit," the practical Danes advise. "There will be large screens, so that everyone will get a good view."

Do you think he washes his hands? And do you have to pay more if you catch swine flu from him? Since my budget is considerably smaller, I'm wondering if I can't just give him a fist pump for $50. That shouldn't be a problem right?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Science pushes their own agenda

Remember when the world was supposed to end because of global warming? Al Gore said so and we should probably believe him. Heck, they even made a terrible movie about how global warming will lead to... New York being hit by a mega hurricane.

Now it's coming out that scientists were actually deleting emails and suppressing data to show that global tempratures actually dropped. GASP! The fallout from this? No doubt some right-winger radio host will tell us now to go release a bunch of hairspray into the atmosphere.

Dubbed “climate-gate” by global warming sceptics, the most outrageous East Anglia email excerpts appear to suggest respected scientists misleadingly manipulated data and suppressed legitimate argument in peer-reviewed journals.

These claims are forcefully denied, but the correspondents do little to enhance confidence in either the integrity or the professionalism of the university’s climatologists. What is more, there are no denials around the researchers’ repeated efforts to avoid meaningful compliance with several requests under the UK Freedom of Information Act to gain access to their working methods. Indeed, researchers were asked to delete and destroy emails. Secrecy, not privacy, is at the rotten heart of this bad behavior by ostensibly good scientists.

Why should research funding institutions and taxpayers fund scientists who deliberately delay, obfuscate and deny open access to their research? Why should scientific journals publish peer-reviewed research where the submitting scientists have not made every reasonable effort to make their work – from raw data to sophisticated computer simulations – as transparent and accessible as possible? Why should responsible policymakers in America, Europe, Asia and Latin America make decisions affecting people’s health, wealth and future based on opaque and inaccessible science?

They should not. The issue here is not about good or bad science, it is about insisting that scientists and their work be open and transparent enough so that research can be effectively reviewed by broader communities of interest. Open science minimises the likelihood and consequences of bad science.

This hurts the trust that public has with science. Instead of reporting the truth as science is intended to do, the scientists used their position to push a certain view. Sounds familiar? Yeah it's called religion.

The problem with doing this on global warming is that this could set back the scientific community's reputation in the matter for years. Joe Bob on his couch and Sweeney Crook in the Senate aren't going to listen to your pleads for change now, regardless if actually climate change is causing a river to form in their living room. You guys just had to go and screw things up. Couldn't you have just shown everybody the large chunks of ice that are melting off glaciers that have been around for thousands of years? Just a thought.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Michelle Obama offensive image pops up on Google

Apparently a offensive photo of Michelle Obama found it's way onto the Google search results, causing quite a stir. At first, Google was not going to remove the photos because of a commitment to free speech but eventually caved.

The BBC reports that the picture first surfaced earlier this month, but was removed because the site hosting allegedly violated Google guidelines by spreading so-called malware. But it has now surfaced on another site, so Google has left it alone.

David Vise, a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and author of The Google Story, tells the BBC that it would be a "very slippery slope" to try to police free speech.

"Once you begin to block images, who is to say," he tells the BBC. "It's like the Supreme Court of the United States once said, 'what is pornography?' Well we can't define it, but we know it when we see it."

That does bring up an interesting conversation about censoring, but when it's the first lady of a country, you might want to make sure you don't have any smut on your main page. Just saying.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Obama doesn't have very many friends

At this point, I think soap scum is more popular than Barack Obama. Oh to be a President during the worst recession since the Great Depression. Wonderful.

President Obama's approval ratings hit their lowest ranking yet in the Rasmussen Reports daily tracking poll out Tuesday, with 27 percent strongly approving of the president's job performance and 42 percent strongly disapproving, an index rating of -15.

The president's total approval is 45 percent in the latest poll, which matches his lowest approval rating overall, compared to 54 percent disapproval.

Approval is strongly divided by party with 52 percent of Democrats strongly approving and 68 percent of Republicans strongly disapproving. However, Obama appears to be losing the critical independent vote with 16 percent of unaffiliated voters strongly approving and 33 percent of independent voters approving overall. Fifty-one percent of independents strongly disapprove.

Among the concerns for Americans are the war in Afghanistan, financial management and health care reform. Forty-five percent want the U.S. out of Afghanistan in a year, while 43 percent don't want a timetable.

Fifty-three percent of likely voters polled said they are worried the federal government is overmanaging the economy.

What I think are some hampering factors in Obama's administration includes the indecision during two unpopular wars, although the media has failed to report how things have seemingly improved in Iraq. Obama needs to take a stance on either leaving Afghanistan or digging in, not just standing pat. However, once he makes a decision on that, what does the United States do about Iraq? See the quagmire we're facing at the moment?

As far as the economy goes, that's somewhat out of Obama's control as most of the damage was not done on his clock. I don't know why so many Americans are quick to point a finger at him since (1) the president doesn't have a sweeping impact on the economy, he can pass legislation and use stimulus packages but in the end the market has to fix itself and (2) that stimulus package is actually popping up in everyone's life, I can't tell you how many times I've come across something that was funded by stimulus money. Certainly better than sending everyone a $300 check in the mail right?

My main gripe is the healthcare reform, as it hasn't been handled well and the Dems have seemingly taken the approach that "we need to do this, this is the best thing, the American people don't know what they're talking about, lets push this through." This sort of bull-rush that Obama and the Dems have been doing don't look good at all in the public eye.

Overall though, every president's approval ratings drop, so this is just business as usual.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The AP looks pretty Anti-Sarah Palin in this story

Why the heck would you assign 11 of your reporters to fact check Sarah Palin's autobiography when there's oh say... the biggest piece of healthcare legislation floating through Congress? Any idea?

The AP claims Palin misstated her record with regard to travel expenses and taxpayer-funded bailouts, using statements widely reported elsewhere. But it also speculated into Palin's motives for writing "Going Rogue: An American Life," stating as fact that the book "has all the characteristics of a pre-campaign manifesto."

Palin quickly hit back on a Facebook post titled "Really? Still Making Things Up?"

"Imagine that," the post read. "11 AP reporters dedicating time and resources to tearing up the book, instead of using the time and resources to 'fact check' what's going on with Sheik Mohammed's trial, Pelosi's health care takeover costs, Hasan's associations, etc. Amazing."

AP spokesman Paul Colford said the organization, with more than 4,000 employees, and 49 Pulitzer Prizes earned for asking the hard questions, has the luxury of putting multiple reporters on major stories. He confirmed 11 people worked on the story, but not all full-time. He refused to say, however, if similar number of journalists were assigned to review other political books, or if Palin has been treated differently.

Yes, what about Obama's autobiography? Did they fact check that? In an industry that is suppose to be unbiased, that sort of "research" looks fishy and they should understand that. Conservative talk radio is going to have a field day with this one.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Rocky road for employment

I know that technically we're bouncing back from the Great Recession, but New York Daily News Writer Nouriel Roubini thinks the worst is still to come for the American worker. The job market is always the last to improve when coming out of a recession and there's a good chance a lot of these jobs that were lost may never come back.

The last recession ended in November 2001, but job losses continued for more than a year and half until June of 2003; ditto for the 1990-91 recession.

So we can expect that job losses will continue until the end of 2010 at the earliest. In other words, if you are unemployed and looking for work and just waiting for the economy to turn the corner, you had better hunker down. All the economic numbers suggest this will take a while. The jobs just are not coming back.

There's really just one hope for our leaders to turn things around: a bold prescription that increases the fiscal stimulus with another round of labor-intensive, shovel-ready infrastructure projects, helps fiscally strapped state and local governments and provides a temporary tax credit to the private sector to hire more workers. Helping the unemployed just by extending unemployment benefits is necessary not sufficient; it leads to persistent unemployment rather than job creation.

The long-term picture for workers and families is even worse than current job loss numbers alone would suggest. Now as a way of sharing the pain, many firms are telling their workers to cut hours, take furloughs and accept lower wages. Specifically, that fall in hours worked is equivalent to another 3 million full time jobs lost on top of the 7.5 million jobs formally lost.

This is very bad news but we must face facts. Many of the lost jobs are gone forever, including construction jobs, finance jobs and manufacturing jobs. Recent studies suggest that a quarter of U.S. jobs are fully out-sourceable over time to other countries.

Well that's just swell news. The main thing is that there seems to be change from "be whatever you want" in this country to "get whatever the heck you can and survive." Not exactly the American dream that everyone has grown to love.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Stimulus creating jobs in districts that don't exist

I'm sure this is an honest mistake, but damn, this is embarassing.

Here's a stimulus success story: In Arizona's 15th congressional district, 30 jobs have been saved or created with just $761,420 in federal stimulus spending. At least that's what the Web site set up by the Obama administration to track the $787 billion stimulus says.

There's one problem, though: There is no 15th congressional district in Arizona; the state has only eight districts.

And ABC News has found many more entries for projects like this in places that are incorrectly identified.

Late Monday, officials with the Recovery Board created to track the stimulus spending, said the mistakes in crediting nonexistent congressional districts were caused by human error.

Just a lesson to all you out there that believe the government is the answer to everything. The government screws up just as much as big business, so giving them complete control of certain sectors in life doesn't mean things will be flowers and babies.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Obama bows and freaks out America

Apparently by bowing to the Japanese emperor, Obama is apparently signifying some sort of disrespect towards capitalism and the free world. Nevermind being emperor is more symbolic than anything and Obama is following a Japanese custom. Apparently in order to be a true American he should have came in spouting John Wayne lines and offending Japanese people left and right. Either way, the media has blown this waaaay out of proportion.

This photo will get Democrat President Obama a lot of approving nods in Japan this weekend, especially among the older generation of Japanese who still pay attention to the royal family living in iRepublican vice president Dick Cheney is received by Emperor Akihito in 2007ts downtown castle. Very low bows like this are a sign of great respect and deference to a superior.

To some in the United States, however, an upright handshake might have looked better. (See Cheney-Akihito photo, right).

Remember Michelle Obama casually patting Britain's Queen Elizabeth on the back during their Buckingham Palace visit? America's royalty tends to make movies and get bad reviews and lots of money as a sign of respect.

Obama could receive some frowns back home as he did for his not-quite-this-low-or-maybe-about-the-same-bow to the Saudi king not so long ago. (See photo here)

How times change under Democratic presidents.

Back in 1994 when President Bill Clinton appeared to maybe perhaps almost start to bow to Akihito at a White House encounter, U.S. officials rushed to deny it was any such a thing.

God forbid we're liked in other countries, that would just be preposterous!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Weak dollar wont help the economy right now

The weak US dollar isn't helping the economy anytime soon, while it is allowing our exports to increase, the amount of imports in this country is growing faster. So it's going to take a couple years.

WASHINGTON – A weaker dollar may boost the nation's economy by increasing exports and narrowing the trade gap — but that won't happen anytime soon.

Instead, the nation's trade deficit rose in September by the largest percentage in a decade as U.S. exports grew for the fifth straight month, but imports rose faster, a government report showed Friday. That trend is likely to continue until the middle of next year, economists said.

Rising oil prices and higher purchases of foreign goods by U.S. companies drove imports higher. So did more purchases of foreign parts by U.S. manufacturers, which are ramping up production in the fledgling economic recovery.

Higher exports, spurred by a lower dollar, probably won't reduce the trade gap and boost the U.S. economy until 2011, economists said.

Meanwhile the job market is still in shambles. It will be interesting to see how the US economy starts to recover if it is actually recovering.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

US can't win in Afghanistan, says Gorbachev

And he would certainly know a thing or two about that since the Soviet Union invaded and was in a murky war in Afghanistan for much of the 1980s... something that has been long considered that country's version of Vietnam. His diagnosis was basically that Afghanistan is too scattered and too much of a clan culture to be controlled militarily.

Nov. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, drawing on his experience of military failure in Afghanistan in the 1980s, said the U.S. can’t win the conflict there and should begin pulling out its soldiers.

Afghanistan, where U.S. and NATO forces are battling a Taliban-led insurgency, is too fragmented between clans to be controlled militarily, Gorbachev, 78, said in an interview today in Berlin. While he said President Barack Obama would be unlikely to take his advice, Gorbachev said he saw no chance of success even with more U.S. troops.

“I believe that there is no prospect of a military solution,” Gorbachev said in Russian through a translator. “What we need is the reconciliation of Afghan society -- and they should be preparing the ground for withdrawal rather than additional troops.” 

Considering how much the Afghan war hurt the Soviet Union, the United States might want to take a look at these statements and the similarities between the invasion by the USSR and the current occupation by the US. 

Friday, November 6, 2009

Uh-oh, Iran is up to no good

Apparently Iran is working on nuclear warheads, which is not something America would like to be happening, in case you're keeping score. Luckily the UN has taken their normal course of action... doing nothing.

The UN's nuclear watchdog has asked Iran to explain evidence suggesting that Iranian scientists have experimented with an advanced nuclear warhead design, the Guardian has learned.

The very existence of the technology, known as a "two-point implosion" device, is officially secret in both the US and Britain, but according to previously unpublished documentation in a dossier compiled by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iranian scientists may have tested high-explosive components of the design. The development was today described by nuclear experts as "breathtaking" and has added urgency to the effort to find a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis.

The sophisticated technology, once mastered, allows for the production of smaller and simpler warheads than older models. It reduces the diameter of a warhead and makes it easier to put a nuclear warhead on a missile.

Um... crap. That's kind of a bad sign for us when Iran constantly talks about doing us in. Is anyone going to do anything?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Obama: One year later?

Last November, Barack Obama was elected president of the United States? How much have things changed since he's been in office? That's hard to say because he had to focus his attention on the economic crisis and a year is not that long for a president to make an impact.

However statements like "Obama hasn't done anything" is ridiculous ... it's been shown that his stimulus bill jumped the economy, he's changed America's reputation in the world (Bush made it very unpopular) and he's still pushing health reform. No he hasn't brought the troops home but name me an instance in American history where thats been done quickly and suddenly. You just can't pull out of those countries.

MADISON, Wis. (Reuters) - A year after his historic election, President Barack Obama sought to remind Americans on Wednesday the biggest problems he is grappling with -- from the economy to the war in Afghanistan -- are the legacy of his predecessor, George W. Bush.

With his approval ratings down from once-lofty levels and Tuesday's Democratic election losses raising questions about his political clout, Obama held no special ceremony to mark the anniversary of his election as America's first black president.

He instead traveled to Wisconsin to appear before a friendly audience in a school gymnasium and promote education as a pillar of his economic recovery efforts.

Obama was elected on a promise of sweeping change after eight years under Bush, but many Americans are increasingly expressing impatience that his pledge has yet to bear fruit.

You can't make a judgement now, but in three more year, the jury will be out.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Barack Obama doesn't care about elections

Does anyone really care about the specific electoral races going on now? I'm sure it's important to the people of their respective states but it seems that the cable and internet media outlets are blowing these up to be the elections of the century. And Gasp! Obama is not worried! How could he!

You know how a lot of right-winged people complained about the raw deal Bush got in the media (and rightly so, there were some ridiculous things brought against him), well the same thing is happening to Obama now.

Hours after urging reporters not to draw sweeping conclusions from Tuesday's gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told POLITICO President Barack Obama wasn't even keeping an eye on the results.

"He's not watching returns," Gibbs said.

The Obama administration and other top Democrats have consistently tried to play down the import of this week's contests, which Republicans have sought to portray as a referendum on the Democratic-led government in Washington.

In Tuesday's White House press briefing, Gibbs dismissed suggestions that the two governor's races and a special election in upstate New York could be a preview of the 2010 congressional midterms.

"I don't think, looking at the two gubernatorial races, you can draw with any great insight what's going to happen a year from now," he said.

And why should he? Re-election isn't until a ways off and there are going to be more elections on the lower levels before then. While some people are complaining about the current economic conditions, the right better understand that this downfall happen under their watch. That's still going to stick with them in the coming elections.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Apparently Barack Obama is too skinny

The media jumps on our presidents for eating too much McDonalds, but our last two presidents have actually been pretty fit. George W. Bush was known as a big runner, and now Drudge Report has released these photos of Barak Obama that show that he's probably lost weight since becoming president.

Way to make Bill Clinton look bad guys.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The amazing US economy "officially" recovers

Ladies and gentlemen, the recession is over! Well kinda...

Reporting from Washington - The U.S. economy expanded at an annual rate of 3.5% in the third quarter, unofficially marking the end of the worst recession since World War II.

The growth reported today by the Commerce Department for the three months that ended Sept. 30 snapped four straight quarters of economic contraction and was driven largely by a rebound in consumer spending supported by the federal stimulus package and improved business spending that included a revival of home building.

The increase in the gross domestic product, the total value of goods and services produced in the country, is the evidence most economists have said is needed to declare victory against the recession.

But today's preliminary report doesn't mean the economy is in good shape. Its expansion in the third quarter only partly offsets its dramatic 6% decline last fall and winter. A number of forecasters are predicting weaker expansion in the fourth quarter and in the early part of 2010.

I'm not exactly doing cartwheels over the news but this is certainly a better place to be than say last year when the sky was falling. The main thing with these numbers is that they could easily dip back down and we could see a second leg to the recession if certian things aren't done to the economy. It's still weak in several sectors and I would assume that the average American's confidence in it isn't very high.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

More losses in Afghanistan

President Obama has a hot potato he's going to have to address now as things aren't going well in Aghanistan war for US forces.

KABUL – Roadside bombs — the biggest killer of U.S. soldiers — claimed eight more American lives Tuesday, driving the U.S. death toll to a record level for the third time in four months as President Barack Obama nears a decision on a new strategy for the troubled war.

The homemade bombs, also called improvised explosive devices or IEDs, are responsible for between 70 percent and 80 percent of the casualties among U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan and have become a weapon of "strategic influence," said Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz in Washington.

The attacks Tuesday followed one of the deadliest days for the U.S. military operation in Afghanistan — grim milestones likely to fuel the debate in the United States over whether the conflict is worth the sacrifice.

Obama has nearly finished gathering information on whether to send tens of thousands more American forces to quell the deepening insurgency, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said. A meeting Friday with the Joint Chiefs of Staff will be among the last events in the decision-making process, Gibbs said.

Do you pull out the troops? Reinforce them? One thing Obama is going to have to do is SOMETHING, becuase right now it looks like he's just sitting and waiting while people lose their lives. His thinking is probably more along the lines of waiting to make an informed decision, rather than the knee jerk reaction that got America in that country in the first place - but people aren't going to be very patient with his apparent indecisiveness.

Decision time.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Al Qaeda doesn't need a home base, does it?

There has been talk about whether or not the war in Afghanistan has disturbed Al Qaeda and prevented them from being as powerful as they could be without a suitable home base in a "lawless" country. Some say that Al Qaeda is still a major threat whether or not we're in Afghanistan - basically nixing the purpose of the war - and others say that it has severely reduced their capability to strike America. Jim Arkedis is one of the latter people, as he explains the following...

I spent five years as a counterterrorism analyst for the Pentagon and rigorously studied plots from Madrid to London to 9/11. The above arguments may have merit in a piecemeal or abstract sense, but fall apart in the specific case of what we all dread: a large-scale, al Qaeda operation aimed at the United States.

It is certainly true, for example, that terrorist groups can accomplish much online. Individuals can maintain contact with groups via chat rooms, money can be transferred over the Web (if done with extreme caution), and plotters can download items like instruction manuals for bomb-making, photographs of potential targets, and even blueprints for particular buildings.

But all the e-mail accounts, chat rooms, and social media available will never account for the human touch. There is simply no substitute for the trust and confidence built by physically meeting, jointly conceiving, and then training together for a large-scale, complex operation on the other side of the world.

Basically, it's a lot easier for you to train to do something very bad when you have an entire country to roam around in. When you have to hide and constantly dodge attacks, getting these large-scale terrorist attacks are much more difficult.

Despite the difficulties in Afghanistan, one would have to say its better to have Al Qaeda on the run rather than having them lining us up in their gun-sights.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Obama's approval rating in the tank

I think the Detroit Lions are having a better season than Obama at the moment. At least they've won a game.

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Wednesday shows that 27% of the nation's voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. Forty percent (40%) Strongly Disapprove giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -13. That’s just a point above the lowest level ever recorded for this President.

Not good news for a president that is trying to push his agenda through for health care and surplus bills. It seems that the goodwill built up at the time election has faded and we've now got some serious problems facing the Obama Administration. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

High unemployment might be normal in the United States

Some cheery news from the AP. Don't get all excited at once.

WASHINGTON – Even with an economic revival, many U.S. jobs lost during the recession may be gone forever and a weak employment market could linger for years.
That could add up to a "new normal" of higher joblessness and lower standards of living for many Americans, some economists are suggesting.

The words "it's different this time" are always suspect. But economists and policy makers say the job-creating dynamics of previous recoveries can't be counted on now.

Here's why:

• The auto and construction industries helped lead the nation out of past recessions. But the carnage among Detroit's automakers and the surplus of new and foreclosed homes and empty commercial properties make it unlikely these two industries will be engines of growth anytime soon.

• The job market is caught in a vicious circle: Without more jobs, U.S. consumers will have a hard time increasing their spending; but without that spending, businesses might see little reason to start hiring.

• Many small and midsize businesses are still struggling to obtain bank loans, impeding their expansion plans and constraining overall economic growth.

• Higher-income households are spending less because of big losses on their homes, retirement plans and other investments. Lower-income households are cutting back because they can't borrow like they once did.

Now obviously we can't make any comparisons to the Great Depression because if memory serves me right, unemployment was somewhere around 25 percent. As gloomy as it may seem, it's not that bad in America right not. It's crummy, but we could bottom out some more.

I think what Americans will have to come to grips with is that the quality of life in this country will drop for the first time rather than get better. Blame whoever you want, but I believe its a collection of issues that have hit us all at once and now we're going to have to figure out a way to make things work again.

Considering the amount of waste in this country, it almost seems as if the economy is fixing itself by cutting some fat. However, that fat is needed in the pocketbooks of many people and it's just not there anymore.

We're in for a long road, but in order for us to get out of this, the US is going to need to figure out how to survive - not just figure out a way to get back to the economic bubble of the 90s. That model just doesn't work anymore.

Monday, October 19, 2009

What Americans think of the Iran situation

A new poll by the Washington Post and ABC show that Americans overwhelmingly believe Iran is developing nuclear weapons and want something done about it. Well duh, they only hate every living fiber in our country and will do anything to get rid of us, sitting on our hands while they develop nukes isn't the best game plan.

Americans overwhelmingly see Iran's nuclear program as geared toward the development of atomic weaponry, and more than eight in 10 support direct diplomatic talks to try to resolve the situation, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

As negotiators from the United States, France and Russia meet with Iran starting today in Vienna, public opinion in the U.S. is decidedly behind one possible outcome should the talks fail: 78 percent in the new poll support international economic sanctions against Iran to try to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons.

There's less, though still sizable backing for military engagement, with 42 percent of Americans supporting the bombing of Iran's nuclear development sites and 33 percent advocating invading the country with U.S. ground forces (54 and 62 percent, respectively, oppose these actions).

The backing for military engagement is the one that surprises me. With troops already in Iraq and Afghanistan, invading Iran would cause considerable strain on our armed forces. Unless of course we pull out of Iraq before we do anything in Iran, but aren't we just moving from one Middle-Eastern country to another? 

Invading a country in that region hasn't exactly been shown to be the right gameplan. However, you would hope there would be more international help since Iran is a considerable threat (or at least they talk like it). Just ask Israel.

If we throw down economic sanctions, the Iranians are going to be hard-pressed for Hot Pockets...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The NFL, Obama, is out to get Rush Limbaugh!

Get ready for a firestorm as the right-wing media goes into a frenzy after one of their own got shot down for possible minority ownership in the NFL. Rush Limbaugh had been part of the ownership group that was looking to purchase the St. Louis Rams - however after objection from NFL players, the player's association and a public outcry, he was excluded from that ownership group.

But Rush isn't going to down without a fight. Here's what he had to say...

During a 15-minute counterattack at the start of his show, Limbaugh said he believes he's been made an example by a players' union seeking leverage in talks over a new collective bargaining agreement. What happened to him was an illustration of "Obama's America on full display," the commentator said.

Hold on, you were denied ownership of an NFL team because of your past record of inflammatory remarks and it is somehow Barack Obama's fault. That guy gets credit for everything from world peace to the coming of World War III.

Limbaugh's history hurt his participation in the bid. In 2003, he was forced to resign from ESPN's "Sunday NFL Countdown" after saying of the Eagles' Donovan McNabb: "I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well."

Ahem. That's not the least bit racist. The media always has their favorites and all of a sudden it's wrong if the media favors a black quarterback? And it couldn't be further from the truth and McNabb has the same numbers as Big Ben, but Ben get's the praise and questions about McNabb's getting benched gets thrown around every season. And there were successful black quarterbacks before him... soo....

According to transcripts posted on his Web site, in 2007 Limbaugh said: "The NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it."

Again Rush Limbaugh is not a racist. Nosireeee.

Limbaugh blamed Smith, executive director of the NFLPA and an "Obama-ite," along with Sharpton and Jackson, whom he referred to as "race hustlers," for Checketts' decision to drop him. He said his sacking was an example of the political clout wielded by President Barack Obama's administration.

There he goes back to Obama! I'm sure there's some way he can blame global warming on Obama as well. Wow!

Listen Rush, the NFL is a business and it has the right to deny your involvement in their operations. The simple matter is that you're an inflammatory shock jock radio host that says things that are often offensive. You made your own bed in this, and you again do that normal little ditty of blaming other people. Aren't the Republicans suppose to be all about personal responsibility?

You say these outlandish things and you expect no repercussions? No public outcry? Get real bud.

The NFL wasn't going to partner with Rush Limbaugh for the same reason CBS News wouldn't have Girls Gone Wild be one of their sponsors. That's content that's inheritance offensive to their fan base and their players. It's a lose-lose situation.

And owning an NFL team is not a right. That's like saying just because you have money, you have the right to be a CEO of a comapny you choose if you pay them to put you in that position. Doesn't work that way, Rush.

Just continue to be that moron we've grown to love. I honestly don't even think you had any intention of owning part of the Rams, this was just a scheme to get more attention on yourself.

You know, that doesn't involve prescription drugs.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dow Jones reaching 10,000 doesn't mean we're out of the woods yet

Some optimistic news about the economy today as the Dow Jones reached 10,000 for the first time since 2008. Despite this being a triumph for an unsure market still trying to figure out how to weather these tough times, people are being cautious.

Lately, there has been a growing consensus among both investors and economists that the battered U.S. economy hit bottom and turned around earlier this year, and is now in a recovery.

The Federal Reserve said economic activity has "picked up" in its statement after its Sept. 23 meeting, and about 80% of leading economists surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics agreed in a survey earlier this month that the recovery has begun.

But even economists who agree the economy is in recovery say that growth will be slow and difficult, with continued job losses, tight credit and further declines in home prices. And even some who believe that the current Dow 10,000 level is justified say there's still a significant risk that the economy will take a step backward.

"One of the great challenges is whether consumers and small businesses come along with this recovery," said John Silvia, chief economist with Wells Fargo. "If they don't, you either sit at 10,000 or slip back to 9,500. To sustain another double-digit (percentage) gain to Dow 11,000 is asking too much from this economy and the risks we still see out there."

So are we recovering? Tough to tell since unemployment is still high and sales are full of mixed results. The reason for the stock market hitting 10,000 could also be that companies have been cutting costs and therefore their revenue earnings are higher. However no organic growth in the economy is happening. It's essentially another bubble that could burst.

Another reason for the spike is the sweeping away of some "dirty laundry"

Another reason that comparisons to Dow levels of a year ago are risky is that two of the more troubled components -- General Motors and Citigroup (C, Fortune 500) -- were dropped and replaced by stronger companies such as Cisco Systems (CSCO, Fortune 500) and Travelers Cos. (TRV, Fortune 500) in June.

Without those changes the Dow would be almost 100 points lower now than it is with the stronger companies, although precise comparisons are difficult since GM shares are no longer traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

So don't jump the gun yet.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Your Nobel Peace Prize Winner!

It's a great day in America when their President wins the Nobel Peace Prize and everybody collectively goes "what the heck?"

However, what takes the cake here is the Reuters story actually quoting a spokesman for the Taliban. This is borderline Saturday Night Live territory. 

"The Nobel prize for peace? Obama should have won the 'Nobel Prize for escalating violence and killing civilians'," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location.

Says a member of an organization that escalates violence and kills civilians. Wonderful. While I wouldn't say Obama is a killer of innocent women of children (keep in mind he inherited two wars in his presidency and is slowly pulling troops out of Iraq), the reason for him winning the Peace Prize seems to be more related to his celebrity as opposed to his actual accomplishments. However, you can't deny his preaching for peace and in his position as president, the possibility of things getting done during his president are quite encouraging to some people.

So when are the Oscars?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

US Census hires criminals?

Due do an error by our fine government's employees, we now having criminals walking door-to-door taking down US Census data. Uh-oh, this can't end well.

Errors by Census Bureau employees may have resulted in 200 people with criminal records being hired to conduct door-to-door canvassing.

The Census Bureau typically takes fingerprints and performs background checks on workers hired to interact with the public. But a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that tens of thousands of workers were improperly fingerprinted by bureau employees.

The GAO fears that the name-checks performed on those employees were not sufficient without fingerprints.

"It is possible that more than 200 people with unclassifiable prints had disqualifying criminal records but still worked and had contact with the public during address canvassing," Robert Goldenkoff of the GAO said in a report to a Senate subcommittee on Wednesday.

So if somebody knocks at your door asking for a head count... don't let them near the fine china.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Things are going swell in the state of Illinois

The state of Illinois has a bit of a money problem...

CHICAGO (CBS) ― The State of Illinois' pile of unpaid bills has grown to a record-breaking $3 billion. Comptroller Dan Hynes said Tuesday it's never before been this bad at this point in any previous fiscal year. CBS 2 Political Editor Mike Flannery reports that some social service agencies that rely heavily on state reimbursement warn they will soon be forced out of business.

Hynes said that things are likely to get worse before the state's bleak revenue picture begins to improve.

The comptroller reported corporate income tax receipts down $77 million for July through September; sales tax receipts, down $244 million; personal income tax receipts, down $251 million.

One result: the typical creditor must now wait three months to be paid by the state, compared to a two-month wait at this time last year.

Another sign that the recession is far from over. The simple fact that states can't pay their bills will have huge ramifications for the normal people of America. Much more than the federal government, local and state governments are essential for everyday life expenditures in America. If they tighten up all the doors and stop providing business and basic services, we're going to be in a whole world of hurt.

Perhaps Illinois should get a credit card?