Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Economic Statistics for 3 Oct 12

The following US economic statistics were announced today:

ADP private payroll employment for September was estimated at a gain of 162,000, but they’ve been overstating the actual Employment Situation as released by the Labor Department. Last month, the BLS reported half the number of new jobs ADP did. So, if that holds, expect 80,000 net new jobs in Friday’s Employment Situation, which is…not good.

The MBA reports mortgage applications rose 16.6% last week, as purchases rose 4.0% and refinancings rose 20.0%, as homeowners refinanced homes at record rates to take advantage of lower mortgage rates.

The composite index from the ISM non-manufacturing survey for September rose 1.4 points to 55.1, thanks to a big jump in the new orders component to 57.7.

~
Dale Franks
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MSM – the traditional Democratic ally?

I’m sure you’re watching the MSM give a huge collective yawn concerning the Obama video that has been surfaced showing an Obama that most of America hasn’t seen.

“Old news” they’re saying.  “We’ve covered it,” they claim.  Funny, I don’t remember it (oh, it was on MSNBC?  No wonder no one has seen it).

Meanwhile the MSM is fixed on 1985 videos of Mitt Romney and his stance on … Vietnam?

Ed Driscoll, via Instapundit, sums up a couple of points that are pretty much true.  First, he quotes Andrew Ferguson at Commentary, who makes a good point using the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle as a basis:

Heisenberg’s principle can be crudely generalized (it’s the best I can do) as follows: An observer can change the nature of a thing or an event merely through the act of observation. Observation all by itself can become an intervention. Heisenberg was describing how reality works at the level of quantum mechanics, where a wave becomes a particle and vice versa depending on how it’s being measured. But it applies, too, at the level of political journalism, where reality is even stranger. There, facts can become interpretations, interpretations can become facts, and events of no significance can achieve an earthshaking importance simply by virtue of being pawed over by a large number of journalists.

A typical journalist, if he’s any good, insists at least theoretically on the iron divide between observer and participant. At its best the press corps sees itself as a squadron of Red Cross workers, wandering among the combatants in a battle zone and ensuring their own safety with a claim of strict neutrality. The Heisenberg Principle of Journalism puts the lie to all that. You see it at work whenever a news anchor announces that “this story just refuses to go away” or a headline writer insists that “questions continue to be raised” about the conduct of one hapless public figure or another.

The story refuses to go away, of course, because the anchor and his colleagues won’t let it; and the questions that continue to be raised are being raised by the headline writer and his editors. Reporters create more news than anybody, just by pretending they’re watching it unfold.

How often have we seen the absolute over-kill by the media on stories most would consider trivial.  It seems to always depend on who is involved, doesn’t it?   But, as Bengazi and Fast and Furious are proving, the inverse is also true.  The MSM can blatantly ignore what most would consider important stories as well.   Driscoll lists the exceptions:

Let’s.  And that’s precisely what the media is doing.  I’d also add to that list a litany of economic failure that is simply being ignored.

Or to put it another way, as the Washington Examiner notes tonight in an editorial, “To believe Obama is to forget the last four years.” That’s what both the Obama Administration and their palace guard are hoping.

It has gotten so obvious that even Howard Fineman has criticized the press for its obvious bias and its selective coverage.  Pat Caudell went off on the media just the other day.

The intent of the media?  To drag their chosen one across the finish line regardless of how poorly he’s done.   There seems to be no attempt to hide it anymore.  Simply peruse the stories of the day, identify what should be the stories of the day (a useful tool is to identify something not being covered and say to one’s self “if that were a Republican president …”), and it becomes clear which side, literally, the press is on.

Tonight is going to be interesting as well.  We’ll see how subtle the “moderators” of the debate are going to be about their bias by the questions they ask.  Will they focus on the economy, the unfulfilled Obama promises, the disaster his foreign policy has become, ObamaCare and its cost, etc.  Or are we going to talk about “lady parts”, what Romney said in 1985 and the evil Bain corporation.

My guess?  Not much economy, not much Obama record, lots about Mitt’s past (with the excuse that we know about Obama, but this is an opportunity to introduce America to Romney).

~McQ
Twitter: @McQandO
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Damn global warming!

This … this … this just can’t be!

Antarctica has broken the record for the greatest sea ice extent ever measured at either pole. If current trends continue, the Earth will be completely covered with ice much faster than the climate models predicted.

It has to be nonsense, right?  Is it the Onion?  We all know ice is melting and sea levels are rising … the media tells us so.  And then there’s Al Gore, the voice of reason.  We all know this can’t be true.  Just ask us:

OK, so the floating Arctic ice cap appears to be shrinking. Catastrophe if it goes on, right? As white ice reflects heat into space, past a certain point more and more heat will not be reflected, more and more ice will melt. Past such a “tipping point”, the ice cap would never recover – it would vanish completely, taking with it the ice cover of Greenland which would cause huge rises in sea levels and Biblical flooding worldwide. Not so much, according to the latest research by German climate scientists.

Really?  You mean, the ice isn’t melting?  The world won’t flood?  It’s not getting warmer?

What’s that you say?  You have actual science to back that up?

Real world measurements are the best tools we have at our disposal to monitor what impacts, if any, our use of fossil fuels is having on earth’s climate. Measured temperature increase has stopped for over a decade despite large increases in carbon dioxide. Loss and gain of sea ice in the Arctic is directly tied to cycles of warming and cooling ocean temperatures. Antarctic sea ice is increasing. Antarctic temperature is not increasing. The number of hurricanes around the world is not increasing and the strength of hurricanes worldwide is decreasing.

Antarctica’s temperature is not increasing?  You’ll probably claim sea temperatures haven’t risen either:

Using data from the Climatic Research Unit of the UEA, it appears sea surface temperatures may explain Antarctic Sea Ice at record levels. SST in the southern hemisphere have a cooling trend of -0.068C per decade over the last 15 years.

Oh, my.  The sea has been cooling for all these years?  But what evidence do you have that there’s more ice?

Global average sea levels fell by 5mm last year, presenting an inconvenient fact in a climate change narrative that warns of severe long-term threats to coastal settlements. The 5mm decline was almost twice the rate of the 3mm-a-year average increase recorded over the past 20 years and three times the 130-year average rise rate of 1.7mm a year.

Wow … so how do we hide that decline?

Just askin’

~McQ
Twitter: McQandO
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Economic Statistics for 2 Oct 12 (Updated)

The following US economic statistics were announced today:

In retail sales, Redbook’s reports year on year sales growth of 2.3%, which is at the lower range of trend. ICSC-Goldman says sales fell –0.3% from last week, and are up a weak 2.4% over last year.

Auto vehicle sales will be announced throughout the day. Watch this space for updates later. So far, though, the big three are reporting. General Motors reported a 1.5% increase in September auto sales. Ford sales were down –0.1% from last year. Chrysler reports a 12% jump in sales, its best September since 2007. Overall, auto sales improved on August’s multi-year high, with total sales of 15.0 million annualized for the month. That’s a 4% improvement over August, and the highest since March, 2008.

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Dale Franks
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Obama in 10 quotes

POLITICO has a story out entitled “10 quotes that haunt Obama“.  Haunt?  I’d say they define him.

The 10 quotes, minus the POLITICO take on each, are:

“Washington is broken. My whole campaign has been premised from the start on the idea that we have to fundamentally change how Washington works.”

“I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.”

“If I don’t have this done in three years, then there’s going to be a one-term proposition.”

“Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not, and a way that Bill Clinton did not.”

“Guantanamo will be closed no later than one year from now.”

“I think that health care, over time, is going to become more popular.”

“I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.”

“It’s here that companies like Solyndra are leading the way toward a brighter and more prosperous future.”

“I fought with you in the Senate for comprehensive immigration reform. And I will make it a top priority in my first year as President.”

“What we have done is kicked this can down the road. We are now at the end of the road and are not in a position to kick it any further. We have to signal seriousness in this by making sure some of the hard decisions are made under my watch, not someone else’s.”

What they define is arrogance, cluelessness, flip flopping and failure.  The gay marriage quote was one that ran in a gay newspaper in Chicago as Obama was running for the State Senate.  When confronted with that later, he denied those were his words.  Then, when it was politically important to embrace gay marriage, he “evolved” (what would be described as a ‘flip-flop’ for any other politician).

There are a ton of other quotes that could be on this list (“the private sector is doing fine” – arrogance and cluelessness).  But these will do.  They indicate a man who, for whatever reason, thinks an awful lot of himself while not demonstrating anything of substance to substantiate that feeling.  That is why Clint Eastwood talked to an empty chair.  He could just as easily had a naked Obama mannequin up there with an emperor’s crown.

Washington is broken worse since he took office, Solyndra represents crony capitalism at its worst, he’s kicked the can around the cul-de-sac while passing an extraordinarily expensive medical insurance law against the wishes of the American people.  Gitmo is still open, he’s done nothing on immigration but blatantly ignored the law, his arrogance still knows no bounds, but he’s damn sure no Ronald Reagan.  Or Bill Clinton, for that matter.

So I say we hold him to quote 3.  He has no interest in the economy, unemployment or jobs.  He’s yet to meet with his jobs council, doesn’t attend his daily intel briefs (well he does now, since being called out on it) and would much rather campaign than meet with world leaders at the UN.  He’s a guy who loves the perqs of the job, but seemingly isn’t real interested in the job itself.

And somehow we’re supposed to believe giving him 4 more years would improve on this record.

Daft.

~McQ
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Fast and Furious – It takes Univision to “break” it?

Seriously?

This has been a scandal for over 2 years. It has bubbled along in the blogosphere for some time. But in the MSM, it has been mostly ignored. Cheryl Atkinson of CBS is about the only reporter I’m aware of who has done any in-depth reporting about this and it too has been mostly ignored.

Even the coverage of the Congressional hearing into this fiasco was muted.

Finally, we have some journalism coming to the fore (with apologies to Ms. Atkinson) and Univision, a largely Hispanic network, has done an expose on this operation that can only be called either the dumbest and most inept operation known to man or a very cynical and malevolent one. More and more I’m leaning toward the latter explanation with a sprinkling of the former.

ABC has finally picked up the ball, and if you are interested in the Univision report, they have it with English captions. Definitely worth the view.

Says ABC:

As part of Operation Fast and Furious, ATF allowed 1,961 guns to “walk” out of the U.S. in an effort to identify the high profile cartel leaders who received them. The agency eventually lost track of the weapons, and they often ended up in the hands of Mexican hit men , including those who ordered and carried out the attack on Salvarcar and El Aliviane, a rehabilitation center in Ciudad Juarez where 18 young men were killed on September 2, 2009.

In Mexico, the timing of the operation coincided with an upsurge of violence in the war among the country’s strongest cartels. In 2009, the northern Mexican states served as a battlefield for the Sinaloa and Juarez drug trafficking organizations, and as expansion territory for the increasingly powerful Zetas. According to documents obtained by Univision News, from October of that year to the end of 2010, nearly 175 weapons from Operation Fast and Furious inadvertently armed the various warring factions across northern Mexico.

Univision went into some real depth in their investigation, apparently even deeper than the Congressional investigation:

Univision News identified a total of 57 more previously unreported firearms that were bought by straw purchasers monitored by ATF during Operation Fast and Furious, and then recovered in Mexico in sites related to murders, kidnappings, and at least one other massacre.

Remember, this was first claimed to be a “local, rogue” operation. Then White House staff emails referencing it were found. This was an ATF/DEA/DoJ operation that was never coordinated with Mexican officials. It has caused at least 2 deaths of US agents and literally hundreds if not thousands of deaths in Mexico.

Someone should be held accountable and be heading to jail.

But then “someone” ought to also be reporting about it too, shouldn’t “they”?’

~McQ
Twitter: McQandO
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Economic Statistics for 1 Oct 12

The following US economic statistics were announced today:

The ISM manufacturing index rose to a better-than-expected 51.5 in September indicating modest growth in the sector.

The Markit PMI manufacturing index fell –0.4 in September to 51.1, remaining in positive growth territory.

Defying expectations for an increase, construction spending fell –0.6% in August, though it’s up 6.5% on a year-over-year basis.

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Dale Franks
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Observations: The QandO Podcast for 30 Sep 12

This week, Bruce, Michael, and Dale talk about the election.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

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 Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.

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Down the memory hole – Obama’s promises

You remember this or at least have read or seen it on a video:

Bob Schieffer: “The fact is, unemployment is up. It is higher than when [President Obama] came to office, the economy is still in the dump. Some people say that is reason enough to make a change.”

Bill Clinton:”It is if you believe that we could have been fully healed in four years. I don’t know a single serious economist who believes that as much damage as we had could have been healed.”

CBS’s “Face the Nation,” September 23, 2012

That’s exactly the meme the Democrats have been trying to establish for some time.  First it was “but imagine how much worse it would have been if we hadn’t have acted”.  That foundered on the rocks of 8.2% unemployment.

The new meme is to claim – and that’s all it is – that no one expected the economy to be healed in 4 years, no one.  And certainly not any “serious economist(s)”.

But as the Wall Street Journal points out, plenty of serious people, or at least people who’d like to have you take them seriously, not to mention a couple of “serious economists” promised exactly that – we’d be healed in 4 years.  The list?

There’s Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Christina Romer, Jared Bernstein, Mark Zandi, and, most importantly, President Obama himself.

Yup, that’s the case, whether or not the spin- meister, Bill Clinton wants to believe it or not.  So how did that work?

Mr. Obama told Americans in 2009 that if he did not turn around the economy in three years his Presidency would be “a one-term proposition.” Joe Biden said three years ago that the $830 billion economic stimulus was working beyond his “wildest dreams” and he famously promised several months after the Obama stimulus was enacted that Americans would enjoy a “summer of recovery.” That was more than three years ago.

In early 2009 soon-to-be White House economists Ms. Romer and Mr. Bernstein promised Congress that the stimulus would hold the unemployment rate below 7% and that by now it would be 5.6%. Instead the rate is 8.1%. The latest Census Bureau report says there are nearly seven million fewer full-time, year-round workers today than in 2007. The labor participation rate is the lowest since 1981.

You don’t say.  So, in fact, plenty of serious people and at least two serious economists make Bill Clinton a liar.  Yeah, I know, that’s harsh considering most people don’t consider political spin a “lie” per se.  I’m just not one of those people.

There have been other excuses tried by the administration and its apologists as well:

The Administration and its acolytes claim that the nature of the 2008 financial collapse was different from past recessions, and that it can take up to a decade to restore growth after such a financial crisis. Economist Michael Bordo rebuts that claim with historical economic evidence nearby.

In reality, the biggest difference between this recovery and others hasn’t been the nature of the crisis, but the nature of the policy prescriptions. Mr. Obama’s chief anti-recession idea was a near trillion-dollar leap of faith in the Keynesian “multiplier” effect of government spending. It was the same approach that didn’t work in the 1930s, didn’t work in the 1970s, didn’t work in 2008, and didn’t work in such other nations as Japan. It didn’t work again in 2009.

The fact remains that there were plenty of promises made by plenty of serious people to include “serious economists” saying they had a plan that would heal us in 4 years.

They have utterly failed.

Tell me again why they should get another 4 years to prolong the failure?

~McQ

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