Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

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
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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.

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Dale Franks
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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

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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

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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.

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Dale Franks
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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

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Observations: The QandO Podcast for 02 Jun 13

This week, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss Seminar a US Attorney is giving about how you might violate someone’s civil rights by posting to Facebook.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

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The problems of a post-modern legal system

A columnist at the Washington Post (via Insty) looks at the Rosen case, and finds some problems with the logic at the Justice Department.

The essential question is the definition of criminal conduct. It’s against federal law for authorities to “search a newsroom for the purpose of obtaining work product or documentary materials relating to a criminal investigation.” This presumably applies to reporters’ emails as well.

The law makes an exception if a reporter is suspected of criminal behavior. That’s why Rosen was named a co-conspirator – that’s the only way the Justice Department could get a judge to go along with their fishing expedition. In the Post column, the columnist Erik Wemple says:

It [the Justice Department] told a judge that Rosen may well have committed a violation of the Espionage Act as it pursued its e-mail search warrant.

But it turns out that the Justice Department apparently has no tangible evidence of any criminal behavior by Rosen. They’ve already said they have no intention of prosecuting him.

David Schultz, a lawyer for the AP it it’s own Justice Department scandal, spots the contradiction in that:

”They’ve done the expedient thing that allows them to get what they want without giving the press an opportunity to object,” says Schulz. “If they did not believe Rosen was committing a crime, they shouldn’t have been invoking that part of the PPA. Either they were really accusing him of a crime or they weren’t. I mean, you can’t have it both ways.”

Clearly, Mr. Schultz does not understand post-modern reasoning. For today’s leftists, there are no contradictions when someone is defending the left. That’s because they merely change definitions as necessary to eliminate the contradiction.

Look at their recent attempted re-definition of the word “scandal”. If you ask a typical English speaker what a scandal is, they’ll describe a situation where a person or organization got caught doing something they were not supposed to do – often illegal, usually unethical, and typically embarrassing. The IRS targeting of conservative groups, the Benghazi debacle and subsequent cover-up, and the Justice Department abuses of the AP and Fox News obviously fit that definition.

To the left, though, the word “scandal” means whatever they need it to mean to further the leftist cause. So they have taken up the mantra that these things are not “real scandals”, with the implication that they are not scandals at all. They want to own the terminology in every discussion, and bend it to whatever suits their present argument. That’s why I’ve stopped arguing with them. By the fundamentals of their own philosophy, it’s impossible for them to lose an argument because the objective standards of logic, reason, and reality don’t apply to them. To them, the only thing left is “narrative”, and they reserve the right to hold onto their own narrative no matter how obviously nonsensical it might be.

The narrative rules all for a post-modernist because it’s fundamental to post-modernism that words have no objective meaning. Just as there is no objective reality to them, there is no objective meaning either. A word means whatever a leftist can convince the present listener that it means, and the leftist reserves the right to redefine the word for another listener tomorrow if that helps promote tomorrow’s narrative.

The problem is that a legal system depends upon reliable meaning of words. If words can be redefined to suit the whims of someone in power, then no one can ever know whether they are obeying a law or not.

The Obama administration is so steeped in post-modern leftism that they don’t get this, or don’t care. So we see Holder’s Justice Department adapting the word “co-conspirator” and claiming criminal behavior to justify it, all out of pure expedience. They needed to accuse Rosen of being a co-conspirator to get what they wanted, so they simply told a judge that he was one. Hey, it’s just a word! It has no objective meaning, so we can redefine it to mean whatever we want!

As always, when they do that, they don’t think they’ve done anything wrong. They feel no shame or remorse over it. They get legitimately confused when a contradiction is pointed out, because in their world-view, there is no contradiction.

To a leftist, “co-conspirator” can mean one thing when leftists are in power, and something quite different when they are not. If Bush/Ashcroft had done exactly what they did, the very same people in the Justice Department who named Rosen a co-conspirator would be howling about it 24/7. They would be hectoring anyone who would listen that a journalist with no evidence of criminal behavior can’t possibly be named a ‘”co-conspirator”, and probably beating the drum for impeachment for anyone involved. But since they’re the ones doing it, the reaction among the left has been muted and mostly apathetic.

It is obvious to we Enlightenment types that it’s not possible to have a functioning legal system for a free society based on expedient re-definition of the terms used in laws. That’s why the Right has been opposing this folderol all the way back to FDR’s flouting of clear Constitutional language. It’s clear to anyone who understands plain English that a person growing wheat in their backyard for their own use has no relationship to “interstate commerce” as anyone before 1930 understood it. But it was expedient to simply pretend the term meant something else, to rationalize giving the government more power.

So this problem isn’t new. The difference today is that it used to be rare. Now it’s business as usual. Clinton’s defense against everything questionable that he ever did depended on re-defining words such as “sex” and “is”. Holder’s Justice Department clearly thinks they can simply dictate what words like “co-conspirator” mean.

A legal system allowing such re-definition to suit those in power is built on sand, awaiting the first strong shake to liquefy and bring it down.

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