During the record breaking 49 consecutive months of steady job growth unemployment has been dropping slowly but steadily and wages have basically been stagnate. Nothing to get excited about. But November’s report was nothing but good news. 321k jobs added in November, with upward revisions of 44k for September and October. Average weekly hours increased as 177k part-time workers got full-time jobs. And an average wage increase of nine cents an hour, a 4.4% annual rate, as apparently the tightening labor market is finally forcing employers to give workers decent raises. Combined with the rapidly dropping price of gasoline, we may finally be in a virtuous cycle in which consumers’ growing purchasing power fuels further employment growth. The economy will add 3 million jobs this year, the most of this century. Merry Christmas, America, Santa thinks you have been very, very good this year!
Aaron Deslatte, Orlando Sentinel:
Bainter was at the center of the effort.
During a deposition, Bainter professed to only having a passing “interest” in the redistricting process, and had never submitted maps, claiming “it was an intriguing process” to watch.
“I never actually completed a map. I found it way too tedious,” Bainter said under oath.
But behind the scenes, email show he arranged for intermediaries to submit five maps drawn by GOP operatives. Bainter suggested he could round up “10 more people at least” to do the same.
G.O.P. Unveils Immigration Plan: ‘We Must Make America Somewhere No One Wants to Live’ - the New Yorker
Appearing with House Speaker John Boehner, McConnell said that, in contrast to President Obama’s “Band-Aid fixes,” the Republican plan would address “the root cause of immigration, which is that the United States is, for the most part, habitable.”
“For years, immigrants have looked to America as a place where their standard of living was bound to improve,” McConnell said. “We’re going to change that.”
Boehner said that the Republicans’ plan would reduce or eliminate “immigration magnets,” such as the social safety net, public education, clean air, and drinkable water.
The Speaker added that the plan would also include the repeal of Obamacare, calling healthcare “catnip for immigrants.”
Attempting, perhaps, to tamp down excitement about the plan, McConnell warned that turning America into a dystopian hellhole that repels immigrants “won’t happen overnight.”
“Our crumbling infrastructure and soaring gun violence are a good start, but much work still needs to be done,” he said. “When Americans start leaving the country, we’ll know that we’re on the right track.”
Bureau of Labor Statistics: Employment Situation Summary
The employment report was almost entirely positive today. Not only did the economy create 248k jobs in September, but the July and August job reports were revised upward to add 69k more jobs. As a result the unemployment rate dropped to 5.9% and U-6 unemployment, which includes people marginally attached to the workforce and part-time workers looking for full-time employment dropped .2 points to 11.8%. The average work week also increased to 34.6 hours, so the economy isn’t just creating part-time work. Wages remain stagnant, and its likely that the labor market has to tighten up more to force employers to grant good raises, but at the pace that the economy is generating jobs we should get there soon, and in the meantime tame inflation alleviates pressure on the Fed to increase interest rates before full employment is achieved. Unfortunately I don’t expect this report to help Democrats much next month, since stagnant wages have left Americans feeling like we are still in a recession. At the current rate of job creation, however, we should have full employment in time for the 2016 elections, leaving the GOP with nothing to run on.
Dylan Matthews, Vox: Three Reasons Why New Zealand Has the Best-Designed Government in the World - Vox
New Zealand has the most democratic government in the world because it has a well-designed electoral system of mixed district and proportional representation, a unicameral parliament and a constitutional monarch (a Governor-General serves as the Queen’s representative in N.Z.) to act as head of state who lacks the legitimacy to meddle in politics. In light of the interminable gridlock in US politics created by the 2010 GOP wave, which seems unlikely to break anytime soon, New Zealand’s system is looking pretty good. God Save the Queen!
Eric Holthaus, Slate: Climate Change Economics: New Report Says Nixing Fossil Fuels Won’t Be Expensive.
Essentially, the report takes a refreshingly short-term look at what many still assume to be a long-term problem. Here’s the basic calculation: Assume $90 trillion is likely to be spent on infrastructure anyway over the next 15 years, and it would take only an additional $4 trillion to rapidly scale up climate-friendly alternatives. The biggest issue is, at current rates, an additional $9 trillion would be spent in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry over the same time span—a gross misallocation of funds if we’re serious about tackling global warming.
Basically, if we just end government’s long-term relationship with the fossil fuel industry, we could fix climate change. For free.
9 trillion reasons the Kochs spend so much money supporting the GOP.
A St. Louis County police officer, who was seen pushing a CNN anchor during protests in Ferguson, Mo., this week, was suspended from duty after a controversial video surfaced, in which he fashions himself as a merciless killer.
“I personally believe in Jesus Christ as my lord and savior, but I’m also a killer,” said officer Dan Page, a 35-year veteran, in the video. “I’ve killed a lot. And if I need to, I’ll kill a whole bunch more. If you don’t want to get killed, don’t show up in front of me. I have no problems with it. God did not raise me to be a coward.” Page added, “I’m into diversity — I kill everybody. I don’t care.”
The comments, which were made before members of the Christian organization, the Oath Keepers, also included his story of going to Kenya in search of “undocumented president,” Barack Obama. “I flew to Africa, right there, and I went to our undocumented president’s home,” Page said, holding a picture of him in Kenya. “He was born in Kenya.”
Page has been ordered to take a psychiatric exam, according to Belmar, who issued a public apology for Page’s remarks. “He does not represent the rank-and-file of [the] St. Louis County Police Department,” Belmar told CNN in a Friday on-air interview.
Unfortunately, as we have seen from videos of Ferguson, this birther psychopath absolutely represents a significant portion of the St.L. County police department, an element which desperately needs to be weeded out.
The absurdity runs deep: America is using American military equipment to bomb other pieces of American military equipment halfway around the world. The reason the American military equipment got there in the first place was because, in 2003, the US had to use its military to rebuild the Iraqi army, which it just finished destroying with the American military. The American weapons the US gave the Iraqi army totally failed at making Iraq secure and have become tools of terror used by an offshoot of al-Qaeda to terrorize the Iraqis that the US supposedly liberated a decade ago. And so now the US has to use American weaponry to destroy the American weaponry it gave Iraqis to make Iraqis safer, in order to make Iraqis safer.
It keeps going: the US is intervening on behalf of Iraqi Kurds, our ally, because their military has old Russian-made weapons, whereas ISIS, which is America’s enemy, has higher-quality American weapons. “[Kurdish forces] are literally outgunned by an ISIS that is fighting with hundreds of millions of dollars of U.S. military equipment seized from the Iraqi Army who abandoned it,” Ali Khedery, a former American official in Iraq, told the New York Times.
In our hubristic attempt to remake Iraq in our image we have only succeeded in making it worse. One can only hope we don’t forget this mess like we forgot Vietnam and make the same bloody mistakes in another country all over again, but we probably will.
Ben Mathis-Lilley, Slate: Immigrant Children, Ebola: We Need to Be Careful, GOP Rep Says.
Republican Todd Rokita, who represents parts of western Indiana in the House of Representatives, said Monday on an Indianapolis radio program that authorities should be concerned about the possibility that child immigrants from Central America could spread the Ebola virus. From the Times of Northwest Indiana:
Referencing a conversation he had with U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon, R-Newburgh, who is a heart surgeon, Rokita said they agreed there is a public health risk associated with the federal refugee agency placing immigrant children in the homes of U.S. relatives or sponsors.
“He said, look, we need to know just from a public-health standpoint, with Ebola circulating and everything else—no, that’s my addition to it, not necessarily his—but he said we need to know the condition of these kids,” Rokita said.
The Times’ writeup notes that “no human Ebola illness ever has been contracted in the Western Hemisphere.”
Another dry passage from the Times’ piece:
[Rokita] added if more children are released to Hoosier relatives, they’ll soon enroll in school and “ultimately your property taxes are going to go up.”
Classroom instruction in Indiana schools mainly is funded by state sales and income taxes, not local property taxes.