One solution to our debt problems is to become a less affluent society.
The Snow Ate My Job: There were 454,000 initial claims for unemployment last week, up 12.37% from the previous weeks rather questionable 403,000. Excuses abound.
Program Notes: Yemen has joined the street-based social networking phenomena, as has Gabon. Meanwhile Egypt plunges further into regime change, popular style, with reported confrontations in Suez and Cairo and reports of 'massacres'.
Distressed Signals: Sales of 'distressed houses' increased 3% last month on two different indexes, the HousingPulse Index reported 47.2% of all house sales as distressed, while the NAR reported that 36% of all house sales involved distressed properties. This percentage will increase as foreclosures increase in the spring.
Don't Ask, Don't Tell: If you've been bullish on oil, gold and silver, go lie down someplace quiet for a while.
Misnomer: In what is being laughingly called “a gentleman's agreement”, Senate leaders have sidestepped the question of filibusters by the minority to get their way. In exchange for a promise (that they haven't broken yet) not to filibuster everything, they retain the right to filibuster everything. They also promised to block only bills and nominations they disagree with. The Democrats, in turn, get their bellies rubbed. Someday.
More Hawk than Deficit: Iraq has burned up $3 trillion so far (your T-shirt is in the mail). How did your favorite cost cutter vote?
Unendurable: New orders for manufactured durable goods decreased $5 billion (2.5%) in December. Non-defense transportation took an immense hit (cars, car parts and civilian aircraft), down nearly 13%.
Dreamland: Russian inflation, now at 9% and rising, has forced the government to impose price caps on foodstuffs and other “socially important” commodities. This will drive companies to cut overhead and labor costs – lowering the ability of workers to cope and opening the economy to black markets – something not unfamiliar to Russia.
Fingers Crossed: John Boehner now says he was just fooling when he campaigned on the idea of raising the Social Security retirement age to 70. He was just kidding. He didn't mean it, claims he was “just having the conversation...” Talking to himself?
Ten Foot Pole: “Abortion Doesn’t Increase Mental Health Risk, But Having A Baby Does”
Follow The Bouncing Ball: Ramiz Yousef, who organized the first World Trade Center bombing, and Khalid Sheidh Mohammed, mastermind of the second bombing, both trained under Abdul Rab Arasoul Sayyaf, who was responsible for various atrocities and mass murders in Afghanistan in the 1990's and was once a close associate of Osama bin Laden (remember him?). Sayyaf has been chosen by Hamid Karzai to be speaker of the Afghan parliament. Wonder if Petraeus will attend the swearing in.
Asked & Answered: Does a narrow social elite run the country? Yes. They were asking about the UK, but the answer is generically global.
Weather or Not: We have seen a remarkable run of extreme weather events – droughts, floods, cold and snowy in the temperate zone and balmy in the Arctic. If you think speculation is the only factor driving up food prices, you are wrong. If you think this is all “just the weather” you have your head really, really deep in the sand.
Wrong Target: Wyoming is considering mandating the ongoing videotaping of teachers, statewide. They'd make a bigger imact on student performance if they videotaped the students and their parents at home.
Porn O'Graph: New Houses, really, some did sell.