Lo, and behold, Friday!
And it’s clear and warm this early morning here on California’s north coast, with ‘weirding weather‘ making its play as right now we’re over 50 degrees and the forecast is for warmer temperatures today than yesterday, which was a surprise to everybody.
On Thursday, freezing cold at dawn to a T-shirt-only environment in a couple of hours — and still no rain in sight.
Yet, what’s not weird is President Obama’s performance the last five years — he’s proven there’s absolutely nothing to hope and change, except in dreams.
(Illustration found here).
In an extreme-recent example, Obama has waved off a report from the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board on the NSA and its tomfoolery, by suggesting the agency’s bulk collection program should end — the operation “lacks a viable legal foundation under Section 215, implicates constitutional concerns under the First and Fourth Amendments, raises serious threats to privacy and civil liberties as a policy matter, and has shown only limited value.” (I noted the report in a Thursday post).
The report came out yesterday, and Obama quickly put the diss on:
“On the issue of [Section] 215, we simply disagree with the board’s analysis on the legality of the program,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said…“The administration believes that the program is lawful.”
Wham-bam, thank-you, ma’am.
And among the guidelines of this Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board: The Board advises the President and other senior executive branch officials to ensure that concerns with respect to privacy and civil liberties are appropriately considered in the implementation of all laws, regulations, and executive branch policies related to efforts to protect the Nation against terrorism. This includes advising on whether adequate guidelines, supervision, and oversight exist to protect these important legal rights of all Americans.
Obama either isn’t paying attention, or he’s an asshole — either way is bad.
The biggest disappointment most-likely for Obama, beyond the NSA bullshit, is the economy and the life and times of those “all Americans.” Although the president’s push on revamping the US health system is a real need in itself, the recovery off the 2008 financial debacle should have been job-one — jobs.
Instead, the country is now fucked.
Out this week is a academic paper revealing just how shitty the recovery has been and how in reality, Obama and his co-horts have danced around the biggest sinkhole in this country — the economy.
The new study from Stanford University, titled “State of the Union: The Poverty and Inequality Report 2014,” pretty-much outlines the failure this past five years — the so-called ‘Great Recession” wasn’t presented as scary enough.
The economy is not delivering enough jobs, and the labor market appears to be failing by the best available measure.
The way to quantify this is to look at the “prime-age employment ratio,” which is the ratio of employed 25-54 year-olds to the population of that age.
In tough economic times, the official unemployment rate often hides the fact that many people have stopped looking for work.
By that measure, the U.S. economy is having severe trouble: “November 2013, six years after the start of the Great Recession, the proportion of all 25-54 year olds who hold jobs (i.e., ‘prime age employment’) was almost 5 percent lower than it was in December 2007, both for men and women alike.”
Poverty remains a significant problem: “The official poverty rate increased from 12.5 percent in 2007 to 15.0 percen5 in 2012, and the child poverty rate increased from 18.0 percent in 2007 to 21.8 percent in 2012.”
The role of the recession is “more complicated than is often appreciated, with different measures of inequality yielding different conclusions about the effects of the Great Recession.”
This is because the social safety net and policy responses to the Great Recession performed reasonably effectively, while the capital income sources of the affluent “decline sharply.”
Indeed, “although the Great Recession brought about an increase in inequality for standard household income measures, it led to a flattening in consumption inequality as well as a decline in the income share going to top-income households.”
The report also looks at issues such as health inequality and trends in overall wealth inequality.
The authors note that the “distinctively American approach is to blame our post-market institutions for the current state of affairs.
The safety net is blamed for failing to make a dent in poverty; our schools are blamed for failing to eliminate income or racial disparities; and our healthcare institutions are blamed for poor health among the poor.
We accordingly propose all manner of narrow-gauge safety net reforms, narrow-gauge school reforms and narrow-gauge health care reforms; and we imagine that, if only we could find the right such reforms, all would be well.”
However, the “very same critical scrutiny might also be applied to our economic and labor market institutions,” which are failing increasingly broad swaths of the American public.
Maybe, this is due to all the the hoopla over “hope and change,” and where now there’s neither.
The big difference, though, is the NSA can now listen to all our weeping.