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Total US employment now and since the recession, currently opping 139 million.
Total employment, now topping 139 million jobs.
Dan Diamond:
Labor Day was created to honor American workers, and this year — despite the Great Recession — there are more of them than ever.

Total U.S. employment topped 139 million workers as of August 1, 2014, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data. (That number is expected to climb again when the Labor Department releases its new jobs report on Friday.)

The nation’s economic recovery has been slow, but the labor market has gained about 230,000 jobs per month so far this year. That compares to a monthly loss of 298,000 jobs in 2008; a monthly gain of 88,000 jobs in 2010; and a monthly gain of 174,000 jobs in 2012.

By total jobs per month, 2014 has seen the fastest rate of growth since 1998.

The strong gains so far also meant that, as of May 2014, the U.S. economy finally recovered the millions of jobs that the labor market shed between 2008 and 2010.

Meanwhile, DC journos are freaking out because Obama doesn't talk like Bush and doesn't act like John McCain. Michael Cohen has the story:
There is a fun foreign policy game making all the rounds in Washington D.C. this summer: Pin the tail on Barack Obama.

Its appeal is not hard to understand; it's so easy to play.

Some examples of the rules:
Step 5: Offer a set of proposals that are vague and contradictory, have little chance of being implemented, fail to take account domestic politics and would do absolutely nothing to impact the crisis that you've described in Step 1.

Step 6: Publish your condemnation in a major newspaper or news outlet. Wait for a phone call from a booker with a Sunday morning talk show.

Brilliant stuff. But most important reads of the day:

Tom Friedman:

There are no words to describe the vileness of the video beheadings of two American journalists by ISIS, but I have no doubt that they’re meant to get us to overreact, à la 9/11, and rush off again without a strategy. ISIS is awful, but it is not a threat to America’s homeland.
and Julie Pace:  
President Barack Obama said Wednesday that the United States will not be intimidated by Islamic State militants after the beheading of a second American journalist and will build a coalition to "degrade and destroy" the group.
More politics and policy below the fold.

Matthew Dickinson:

Despite the bloggers’ efforts to portray Obama’s golf outings as evidence of his Alfred E. Neuman – “what, me worry?” – approach to foreign policy, I have no doubt that Obama is engaged in a similar struggle to discern an optimal strategy when the reality is that there may not be one to choose. This is not to suggest he is totally blameless for his current predicament – he campaigned on a promise to extricate the U.S. from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan without, I believe, fully anticipating what he would do if the U.S. withdrawal precipitated a widening of these regional conflicts and potentially elevated the risk to the United States. Now, he faces a Roosevelt-like dilemma: while polls indicate the public supports air strikes against IS, those same polls reveal continuing resistance to “boots on the ground”, at least in any significant fashion. And yet Obama’s military advisers warn that air strikes alone can’t defeat IS any more than FDR’s policy of all aid short of war, embodied in the Lend-Lease program, was likely to do much more than postpone Great Britain’s eventual defeat. It certainly was not going to do anything to loosen the Axis’ powers’ grip on their conquered territories,  much as air strikes are unlikely to loosen IS’ grip on portions of Syria and Iraq.
Fred Kaplan on what we should not do:
Obama Shouldn’t Bomb ISIS in Syria

We have no strategy for intervening there, and no reason to think it will work.

Eugene Robinson:
Meanwhile, back at the ranch — as foreign events hog the spotlight — why haven’t Republicans sealed the deal on the coming election?

When summer began, the conventional wisdom was that the GOP sorta kinda probably maybe would take control of the Senate in November. As summer ends — and it hasn’t been great for President Obama, which means it also hasn’t been anything for the Democratic Party to write home about — that same equivocal assessment still holds.

Who's next to expand Medicaid? Indiana, Tenn. Utah, Wyo Likely Candidates– Capsules - The KHN Blog http://t.co/... via @khnews
@philgalewitz
Dylan Scott:
Few states are as conservative as Wyoming. Nearly 70 percent of its voters went for Mitt Romney in 2012. Out of 90 legislative seats, 78 are held by Republicans. A Republican governor. It also epitomizes the independent streak found in the West, defined by a deep distrust of the federal government.

But even there, state officials are starting to open up to the idea of expanding Medicaid under Obamacare. The legislature requested earlier this year that Gov. Matt Mead (R) meet with the Obama administration to discuss the state's options. Mead's office told TPM that the governor met with staff from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for the first time in July. Mead said recently that he would present expansion options to the legislature early next year.

"At the end of the day, the expansion failed the first time because of that federal distrust and general disdain for the current administration," state Sen. Chris Rothfuss (D), who has been a leading proponent of the expansion, told TPM. "It doesn't matter who's in the White House. The state of Wyoming is not fond of the federal government. But right now, it's probably even worse."

That makes this an almost unthinkable reversal -- but one that typifies the shifting sands of Obamacare and Medicaid expansion specifically.

Today's "Chris Christie is toast" story from the NY Times:
A few days after Russian forces invaded Crimea, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey was asked at a confidential meeting of Republican activists how he would have handled the situation differently from President Obama.

It was not, according to several of those in attendance, a tough or unexpected inquiry. But Mr. Christie, usually known for his oratorical sure-footedness, offered a wobbly reply, displaying little grasp of the facts and claiming that if he were in charge, Vladimir V. Putin, the Russian president, would know better than to mess with him.

According to an audio recording of the event, he said Mr. Putin had taken the measure of Mr. Obama. “I don’t believe, given who I am, that he would make the same judgment,” Mr. Christie said. “Let’s leave it at that.”

One attendee described Mr. Christie’s answer as disturbingly heavy on swagger and light on substance. Another called it “uncomfortable to watch.”

Notte that even without Bridgegate, Christie isn't (and wasn't) presidential material. You wouldn't know that from most of the coverage. The job of political reporters is to not spoil the narrative, and Christie's too much fun to have around. Good on Mike Barbaro for writing this.

Penny Sarchet:

Surviving through science: life with cystic fibrosis

Not long ago, children with cystic fibrosis were lucky to reach adulthood. They are now likely to live into their 40s and beyond.

A great example of what science can do. I had the honor of attending an international Cystic Fibrosis Conference in Toronto (c. 1989) when Lap Chee Tsui, Francis Collins (now heading NIH) and Jack Riordan were honored by their colleagues for discovering the CF gene (there's now thousands of variations known). We have come a long way since the 50's, when life expectancy was closer to 5 than 50.
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