Here’s What’s Behind the Criticism of Obama’s National Prayer Breakfast Remarks

President Obama’s remarks at the 2015 National Prayer Breakfast have certainly stirred up the right wing. Charlie Pierce has a rundown of some of the reactions, as does Juliet Elperin at the Washington Post, Julie Hirschfeld Davis at the New York Times, Tierney Sneed at US News, and you can find a lot more like this own your own with a simple search of the internet. Most of the commentary from the Right focuses on Obama’s discussion of the Crusades and the Inquisition as episodes of religious extremism carried out by Christians, and carries a tone of “how dare he?!?” while dog-whistling their followers and supporters with remarks that say that no “real” Christian would say something like that.

I’m shocked — shocked, I tell you . . .

But the reaction from folks like Bill Donohue and others of his ilk only proves Obama’s point. What I haven’t seen in any of the run-downs of the address or the reactions to it is what Obama notes to be the starting point when addressing those who try to justify their violence in the name of religion, which is where things went off the rails for the Right Wing.

Before getting to substance, though, Obama opened with the usual greetings to those in attendance, and offered a nice instant-reaction to NASCAR driver Darrell Waltrip and his keynote address:

I will note, though, Darrell, when you were reading that list of things folks were saying about you, I was thinking, well, you’re a piker.  I mean, that — (laughter.)  I mean, if you really want a list, come talk to me.  (Laughter.)  Because that ain’t nothing.  (Laughter.) That’s the best they can do in NASCAR?  (Laughter.)

After this lighthearted start, Obama turned to a sobering tour of the world and the violence carried out by a wide variety of religious extremists, and then moved on to his take on how to respond to it:

So this [religiously-justified violence] is not unique to one group or one religion.  There is a tendency in us, a sinful tendency that can pervert and distort our faith.  In today’s world, when hate groups have their own Twitter accounts and bigotry can fester in hidden places in cyberspace, it can be even harder to counteract such intolerance. But God compels us to try.  And in this mission, I believe there are a few principles that can guide us, particularly those of us who profess to believe.

And, first, we should start with some basic humility.  I believe that the starting point of faith is some doubt — not being so full of yourself and so confident that you are right and that God speaks only to us, and doesn’t speak to others, that God only cares about us and doesn’t care about others, that somehow we alone are in possession of the truth.

That last paragraph is what set off the exploding heads on the right, because that last line is pure shade. (more…)

Of Twits, and the Brilliance of Romney’s Withdrawal Announcement

“Oh, well played, your Lordship.”

Theodore Worthington Ichabod Tumblington, known as “Twit” to his chums at The Club, looked up from the Washington Post he was reading by the fireplace in the library of his estate as he enjoyed a fine scotch after dinner. “Very well played indeed!”

Theodore Worthington Ichabod Tumblington II, known as “Two,”* looked up at his father and asked “Who are you talking about?”

“Mitt Romney, of course,” said Twit I, with a gleam in his eye.

“Mitt Romney?” said Twit II, shocked. “After that unpleasantness three years ago — I still can’t believe you did that! — I thought you didn’t like him.”

Twit I laughed. “Then you misunderstood that whole episode, Two. I do like him — a great deal — but his holier-than-thou attitude around The Club just got to be too much. As you noted back then, he is one of us. He just needed to be reminded that he’s not above us, but simply one of us.”

Twit II struggled to remember the details of what he said to his father three years ago, then gave up. “Well, what did he do that you’re so pleased with?”

“He withdrew from the race for the GOP nomination for president.”

“So you don’t like him, and you’re glad he gave up before failing?” said Twit II. “I’m confused.”

Twit I sighed, and Twit II settled into his overstuffed chair, knowing that the sigh meant that Father (with a capital F) was getting ready to pontificate. Twit I picked up the paper again. “No, I like him, but it’s the way in which he announced his withdrawal that was so very well done. Listen to this:

“After putting considerable thought into making another run for president, I’ve decided it is best to give other leaders in the party the opportunity to become our next nominee,” Romney said.

“Do you see what he did there, Two?” said Twit I. “Do you see how, in a single sentence, he oh-so-politely rubbed the noses of every single one of the so-called leaders of the Republican party in the mud? Priceless!” Twit I raised his glass in a silent toast, then took a sip.

Twit II opened his mouth, but nothing came out. He closed it and tried again. Still nothing. Twit I laughed again, sipped his scotch again, then smiled. “Let me walk you through it.”

Inwardly, Twit II groaned, but there was no escape now. (more…)

Arthur Laffer is Not Laughing at Sam Brownback’s Budget

An anonymous tipster called me on what  he or she said was a burner phone, and directed me to a row of round hay bales in a field outside Topeka. “Walk down the row, and when you find a pile of manure, look for an envelope. I think you’ll be very interested in what’s inside.”

Curious, I pushed back a bit. “Lots of things might interest me. What’s in that envelope that’s so special that I should go looking for a pile of manure?

The voice on the phone laughed, hard. When it calmed down, the voice said “What’s in the envelope? Two things. I won’t tell you what the first one is,” — the voice snickered — “but the second one is a bill submitted to the State of Kansas from Arthur Laffer.”

So I went to the field with the hay bales, found the manure, and sticking out from underneath it — ewwww! — was an envelope. As they say about the ubiquitous videos from the war zones of Syria, Pakistan, etc., I am unable to authenticate the contents, but it sure sounds authentic . . .

* * *

MEMO

To: Sam Brownback, Governor of the State of Kansas
From: Arthur Laffer, Economic Policy consultant
Date: January 20, 2015
Subject: Budget Hypocrisy

Ever since we talked back at the beginning of your administration, I told you I’d give it to you straight — pulling no punches, either in praise or criticism. Today I write to give you both.

Praise first, for your State of the State address the other day.

Kudos to you for sticking to the strong program of income tax cuts that we pushed through in your first term. Blame the revenue drops on the feds, and keep the faith! I understand that for political reasons, you had to slow down the phase-out of income taxes, but I’m very pleased at how aggressive you were in defending the approach we laid out. You didn’t apologize, you didn’t play defense, and you didn’t run scared. You stood up and proudly declared that tax cuts were right for Kansas in 2012 and they remain right today.

Which brings me to the criticism.

WHAT THE HELL IS YOUR BUDGET DIRECTOR DOING?

Sorry to “shout” like that, but when I saw your budget director’s presentation on your proposed budget that came out the next day, I couldn’t believe what I read on page 39: (more…)

South Dakota District Court Takes 6th Circuit Court of Appeals to School over Marriage Equality

It’s not often that a federal district court takes on an appellate court of a different circuit, but that’s exactly what happened earlier this week in South Dakota over state bans on marriage equality. Judge Karen E. Schreier of the South Dakota District Court ruled in Rosenbrahn v. Daugaard that South Dakota’s ban was unconstitutional, and in so doing, her opinion deftly took down the logic of the ruling by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals that overturned a similar opinion in favor of marriage equality in DeBoer v Snyder coming out of Michigan.

The first part of Schreier’s opinion dealt with jurisdiction. Among other things, the state argued that the Tenth Amendment gives the states the right to do what they want with marriage laws, and Schreier was not impressed.

Defendants assert that “Plaintiffs’ challenge here directly interferes with state marriage laws” and that such interference is impermissible under the Tenth Amendment. Docket 41 at 14 (italics in original). States have the power to regulate marriage, but it is well settled that the state’s power is not absolute and is subject to constitutional limitations. United States v. Windsor, 133 S. Ct. 2675, 2691 (2013); Loving v. Virginia, 388, U.S. 1, 7 (1967). Therefore, the Tenth Amendment does not bar plaintiffs’ constitutional challenges.

For the states to win on the “no jurisdiction” argument, they will have to convince the 2015 Supreme Court that the 1967 Court was wrong to have accepted Loving v Virginia. [I look forward to hearing the questions in oral arguments about that. “Virginia has many marriages between people of different races. (pause to look at Justice Thomas) Are you seriously arguing that we should overturn the 1967 court in Loving v Virginia that affirmed marriage to be a fundamental right and thus struck down the ban on interracial marriage?” But I digress . . .]

The most powerful part of Schreier’s opinion, though, was the way in which she dismantled the arguments of the state, once she got through with the jurisdiction issues. When she ran through the roster of recent cases on marriage equality, she cited the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals opinion in DeBoer v Snyder, but she made it clear  that she is not at all impressed with the logic of that court, whether the argument is made by those judges in their courtroom or by the lawyers for the state in hers. Indeed, she indirectly skewers the 6th Circuit for trying to overturn the Supreme Court on both pillars of their opinion. The 6th circuit asserted that those wishing to change the marriage laws should work through the democratic process and proceed slowly and cautiously, and Schreier took them to school

First, on the democratic process:

But plaintiffs need not resort to public opinion to secure their fundamental constitutional rights, as the Supreme Court has explained:

The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts. One’s right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.

W. Va. State Bd. of Educ. v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624, 638 (1943) (emphasis added). The protection of those rights is a duty of the courts, not of the electorate. But see DeBoer, 772 F.3d at 395-96 (arguing that the democratic process is the proper mechanism to extend the right to marriage to same-sex couples).

That last sentence was a poke in the eye of the 6th Circuit with a very sharp stick. She made her point at the end of the previous sentence, but went out of her way (“But see DeBoer . . .”) to show that the 6th Circuit was wrong.

Later on, Schreier takes on the other rationale put forward by the 6th Circuit in overruling the Michigan district court — the need to go slow with any big social changes like this: (more…)

Oscar Romero, Martyr; Lovers of Authoritarians, Nervous

The Vatican under Pope Francis is clearly a different place than is was under Benedict or John Paul.

Just one month after taking office in 2013, Francis met with Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the Vatican official in charge of the case for the canonization of Archbishop Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez of El Salvador. Romero’s case had been stalled for years, but now it opened up again. As Francis said at the time,

The process was at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, blocked “for prudential reasons”, so they said.  Now it is unblocked.  It has been passed to the Congregation for Saints.  And it is following the usual procedure for such processes.  It depends on how the postulators move it forward.   This is very important, to do it quickly.  What I would like is a clarification about martyrdom in odium fidei, whether it can occur either for having confessed the Creed or for having done the works which Jesus commands with regard to one’s neighbour.  And this is a task for the theologians.  They are studying it.  Because after him [Romero] there is Rutilio Grande, and there are others too; there are others who were killed, but none as prominent as Romero.  You have to make this distinction theologically.  For me Romero is a man of God, but the process has to be followed, and the Lord too has to give his sign…  If he wants to do it, he will do it.  But right now the postulators have to move forward because there are no obstacles.

“Prudential reasons” means that the delay was less about Romero and more about the politics of declaring him to be a martyr and eventually a saint. Here’s Christopher Dickey on the reasons behind the holdup: (more…)

Mario Cuomo, Pope Francis, and Not Preaching to the Choir

With the passing of Mario Cuomo, a number of stories highlight his 1984 speech at Notre Dame entitled “Religious Belief and Public Morality: A Catholic Governor’s Perspective.” [CSPAN video here] In his address, he took on the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, who were less than pleased with him for his lack of doctrinal purity in his political actions, particularly around abortion. Cuomo’s speech is a masterpiece of nuanced theological political thinking, especially as he separates a number of issues that are all too often conflated. He was careful to cast his disagreements with the bishops not as a difference in what is and is not moral, but in how the beliefs of the church get translated into political action. In his obit of Cuomo, David Gibson of Religion News Service described it like this:

The son of Italian immigrants who worked his way up society’s ladder, the elder Cuomo repeatedly invoked his Catholic faith and his Church’s doctrines to advance policies ensuring that others would have the same chance, and that if they didn’t, they would not be abandoned.

Cuomo was also just as famous for elaborating a rationale by which Catholic politicians like himself could be personally opposed to abortion, but still support and defend a legal right to abortion. Cuomo’s nuanced position was seen as key to allowing Catholics who support abortion rights — mainly Democrats — to run for office without continually running afoul of the Catholic hierarchy or alienating Catholic voters.

Yet even as these “Cuomo Catholics” grieve for the great orator who was the Democrats’ greatest foil to Ronald Reagan, they may want to consider whether Cuomo’s moral calculus has come back to haunt them. Now, a new generation of Catholic conservatives — mainly Republicans — invoke the same kind of “personally opposed” ethos to part ways with their Church on issues like economic and foreign policy, the death penalty, and immigration reform.

Indeed, Catholic GOP leaders and their intellectual allies have repeatedly used the principle of “prudential judgment” — that is, using one’s best ideas as to what policies would best achieve desired ends — to argue that while they respect the bishops, prelates should not be telling politicians what to do, or how to do their job.

Gibson and others who tout the “conservatives are using Cuomo’s thinking against Democrats” logic miss two critical things. First, what Cuomo was advocating was not “cafeteria catholicism,” but a recognition that while the hierarchy has certain God-given gifts, so too do the laypeople — and one of the gifts that good catholic politicians have is that of translating in-house beliefs into political action in the wider world. Bishops may speak authoritatively within the church, but to speak to the wider world requires speaking persuasively — something far too many bishops do not do well. Cuomo’s plea to the church was so say “This is something we do better than you, so let us do our jobs while you do yours.”

Among bishops like Raymond Burke, this did not go over well, as it went against their pre-Vatican II vision of the relationship of bishops and laypeople: “We speak, and you pray, pay, and obey.” That cliche may be a caricature, but it captures the simplistic approach to the world that Burke and his friends embrace, while Cuomo and others see things as far more complex, both outside and inside the church.

The second thing that Gibson et al. miss is that Cuomo’s approach is also the approach of Pope Francis. (more…)

One Hundred Years Later, We Still Haven’t Learned

The Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri was recently designated as the official national World War I memorial, to go with its designation as the national WWI museum. Rick Baillergeon and Scott A. Porter, two retired US Army officers writing at Armchair General, describe the Liberty Memorial like this:

On December 2, 2006 [after being closed for extensive major renovations], the U.S. National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial opened its huge bronze doors to the public. What the public witnessed was a $102 million, 80,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility. Tens of thousands of artifacts, stored away for years due to space limitations in the old museum, were now on exhibit for the first time. Entering the museum, visitors walk over the Paul Sunderland Bridge, a glass structure spanning a battle-scarred field of 9,000 poppies. Each poppy represents 1,000 combatant deaths during WWI, totaling 9 million combatant deaths from all the belligerent nations, not just the US. . . .

This is not a “dusty relic” museum. The exhibits themselves tell the human story, including soldiers and civilians caught in the horrors of war, and life at the home front. The exhibits not only contain what is possibly the foremost repository of World War I historical artifacts in the world, but interactive high-tech tables engage the visitor to experience WWI history and technology in 3-D, 360-degree images.

To get this recognition required action by Congress, which was given in the fine print of the National Defense Authorization Act.

Let that sink in for a minute. The official US memorial and museum to the War to End All Wars was given national recognition in the bill authorizing the spending of billions to fight current and coming wars. Lovely.

Not only that, but the 2015 NDAA is filled with prohibitions and restrictions about how the DOD and other agencies can spend this money. For instance, they can’t cancel this or that weapons program even if they want to (like the MQ-1 Predator aircraft and U-2 spy planes, for example – see sections 131 and 132), and money appropriated to study force levels in the Army can’t be used to cut those levels even if that’s what the study recommends (see section 1711). IOW, the ability to inflict the horrors of war shall proceed unabated. The Beast Must Be Fed.

But in the fine print, let’s toss a bone to Roy Blunt, Claire McCaskill, and others pushing for the WWI Museum and Memorial. No word on whether the DOD can spend any of this money on poppies.

But World War I has been letting a little extra press lately, thanks to what has come to be known as the 1914 Christmas truce, declared not by commanders and politicians, but by individual soldiers in the trenches. I’ve been a longtime fan of John McCutcheon, the folksinger heir to Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, who put the story of those trenches into song. In concerts, he introduces it like this (taken from his album Live at Wolf Trap): (more…)

A Proportional Response

A well-placed source provided FDL with a document purporting to be a memo from Obama to his senior staff, drafted yesterday after the press conference. I have been unable to independently confirm its authenticity, as trying to do so would reveal my source — and we all know how well the WH likes leakers. The memo’s goal is to take the fight to North Korea in a new and different manner than has been done before.

MEMO

TO:WH Senior Staff

FROM: POTUS

RE: A Proportional Response to North Korea

OK, the press conference went well, especially the “you launch an attack like this over a Seth Rogen movie?” line of critique. But that shouldn’t be a one-off. We need to aggressively move forward in this same vein. We already have good people working on cyberdefense and such technology-based things; what we lack is an agency that can effectively attack folks like the North Koreans in non-technological ways.

At 6pm ET on December 31st, I want to announce the creation of a new agency within the DOD: the Defense Emergency Repertory Players [DERP]. The mission of this agency is to be prepared to immediately respond with ridicule, scorn, and parody, skewering the pomposity of our enemies and using their insecurities against them. Just as DARPA is charged with preparing for and responding to technological surprises, DERP will work on political and psychological surprises.

In other words, we want to battle derp with DERP.

Several names come to mind as people to approach to serve as the first director of DERP, like Mel Brooks, Lily Tomlin, Elaine May, Carol Burnett, and Steve Martin. Whoever heads up DERP needs to have a strong background in comedy, directing, and producing, with a keen grasp of the power of parody and satire. The DERP director should be a “big picture” person, able to make an immediate connection with the American people outside of DERP and also motivate the agency staff within DERP from top to bottom.

[In the language of the entertainment world, this person is really a producer. But since this is the DOD, and all the parallel DOD agencies have directors as their heads, that’s what we’ve got to go with for the agency head’s title. The real director in the Hollywood sense will be the agency’s deputy director — more on that below. But the DOD is used to double titles (see the Navy’s use of “captain” to refer to the person in charge of a vessel and not a rank, and the linguistic gymnastics required to avoid confusion when multiple people with that rank are on board at the same time) so I don’t expect this to be a problem at the DOD. But I digress.]

While there are various people to head up DERP, there can be only one choice for the deputy director, however: Stephen Colbert. He’s got time on his hands at the moment, and I intend to call him to tell him that his country needs him — at least for the next six months or whenever his new gig at CBS begins. Imagine what Colbert could do if he were tasked with skewering not the President and WH Press Corps (a target-rich environment, if ever there was one) but Kim Jung Un, Vladimir Putin, and others like them.

Colbert should have a free hand in selecting his Assistant Directors, but he might want to think of folks like Wanda Sykes, Tina Fey, and Mark Fiore. Music should not be neglected, and someone of like John McCutcheon should be found to make sure musical weapons are brought to bear. We need to cast a wide net, to bring together a crew of satirists and comedians that is second to none.

So here’s what I want by next Wednesday:

(1) Put together an executive order for my signature with all the appropriate official language that will get this agency off the ground.

(2) Reach out to the junior Senator from Minnesota to ensure that we have legislative support for this action. To the extent that we will need legislative action, work through Franken to get it.

(3) Immediately approach our DOD counterparts around the world to get them started on working with our allies to set up similar DERPs. For instance, Eric Idle, John Cleese, Terry Jones, Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam gave their final show as Monty Python recently — imagine what NATO could do with a DERP-Europe headed by Cleese.

(4) Get working on a draft of a speech announcing the creation of DERP, to be given at 6pm Eastern on New Year’s Eve. This would be 9am on New Year’s Day in North Korea, and would make a lovely way for Kim Jung Un to welcome in the new year. It also would give Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper some interesting fodder for their Times Square conversations later in the evening.

(5) Begin working on the staffing for DERP. I’ll call Colbert myself to twist his arm. After my visit to his show, he owes me big and I intend to collect. Once he’s on board, we’ll get him to the WH for a meeting to discuss who the Director of DERP should be and to begin assembling his team. Meanwhile, quietly look into the availability and suitability of the various candidates for Director of DERP, and let’s figure out who to approach to head this up.

DERP will not fight with guns and bullets. DERP will not fight with a bomb or ship or missile. The chief weapon of DERP will be fear and surprise. . . . DERP’s two chief weapons will be fear, surprise, and ruthless comedic efficiency . . . DERP’s three — three — chief weapons will be fear, surprise, ruthless comedic efficiency, and a fanatical devotion to the constitution . . . Among DERP’s chief weapons are fear, surprise, ruthless comedic efficiency, and a fanatical devotion to the constitution.

Make it happen, people. Make it happen. People want a proportional response? Fine — let’s put on a show. “We shall fight in the studios. We shall fight on the websites. We shall fight on the smart phones. We shall fight in the theaters. . . . ”

________

photo h/t to DVIDSHUB and used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

A Parable Comes to Life in Washington DC, Elizabeth Warren Edition


Once upon a time, a famous storyteller was walking with his friends, headed for the capital city. “Who is the greatest?” asked one of them. The storyteller thought of the people of that city, and the people they saw on the roads along the way  — shopkeepers and merchants, soldiers and private security people, widows and poor folks, religious and political leaders, farmers and fishermen, immigrants and foreigners, children and beggars — and answered “whoever becomes humble, like this little child.”

His friends looked at each other, and pushed the storyteller further to explain himself. Instead of explaining, the storyteller told a story:

Once upon a time, there was a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents [ed.: about the combined annual wages of 5 million ordinary workers] was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii [ed.: about three month’s wages for one ordinary worker]; and seizing him by the throat, he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt.

The Big Bankers don’t like this story. No, they do not like it at all. Elizabeth Warren offers us a few clues as to why:

In recent years, many Wall Street institutions have exerted extraordinary influence in Washington’s corridors of power, but Citigroup has risen above the others. Its grip over economic policymaking in the executive branch is unprecedented. Consider a few examples: (more…)

The Wisdom of Nobel Laureates on the Streets of Ferguson, Cleveland, and NYC

Eight years ago, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank “for their efforts to create economic and social development from below” through the practice of micro-lending that they pioneered. The prize announcement went on to say that “Lasting peace can not be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty. Micro-credit is one such means. Development from below also serves to advance democracy and human rights.”

Yunus was not the first to be honored by the Nobel committee for linking economics and lasting peace. George Marshall, the architect of the Marshall Plan for post-war Europe, received the 1953 peace prize. But these two — a soldier and a banker — share the same outlook on the the need to attack poverty if one seeks to build peace.

In their announcement of Marshall’s prize, the Nobel committee pointed to his famous speech at Harvard University, where he outlined the post-war program that came to bear his name:

Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos. Its purpose should be the revival of a working economy in the world so as to permit the emergence of political and social conditions in which free institutions can exist. Such assistance, I am convinced, must not be on a piecemeal basis as various crises develop. Any assistance that this government may render in the future should provide a cure rather than a mere palliative.

“A working economy” is central to peace? From the Bureau of Labor Statistics yesterday:

In November, the unemployment rate held at 5.8 percent, and the number of unemployed persons was little changed at 9.1 million. Over the year, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons were down by 1.2 percentage points and 1.7 million, respectively. (See table A-1.)

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for adult men rose to 5.4 percent in November. The rates for adult women (5.3 percent), teenagers (17.7 percent), whites (4.9 percent), blacks (11.1 percent), and Hispanics (6.6 percent) showed little change over the month. The jobless rate for Asians was 4.8 percent (not seasonally adjusted), little changed from a year earlier. (See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 2.8 million in November. These individuals accounted for 30.7 percent of the unemployed. Over the past 12 months, the number of long-term unemployed declined by 1.2 million. (See table A-12.)

With the stock market hitting new highs, life is nice for those with hefty investment portfolios, but for blacks and the long-term unemployed (definitely NOT separate groups of people), not so much.

In Marshall’s Nobel lecture, he expanded on the thoughts expressed by the Nobel committee in their announcement of the award (emphasis added): (more…)