Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Economic Statistics for 28 Aug 15

In July, personal income rose 0.4%, consumer spending rose 0.3%, and the PCE Price Index rose 0.1% both overall and at the core. On a year-over year basis, PCE Price Index rose 0.3% overall, and 1.2% ex-food and energy.

The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index for August fell -1.0 points to 91.9.


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Equally Clueless

Yesterday it coalesced for me that the pundits and loyal party members of both the Republican and Democratic parties are completely clueless about what’s happening in the world outside of the Beltway or their echo chamber living accommodations.

For the Democrats there’s this piece in the New York Times.  The authors have queried numerous high level Democratic leaders and mouthpieces across the country and they’ve all concluded that the biggest problem Hillary Clinton is facing isn’t that she broke the law or jeopardized national security with her mail server antics, it’s that she just hasn’t handled it well when explaining so everyone shrugs, says “what difference at this point does it make” on her behalf and lets her get on with her ascension to the Presidency of Clinton II as foretold in prophecy.

If any of them think she’s actually committed a crime it’s not very evident.   No, the problem is she hasn’t said the words that will make everyone understand why it was okay for her to have her own server and personal email system (she gave herself permission) and why all that stuff about various levels of national security law being broken is irrelevant or worse yet invented by the Republicans to tarnish her glorious achievements as First Cuckquean, Senator and Secretary of State.  You may pick some other reason as long as it won’t result in criminal prosecutions, can be explained with a few rounds of “mea culpa now let’s move on”, and will result in her accepting the nomination for her party and her ultimate swearing in as President.

Surely you understand the worst thing she’s done is she’s joked about it!  Although no laws were broken she should still take it seriously, probably because the slugs they think they’re dealing with as voters want her to take it seriously even if it’s not serious. Granted it’s just a Vast Right Wing conspiracy manifesting itself (again) as a Republican attack on her candidacy but she still mustn’t make bad jokes over it.  Instead she might consider saying “I’m sorry”. That would make it all better and it would get the press off her case and soothe their fears that Joe Biden might be their candidate in 2016.

Then read the comments section of the article where further hilarity will ensue, you might go read many lead articles in nationally syndicate media outlets as well.  The excuse making and denial is epic.  National security concerns are; contrived, overstated, inappropriate, really not necessary, or all in all clearly exaggerated.  Perhaps some minor law was broken by some unnamed unknown non-entity who is, you can be sure, not Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Come on America! Any good Democrat can tell you unless you’re part of the G.W. Bush White House and your name is Lewis “Scooter” Libby classified data isn’t a reason to start some crazy witch hunt to find out who knew what when and did what with secret information!   Valerie Plame’s secret identity, now that’s some TS/SCI classification stuff!  On the other hand Satellite intelligence that would demonstrate we can read this article from space as I write it on my monitor in Texas, through the window behind me and over my shoulder not so much.   Come on….how is that a secret! Sheesh! (I exaggerate…..maybe).

For those of us who at least have a passing understanding of security clearances, I think we have all acknowledge regrettably the woman is unlikely to see jail time over this, because “Clinton”.  But the idea that if she just says she’s sorry she can go on with her Presidential bid is a bit much.    The reason she didn’t deal with it sooner is because she knew she broke the law and she never expected to be called on it. Who exactly was going to call her out? Obama Justice, State or FBI?   While she was breaking the law the House and Senate were busy crafting and frog marching ObamaCare through the halls of Congress.  Like Nan and Harry were going to allow us to peek into Hillary’s doings or dare to do it themselves.

But the wheel has turned.

The Dems need to find another candidate because this one is once again fork tender.

 

One the Republican side it’s all Trump, all the time.

The latest mosquito boat tactic the GOP mouthpieces have formulated is essentially “if you support Donald Trump, you’re a racist” and the implication from the linked article here is Trump supporters are looking forward to shooting some brown people too, I’m just sayin.  They remind us Trump is a racist because only a racist would want to deport people who are here illegally.  Only a racist would consider deporting children of these same people after they’re born on American soil, so by extension only a racist would support him. Got that all you racists?

Never mind that racist thing is merely the reverse of the Democratic strategy that’s kept Barack Obama in the White House for two consecutive terms.   Hey, it probably worked.

The 14th is cited as automatically granting birth location citizenship.  None of these people want to discuss the perfection in contradiction then offered in explaining why Congress felt it had to pass an Act in 1924 to grant the birth location right to American Indians though the 14th Amendment passed in 1868.   The 14th was extent for 56 years yet Congress went and addressed the issue again specifically in 1924 because? Yeah, go figure, Native Americans had to have a special act because they weren’t considered citizens although physically born in the US, which, sans Congressional act, sounds exactly like any child of people who sneak in illegally yesterday and are born here today.

Robert Tracinski wants you to know if you’re supporting Trump it’s likely you’re not only a racist, but you’re probably a moron and did I say ‘fanatic’, well yes, you’re possibly a fanatic.

George Will, I think, has given up trying to scare you with the Ronald Reagan Democratic talking points from 1979 (NUKES!!!!! HE’LL KILL US ALL!!!!) and joins in to remind us that (racist) white voters need to get some color mix in their party voting plan to get a President elected and that’s why Trump the Racist isn’t a good choice.

Sometimes mentioned is that many people who might vote for Trump aren’t really ‘in kids’ who vote in most elections and the implication is you probably don’t want to hang around with those kids do you?

Other writers, less interested in trying to tell you you’re a white racist b*****d (but probably still a US Citizen) and more interested in appealing to your rational side point out Trump is; hardly conservative, blindingly undiplomatic, rather bullying, and generally has the personality one associates with a circus ring master.

Not sure I’m a ‘writer’ but I’m in that group, and yet I’m not trying to dissuade you from any Trumpish feeling you possess because, well, read on.

The last one I will mention is Mark Salter, who I think accurately describes Trump as a narcissist and demands to know what your excuse is for supporting him.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” he asks.

I want it noted for the record that Mr. Salter worked for John McCain as a senior advisor on his Presidential campaign – I do that so I can laugh about winning campaign strategists as well as making it clear I believe Mr. Salter, who I have absolutely no personal acquaintance with, is a ruling class GOP Gentry hack.

I also chose Mr. Salter for last because he’s almost got a clue about why you might be, at this time, cheering for Trump, even if you’re not actually supporting the man.

“Politicians and pundits are making excuses for you. They say you’re so sick of bad government and polarized politics that you’re willing to take a chance on making Donald Trump the most powerful man on Earth.

My emphasis there – see, he does sort of understand.   Part of bad government I think is being lied to by your leaders. I think we’re sick of being lied to by our elite elected servant-masters in addition to being sick of our ever expanding, and often badly managed, government. And I personally find being lied to by ‘real’ Republicans more sickening than being lied to by Democrats. So he almost gets it.

For Mr. Salter and the other clueless Ruling Party hacks, leaders and mouthpieces I’ll demonstrate with a single word why Trump gets cheered on by otherwise rational conservative voters. Nota bene, we don’t appreciate being lied to and then being called racist moron fanatics.

We already get that from the Democratic Party, thanks.

I submit for your consideration Speaker of the House of Representatives and squishy GOP leader, Ruling Class business as usual John Boehner, and his view of conservative Presidential candidate Ted Cruz.

Jackass.

Yes, Orange John prefers Senators like Mitch McConnell and John McCain and they’d all really rather you prefer Jeb Bush, or if not Jeb then maybe Marco Rubio, who it appears can be controlled.  Both candidates have spoken in favor of the forms of Scamnesty that Trump is actively campaigning against.   Jeb doesn’t think the country that built the Panama Canal can handle building a wall across its southern border if it wants to.    And they’re all convinced since we can’t possibly deport 11 million people ALL at once in one afternoon in time for supper, we mustn’t bother discussing, let alone trying, anything of that nature at all.

They can’t see their get along, go along, bought and paid for by big money special interest plans of riding the big government train to socialist third world hell is what inspires a considerable portion of Donald Trump’s support.

So to help the clueless GOP Ruling class campaigners I leave this tweet from “Empire of Jeff” to explain where a lot of Trump’s conservative support probably comes from.

 

“You “conservative” “pundits” still don’t get it: Trump isn’t our candidate. He’s our murder weapon. And the GOP is our victim. “

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Absurdity, thy name is UT

The freaking world is going off the rails at a faster rate than I thought. Now this silliness:

The University of Tennessee is asking students to use “ze, hir, hirs, and xe, xem, xyr.”

No, those words are not another language. They’re actually the gender-neutral singular versions of pronouns.

Oh, how … nice. And their purpose?

The University of Tennessee Office for Diversity and Inclusion is asking students and faculty to use the pronouns in order to create a more inclusive campus. They say it alleviates a heavy burden for people expressing different genders or identities.

A more inclusive campus?  Really?  Given the SWJs and their vendettas, how inclusive will the campus be if you happen to forget to use these idiotic affectations?

“These may sound a little funny at first, but only because they are new,” Braquet said. “The she and he pronouns would sound strange too if we had been taught ze when growing up.”

Braquet said if students and faculty cannot use ze, hir, hirs, xe, xem or xyr, they can also politely ask. “’Oh, nice to meet you, [insert name]. What pronouns should I use?’ is a perfectly fine question to ask,” ze said.

Talk about infantile nonsense.  Would you ask [insert name] what “pronouns” to use to address them, or would you operate off of your ability to discriminate and choose the proper one all by your stupid little lonesome?

Yes, Ms. Braquet, the do sound a “little funny”, not to mention a little stupid and frankly totally unnecessary.  You, madam, have too much time on your hands as well as an unnecessary “job” that is one of the reasons college tuitions are higher (more admin than professors).

Please treat this woman and her silliness as the absurdity it is, students at UT.  If not, try using these “pronouns” when you graduate and apply for a job.  I can’t wait to here about the results when you do.

gender-pronouns

Oh, and irony of all … they still seem to identify someone by their … gender!  “Hir” is female and “Zir” is male – or so it seems.  “Gender neutral” would make no distinction.

Idiots!

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 27 Aug 15

GDP for the 2nd Quarter of 2015 was revised sharply upwards to an annualized 3.7%, with the GDP Price Index up 2.1%.

Corporate profits in the second quarter came in at $1.824 trillion, up a year-on-year 7.3%.

The Pending Home Sales Index rose 0.5% in July to 110.9.

The Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index declined by -2 points to -9 as the district’s manufacturing contraction deepened.

Initial weekly jobless claims fell 6,000 to 271,000. The 4-week average rose 1,000 to 272,500. Continuing claims rose 13,000 to 2.269 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 0.9 points to 42.0 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet fell $-12.1 billion last week, with total assets of $4.475 trillion. Reserve bank credit rose $70.8 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply increased by $33.4 billion in the latest week.


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How to crash a country

If you want a recent example, try Venezuela where socialism was “installed” and the inevitable happened … the economy finally crashed.  In fact, its so bad that we’re now headed into hyper-inflation territory:

Venezuela is preparing to issue bank notes in higher denominations next year as rampant inflation reduces the value of a 100-bolivar bill to just 14 cents on the black market.

The new notes — of 500 and possibly 1,000 bolivars — are expected to be released sometime after congressional elections are held on Dec. 6, said a senior government official who isn’t authorized to talk about the plans publicly.

Many Venezuelans have to carry wads of cash in bags instead of wallets as soaring inflation and a declining currency increase the number of bills needed for everyday purchases. The situation is set to get worse. Inflation, already the fastest in the world, could end the year at 150 percent, said the official.

The government stopped releasing regular economic statistics in December, when it reported inflation had reached 69 percent.

We’ve chronicled and discussed the failure of Venezuela as a “socialist republic” for a few years.  Of course, as reported earlier this month, not everyone there is poor.  Apparently the daughter of Hugo Chavez is suddenly worth $4 billion.  I’m sure all of that is from Hugo’s army retirement pay.

All of that to say, I’m not sure what sort of example some people need to understand that socialism doesn’t work.  It didn’t work in the USSR.  It hasn’t worked in Cuba. And Venezuela is just the latest example of its failure.

But this is America, where a good portion of the population apparently lives in a fantasy land, is ignorant of the laws of economics or actually believes that the government has money.  And if they don’t believe the government has money, they do believe it has a “right” to yours.  Your progressive agenda from the only progressive Democrat brave enough to call himself what the rest are as well … a Socialist:

 

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We call it the “Venezuela plan”.

~McQ

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White House politicizes a tragedy … again

Can’t take a break from ideology and politics to simply comment on a tragedy.  The newswoman and cameraman who were shot and killed on a live TV feed this morning were apparently the perfect fodder for the White House’s anti-gun campaign:

The White House on Wednesday redoubled its call for tougher gun laws in the wake of a shooting that killed two television journalists in Virginia.
“This is another example of gun violence that is becoming all too common in communities large and small all across the United States,” Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Wednesday.
Earnest said there are “common sense” steps Congress can take to reduce gun violence in America without infringing on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.
Well, as Charles C. Cooke points out, this is simply wrong. I.e. the facts (you know, those pesky little things) don’t support the implication.  For instance:
National rates of gun homicide and other violent gun crimes are strikingly lower now than during their peak in the mid-1990s, paralleling a general decline in violent crime, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of government data. Beneath the long-term trend, though, are big differences by decade: Violence plunged through the 1990s, but has declined less dramatically since 2000.
Compared with 1993, the peak of U.S. gun homicides, the firearm homicide rate was 49% lower in 2010, and there were fewer deaths, even though the nation’s population grew. The victimization rate for other violent crimes with a firearm—assaults, robberies and sex crimes—was 75% lower in 2011 than in 1993. Violent non-fatal crime victimization overall (with or without a firearm) also is down markedly (72%) over two decades.

The facts simply don’t support the statement that this is becoming “all too common” anywhere.  In fact, they say the opposite.  It’s becoming less common.

Don’t forget, the Charleston SC mass murderer was given a government OK to buy a gun even though we found out the background check was faulty. That’s one of those common sense steps that we entrusted to the government and guess what failed?

Cooke frames their argument in the only way that makes any (common) sense and then takes it apart:

If there is an argument to be made, it’s that America has too many gun-related deaths in absolute numbers, and that this drop does not make up for that. Personally, I don’t know what people who say this really mean. As always, we start from where we are, and we are going in the right direction. That’s good, especially given that the positive changes have come at the same time as the laws have been liberalized and the number of guns increased vastly. Either way, though, it is simply not true that there is an “epidemic” or a “surge” or that shootings are becoming “more common.” It’s not even true that mass shootings are up.

In absolute numbers, the people dying in car crashes every day is too high, but you don’t see anyone pushing for the abolishment of cars. Unlike guns, they hold the drunk or reckless or incompetent driver at fault.

But in the era of postmodernism, “facts” are passe.  Now it’s all about the narrative, and the White House has again pushed the narrative forward over the still warm bodies in Roanoke.

Never let a crisis (or apparently a tragedy) go to waste, huh?

~McQ
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Economic Statistics for 25 Aug 15

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales remained weak, but rose to 1.7% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 1.6%.

The FHFA House Price Index rose 0.2% in June. On a year-over-year basis, the index is up 5.6%.

In contrast to the FHFA, the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index fell -0.1% in June, and is up 5.0% on a year-over-year basis.

The PMI Services Flash for August is unchanged from the final July number, at 55.2.

New home sales had a solid rise in June, up 5.4% to a 507,000 annual pace, bringing the surging year-over-year rate to 26%.

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index took a huge, 10.6-point jump in August to 101.5, as assessment of the labor market improved.

The Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index plunged -13 points to a disappointing reading of 0, well below expectations.

The State Street Investor Confidence Index eased to 108.7 in August from 114.6 in July.


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“Cultural libertarians” v. “Social Justice Warriors”

Or said another way, anti-authoritarians v. authoritarians.  Although the author of the cited article would like you to believe his “coined phrase’ describes a new movement, yeah, not so much.  Some of us have been fighting this battle for over 25 years.  That said, it’s an interesting article.  Here’s the intro (read the whole thing):

A new force is emerging in the culture wars. Authoritarians of all stripes, from religious reactionaries to left-wing “social justice warriors,” are coming under fire from a new wave of thinkers, commentators, and new media stars who reject virtually all of their political values.

From the banning of Charlie Hebdo magazine across British university campuses on the grounds that it promoted islamophobia, to the removal of the video game Grand Theft Auto V from major retailers in Australia on the grounds that it promoted sexism, threats to cultural freedom proliferate.

But a growing number of commentators, media personalities and academics reject the arguments that underpin these assaults on free expression, in particular the idea that people are either too emotionally fragile to deal with “offence” or too corruptible to be exposed to dangerous ideas.

In a recent co-authored feature for BreitbartI coined a term to describe this new trend: cultural libertarianism. The concept was critically discussed by Daniel Pryor at the Centre for a Stateless Society, who drew attention to the increasing viciousness of cultural politics in the internet age.

There is a reason for the sound and fury. Like all insurgent movements, the emergence of cultural libertarianism is creating tensions, border skirmishes, and even the occasional war with lazy incumbent elites. Some of these rows can be breathtakingly vitriolic, as self-righteous anger from social justice types collides with mocking and occasionally caustic humour from cultural libertarians.

It’s not a new trend, folks.  It is as old as anti-authoritarianism – and that’s hardly new.  But it seems, given the nature of man, that opposition to authoritarianism has always been an “insurgent movement”.  For whatever reason, but primarily false “security”, we, as human beings seem to tend toward various aspects of authoritarianism.  My guess is because freedom is hard and it allows a lot of things many of us find a bit hard to tolerate (which is part of the irony, since SJW claim to be “tolerant” but are mostly intolerant of any ideas but their own – and don’t mind looking for ways to stifle those they don’t agree with).

Anyway, I’ve been fighting that battle in this format (blog) for 12 years.  Before that, a few years on usenet, and before the internet, on multiple BBS sites (you remember BBS’s where you used your dial up and nifty PK zip and PK unzip to send message packets).  Authoritarianism didn’t begin when the internet was invented nor has resistance to it been a recent phenomenon.

That said, it’s good that it continues and, in the age of the internet, is growing even more than it was prior to the internet.  That’s because people can find each other no matter where they may be.  And, it seems, they’re doing so.  That’s a very good thing.  It allows “calls to arms” and those of a like mind to rally in opposition.  Of course, that works for the other side as well, but, as has been my experience, when confronted with their own words, especially as they’ve tried to redefine them (especially when you deconstruct them), well, they are rarely ever able to explain the hypocrisy. The phrase “I don’t think that word means what you think it means” has never been more true with confronting SJWs.

The other important thing that happens is the anti-authoritarian arguments are now broadcast more widely, so for those who are interested, they’re readily available.  Some folks know that what they’re hearing from the SJWs isn’t quite right, but they can’t put their finger on the explanation or counter argument.  With the number of well written arguments now published on line in opposition to the authoritarian/SJW arguments, that’s no longer a problem.

Because of the internet, that formerly insurgent movement isn’t necessarily isolated to a geographic region or cultural group.  It’s no longer necessarily “insurgent”.  It now has the ability to spread and spread quickly.  I find that to be a consummate “good thing”, even if some guy at Breitbart who is likely in his mid 20s, thinks this is all “new”.

~McQ

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