Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Economic Statistics for 4 Mar 15

The MBA reports that mortgage applications rose 0.1% last week, with purchases down -0.2% and refis up 1.0%.

ADP’s employment report estimates that 212,000 new private-payroll jobs were created in February.

Gallup’s U.S. Job Creation Index rose 1 point in February, to 29.

The US Services Purchasing Managers’ Index rose 2.9 points to 57.1 in February.

The ISM’s non-manufacturing index rose 0.2 points, little changed at 56.9.

The Fed’s Beige Book describes current economic expansion as “moderate.” Inflation is seen as flat. Consumer spending is up most Districts. 


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The “entitled” who would be president

Yes, today I’m going to talk about Hillary Clinton, who does indeed feel entitled and also seems to believe that the law is only for “the little people”.  There are others who feel entitled to the presidency (on both sides) that I don’t want anywhere near it as well, but this is one person who would essentially be an Obama third term if she were to win … and her actions prove that.

Right now we have a man in the Oval Office who is, frankly, a scofflaw. If a law is inconvenient, he simply ignores it, or issues his own in the guise of an executive action or, working through his “executive agencies” sees that unelected bureaucrats produce regulations that do his will, all without Congress.  Or oversight. Or the Constitution for that matter.

Now we have a contender for his position who has demonstrated the same sort of inclination to ignore the rules and laws that are designed to keep our elected and government officials on the straight and narrow and provide a vital record of their doings.

Hillary Clinton, did, with malice aforethought, conspire to work around the law and the rules that required her to do government business on a government email account.  There’s no disputing this.  The email server is in her home.  It was set up prior to her becoming Secretary of State.  And we know, thanks to a hacker, that she received highly sensitive emails from various cronies and State Department personnel on that account.  An account that wasn’t at all secure enough for such traffic (that point made obvious by the hack).

Then there’s this:

Just last week, the Washington Post shocked the public with the news that the Clinton Foundation had “accepted millions of dollars from seven foreign governments” during Hillary’s “tenure as secretary of state, including one donation that violated its ethics agreement with the Obama administration.” In and of themselves, these gifts were highly abnormal.

But, as Charles Cooke continues:

“Rarely, if ever,” the Post noted drily, “has a potential commander in chief been so closely associated with an organization that has solicited financial support from foreign governments.” But the infringement is made even worse when one acknowledges that these donations were never so much as reviewed for eligibility by the powers that be within the State Department. There really is no other way of putting it than to record bluntly that, while she was secretary of state, Hillary Clinton was making private deals with foreign governments via private e-mail, and then declining to request the requisite approval from the U.S. government.

So, let’s see if we have this straight.  Private email account, knowingly refusing to use the government one, and soliciting foreign governments for donations while Secretary of State?

That’s definitely, at a minimum unethical and an abuse of office.  So who does she think she is?

Cooke answers that:

The answer to that question is as it ever was: She is Hillary Clinton, and she believes, with some justification, that she will get away with anything and everything she tries. “Why,” supporters grumble, “knowing full well how effective the charge of elitism can be during a presidential campaign, does she continue to take $300,000 per speech?” Answer: Because she’s Hillary Clinton. “Why,” others inquire, “when tempers are still hot and nerves are still frayed, does she continue to take money from the outfits that are widely blamed for the financial crisis of 2008?” Answer: Because she’s Hillary Clinton. “How could she possibly believe that her ex-president husband’s temporary inability to buy a multi-million-dollar house rendered her ‘dead broke’”? Because she’s Hillary Clinton, and she has a sense of entitlement that would make Imelda Marcos blush. And so, having been championed and overpraised for years, lionized more for her immutable characteristics than for any concrete achievements, and allowed to pretend that her few successes have been the product of her own ability and not her husband’s uncommon political talent, Clinton has of late fallen disastrously deep into the professional celebrity’s most pernicious trap: She has begun to believe her own hype. How long can it be before her fellow disciples begin to lose faith in more than just the small hours of the night?

Supreme arrogance, and a willingness to take a chance that this will all come to nothing. After all, we’re talking about the era of politics and government where no one is really held accountable for anything. The smartest woman in the world probably also figured we’d never put two and two together (i.e. private email, foreign donations). And if we did? Heh … they tried that out yesterday and it failed miserably:

The strongest argument in favor of this behavior — legally, at least — is that Clinton is a clueless, confused, and out-of-touch old woman who struggles to grasp basic technological concepts, and that she therefore had not the first idea what was expected of her. In the immediate aftermath, this was the first defense offered. It’s “worth remembering,” a former Clinton administration staffer assured me quickly on Twitter, “that Hillary didn’t have email until she was in her forties. She was clueless.” “I just mean,” he added, desperately, that “she’s no dummy — except possibly with computers — where she kinda is.”

Bulltacos. There have been countless stories and battles over the use of official emails that this is a complete non-starter. As Cooke notes, it’s “desperate”.  This wasn’t some technodunce-granny completely befuddled by this new age.  This was a deliberate and calculated attempt to circumvent the system:

Digging a little into the story today, Business Insider’s Hunter Walker recorded today that Clinton did not so much inadvertently continue to use her previous account as she had her team build and configure an alternative system over which she had full and unadulterated control.

Exactly.  And now, she should pay the price.

If anyone can find it in themselves to hold people like Hillary Clinton accountable for her misdeeds.

I certainly have no qualms about doing it.  At a minimum, she should be shamed, shunned and dismissed from public life.  She’s demonstrated she isn’t fit to hold the highest office in the land.  And we certainly don’t need and probably couldn’t survive an Obama 3rd term anyway.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 3 Mar 15

Motor vehicle sales fell for the 3rd straight month in January, down -2.6 to a 16.2 million annual rate. Foreign vehicle sales fell -8.8% to a 3.1 million rate, while sales of vehicles made in North America fell 0.7% to a 13.5 million rate.

The Gallup Economic Confidence Index fell -2 points to 1 in February.

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales fell -0.1% to 2.7% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 2.8%.


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Tales of the Nanny State

Stories like this absolutely inflame me.

The Maryland parents investigated for letting their young children walk home by themselves from a park were found responsible for “unsubstantiated” child neglect in a decision that has not fully resolved their clash with authorities over questions of parenting and children’s safety.

Danielle and Alexander Meitiv hoped the nationally debated case — which has lit up social media and brought a dozen television film crews to their Silver Spring home — would be dismissed after a two-month investigation by Montgomery County Child Protective Services.

But the finding of unsubstantiated child neglect means CPS will keep a file on the family for at least five years and leaves open the question of what would happen if the Meitiv children get reported again for walking without adult supervision.

First, what in the hell is “unsubstantiated child neglect?!”  How can it be anything if it is “unsubstantiated?”  Does the state of Maryland even know what that word means?

Secondly, who gets to determine whether or not children are responsible enough to do what they were allowed to do?  Good parents, that’s who, and that doesn’t include the state or some busybody.

What we get from the state, however, is a “one-size-fits-all” approach and a nonsensical charge of “unsubstantiated child neglect?”

We, as a culture, whine and complain that the young are irresponsible, and then when parents actually try to teach responsibility, we charge them with a doublespeak charge?

In reality, the charge is there to give “Child Protective Services” a legal reason to intervene in the future should they so decide.

But there’s no crime here.  Nor did CPS or the police prevent one.  This should be a non-issue.

However, it’s not, because the state has decided it knows best and has passed a law – with the best of intentions, of course:

CPS officials have said they are guided in part by a state law that says children younger than 8 must be left with a reliable person who is at least 13. The law addresses children locked or confined in a building, dwelling, motor vehicle or other enclosed space, but does not mention children outdoors on a walk.

And that law overrules any parent’s right to actually teach a child younger than 13 responsibility.  Because, you know, all children are the same.  That explains why when I was 10 I was allowed to walk anywhere I pretty well pleased as long as I was home by supper.  And you know what, I always was.  How in the world did I survive “unsupervised” activities like that?

~McQ

 

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Economic Statistics for 2 Mar 15

Personal income rose 0.3% in January, while consumer spending fell -0.2%. The PCE Price index, an inflation measure, fell -0.5%, though the core index, i.e., ex-food and -energy, rose 0.1%. On a year-over-year basis, income rose 4.6%, while spending rose 3.6%. ON the same basis, the PCE Price index is up 0.2% at the headline level, and 1.3% at the core.

Gallup’s self-reported Daily Consumer Spending measure was little changed in February, at $82, versus $81 in January.

The Markit PMI manufacturing index for February rose 1.2 points from the final January reading, coming in at 55.1. 

The ISM Manufacturing Index weakened by -0.6 points to 52.9 in February.

January construction spending was worse than expected, with a -1.1% decline. On a year-ago basis, spending is up only 1.8%.


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Let’s just keep calm!

John Kerry, alleged Secretary of State for the United States, wants everyone to stay calm as the day approaches for Bibi Netanyahu  to speak before the co-equal branch of government, the US Congress.

He doesn’t want the political football turned into a political football.

He believes that the fine record of the administration’s diplomacy with Iran warrants us giving the administration the benefit of the doubt as the clowns, sorry, negotiators work towards a long term nuclear deal, (say these words a few times and count to, say, a thousand, it will help you stay calm – long term, nuclear, Iran….).

Our good friends, Russia, and China, are going to help with this, and it will all be fine.

Stay calm gang.

I mean, don’t let anything give you a jaded point of view on the probability of goodness coming out of these Iranian nuclear negotiations.

Don’t let your faith in the Iranian desire for peace be confused by their recent video demonstration of an attack on a mock up US carrier last week.

Don’t go getting all excited that a senior Iranian cleric wanted to help the negotiations by telling us the Islamic flag would fly over the White House a couple days ago.

The Iranians are doing everything they can to demonstrate their absolute friendship with the US.   Sorta Pyongyang style, you know, give us what we want or we’ll blow something up.

By the way, check out the US media coverage of either of those two events.   My being an anglophile isn’t the reason I used links to the Daily Mail in the UK.  Maybe our media thought the flag thing was old news, I mean, they only threaten to fly the Islamic flag over the White House every couple of years anyway.  Maybe John Stewart didn’t have time to cover it, maybe Brian Williams was busy taking out Iraqi jets with an MPAD and couldn’t get a story filed.   Maybe worrying about what Scott Walker believes about what Rudy Giuliani believes about what Barack Obama believes kept them all too occupied to report on it.

And definitely don’t let the latest story that’s circulating in Israel, that our President might have threatened to shoot down our alleged allies jets…. make you think that diplomacy is just not going to work and that we’re taking the Israeli fear of a nuclear weapon armed Iran seriously.

 

Keep calm, the circus will continue!

“We are going to test whether or not diplomacy can prevent this weapon from being created, so you don’t have to turn to additional measures including the possibility of a military confrontation,” Kerry told ABC’s “This Week.”

Our hope is that diplomacy can work. And I believe, given our success of the interim agreement, we deserve the benefit of the doubt to find out whether or not we can get a similarly good agreement with respect to the future.”

Hope, test.

Testing testing, 1, 2, 3, testing, testing.

With nuclear capacity.  We’re going to test whether or not diplomacy can prevent this.

If we’re wrong and part of Haifa goes up in a nuclear cloud, well, I guess Old Christmas in Cambodia Lurch will be sorry.

and we’ll draft a firm, possibly angry even, letter to Iran and ask them if they can account for the nukes they weren’t supposed to have, and they’ll smile and threaten to fly the flag of Islam over the White House.

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We’re supposed to believe.

I’m happy that the Treasury IG discovered the missing backup IRS backup tapes.

I’m happy that we can pretend for a while there’s incriminating evidence on them that will finally allow for a prosecution of Lois Lerner and anyone else involved in using the IRS for thuggery.

Now we can put this to bed, right?

 

But I don’t believe a word of it.

Anyone else in IT can feel free chime in and disagree if they want.

The idea that the guys directly in charge of these suddenly found backups elected to say nothing to anyone, and waited for someone to come ask for them, like Cinderella waiting for prince Charming to show up and put the glass slipper on,  is bunk.      The only way that could have happened is if the IT people in at least one group have gotten up every morning for at least a year, showered, shaved, dressed, and showed up at work where they stuck their heads in buckets of mud for the entire day.  It only could happen if they live in Plato’s cave when they go home at night.

It must be sweet in that department that didn’t start going over what they had for backups from day 1 when it was revealed that the IRS lost the backups.  It must be awesome to work for a boss who didn’t come down and say, “so,  what’s up with these backups!  Because we’re being made to look pretty damned foolish!   Do we have that stuff or not!  I want to know ASAP because I expect to be on a bridge call by 12:00 where everyone, the Pope included, is going to be asking that question.”

But the call never came?    So they just went back to their daily business?    With all the news going on about missing backups?  They didn’t know who to tell maybe?   So they just told no one?

Anyone with half a brain, who’s had half an ounce of responsibility knows that somewhere someone was going to answer for those missing backups.  And it behooves the guys who are supposed to have them, to be able to answer that they in fact do have them, if all it takes is for them to go look.

And you can bet your sweet bippy they went and looked.   And they pro-actively told someone above them.

Yet we’re supposed to believe they said nothing.

To anyone.

For over a year.

Right.

No way.

The manager who was going to take the fire directly, checked with his people on day 1, found they had the backups by about day 5, sent an email to his boss to say that he’d looked into the matter and found they do indeed have the files in question.      Because he didn’t want to be the 1st guy stuck on the trident as it came down from on high, hurled with all the anger the guy above, who wanted to make sure he wasn’t going to be the 1st guy sacrificed, could hurl it.

No, you’re supposed to believe they sat out there in the wilderness and waited, prayed for their moment, when someone would come and ask them if they had the backups so they could reveal them like the exciting twist in a movie.

I see.

Yo!  Congress!  Want to investigate some more guilty people?  Find out who was told shortly after it was said there were no backups that there were backupsAsk the guys who had responsibility who they notified when the news went public a year ago.   Someone knew, someone told someone else, and somewhere that news stopped moving up the chain.   Find where it stopped and find out why.

A year is easily long enough for a small controllable group to get the backups, sanitize the emails as necessary, and overcome whatever technical challenges you need to overcome to put them back and make them appear as if they have never been touched.  And if you think they’re worried about the law at this point, you’ve been sticking your head in that bucket of mud, and going home at night to Plato’s cave.

I won’t be a bit surprised if they review those emails, and find nothing very incriminating.   Brilliant bit of demoralization to build up your enemies hopes, and then crush them using the very weapons they planned to use to destroy you.

 

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Economic Statistics for 27 Feb 15

The first revision to 4Q 2015 GDP was dropped to a 2.2% annualized rate, from the originally reported 2.6%. On the plus side, though, much of the decrease was in inventory investment revisions, while the final sales of domestic product component was revised up to 3.2% from 2.8%.

The Chicago PMI pounded into below-50 negative territory in February, falling from 59.4 to 45.8. Monday, we’ll see if the Chicago PMI presages a national decline in the PMI.

The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index rose 1.8 points in February, to 95.4.

The National Association of Realtors’ pending home sales index rose 1.7% in January to a moderately strong 104.2.


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If you haven’t figured it out yet, it is all about power and control – over you and your life

This is Hillary Clinton, who would love to be your next president, talking about the power grab over the internet by the FCC and Obama administration. She’s fine with it:

“For the FCC to do what they want to do, to try to create net neutrality as the norm, they have to have a hook to hang it on,” Clinton said. She said it’s the only hook the FCC’s got. But that she’d vote for regulating the Internet.

And despite her husband’s administration not taking such action, Clinton suggested the Internet had developed in such a way that something needed to be changed.

“I would vote for net neutrality, because as I understand it, it’s Title II with a lot of changes within it, in order to avoid the worst of the utility regulation,” Hillary Clinton said.

She said President Obama was “right” on the issue.

“It’s a foot in the door, it’s a value statement, I think the president is right to be upfront and out front on that.”

“It’s a foot in the door …”.

To understand her and the left’s mindset, that’s really all of the quote you need to read and understand.  The exponential expansion of government power with her and her ilk at the helm.

A pretend problem (that no one was complaining about) and the usual solution (of which 61% disapprove according to the most recent poll I’ve seen).  I.e. more government, more rules, more power and more powerbrokering.  It’s another beachhead on the sands of freedom.  An unelected commission just took over one of the largest and most innovative entrepreneurial engines we’ve ever seen and has decided to impose 20th century utility regulations on it by fiat.

And the gutless GOP Congress?  Well, just like immigration, DHS, and ObamaCare … they’ll talk about it, stick their fingers in the air, monitor a hostile press and in the end … well, look where we are and figure it out for yourself.

~McQ

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