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Chet Baker’s unsung swan song

David Wilcox:

Do you realize

The Flaming Lips:

Mr. Blue Sky

Meyer Hawthorne covers ELO:


They’ve tentatively linked the e. coli outbreak to (sorry, locavores!) locally-grown German bean sprouts.

In the meantime, it appears Germany’s hospital system is having a hard time handling the outbreak.

The right to choose

No one likes abortion — until they need one. But if things keep up, you won’t be able to get one soon.

Putting the cart before the horse

Tracking the U.S. economy these days is like watching the Titanic go down, except the crew members are running around the deck, waving their arms and saying, “Everything’s fine, don’t panic! Everybody back to the all-you-can-eat buffet!” On This Week with Christiane Amanpour, White House economic adviser Austan Goolsbee insists this is not a jobless recovery and everything’s moving along just the way they planned.

It seems clear that economists like Paul Krugman, Joseph Stiglitz and Dean Baker were right about the disastrous long-term consequences of an inadequate stimulus, while the White House keeps insisting it worked. Not only do they insist it worked, they want to emphasize more of the same pro-business approach. To me, this very risky half-assed strategy is like a parent patting herself on the back that, when her kid had a strep throat, she saved money by only filling half of the antibiotic prescription. So now the infection’s gone into his heart, but he no longer has a sore throat. Progress!

Bottom line? Voters will not trust this president with a second term if they don’t hear an economic narrative coming out of the White House that resonates with their own experience. They will not trust President Obama to fix the economy if he can’t identify what they perceive as the real problem:

AMANPOUR: So you’ve heard all that. John Berman set it up. This Friday, this last jobs report was meant to be the acid test. What is that telling us? Is the recovery threatened?

GOOLSBEE: Well, hold on. And I said last month when we had an excellent jobs report, 100,000 above expectations, and I said again this last Friday when it came in below expectations, don’t — don’t make too much of any one month’s job report, because they’re highly variable. You want to look at a little bit of a trend to get a more accurate barometer, and the overall direction is, yes, somewhat slowed from the stiff headwinds of gas prices, of the events in Japan, of some of the events in Europe. But overall, the last six months, we’ve added a million jobs in the private sector.

AMANPOUR: Right, but every economist, including many of your advisers and colleagues, have said that in order for this to be sustainable, you have to actually have above 150,000 jobs per month. And it was way below that this month.

GOOLSBEE: Well, and in the three months before that, it was well above it. What I’m emphasizing is the — every economist knows that the monthly numbers are highly variable, so you want to look at a little bit more than just one month before concluding on a trend.

AMANPOUR: So what happens if this same kind of report comes out next month? What does that then tell you?

GOOLSBEE: Well, look, what we know is that we have moved a long way from when the economy is in a rescue mode, the private sector’s in freefall, and the government is the only thing standing between us and falling into another Great Depression. We were losing 780,000 jobs a month when the president comes into office. Fast-forward to now: We’ve added 1 million jobs over the last six months.

If we face stiff headwinds, that are shocks like the — like the Japanese earthquake, we have to deal with that, but I think the — the trend is relatively clear.

AMANPOUR: But what do you say to the American people when so many economists were expecting something, according to a Bloomberg survey, of 165,000 to 170,000 to be created this month, to see the unemployment come down a little, which it didn’t? What do you say to the American people about that? Where is the light, in other words?

GOOLSBEE: The first thing that I say is the same thing I said one month ago when it came in the opposite, 100,000 above expectations, and that is, let’s not conclude too much of anything from one report. Let’s look at what’s happened over six months.

And what has happened over six months is we’ve added a million jobs in the private sector. The president has enacted — we passed a tax policy in December, which has come into place this year and will continue over the course of this year, to put — to give a payroll tax of $1,000 plus to 150 million workers and to give direct incentives for business to start investing. And they’ve accumulated money on their balance sheet.

Our — our effort now as a government should be to get the private sector, to help them stand up and lead the recovery. It — the government is not the central driver of recovery.

Yes, that attitude continues to be the problem. When you have 9% unemployment and no consumer demand, the government should be driving the economy to get spending cash back into the hands of people who will spend it, and they’re not. As Jared Bernstein told us last week, the White House just wasn’t interested in that approach.

AMANPOUR: Right, but, again, it is slower than expected. So, economists are asking and people are asking, is this kind of a wake-up call, do you think, to sort of shift the political debate from what’s been all about debt reduction and shift it back to job creation? I mean, is this an opportunity, for instance, to try to talk about creating jobs and adding maybe another stimulus? Let’s say there was no politics involved, in a perfect environment. What would you do to get this off the slow burner?
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Bill Moyers interviews Andrew Bacevich:

One old warrior looked on sadly, his understanding of combat’s reality tempered by twenty-three years in uniform, including service in Vietnam. A graduate of West Point, Andrew Bacevich retired from the military to become a professor of history and international relations at Boston University, a public thinker who has been able to find an audience across the political spectrum, from The Nation to The American Conservative magazines. In several acclaimed books, including The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War, Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War, and his bestselling The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism, Bacevich speaks truth to power, no matter who’s in power, which may be why he reaches both the left and the right.

Just fascinating. Go read.

Hunger strike

Silly Marcy! Of course dropping bombs on Libya is more important than feeding our own children.

Dean to Dems: Even Palin could win

Sounds like Howard is trying his best to warn the Obama administration that they have to actually do something about the economy if they want a second term. Since he’s been nothing but supportive of the president, I hope this sinks into the minds of Obama’s campaign advisors, who seem to think it’s simply a matter of repeating the same uplifting rhetoric that worked the first time:

Howard Dean, the former Democratic National Committee chairman who helped Democrats capture the White House in 2008, warns that Sarah Palin could defeat President Obama in 2012.

Dean says his fellow Democrats should beware of inside-the-Beltway conventional wisdom that Obama would crush Palin in a general-election contest next year.

“I think she could win,” Dean told The Hill in an interview Friday. “She wouldn’t be my first choice if I were a Republican but I think she could win.” Dean warns the sluggish economy could have more of a political impact than many Washington strategists and pundits assume.

“Any time you have a contest — particularly when unemployment is as high as it is — nobody gets a walkover,” Dean said. “Whoever the Republicans nominate, including people like Sarah Palin, whom the inside-the-Beltway crowd dismisses — my view is if you get the nomination of a major party, you can win the presidency, I don’t care what people write about you inside the Beltway,” Dean said.

Dean says, however, that Palin is unlikely to win the nomination:

Dean thinks former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr. (R), who recently finished serving as the Obama administration’s ambassador to China, would be the president’s most dangerous general-election opponent in 2012, a view shared by many Democrats.

“He is an independent. He is a moderate on some social issues and has a strong record as a governor and also has international experience that I think is lacking in every other candidate,” Dean said, comparing Huntsman to the rest of the GOP field.

I agree with Dean that Huntsman is the most dangerous candidate. I don’t know if Huntsman could make it with his moderate bona fides intact after a grueling primary ruled largely by the GOP’s far right wing, but if he can somehow thread that needle, I think he can win.

He has the most important edge of all: The Beltway media mavens like him.

Cell phones

Check the radiation levels from the one you use.

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