Comparison Of Depth And Duration Of Post-WW2 Recessions
(© Calculated Risk -- Click For Bigger Chart. It's Easy and Fun!)
Hey; some week, huh? Here's a little rundown, in case you may have missed some of the grosser points:
- Catfood Commission Chokes On Hairball: President Obama's Debt Commission had already released its final report, which essentially said that the future for ordinary Americans would have to be bleak and constrained, while those with large personal fortunes would hardly be affected at all. Forwarding their recommendations to Congress would have taken a 14 of 18-member majority; they didn't get it. Obama thanked them for their time, and then suggested we all move along; nothing to see here.
However, fourteen current Democratic Senators sent a letter to the Majority Leader Harry Reid, urging that even though the Commission's ideas
for effectively sinking Social Security and Medicareweren't approved by a majority of its members, that the President should still demand Austerity Now!.
13 of the fourteen Senators signing this thing will still be in the Senate next year, and part of the Democratic majority of 53. Embarrassing for Obama that his own side wants to support Rethug ideals? Of course -- but, the Commission (another attempt to ask politely that the Rethugs be bipartisan) was his idea.
- Some Swedish-Based Thing Did Some Things; People Unhappy: Wikileaks released over 200,000 pages of U.S. diplomatic cables -- primarily those sent by embassy or consular staff reporting on the Hub Bub in their little part of the world. They showed that (A) Pakistan is an amazingly corrupt little tribal tinderbox with nuclear weapons and people that be hatin' us Freedom; and (B) That all those graduates of Yale and Haavaad in the Foreign Service are trying to use those B.A.'s in English by being witty chroniclers of Life On The Fringes Of Empire. Oh, and Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, promises a big dump of data about "An American Bank" next year; it's been known for some time that Wikileaks possesses some 5 Gigs of data from Bank of America corporation. A.P. Gianini is expected to rise from the dead, and throw up.
- Let North Korea Be North Korea: North Korea, The Funnest Place On Earth outside Robert Mugabe's Zimbawe or various parts of Detroit and Baltimore, fired artillery barrages at South Korean territory, in response to -- well, no one is sure. It may have coincided with a 'Hate Daffy Duck' campaign going on up there this week, or the annual joint NATO / South Korean military exercises being held. Several South Korean soldiers and civilians were killed, and it gave Little Rupert's Funnest Media Company On Earth the opportunity to sound Very Alarmed. Glenn Beck cried again, but really meant it this time.
- President Obama And His Team
BegsTells Rethugs: Can't We All Just Get Along? After the Catfood Commission issued its report calling for The Little People to Bear More Burdens and Pay More Prices, Obama announced a two-year pay freeze on Federal Worker's salaries. No matter that the salaries of all Federal employees equal less than 3% of the Federal budget); this was an ill-considered publicity stunt. It was meant as an olive branch by Obama to the Rethugs, who will be running the House in Congress next year. His administration held 'closed-door meetings' with the Rethugs, almost begging them to be bipartisan.
I rarely read the burblings of Frank Rich, columnist at the New York Times, because he's often addled in his little head, but his scribble for the Sunday Times did make a point: After noting the in-your-face antics of New Jersey's new Republican Governor, Chris Christie, Rich said that polls show New Jersians "know what he stands for and sometimes respect him for his forthrightness even when they reject the stands themselves." (Note: Quote below paragraphed for emphasis and clarity.)
No one expects Obama to imitate Christie’s in-your-face, bull-in-the-china-shop shtick. But they have waited in vain for him to stand firm on what matters to him and to the country rather than forever attempting to turn non-argumentative reasonableness into its own virtuous reward.
It’s clear now the shellacking [i.e., the loss of the House to Republican control in the Midterms last month] was not the hoped-for wake-up call. For starters, Obama might have robustly challenged the election story line pushed by the G.O.P. both before and after Nov. 2 — that deficit eradication and tax cuts for all are voters’ No. 1 priority. Repeating it constantly — as McConnell and John Boehner do, brilliantly — does not make it true. But the myth becomes reality if there’s no leader to trumpet the counternarrative.
And, it becomes what people accept as true when the media is effectively dominated by the Right, and few mainstream media outlets do more than echo whatever President Boner says.
What is happening now has happened over, and over, and over again since 2001: Rethugs act like the worst schoolyard bullies you've ever experienced; Democrats cower and hand over whatever the Rethugs want, or compromise on legislation -- expecting, at some point the Rethugs will have to act like moral, conscious, principled adults and work for the general betterment of all Americans.
But the Rethugs never will. They're arrogant, festering, greed-driven monsters, one step above child molesters -- every single one of them (in case you wondered). They should be stepped on like cockroaches; and for their part, the Democrats are spineless, with the tensile strength of a jelly doughnut when it comes to supporting the Constitution, or the country. As Digby says,
... I think they[i.e., the Democrats] simply want to make as few waves as possible while the invisible hand and "savvy businessmen" magically fix everything so they can run on "Morning in America" in 2012. I think that's been the plan from the beginning. I don't think they have a Plan B.
In fact, the biggest irony of this administration is how much they have depended on the preservation of the status quo to fix the problems. (Ironic considering the "change" message they ran on. Fully expected from neo-liberal lawmakers.) And yeah, it's a problem.
Our current President, in one Dog's opinion, has irredeemably fucked up and is now in the process of handing the nation back to the creatures which almost destroyed it just a few years ago. We need a leader of the moral authority of a Dr. Martin Luther King, the jocular popularity of a Franklin Roosevelt, and the take-no-prisoners attitude of the Rethugs themselves.
Instead, we have none of that. Way to go, Barack. Thanks, pal (Full disclosure: I worked quite hard for the man's election; do I feel betrayed? Absolutely).
The Rethugs listened to the Democrats whine for a while (it's fun, for them), then said Fuck You and took Little Timmeh! Geithner's lunch money. President Boner and President
Yertle The TurtleMcConnell looked really happy, and said they wouldn't allow anything the Democrats wanted to pass in the few sessions left of the current, 'Lame-Duck' Congress -- such as extensions of unemployment benefits, or tax cuts for Americans making less than $250K per year. They want to destroy the Democratic party. They want to run Obama out of Potomac-Town and put some stupid freak in the White House who will do whatever the Lobbyists and the Serious Wealthy want them to do -- Little Sarah Palin; Emptyhead Mitt, or Mikey I Heart Jesus Huckabee.
They collectively don't care if a Rethug President makes a mess of America's culture or society (or, even the rest of the world -- like Lil' Boots Bush, no?); they just want to keep the money and exclusive access to Fun and Stuff flowing for them. That's all -- they truly don't give a damn if people are dying, or hungry, or living in cardboard boxes. Truly, they don't.
- President Palin Says Lots Of Things On Twitter: The American Media Hearts Little Sarah Palin, Straight 'n Tall. They would publish photographs of the marks made on her toilet paper if they could -- and David Broder would praise their shape and tasteful lack of smearing. Someone (Read: Jonah Goldberg) would claim to see the shape of the Virgin Mary in the issue of Little Sarah's tissues.
So long as the media pays attention to her, Little Sarah will stay popular, classy, and Make Lots Of Money, too -- which is what's she in The Game for. It's all so good, here in the Greatest Country On Earth, and if you don't love her and love Jesus you can go back where you came from -- and if you're really really patient, we may just ship you there.
- Acknowledged Unemployment Level Reaches 9.8%: In the sixty-two years since the end of World War Two, there have been 11 official Recessions. The current "situation" (again, by official edict) was supposed to have begun in 2008 and ended in 2009. Anyone who has a pulse knows this is crap, and that the crisis which began in the Fall of 2007 is in no way over. This is the longest loss of jobs in America's history since the Great Depression of 1929 - 1940 (But, not the deepest -- that benchmark, 10.8%, belongs to Ronald Reagan).
The most recent unemployment report showed that 431,000 more people lost their jobs in November [this from the 4-week Moving Average of first-time applications for unemployment relief], while only 39,000 new jobs were created. The official Bureau Of Labor Statistics overall unemployment rate rose from 9.7 to 9.8%.
Someone should remember to tell those 431,000 new Lucky Duckies applying for unemployment that, once their 26 weeks of "free money" runs out, that's it. If they haven't pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps by then, tough -- no more free lunches for you, Peasants.. Let them cry to President Boner, who doesn't care, or President Barbour, who will interrupt his fine steak dinner to observe that "Them people bettah get busy".
And, hey! The average wage went up by one cent for the average worker in November, too. Spontaneous demonstrations in praise of Our Elite and our Wise Leaders were held in many cities, where workers demanded that higher salaries and bonuses be given to these far-sighted Ones, our National Treasure and Braintrust, for their selfless work on behalf of the People as they shepherd us through this crisis, which no one could have foreseen, and for which no one can be blamed.
As a commenter on the site Grasping Reality With Both Hands noted, Thankfully, the average hourly rates for executives and Banksters went up considerably more than that. Soon, they will have even more employment opportunities for more groundskeepers, maids; butlers, wine stewards, valets, silver polishers, table attendants ... and more accountants and lobbyists.
[By the way; the title of this post is a line from an almost forgotten piece of Americana: I Think We're All Bozos On This Bus (1972), by the Firesign Theatre. "Ah, Clem" goes by bus to the Future Fair (A fare to all and no fair to anybody!), where he stands on line to meet an audio-animatronic President. In line ahead of him is 'Jim!', an African-American, who asks, "...Mister President -- Where can I get a job??"
The robotic 'President' replies Many busy executives ask me: What about the job displacement market in the city of the future? Well, count on us -- "Jim!" -- to be there! Because if we're successful tomorrow -- we won't have to answer questions like yours, ever again.)