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Daily Archives: June 5, 2012


Economic Statistics for 5 Jun 12

The following statistics were released today on the state of the US economy:

Despite slowing employment growth, the ISM Non-Manufacturing Index rose 0.2 points to 53.7. Growth in most components remained steady, while the new orders component increased by 2 points to 55.5.

The Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index is delayed at the source this morning.

In retail sales, Redbook same-store year-on-year sales were right on trend with a 3.1% increase last week. ICSC-Goldman’s same-store sales rose 0.4% for the first weekly increase since April 21. The year-on-year rate, however, is still weak at 2.8%.

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Dale Franks
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The Left already walking back a Wisconsin loss as significant to Obama

I have no idea how the vote in Wisconsin will go today.  All polls seem to point to a victory by incumbent governor Scott Walker and my guess is that’s how it will turn out.

But the left, or at leas part of the left in the guise of The New Republic’s Alec MacGillis, is trying to walk back the national significance of a possible Walker victory.

Citing the conventional wisdom that a loss today would bode ill for Obama in Wisconsin and nationally come November, well, he’s not on board with that:

I don’t buy it. And that goes the other way, too — I don’t think Democrats should take away too much optimism for their fall prospects if Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett pulls off an upset win. Part of this has to with all the usual reasons why state contests should not be taken as barometers of national sentiment, as listed in a smart guest post by Will Oremus on David Weigel’s Slate blog: "1) It’s a recall. 2) It’s happening in June. 3) The incumbent is a Republican. 4) Neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney is running. 5) A significant number of states (49 by my count) will not be participating. 6) Need I go on?"

Seems to be missing a few numbers, doesn’t it?

7) the left initiated the recall, has poured millions upon millions of dollars into a state which Obama took by 14 points, and is seemingly failing in its attempt to oust a sitting Republican governor.

8)if the left and unions can’t motivate voters in this state, what does that say about their chances nationally?

9)the left elevated this into an election with “national implications”, not the right.

10)the left began the meme that this would foretell the November national election, not the right.

11)Barack Obama is avoiding WI like the plague because he understands the national implications of being associated with a loss there by the left.

Etc.

MacGillis is pretty sure he can figure out a way that such a loss would actually be good for Obama.

My colleague Noam Scheiber adds an interesting conjecture on the lessons that the parties will take from the Wisconsin results about the allocation of resources this fall, arguing that a Walker win might also help the Democrats in that regard.

Oh, well, then certainly a loss would be much less biting then (really?).  The Democrats would learn a valuable lesson about “the allocation of resources this fall”?  Yippee.

But how does MacGillis think this is a good thing for Obama?  Well, he manages to ignore 7-11(+) above (and pretty much everything else of significance) and reduces his analysis to the absurd:

So beware the pundits who turn Tuesday’s vote into nothing but a grand partisan referendum and fail to take into account a less cable-ready way of assessing a Walker victory: as a statement of grudging pro-incumbent sentiment in a time of cautious optimism about a painfully gradual economic recovery.

Anyone who actually believes it’s a “grudging pro-incumbent sentiment” being expressed in Wisconsin is doing an admirable and obvious job of whistling past the graveyard.  They also don’t have any real clue about what’s happening there today.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Obama Administration: Remember when “Top Secret” actually meant something?

On the eve of the anniversary of D-Day, it isn’t difficult, given their record, to believe that if it was the Obama Administration in charge on that historic day, the Germans would have known all about it.

In recent months, operations which we should frankly know nothing about, have been leaked by this administration.

Most observers have come to the conclusion that the leaks are an attempt to paint a positive picture of Obama the Commander-in-Chief in what promises to be a bruising fight for re-election.  The reason for such an attempt is the rest of the Obama record leaves much to be desired.

Here, from Peter Brooks at the NY Post, is a litany of the leaks:

It started with the Osama bin Laden takedown last May, in which operational and intelligence details found their way out of the White House Situation Room to the press in just a number of hours.

In a slap at the leakers, then- Defense Secretary Bob Gates said, “We all agreed that we would not release any operational details from the effort to take out bin Laden . . . That all fell apart on Monday — the next day.”

The situation was made worse by exposing the role a Pakistani doctor played in finding bin Laden. The doc is now going to jail for 30-some years — and the crafty inoculation program meant to get Osama’s DNA is blown.

Earlier this year, info escaped about the busting of the plot to put an “underwear bomber” on a US-bound aircraft by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

While kudos go to the intel community for this fabulous counterterrorism op, it was revealed that the expected bomber was a double agent who’d penetrated AQAP. Now al Qaeda knows, too.

Then, late last week, came a news story on “Stuxnet,” the tippy-top-secret US-Israel cyberassault on Iran’s uranium-enrichment plant at Natanz that’s been going on since the George W. Bush presidency.

It’s terrific the cyberattack reportedly led to the destruction of some centrifuges used in Iran’s bomb program, but now the mullahs know for sure who was behind the operation.

Moreover, dope on our highly successful drone program continues to ooze out.

All of this has led to compromising networks, having an agent (the Pakistani doctor) arrested and jailed, and blowing other operations.  It has also made it clear to our allies that sharing intel with the US is a risky business, especially if the outcome could help the political career of the incumbent president.

Let’s be clear here – none of this should have leakedNone of it.  A fairly terse announcement of fact that Osama bin Laden was confirmed dead should have been the extent of any sort of information released.  That’s it.

Instead operational details that should never have seen the light of day have been routinely released.  Anyone with an ounce of sense knows you never, ever talk about methods and means.  Yet both have been a part of these releases.

This sort of behavior, for pure political gain, compromises our intel gathering capabilities and is likely to hurt future operations.   We spend years trying to develop human intelligence networks and agents and in one fell swoop we compromise them (the double agent in Yemen and the doctor in Pakistan).

Who is going to trust us now?

"It’s a pattern that goes back two years, starting with the Times Square bomber, where somebody in the federal government, probably the FBI, leaked his name before he was captured," said Rep. Pete King, the GOP chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

"That’s why he tried to leave the country — he knew they were on to him." Calling the episode "amateur hour" at the White House, King said: "It puts our people at risk and gives information to the enemy."

Amateurs are dangerous.  Amateurs who leak classified information for political gain are even more dangerous.

It’s time to stop “amateur hour at the White House.”

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


More evidence that there is nothing particularly alarming about climate change today

Some pictures of Greenland taken in the 1930s have revealed glacier melt that is worse than that taking place today:

Recently unearthed photographs taken by Danish explorers in the 1930s show glaciers in Greenland retreating faster than they are today, according to researchers.

The photos in question were taken by the seventh Thule Expedition to Greenland led by Dr Knud Rasmussen in 1932. The explorers were equipped with a seaplane, which they used to take aerial snaps of glaciers along the Arctic island’s coasts.

[…]

It’s difficult to know exactly what’s happening to the Greenland ice in total and very different estimates have been produced in recent times. However Professor Box says that many glaciers along the coasts have started retreating in the past decade.

It now appears that the glaciers were retreating even faster eighty years ago: but nobody worried about it, and the ice subsequently came back again.

The emphasized line is priceless.  Chicken Little stayed home.  

Why were the glaciers on Greenland retreating faster 80 years ago?

[One scientist, Professor Jason] Box, theorises that this is likely to be because of sulphur pollution released into the atmosphere by humans, especially by burning coal and fuel oils. This is known to have a cooling effect.

Unfortunately atmospheric sulphur emissions also cause other things such as acid rain, and as a result rich Western nations cracked down on sulphates in the 1960s. Prof Box believes that this led to warming from the 1970s onward, which has now led to the glaciers retreating since around 2000.

Or, “we cleaned up the air and it got warmer”.   Other scientists disagree:

Still other scientists, differing with Prof Box, offer another picture altogether of Arctic temperatures, in which there were peaks both in the 1930s and 1950s and cooling until the 1990s: and in which the warming trend which resulted in the melting seen by Rasmussen’s expedition actually started as early as 1840, before the industrial revolution and human-driven carbon emission had even got rolling. In that scenario, variations in the Sun seem to have much more weight than is generally accepted by today’s climatologists.

Variations in the Sun!  Whoda thunk?

Bottom line – nothing particularly unusual or worrisome if you actually have come to the conclusion, based on the evidence at hand, that the earth goes through climate cycles.  The key, of course is the fact that a warming trend that resulted in the retreat of the glaciers in the 1930s was begun almost 100 years before without the benefit of the industrial revolution and human carbon emissions.

Then there’s that lingering little scientific fact that CO2 is a lagging indicator, not a cause, of warming.  The fact the alarmist side continues to love to ignore.

Anyway a little context to the “OMG the glaciers are melting”.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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