Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Mary Landrieu is in danger of losing because of … the South … oh, and racism

Lord I get tired of the mealy mouthed politicians who try to explain away their political demise be claiming the backwardness of the region, people or the culture is why they’re losing.

Republicans are slamming Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) for comments they say suggested Louisiana voters dislike President Obama because of his race.

Gov. Bobby Jindal and Landrieu’s GOP opponent in her tough reelection race, Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), both pounced on comments she made to NBC’s Chuck Todd that the South “has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans.”

“It’s been a difficult time for the president to present himself in a very positive light as a leader,” she said, before adding that the South has not always been friendly to women either.

Apparently Mary Landrieu felt differently when she was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996 and was re-elected by increasing margins in competitive races in 2002 and 2008. That’s right, the largely red state has elected a woman and a Democrat to terms totaling 18 years in the US Senate.

But now … sexism.

And we have an abomination of a President, one who has nothing to present in a “positive light”, who happens to be black, so … racism.

And don’t forget to throw in a stereotypical comment about the South … because she’s in danger of losing.

As usual, its everyone else that’s the problem, not the fact that Mary Landrieu has done things, such as vote for ObamaCare, that have caused the voters in the state to finally say “enough”. Nope, with Democrats, it’s never the message, policy or vote, it’s always something or someone else’s fault.

Racism. Sexism. Republican dirty tricks. Etc., etc., etc. ad nauseum.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 30 Oct 14

The initial estimate for 3rd Quarter 2014 GDP came in at 3.5% annualized, led by personal consumption expenditures. The GDP price index rose at 1.3% annualized.

Initial weekly jobless claims rose 3,000 to 287,000. The 4-week average fell 250 to 281,000. Continuing claims rose 29,000 to 2.384 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell -0.5 points to 37.2 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $5.1 billion last week, with total assets of 4.536 trillion. Reserve bank credit rose $14.2 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $42.5 billion in the latest week.


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From the Department of I Told You So

The subdepartment of “If You Like Your Coverage, You Can Keep Your Coverage“:

Small companies are starting to turn away from offering health plans as they seek to reduce costs and increasingly view the health law’s marketplaces as an inviting and affordable option for workers.

In the latest sign of a possible shift, WellPoint Inc. said Wednesday its small-business-plan membership is shrinking faster than expected and it has lost about 300,000 people since the start of the year, leaving a total of 1.56 million in small-group coverage.

Of course anyone with a brain and a passing understanding of economics and human nature saw this coming – despite the assurances of our elites. It is called “responding to incentives or disincentives” – something human beings have done since the dawn of our time.

Provide enough of a disincentive to maintain the status quo and you won’t. You’ll go with what is best for the business. And the incentive to drop health care plans has been provided by this awful ACA law. Now these people will go onto the exchanges and pick a plan with huge deductibles that will never be met in a year. They’ll effectively pay for their medical care. Or, we’ll pay for their medical care through subsidies.

Result? Well, as you can imagine with huge deductibles, people will likely go to the doctor less and one of the supposed reasons this law had to be passed was in order to stress and implement “preventive medicine”. But if you have a $6,000 deductible, and are a middle income family that wouldn’t qualify for subsidies, when are you going to visit the doctor? When whatever problem you have is so bad you have little choice. Of course, that’s the most costly way to do this, isn’t it?

So now we have a huge problem, don’t we? And what will we point to as the cause of that problem? That’s right … government intrusion. Oh, the good news? Their high deductible coverage will be portable. But we could have solved that problem without ever creating this health care monster we’re stuck with now, couldn’t we?

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 29 Oct 14

The MBA reports that mortgage applications fell -6.6% last week, with purchases down -5.0% and refis down -7.0%.

The FOMC Meeting ended today, with the announcement that interest rates would remain unchanged, with a Fed Funds target rate of 0% to 0.25%. The FOMC characterized the economy as “expanding at a moderate pace”, and the job market as “improving”.


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Economic Statistics for 28 Oct 14

ICSC-Goldman reports weekly retail sales rose 0.3%, and rose 2.8% on a year-over-year basis. Redbook reports retail sales rose 4.4% on a year-ago basis.

September durable goods orders fell for the second straight month, down -1.3% overall, and -0.2% ex-transportation. On a year-over-year basis, orders are up 3.3% and orders excluding transportation are up 7.3%.

The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index for August fell -0.1%, contracting for the fourth straight month. On a year-over-year basis, the index is up 5.6%.

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index for October rose to 94.5, the highest since October 2007.

The Richmond Fed manufacturing index rose 6 points to 20 in October.

The State Street Investor Confidence Index came in at 115.1, compared to September’s especially strong reading of 123.9.


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Calling all Grand Dragons …

Say what you will of Bill Maher (I’m not a fan), his statement about Muslims seems to have some legs:

“In his comments on his HBO show, Maher noted that too many Muslims reject the very notion of free thought and free speech, that the problem is not just ‘a few bad apples.’”

See Europe after the Mohommed cartoons and just about anywhere else concerning a little known video that Muslims found to be sacrilegious (and the US government blamed for the deaths in Benghazi).  Or any of a thousand examples.

It is also something many of us believe about the left, for the most part.  And good old UC Berkley has decided to prove the point.  And Bill Maher is the “problem”:

In response to an announcement last week that comedian Bill Maher would speak at UC Berkeley’s fall commencement, an online petition started circulating Thursday that demanded that the campus rescind its invitation.

The Change.org petition was authored by ASUC Senator Marium Navid, who is backed by the Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian Coalition, or MEMSA, and Khwaja Ahmed, an active MEMSA member. The petition, which urges students to boycott the decision and asks the campus to stop him from speaking, has already gathered more than 1,400 signatures as of Sunday.

Maher, a stand-up comedian and host of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, is best known for his often-polarizing political commentary. Recently, Maher faced some backlash after controversial remarks regarding Islam during a segment on his Oct. 6 show.

Navid claims this isn’t about free speech, it’s a matter of “campus climate”:

“The First Amendment gives him the right to speak his mind, but it doesn’t give him the right to speak at such an elevated platform as the commencement. That’s a privilege his racist and bigoted remarks don’t give him.”

For the most part, I agree that freedom of speech doesn’t give one the “right” to speak anywhere – that, in fact, this is an invitation to speak at a “commencement”, and that’s a privilege the university extends.  Okay, got it.

But that’s not what this is about … it’s about shutting Bill Maher and those like him up.  It’s about letting a certain group outside the administration of the university decide who will be awarded the privilege to speak and who won’t.  And in that case, it becomes a matter of free speech, doesn’t it?

Perhaps the most ironic development, though, was on MSNBC (of all places) when an advocate for free speech on campus crossed swords with a spokesman for CAIR:

In a heated debate on MSNBC with free speech advocate Greg Lukianoff, CAIR’s Ibrahim Hooper defended UC Berkeley students’ efforts to uninvite comedian Bill Maher for his comments on Islam, comparing him to the Grand Dragon of the KKK.

[...]

LUKIANOFF: The fact that people so vehemently disagree with him is the more reason to hear him out. It’s an art that I feel is actually being lost on the campuses, where we should be teaching people is to at least hear people out before you to get them kicked off campus.

HOOPER: So if they invited the Grand Dragon of the KKK…

 

CAIR, of all organizations, comparing any other organization to the KKK … well, let’s leave it at “ironic” shall we?

The left’s the “useful idiot” in the attempt of organizations like CAIR to stifle any debate or criticism of Islam.  And, Maher is the Grand Dragon?

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 27 Oct 14

The Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey slipped -0.3 points in October to a still-strong 10.5, while the production index fell -3.9 points to 13.7.

Market’s PMI Services Flash for October fell -1.2 points to 57.3.

The National Association of Realtors pending home sales index rose 0.3 points to 105.0 in September.


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Absurdity upon absurdity

The more I watch our current government work these days the more absurd its works become.

Here’s the story.  Governors Cumo (NY) and Christie (NJ) imposed 21 day quarantines on health care workers returning from countries with ebola epidemics.  That’s right, these poor souls have to spend three weeks being monitored in an area isolated from the general public so if they’re possibly infected they won’t have an opportunity to spread the infection – you know, like the doctor who passed “enhanced screening” at JFK did last week.

Now the first thing I expect to hear is, “whoa, wait – you’re a libertarian and you’re agreeing that the government should have the authority to hold someone against their will?”  What I’m agreeing with is a medical protocol that has stemmed epidemics for hundreds of years – at least since we’ve discovered it was germs and viruses, not “ill humors” that brought various plagues.

And, its not like we’re talking “imprisoning” them or this taking years or even months.  3 freaking weeks.  3 weeks in some sort of center where they can be medically monitored to ensure they aren’t infectious before they’re given the okay to again join the general population.

Instead we get two reactions.  One from a “health care worker”:

Hickox, the first nurse forcibly quarantined in New Jersey under the state’s new policy, said her isolation at a hospital was ‘inhumane,’ adding: ‘We have to be very careful about letting politicians make health decisions.’

Hickox is now suing and has now hired Norman Siegel, a high profile civil rights attorney, to challenge the order.

Well, of course she has.  Because one of the things we see more and more of is “we have rights!” but it is rarely followed by “and we have responsibilities that go with those rights”.  You know, like taking the precautions necessary to ensure you don’t infect others.  By the way, she’s complaining that she tested negative for ebola.  I’d remind her, so did the doctor who is now down with ebola in NYC.  Nope, this is all about “her rights” – screw yours.

Now contrast that with this bit of word salad from the NIH:

‘The best way to protect us is to stop the epidemic in Africa, and we need those health care workers, so we do not want to put them in a position where it makes it very, very uncomfortable for them to even volunteer to go,’ said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Fauci made the rounds on five major Sunday morning talk shows to argue that policy should be driven by science — and that science says people with the virus are not contagious until symptoms appear. And even then, infection requires direct contact with bodily fluids.

He said that close monitoring of medical workers for symptoms is sufficient, and warned that forcibly separating them from others, or quarantining them, for three weeks could cripple the fight against the outbreak in West Africa — an argument that humanitarian medical organizations have also made.

‘If we don’t have our people volunteering to go over there, then you’re going to have other countries that are not going to do it and then the epidemic will continue to roar,’ Fauci said.

A) It doesn’t have to be “very, very uncomfortable”.  They’re health care professionals.  It’s kinda like a deep sea diver saying he’s not going to spend the decompression time necessary to avoid the bends because it’s “uncomfortable”.  Of course he is, because that is part of the freakin job!   Anyone remember this: “first do no harm”.  Until you are sure you are ebola free – that’s after 21 days – then you can’t be sure you’re fulfilling that part of your pledge to those you serve, can you?

B) While the best way is obviously to stop ebola in Africa, it certainly does no good to let infected members to return and reintegrate with a population that isn’t infected.  That’s how freakin’ epidemics start!  So certainly stop it in Africa.  But also take the common sense precautions necessary to stop it before it gets here.  Is that too much to ask of a “health care professional” and an agency charged with protecting us from health care threats such as ebola?

C) Because the people “volunteering” are indeed “health care professionals” they should understand the need for quarantine upon returning.  It should be a part of the entire process.  I simply don’t understand the resistance.  I have to wonder if they keep suspected ebola patients in the same wards with regular patients.  Well, no, of course not.  They quarantine them, even if the chance of them infecting others is very small.  Why, oh why, is it too much to ask those who’ve been exposed to the virus and may be infected (but asymptomatic) to have a little regard for others and understand the need for separation for a period of time? Oh, and by the way, if the virus mutates (and health care officials say it might, given the amount of infection seen in Africa) then what?  Suddenly it’s a whole new kettle of fish, isn’t it?  And what they’re asking us to let them do is close the barn door after the ebola cow has left.  Stupid.

So what does the leadership in DC do?  Well it talks the governors out of doing what is common sense and relying on the “wisdom” of a system that promised ebola would never reach the US.

Absurd.  Stupid.  Unthinking.  Dumb.

Don’t know how to say it any other way.

UPDATE: in light of a statement today by dopy Donny Deutsch saying “we’re a nation of cowards” because … well because he believes there’s hysteria in the air … I want to make it clear what I say isn’t said out of “fear”.  It’s said in frustration.  Frustration about applied stupidity.  It’s as though all the common sense precautions we’ve taken in the past are “dated”.  Now we just wing it and make pronouncements about how it just can’t happen here, even though it has happened here.  Talk about arrogance.  And stupidity.

~McQ

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