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Pressed Duck or the Obama Press Conference on Spying

Here are snippets from Obama's press conference. It was a tour de force of lies and Orwellianisms. The bottomline is that Obama likes and supports the surveillance state with its massive and massively unConstitutional spying programs.

"In other words, it’s not enough for me, as President, to have confidence in these programs. The American people need to have confidence in them as well"

"Well, I think it’s important to say, Carol, first of all, I haven’t evolved in my assessment of the actual programs."

The BLS Jobs Report Covering July 2013: Slow Build But In Poor Quality Jobs

The short version:
In July, unemployment fell to 7.4%. This was because the labor force seasonally adjusted (trendline) was largely unchanged and so most of the 227,000 increase in employment came from net hiring among the unemployed and not those entering the labor force. Employment remains 2 million below the last peak in January 2008. Read more about The BLS Jobs Report Covering July 2013: Slow Build But In Poor Quality Jobs

Real Earnings Decline in June

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The BLS report on real wages came out on July 16. The headline number is seasonally adjusted real average hourly earnings for all employees. This was unchanged in June at $10.31 (nominal $24.01).

The more indicative number is weekly earnings. These fell 0.1% in June to $355.60. (Real weekly earnings are nominal wages deflated by the CPI and take into account changes in the length of the work week. All real earnings are expressed in constant 1982-1984 dollars.) Read more about Real Earnings Decline in June

BLS Jobs Report Covering June 2013: Seasonal Factors Rule At The Summer Peak

The short version:
Seasonally adjusted, June was not a bad month for jobs, and with the revisions to April and May, job creation has been near 195,000/month for the last three months. However, we need about 90,000 a month to keep up with population growth. So we are talking about 100,000 a month over and above population growth. And we are still some 2.3 million jobs below the November 2007 peak in jobs. So it would take us nearly two years of such growth to get back to where we were 5 1/2 years ago. Read more about BLS Jobs Report Covering June 2013: Seasonal Factors Rule At The Summer Peak

BLS Jobs Report Covering May 2013: About As Good As It Is Going To Get And Still Too Insufficient By Far

The short version: May is usually a strong month for job creation. So while seasonally adjusted job creation is reported at 175,000, it actually increased by 885,000. This puts the January-June job creation period in line with and slightly better than the last 3 years. The problem is that this is still a very slow growth rate insufficient to deal with the enormous ongoing shortfall in jobs. And the quality of jobs being created remains crap. Read more about BLS Jobs Report Covering May 2013: About As Good As It Is Going To Get And Still Too Insufficient By Far

The New Old War On Terrorism

I had really meant to steer clear of Obama's May 23 counterterrorism speech, but I heard such different accounts of it, that it both ended and expanded the war on terror, I thought I should take a look.

Here is the speech: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/05/23/remarks-president-...

The accompanying fact sheet: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/05/23/fact-sheet-preside...

And the guidance for counterterrorism operations outside the US: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/uploads/2013.05.23_fact_sh...

As always, it is a question of definitions. What Obama meant by an end to the global war on terror was that there would be no more Afghanistans, no more 100,000 soldier armies invading foreign countries.

"Beyond Afghanistan, we must define our effort not as a boundless “global war on terror,” but rather as a series of persistent, targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America. In many cases, this will involve partnerships with other countries."

Minus Afghanistans (and Iraqs), it will still be global, a war, and against "the terrorists". This view is re-inforced in his discussion of the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) which has served as the "legal" basis for the current war on terror: Read more about The New Old War On Terrorism

BLS Jobs Report Covering April 2013

Short Form: In seasonally adjusted terms, 165,000 jobs and unemployment dropping to 7.5% are OK, but not great results. At that job creation rate and taking population growth into account, it would take about 2 years to reduce by one million those currently unemployed. The BLS estimates current unemployment at 11.815 million. I calculate it at 20.542 million. So perhaps I should not say OK but rather next to nothing is being done to address the jobs situation. Read more about BLS Jobs Report Covering April 2013

I Feel Safer With Miranda Than Ortiz

Carmen Ortiz, the US Attorney for Massachusetts, announced in a news conference following the capture of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev that he would not be mirandized under the public safety exception. Ortiz you will remember is the ambitious political climber whose prosecutorial abuse drove public access advocate and internet activist Aaron Swartz to suicide. Read more about I Feel Safer With Miranda Than Ortiz

BLS Jobs Report Covering March 2013: Blah Trend Numbers but Some Seasonal Strength Although Not As Good As Previous Years

Short Form: In March, in the Household survey, the BLS undercount of those unemployed grew, and the labor force became smaller. It will take 6-12 months to know whether the declines we are seeing in the size of the labor force are cyclical or secular. The adjusted and unadjusted numbers for the labor force showed different pictures. Adjusted (trend line), the labor force fell with employment and unemployment also falling. Read more about BLS Jobs Report Covering March 2013: Blah Trend Numbers but Some Seasonal Strength Although Not As Good As Previous Years

BLS Jobs Report Covering February 2013: A Solid Seasonal Rebound

In brief: Trendline, 236,000 jobs were added in February and the official unemployment rate fell to 7.7%. Actual jobs increased 959,000 but this followed a loss of 2.840 million last month. Similarly, employment rose 614,000 this month against a 1.446 million loss last month. However, notably the size of the labor force did not increase. The current rebuild and expansion of jobs should continue for the next two to three months. If this growth is choked off by the sequester or austerity, the consequences will extend through the rest of the year. My recalculated rate of unemployment remains high and declined only slightly to 12.5%. Hours increased this month which is good but wage gains taking inflation into account remain largely flat. Read more about BLS Jobs Report Covering February 2013: A Solid Seasonal Rebound

It Is Always About the Definitions: The CPI Edition

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Forget the names. It's all about the definitions. Here are some of them from the most recent CPI report covering January 2013:

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a measure of the average change in prices over time of goods and services purchased by households. The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes CPIs for two population groups:

(1) the CPI for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), which covers households of wage earners and clerical workers that comprise approximately 29 percent of the total population

Kleptocracy in Action: Gabelli v. SEC

Some noteworthy Supreme Court decisions fly under the radar. One such is Gabelli v. SEC. Roberts delivered the decision in which the whole Court concurred on February 27, 2013. Read more about Kleptocracy in Action: Gabelli v. SEC

BLS Jobs Report Covering January 2013: Terrible Month, Great Report

The short form: Yearly revisions increased the number of jobs created in 2012 by 647,000. These revisions make some comparisons difficult between December 2012 and January 2013 and obscure that January is an absolutely dreadful month for jobs and employment in real terms. After Christmas, the economy sheds large numbers of jobs that are not picked back up until later in the spring. The result is that while the adjusted numbers show gains, these numbers mark a trend basically bridging a chasm. The bottom of that chasm is where the economy now is. Read more about BLS Jobs Report Covering January 2013: Terrible Month, Great Report

The Myth That Big Government Is Big

In 1966, the budget for the federal government was 134.5 billion dollars ($656.1 billion in chained 2005 dollars). In 2011 (the most recent year where annual information is available), the federal budget was $3.603 trillion ($3.1786 in chained in 2005 dollars) or 4.8 times what it was in 1966 in real terms.

Similarly, GDP in 1966 was $787.1 billion ($3.8421 trillion in chained 2005 dollars) and $15.0757 trillion in 2011 ($13.2991 trillion in chained 2005 dollars) or some 3.5 times the 1966 GDP in real terms. Read more about The Myth That Big Government Is Big

BLS Jobs Report Covering December 2012: Good, Bad, Indifferently Bad, Take Your Pick

The current BLS jobs report covering December 2012 states, without qualification, that the official or U-3 unemployment rate remained unchanged at 7.8%. It is only on page 5 of the pdf in a table that you find that the November rate was originally reported (a few days before the election) as a more favorable 7.7% down from 7.9%. This revision is part of the BLS' yearly revision of its numbers in the Household (people) survey. This complicates matters because revisions to the Establishment (jobs) survey will not happen until next month. Read more about BLS Jobs Report Covering December 2012: Good, Bad, Indifferently Bad, Take Your Pick

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