This morning, the Department of Labor released the long awaited unemployment statistic for the country. Today we found out that the unemployment rate actually rose again from last month and that the unemployment rate is higher today than when Barack Obama took office four years ago.
The unemployment rate is now 7.9% and when Barack Obama took office it was 7.8%. Of course the unemployment number does not count those who have simply given up looking for work or those who are employed just part-time when they actually want full time work. This jobs report shows that America’s economy is stagnating rather than improving.
The harsh reality of the unemployment number is that too many Americans are struggling to provide for their kids, save for college, save for retirement, or just plain create a better life for themselves. These times are hard for too many Americans as incomes have actually gone down every year for the last four years.
Here is Mitt Romney’s statement on the jobs report this morning:
The jobless rate is higher than it was when President Obama took office, and there are still 23 million Americans struggling for work. On Tuesday, America will make a choice between stagnation and prosperity. For four years, President Obama’s policies have crushed America’s middle class. For four years, President Obama has told us that things are getting better and that we’re making progress. For too many American families, those words ring hollow.
Economists at the Wall Street Journal had this to say about today’s job numbers: “the recovery remains disappointing compared to prior economic recoveries”
and “the bottom line is that the labor market remains unusually weak.”
“One small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.”
Neil Armstrong, first man on the moon, has died…
A soft-spoken, humble, amazing historical American hero died today…
82 year old Neil Armstrong, who made history on July 20, 1969 by being the first man to ever walk on the moon, passed away today following complications from cardiovascular procedures.
Mitt Romney’s statement today on the death of Neil Armstrong:
“Neil Armstrong today takes his place in the hall of heroes. With courage unmeasured and unbounded love for his country, he walked where man had never walked before. The moon will miss its first son of earth.
“I met and spoke with Neil Armstrong just a few weeks ago–his passion for space, science and discovery, and his devotion to America will inspire me through my lifetime.”
Armstrong was born Aug. 5, 1930, on a farm in Ohio. He took his first airplane ride at age 6 and developed a fascination with aviation that prompted him to build model airplanes and conduct experiments in a homemade wind tunnel. He was licensed to fly at 16, before he got his driver’s license.
Armstrong enrolled in Purdue University to study aeronautical engineering but was called to duty with the U.S. Navy in 1949 and flew 78 combat missions in Korea. After the war, Armstrong finished his degree and later earned a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Southern California. He became a test pilot with what evolved into the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, flying more than 200 kinds of aircraft from gliders to jets.
Armstrong was accepted into NASA’s second astronaut class in 1962 — the first, including Glenn, was chosen in 1959 — and commanded the Gemini 8 mission in 1966. After the first space docking, he brought the capsule back in an emergency landing in the Pacific Ocean when a wildly firing thruster kicked it out of orbit.
Armstrong was backup commander for the historic Apollo 8 mission at Christmastime in 1968. In that flight, Commander Frank Borman, and Jim Lovell and Bill Anders circled the moon 10 times, and paving the way for the lunar landing seven months later.
It’s estimated that 500 to 600 million people around the world huddled around televisions to watch the moon landing; many more listened on radio.
At 9:32 a.m. on July 16, with the world watching, Apollo 11 took off from Kennedy Space Center with astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin Jr., and Michael Collins aboard. Armstrong, a 38-year-old civilian research pilot, was the commander of the mission. After traveling 240,000 miles in 76 hours, Apollo 11 entered into a lunar orbit on July 19. The next day, at 1:46 p.m., the lunar module Eagle, manned by Armstrong and Aldrin, separated from the command module, where Collins remained. Two hours later, the Eagle began its descent to the lunar surface, and at 4:18 p.m. the craft touched down on the southwestern edge of the Sea of Tranquility. Armstrong immediately radioed to Mission Control in Houston, Texas, a famous message: “The Eagle has landed.”
Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong salutes the American flag firmly planted in the dust of the moon’s surface. July 20, 1969
…[A] fifth of the world’s population — watched and listened to the moon landing, the largest audience for any single event in history.
Parents huddled with their children in front of the family television, mesmerized. Farmers abandoned their nightly milking duties, and motorists pulled off the highway and checked into motels just to watch on TV.
The moment arrives…
At 10:39 p.m., five hours ahead of the original schedule, Armstrong opened the hatch of the lunar module. As he made his way down the lunar module’s ladder, a television camera attached to the craft recorded his progress and beamed the signal back to Earth, where hundreds of millions watched in great anticipation. At 10:56 p.m., Armstrong spoke his famous quote, which he later contended was slightly garbled by his microphone and meant to be “that’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” He then planted his left foot on the gray, powdery surface, took a cautious step forward, and humanity had walked on the moon.
Here’s video of that historical moment when millions across the earth held their collective breath as America did the unimaginable – put man on the moon:
A man who shunned the cameras, Armstrong described himself:
“I am, and ever will be, a white socks, pocket protector, nerdy engineer,” he said in February 2000 in one of his rare public appearances. “And I take a substantial amount of pride in the accomplishments of my profession.”
It’s important to note Astronaut Armstrong was critical of Obama’s space plans. In May 2010, Armstrong testified before before a House panel that exercised jurisdiction over NASA:
“The leadership enthusiastically assured the American people that the agency was embarking on an exciting new age of discovery in the cosmos,” Armstrong said. “But the realities of the termination of the shuttle program, the cancellation of existing rocket launcher and spacecraft programs, the layoffs of thousands of aerospace workers, and the outlook for American space activity throughout the next decade were difficult to reconcile with the agency assertions.”
Armstrong said the Obama administration’s cancellation of the back-to-the-moon Constellation program and reliance on commercial spacecraft to service the orbiting International Space Station are contributing to “substantial erosion of the United States’ historically highly regarded space industrial base” and a reduction in the number of students pursuing advanced engineering degrees.
The retired Navy aviator added: “A lead – however earnestly and expensively won — once lost is nearly impossible to regain.”
In 1999, Armstrong wed Carol Knight. He had two adult sons from a previous marriage.
Armstrong’s family issued a simple, beautiful suggestion for anyone who wanted to remember him:
“Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”
Upon learning of Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s decision to suspend her presidential bid today, Governor Mitt Romney issued the following statement:
“Ann and I salute Congresswoman Bachmann. She ran a campaign to advance the principles of limited government that I hold dear. Michele is a friend and a strong competitor. Her tenacity on the campaign trail and her fierce intelligence in the debates have left me no doubt that, as advertised, she does indeed have a titanium spine. Michele inspires millions of Americans by the way she has lived her life, raised her family and served her country. With leaders of her caliber coming up the ranks, the future of the Republican Party – and the future of the country – is bright.”
Bachmann’s heartfelt statement:
“Last night, the people of Iowa spoke with a very clear voice, and so I have decided to stand aside.” ~ Michele Bachmann
Congresswoman Bachmann’s work promoting Tea Party principles of smaller government and less taxation on Capitol Hill has been inspiring. She and Governor Romney share those views. I also appreciate the preparation, passion, and communication skills she exhibited during the debates. I have no doubt she will continue to be an important, fervent voice for the conservative cause.
Thank you Congresswoman, for your contribution to the GOP nominating process and your commitment to constitutional principles. We invite Congresswoman Bachmann’s supporters to join Governor Romney’s quest to unseat Barack Obama and restore America.
Mourners gather to remember Vaclav Havel in Wenceslas Square, Prague. Dec 18, 2011
We’ve learned that Vaclav Havel, the first President of the Czech Republic (1993 – 2003) and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il have died.
The deaths of these two world figures couldn’t be more striking. One, a non-violent freedom fighter, lived to champion human rights, end repression, and led the bloodless revolution in 1989 to abolish communism in Czechoslovakia. The other, a brutal, repressive, nuclear-menacing communist dictator, ruled his starving, impoverished nation with an iron fist (human rights doesn’t exist, few N. Koreans have modern amenities – refrigerators, stoves, telephones and even access to plain, ordinary writing paper for citizens is severely restricted).
While the media is focused on the Dear Leader’s passing and the uncertainty surrounding the transfer of power in N. Korea, I want to share a few tributes from around the world for Vaclav Havel.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney:
VACLAV HAVEL INSPIRED FREEDOM’S ALLIES
“In the darkest days of tyranny, Vaclav Havel shined a light on the injustices and contradictions of communism. The power of his words and the depth of his courage inspired freedom’s allies in his homeland and around the world. The Velvet Revolution he led changed the course of history, and helped bring to an end an empire of oppression. He will be remembered as one of history’s great men: the scourge of tyrants and a champion for liberty.”
Former U.S. President George W. Bush:
“The most subversive act of the playwright from Prague was telling the truth about tyranny. And when that truth finally triumphed, the people elected this dignified, charming, humble, determined man to lead their country. Unintimidated by threats, unchanged by political power, Vaclav Havel suffered much in the cause of freedom and became one of its greatest heroes.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:
“Havel was a brave and powerful voice against totalitarianism and an inspiration for dissidents everywhere struggling for freedom.”
Solidarity founder and Poland’s former president Lech Walesa:
“A great fighter for the freedom of nations and for democracy has died . . . His outstanding voice of wisdom will be missed in Europe, which is going through a serious crisis. I am praying for the peace of his soul.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron:
“No one of my generation will ever forget those powerful scenes from Wenceslas Square two decades ago. Havel led the Czech people out of tyranny. And he helped bring freedom and democracy to our entire continent. Europe owes Vaclav Havel a profound debt. Today his voice has fallen silent. But his example and the cause to which he devoted his life will live on.”
President Barack Obama:
“His peaceful resistance shook the foundations of an empire, exposed the emptiness of a repressive ideology, and proved that moral leadership is more powerful than any weapon. … He also embodied the aspirations of half a continent that had been cut off by the Iron Curtain, and helped unleash tides of history that led to a united and democratic Europe.”
Former U.S. President George H. W. Bush:
“Barbara and I join in mourning the death of Vaclav Havel, a gentle soul whose fierce devotion to the rights of man helped his countrymen cast aside the chains of tyranny and claim their rightful place among the free nations of world. His personal courage throughout that twilight struggle inspired millions around the world, including those of us who worked with him during a historic period of transformation for Europe.”
The drop in the unemployment rate comes with an asterisk: while there was a 278,000 gain in employment, there was a concurrent labor force decline of 315,000 from October. It would be far preferable for the unemployment rate to drop because the economy is creating over 200,000 per month consistently, rather than due to would-be employees leaving the work force, either because they’re retiring or they’re simply too discouraged to keep looking for a job. If some of those people resume their job searches, we could see the unemployment rate tick up next month.
The bad news
8.6 percent unemployment is still a very high rate. In fact the jobless rate has remained above 8 percent since February 2009, the longest stretch since monthly records began in 1948. Additionally, there are still 5.7 million long-term unemployed (jobless for 27 weeks and over), which represents 43 percent of the total unemployed and the average duration of unemployment rose to 40.9 weeks, the highest on record.
Also, of the 120,000 new jobs created, 50,000 came from the retail sector, which includes a number of employees added for the holiday season. The big question is whether those people will keep their positions beyond Christmas.
But for today, we should take the improvement and hope that a combination of mildly better than expected domestic news, plus some hope that the Europeans will reach a conclusion on the debt crisis, will deliver a holiday gift to the global economy.
Mitt Romney issued the following statement today on the November employment numbers:
“Today’s unemployment figures bring to 34 the number of months that unemployment in the United States has been over 8 percent, the longest such spell since the Great Depression. The Obama administration may have come to accept such a high level of joblessness as the new normal. I will never accept it.To me, the fact that so many millions of Americans are unemployed only highlights the urgent need for a fundamental change in the direction of our country. We can’t afford another year of President Obama’s failed economic policies. And we certainly can’t afford five more years. This is not exactly the hope and change that the American people bargained for.”
5.7 million Americans have been out of work for more than 26 weeks. The average amount of time the unemployed are out of work is 40.9 weeks. Underemployment/part-timers are at 15.6%. Statistics show that when the unemployed are re-hired, they are given salaries lower than their previous employment.
Romney also appeared on Fox & Friends this morning. He was asked about the new jobs report:
“We had three years of barack Obama’s presidency. This is the slowest recovery we’ve seen since Hoover. He’s going to try and put a silver lining on a very dark cloud. But the truth is, his economic policies have made us more and more like Europe and, high unemployment and low income growth – median income in America dropped by 10%. He’s going to have a hard time putting perfume on this pig.
It’s very good news, obviously, going into the holiday season. People are shopping again; very good news that the unemployment rate is down – more people back to work. But, look overall at the President’s record on the economy – it’s been miserable.”
Mitt Romney issued a statement yesterday on the death sentence of Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani in Iran:
“I strongly condemn the Iranian regime for the conviction and death sentence of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. The freedom of religious belief is the most personal of rights, and Iran’s effort to bring the power of the state to bear upon Pastor Nadarkhani’s Christian faith is not only a violation of Iran’s international obligations, but an unacceptable outrage against human dignity. I call on the Iranian authorities to rescind the conviction and death sentence, release Pastor Nadarkhani, and abandon all measures that deny the Iranian people basic human rights.”
Iranian Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has been sentenced to death on a variety of changed charges by the Iranian government. October 3, 2011
Background on Pastor Nadarkhani:
Christian Youcef Nadarkhani, evangelical pastor of about 400 Iranians called the Church of Iran, converted from Islam to Christianity at the age of 19. The small congregation used to meet in a small church in the northern Iranian city of Rasht. In October 2009 he was arrested, imprisoned, and condemned to death for apostasy under Islam’s sharia law. The charges were then changed to rape and extortion. Most recently, he has been accused of being a ‘zionist’.
“Iranian authorities should immediately free pastor Yousef Nadarkhani and drop all charges against him,” Human Rights Watch said last week.
A Supreme Court ruling in June initially overturned a lower court’s sentence of execution against Nadarkhani, but now rights groups are worried that he could still be executed after refusing to give up his Christian beliefs.
“Iran is one of the very few countries in the 21st century where authorities would drag an individual before a court of law and force him to choose between his faith and his life,”said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.
“Nadarkhani should not have to spend one more day in jail, let alone face execution.”
Security forces initially arrested Nadarkhani, a member of the Church of Iran and pastor to a 400-member congregation in the northern city of Rasht, in October 2009.
In November 2010, a lower court sentenced Nadarkhani to death for “apostasy from Islam,” despite the fact that no such crime exists under Iran’s penal code. On September 22, Branch 11 of the Gilan Court of Appeals affirmed Nadarkhani’s death sentence for apostasy, but in June the Supreme Court remanded the case to the lower court for further investigation, ruling that Nadarkhani could not be executed if he had not been a Muslim after the age of maturity – 15 years for boys according to Iranian law – and he repents.
He is currently waiting for the Gilan appeals court to issue its verdict and sentence, and plans to appeal again any death or imprisonment sentence to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court rejected arguments that apostasy is not a crime under Iran’s laws simply because it is not codified in the Islamic Penal Code, and held that the crime is recognized in Sharia (Islamic law) and by the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
U.S. leaders have denounced Iran’s actions and called for greater respect for religious freedom from the country’s government. Calling religious freedom a “universal human right,” House Speaker John Boehner (R–OH) urged the Iranian government to “abandon this dark path” and release Nadarkhani without conditions.
Representative James Lankford (R–OH) likewise stated that Iran’s detainment of Nadarkhani “clearly shows that they devalue basic human liberty and faith in pursuit of unrelenting control of their country.” He continued: “It is a discriminatory belief that has led to the religious persecution of many Iranian citizens who are endowed with the unalienable right that all men and women around the world have to pursue a more fulfilling and joyous life through religious freedom.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton weighed in on the situation, saying the United States is “deeply concerned” about the religious persecution perpetuated by the Iranian regime: “The United States stands with the international community and all Iranians against the Iranian government’s hypocritical statements and actions, and we continue to call for a government that respects the human rights and freedom of all those living in Iran.”
The need is great for the international community to speak out against the serious religious oppression of the Iranian government and particularly the looming death of Nadarkhani. The profound importance of religious liberty to upholding other democratic freedoms, as evidenced in America’s own history, should be integrated into U.S. public diplomacy.
Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, and his son, Jordan Sekulow, ACLJ Executive Director, are actively working for the safe release of Pastor Nadarkhani and have been in constant contact with Nadarkhani’s attorney, Mohammed Ali Dadkhah. Jay appeared on the O’Reilly Factor (Fox News) to discuss the fight to save Nadarkhani’s life (video uploaded on YouTube on Oct 3, 2011):
Jordan Sekulow also appeared on Fox News to discuss the new false charge of ‘zionist’ being leveled against Nadarkhani (uploaded to YouTube Oct 3, 2011):
To listen to a podcast discussion of Jay and Jordan discussing the latest on Nadarkhani click here.
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani
By Eileen F. Toplansky
Oct 3, 2011
It is my moral obligation as a Jew to speak out on behalf of an Iranian Christian whom I have never met.
Imprisoned since October 2009, Yousef Nadarkhani was first accused of apostasy against Islam by the Islamic Republic of Iran. In 2010 he was found guilty “and sentenced to death … for abandoning the Islamic faith.” Yet, according to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 18 includes a “provision for the right to ‘have or to adopt’ a religion, which has been interpreted authoritatively by the UN Human Rights committee as including the right to change one’s religion.” Thus, Iran is violating its own obligations. Furthermore, the Iranian constitution “sanctions Christianity as a legitimate minority faith.” Clearly, however, this did not matter as the Iranian Supreme Court sought to establish that Nadarkhani was still guilty of apostasy because he has Muslim ancestry.
Muslim leader: Iran’s death penalty for Christian pastor violates treaties, Koran
By Haris Zafar
October 2, 2011
The Quran is replete with this instruction that everyone has the fundamental freedom of religion. In Chapter 18, it says “This is the truth from your Lord; then let him who will, believe, and let him who will, disbelieve.” Why is this so difficult for these so-called Islamic “scholars” to understand? They spit in the face of the religion they claim to defend by not only violating these teachings but then falsely attributing their vile sense of justice to the tolerant faith of Islam. The allegation that Islam advocates the use of force to spread or maintain itself does not originate from a study of the sources of Islamic teachings. Rather, it originates from a study of the conduct of some so-called “Muslim” states.
President Obama: “… you don’t raise taxes in a recession.” (President Barack Obama, 8/5/09)
U.S. President Barack Obama announced $3 trillion long-term deficit reduction plan, including $ 1.5 trillion tax increase plan. (Forex Currency Trading News 9/20/11)
I’ll throw this in for good measure – Obama’s own words:
Perhaps President Obama thought that delivering his deficit reduction speech outside in the White House Rose Garden on Monday would perfume his populist odoriferous reversal on raising taxes during a ‘recession’ (no specifics on entitlements):
Either we ask the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share in taxes, or we’re going to have to ask seniors to pay more for Medicare. We can’t afford to do both.
Either we gut education and medical research, or we’ve got to reform the tax code so that the most profitable corporations have to give up tax loopholes that other companies don’t get. We can’t afford to do both.
This is not class warfare. It’s math. (Laughter.)
Data reveals a different story than Obama is telling. The rich do pay considerably more in taxes:
There may be individual millionaires who pay taxes at rates lower than middle-income workers. In 2009, 1,470 households filed tax returns with incomes above $1 million yet paid no federal income tax, according to the Internal Revenue Service. But that’s less than 1 percent of the nearly 237,000 returns with incomes above $1 million.
This year, households making more than $1 million will pay an average of 29.1 percent of their income in federal taxes, including income taxes, payroll taxes and other taxes, according to the Tax Policy Center, a Washington think tank.
Households making between $50,000 and $75,000 will pay an average of 15 percent of their income in federal taxes.
Lower-income households will pay less. For example, households making between $40,000 and $50,000 will pay an average of 12.5 percent of their income in federal taxes. Households making between $20,000 and $30,000 will pay 5.7 percent.
Let’s close tax loopholes and enforce laws already on the books so the 1% of the wealthy who are gaming the system no longer get away with it. What Obama isn’t saying is that his claims about high-income Americans are based on money invested – income that has already been taxed.
After Obama’s speech, Mitt Romney issued the following statement on Obama’s plan to raise $1.5 TRILLION in taxes:
PRESIDENT OBAMA HAS NO CLUE HOW TO BRING ECONOMY BACK
“President Obama’s plan to raise taxes will have a crushing impact on economic growth. Higher taxes mean fewer jobs – it’s that simple. This is yet another indication that President Obama has no clue how to bring our economy back. I encourage President Obama to look at my detailed economic plan to create long-term growth and prosperity for our nation. The only way to get our economy moving again is to elect a president who understands how to create jobs and rein in spending – that is why I am running.”
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) added his voice to the burgeoning criticism of Obama’s deficit-reduction plan.
Ryan slammed Obama’s new tax rate for millionaires as “class warfare.” Class warfare…may make for really good politics but it makes for rotten economics. We don’t need a system that seeks to divide people,” Ryan argued.
Believing that Republicans won’t support tax increases, Obama’s reelection plan debt reduction plan employs ‘the rich should pay their fair share’ class warfare rhetoric he hopes will save the day for him come November 2012. He sees the writing on the wall:
When Ronald Reagan ran for re-election in 1984, his slogan was “Morning in America.” For Barack Obama, it’s more like midnight in a coal mine.
The sputtering economy is about to stall out, unemployment is high, his jobs program may not pass, foreclosures are rampant and the poor guy can’t even sneak a cigarette.
His approval rating is at its lowest level ever. His party just lost two House elections — one in a district it had held for 88 consecutive years. He’s staked his future on the jobs bill, which most Americans don’t think would work.
Unhappy members of the Congressional Black Caucus “probably would be marching on the White House” if Obama were not president, according to CBC Chairman Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.).
[...] CBC members have expressed concern in recent months as the unemployment rate has continued to rise amongst African-Americans, pushing for Obama to do more to address the needs of vulnerable communities.
■ What should the White House do now? James Carville, Democratic strategist says “PANIC!”
“The world is about to be rid of Muammar el-Qaddafi, the brutal tyrant who terrorized the Libyan people. It is my hope that Libya will now move toward a representative form of government that supports freedom, human rights, and the rule of law. As a first step, I call on this new government to arrest and extradite the mastermind behind the bombing of Pan Am 103, Abdelbaset Mohmed Ali al-Megrahi, so justice can finally be done.”
As rebels swarmed into Tripoli late Sunday and his son and one-time heir apparent Seif al-Islam was arrested, Gadhafi’s rule was all but over, even though some loyalists continued to resist.
More than any of the region’s autocratic leaders, perhaps, Gadhafi was a man of contrasts.
He was a sponsor of terrorism who condemned the Sept. 11 attacks. He was a brutal dictator who bulldozed a jail wall to free political prisoners. He was an Arab nationalist who derided the Arab League. And in the crowning paradox, he preached people power, only to have his people take to the streets and take up arms in rebellion.
For much of a life marked by tumult, eccentricities and spasms of violence, the only constants were his grip on power — never openly challenged until the last months of his rule — and the hostility of the West, which branded him a terrorist long before Osama bin Laden emerged.
The secret of his success and longevity lay in the vast oil reserves under his North African desert republic, and in his capacity for drastic changes of course when necessary.
One spectacular series of U-turns came in late 2003. After years of denial, Gadhafi’s Libya acknowledged responsibility for the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jumbo jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed 270 people. Libya agreed to pay up to $10 million to relatives of each of the victims, and declared it would dismantle all of its weapons of mass destruction.