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Today's Note From a Madman

Monday, March 20, 2006

Jobs for Everyone - Thanks to Fox News

Good News everybody. According to Fox News Channel's Neil Cavuto the United States has a 95.3 percent employment rate.

"If you want to report that 4.7 percent of Americans have lost their jobs, you have to also report that 95.3 percent have not."
-Cavuto, March 20, 2006

So if there are ONLY 4.7 percent of Americans unemployed, that must mean we actually have a glut of jobs in the US. We gotta let day workers into the US now, just to keep up.

But, you know me. I'm just a little bit skeptical of the Fox News Channel. They have a reputation to be "slightly" opinionated toward the "right".

And late Friday night, I was flipping through the stations when I came across FNC. A "never seen anywhere before but he's still somehow an expert" talking head, speaking on the economy said that "it's good, but it isn't good for everybody," followed up with "after all, unemployment is extremely low at below five percent".

Why does anything that Fox News Channel do still surprise me. As a matter of fact, if you watch FNC late at night or during the wee hours of the morning, their "spin" is even more dizzying.

So, after listening to Cavuto and this other talking head (my apologies to David Byrne) I decided to do a little research. Taking everything that the administration of "G"lobal "W"arming Bush, the "G"reed "O"ver "P"eople party and Fox News Channel want you to believe, I took an open mind to the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Here's what I found:

Department of Labor - Bureau of Labor Statistics
  Dec-05 Dec-04 Dec-03 Dec-02 Dec-01 Dec-00 Dec-99 Dec-98 Dec-97 Dec-96 Dec-95 Dec-94
Total Probable US Work Force 227,592 224,640 222,509 214,967 212,927 210,743 208,832 206,270 204,098 201,636 199,508 197,765
US Civilian labor Force 150,153 148,203 146,878 142,542 142,314 141,489 140,108 138,547 137,169 135,022 132,284 131,725
Employed US Civilians 143,074 140,156 138,479 133,952 134,055 135,836 134,420 132,526 130,777 127,855 124,904 124,570
Unemployed US Civilians 7,040 8,047 8,398 8,590 8,259 5,639 5,688 6,021 6,392 7,167 7,380 7,155
Not in labor force 77,439 76,437 75,631 72,425 70,613 69,254 68,724 67,723 66,929 66,614 67,224 66,040
Unemployed plus Not in Labor Force Total Not Employed 84,479 84,484 84,029 81,015 78,872 74,893 74,412 73,744 73,321 73,781 74,604 73,195
True Unemployment Numbers (as most other nations measure their unemployed) 37.12% 37.61% 37.76% 37.69% 37.04% 35.54% 35.63% 35.75% 35.92% 36.59% 37.39% 37.01%
Change - Year to Year              
Change in US Labor Force 1.32% 0.90% 3.04% 0.16% 0.58%              
Change in Unemployed plus Not in Labor Force Total Not Employed From December 2000 12.80% 12.81% 12.20% 8.17% 5.31%              
Change Year to Year to Keep Up With Work Force              
Change in US Labor Force 1.32% 0.90% 3.04% 0.16% 0.58%              
Change in Unemployed plus Not in Labor Force Total Not Employed 14.12% 13.71% 15.24% 8.33% 5.90%              
Unemployed US Civilians are Civilians collecting up to 26 weeks unemployment insurance              

From December 2000, President Bill Clinton's last year in office, to December 2001, GW's first year in office, the number of unemployed Americans rose from 5.64 million to 8.26 million. That's an increase of 46.46 percent in the number of unemployed Americans under "G"lobal "W"arming Bush. I wonder what Mr. Cavuto would say about that? Probably something like that (He has yet to return my calls).

"Yes but in 2001, we had 9/11."

Okay, so that accounts for the people who made their living in Downtown NYC who didn't lose their jobs or die. It doesn't account for the other 2- plus million Americans however.

Continuing, we notice that not only has the US Labor force increased (due to immigration and other increases in population) at an average rate of 1.2 percent a year under the Bushies, we notice that there is a significant rise in the rate of those who are "Not in the labor force". Those are the people who had jobs, then didn't have jobs. These are working age people who, for one reason or another, are not collecting unemployment insurance and are not gamefully employed.

Those bums.

Under the previous five Clinton years, the workforce had risen an average of 1.36 percent a year. The "Not in labor force" numbers either decreased or remained about the same in those years (taking into account the 1.36 percent rise in workforce). As a matter of fact, the number of unemployed decreased as well.

Hmm... creating jobs and honest reporting.... What a novel and Democratic idea, wouldn't you say Neil?

A close look at these numbers show us that, when we combine the "Not in labor force" and "Unemployed US Civilians" groups that GW and the "G"reed "O"ver "P"eople party's best year simply maintained the status quo - no change, unless you take into account that year's 1.32 percent increase in the US Civilian work force. In that case, there was a net job loss.

How can this be? According to the Bushies, the economy is getting better. According to Fox News, there is almost one hundred percent employment! How do they do it?

They didn't "Do it", unless "it" is making the US workforce a harder thing to get into and a harder thing to stay in. From December 31, 2000 to December 31, 2005 the number of Americans who have lost their jobs and have not found a new job has risen a whopping 14.12 percent! the US workforce stands at almost 228 million Americans today and over 37 percent of them have no jobs. The 37 percent number is a plateau  that GW has not been able to break in his five plus years in office. Contrary to that, from 1995 to his last month in office, Bill Clinton's administration lowered the "real" unemployment numbers each and every year. And bear in mind that these numbers don't even take into account the loss of the American Middle Class' disposable income and the lowering of America's average real wage.

Madman's numbers (using the Fox News, Neil Cavuto reverse-anti-logic) , which include every able-bodied American who can work (instead of just the ones who have only been unemployed less than 26 weeks AND are eligible to collect unemployment insurance) show as "real" a picture as FNC does. We all know that every American who isn't working actually wants to, or has to work. Similarly, we also know that the unemployment rate, which only include those who are collecting unemployment benefits, is not truly representative either.

No matter which numbers one chooses to believe, the assertion is that Fox News Channel believes that 33 percent of the Probable Civilian Work Force doesn't want to work. They think that non-working Americans are lazy and want to live off the hard labors of others. They believe that every American who wants a job has a job and that anyone who is out of work for 26 weeks and day is simply a drain on their definition of society. This is Fox' Utopian Society and their Brave new World

Neil, no matter how you or I view these numbers, they are what they are. Go into a middle class neighborhood; attend a soccer game in a working class town; sit in the stands at a high school basketball game and listen to us real Americans.

It ain't all lilacs and daffodils.

-Noah Greenberg

by Victoria A. Brownworth
copyright c 2006 San Francisco Bay Area Reporter, Inc.

March madness is upon us. To "celebrate" the third anniversary of the war on Iraq, the Pentagon staged a little desert exercise, "Operation Swarm," to scare the Iraqi insurgents into surrendering. All Americans at home got to see on TV was a reprise of the "Flight of the Valkyrie" scene from *Apocalypse Now*(alas, sans the Wagner leitmotif): lots of helicopters in the air with guns at the ready and, unlike *Apocalypse Now* where people got shot up, great expanses of open desert.

Meanwhile, back on the ground in Bagdhad, it was one of the bloodiest weeks in a score of bloody weeks, with car bombs going off like July 4th firecrackers and no government set up yet.

So much for shock and awe, part *deux.*

CNN–almost as notorious as FOX for support of the Bush White House--reported on St. Patrick's Day that Bush's approval ratings were at an all-time low: 35 percent. Add to that TV poll number more than 60 percent of Americans disapprove of the handling of the war *and* don't know what we're doing there. Looks like Operation Swarm wasn't the quick fix the White House anticipated.

Meanwhile, back on the homefront, another blow. USO stalwart and all-American girl, Jessica Simpson slapped Bush in the face (figuratively–she's not Courtney Love, after all) March 16th when she declined an invitation to meet with the Prez at a GOP fundraiser. Simpson was in Washington to appear before Congress to request funds for Operation Smile, an NGO that does reconstructive facial surgeries for free in the developing world. (It's a superb charity which we can personally recommend if you are looking for one to assist.)

Simpson said she would love to speak with the President about Operation Smile, but did not think it appropriate to do so at a GOP fundraiser.

The incident caused quite a furor–it was the lead on every tabloid TV show and even made the national news. The story bled into the weekend because Simpson's ever-controlling stage father was falling all over himself trying to explain that his daughter just *loved* the President (funny, we never heard her say that and she is known for blurting), but had to respect Operation Smile's non-political stance.

Uh-huh. Guess those boots *were* made for walkin'.When girl the Republicans would most like as their pin-up–blonde, sweet, decent and soignee–disses the Prez...like we said, ratings in the toilet.

Speaking of dissing the Prez, or at least the Administration (y'all *did* like that expansion of the budget deficit on St. Paddy's Day, didn't you? Nothing like picking up the check on a bill you didn't incur), ABC's *Boston Legal* has taken that ball and run with it. We have yet to see an episode where Alan Shore (played by Emmy winner James Spader) isn't taking on some phalanx of big government. *BL* creator David Kelley has always taken a subversive tack in his shows and it's most apparent in *BL,* one of the best drama series on the tube.

We have *long* loved the queer-play between Alan and Denny Crane (the delightfully parodic William Shatner, who has done a superb job of re-inventing himself). They banter constantly about sleeping together and have recently moved in together. It isn't actually a gay relationship, but it is a very touching male-bonding affair. They are definitely the best couple on TV.

This week *BL* featured Shore representing his assistant who refused to pay her taxes. The episode highlighted one of Shore's superb anti-government (anti-Bush, actually) speeches for which we wait expectantly each episode. The show has taken on pharmacists who refuse to fill contraceptive prescriptions, free speech at rallies, the death of a soldier in the back-door draft. This time *BL* gave Shore the bully pulpit to assert that his client did not want to pay taxes to a government that tortured, did rendition of prisoners, spied on citizens, went to war over imaginary WMDs, and so forth. It was fiery and fabulous and delivered with the passion Spader has won several Emmys for.

There may not be marching in the streets against this illegal war, there may not be commentary on the news (Dan Rather having been put out to pasture and Walter Kronkite discounted by those who thought he was dead) about it, but at least we can tune in to *BL* every week to get a reality check.

Who says Hollywood isn't cutting edge?

There were other TV controversies this week as well. Long-time *South Park* denizen Isaac Hayes (Chef) quit the show in protest over an episode that made fun of Scientology. Hayes found it over the top.

Hayes has been on the show for nearly nine years, during which time *SP* has regularly made fun of Jesus and dissed every other religion that came to mind. It's apparently taken nine years to get to the S's in the religious lineup (Shinto will likely be next week) and nine years for the hypocritical Hayes to get annoyed at the lambasting of religion. Talk about cartoon controversies. Apparently Shaft felt shafted. We say, practice what you preach–if it's okay for everyone else's religion, Hayes, it's okay for the couch-jumpers.

While we're on the topic of hypocrisy, we admit those Wal-mart commercials make us cry. Whether it's the one about hunger among schoolchildren in which the sweet little black child passes food under the table to the sickly emaciated little white child, or the ones about disability, aging or surgeries for sick children, all these commercials have us reaching for the Kleenex.

Then we feel the sucker-punch, because in reality Wal-Mart's interest in welfare is singular: it's corporate welfare, not child welfare. It's what we used to call greed before we began euphemizing everything.

For the record: that little kid without food in the Wal-Mart commercial likely doesn't have it because his Mom works at Wal-Mart where wages are so low that employees can't manage–one in six actually makes wages so low that they qualify for public assistance. And the kid in the commercial looks so sickly because if his Mom works there, well, Wal-Mart doesn't provide adequate health insurance for its employees, one in four of whose kids are receiving CHIP.

Also for the record: Wal-Mart is run by one of those evangelical families, the Waltons. They are *not*compassionate conservatives, however, nor among the philanthropic families in the U.S. (Wal-Mart was the top U.S. earner in the Fortune 500 list in 2005, with a profit margin over $11 billion.)

The Wal-Mart conglomerate are just good old-fashioned robber barons with an excellent PR team. Just a reminder for the next time you see one of their tear-jerking TV commercials. It's a lie. Kind of like FOX news and Operation Swarm.

Speaking of lies, we waited for the new acting director of FEMA, David Paulison, to be struck by lightning on *Nightline* on March 16th, but it didn't happen. Paulison explained to anchor Cynthia McFadden, who had just returned from a trip to one of the Katrina trailer villages, why he was disappointed in ABC for not telling the good side of the Katrina recovery story. (How like a member of the Bush Administration to whine about failure to report the "good news" about a disaster.)

McFadden, always a tough reporter, was flabbergasted by what she found in the Katrina village–children not attending school, people without jobs, rampant crime, depression and despair. An NGO had donated more than 60 computers for kids to do schoolwork on and Rosie O'Donnell had donated three huge trailers to house them, but the trailers stood outside the gates of the village for months because FEMA had liability issues.

McFadden also encountered a FEMA manager who asserted that people were still in the trailer camp because they were either "lazy or used to living off the system." (Why didn't he just come right out and call these ravaged people "shiftless Negroes?") When McFadden asked Paulison if he was troubled by the statement, he hesitated before saying he would have to get to the bottom of that.

While McFadden hammered him, he kept dodging. She queried whether it was true that FEMA was deliberately keeping the trailer camp stark so that people would be forced to leave and he demurred. (She reported that next month meals and heat to the trailers would become the responsibility of the residents; if they couldn't pay, they wouldn't have it.)

Kudos to ABC for continuing to report on this ongoing American tragedy. As a Mississippi teacher who has been living in temporary housing since Katrina queried *Nightline* co-anchor Terry Moran back during Mardi Gras, "Why do we have billions for a war in Iraq and no money to rebuild a major American city?"

Speaking of good questions posed for TV, we liked this quote which we caught a news clip of. Jamie Raskin, running for a State Senate seat in Maryland, was testifying before the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. Raskin, a Democrat running on a progressive ticket, responded to a question from Republican Senator Nancy Jacobs about whether marriage discrimination against same-sex couples is *required* by "God's Law."

Raskin told Jacobs, "Senator, when you took your oath of office, you placed your hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution. You didn't place your hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible." Nice.

Speaking of queers and TV, CBS's *Without a Trace*did a fine job last week with an episode about two women, one an agoraphobic columnist, the other the estranged daughter of a mob boss (he tossed her out when she came out), discovering their love for each other. The episode ended with a real kiss, *L Word*-pretty-girls-together-but-full-mouth style. Very poignant, very real and nothing stagey.

The mid-season is upon us, so stay tuned for new shows. ABC's *American Inventors,* which debuted this week, is like *American Idol* without the singing–unbelievably hilarious. Ditto ABC's edgy and filthy sit-com *Sons & Daughters.*

Finally, did anyone notice that HBO's Mormon polygamy series, *Big Love,* received no attention from the religious right while NBC's *Book of Daniel* received blistering boycotts? Don't they get cable in Utah? Oh wait–polygamy is fine because it's men and women, but gay marriage....Hopefully former pretty boy Kirk Cameron (*Growing Pains*) will straighten everyone out with his new TBN show, *The Way of the Master,* that attacks people on the street about Jesus, being sinners and heading for hell. Martin Bashir gave him a run for his evangelical money on *Nightline,* but his in-your-face evangelizing might get him more than he bargained for. Worth a look.

Stay tuned.

Where the Battle Is

The battle lines are not just in Iraq, but in my city and yours, my country and yours. As long as more than 60 percent of the world's population lives on one dollar a day or less; as long as millions of women and girls are trafficked in slavery--sexual and domestic--each year; as long as one in five children in the developing world dies needlessly from diarrhea and other preventable diseases; as long as there are homeless people on the streets of America there are battle lines being drawn daily EVERYWHERE, not just in Iraq.

Keep in mind that the policies of the Bush administration have increased poverty exponentially in the past five years. And that it really DOES matter that violence and torture are being done in your name and mine all over the world (next stop, Iran) by this administration, which outright stole one election and certainly didn't win any mandate with the other (under no mathematical principle is one percent a mandate).

Talk IS cheap when you are safe from the battle lines. Many of us are on the front lines daily. I know I am. I know John Dwyer, who is now in his 18th day of fasting and whose peace group was investigated by this administration (your tax dollars at work) is. Many others as well.

And how do you feel about the now $9 trillion deficit this president has run up that will tax your children and grandchildren in perpetuity? Try to remember Bush came into a government with a balanced budget and a SURPLUS. That was the big debate in 2000--how to spend the surplus created during the Clinton years. I guess bush found a way: At the expense of children worldwide---everyone's included.

-Victoria Brownworth (the above was sent as a response to a posting in a newsgroup. It was edited to be viewed in this newsletter as a monologue instead of a dialogue. -NG)

Republicans Only Deflect, Never Accept Blame

"If a Democrat tried to send soldiers to war and forgot to buy them ammunition or passed a health care plan without enough money for necessary drugs, that wouldn't make him closet conservative. It would mean he was incompetent. And voters would hold him to account."
-Josh Marshall of talkingpointsmemo.com, from his St. Patrick's Day in his column

I have written similar things in columns over the past few months, but it's said so succinctly here, that I wanted to comment further: It is very popular right now--and I am guilty of this myself--to make Democrats the issue when in fact the issue is and has been for the past five and half years, Republicans.

The realities have not changed: The Republicans complain about everything but they are in power, they have control over all facets of government, including the courts. Thus the incompetence does not fall on anyone but them. They can try and blame Clinton all they want (it's been six years since Clinton signed a bill or vetoed one), they can--as I see right wingnuts doing all the time--blame Pelosi and Kennedy. But the reality is, the party screwing up this nation from top to bottom is the Republicans.

Are the Democrats weak? Apparently. Unfocused? You betcha. But vile and despicable and crafty and disingenuous and lying murderers? Not yet. And something tells me that if they manage to steal the office of President in 2008 the way BushCo did in 2000, we will not be going to war with Iran, we will not be declaring war on women and children, the poor and the disabled, the queer and people of color as we have been under the Bush regime.

I might be wrong about this: after all, I am a card-carrying leftist of many years standing. But it's difficult for me to imagine how we would be in Iraq if Al Gore had taken his rightful place in the White House in January 2001, 9/11 notwithstanding. He might not have been in Vietnam for long, but he was there and he did enlist.

I'm not cozying up to the Democrats here, mind you. I think they need a hard, swift and well-placed kick to jumpstart them into remembering that the next elections will be theirs to lose under the current circumstances of 66% of Americans being against the war. But as disappointed as I might be with the Democrats right now, they still are not the murdering, lying, thieving bastards that the Republicans are. And that's something to consider as the clock ticks down for the 2006 elections.

-Victoria Brownworth

The Christian ONLY States of America
(If You Don't Like It, There's the Door)

The Republican party has a problem. Some of its potential 2008 nominees want religion to replace the state. We saw this earlier with Senator Brownback. And now, let's examine Governor Mike Huckabee, who made a "powerful impression" during the Republican convention down in Memphis. Huckabee has been described as a "moderate" for the 2008 race. Sure, to a crowded room of die-hard Republicans, his rhetoric may not seem extreme. But consider how the following will play to the vast majority of Americans. This weekend, Huckabee spoke at a conference for the Center for Reclaiming America for Christ. The Center's mission is to "To inform, equip, motivate, and support Christians; enabling them to defend and implement the Biblical principles on which our country was founded." The five goals Huckabee aligned himself with are described as the "five key fronts of the modern-day culture war: (1) Religious Liberties, (2) the Sanctity of Life, (3) the Homosexual Agenda, (4) Pornography, and (5) Promoting Creationism." Huckabee made it clear at the group's conference that he shares their goal of dismantling the constitutional wall between church and state:

"FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Faith is not present enough in politics as candidates and elected officials try to court voters too broadly, fearing their values will splinter their base, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Southern Baptist minister, said Friday at a Christian gathering.

"Introduced as a "fine Christian American governor," Huckabee, who is considering a bid for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination, said he will always remain true to his beliefs.

"'I don't think most Americans are turned off by people of faith. I think they're turned off by people who are phony," Huckabee said to a small group. He added that Christianity is not represented' nearly enough" in Washington."

Yeah, because having all three branches of government filled almost entirely by Christians isn't enough. Also speaking at the Conference is Florida Representative Katherine Harris, who will speak about "Bringing Faith to the Public Forum ." And, indeed, the Center has brought faith to the public forum. Its Director had the unique opportunity to meet personally with Justices of the Supreme Court after Alito's confirmation. The Center's founder calls the church-state separation `diabolical,' a `false doctrine' and `a lie propagated by Thomas Jefferson.' In engaging the "enemy" in this "culture war", the Center's founder claims "This is our land. This is our world. This is our heritage, and with God's help, we shall reclaim this nation for Jesus Christ. And no power on earth can stop us."
Does anyone else find it incredibly disturbing that a potential Presidential nominee so easily embraces a group that states there is no separation between church and state? And why hasn't the media asked Huckabee whether he agrees with the Center's mission of dismantling the Constitutionally prescribed boundary between religion and politics?

-Reported on by georgia10.com and commented on by Victoria Brownworth

In response to "I'll pack accordingly.," and the thought by Jerry Falwell that ALL Jews are going to hell, Dorothy Schwartz writes:

Well, there should be plenty of good company anyway.

... and Jenny Hanniver contributes:

Noah, would you really want to go in the afterlife where Jerry Foulwell is? I think hell would be better if he's considered acceptable in Heaven!

...and Rhian adds:

Noah, no Jews are going to hell. They are
God's chosen people. I know that and I'm not even Jewish.


And Noah writes back:

According to our very good, Evangelical friends, my whole family is, unquestionably, going to hell. I guess it's "I love you, but I'll miss you."

It reminds me of the old joke:

A man dies and goes to Heaven. As he is being taken around, he asks his guide a series of questions:

MAN: Who's that?
GUIDE: That's the Jews. They're praying to God in their way
MAN: What's over there?
GUIDE: That's the Buddhists. They're meditating.
MAN: What's behind that wall.
GUIDE: Sh-h-h-h! Behind that wall are the Evangelical Christians. They like to think that they're all alone up here.

-Noah Greenberg

Today's Bush Quote

"Any time Washington passes a new law, sometimes the transition period can be interesting,"
-"G"lobal "W"arming Bush in Canandaigua, NY, admitting a "Rocky Start" to Medicare Prescription Drug Plan

As if this came as a complete surprise! Canandaigua is about 40 miles southeast of Rochester, has a population of about 11,000 – out of which 21% are 65 or older. 99% are white. The major employers include an amusement park, Wegman’s and the community college. So why would the village idiot travel there to make comments about Medicare Part D???????? Even Rochester would have been a slightly better choice – but I think NYC would have been the best choice. Who advises this clown?? Certainly, not me – or (any of) you, for that matter.

-Annmarie Polinsky

And Another Quote
A Quote for the Ages

"Senator, when you took your oath of office, you placed your hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution. You didn't place your hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible."
- Jamie Raskin, testifying Wednesday, March 1, 2006 before the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee in response to a question from Republican Senator Nancy Jacobs about whether marriage discrimination against gay people is required by "
God's Law", from a post by John in DC - 3/15/2006

Raskin is a Democrat running for State Senate in Maryland. He's running on a civil rights for all ticket. His website has more.

-Victoria Brownworth

Send your comments to: NationalView@aol.com or comments@nationalview.org

-Noah Greenberg