As the Washington Post reports, the U.S. economy added 162,000 "non-farm" jobs last month, representing "the biggest one-month jobs gain in the past three years." And in other good economic news, "[t]he Institute for Supply Management reported that manufacturing activity was up for the eighth consecutive month, with a rate of growth faster than any since July 2004." But wait, there's more:
...Factory orders, particularly in durable goods, are so positive at a 0.6% month-to-month rise that they are beginning to merit the description of "robust." And retail sales at chain stores were also up 0.6% for the week, which means they are on target to top 3% or more for the whole month compared with last year's dismal record.And let's not forget the stock market, which just had "its strongest first quarter since 1999." Great news, and we have Democrats - who passed a huge economic recovery package, as well as several other jobs measures, with essentially no Republican support - largely to thank for this (the graph above tells a powerful story). So, where's Eric Cantor and his Party of no this morning to talk down America's economy and to tell us that the economic recovery package passed a year ago "isn't working?" No comment on the above graph, which shows the economy cratering under a Republican administration and coming back strong with Democrats in charge? Apparently, the cat's got the Republicans' (forked) tongues so far today, but give 'em time, I'm sure they'll think of something bad to say soon enough.
Motor vehicle sales were up as well, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 11.8 million, a vast improvement over February...
UPDATE: Analysts weigh in.
The U.S. Congress is in a state of serious disrepair and cannot fix itself. It has reached this point over the course of many years-in fact over many decades. Regardless of the party in power, Congress has demonstrated a growing inability to effectively address the major issues of our time, including soaring federal debt and the extension of federal authority to states and localities.My god, THIS nutjob is the individual who defeated the superb Chuck Caputo? What on earth were voters thinking in November 2009? I mean, seriously, did Virginia go through a period of temporary insanity last November or what to elect people like Jim Lemunyon? How embarrassing.
The remedy is in Article V of the Constitution, which permits a convention to be called for the purpose of proposing constitutional amendments...
...In the Virginia House of Delegates, I introduced a resolution (H.J. 183) calling for a constitutional convention to restrain the national government as well. Requests by two-thirds or 34 states are required for a convention to be called
Anyway, it's spring now, and if I were a global warming denier, I'd be vewwwwwwy quiet. Why should they be quiet? Three reasons.
1. It turned out that this past heating season turned out warmer than normal. Today's Washington Post reports that "heating degree days" ("an index of fuel consumption indicating how many degrees the average temperature fell below 65 for the day") this season are 3,622, compared to a normal of 3,711 and last season's 3,874. Fewer degree days, of course, mean it's been warmer than normal this heating season. For global warming deniers, that's a big, forehead slapping "d'oh!!!"
2. Yesterday's high temperature at Reagan National Airport was 74 degrees, compared to a normal high of 61 degrees. Today and tomorrow, it's supposed to be 80 degrees, or 19 degrees above normal. This past winter, we had several days where temperatures were on the order of 19 degrees below normal, and global warming deniers were claiming that was proof there was no global warming. Should they now be citing near-record warmth as proof that global warming exists? The answer is, "of course not," because that would be just as assinine as claiming snow in winter disproved global warming. Still, it would be nice if they'd be consistent in their utter illogic.
3. Finally, we have a story which hasn't gotten much attention on Drudge, Glenn, or Rush: "A parliamentary panel investigating allegations that scientists at one of the world's leading climate research centers misrepresented data related to global warming announced Wednesday that it had found no evidence to support that charge." What's that, you say? What about that huge! SCANDAL!!! all the global warming deniers - our fine Attorney General, included - were talking about? You mean it turns out that "nothing in the more than 1,000 stolen e-mail messages or in the ensuing controversy challenged the scientific consensus that 'global warming is happening and that it is induced by human activity?'"
But, but, but, but, but, but, but, but....GlennRushDrudgeCooch please tell us what to think, make those cognitive dissonance-causing facts go away!!! Yeah, it's sad, but if I were a global warming denier right now, by all rights my head should have just exploded.
...I believe that in the Republican orbit, Allen is Old Virginia. We saw how Republicans can win in New Virginia in 2009. McDonnell, Bolling, and Cuccinelli showed us how you can be an aggressive conservative and use that as a solution to the every day problems of the folks out there. McDonnell talked about jobs, they all talked about jobs. Our candidates talked about jobs for the House of Delegates. And we won, we won big. McDonnell led the way, getting out ahead of an issue that mattered most in this bad economy. We can't turn our backs away from what we accomplished. It might sound harsh to some, but returning to George Allen is returning to the Republicanism of 2005 and 2006, where we talk about conservatism aimlessly without the glue of a real agenda behind it. And maybe I'm wrong, maybe Allen is the right man again, maybe he's learned. But at this stage of his career, can you believe he has?It's an interesting argument, although in the end I don't buy it. Substantively, what's the real difference between George Allen on the one hand and McDonnell/Bolling/Cooch on the other? Are there are any policy areas - economic, social, or foreign policy - on which they disagree? I can't think of any in particular. Does it come down to Allen simply being a less disciplined, less effective communicator than McDonnell, Bolling or Cooch? I don't buy that either. After all, Allen was elected governor of Virginia as well as U.S. Senator, so he must have been doing something right all those years. Furthermore, how are all the extreme things Cooch, McDonnell et al. have said and written any crazier than calling someone "macaca?"
In the final analysis, I don't really see how "Felix Macacawitz" is significantly different than "Pat Robertson's Manchurian Candidate" or Kookinelli. They're all hard-right conservatives through and through, both on economic and social issues. The only real difference? McDonnell and Cooch won their last elections; Allen lost his. And there's nothing people like less than a "loser."
P.S. One other difference is that Allen ran against "true American hero" Jim Webb and a fired-up grassroots movement; McDonnell ran against conservadem Creigh Deeds ('nuff said) and a demoralized Democratic "base." Maybe that's the key factor more than which flavor of right-wingnut the Republicans end up nominating?
1. MCDONNELL TOUTS CUTTING SPENDING, REFUSING TO RAISE TAXES ON NATIONAL TV
2. MCDONNELL BLASTS STUDENT LOAN REFORM
3. THE FIRST LADY PLANTS A GARDEN
7. CUCCINELLI TO CHALLENGE NEW FUEL STANDARDS AS BASED ON ERRONEOUS EPA GLOBAL WARMING FINDINGS
8. SASLAW: TRANSPORTATION WILL GET 'NOT ONE FARTHING' FROM OIL DRILLING
10. VA GOP TARGETS WEBB ON HEALTH CARE VOTE
12. GOP HOPEFULS CHALLENGING NYE SQUARE OFF IN TEA PARTY DEBATE TONIGHT IN VA.BEACH....
14. VA. ABOVE AVERAGE WITH H1N1 SHOTS
20. NEW EPA MINING RULES HAVE ENVIRONMENTALISTS JUMPING FOR JOY, COAL COMPANIES WORRYING ABOUT FUTURE
29. NORTHROP GRUMMAN NARROWS CHOICES FOR ITS WASHINGTON AREA HEADQUARTERS
30. METRO TAKES A LOOK AT BUDGET IDEAS
33. STUDY OF SPACE BECOMING A VICTIM OF SCHOOL BUDGET CUTS
Another great line from Perkins: "Look, if you can't run a party you certainly can't run a country."
*"[Scott] Rigell talks about accountability, gives out his home phone number."
*"Scott Taylor implies (thinly veiled) the Democrats intend to extend Presidential term limits."
*"[Ben] Loyola: 'Obamacare' adds a 'huge new layer of socialism'"
*"Rigell basically says all federal taxes are unconstitutional. Umm... Wtf?"
*"Scott Taylor proposes billions in education funding cuts."
*"Every Republican, when asked, 'vows' to repeal health care reform."
Stay tuned, this should be craaazy fun!
UPDATE: More craziness, as predicted.
*"Loyola: there's "no excuse" for unemployment to be over "1-2%". Wow."
*"Republicans now talking about raising Medicare age, slashing benefits to seniors, and ending Medicare as soon as possible."
*"Whoa, Loyola calls The Fed's actions "terrorism against America"
Why does anyone take these people the least bit seriously?
The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday announced new pollution limits that could sharply curtail "mountaintop" mining, the lucrative and controversial practice that is unique to Appalachia.Of course, without "valley fills," it's going to be pretty difficult to blow the top off a mountain and figure out what to do with the resulting debris. Over at Gristmill, they quote "95-year-old Ken Hechler, the former West Virginia congressman who introduced the first bill in Congress to stop mountaintop removal and strip-mining in 1971," calling this "a great victory for the Clean Water Act and justice."
The decision, announced Thursday afternoon by EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, is expected to end or significantly cut the use of "valley fills." At these sites, mining companies fill valleys to the brim with rock and rubble left over when peaks are sheared off to reach coal seams inside.
"Minimizing the number of valley fills is a very, very key factor," Jackson said. "You're talking about no, or very few, valley fills that are going to meet this standard."
Maybe, but as J.W. Randolph of Appalachian Voices points out, we still need "Congress to follow the Obama administration's lead by passing legislation that will permanently protect our homes and communities from mining waste...Change in Appalachia is now inevitable, and the time for Congress to pass this legislation is now!"
By the way, for anyone who argues about the supposed economic importance of mountaintop removal mining, I strongly recommend that they read this letter, by Justin Maxson, president of the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development. As Maxson points out, "coal mining jobs amount to only about 2 percent of employment in the central Appalachian region; the percentage is only slightly higher if you consider related employment." The problem with "mountaintop removal" mining, of course, is that it's a highly capital-intensive (explosives, heavy machinery), not labor-intensive (miners) process. The other problem is the nature of the coal industry, which Jim Webb explains extremely well in Born Fighting.
The people from the outside showed up [in Appalachian coal country] with complicated contracts...asking for "rights" to mineral deposits they could not see, and soon they were treated to a sundering of their own earth as the mining companies ripped apart their way of life, so that after a time the only option was to go down into the hole and bring the Man his coal, or starve. The Man got his coal, and the profits it brought when he shipped it out. They got their wages, black lung, and the desecration of their land...Coal made this part of Appalachia a poverty-stricken basket case while the rest of the mountain region remained mired in isolation.That pretty much sums it up.
I have some serious questions about the fiscal responsibility of some of the steps being taken. I don't think cuts to education and the health care safety net are a good idea ever, particularly in this economy. I don't want to roll back protections for employees in terms of discrimination or send a signal that we don't care about it. And I think the notion of well, we're gonna...push back on a health care bill that will do a lot of good for hundreds of thousands of Virginians, it's like, you just gotta go out and see how people are living and you'll realize that this bill's a very good thing.
For more, see here (interview by Adam Rhew).