Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Economic Statistics for 5 May 15

March’s trade deficit was much higher than expected at $-51.4 billion. This may push 1st Quarter GDP into negative territory on revision.

Gallup’s U.S. economic confidence index for April fell from -2 in March to -9.

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales weakened again, falling to 1.4% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 1.6%.

The PMI Services Index fell -1.8 points to a still-strong 57.4 in April. Both costs and finished prices rose, some of the first inflation signals of any report.

The ISM non-manufacturing index strengthened from 56.5 to 57.8 in April. Unlike the PMI, however, there are no signs of price pressure.


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The hypocrisy immune left and free speech

It is interesting to me to examine events and the reaction too them in certain contexts, such as left and right.  Below is a listing I found on Facebook (h/t Christopher Buckley) which succinctly states the left’s reaction to each of the events listed:

Rioters in Baltimore: EXPRESSION OF SPEECH
Stomping on US flag: EXPRESSION OF SPEECH
Crucifix in a jar of urine: EXPRESSION OF SPEECH
Cartoon art display: UNPROTECTED INCENDIARY HATE

In fact, rioting is now being redefined (or at least the attempt is being made) from a criminal enterprise to a “free speech” event if a protected minority is involved.  If it’s a bunch of straight white guys, they’re going to jail.

Stomping the flag and a crucifix in a jar of urine have always been defended by the left as free speech.  Burn the flag – free speech.  Neo-Nazi’s marching in a Jewish neighborhood – free speech.  The list goes on.

However, it appears that there is a line somewhere on the left where that changes.  Outrageous acts focused on offending certain groups are always free speech.  Outrageous acts, of exactly the same nature but against protected groups, yeah, screw free speech, it’s hate speech.  And, of course, the protected group is the “victim”.  On the other side, however, the deeply offended group is told to get over it, free speech is inviolate … well, except … yeah.  I’m not sure how the left keeps it straight in their tiny little heads and don’t keel over from an overdose of hypocrisy.

But then, they seem to have developed some sort of tolerance for hypocrisy over the ages – no pun intended.

~McQ

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Some collected quotes to make your day

From Reason, a Nick Gillespie quote that perfectly sums up the precious snowflake/SJW phenomenon in colleges:

But really, what the f*ck is wrong with kids these days and, more important, the supposed adults who look after them? They act as if they are raising human veal that cannot even stand on their own legs or face the sunlight without having their eyeballs burned out and their hearts broken by a single deep breath or uncomfortable moment. I’m just waiting for stories of college deans carrying students from class to class on their backs.

“Human veal”.  A perfect metaphor.  Calling PETA … lol.

A well known and respected scientist resigns from the American Physical Society?  Why?

It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare. (Montford’s book organizes the facts very well.) I don’t believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist.

Read the whole thing.  His point, of course, is that any scientist with a shred of integrity who has examined the “evidence” presented should be doing precisely what he is doing – shaming those perpetrating the fraud and refusing to be associated with them.

Billy Bob in his usual role as Denier-in-Chief:

“No one has ever tried to influence me by helping you,” the former president added while channeling his wife. “There is no doubt in my mind that we have never done anything knowingly inappropriate in terms of taking money to influence any kind of American government policy. That just hasn’t happened.”

There was no doubt in  his mind he hadn’t had sex with that woman too! If his lips are moving he’s … yeah, he is. And his wife is no better.

Nothing to see here citizen … keep moving, keep moving.

Guy Benson lays it out:

“A free-thinking, free citizen of a free country is not obliged to be confined to a bedazzled ideological straitjacket because that’s how they ‘ought’ to think and ‘ought’ to vote and ‘ought’ to rank their priorities,” he said. “It’s not true, it shouldn’t be true, and I think part of liberty and tolerance and coexistence is understanding that, ‘Hey, I might have something in common with this person over here, and they have every right under the sun to disagree with me on this whole panoply of public policy questions over here.’ And if their views on those things lead them to another conclusion about how they exercise their right to vote, to jump to the conclusion that that is borne of some secret, deep-seated, self-loathing is just lazy and boring.

“And false.”

Bingo.  And given what we see today, we’re hardly “A free-thinking, free citizen of a free country”.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 1 May 15

April motor vehicle sales fell -4.1% from a strong March, to still fairly robust 16.5 million annual rate.

The Markit PMI manufacturing index for April fell -1.6 points to 54.1 in April.

Weakness in the employment component held the ISM manufacturing index unchanged for April at 51.5.

The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index was unchanged in April at 95.9.

March construction spending dropped -0.6% against expectations of an increase of 0.4%, showing basic weakness in the construction sector. 


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A thug is a thug and race has nothing to do with it

Apparently the left is now involved in an attempt at ginning up speech codes, redefining words and then trying to prohibit their use because … “racism”. The latest attempt is to equate “thugs” with “n*igger”. That’s right, if you call a rioter a “thug” it’s the same as using the “n-word”.
Here’s a pretty descent response:

In ascribing racial animus to “thug,” the left is actually asserting a moral and logical vertex between “thug” and “black.” The only people who seem to be fixated on a racial undertone are the liberals. I believe the textbooks call that “projection.” Hey Democrats: not all looters are black. And you’re the only ones who seem to think otherwise.

Precisely. And here’s the point (and difference between social activism (ala MLK) and thugs):

If you looted, stole, robbed, assaulted and/or set fire to something/someone in Baltimore, you’re a thug. Torching the neighborhood pharmacy doesn’t make you a revolutionary. Stealing Air Jordans from the local shoe store is not a cry of freedom. And throwing trash cans at passersby will not release you from the bonds of – whatever bonds you believe are holding you back.

A coordinated effort to resist the increasingly militarized storm troopers employed by the government to crush the life out of liberty is social activism. Throwing a brick at tourists who made a wrong turn on the way to Inner Harbor is not.

There’s no nobility in wanton destruction. And pretending otherwise diminishes the sacrifices made by those who were actually motivated by the greater good. Looters, thieves and violent savages not only deserve no respect, attempts to suggest otherwise elevate them beyond their station at the expense of those who manage to challenge the forces of tyranny without looting the Sports Mart. Acting as if Thuggy McThuggerston pinching Pringles from the Quik-E-Mart is “sticking it to the Man” makes a mockery of those who “stuck it to the Man” without knocking over a convenience store.

The fact that the majority of those doing these things were black doesn’t change the fact that their actions were those of thugs – exactly how the context of the word has always been understood, and what race the thugs were was completely irrelevant. Anyone who does the above is a thug.

What is most abhorrent about this debacle in Baltimore is listening to the “leadership” trying to explain this behavior away.

Baltimore City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young (Democrat):

It is about the pain, the hurt and the suffering of these young people. There’s no excuse for them to loot, riot, and destroy our city. I made a comment out of frustration and anger when I called our children thugs. They’re not thugs. They’re just misdirected. We need to direct them on a different path by creating opportunities for them.

If they’re your “children” then you, sir, are an utter failure. They are not misdirected, they’re undirected. They’re under the influence of thugs. And they’re doing exactly what you’d expect a thug to do in such a situation. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s likely a duck. And these “children” are indeed thugs. What Mr. Young wants to do is downplay the seriousness of the rioting and looting, play it off as just the work of some “misdirected children” and absolve himself and others of responsibility. After all, kids will be kids and we need to understand their “hurt” and “suffering” as they loot drugs and burn out a CVS.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (Democrat):

“I wanted to say something that was on my heart … We don’t have thugs in Baltimore. Sometimes my little anger interpreter gets the best of me,” she said. “We have a lot of kids that are acting out, a lot of people in our community that are acting out.”

The infantilizing of rioters.  They’re just “kids” that are “acting out”.  No, Ms. Rawlings-Blake, they’re criminals who are engaged in criminal activities which by that very definition makes them thugs.  Looting beer from a store you’ve broken into isn’t “social activism”, it’s theft!  And thugs are thieves.

Unfortunately she goes on:

“I made it very clear that I work with the police and instructed them to do everything that they could to make sure that the protesters were able to exercise their right to free speech,” she said.

There is NO right to “free speech” that involves the destruction of property or looting someone’s property.  Those, again, are criminal activities.  Those that engage in those sorts of criminal activities are and will always be identified as  … thugs. So she chose to indulge the thugs at the expense of the citizens of Baltimore.

It’s a very delicate balancing act. Because while we tried to make sure that they were protected from the cars and other things that were going on, we also gave those who wished to destroy, space to do that as well. And we worked very hard to keep that balance and to put ourselves in the best position to de-escalate.

What absolute SJW drivel that is. So her priority was to protect the thugs from “cars and other things that were going on” and to ensure those who wanted to burn cars and businesses as well as loot property had the “space to do that as well”.  Serve and protect the citizens of Baltimore?  Nope.  Serve and protect the thugs. And make excuses for them.

She needs a little dose of recall election quickly. She’s a disgrace.

But the bottom line?  No, “thugs” isn’t the same as the n-word unless the n-word now means “criminal”.  And no, I won’t stop calling thieves and the like thugs just because some idiot on the Baltimore City Council wants to equate it with the n-word.   He and his council are failures.  The mayor is a failure.  And all they are trying to do, unsuccessfully I might add, is divert attention under the auspices of “damage control”.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 30 Apr 15

Personal income was unchanged in March, while personal spending rose 0.4%. The PCE Price index rose 0.2% overall and 0.1% at the core. On a year-over-year basis, income is up 3.8% while spending is up 3.0%. The PCE Price Index is up 0.3% overall, but up 1.4% when food and energy is excluded, the so-called core rate.

The Employment Cost Index rose 0.7% in the 1st Quarter of 2015. On a year-ago basis, employment costs have risen 2.6%.

The Chicago Purchasing Manager’s Index jumped from 46.3 to 52.3 in April. It’s worth noting, though, that this is a volatile index.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index declined for the 3rd straight week, from 45.2 to 44.7 in the latest week.

Initial weekly jobless claims fell 34,000 to 262,000. The 4-week average fell 1,250 to 283,750. Continuing claims fell 74,000 to 2.253  million. This weeks number of claims was the lowest since April of 2000.

The Fed’s balance sheet fell $-18.2 billion last week, with total assets of $4.472 trillion. Reserve bank credit fell $-3.2 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply fell by $-1.9 billion in the latest week.


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All around the cobbler’s bench …

The monkey and weasel are disgusted.

Baltimore:

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is denying it, but a senior law enforcement source has told Fox Newsthat she gave an order for police to stand down as riots broke out Monday night.

“The source, who is involved in the enforcement efforts, confirmed to Fox News there was a direct order from the mayor to her police chief Monday night, effectively tying the hands of officers as they were pelted with rocks and bottles.

Asked directly if the mayor was the one who gave that order, the source said: “You are G*d damn right it was.””

This claim follows Rawlings-Blake’s comments on Sunday, when she said they were giving space to those who “wished to destroy.” On Monday, she tried (unsuccessfully) to walk that comment back.

Happy, happy … just let ’em do a little looting and trashing and all will be well.  Oh, and let’s redefine a few things shall we?

The mayor, in an interview with Fox News’ Bill Hemmer on Tuesday, denied any order was issued to hold back on Monday.

“You have to understand, it is not holding back. It is responding appropriately,” she said, saying there was no stand-down directive.

Responding appropriately?  I wonder how “appropriately” she’d have responded had it been, say, her house or business they were looting and trashing.  Absolutely no respect for private property.  None.  And nonsense excuse making to boot.

The big question:

Yes, the dirty little secret that no one wants to admit is that Baltimore, and so many other urban areas and inner city communities in America are a reflection of the abject failure of liberal progressive socialist policies as advanced by the Democrat party.

The preeminent question is whether or not those in Baltimore and other places will recognize who is truly responsible for their plight. Or will they continue to be manipulated and propagandized by the liberal progressive media and the poverty pimps like the one supposedly heading down from New York City.

Most of us can answer that question – “they continue to be manipulated and propagandized by the liberal progressive media and the poverty pimps like the one supposedly heading down from New York City.”  Oh, and the Republicans.  Just watch 2016.  The “plantation” has a huge hold.

Next question.

Apparently Ben Affleck is mortified by his ancestors:

This brings the total number of Affleck’s known slaveholding ancestors to 14, and the number of slaves either owned or “held” as a trustee or on behalf of an estate by these ancestors to 242.

It seems that this was discovered while doing a PBS program and Affleck asked they be, uh, unmentioned.  You see, he is ashamed of them.

Okay, I can understand that … however, why hide it?  Why not say, hey they were wrong, what they did was wrong and I certainly don’t support what they did.  Seems to me that would be much more powerful than trying to hide the past.  And, to quote Hillary Clinton – “what difference does it make”?!

Oh, liberal credentials of course.  And white guilt.  Dude has to hand in the credentials and burn with white guilt.  Pity.

Anyone wonder what Ben would have done if he’d been born during that era to one of his slaveholding ancestors?  Yeah, I think Ben wonders that as well.  Heh.

If you need another example of “crony capitalism” (and I put that in quotes because this is no more capitalism than lead is gold), it is playing out with the FDA and a couple of Senators … oh, and their corporate cronies:

People who are trying to do good for their families and the planet by living a simple life based on traditional skills are facing yet another assault. Artisanal soap makers say new regulations, proposed by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), will put them out of business. Many soap makers are rural “kitchen table” operations that rely on the income to fund their simple living lifestyle.  Some use milk from goats they raise and ingredients they harvest from the land.

The form includes a statement on behalf of handmade body care product makers that says, in part: “My products comply with FDA labeling requirements and the ingredients are commonly known (i.e, olive oil, oatmeal, sugar, coconut oil, etc).  My best customers are in my community. I cannot afford the user fees proposed in S. 1014. Further, my business has no capacity to do the reporting requirements for each product batch (10-50 units) as it could be several hundred FDA filings per month.” Those who sell online will also be affected.*

The view of Sen. Feinstein and her corporate backers (listed below) is that the Personal Care Products Safety Act (Senate Bill S.1014) will make the world a safer place by scrutinizing “everything from shampoo and hair dye to deodorant and lotion.” She introduced the amendment to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, because of troubling negative health effects from chemicals used in personal care products.  She says the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act should be more progressive like laws in Europe rather than antiquated US regulations in effect since the 1930s.

Yes, friends, having solved all the important problems of the world, our Senatorial nannies are going to back their corporate sponsors and attempt to regulate out of business this incredible threat to the American public.  And who are their Corporate sponsors?

Companies and brands that support the bill:
Johnson & Johnson, brands include Neutrogena, Aveeno, Clean & Clear, Lubriderm, Johnson’s baby products.
Procter & Gamble, including Pantene, Head & Shoulders, Clairol, Herbal Essences, Secret, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Ivory, CoverGirl, Olay, Sebastian Professional, Vidal Sassoon.
Revlon, brands include Revlon, Almay, Mitchum
Esteee Lauder, brands include Esteee Lauder, Clinique, Origins, Tommy Hilfiger, MAC, La Mer, Bobbi Brown, Donna Karan, Aveda, Michael Kors.
Unilever, brands include Dove, Tresemme, Lever, St. Ives, Noxzema, Nexxus, Pond’s, Suave, Sunsilk, Vaseline, Degree.
L’Oreeal, brands include L’Oreeal Paris, Lancome, Giorgio Armani, Yves Saint Laurent, Kiehl’s, Essie, Garnier, Maybelline-New York, Vichy, La Roche-Posay, The Body Shop, Redken.
It almost makes you laugh, it is so transparantly obvious what is going on here.  But here’s the official justification:
Feinstein says her proposal is a “streamlined national system of oversight” and it won’t cost the taxpayer anything because it’s funded by industry user fees (until they pass the extra cost to the consumer, that is). Big multinational soap makers may be able to manage the increased fees and paperwork called for by Senate Bill S.1014 but the the Handmade Cosmetic Alliance says they will cripple their cottage industries. They tried to explain this to Feinstein without success.
Same old crap, different day.  Run the little guy out of business and, with additional fees, raise the price to the consumer.  Also note that while there is a period of “public input” the die seems to be cast.  No one is listening … it’s all pro-forma.
‘Merica … where it is important we be more like Europe, because they’ve done such a bang up job over there.
~McQ
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Economic Statistics for 29 Apr 15

The initial GDP estimate for the 1st Quarter of 2015 was for 0.2% annualized growth, down from an unrevised 2.2% in the 4th Quarter of 2014. The GDP Price index fell -0.1% for the quarter. Exports were a drag on GDP as a strong dollar is inhibiting foreign demand. Business spending (nonresidential fixed investment) contracted in the quarter, while personal spending (personal consumption expenditures) slowed abruptly. Lower demand also caused an unwanted upswing in inventories.

The National Association of Realtors’ Pending Home Sales Index rose 1.1% in March to 108.6.

The MBA reports that mortgage applications fell -2.3% last week, with purchases unchanged, but refis down -4.0%.

The Federal Open Markets Committee left interest rates unchanged today, with a Fed Funds target rate of 0%-0.25%. The FOMC’s statement says growth has “slowed” since the committee last met in March, but view the slowing as temporary, saying that economic activity will expand at a “moderate” pace.


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