Wednesday, November 30, 2011

That Nagging Feeling of Hopelessness


Morici: Lackluster Jobs Report Expected

riday, forecasters expect the Labor Department to report the economy added only 120,000 jobs in November, after scoring a nonplus 80,000 gain in October. The three month moving average stands at 120,000 jobs, a pace inadequate to much lower unemployment.

The unemployment rate is expected to stay at 9.0 percent, mainly because so many displaced professionals report themselves as “self-employed,” when working only a few hours a week from home.

Even before escalating troubles in Europe and China are considered, the economic outlook is mediocre, with GDP [cnbc explains] growth expected at about 2 percent—hardly enough jobs to absorb adult population growth. With Italy likely to default in a manner similar to Greece, and new questions raised about China’s accounting practices, fraudulent stock and bank reports, and inflation and growth statistics, all risks are to the downside.

Without more assertive efforts to address America’s structural problems—huge trade deficits with China and on oil, and ineffective and expensive regulations in banking and health care, America is headed for a protracted period of high youth unemployment and permanent displacement of many older workers. These conditions are not destiny—solutions are at hand but leadership and a genuine willingness to compromise, absent excessive partisanship, are required to progress.

Too Little Economic Growth

Consumer spending and economic growth have recovered from their first half nadir, and GDP growth will be about 2 percent in the latter half of 2011. Broad gains in consumer spending, business investment and exports are high points.

Auto sales have firmed. Businesses and commuters faced strong financial incentives to replace cars and trucks as the vehicle fleet grew older during the Great Recession—the math for buying as opposed to refurbishing many vehicles is solid. Appliance sales are more heavily focused on replacement sales than would be with stronger new home sales.

Housing remains weak but for some recovery in the construction of new rental units, as for many young households economic calculations favor renting over owning—even with rock bottom prices for existing homes in many parts of the country. The inability to sell homes reasonably fast, if employment considerations compel, makes owning too risky for many young workers.

Weak inventory build indicates retailers expect consumer spending has recovered about all that is possible. That makes a lot of sense, Black Friday and Cyber Monday gains notwithstanding.

Much has been made of the need for consumers to rebuild their balance sheets—that requires working down debt on credit cards and lowering mortgages. The former was largely completed by last April. Now, household net worth and liquidity will not improve much further until the value of existing homes rebounds, but housing prices continue to move south

Sadly, millions of foreclosures and second homes purchased for speculative reasons during the boom will keep the market oversupplied for much of this decade. Also, many existing homes are too far from jobs and too large—those made more sense when gasoline and heating costs were low but not with oil near $100 a barrel.

Overall, economic growth at about 2 percent—and certainly now better than 2.5 percent—can be expected through 2012.

Jobs Outlook

The economy must grow at about 2.5 to 3 percent—long term—to keep unemployment steady. Simply, potential labor productivity rises, thanks to better technology, about 2 percent each year, and labor force growth is about 1 percent a year, owing to natural population increase. Together, those translate into a 3 percent trend rate of economic growth with unemployment steady.

If conditions are mediocre and businesses cautious, productivity growth can slip—equipment and computers are kept beyond their economically useful life. Then unemployment can be kept steady with 2.5 percent growth or even 2 percent but that poses risks.

Anecdotal reports indicate that businesses are extraordinary reluctant to hire. They don’t expect a recession but are gearing for persistent subpar growth in the United States, slower growth in Asia and virtually no growth or a recession in Europe. Many firms will meet modestly growing demand with smaller workforces—exploiting labor saving strategies to boost profits. Lower head counts could ignite a negative feedback cycle—fewer employees at enough firms spell lower spending and less demand for all firms and then layoffs cascade.

The U.S. economy moving along at 2 or 2.5 percent growth is like an airplane flying at low altitude. In a steady environment, the plane can keep going, but the slightest downdraft, never mind an unexpected tall obstacle, and the plane ditches. And a tall obstacle may soon emerge across the pond.

Overall, if the recovery is not derailed, continue to expect jobs growth of about 120,000 a month, and not much positive movement in the 9 percent unemployment rate.

Also, many adults are discouraged and not looking for work altogether, and not counted among the unemployed. Others hold part-time positions but would prefer full-time work. Factoring in those adults who say they would rejoin the labor force if conditions were better and part-timers who would prefer full-time positions, the unemployment rate is about 16.5 percent. Adding college graduates in low skill positions, like counterwork at Starbucks, and the unemployment rate is likely closer to 20 percent.

What Is Needed

The economy must add 13.3 million jobs over the next three years—369,000 each month—to bring unemployment down to 6 percent. Considering continuing layoffs at state and local governments and federal spending cuts, private sector jobs must increase at least 400,000 a month to accomplish that goal.

GDP growth in the range of 4 to 5 percent is needed to get unemployment down to 6 percent over the next several years. The outlook for 2012 indicates growth in the range of 2 or 2.5 percent, and that puts the economy at severe risk to any kind of shock—financial panic in Europe, implosion in China or an oil price spike.

Growth is weak and jobs are in jeopardy, because temporary tax cuts, stimulus spending, and easy monetary policy are not enough to address the chronically weak demand holding back economic recovery. Large trade deficits overwhelm the positive effects of Washington’s efforts to jump start the economy.

Oil and trade with China account for nearly the entire $550 billion trade deficit, and dollars sent abroad to purchase oil and consumer goods from China that do not return to purchase U.S. exports are lost purchasing power. Consequently, the U.S. economy is expanding at about 2 to 2.5 percent a year instead of the 5 percent pace that is possible after emerging from a deep recession and with such high unemployment.

Without prompt efforts to produce more domestic oil, redress the trade imbalance with China and the rest of Asia, the U.S. economy cannot grow and create enough jobs.

Moreover, without efforts to lower costs by curbing a Washington regulatory bureaucracy out of control and health care executives gorging while pushing up insurance costs, the cost of doing business will remain too high, and real wages and living standards for most Americans will not improve.

Albert King & Stevie Ray Vaughan
Born Under a Bad Sign

Robben Ford
Worried Life Blues

And while we wait for chicken to go on sale before buying it .. I’LL THINK SO FONDLY OF YOU, MICHELLE

FLOTUS dines at Co Co. Sala


First lady Michelle Obama enjoyed a lovely evening at Co Co. Sala on F Street on Monday night. A Yeas & Nays source tells us she dined with seven friends for dinner and, of course, dessert — which featured an edible chocolate sculpture and house-made artisanal chocolates by Chef Santosh Tiptur. We’re told Obama’s favorite savory was Chef Tiptur’s Moroccan Swordfish Sliders with chermoula marinade, fennel salad, aged pecorino and hazelnut coffee dressing. The restaurant owners later posted to Twitter about their excitement of having her as a guest. “It was such an honor to have first lady Michelle Obama dine at Co Co. Sala last night. What an exciting and humbling experience!”

He likes the stuff that makes his wife happy.

Ah yes, nothing like a white chcoclate Abu Simbel

Read more at the Washington Examiner:

They are no different than Richard Nixon

This nation has always been more tolerant of those who are corrupted by power for accumulation of money then those who use the corruption of money to get more power.

That is the difference between those around US Grant, Warren Harding, and those around Richard Nixon, and Nixon himself.

Now we have those who are corrupted BY POWER to warp the political system to match their worldview, and think they are right in doing so. This is a new level for horror in American Leadership.

No Stalin could ever be more in line with 1984 think, or Winston Smith’s miserable job.

Obama Admin Seals Records of Murdered Border Patrol Agent Implicated in Fast and Furious

And to think that Attorney General Eric Holder is getting testy about congressional calls for his resignation. After all, the Justice Department has nothing to hide, right?

The Obama Administration has abruptly sealed court records containing alarming details of how Mexican drug smugglers murdered a U.S. Border patrol agent with a gun connected to a failed federal experiment that allowed firearms to be smuggled into Mexico.

This means information will now be kept from the public as well as the media. Could this be a cover-up on the part of the “most transparent” administration in history? After all, the rifle used to kill the federal agent (Brian Terry) last December in Arizona’s Peck Canyon was part of the now infamous Operation Fast and Furious. Conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the disastrous scheme allowed guns to be smuggled into Mexico so they could eventually be traced to drug cartels.

The murder of a U.S. Border Patrol agent is related to a Justice Department willingly turning over thousands of guns to Mexican criminal gangs, and Obama administration is hiding information about his death from the public. Amazing.

When Richard Nixon lied over Watergate in the cover up that lead to his resignation unemployment was not 9%+.


Where are Woodward and Bernstein?

Where is Ben Bradlee?





While the American Fed bails out Europe (oh yes, most of this will fall on us) American Folks cannot afford Christmas groceries.

CBS Miami:

Long Lines For Free Holiday Food Vouchers

LITTLE HAVANA (CBS4) – Hundreds of South Floridians lined up in Little Havana overnight for a chance to feed their families this holiday.

As part of the Latin Chamber of Commerce’s annual holiday basket giveaway, representatives from the organization handed out food vouchers on Flagler Street between 14th and 15th Avenues in Little Havana.

Some people began to line up last Friday. Many of those who waited in line for hours were either unemployed or they live on a fixed income and can’t afford any extras.

“It’s very, very hard,” said Mosas Hernandez. “We need something free because right now, I lost my job, I need to pay my rent, so believe me it’s very hard.”

The line wrapped around the block outside the voucher distribution location. Concerned about safety, the City of Miami Police Department was in attendance to keep order and look after the sick and elderly.

Those who received a voucher Wednesday will have to return on December 14th and exchange it for bags of food.

Each voucher can be redeemed for five bags of groceries worth $120. They are filled with pork, rice, beans, milk, bread and other delicious items which are often used in a traditional Noche Buena dinner.

This is the 26th year the Latin American Chamber of Commerce has given Christmas food away. It began with a holiday gift bag for just ten families. The organization now provides families with food bags, truckloads of food that are donated by several companies

Mario Gutierrez is the Chamber’s President. “This year was a little more difficult.”

In all his years doing this, Gutierrez said he has rarely seen the demand so high, the need so great.

“It was tough to get donations?” asked CBS4′s Stephen Stock.

“It was tough for everybody. Tough for everybody,” Guitierrez told him.

Perhaps no one symbolized the change in economic fortunes more than Angela Llamas who, with her friends and family, stood in line for more than 24 hours.

“Who wants to be here? Not me. It’s just tough,” said Llamas, who said the food vouchers are a necessity for her family who are all out of work and out of luck. “This is actually the first year this has happened. Usually my mom comes and we give it other people who really need it. But now we’re the ones who need it the most. It sucks really bad.”

The Chamber finished giving away all 3,000 vouchers in two hours. Even so, the line of people continued to snake around the block leading organizers to conclude they could have given away twice as many vouchers this year, because the need is that great.

Video: Islam's Secret Santa

Wrap your mind around this "logic" that Allah wants mankind to sin (hat tip to Will):

No Depression My White Bitter Clinging Ass. . .

"Sitting on a cooler, waiting for the sun. . ."

Not only is my family one of the half, we are also one of the one in five.

This Friday marks 27 months that I've been on this Odyssey.

The unemployment ran out in June. The last of the savings and IRA in October.

So this family is existing on my wife's salary. Which in gross is 1/3 the amount we used to bring home in 2007.

We are essentially trying to get by at a level we lived at in the very early 90s.

I've got my first grandson I cannot buy gifts for for his first Christmas. Let alone any for my own children and wife.

Some of the creditors are less than amused by my situation.

But hell, they've been downgraded, too.

Still, I've been able to keep a roof over our head and food on the table.

So we're fortunate.

At least for now.

If you want to know where my head is at these days listen to D'Angelo and his wife at about the 8:00 minute mark in the video.

And I still have my home.

But you'll begin to understand the worry and fear I feel.

Every minute of every day.

It has been, and continues to be, one helluva challenge.

Maybe I should change my name to Ulysses. Or Job. . .

Be sure to WATCH THE VIDEO at the end. I talked about this a bit a while back.

The Daily Mail:

Recession hits families hard as half of Americans fear they won't be able to do their holiday shopping
One in five families lack any disposable income
By Meghan Keneally

One in five Americans lost a sizeable amount of their disposable income during the recession, leaving them financially vulnerable and without many options.

The number of Americans considered 'economically insecure' reached a new high during the period from 2008 to 2010 which spanned what is now called the Great Recession.

This news comes just as businesses hope to increase profits amid holiday sales and Christmas shopping, but half of the U.S. population is now worried that they won't be able to buy the presents on their list because of their financial situation.


Worried: Financial troubles are dampening people's expectations this season

Worried: Financial troubles are dampening people's expectations this season

Deemed economically insecure by the Economic Security Index, 20 per cent of the county have considerably less spending money now as compared to previous years.

By comparison, only 14.3 per cent of the country's population was in the same position in 1986.

The report, compiled by Yale professor Jacob Hacker's Index team, evaluates census data and looks at a family's income, savings, and medical bills when determining who is considered economically insecure.

Unemployment rates are clearly linked to the figures, and are similarly grim. The national unemployment rate is currently 9.1 per cent.

Repercussions: As the unemployment rate remains at 9.1 per cent, the number of homeless continues to rise, now counting 16 million children among their ranks

Repercussions: As the unemployment rate remains at 9.1 per cent, the number of homeless continues to rise, now counting 16 million children among their ranks

Not the holiday spirit: Half of Americans now fear they won't be able to buy the holiday gifts that they want because of financial trouble

Not the holiday spirit: Half of Americans now fear they won't be able to buy the holiday gifts that they want because of financial trouble

While the deals in stores and online on Black Friday and Cyber Monday are meant to encourage shoppers, many people's bank statements are having the opposite effect.

As a result of the difficult financial times and the diminishing disposable cash in many American households, half of the country is concerned that they will not be able to buy the gifts they want for family and friends this holiday season.

A CBS poll reports that 33 per cent of those polled will not have enough money for holiday shopping.

The poll also asked respondents to describe how concerned they were about meeting their spending needs this season- asking them to self-identify as very concerned, somewhat concerned, not very concerned, or not at all concerned.

The categories were split relatively evenly- all ranging between 21 and 29 per cent.


As time passes and unemployment continues to hover at 9.1 per cent, benefit payments dry up and homeless shelters face constant capacity.

A 60 Minutes segment dedicated time to telling the stories of the growing group of Florida children who now live in their family's cars as they run out of options.

There are now 16 million children now living in poverty nationally, and one third of those children are in Florida.

Though the efforts of food banks and shelter do help, they are not enough as many are now forced to adopt a new alternative.

One of the families profiled was the Metzgers, led by father Tom who lost his job as a carpenter. Mr Metzger and his two children- Arielle, 15, and Austin, 13- live together in a small truck. The children's mother died when they were young.

'It's an adventure,' Arielle told CBS' Scott Pelley.

'It's not really that much of an embarrassment. I mean, it's only life. You do what you need to do, right?' she said.

Other families told stories of the fear they had during the night, afraid that people would rob them in their cars for the little money they have.

Some have worked out partnerships with motels that allow them to stay even though they have run out of cash, using their labour to repaint rooms as payment instead.

U.S. News and World Report:

Obama's Job Approval Drops Below Carter's

President Obama's slow ride down Gallup's daily presidential job approval index has finally passed below Jimmy Carter, earning Obama the worst job approval rating of any president at this stage of his term in modern political history.

Since March, Obama's job approval rating has hovered above Carter's, considered among the 20th century's worst presidents, but today Obama's punctured Carter's dismal job approval line. On their comparison chart, Gallup put Obama's job approval rating at 43 percent compared to Carter's 51 percent.

[Check out our editorial cartoons on President Obama.]

Back in 1979, Carter was far below Obama until the Iran hostage crisis, eerily being duplicated in Tehran today with Iranian protesters storming the British embassy. The early days of the crisis helped Carter's ratings, though his failure to win the release of captured Americans, coupled with a bad economy, led to his defeat by Ronald Reagan in 1980.

According to Gallup, here are the job approval numbers for other presidents at this stage of their terms, a year before the re-election campaign:

-- Harry S. Truman: 54 percent.

-- Dwight Eisenhower: 78 percent.

-- Lyndon B. Johnson: 44 percent.

-- Richard M. Nixon: 50 percent.

-- Ronald Reagan: 54 percent.

-- George H.W. Bush: 52 percent.

-- Bill Clinton: 51 percent.

-- George W. Bush: 55 percent.

What's more, Gallup finds that Obama's overall job approval rating so far has averaged 49 percent. Only three former presidents have had a worse average rating at this stage: Carter, Ford, and Harry S. Truman. Only Truman won re-election in an anti-Congress campaign that Obama's team is using as a model.

[Vote now: Will Obama be a one-term president?]

Many pundits believe that job approval ratings are the key number to look at when determining if a president will win re-election. Generally, they feel that a president should be higher than 47 percent to win re-election.

Obama's troubles have revived talk in Democratic circles that Vice President Joe Biden should be replaced by the politically popular Hillary Clinton. She plans to leave as secretary of state at the end of Obama's term no matter what happens in the re-election.

A key Democratic source said that Clinton could help revive the Democratic base and bring in Clinton backers, with whom the administration has had a cool relationship. Clinton has repeatedly rejected talk of her swapping roles with Biden, but Democratic operatives eager to keep the president in office believe that she would be the key to winning educated white voters and liberals upset with the administration's actions.

Judicial Watch:

U.S. Seals Court Records Of Border Patrol’s Murder

The Obama Administration has abruptly sealed court records containing alarming details of how Mexican drug smugglers murdered a U.S. Border patrol agent with a gun connected to a failed federal experiment that allowed firearms to be smuggled into Mexico.

This means information will now be kept from the public as well as the media. Could this be a cover-up on the part of the “most transparent” administration in history? After all, the rifle used to kill the federal agent (Brian Terry) last December in Arizona’s Peck Canyon was part of the now infamous Operation Fast and Furious. Conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the disastrous scheme allowed guns to be smuggled into Mexico so they could eventually be traced to drug cartels.

Instead, federal law enforcement officers lost track of more than 1,000 guns which have been used in numerous crimes. In Terry’s case, five illegal immigrants armed with at least two semi-automatic assault rifles were hunting for U.S. Border Patrol agents near a desert watering hole just north of the Arizona-Mexico border when a firefight erupted and Terry got hit.

We know this only because Washington D.C.’s conservative newspaper got ahold of the court documents before the government suddenly made them off limits. The now-sealed federal grand jury indictment tells the frightening story of how Terry was gunned down by Mexican drug smugglers patrolling the rugged desert with the intent to “intentionally and forcibly assault” Border Patrol agents.

You can see why the administration wants to keep this information from the public and the media, considering the smugglers were essentially armed by the U.S. government. Truth is, no one will know the reason for the confiscation of public court records in this case because the judge’s decision to seal it was also sealed, according to the news story. That means the public or media won’t have access to any new or old evidence, filings, rulings or arguments.

A number of high-ranking Border Patrol officials are questioning how the case is being handled. For instance, they wonder why the defendant (Manuel Osorio-Arellanes) hasn’t been tried even though it’s been almost a year since Terry’s murder. They also have concerns about the lack of transparency in the investigation, not to mention the recent sealing of the court case.

Osorio-Arellanes is charged with second-degree murder. The four other drug smugglers fled the scene and their names were blacked out in the indictment. In 2006 Osorio-Arellanes had been convicted in Phoenix of felony aggravated assault and in 2010 he was twice detained for being in the U.S. illegally.

During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this month to address the flawed gun-tracking program, Attorney General Eric Holder said it’s not fair to assume that mistakes in Operation Fast and Furious led to Terry’s death. Holder also expressed regret to the federal agent’s family, saying that he can only imagine their pain.

Washington Times:

Senate defies Obama veto threat in terrorist custody vote

Defying a veto threat by President Obama, the Senate voted Tuesday to give the U.S. military first crack at holding al Qaeda operatives, even if they are captured in the U.S. and are American citizens, and also reaffirmed the policy of indefinite detention.

“We’re no longer going to have an absurd result that if we capture you overseas where you’re planning an attack on the United States, we can blow you up or put you in a military prison indefinitely, but if you make it to America, all of a sudden you get Miranda rights and you go to federal court,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who has fought the Bush and Obama administrations on treatment of suspected terrorist detainees.

Tuesday’s 61-37 vote to buck Mr. Obama and grant the military dibs exposed a deep rift within the Democratic Party. Sixteen Democrats and one independent who caucuses with them defied the veto threat and joined 44 Republicans.

The vote was the latest chapter in a debate that has raged since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks plunged the U.S. into the war on terrorism and created the problem of how to handle self-professed enemies who belong to shadowy terrorist groups when they are caught far from traditional battlefields.

In a deal between Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat, and the ranking Republican, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the military is given custody of anyone who has planned or carried out an attack against the U.S. and its allies, or who is deemed to be a member of al Qaeda or one of its affiliates. The compromise gives the administration the authority to waive military custody but only if top Cabinet officials certify that national security dictates civilian control.

Mr. Obama and his top advisers fought the provisions, arguing that it amounted to micromanaging the war on terrorism. The administration said it should be able to decide on a case-by-case basis whether the military or civilian law enforcement is better able to handle a situation.

“The best method for securing vital intelligence from suspected terrorists varies depending on the facts and circumstances of each case,” Director of National IntelligenceJames R. Clapper wrote in a letter to senators detailing the administration’s objections.

He said the national security waiver given to the administration still doesn’t allow enough flexibility.

The White House this month threatened to veto the legislation if it “challenges or constrains the president’s critical authorities to collect intelligence, incapacitate dangerous terrorists and protect the nation.” An official on Tuesday said that threat still stands.

The bill also recodifies existing law on indefinite detention and the right of the administration to try suspected terrorists in military commissions rather than civilian courts [-] authority that the Bush and Obama administrations have exercised, but which Mr. Levin said he wanted to reiterate. Mr. Levin said the administration thought the restatement unnecessary, but didn’t object to the language.

Sen. Mark Udall, Colorado Democrat, tried to strip the detention and the military custody provisions from the bill and replace them with a call for further study of the issue.

“We’re ignoring the advice and the input of the director of the FBI, the director of our intelligence community, the attorney general of the United States,” Mr. Udall said.

His effort won the support of two Republicans, Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mark Kirk of Illinois, both of whom won their seats in last year’s elections.

Among the Democrats who bucked the administration were members of the Armed Services Committee, and also a host of lawmakers who hold politically vulnerable seats up for election next year. Among them were Sens. Robert P. Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan.

The fight was part of a broader debate over the annual defense policy bill, which is considered one of the few must-pass pieces of legislation Congress considers each year.

After the detainee vote on Tuesday, the Senate rejected an amendment by Mr. Paul that would have ended the grant of authority to go to war in Iraq, which Congress approved in 2002. That amendment was defeated by a vote of 67-30, with four Republicans, 25 Democrats and one independent voting to try to end the war.

With troops already scheduled to be brought home, backers said they wanted to establish Congress‘ authority to decide when troops are committed. But opponents said ending the use-of-force authorization might have other unintended consequences for the war on terrorism.

A vote on the overall defense policy bill is expected Thursday. The House has passed its bill, but the two versions will have to be reconciled before the measure goes to the White House, where Mr. Obama’s veto threat will be tested.


S&P Downgrades Goldman, Citi, Other Big Banks

Bank of America Corp., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Citigroup Inc. had long-term credit grades reduced to A- from A by Standard & Poor’s after the ratings firm revised criteria for dozens of the largest global lenders.

Standard & Poor’s made the same cut to Morgan Stanley and Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch unit. JPMorgan Chase & Co. was reduced one level to A from A+. S&P upgraded Bank of China Ltd. and China Construction Bank Corp. to A from A- and maintained the A rating on Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd., giving all three lenders higher grades than most big U.S. banks.

The moves may increase pressure on firms bracing for Europe’s mounting sovereign debt crisis and navigating economic weakness. Bank of America, which has plunged 62 percent this year in New York trading, said in a regulatory filing this month that it may have to post billions of dollars of additional collateral and termination payments on its trades if it were to be downgraded one level by rating companies.

“It’s evident that stress from the European banking system is taking its worldwide toll,” Guy LeBas, chief fixed-income strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott LLC in Philadelphia, said in an e-mail.

S&P, a unit of New York-based McGraw-Hill Cos., has been changing the way it looks at debt after its faulty grades contributed to the credit-market seizure that brought down Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and Bear Stearns Cos. It started to review the methodology in December 2008, months after the collapse of those two firms.

Downgrades “could likely have a material adverse effect on our liquidity, potential loss of access to credit markets, the related cost of funds, our businesses and on certain trading revenues, particularly in those businesses where counterparty creditworthiness is critical,” Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America said in this month’s filing.

The company, which noted the risk of downgrades from S&P and Fitch Ratings in its third-quarter filing, previously said it has prepared by lining up funding for a year.

The Hill:

Christie rips Obama over deficit talks: 'What the hell are we paying you for?'

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie ripped President Obama for the failure of the debt supercommittee, calling the president "a bystander in the Oval Office" in comments Monday.

“I was angry this weekend, listening to the spin coming out of the administration, about the failure of the supercommittee, and that the president knew it was doomed for failure, so he didn’t get involved. Well, then what the hell are we paying you for?” Christie said in Camden, N.J. " 'It’s doomed for failure, so I’m not getting involved'? Well, what have you been doing, exactly?”

Christie was contrasting the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements, saying both stemmed from "anger" with government's inability to respond to the financial crisis. But while Christie said "both parties deserve blame for what's going on in Washington, D.C.," he pointed the finger squarely at Obama for failing to strike a budget deal.

“Why the president of the United States refuses to do this is astonishing to me. If he wanted to run for Senate again and just be one of a hundred, I’m sure he could have gotten reelected over and over again in Illinois,” Christie said. “He’s the one in Washington, and he’s got to get something done here. And it’s not good enough just to say, ‘Well, I’ll get it done after the election.' "

Christie said that the template for fixing budget deficits existed at the state level, where balanced-budget requirements and divided governments often force governors and state legislatures to compromise.

"In New Jersey, the reason why they got done is because I called people into the room and said we’re going to solve this problem and I had people of good will on the other side who said they believed it was their obligation, regardless of party, to get done things like pension and benefit reform,” Christie said.

The popular and outspoken New Jersey governor has endorsed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination for president.

John Prine

& Nanci Griffith
Speed of the Sound of Loneliness

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Iranian Students Storm British Embassy in Tehran

Hard-line Iranian students stormed the British diplomatic compounds in Tehran on Tuesday, bringing down the Union Jack flag and throwing documents from windows in scenes reminiscent of the anger against Western powers after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The mob surged past riot police into British Embassy compound two days after Iran's parliament approved a bill that reduces diplomatic relations with Britain following London's support of recently upgraded Western sanctions on Tehran over its disputed nuclear program.

Less than two hours later, police appeared to regain control of the site. But the official IRNA news agency said about 300 protesters entered the British ambassador's residence in another part of the city and replaced British flags with Iranian ones. The British Foreign Office harshly denounced the melee and said Iran has a "clear duty" under international law to protect diplomats and offices.

"We are outraged by this," said the statement. "It is utterly unacceptable and we condemn it."

It said a "significant number" of protesters entered the compound and caused vandalism, but gave no other details on damage or whether diplomatic staff was inside the embassy, although the storming occurred after business hours.

The semiofficial Mehr news agency said embassy staff had left the compound before the mobs entered.

The protesters broke through after clashing with anti-riot police and chanting for its takeover. "Death to England," some cried in the first significant assault of a foreign diplomatic area in Iran in years. More protesters poured into the compound as police tried to clear the site.

Smoke rose from some areas of the embassy grounds and the British flag was replaced with a banner in the name of 7th century Shiite saint, Imam Hussein. Occupiers also tore down picture of Queen Elizabeth II.

The occupier called for the closure of the embassy calling it a "spy den" -- the same phrase used after militants stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979 and held 52 hostages for 444 days. In the early moments of the seige, protesters tossed out papers from the compound and hauled down the U.S. flag. Washington and Tehran have no diplomatic relations since then.

The rally outside the British Embassy -- on a main street in Tehran downtown -- included protesters carrying photographs of nuclear scientist Majid Shahriari, who was killed last year in an attack that Iran blamed on Israeli and British spy services.

Outside the embassy, students from some universities and seminaries burned British flags on fire as clashing with police.

State TV reported that another group of hard-line students gathered at the gate of British ambassador's residence in northern Tehran, at the same time.

Britain's Foreign Office said it was in contact with embassy officials. Officials were still checking on the well-being of workers and diplomats, a spokeswoman said on condition of anonymity in line with standing policy.

Tensions with Britain date back to the 19th century when the Persian monarchy gave huge industrial concessions to London, which later included significant control over Iran's oil industry.
But they have become increasingly strained as the West accuses Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons -- a charge Tehran denies.

In recent years, Iran was angered by Britain's decision in 2007 honor author Salman Rushdie with a knighthood.

Rushdie went into hiding after Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini issued a 1989 fatwa, or religious edict, ordering Muslims to kill the author because his novel "The Satanic Verses" allegedly insulted Islam.

The decision shortly after Iran detained 15 British sailors and marines in March 2007 for allegedly entering the country's territorial waters in the Gulf -- a claim Britain denies. The 15 were released after nearly two weeks in captivity.

In 2006, angry mobs burned the Danish flag and attacked Danish and other Western embassies in Tehran in protest to the reprinting of a cartoon deemed insulting of the Prophet Muhammad in the Nordic country's newspapers.

Don’t make me laugh …US General: Pakistanis Image of US “worst ever”


So right after ”W” goes home Pew does a survey in Pakistan of how they view a bunch of things including the USA.

16% think of us favorably

Then after we offed Bin Laden they took another look, and gee, guess what now we are down to another number, even lower. To put it in context as many Pakistanis view the USA favorably as American do Congressional performance.


So excuse me when I hear some WARFIGHTER (?? AYFKM??) too worried about PAKISTANI PUBLIC OPINION to think clearly about WINNING THE GODDAMN WAR?

5%, 2%… WHO CARES?

General: Worst U.S. image in Pakistan ever

President Obama promised to restore the international image of the United States, but the recent NATO airstrike that killed Pakistani soldiers comes as a historic setback, at least in Pakistan, to judge from remarks made by Army Gen. Martin. E. Dempsey to British media today.

Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that the average Pakistani’s respect for the United States is lower than ever. “[The average Pakistani who] doesn’t know the United States, doesn’t read about the United States or just watches something on television about the United States, at that level, [the relations] are probably the worst they’ve ever been,” he explained, according to the American Forces Press Service.

He added that the relationship between the U.S. government and Pakistan’s government is “on about as rocky a road as I’ve seen.”

The general expressed limited optimism for rebuilding that relationship. “I think if we understand the seriousness with which this event is being viewed in Pakistan, and they understand we are taking it seriously, then I think we will have at least the beginnings of a opportunity to find our way through it,” he suggested.

Hey dude, you know that horse you rode in on, YEAH…. HIM TOO

US suspects NATO forces lured into deadly raid

NATO forces may have been lured into attacking friendly Pakistani border posts in a calculated maneuver by the Taliban, according to preliminary U.S. military reports on the deadliest friendly fire incident with Pakistan since theAfghanistan war began.

The NATO airstrike killed 24 Pakistani soldiers over the weekend in an apparent case of mistaken identity, The Associated Press has learned.

A joint U.S.-Afghan patrol was attacked by the Taliban early Saturday morning. While pursuing the enemy in the poorly marked border area, the patrol seems to have mistaken one of the Pakistan troop outposts for a militant encampment and called in a NATO gunship and attack helicopters to open fire.

U.S. officials say the reports suggest the Taliban may have deliberately tried to provoke a cross-border firefight that would set back fragile partnerships between the U.S. and NATO forces and Pakistani soldiers at the ill-defined border. Officials described the records on condition of anonymity to discuss classified matters.

The incident has sent the perpetually difficult U.S.-Pakistan relationship into a tailspin.

On Tuesday, Pakistani Gen. Ashfaq Nadeem called the incident a “deliberate act of aggression” and said it was “next to impossible that NATO” did not know it was attacking Pakistani forces.

You know, in 1861 at Bull Run there were some Rebel troops in Union type uniforms and they were fired on by the Confederates. They returned fire immediately. When questioned later by a General the Colonel who commanded those troops said, “Dammit General, we will fire on anyone who fires at us.”

As this story shpes up (what they TELL US OF IT), it sure looks as if Taliban fired on American troops from Pakistani Army positions, knowing it was win-win no matter what we did.

PAKISTAN IS TODAY’S LAOS AND CAMBODIA. Except the Pakistani PEOPLE hate our guts, and have already via the ISI, Taliban and those the abet, that they will kill Americans sipping coffee at work in Manhattan and Washington.

The Viet Cong just wanted Vietnam.

This is a sure loser as presently configured.

We have set ourselves up to GET OUR ASSES KICKED and FLY HOME A LOT OF BODY BAGS.

It is THIS admin’s job to WIN. Not leave. WIN.

Unless they feel a few more thousand dead americans here at home one day 5-10 years from now is ok if they can just win a few more elections.