Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People


Economic Statistics for 15 Apr 14

ICSC-Goldman reports weekly retail sales fell -0.3%, and were up 2.3% on a year-over-year basis. Redbook reports a 2.6xx% increase in retail sales over last year.

The Consumer Price Index rose 0.2% in March, both at the headline and core level. On a year-over-year basis, the CPI is up 1.5% at the headline level, and 1.6% at the core.

The Housing Market Index came in unchanged at 47 for April.

The Empire State Manufacturing Survey fell from 5.61 in March to 1.29 in April, while the new orders index is actually negative, at -2.77.

Foreigners became big buyers of long-term US securities in February, as net foreign demand came in at $85.7 billion.


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Painting over the rot

I’ve been watching the media circus surrounding the resignation of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.   If a more inept bureaucrat ever lived, the best they could do is hope to tie with her for last place.  Yet we have so-called “jounalists”, or at least those who would like to be thought of as journalists, so engaged in spin it is almost unseemly.  Well it is unseemly.  In fact, it’s nauseating.

And who would I designate as “head clown?”  None other than Ezra Klein.  As James Taranto points out, Klein is shameless in his attempt to paint over the rot that is ObamaCare:

Meanwhile, Ezra Klein hails the success of the Five Year Plan: “Obamacare has won. And that’s why Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius can resign.” If Sebelius had quit during what Klein calls the “catastrophic launch”–see what we mean?–it would have been a sign of White House “panic” and “made it harder to save the law,” Klein argues.

It’s surely true that the immediate political risk of Sebelius’s resignation is considerably less now than it would have been then. In October it might have emboldened vulnerable Senate Democrats to abandon ObamaCare or at least press for serious legislative fixes. It’s late for that now. By maintaining party unity this long, Obama probably bought enough time to assure that Congress won’t threaten what is invariably called his “signature legislative achievement” this year.

“In other words,” Klein writes, “the law has won its survival.”

Has it?  Has it really?  There’s nothing to this point that assures the “law has won its survival”, and, as we’ve been warned constantly, the worst is yet to come – that is when the President quits arbitrarily delaying the “worst”.

I mean, Klein’s nonsense is reminiscent of Baghdad Bob’s assurances that the Iraqis were winning, for heaven sake.

We discussed it on the podcast this week and we’ve mentioned it over and over again … we are terribly ill served by our “journalists” and the “news” media in general.  Where once upon a time they actually inspected what government did and helped ensure that it didn’t get outside the lines, it now aids and abets it straying beyond those boundries. We now, literally it seems, have a class of “journalists” who think it is their job to hide the truth in order to advance their political agenda.

Ezra Klein is one of those.  Anyone who ever takes anything the man says seriously again, is a fool.

~McQ

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Observations: The QandO Podcast for 13 Apr 14

This week, Bruce, Michael, and Dale talk about Ukraine, the Bundy case in Nevada, and the increasing arbitrariness of the Federal government.

The podcast can be found on Stitcher here. Please remember the feed may take a couple of hours to update after this is first posted.

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Stitcher. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here.

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The content of a man’s kitchen

There’s a lot of internetness going on over Jay Carney and the choice of posters in his kitchen.

Priorities people….but what the hell, it’s Sunday morning and I’m not cranky yet.  Maybe I will be when I’m done  :roll: .

Apart from the choice of Soviet Era posters that Joe Stalin may have had the originals of in his garage or basement pool room let’s take a visual tour of the rest of the place.

First let us note, admire, and praise the skill of his son flipping that egg, and timing it all so his sister can point at it at precisely the right instant for the camera.   Come on people, that’s pretty awesome.   How many of you have TRIED to flip an egg in the pan?    That boy got some serious hang time there, and I have to assume it’s still going up because the egg hasn’t even rotated over yet.  AND I want to be there when that still runny yoke smacks into the pan from that height as Newton’s laws do their thing when it comes back down.   Ah, good times, good times…..

Second, I hope the Carneys (Given this photo, can I spell it Carnies? That joke never runs out does it.) enjoy the repast they’ve laid out.  When Michelle gets wind of the sugar laden carbo loaded feast for two dozen that the four (I’ve allowed for the photographer) are about to settle down to she’s going to have words with Jimbo about healthy diets.

Food to the left of them,
food to the, uh, even further left of them,
food behind them.
Stacked and plated,
sliced up with special care,
boldly it sits, all there,
gather ye world, and stare.
No spot on the counter bare,
none of them have bed hair,
displaying their hominess flair,
the family of Carney.

Let’s see – nice plate of butter sticks, looks to be about two pounds, poached eggs in cups, bananas just in the left of the frame, blueberries strewn across the counter closing in on one infidel strawberry, sliced bread plates, a tray of bagels, stacks of muffins, stacks of Danish.   I can’t tell if that’s an entire cheese cake covered with strawberries, or a massive bowl of said fruit.

Yep, life must be goooooooo-oood at the Carney house if that’s a normal breakfast layout.   Maybe there’s a slew of undocumented maids off camera that will be eating after the Carney family is finished picking over this smorgasbord buffet pastry collection that wiped out the local bakeries’ stock for the morning.  I’m surprised they’re all so healthy looking if that’s what they normally lay out.   What about the hungry?  What about the poor?  That’s a lot of cash, well, for me it is, laying out in baked goods that are going to get stale before noon.  I’d swear they were feeding way more than 4 people.  I’ve seen local computer user group meetings where that layout would be the first go round as the vultures, uh, participants, arrived for the 8:00 am opening.

I don’t know, maybe those pastries were provided by ‘green’ bakers looking to schmooze Jay so he’ll put in a good word with the boss for the next big payoff, I uh mean of course, stimulus package.   I don’t really care what Jay does with his paycheck, that’s his business, but, dude, kinda wasteful, no?  Maybe that’s just the deep down stingy Yankee in me talking.  Maybe it’s the jealous guy who’s fighting off and losing against the advance of his stomach over the belt border line.    Maybe I’m just a racist who resents imported possibly undocumented Danish pastry taking the jobs of American baking powder biscuits and corn muffins.   I think I’m suffering class envy!

As I write this I am link hunting, and discovered Noah Rothman’s most excellent de-construction of this, and other pictures I didn’t know existed.   I’ll leave this to Mr. Rothman now, read his piece.   I can’t top his, but I am encouraged to see several of the observations he made were ones I made myself.

Where I was going anyway was what disturbs me, and still does despite Rothman’s wonderful take down is that THIS is what it takes to piss people off.   THIS is what we talk about around the table, at the water cooler, wherever. We’re not pissed enough that they might be listening in to our phone calls and reading our emails and accessing our computers.  We’re not angry enough that they’re ignoring, inventing and mis-enforcing the laws, that they’re using executive branch agencies to clamp down on every conceivable corner of our way of life while they plot new ways to stuff us in neat little demographic pens.  Where they can pander and feed and water and house us while they whip up our anger against the people two pens down because they have a bigger pen than we do.   They give us a new ball to keep an eye on in a never ending shell game while they pick our pockets and divide us for their own ends.

We riot over whether or not our team loses in the NCAA, heck, we may riot if they win.  We worry and grouse, and demand action against “the rich”, without stopping to wonder whether or not we’re ‘rich’ to the guy on the other side of the tracks.

Especially pernicious is their use of race to deflect and divert justifiable criticism of their policies as they work to divide us.  Focusing on what makes us different while claiming they want us to embrace and accept everyone in harmony.

Based on the photos, with the exception of the posters (kinda scary really)  I guess they want us to judge people based on the content of their kitchen.

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You don’t want to go there, okay?

Eric Holder – “You don’t want to go there buddy”.

That covers it doesn’t it?    A nice summary of the attitude of this administration acting like ‘gentlemen’ from Chicago.   Covers 6 years really.   Budgets, Fast and Furious, Gun control (but, as Mr. Twain observed, I repeat myself, and so will they),  Benghazi, IRS Scandal, Obamacare and “If you like your health plan…”, Government spying, Immigration…

“You don’t want to go there buddy.  You don’t want to go there, okay?”

Oh man, how I wish we hadn’t already gone there.

“You don’t want to go there buddy”

Wow.

or what Eric?  You going to come across the table and bust him up?   Or are you going to do it administratively?  Use your agency to do some investigating?   A few phone call records you got from the NSA, maybe a little IRS investigation?  Have Harry Reid mention on the Senate floor that he he heard someone say something.  Check out his campaign finances, his personal finances, his dog’s rabies vaccination?

What does that even mean, “you don’t want to go there”….should we call you ‘General’ or ‘Mr. Thug’.

Don’t go there buddy?   That sounds, as they say here in Texas, like fighting words, certainly the prelude to fighting words.   So what was that other than the opening of a threat.   Why not complete the sentence Eric?   “Or…”.

Makes you wish you were writing Gohmert’s lines right?   “Or what?”   That would have been my preferred response at that point.    You must keep in mind my “esprit descalier” is awesome.

“Or what, Mr. Holder?   Don’t go there, orrrrrrrr?”

If I was scripting for Holder we wouldn’t have gotten to that point though.  Because I’d probably have started off his opening with a little thuggish honesty…

“This is a nice little Congress you got here Mr. Gohmert (looks around appreciatively), be a shame if something was to happen to it eh? (smiles and winks).

(Clears throat)

Which is why I’ve, uh, come to, uh, visit here today (straightens his suit), to let you know, that (bows head and raises hands in halting motion), we’re done with these…(locks eyes with Gohmert) investigations and questions.  Mr. Obama has had enough of this “reparte”, and he wants me to give you a message….”.

I just can’t decide if he should deliver it as if he was from Newark New Jersey, or Birmingham England.   A nice Brummie accent would work but only if  Jason Statham is playing Gohmert.    But then we’d require stunt men for at least one of the starring characters, certainly for Holder.

Yes, this was a long week for little Eric.

He and the boss are planning on another gun grab attempt while ‘protecting’ those 2nd Amendment rights by letting us have biometric/electronically linked weapons.   You can bet they’ll grandfather all of those non complying guns out of existence and transform their owners into felons for failing to yield them up.

Then he tells us he has discretion (which he admittedly does) on what he prosecutes.   It’s just going to remain remarkably focused on administration foes.

He sort of threatens a member of Congress while treating Congress with continued contempt over his contempt of Congress charge; and for flair manages some high dudgeon about it for publicity sake.

and plays the race card on anyone daring to question him or his performance as AG.

Did I miss anything?

Oh yes, I missed the huge guffaw he probably gave off when he heard that Congress has cited Lois Lerner for criminal behavior and is waiting for him to prosecute her.

Probably not much danger in you going there, eh buddy?

UPDATE – 4/12/2014 – AP -  this was recovered after I botched an attempt to make a correction to Jason Statham’s name and sent the whole shebang into temporary oblivion.  Tis is the net after all, and nothing is ever really ‘gone’ (except the President’s college transcripts of course).

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A fat finger apology.

I attempted, from my GRENDEL to correct a spelling error on my last post.  Heh and the fat finger progression (several) led to, not a correction but an obliteration of said last post.

I ain’t hardly rethinking anything I said with regard to Holder’s contempt of Congress, except for the misspelling of Jason Statham’s name.

And yes, between Silk browser and my fat fingers this IS a GRENDEL, not a Kindle.

My apologies for the bad comedy.  The absence of the document is nothing more than dumbfoolery on the high interweb.

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Economic Statistics for 10 Apr 14

Retailers who reported chain store sales today saw generally respectable increases in year-on-year sales rates.

Initial jobless claims fell an astounding 26,000 last week, to 300,000, probably due to Easter’s statistical weirdness. The 4-week moving average fell 4,750 to 316,250. Continuing claims fell 62,000 to 2.824 million.

Export prices rose 0.8% in March, while import prices rose 0.6%. On a year-over year basis, export prices rose 0.2% and import prices fell -0.6%.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell -1.9 points to -31.9.

The US Treasury’s deficit for March was a much lower-than-expected $-36.9 billion.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $7.7 billion last week, with total assets of $4.244 trillion. Reserve Bank credit increased $6.9 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 Money Supply fell by $-37.0 billion last week.


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A doctor’s lament will become a patient’s nightmare

Thought you’d like to see this letter to a Congressman from a doctor in Decatur, AL.  He outlines the problems that ObamaCare has put on that profession and correctly identifies what is going on as a “war on doctors”.  The obvious losers in all of this will eventually be the patients, both current and future as the government further pushes itself between doctors and their patients.  It will also provide a disincentive to those who might possibly be entertaining entering the health care field as doctors in the future.

This has nothing to do with markets and voluntary exchange.  This is about government intrusiveness, regulatory overkill and rampant bureaucracy in action:

Dear Congressman Brooks,

As a practicing family physician, I plead for help against what I can best characterize as Washington’s war against doctors.

The medical profession has never before remotely approached today’s stress, work hours, wasted costs, decreased efficiency, and declining ability to focus on patient care.

In our community alone, at least 6 doctors have left patient care for administrative positions, to start a concierge practice, or retire altogether.

Doctors are smothered by destructive regulations that add costs, raise our overhead and ‘gum up the works,’ making patient treatment slower and less efficient, thus forcing doctors to focus on things other than patient care and reduce the number of patients we can help each day.

I spend more time at work than at any time in my 27 years of practice and more of that time is spent on administrative tasks and entering useless data into a computer rather than helping sick patients.

Doctors have been forced by ill-informed bureaucrats to implement electronic medical records (“EMR”) that, in our four doctor practice, costs well over $100,000 plus continuing yearly operational costs . . . all of which does not help take care of one patient while driving up the cost of every patient’s health care.

Washington’s electronic medical records requirement makes our medical practice much slower and less efficient, forcing our doctors to treat fewer patients per day than we did before the EMR mandate.

To make matters worse, Washington forces doctors to demonstrate ‘meaningful use’ of EMR or risk not being fully paid for the help we give.

In addition to the electronic medical records burden, we face a mandate to use the ICD-10 coding system, a new set of reimbursement diagnosis codes.

The current ICD-9 coding system uses roughly 13,000 codes. The new ICD-10 coding system uses a staggering 70,000 new and completely different codes, thus dramatically slowing doctors down due to the unnecessary complexity and sheer numbers of codes that must be learned.

The cost of this new ICD-10 coding system for our small practice is roughly $80,000, again driving up health care costs without one iota of improvement in health care quality.

Finally, doctors face nonpayment by patients with ObamaCare. These patients may or may not be paying their premiums and we have no way of verifying this. No business can operate with that much uncertainty.

On behalf of the medical profession, I ask that Washington stop the implementation of the ICD-10 coding system, repeal the Affordable Care Act, and replace it with a better law written with the input of real doctors who will actually treat patients covered by it.

America has enjoyed the best health care the world has ever known. That health care is in jeopardy because physicians cannot survive Washington’s ‘war on doctors’ without relief.

Eventually the problems for doctors will become problems for patients, and we are all patients at some point.

Sincerely yours,

Dr. Marlin Gill of Decatur, Alabama

This is the face of government run healthcare.

~McQ

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