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Seriously Unserious

Reporting from the ‘hot zone’ here in Dallas it strikes me that our Federal government is seriously unserious about the many serious situations confronting the country today.   Maybe it’s selfish, but my main concern right now is the seriously unserious way that Ebola Patient Zero and his immediate “family” and contancts have been dealt with here since before it was confirmed he WAS Ebola Patient Zero.

Hey, the good news is now I’m not as seriously concerned about ISIS sneaking across the border and causing mayhem here in the homeland, but that’s not because the problem went away, it’s because I went from minor worrying maybe about Islamic ‘splodedopes to worrying about being hit by a for real here now biological WMD.

Let’s start with the after the fact assurances we get from the “gentleman” in the White House.  Last night we’re told we’re prepared to stop Ebola from gaining a foothold here in the US.   Weeeeeeeeellllll, I feel so much better now.   They’ll stop it from gaining a foothold.   That’s as opposed to stopping it from getting here, which they told us a couple weeks ago was almost a certainty.   Part of the plan to stop it involved the point of entry at Dulles – which is where Ebola Patient Zero deplanned from Liberia to get on his plane to Dallas 2 weeks ago.  Yep, we’ll stop em at Dulles.   Oh, wait.   Welcome to America, have a nice day sir.

I don’t blame the Federal government for the action of the local hospital sending the guy home after he told them he was from Liberia and had flu like symptoms.   Maybe I should.  I do blame the Feds for letting the guy GET to the local hospital so the second in a long series of screw ups could occur.  I understand medical pros in Dallas  might not make a connection between flu symptoms, and Liberia and Ebola – sadly a lot of Americans don’t know where Liberia is (that’s between France and Italy, right?)  and they are or were probably not tuned in to Ebola because they’re kinda worried about Kendra and Hank right now and there’s just no time for that Ebola stuff which is very unlikely to be a problem here in the US because, as we see now, hope.

I do blame the Federal government for the way those in contact with the guy have been handled – 4 people quarantined in the apartment where the sweaty sheets from Ebola Patient Zero were still on the bed or in plastic garbage bags until yesterday.   It’s like someone is trying to ensure the 4 people in that apartment are infected.  You know, the odds weren’t high enough from them interacting with him, let’s make sure they get it by leaving them in the apartment where his ‘bodily fluids’ are still available to them.   This is a virus.   You can catch the flu when someone sneezes, or wipes their nose, touches a counter, and you wander by an hour later, touch the same counter, and then rub your eyes.   The bodily fluids thing is a form of lie the government keep tossing out to imply that since we probably didn’t have sex with the guy, swap spit with him or shoot up some drugs on a shared needle, we’re pretty much all good, don’t worry.   Just don’t touch that grocery cart handle after he sneezed into his hand and then went to buy Tylenol Cold and Flu, okay?

Now,  the President, who thinks he personally can authorize the admission of several millions of illegal immigrants, tells us that he is NOT going to bar travel from the countries where Ebola is running loose.   That doesn’t seem like it would be that hard to do, or unreasonable. It doesn’t even seem like it would be considered “mean’ if we did so.  They’ve done it in the UK and they’re highly PC these days.  And TSA, the people who won’t let you bring a bottle of water on the airplane, are waving people possibly infected with a virus that has a better kill rate than smallpox off the planes and telling them to have a pleasant stay.

Yesterday, about 5 days after Ebola Zero is confirmed and isolated, they show up to the apartment he got sick in, in HAZMAT suits and seal the place off.   Oh, goody.   It only took 5 days.   Hurrah.   Government pretending they’re serious about the job they claim we need them for.  5 days of serious.

Based on the number of stories, story versions, stonewalling and outright lies that this administration has told us, and I won’t recount them here, again – are YOU feeling real good about the Federal government stopping this?   At this point they have me wondering if someone thinks we don’t have enough patients diagnosed with Ebola, that there aren’t enough situations yet and we need more.   Maybe they think this will sell ObamaCare, maybe they want a crisis they can save us from.

I don’t know, but I do know if I ever trusted them I don’t any more.   I know if I was in a position to hand out bonuses right now we can bet I’d also be in a position to fire people.  Guess which of the two I’d be contemplating.    Most of us who work for a living are expected to be at least marginally good at what we’re paid for.   This isn’t supposed to be rocket science where they have to think on their feet, there are ALREADY supposed to be procedures in place for this.      5 days to HAZMAT the place, 5 days to take the possible vectors to some kind of secure medical facility where I think it’s pretty certain they’re going to come down with Ebola, given their level of contact with Ebola Patient Zero.

Last year in January the DFW area was in the grip of the common flu – over half the area hospitals that were checked by a station doing a news report were claiming they were at capacity for the number of flu patients they could handle.   There had been about 40 deaths at that point.   Now remember flu usually only manages to kill the very young, the old or the immune system challenged.   But it was reported as a crisis, that so many of the hospitals were at capacity dealing with flu patients.

Flu…  Think about that and consider a virus that has a kill rate of somewhere between 40 and 90 percent depending on where you’re being treated and, largely, what facilities and personnel are available to treat you.   Then consider they have 100 people under observation in the Dallas Metroplex with their finger crossed hoping they aren’t already infected with the virus.

Consider one of the 4 quarantined victims went to school last Wednesday after she’d been quarantined.   Consider they were just recently (yesterday) taken from the apartment and placed in a ‘secure’ and ‘secret’ location and the apartment was cleaned and sealed.  Consider President PGA has no intention of halting flights from the Ebola infected countries.

Consider the previous promises that it was unlikely to ever get here, and consider the new promises that they’ll prevent it from spreading.

Seriously, why should we believe them?

Economic Statistics for 18 Sep 14

Housing starts for August fell a disappointing 14.4% to an annualized 0.956 million units, but this comes off a very strong July reading.

Initial weekly jobless claims fell 36,000 to 280,000. The 4-week average fell 4,750 to 299,500. Continuing claims fell 63,000 to 2.429 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 0.7 points to 37.2 in the latest week.

The general business conditions index of the Philadelphia Fed’s Business Outlook Survey fell -5.5 points to 22.5 in September.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $28.2 billion last week, with total assets of 4.408 trillion. Reserve bank credit rose $29.9 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $25.1 billion in the latest week.


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Economic Statistics for 17 Sep 14

The MBA reports that mortgage applications rose 7.9% last week, with purchases up 5.0% and refis up 10.0%.

Consumer prices fell -0.2% at the overall rate in August, while the core CPI, which excludes food and energy, was unchanged. On a year-over-year basis, both the headline and core CPI are up 1.7%.

The nation’s current account deficit narrowed to $-98.5 billion in the 2nd Quarter, down from the 1st Quarter’s revised $-102.1 billion.

The NAHB housing market index for August rose 4 points to 59 in September.

The Fed’s newest forecast for GDP growth:2014: 2.0 to 2.2 %; 2015: 2.6 to 3.0 %; 2016: 2.6 to 2.9 %; 2017: 2.3 to 2.5 %; longer run: 2.0 to 2.2 %. In other words, sub-par economic growth for as long as they can foresee. As a reminder, the trend rate of growth for mature economies should be in the 3.0-3.5% range.

The Federal Open Markets Committee announced that interest rates will remain unchanged, with a Fed Funds Rate target of 0-0.5%.


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Economic Statistics for 16 Sep 14

ICSC-Goldman reports weekly retail sales fell -2.6%, and rose 3.0% on a year-over-year basis. Redbook reports retail sales rose 3.6% on a year-ago basis.

Producer Prices for Final Demand were unchanged in August, and were up 0.1% less food and energy. On a year-over-year basis the PPI-FD is up 1.8% overall, and up 1.6% less food and energy. Other relevant numbers from this release:

PPI-FD less food, energy & trade services – M/M change: 0.2%
PPI-FD Goods – M/M change: -0.3%
PPI-FD Goods – Y/Y change:  1.7%
PPI-FD Services – M/M change: 0.3%
PPI-FD Services – Y/Y change: 1.9%

Foreign demand for long-term US securities fell $-18.6 billion in July.


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Economic Statistics for 12 Sep 14

Business inventories rose 0.4% in July, while a 0.8% rise in business sales that Kept the stock-to-sales ratio unchanged at 1.29.

August retail sales rose 0.6%, while sales less autos rose 0.3% and sales less autos and gas rose 0.5% 

August export prices fell -0.5%, while import prices fell -0.9%. On a year-over year bases, export prices rose 0.4% while import prices fell -0.4%. 

The Reuters/University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index rose 2.1 points to 84.6 in August.


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