Goodnight Irene

August 26, 2011 - 4:16 AM

Just went through a 5.9 earthquake. We who live along the Potomac River are on flood watch. The Libyans can't find Moammar Gaddhafi and, more important, don't have any idea how to run the country even if they do. And, Hurricane Irene is taking dead aim at the Eastern coast of the United States.

I tweeted yesterday: Alexandria VA: Earthquake, Potomac flooding, now a hurricane? Not going to the Safeway for milk & bread. I'm looking for Mezuzahs.

Seriously.

Weekly jobless claims were above projections but those data were lost in the swirl of the announcements that Steve Jobs was resigning as CEO of Apple and Warren "Axe Me About My Taxes" Buffet was sending a bucket from Omaha to Charlotte worth $5 billion to bail out Bank of America.

Last night Merrill Lynch (a unit of the aforementioned Bank of America) published a study showing that, according to CNBC "the probability of a double-dip recession is above 80 percent." It turned out that the chances of another recession were closer to 40 percent, but that is still a lot higher than zero.

On the hurricane front, because the networks are all headquartered in the Eastern time zone, it was all Irene all the time yesterday and will be throughout the weekend.

Washington, DC is still recovering from its first significant earthquake since the Jurassic period or thereabouts and now we're facing the western edge of a hurricane. Unemployment isn't such a big deal here because we need all those people on the federal payroll to count all those people who are on no payroll. It may not be fair, but there you are.

It will come as no surprise to you who do not live and/or work within the Beltway that we, in Your Nation's Capital, are wonderfully excellent at causing great pain, but we are dreadful at absorbing even the tiniest amount.

As an example, the unemployment figure for the entire U.S. of A. is 9.1 percent, right? Well, in the Washington, DC suburb of Arlington, Virginia (which, until 1847 was part of the District of Columbia) that number is 3.9 percent.

The other part of the old southern half of DC, Alexandria, VA, has an unemployment rate of 4.8 percent which is higher than neighboring Arlington but pretty far below Martinsville, VA which is at an astonishing 17.3 percent

Martinsville (I know because I just looked it up) is just north of the Virginia-North Carolina border which qualifies it as being way, WAY outside the Beltway.

This Libyan thing. If the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Defense forces decide to go into business for themselves, instead of falling into formation under the rule of the Transitional National Council, the unrest there may go on for years, not weeks.

Western media are still in the thrall of their excitement of the other night when they thought there was going to be a clear moment of victory over Muammar Gaddhafi. Yesterday afternoon they were reporting rumors that the rebels has surrounded an apartment house in which Gaddhafi was holed up.

The rumor was later found to be untrue, but that is what made it a rumor in the first place.

I'm going start a rumor later today that Haile Selassie is alive and living in Graceland.

Then I'm going to the Safeway to get bread and milk. And Double Stuf Oreos.

On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Links to "Goodnight Irene" sung by the Weavers, to "Mezuzah," to CNBC's weekly jobless claims piece, to the Merrill Lynch study and to Haile Selassie. Also a terrific Mullfoto sent in by a reader and a Catchy Caption of the Day.