Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Economic Statistics for 25 Jun 15

Personal income rose a sharp 0.5% in May, while consumer spending rose 0.9%. The PCE Price Index rose 0.3%, overall and 0.1% at the core. On a year-over-year basis, the PCE Price Index is up just 0.2%, while the core rate is 1.2%.

The PMI services index is down sharply in June’s flash reading, falling to 54.8, vice 56.5 in the final May reading.

The Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index rose in June, but still remains in negative territory at -9, compared to May’s -13.

Initial weekly jobless claims rose 3,000 to 271,000. The 4-week average fell 3,250 to 273,750. Continuing claims rose 22,000 to 2.247 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 1.7 points to 42.6 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $7.2 billion last week, with total assets of $4.495 trillion. Reserve bank credit rose $8.5 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $29.5 billion in the latest week.


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Because we (SCOTUS) want it that way

Apparently they’re no longer a judicial body which weighs the arguments, compares them against the law and finds for the intent of the Constitution.  Or said another way, the real Constitution is dead – long live the “living Constitution” that is full of goodies for which others pay.

How do I know this?  Easy:

Chief Justice Roberts wrote that the words must be understood as part of a larger statutory plan. “In this instance,” he wrote, “the context and structure of the act compel us to depart from what would otherwise be the most natural reading of the pertinent statutory phrase.”

Or said another way, to hell with law and the Constitution, the 6 of us have decided this is a good thing and we’ll read it any way we want too.  Pay up, suckers.

I saw where someone said the court finally moved left.

Folks the court moved left 10 years ago with Kelo.

It’s just taken a while for some people to realize that.

As the delegates left the building, a Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got?”

With no hesitation, Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.” Not a democracy, not a democratic republic. But “a republic, if you can keep it.”

And, we couldn’t.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 24 Jun 15

The final revision to 1st Quarter GDP was to a -0.2% annualized decline, while the GDP Price index was revised to 0.0%.

Corporate profits in the 1st Quarter were revised down slightly to $1.891 trillion, up a year-on-year 9.0% from the initial report of 9.2%.

The MBA reports that mortgage applications rose 1.6% last week, with purchases up 1.0% and refis up 2.0%.


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Let’s dump the Confederate flag. And let’s also dump the “Congressional Black Caucus, La Raza, etc.

Victor Davis Hanson makes the point that what once began as an exceptional experiment in unity and was often dubbed “a melting pot”, has now become a grouping of humorless and easily offended factions always trying to claim the mantle of victimhood:

In the last half-century, Americans have increasingly tended to emphasize race and tribe in promoting “diversity,” rather than seeking to strengthen the more tenuous notion of unity with their fellow citizens. We have forgotten that human nature is fond of division and must work at setting aside superficial tribal affinities to unite on the basis of core values and ideas. Symbols, flags, organizations, and phrases that emphasize racial difference and ethnic pride are no longer just fossilized notions from the 1960s; they are growing fissures in the American mosaic that now threaten to split the country apart — fueling the suspicion of less liberal and more homogeneous nations that the great American experiment will finally unwind as expected.

Symbols, flags, organizations, and phrases that emphasize racial difference and ethnic pride are no longer just fossilized notions from the 1960s; they are growing fissures in the American mosaic that now threaten to split the country apart — fueling the suspicion of less liberal and more homogeneous nations that the great American experiment will finally unwind as expected.

So the answer?  Dump all the symbols and organizations that divide.  Drop the race exclusive organizations like La Raza and the Congressional Black Caucus.  Either that or keep your mouth shut when someone starts the National Association of White People.

You can’t have it both ways.  And remember something that is indeed unique about this land:

In an America that was originally founded by mostly Northern European immigrants, a Juan Lopez from Oaxaca is freely accepted as a U.S. citizen in a way that a white Bob Jones would never fully be embraced as a citizen of Mexico, a country whose constitution still expressly sets out racially chauvinistic guidelines that govern immigration law. Someone who appears African or European would have a hard time fully integrating as a citizen in Chinese, Korean, or Japanese society, in a way not true of Chinese, Koreans, and Japanese in America. The world assumes that in America a president, attorney general, secretary of state, or Supreme Court justice can be black; but it would be as surprised to find whites as high public officials in Zimbabwe as to find a black as prime minister or foreign minister in Sweden or Germany.

We are Americans and we come from all sorts of places and backgrounds, but when we come here we do indeed assimilate into the dominant culture?

Why?  Because it is that culture (which, by the way, is borrowed from some of the best of many different cultures) that has made this country both exceptional and great.  It’s is the “go to” place for those looking for a better life.  Our illegal immigration problem points to that.

But if the left has its way, we’ll all hyphenate our “american” identity, claim victim status and work to divide the polity into bickering hate groups who find everyone else (to include those back through the centuries) at fault for their status.

Were there wrongs committed in history against various races and ethnic groups?  Of course there were.  But we don’t live in that era.   What counts is where we are today.  If those wrongs no longer exist then any progressive worth their salt should be claiming … progress.  If you’re as old as I am, you don’t have to claim it – you’ve seen it up close and personal. But instead of touting the progress, progressives are the ones leading the charge to divide and weaken.  To make us all “victims”.

Quite being victims.  Victimhood is a choice. Grow a backbone and say no to the negativity of that nonsense. Drop the symbols and groups that emphasize race and/or victimhood.  Become Americans.  Work together.

See Charleston for how it is done.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 23 Jun 15

The Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index moved further into positive territory in June, rising 5 points to a reading of 6.

Led by a -49% drop in aircraft orders, May durable goods orders fell once again by -1.8% overall. April’s number was revised down to -1.5%. Ex-Transportation orders rose 0.5%.

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales remain soft, rising to 1.6% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 1.1%.

The FHFA House Price Index rose 0.3% in April, with a year-on-year increase of 5.3%.

The PMI Manufacturing Index Flash fell -0.4 points in June, to 53.4.

New Home Sales continued April’s big gain, up 2.2% in May to a 546,000 annual rate. April’s gain was revised upwards to 8.1% to a 534,000 annual rate.


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How dare “black America” forgive so easily

Most of the country and the world have been touched by the forgiveness granted by the families of the victims of the Charleston church murders.  In an act that lives up to their faith, the families have forgiven the murderer and set the bar for civilized and compassionate behavior even that much higher.  And the city has rallied behind them, all races of the city, in an attempt to heal the wound the murderer opened.

But, of course, not everyone is happy about that, such as this creature:

If we really believe that black lives matter, we won’t devalue our reality and cheapen our forgiveness by giving it away so quickly and easily. Black people should learn to embrace our full range of human emotions, vocalize our rage, demand to be heard, and expect accountability. White America needs to earn our forgiveness, as we practice legitimate self-preservation.

Or, in other words … Baltimore.

Here’s a question for you, which event makes you think more about racial healing – Baltimore or Charleston?

Who has set the example for how the races should come together in the face of tragedy, even that driven by hate, and try to heal the community?

Baltimore or Charleston?

Right.

Given what Charleston has accomplished as a community, why should anyone listen to the race baiter above?

~McQ

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It is what it is and we should have no fear denouncing it

Dr. Ben Carson writes the following about the murderer of the 9 in Charleston:

Not everything is about race in this country. But when it is about race, then it just is. So when a guy who has been depicted wearing a jacket featuring an apartheid-era Rhodesian flag allegedly walks into a historic black church and guns down nine African-American worshipers at a Bible study meeting, common sense leads one to believe his motivations are based in racism. When the sole adult survivor of the ordeal reports that the killer shouted before opening fire, “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go” — well, that sounds to me a lot like racial hatred.

Let’s call this sickness what it is, so we can get on with the healing. If this were a medical disease, and all the doctors recognized the symptoms but refused to make the diagnosis for fear of offending the patient, we could call it madness. But there are people who are claiming that they can lead this country who dare not call this tragedy an act of racism, a hate crime, for fear of offending a particular segment of the electorate.

It is and was an act of racism.  Anyone with a tepid IQ should know that and why anyone would deny it is beyond me.  Racism is not dead in this country.  Plenty of racists still exist.  But here’s a news flash … they’re not just confined to the white race.

That said, Carson is right.  Face what it is, call it what it is and then deal with the aftermath.  The fact that this yahoo was a racist, however, doesn’t allow anyone the broad brush they’d like to have and we’ve seen waved about in the wake of this tragedy.

Oh, and by the way, the citizens of Charleston, much better than our leadership (political, cultural and opinion leaders included) have shown the world how a town handles such a crime.  They know it was an act of racism.  They also know that not everyone is racist.  And they’re uniting not dividing. The families have forgiven the slug who killed their loved ones – something I’d likely have difficulty doing.  But when all is said and done, the citizens of Charleston are acting like the adults in this tragedy.  Too bad our president hasn’t acted that way.

~McQ

 

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Raining science on a popular delusional meme

That’s what Paul McHugh, the University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Medical School does with the notion of “transgenderism”.  McHugh has spent 40 years, 26 as Psychiatrist in Chief of Johns Hopkins Hospital, “studying people who claim to be transgender. ”

The larger issue is the meme itself. The idea that one’s sex is fluid and a matter open to choice runs unquestioned through our culture and is reflected everywhere in the media, the theater, the classroom, and in many medical clinics. It has taken on cult-like features: its own special lingo, internet chat rooms providing slick answers to new recruits, and clubs for easy access to dresses and styles supporting the sex change. It is doing much damage to families, adolescents, and children and should be confronted as an opinion without biological foundation wherever it emerges.

Or said another way, he doesn’t buy the present day “meme” at all.  He finds it destructive.  And the meme is all based in “feelings” rather than science:

The champions of this meme, encouraged by their alliance with the broader LGBT movement, claim that whether you are a man or a woman, a boy or a girl, is more of a disposition or feeling about yourself than a fact of nature. And, much like any other feeling, it can change at any time, and for all sorts of reasons. Therefore, no one could predict who would swap this fact of their makeup, nor could one justifiably criticize such a decision.

At Johns Hopkins, after pioneering sex-change surgery, we demonstrated that the practice brought no important benefits. As a result, we stopped offering that form of treatment in the 1970s. Our efforts, though, had little influence on the emergence of this new idea about sex, or upon the expansion of the number of “transgendered” among young and old.

A little, “been there, done that, it doesn’t hold up”.  That will royally piss off the SJWs who’ve this infantile belief that if you “feel” something, it must be true.  But as we’ve seen and discussed, that meme has taken hold, regardless of its lack of scientific foundation or, frankly, reality:

But the meme—that your sex is a feeling, not a biological fact, and can change at any time—marches on through our society. In a way, it’s reminiscent of the Hans Christian Andersen tale, The Emperor’s New Clothes. In that tale, the Emperor, believing that he wore an outfit of special beauty imperceptible to the rude or uncultured, paraded naked through his town to the huzzahs of courtiers and citizens anxious about their reputations. Many onlookers to the contemporary transgender parade, knowing that a disfavored opinion is worse than bad taste today, similarly fear to identify it as a misapprehension.

I am ever trying to be the boy among the bystanders who points to what’s real. I do so not only because truth matters, but also because overlooked amid the hoopla—enhanced now by Bruce Jenner’s celebrity and Annie Leibovitz’s photography—stand many victims. Think, for example, of the parents whom no one—not doctors, schools, nor even churches—will help to rescue their children from these strange notions of being transgendered and the problematic lives these notions herald. These youngsters now far outnumber the Bruce Jenner type of transgender. Although they may be encouraged by his public reception, these children generally come to their ideas about their sex not through erotic interests but through a variety of youthful psychosocial conflicts and concerns.

Yes, he said it … many go along out of “fear” of having a “disfavored opinion”.  Luckily, I’m not one of those – nor, apparently is Dr. McHugh.  And to those of us without such fear, this emperor has had no clothes for quite some time.  Where does all of this delusional empathy produce?

First, though, let us address the basic assumption of the contemporary parade: the idea that exchange of one’s sex is possible. It, like the storied Emperor, is starkly, nakedly false. Transgendered men do not become women, nor do transgendered women become men. All (including Bruce Jenner) become feminized men or masculinized women, counterfeits or impersonators of the sex with which they “identify.” In that lies their problematic future.

When “the tumult and shouting dies,” it proves not easy nor wise to live in a counterfeit sexual garb. The most thorough follow-up of sex-reassigned people—extending over thirty years and conducted in Sweden, where the culture is strongly supportive of the transgendered—documents their lifelong mental unrest. Ten to fifteen years after surgical reassignment, the suicide rate of those who had undergone sex-reassignment surgery rose to twenty times that of comparable peers.

There is nothing “scientific” about the assumptions of the meme, in fact, they’re blatantly anti-science.  And indulging them can lead to catastrophic results, such as the suicide rates suffered by those who undergo such sex-reassignment surgery.

Most young boys and girls who come seeking sex-reassignment are utterly different from Jenner. They have no erotic interest driving their quest. Rather, they come with psychosocial issues—conflicts over the prospects, expectations, and roles that they sense are attached to their given sex—and presume that sex-reassignment will ease or resolve them.

The grim fact is that most of these youngsters do not find therapists willing to assess and guide them in ways that permit them to work out their conflicts and correct their assumptions. Rather, they and their families find only “gender counselors” who encourage them in their sexual misassumptions.

Treatment.  Psychiatric treatment and counseling.  Or to say the words that a certain community and its activists will loathe – it’s not a choice, it’s a disorder.

Bottom line:

What is needed now is public clamor for coherent science—biological and therapeutic science—examining the real effects of these efforts to “support” transgendering. Although much is made of a rare “intersex” individual, no evidence supports the claim that people such as Bruce Jenner have a biological source for their transgender assumptions. Plenty of evidence demonstrates that with him and most others, transgendering is a psychological rather than a biological matter.

In fact, gender dysphoria—the official psychiatric term for feeling oneself to be of the opposite sex—belongs in the family of similarly disordered assumptions about the body, such as anorexia nervosa and body dysmorphic disorder. Its treatment should not be directed at the body as with surgery and hormones any more than one treats obesity-fearing anorexic patients with liposuction. The treatment should strive to correct the false, problematic nature of the assumption and to resolve the psychosocial conflicts provoking it. With youngsters, this is best done in family therapy.

Interesting.  Sure to make waves … or it should.

Most likely, it will be dismissed as some sort of “right wing” conspiracy to deny choice.  Oh, and McHugh is also likely to attacked … for speaking out about something he’s spent a lifetime studying.

But such is the fate of those who fight the ‘meme’.  Good thing he didn’t tell a bad joke about women or have a recent photo in a “sexist” shirt floating around the internet – he’d have the fems on him too.

Make sure you read the whole article.  Especially the part about what is or isn’t allowed as treatment for this delusion.

~McQ

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