Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Economic Statistics for 6 Jun 13

Here are today’s statistics on the state of the economy:

The Challenger Job-Cut Report shows that layoff announcements fell about 1,600 to 36,398 in May.

Initial jobless claims fell 11,000 to 346,000 last week. The 4-week average rose 5,250 to 352,500. Continuing claims fell 52,000 to 2.952 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index held at its five and a half year high of -29.7.

~
Dale Franks
Google+ Profile
Twitter Feed

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Welcome to the surveillance state

Not that the US hasn’t been one for quite some time, but lifting the veil or if you prefer an Oz reference, peeking behind the curtain, has been difficult, because most of it has been kept a secret.  Today the WSJ gives us a look at another “sliver” of the surveillance that apparently goes on routinely via secret orders:

The National Security Agency is obtaining a complete set of phone records from all Verizon U.S. customers under a secret court order, according to a published account and former officials.

The account provides fresh evidence that NSA’s far-reaching domestic surveillance effort has continued after Congress passed a law five years ago to institutionalize a post-9/11 warrantless surveillance program.

The revelation of the secret order appears to lift the veil on a broad NSA domestic collection program under way, which former government officials say represents just a sliver of the domestic data NSA is taking in and which includes all types of communications data, such as emails and records of Internet browsing. The data collection began after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to several former intelligence officials.

NSA is only one of many government agencies conducting this sort of surveillance.  And of course, we now have drones approved for domestic use.

I’ve said this many times, but terrorism has been the excuse for an vast expansion of government intrusion the like of which we’ve never seen before.

While I may fear a terrorist attack, the chances of being involved in one are almost if not completely statistically improbable.  The chance that I’ll be a subject of freedom stealing intrusion from government?  When’s you next plane trip?

~McQ

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Economic Statistics for 5 Jun 13

Here are today’s statistics on the state of the economy:

The ISM Non-Manufacturing Index rose 0.6 points to 53.7 in May.

The MBA reports mortgage applications fell -11.5% last week, with purchases down -2.0% and re-fis down -15.0%.

The ADP Employment Report shows an increase of 135,000 private payroll jobs in May, still a fairly weak number.

The Commerce Department’s final reading on 1st quarter productivity wqas revised down to 0.5% annualized, with unit labor costs down -4.3%.

Factory Orders for April rose a weaker-than-expected 1.0%, only a partial clawback from March’s drop of -4/0%.

~
Dale Franks
Google+ Profile
Twitter Feed

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Conservatives ruin things, sometimes

Tonight was the big night for the big Muslim/Diversity seminar where the US Attorney for the Eastern district of Tennessee, Bill Killian, and FBI Knoxville SAC Kenneth Moore were gonna explain to us how we might be prosecuted for saying nasty things about Islam or Muslims on the interwebs.

Taking a play from the book of liberals who shout down speakers like Ann Coulter, however, some conservatives showed up and apparently ruined the event by constant heckling.

So, to all you hecklers who ruined the seminar by being disruptive: Now none of us know what Killian meant when he said Facebook postings might be criminal. We don’t know how he thought he could prosecute such postings. That would’ve been interesting to know. Now we don’t know, because you effed it up. So, the next time Coulter gets shouted down by Lefties, you can have nice big cup of STFU. You’re no better than they are.

Oh, and pro tip: When a US Attorney may be willing to go to a dark place when talking about free speech, the best thing you can do is LET HIM. If he’s gonna just hand you his own head on a plate, don’t stop him. Let him drone on about it as much as he wants, and record it. Now, he can do the whole "more in sadness than anger" shtick and whine about how he’s just a poor misunderstood boy.

Jeebus, some people on the Right are utter dolts.

~
Dale Franks
Google+ Profile
Twitter Feed

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Another “trust in government” issue

I continue to hear politicians try to dismiss the IRS scandal as “not about Republicans or Democrats, but about trust in government”.  Well as I said then, it is Republicans and Democrats who govern, so excuse me if I don’t share their “differentiation.”  The IRS scandal is all about politics, and in this case, the misuse of the agency by a Democratic administration.

Here’s another “trust in government” issue:

The administration that promised to be the most transparent in history uses covert government accounts to keep electronic mail from becoming public, according to a national news conglomerate that reports “the scope of using the secret accounts across government remains a mystery.”

And yes, this trust in government issue is again as political as the IRS.  If your government won’t  abide by its own rules, then there’s no basis for trust is there?  Who or what is the agency in question in this particlar government trust issue?  Why the Executive agency.  Not some nameless bureaucrat in some faceless bureaucracy.  Nope.  Mr. “Most Transparant Administration Ever” – caught cheating.

~McQ

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

You don’t say: “New IRS head says taxpayers no longer trust agency”

Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel  says the taxpayers don’t trust the IRS, and he intends to conduct “a thorough review of what went wrong and how to fix it.”

Just a suggestion, Danny, but why don’t you start by telling these folks to either tell us the full story or hit the road? Treasury IG: No IRS employee interviewed by us would acknowledge who ordered the targeting of conservatives

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Economic Statistics for 3 Jun 13

Here are today’s statistics on the state of the economy:

Auto sales rose in May, and the Big 3 Automakers all report sales increases: GM 3.1%, Ford 14%; Chrysler 11%. Total us auto sales rose 8% from last year, to an annual pace of 15.2 million vehicles.

The PMI Manufacturing Index for May rose 0.2 to 52.3.

ISM Manufacturing Index fell -1.7 to 49.0, with all major components showing weakness.

Construction spending rose a less-than-expected 0.4% in April, which is up 4.3% on a year-over-year basis.

~
Dale Franks
Google+ Profile
Twitter Feed

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

What would it take to get us off our rear ends in this country?

I assume you’re aware of the riots in Turkey.  The people of Turkey, or at least a unhappy group of them, are making themselves and their feelings known in a very direct way.  According to the WSJ, it began over a park in Istanbul that was going to be replaced by a housing development and shopping center (since the Turkish government controls the media, this “cause” could be as flaky as the anti-Islamic video causing Benghazi).  The natives, or at least some of them, are not happy about that.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is not happy about the situation either.  Why, how dare these people question his government and its motives. They’re pure as the driven snow:

“If you can call someone who is a servant of the country a dictator, then it leaves me speechless,” he said in a televised speech. “I have no aim other than serving the nation.”

The siren song of every dictator I’ve ever heard of or read about.  My guess he borrowed the words from Mr. Assad in Syria, who, may have gotten them from Saddam Hussein, who … well you get the picture.  And add a little “Bolivarian revolution” to the statement and the dead but unlamented Hugo Chavez or his mentor Fidel Castro could have said them.

Perhaps the most interesting statement, however, came from someone in the street:

People are angry because the government is interfering in everything, be it the alcohol restriction, building of the third bridge, or the new Taksim Square. Everything has piled up, and that’s why people protest,” said Erdal Bozyayla, a 29-year-old restaurant worker who supported the protesters and condemned the violence.

I’d like to believe that’s the real sentiment behind those riots and protests.  It may not be.  But it got me to thinking what it would take in this country for people to actually take that sort of direct action (and no I’m not condoning or calling for violence … direct action doesn’t have to be violent – witness the civil rights movement).  Oh, sure, we’ve had the “Tea Party” rallies and the like, but what is happening in Turkey is obviously much different than that.  And if they sentiment expressed is the true cause, why is it that a country like Turkey, with only a short history of freedom (now under concentraged attack by the latest “servant of the country”) apparently have the gumption to say “enough”, when we simply roll over each time another of our freedoms is taken or pared down.

Now, I recognize there could be all sorts of other factions, to include extremist Islamist factions who don’t think Erdogan is moving far or fast enough, could now be trying to co-opt the protests and turn them into something else.  But still, was the spark really “the government is interfering in everything” and if so, when, if ever, will that spark be struck here?

~McQ

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Buy Dale’s Books!