A drop in exports, combined with a surge of new iPhone imports, increased the US Trade Deficit to $-48.3 billion in August.
The Gallup Economic Confidence Index dropped another point in September, to -14.
Reebok reports that last week’s retail sales rose, but only to a weak 0.9% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 0.7%.
And I bet you don’t even have to guess about whom I am talking:
David Petraeus testified last month to the Senate Armed Services Committee on U.S. policy in the Middle East. Regarding Syria, the former general and CIA director urged a credible threat to destroy Bashar Assad’s air force if it continues to bomb its own people. He also recommended “the establishment of enclaves in Syria protected by coalition air power, where a moderate Sunni force could be supported and where additional forces could be trained, internally displaced persons could find refuge, and the Syrian opposition could organize.”
But Barack Obama does not agree. At his Friday press conference, the president described such views as “mumbo-jumbo,” “half-baked ideas,” “as-if” solutions, a willful effort to “downplay the challenges involved in the situation.” He says the critics have no answers to the questions of “what exactly would you do and how would you fund it and how would you sustain it.”
America’s greatest living general might as well have been testifying to his shower drain for all the difference his views are going to make in this administration.
Exactly right – because, you know, ‘smartest man in the room’ and don’t you forget it. Anyone who champions actual, practical and doable solutions is, well, “downplaying the challenges” of the situation.
Really? Seems to me that Petraeus addressed them specifically and offered solutions.
One problem. They would actually mean Obama would have to get off his duff and actually DO something.
It’s not enough for him to stake and defend his positions. He wants you to know that he thinks deeper, sees further, knows better, operates from a purer motive. His preferred method for dealing with disagreement is denigration. If Republicans want a tougher line in Syria, they’re warmongers. If Hillary Clinton thinks a no-fly zone is a good idea, she’s playing politics: “There is obviously a difference,” the president tut-tutted about his former secretary of state’s position, “between running for president and being president.”
You can interpret that jab as a sign Mr. Obama is urging Joe Biden to run. It’s also a reminder that Mr. Obama believes his Syria policy—the one that did nothing as 250,000 people were murdered; the one that did nothing as his own red lines were crossed; the one that allowed ISIS to flourish; the one that has created the greatest refugee crisis of the 21st century; the one currently being exploited by Russia and Iran for geopolitical advantage—is a success.
No kidding. And the arrogant look he has for those who disagree is simply the bomb. He, and I don’t know how else to describe this, ignorantly and arrogantly thinks he’s doing the right thing and actually succeeding. Either that or he is indeed the smartest man in the room only when the room is empty of everyone else.
For instance, the Petraeus recommendations are not only good, they’re backed by experience and a good outcome:
As for what a serious Syria policy might look like, the U.S. proved it was capable of creating safe havens and enforcing no-fly zones in 1991 with Operation Provide Comfort, which stopped Saddam Hussein from massacring Kurds in northern Iraq the way he had butchered Shiites in southern Iraq.
And what has President Dither done? Well, certainly nothing that could be conceivably considered a coherent policy by anyone but a sycophant. In fact, unless you consider doing nothing a “policy”, well, he’s done nothing.
But he knows best, because “there’s a difference” between “running for President and being President.”
In terms of this Presidency, I fail to see the difference.
Gallup’s US Self-Reported Consumer Spending Measure fell slightly from $89 to $88 in September.
The PMI Services Index fell -1 to 55.1 in September.
The Fed’s Labor Market Conditions Index fell to 0.0 in September from 2.1 the previous month.
The ISM Non-Mfg Index fell -2.1 points to 56.9 in September.
Ah, yes … another sicko rampages and the same old bromides are offered as a cure. More laws. Fewer guns. Yatta, yatta.
Let’s face it, if restrictive laws were the answer, we wouldn’t have a drug problem, would we? And we’ve tried prohibition before, haven’t we? How’d that turn out?
What we have among the gun grabbers is an argument based on a false premise. It goes, “if we restrict or ban something (guns), we’ll have less of something (in this case, violence and death) else.” To believe that premise, you have to believe that the “something” is the problem and the only problem, and not anything else (i.e. the culture or human nature (or both)). You have to believe that if you “ban” that something (and in this case the “something” is an inanimate object), that alone will achieve the goal (less violence and death).
There is absolutely no rational basis for such a conclusion, especially when banned object is inanimate. Dumb. Can’t act on its own. It isn’t the “cause” of the violence and death. It may be the instrument, but the cause is holding the gun, or knife, or club or rock, or explosive.
The obvious extension of such thinking is cars cause accidents, spoons make you fat and beer makes us alcoholics. If we just banned them we’d have no accidents nor would we get fat and there would be no alcoholism. There is no one that will admit to believing that (and at least with the last, we have practical experience to refute the belief). Yet those who want gun control willingly put forward that argument when it pertains to guns and are amazed when others not only don’t agree but tend to deride them and their argument (and privately, they likely question their ability to reason critically).
So to those of you who know all of this already, I apologize. I know … basic reasoning 101. Nothing really magic here.
However, this is the argument those who would ban guns (and “cleverly” try to hide that in phrases like “common sense gun laws” and “more rigorous background checks”) use daily. And, unfortunately, there is a rather large segment of the population who abandoned critical thinking (and knowledge about history, economics and all sorts of important and useful subjects) a long time ago that buy into this nonsensical argument.
In the case of guns, those who would take yours also live with a number of fantasies they (at least when it concerns guns) consider to be fact and the underly their “argument”. A) Laws will stop unwanted actions and outcomes. B) Banning something effectively removes it from society. And C) Criminals will obey the law and the ban. Again, no thinking human being can intellectually buy into those fantasies. Laws don’t stop unwanted outcomes (they proscribe the behavior and punish the law breaker who behaves in that manner), banning usually has the opposite effect, creating a black market in the banned item (and giving it a certain chic) and finally criminals, aka “scofflaws” will not obey the law nor will they honor the ban. They never have … thus the name.
So, here’s my question – how do you argue with people who insist on fantasy based arguments?
Ok, so it’s sort of rhetorical – the answer, as you all know, is “you don’t”.
You don’t waste your time or your effort on people who seem unable to separate fact from fiction/fantasy and critical arguments from bunk.
The problem, of course, is if you remain silent, then the “low information” types are left with a single, screechy and strident voice that misrepresents facts and figures to back their fantasies.
And we all know that if they get enough of that type, things like “prohibition” happen (and frankly, it is a miracle of sorts that prohibition actually was repealed … government rarely gives up any power it gathers to itself).
If you want to see a civil war in this country, it likely won’t be about race, or abortion, or even a hundred other wedge issues.
It’ll be about guns and who is or isn’t allowed to keep them.
It’s been said, a lot recently, that on the world scene Vladimir Putin understands he’s playing chess, and Barack Obama thinks he’s playing checkers.
We should be so lucky.
Our feckless back bench leader isn’t even playing a game that was based on the same board as the one Putin is playing on. In chess and checkers at least some of the fundamental principles carry over and there is some strategy involved beyond tick tack toe where you can always play the game to a draw.
Back in 2013 when President Present was drawing his first red lines and threatening Bashar Assad in Syria with a fate similar to the one he so expertly delivered to Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, the Russians let him talk until he’d used his vaunted powers of speechifying long enough and then stepped in, saved their Assad from being dragged out of a spider hole and shot, and embarrassed President “Red Line” and Secretary of State “Unbelievably Small” by delivering a fait accompli in ‘securing’ the Syrian chemical weapon stockpiles on behalf of their client.
At the time the usual plethora of sycophants declared that Obama had masterfully gotten everything he wanted, stopped Assad, neutralized the chemical weapons and should possibly consider selecting wall space for his next Nobel Prize owing to his brilliance in implementing effective credible foreign policy.
Forward to current day.
President Obama mid-week demonstrated yet again that he is totally out of his depth, and actually far worse than that, demonstrated the people he’s surrounded himself with for advice, are as lackluster and simple as he is. They might be fine when figuring out how to smear an opponent out of an election in the United States, but on the world stage they probably shouldn’t be allowed to touch the brooms used to clean up the set once the curtain has come down, the lights come up and the actors head to the “after” party.
In a more than adequate display that he has no knowledge of world history. he declared Russia was going to find itself “in a quagmire” in Syria. This is a favorite of the liberal left, and harkens back to the swamp we experienced in South Vietnam between 1961 and 1973. They like the quagmire thing because the Vietnam era was when a good many of the liberal left bravely earned their credentials on college campuses making the quagmire worse while avoiding experiencing it what their blue collar brethren in the jungles of South East Asia.
They also like to point out that the Russians, wearing their spiffy Soviet Union outfits, experienced a similar quagmire in Afghanistan during the Reagan era. Really that only puts the Russians in company with damn near every major power that carried arms to the foot of the Hindu Kush since before Julius Caesar observed Gaul was divided into three parts. Afghanistan has always been, and I think always will be, nothing but a meat grinder for “conquering” armies.
But there’s an added wrinkle to that particular quagmire that bears a remarkable similarity to our experience in Vietnam.
In Vietnam we were fighting the indigenous forces of the Viet Cong and the Army of North Vietnam, officially, and the Peoples Republic of China and the Soviet Union unofficially. In Afghanistan the Soviets were officially fighting the tribes of Afghanistan (who adopted internecine fighting as a hobby several millennia ago and have never found any other hobby since) and, unofficially, the forces of the ‘west’ lead primarily by the United States.
So the boggy water, marsh grass and alligators for both quagmires was being greatly supplemented by outside forces in Vietnam and Afghanistan. That’s called a proxy war. It’s been done for ages, and it’s the fundamental ingredient of a quagmire. President Precious has decided that talking will eventually solve the wars in the Middle East, singularly unable to observe historically the only time there is NOT war in the Middle East is when some ruthless bastards show up and ruthlessly enforce some version of peace on the locals. While he’s sure that Syria is going to be a Russian quagmire, because that appeals to progressive schadenfreude, he hasn’t pointed out who’s going to supply the continuous outside source of bog water and alligators this time to make it one.
But he does understand the concept of a proxy war, or someone said it to him so he could repeat it in context because his next demonstration of cluelessness was for him to declare that Syria was not a superpower chess board contest.
Of course that is exactly what this is.
If you aren’t already alarmed at his failure to grasp the obvious it might be a good time for you to start, and invite your friends and neighbors because it’s going to make for, as the apocryphal curse says “interesting times.”
Syria is not going to be a quagmire for Russia, and Bashar Assad, or his son or brother(s) are going to be in charge when the chemical clouded explosive debris laden dust has settled over Damascus.
The Russians had no hesitation in using any kind of fiendish device they could invent to squash the Afghan tribes on behalf of their clients and they will have no hesitation in doing so in Syria because no one is going to stop them. No proxy war you see.
Bashar Assad isn’t too particular about who he has to destroy, or whose villages, and families he has to destroy, to restore his control of Syria. Neither are the Russians.
Syrian refugees (actually refugees from all over the Ummah) are pouring into Europe creating various crisis situations to keep the EU more than busy, and at each others throats over who will provide meals and housing and who will pay the bills.
The Russians have allied themselves with the upcoming hegemon, Iran, in the Persian Gulf, using President Red Line and Secretary of State Unbelievably Small to create a treaty that will probably result in Iran being a nuclear power within the next 2 years.
The Russians have – acquired the Crimea in a blatant territorial grab that easily rivals Hitler occupying the Sudetenland, provided aid and comfort to a “rebellion” that shot down a commercial air liner killing hundreds of passengers in the Ukraine and stepped up their aggressive behaviors in border breaching and response testing that easily rival their former behaviors as the Soviet Union.
The Russians and the Chinese are participating in large scale cooperative military ‘exercises’ – for any progressive squishy liberals, that does not mean the Chinese are now teaching the Russians Tai Chi.
And this week Russia announced, in a signal to all those former Soviet satellites and their European ‘friends’, that they’re increasing the size of their armed forces by roughly 20%. Why they need to do that isn’t clear to people who don’t think we’re playing superpower chess, but the move won’t be lost on the Eastern Europeans.
Ah, but all this ruthlessness will surely lead to “War Crimes!” you say. Sure. Russia on behalf of Syria deliberately bombs villages earlier this week (after we sorta threatened we’d take away their iPhone or something) and five days later the world mumbles it ‘may’ be a war crime – the US tags a hospital in Afghanistan by accident yesterday and within 12 hours the world is screaming for a war crimes tribunal.
You can bet the UN will be sure and let the world know that the US won’t be allowed to behave like that and President Precious will send someone to apologize while Russia and Syria continue killing at will and cleaning up ‘the quagmire’.
That’s superpower chess on display.
They have tested the steel of Barack Obama, and have discovered it’s suitable for lining the bottom of your oven or making hats to keep out alien thought control beams.
There used to be someone sitting on the other side of the chess board from Russia or China, who understood that as nasty a job as it is, someone has to counter their moves in superpower chess.
Now we have a collection of people playing Tick Tack Toe while Putin moves any pieces he wants, any way he wants, on an unopposed chess board.
The base doesn’t like him, he’s in favor of Common Core and amnesty, no one outside the Donor Class wants a Bush v. Clinton race, there’s still bad feeling from his brother’s presidency – all of those are problems for Jeb Bush.
But I think another big problem is just how the guy looks. Trump keyed in on this with his “low energy” comments. His overall demeanor doesn’t communicate that he can get anything done.
Human beings are driven by first impressions. They are formed within seconds, or even a fraction of a second. Realize that most people are not like us. Many have never seen an image of Jeb Bush before this campaign. So they form a first impression of him when they see him on the news or in a debate.
I think that first impression is that he’s just old and tired. In fact, I think, for some of them, he reminds them of a movie character that is the epitome of old and tired: Norman Thayer, Jr, from On Golden Pond.
See what you think. See if, at first glance, the gallery below just looks like four pictures of the same guy:
I think anyone who looks this much like an 80 year old actor portraying an 80 year old curmudgeon is going to have some serious problems getting anyone excited about his candidacy.
This week’s finely-crafted podcast is available on the Podcast Page.
A weak 142,000 net new jobs were created in September, far below expectations. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.1%. Average hourly earnings were unchanged, and average weekly hours declined -0.1 hours to 34.5 hours. The labor force participation rate fell -0.2% to 62.4% as 236,000 people left the labor force. The labor force participation rate is the lowest since October, 1977, continuing the decline in the labor force that began in 2000.
This decline is why I no longer calculate the unemployment rate using pre-crisis average LFPR. We no longer know what the “correct” LFPR is, or should be.
Factory Orders declined -1.7% in August, with non-durables down -1.1% and durable goods down -2.3%. Core capital goods fell -0.8%. This is a very weak report all around.
Via Ace and Bill, here is a clickbait article by some metrosexual pantywaist who purports to tell us all what modern men are like. He intends it to be funny – I think. It’s hard to tell with pathetic beta males. But I think he means most of the advice to be taken seriously even though he’s trying for a humorous presentation.
It’s as pathetic and unfunny as you would expect. I wondered if every single item on his list needed to be eviscerated, and just about every one did. So herewith I recount his items, and for each my own item about what a real man is like compared to this dipwad’s “modern man”.
1. When the modern man buys shoes for his spouse, he doesn’t have to ask her sister for the size. And he knows which brands run big or small.
The real man knows better than to buy shoes for his spouse. He’ll never be able to ensure a good fit. Instead, he takes care of the household well enough that she knows she can buy shoes whenever she wants or needs to. He’s got better things to do than study the sizing proclivities of two dozen brands of women’s shoes.
2. The modern man never lets other people know when his confidence has sunk. He acts as if everything is going swimmingly until it is.
The real man never lets other people know when his confidence has sunk, because it never does. He believes in himself. Temporary setbacks don’t change that.
3. The modern man is considerate. At the movie theater, he won’t munch down a mouthful of popcorn during a quiet moment. He waits for some ruckus.
The real man is considerate, because gentlemen have had that characteristic for centuries. Which means he knows better than to put a whole mouthful of popcorn in his mouth at once like some heathen savage or six year old.
4. The modern man doesn’t cut the fatty or charred bits off his fillet. Every bite of steak is a privilege, and it all goes down the hatch.
The real man knows enough about steak to know several things. First, it’s properly spelled “filet”, and the pathetic betas in the NYT editorial department should have known that. Second, a filet has almost no fat so it’s not necessary to trim around it. Third, a real man knows enough about cooking a filet not to char it.
5. The modern man won’t blow 10 minutes of his life looking for the best parking spot. He finds a reasonable one and puts his car between the lines.
The real man knows that where you park isn’t really important enough to think about very much, and that there are literally a thousand other things that say a lot more about whether he’s a real man.
6. Before the modern man heads off to bed, he makes sure his spouse’s phone and his kids’ electronic devices are charging for the night.
Before the real man heads off to bed, he makes sure the home is secure, and that he’s clean and ready to make love to his wife. He doesn’t worry about his kids’ electronic devices, because they need to learn the responsibility of taking care of themselves. He knows he won’t always be around to do it.
7. The modern man buys only regular colas, like Coke or Dr Pepper. If you walk into his house looking for a Mountain Dew, he’ll show you the door.
The real man buys only whatever the f*ck kind of cola that he thinks tastes good, plus some Mountain Dew for his buddy who likes Dale Earnhardt, Jr, and a nice variety of other soft drinks for his guests. Plus some liquor to mix in.
8. The modern man uses the proper names for things. For example, he’ll say “helicopter,” not “chopper” like some gauche simpleton.
The real man uses the proper names for things. For example, he’ll say “pathetic beta male,” not “modern man” like some pretentious douchebag.
9. Having a daughter makes the modern man more of a complete person. He learns new stuff every day.
Having a daughter makes the real man happy that he has children. Just like having a son does. Though he does hope and pray that his daughter doesn’t grow up to marry a
modern man pathetic beta male.
10. The modern man makes sure the dishes on the rack have dried completely before putting them away.
The real man makes sure the household can afford a dishwasher and lets it take care of drying and sterilizing the dishes.
11. The modern man has never “pinned” a tweet, and he never will.
The real man doesn’t do anything stupid on social media, including putting pointless sh!t about his life on Twitter all the time.
12. The modern man checks the status of his Irish Spring bar before jumping in for a wash. Too small, it gets swapped out.
The real man washes his body with whatever is available, including shampoo if he has to. If he has room next to the bathtub, he makes sure fresh toiletries can be reached without getting out. He certainly doesn’t get anal about something as trivially stupid as whether the soap bar is too small.
13. The modern man listens to Wu-Tang at least once a week.
The real man doesn’t give a f*ck about Wu-Tang or any other flavor-of-the-month piece of sh!t rap artist. He’s got a music collection that has decent stuff from Mozart to Pink Floyd to Taylor Swift. Plus some eighties stuff to play during parties for dancing.
14. The modern man still jots down his grocery list on a piece of scratch paper. The market is no place for his face to be buried in the phone.
The real man jots down his grocery list on paper or phone, whichever he’s more comfortable with. He knows enough to stop and step aside if he needs to look at his phone while shopping so he doesn’t run into anything. Which he will probably need to do because he’ll likely have to text his wife for details or clarifications while he’s shopping.
15. The modern man has hardwood flooring. His children can detect his mood from the stamp of his Kenneth Cole oxfords.
The real man sometimes has hardwood flooring because it’s nice looking and easy to keep clean. But he doesn’t stomp through the house on it, because he has better control over himself that that. His children can detect his mood because he tells them when he doesn’t feel well.
16. The modern man lies on the side of the bed closer to the door. If an intruder gets in, he will try to fight him off, so that his wife has a chance to get away.
The real man make sure his house is secure enough that he’ll know about an intruder long before it gets to the bedroom door. That means he can sleep on either side of the bed his wife wants him to. If an intruder gets in, he will either shoot them or take them apart, so that his wife will be protected. Though, for some wives, he will make sure he’s clear of her field of fire so they can both shoot the intruder.
17. Does the modern man have a melon baller? What do you think? How else would the cantaloupe, watermelon and honeydew he serves be so uniformly shaped?
Does the real man have a melon baller? Who the f*ck cares? Hell, he probably doesn’t even know what one looks like.
18. The modern man has thought seriously about buying a shoehorn.
The real man has thought seriously about buying a motorcycle.
19. The modern man buys fresh flowers more to surprise his wife than to say he is sorry.
The real man buys fresh flowers anytime he wants to tell his wife he loves her.
20. On occasion, the modern man is the little spoon. Some nights, when he is feeling down or vulnerable, he needs an emotional and physical shield.
On occasion, the real man is the little spoon because the human body needs to shift around during sleep. If he is feeling down, he is either quiet about it until he feels better, or tells his wife what he is feeling down about so they can confront it together. If needed, she then holds him as a wife should when he needs her support – face to face with their arms around each other.
21. The modern man doesn’t scold his daughter when she sneezes while eating an apple doughnut, even if the pieces fly everywhere.
The real man doesn’t scold his daughter for anything accidental. Though he does teach her good manners.
22. The modern man still ambles half-naked down his driveway each morning to scoop up a crisp newspaper.
The real man is smart enough to know that newspapers have become too biased and unreliable to waste time on. Unless he’s house training a dog or wrapping dishes to move, he has no use for one, crisp or otherwise.
23. The modern man has all of Michael Mann’s films on Blu-ray (or whatever the highest quality thing is at the time).
The real man knows that everyone has their own movie favorites, and that Michael Mann is just one more mid-level filmmaker. But he owns a Blu-ray of Die Hard and at least one Cary Grant movie.
24. The modern man doesn’t get hung up on his phone’s battery percentage. If it needs to run flat, so be it.
The real man doesn’t talk, text, or browse so damn much on the phone that it goes dead every other day.
25. The modern man has no use for a gun. He doesn’t own one, and he never will.
The real man knows that a gun is a tool for killing things that need killing, and that the world unfortunately holds a lot of those things. Depending on where he lives, he probably owns several of them.
26. The modern man cries. He cries often.
The real man cries sometimes. But he’s not proud of it.
27. People aren’t sure if the modern man is a good dancer or not. That is, until the D.J. plays his jam and he goes out there and puts on a clinic.
People aren’t sure if the real man is a good dancer or not. Because he doesn’t really give a f*ck if he’s a good dancer – he just goes out on the dance floor with his wife and has a good time.
I realize this guy just put out his list to get his name in print and try to excuse his pathetic beta maleness. Still, the fact that he thinks any of this is laudable even in jest shows how far some men have sunk in being ashamed of their own masculinity.
I suggest that the real test would be to run the above past a few hundred women who had been out of college at least five years. Let them decide whether they want a “modern man” or a real man. I know which way I think the results would go.
September motor vehicle sales surged 2.3% to a far better than expected 18.2 million annual rate.
Challenger reports that announced layoffs reached 58,887 in September, and the YTD number of 493,431 is now higher than all of last year.
The PMI manufacturing index was 53.1 in September, little changed from August.
The ISM Manufacturing index dropped -0.9 points to a barely positive 50.2, the lowest reading since May, 2013.
Construction spending rose 0.7% in August, and is up 13.7% on a year-over-year basis.
Gallup’s US Payroll to Population rate was unchanged in September at 45.3%.
Initial weekly jobless claims rose 10,000 to 277,000. The 4-week average fell 1,000 to 270,750. Continuing claims fell 23,000 to 2.219 million.
The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 1.1 points to 43.0 in the latest week.
The Fed’s balance sheet fell $-13.4 billion last week, with total assets of $4.484 trillion. Reserve bank credit fell $-8.5 billion.
The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $34.0 billion in the latest week.