A story in the Christian Science Monitor today points out the standard of living for Americans has “fallen longer and more steeply over the past three years than at any time since the U.S. government began recording it five decades ago.” The average individual now has $1,315 less in disposable income than he or she did three years ago at the onset of the Great Recession – even though the recession ended in mid-2009.
This news comes at the same time the so-called Misery Index — which is the sum of the country’s inflation and unemployment rates —rose to 13.0 percent last month, a 28-year high. Which shouldn’t be confused with the report that the number of underemployed people rose for a third consecutive month in September. Almost 9.3 million Americans are now considered underemployed (defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as working part-time for economic reasons, such as unfavorable business conditions or seasonal declines in demand), up from just over 8 million in July. And a staggering number of Americans, almost 26 million, are either unemployed, marginally attached to the labor force, or involuntarily working part-time—a number experts say is unprecedented.
Herman Cain might find himself in trouble with social conservatives after taking a wobbly stance on abortion during an interview with Piers Morgan last night. (Cain says he’s opposed to abortion under any circumstances, but that this shouldn’t be the government’s decision.) But the flap also points to a deeper problem for Cain’s campaign, as Phil Klein notes:
It’s no surprise that staunch pro-lifer Rick Santorum immediately seized on the controversy and released a statement targeting Cain’s abortion comments. But it goes beyond just social conservatives. The inconsistent statements suggest he hasn’t thought the issue through clearly enough, which is also a criticism of his 9-9-9 plan and his shallow foreign policy statements. Now that he’s viewed as a top tier candidate, he won’t be able to get away with winging it.
Muammar Qaddafi’s death is good news: It not only delivers justice for a cruel dictator but it also makes it unlikely that his supporters will be able to launch an insurgency to challenge the new government in Tripoli–and it sends a powerful message of accountability to other despots around the region, and indeed around the world. President Obama deserves congratulations for helping bring about this outcome. But does Qaddafi’s death vindicate, as the New York Times claims, “a new American approach to war: few if any troops on the ground, the heavy use of air power, including drones and, at least in the case of Libya, a reliance on allies”?
Count me as skeptical. Start with the “new” part of that sentence: Is there really anything new about relying on airpower to kill our enemies at scant cost to ourselves? Not really. That was, after all, the approach the Clinton administration employed in Bosnia and Kosovo and, less successfully, to target Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. It was also the approach the Bush administration used to topple the Taliban. Back in 2001, there were also many predictions that a new way of war had arrived relying on airpower and allies–remember all the hoopla about Special Forces on horseback? But we soon saw in Afghanistan (which I am currently visiting) such talk was premature–that precision munitions delivered from the air could help topple a regime, at least if they were coupled with a ground-combat force, but they could not replace it with a durable alternative. That would require the difficult work of nation-building. The Bush administration hesitated to get its hands dirty in either Iraq or Afghanistan and paid the price.
My first thought was that this “Occupy Baltimore” pamphlet discouraging rape victims from calling the police was so transparently silly no protesters would actually abide by it. But then you remember the videos of how clueless most of these activists are. If the movement organizers advise victims against calling the police (presumably for the benefit of the OWS’s public relations), some impressionable young protesters might actually go along with it:
Efforts by the Occupy Baltimore protest group to evolve into a self-contained, self-governing community have erupted into controversy with the distribution of a pamphlet that victim advocates and health workers fear discourages victims of sexual assaults from contacting police.
In case you missed the highly entertaining video of Jason Mattera confronting Joe Biden over his repeated claims that Republicans are letting the rapists win by opposing the jobs bill, take a minute to watch the clip. Here’s a transcript of the exchange:
Mattera: Do you regret using a rape reference to describe Republican opposition to the president’s bill?
Biden: I didn’t use it. No, no, no, what I said, let’s get it straight guys. Don’t screw around with me. Let’s get it straight. Listen to me. I said rape was up, three times, in Flint, [Michigan]. They’re the numbers, go look at the numbers. Murder’s up, rape is up, burglary’s up, that’s exactly what I said.
Mattera: And if Republicans don’t pass this bill, then rape will continue to rise?
Biden: Murder will continue to rise, rape will continue to rise, all crimes will continue to rise.
This gruesome photo, purported to be of the dead Libyan leader, says it all. According to reports, he met his end in his hometown of Sirte, the last pro-Qaddafi stronghold that was taken by revolutionary forces yesterday.
So far there’s no confirmation of the death, and some stories are reporting “captured,” while others say “killed” – and so far the word is just coming from Libyan officials, no response from NATO: