Goose/Gander: Republicans claim the President “risks antagonizing” them if he uses the power of the executive like Bush did. They say it would be wrong (some say 'unconstitutional, but they won't try the case anywhere but the press) to bypass an ineffective Congress to do what the public wants. It would destroy our democracy if the people actually got what they elected people to do, or at least the GOP version of democracy, where the minority rules.
Mirror Image: Foxconn, the Apple supplier best know for the suicides of their abused Chinese workforce, says it may build a factory in the US, if it can find a place that will let it ignore labor and workplace safety laws, pay minimum wage to workers trained at government expense and – this is the deal breaker – get several billion dollars in taxpayer money to pad their profits.
A Cold Winter: Americans of working age are now the majority in households receiving food stamps. When the program began, children and the elderly were the main beneficiaries of the program, but that was back before the banksters killed the economy and were rewarded with so much in bailouts and tax cuts that that we can no longer afford actual jobs that pay a living wage.
Tough Love: Republicans insist that they will not shut down the government again over the debt ceiling, as long as the President makes sufficient concessions to them. If the White House doesn't cave to their demands, then of course they will have no moral choice but to destroy the nation in order to save it.
Applause, Applause: After much celebration and recognition as a prime example of the renaissance of American manufacturing, the multi-billion dollar Intel chip factory that was to employ thousands in Arizona will be mothballed before it is ever opened - much like the empty, never opened $1.2 billion Hemlock polysilicon factory in Tennessee. As Obama said, this is “ an example of an America that's within our reach.” Or just out it, as the case may be.
Inequality: The world's gullible put $4 billion on Starbucks gift cards last year.
Don't Say A Word: Retail closings and downsizings have been announced by Sears, JCPenny, Macy's, Target, American Eagle, and Aéropostale. even Wal-Mart. There is also a shift underway from large mall stores to smaller outlets that take less inventory and fewer staff to operate. Retail analysts expect retail square footage to contract by 30 to 50% in the next few years, with an ongoing decline in both sales and employment. Not a single new indoor mall has been built since 2006. That's a clue. The word is deflation.
The Italian Job: Economists expect that the EU ended 2013 with unemployment at an all-time high of 12.1% - about 19 million officially jobless, but Bloomberg estimates that figure to be over 31 million. In Italy, the EU's third largest economy, the actual rate is 24% which is twice that of Spain (the EU's fourth largest economy) and five times higher the official rate in Greece. Among those with jobs, 12% do not earn enough to live on. Of those who lose their jobs, only 15% get a new job within a year.
Women & Children First: Germany's Bundesbank,echoing the IMF, says that before EMU member nations come begging for money it is their “national responsibility” to confiscate as much of their citizens' savings as they can get their hands on. Except in Germany, of course, where a wealth tax would harm growth.
Observed: The US lost 6 million jobs between 2000 and 2009 and has... drumroll... gotten less than 600,000 of them back since the recession ended. Celebrate modestly.
Question: In how many wars is the US using drones? Trick question, the US is not "at war" with any country, just with the general idea of terrorism, which is not a place or a thing but an act. So, in how many undeclared wars do we use drones to attack and kill wedding parties? All of them, but the CIA is afraid it won't be able to keep killing Pakistanis if Karzai throws the US out of Afghanistan.
Due Process: The US military in Afghanistan says that the government's decision to end indefinite detention at the notorious Bagram Prison (Guantanamo East) and to release 37 prisoners for whom there is "no incriminating evidence" as a "major step backward in... the rule of law." Because indefinite detention of the innocent is an essential element of modern democracy.
The Parting Shot: