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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

January 9, 2008


My pics for New Hampshire were right on the money. Someone could have at least said that Note From a Madman got it completely right. Maybe you should have put some money on it after all! -NG

It's Numbers Time!

That's right, boys and girls. It's time for me to bore the great majority of you with numbers from the US department of Labor's Bureau of Labor statistics.

Allow me to say "Sorry" in advance.

Just how is President Bush's "advisors" going to spin the new numbers on the economy?

"we've had 52 straight months of job creation,"
-President Bush

Of course, that doesn't include August of this past year where four-thousand jobs were LOST using that same formula which the Bushies use to tout this - THEIR - economy.

"Job creation", as defined by anyone left on the Bush Bandwagon (or changing its tires), refers to new jobs created by the economy. It doesn't take into consideration increases in population or net jobs lost, as most of us would really prefer to hear about.

However, the real numbers just don't lie and they can't be "spun." (but go ahead, President Bush - give it a try.)

The ranks of the unemployed swelled by 474,000 Americans. That's 474,000 new Americans who are going to have to find a new job or just fall off the face of the Bush employment map - either way is okay for the Bushies, just as long as their not counted. (Kind of like the last two Presidential elections, huh?)

In addition to the 474,000 who, at the end of last month, no longer have jobs, and additional 179,000 Americans have joined the ranks of those "Not in the Labor Force". In other words, they ain't got no work, either. An the additional 38,000 have joined the Labor Force (not coming close to the actual number of approximately 150,000 who are added to the population each and every month). Adding that 474,000 and 179,000 together, we have grown the ranks of the unemployed (real, not Bush numbers) to an amazingly high 653,000 Americans who either were working (or were defined as looking for work) who have no jobs, or hope for employment, today.

In a time when jobs and the economy have grown to the top spot in some public opinion polls, one would think that, at the very least, the Bush administration would admit the problem and try to go out with a bang and do something about it. But in this, the administration of diminished responsibility, it simply isn't their job.

And while 18,000 jobs have been projected to be created, the industries of Goods Producing (-75,000), Construction (-49,000), Manufacturing (-31,000) and the retail trade (-24,000) have all lost the jobs that matter most to low- and middle income Americans.

That ain't their job, neither.

In addition to the "good job creation news" that President Bush is announcing, the unemployment rate has risen to 5.0 percent. So, in an economy that 18,000 jobs have been CREATED, just how does one count for a three-point rise in unemployment anyway?

Spin baby, spin.

But the real story comes not in comparing how well we were doing as Bill Clinton's administration left office to George W. Bush's administration today, but in comparing Bush (December 2006) to Bush (December 2007). Sneaking a peek at those numbers and one can get a feeling for the economy and the jobs' situation and where it's going.

  Dec '07 Dec '06 % Change Actual Change Change in workforce as compared to Total possible labor force
Total Possible Labor Force 230,108 233,156 1.32% 3,048  
Civilian Labor Force 152,775 153,866 0.71% 1,091  
Employment 145,926 146,211 0.20% 285 26.12%
Unemployment 6,849 7,655 11.77% 806 -73.88%
Not in Labor Force 77,333 79,290 2.53% 1,957  
All numbers in thousands (x1000)

Although the total possible labor force grew by almost one-and-one-half percent (1.32%) in that 12-month period, the Bushies show only a 0.71 percent increase in the subjectively determined Civilian Labor Force number. Is President Bush trying to tell us that even though the above 16, non-institutionalized population, has grow by over three million Americans (3.058 million) only one-third (1.091 million) actually are working or are interested in working? And what about the FACT (yes, FACT, that words the Bushies hate almost as much as "Science" or "The First Amendment") that of those 1.091 million Americans who are being counted, almost three-quarters of them (73.88%) have no jobs at all today!

And to put it all in numbers that even a loyal Bushie can understand, the ranks of the unemployed has risen in just one year by nearly twelve percent (11.77%)!

Putting these figures into those same REAL numbers, the Bush administration and its economic policies have cost us nearly 1 and three quarter million jobs (1.648 million) in just one, 12-month period!


  Dec '06 Dec '07
Total labor force 152,775 153,866
Total Not in Labor Force 77,333 79,290
Total workforce 230,108 233,156
Total employed 145,926 146,211
% Employed Americans 63.42% 62.71%
Total Change in workers   -1,648
All numbers in thousands (x1000)


And if you add that to the stock market (consecutive days of market loss) and housing prices (how low will YOUR house go?) issue we now have today, even that which was the only thing left for the Bushies to tout aren't in the "touting range" today.

I wonder if there's room left in Cheney's bunker for the lot of them?

-Noah Greenberg

In response to, "It amazes me that just about every smarter than most people of our generation are not only voting for Edwards, but contributing to him," Pat Thompson writes:

Thom Hartmann on Air American, which is all over the country, has had some polls where he opens the phone lines and asks people to just state who they are for and where they are from. Hundreds of progressives from all over America said: "John Edwards". A couple of Obamas, Kucinich, and one Hillary. He is definitely the most Progressive candidate. But somehow people do not vote for their own self-interest, or for the people who are not making it in this society.

The really poor and downtrodden don't vote. And maybe everyone still thinks the American dream is real. They will win the lottery or somehow get lucky. Or maybe, he keeps talking about the "middle class" and the vast majority of people who are barely making it, don't have health insurance, etc. never considered themselves part of the middle class, and don't relate to that.

Things are bad for a lot of people in this country, and getting worse all the time, but they aren't watching cable TV news, or C-span, and reading the NY Times; the media isn't getting Edwards' message across to the very people he would be helping. Do people still believe in "trickle down" economics, or that a rising tide lifts all boats? It's not true, and as the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and there is nothing new about that; it's happened before, and resulted in the Great Depression. What we need now is another Franklin Roosevelt, but alas, things might have to get a lot worse before they get better.

In response to, "Remember this: It wasn't until former Senator John Edwards made health care the big deal that it, finally, is today (the second or third most important issue to all Americans according, to recent polls), no one but Rep. Dennis Kucinich was talking about it," Robert Scardapane writes:

Noah, I am glad you pointed that out. Kucinich has been talking about single payer for a long time.
I find it interesting that recent polls show public support for single payer to be above 40 percent.

The key is affordability. A mandate alone solves nothing. Providing access to affordable insurance and keeping the premiums low is what counts. So, to me, Obama, Clinton and Edwards plans are really not all that different.

In response to, "Obama's 'Islamic background,'" Joy writes:

He has as much "Islamic background" as you and I. He never knew his very secular, and later alcoholic, Muslim father. He lived with his mother and stepfather and attended public school in Indonesia, where some of the other students were Muslim, for two years.

If you believe he has a Muslim background, you have absorbed RNC talking points. If you know better, you're guilty of careless writing, which is OK, given how much you write every day.

No, I'm not an Obama partisan. I am a Dodd fan who doesn't know who she favors now and doesn't have a primary vote until May so it doesn't matter anyway.

In response to, "If Senator Obama become the Democratic nominee for the 2008 Presidential Sweepstakes, I will support him over any Republican candidate because, as a whole, his administration would be better than the "YO-YO" (You're On Your Own) continuation of the Bush administration which all of the GOP candidates have promised. However, his candidacy would put health care on the back burner for, at least, another four years and many Americans simply can't wait," Pat Thompson writes:

Health care isn't his biggest issue. What about the Environment? That is still my biggest issue. Yes, lots of poetry -- but as Hillary said -- Where's the prose?
There is a part of me, I even hate to say it out loud, that feels a person has to earn the Presidency -- it's not an American Idol contest -- the newest and sexiest guy wins. I guess I am more in tune with a Parliamentary system. Bush would have been long gone in a "no confidence" and generally a member of one of the houses comes up to become Prime Minister.

Obama has had TWO years in the Senate. He's very young -- hey, I was young once and honestly probably want to see one more President of my own generation before we're done! I think of Bush's press secretary, that pretty, but mostly ignorant young woman, who said "Cuban Missile Crisis???? What was that??? I lived through it, as a young teenager, who was nevertheless very tuned in to what as happening in the world. I wouldn't even go to school, so I could be near the TV while this played out -- and just in case the Soviet nuclear missiles were turned on NYC. Kennedy finessed that one, against the Generals, and we all have our lives to thank him for. (He paid with his life one year later). We only know all of the details lately. My point is: It matters a lot who the President is , for Americans and for the rest of the world. Someone untried and untested, yes, inexperienced, shouldn't be in that position, no matter how cute he is, and how much he is making "history".

Actually, Biden should be President! Or Gore or Kerry. Or Dodd. But Hillary will do. She's been involved in real things such as the Children's Defense Fund, since before Obama was in kindergarten. And she was always Bill's closest advisor, and was involved in improving education in Arkansas, and in every world event for the 8 years of his presidency. She's had a very successful Senate career over the past 7 years. He's had two rather undistinguished years, most of which he's been running for President. We've had a lot of men, so let's try a woman for a change!

C-Span showed a two hour question and answer session with Hillary that changed my mind, as I was a stalwart Edwards supporter. People in the audience threw any question they wanted at her, and she answered in depth, and thoughtfully, with real plans, past experiences, and solutions that had worked elsewhere, or things she had actually accomplished in the Senate. Like most women, who have to juggle their careers, family, marriage, responsibilities to parents, and any other outside activities, while keeping themselves presentable, their homes run, the groceries bought, the bills paid, etc. etc., she can multitask with the best of them. Most men are still looking for their socks, who someone else washed. Sorry guys.

Bill was probably the most "brilliant" President we've had since Jefferson, with a curiosity and breadth of subjects he was interested in. He's the first person to tell you that the conversation with Hillary started over 35 years ago, and hasn't stopped, as she's one of the smartest people he knows. I've had my issues with her, but I am now, finally, ready to support her.

In response to, "I think this country is fed up with the GOP," Pat Thompson writes:

Have you read American Theocracy by Kevin Phillips? There are fundamentalist Christians who are not fed up with Bush, or his kind, not in the least. They still support him and his war. These people are almost totally isolated from reality, as they live most of their lives surrounded by others like them, as the mega-churches provide friends, activities, day care, movies, classes, and political advice from the pulpit. They listen to Christian radio, TV, read the LeHay "Left Behind" books -- 68 million copies sold. The huge majority believe the end times are here, Christ will soon be coming back to take them to heaven, and the rest of us will be left to be incinerated in the final battles. They approve of the war in Iraq, because they believe it fulfills biblical prophesy, that Israel and the middle east will play a big role in the end times. Tom Delay had a sign in his office "it could be today". That is how they live. No worries about global warming or climate change, no need to worry about the environment -- "we're out of here soon!!" And if George Bush starts a war with Iran, all the better. All the chaos just brings Armageddon closer. And the big supporters of "privatization" and low taxes for the rich, well they still love him too.

In response to, "In order for our nation to have a health care system that works for everybody, everybody must be included opting out will only hurt the nation as a whole and costs will continue to be what they are today - out of control," Ginger writes:

I don't think people can be covered totally until doctors and hospitals stop gouging us. How can insurance handle those costs without going broke as long as health care providers are allowed unfettered ability to charge whatever they want to? One day in a hospital just for 'observation' should not cost over $13,000, which is what my mother, on Medicare, was charged last year. This didn't even include the charges made by the doctor and anesthesiologist for a very minor procedure. They knew they'd get all their money, so they had a field day charging everything they could. I'm sure this isn't an isolated situation.

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-Noah Greenberg