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Free Markets, Free People

Economic Statistics for 12 Jul 16

The Fed’s Labor Market Conditions index improved, but couldn’t make it it into positive territory in June, rising from -4.8 to -1.9.

The Labor Department’s JOLTS survey fell sharply to 5.500 million job openings in May, down from April’s revised 5.845 million.

NFIB’s Small Business Optimism Index rose 0.7 points to 94.5 in June, the third straight monthly increase.

Wholesale trade inventories grew 0.1% in May, while a 0.5% sales increase lowered the stock-to-sales ratio from 1.36 to 1.35. 

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales growth rose to 0.8% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 0.6%.


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The numbers that “Black Lives Matter” and the sensationalist media prefer you ignore

You’ve likely seen them, but these numbers tell a completely different story than those the “Black Lives Matter” tell and the media hypes:

The Washington Post has been gathering data on fatal police shootings over the past year and a half to correct acknowledged deficiencies in federal tallies. The emerging data should open many eyes.

For starters, fatal police shootings make up a much larger proportion of white and Hispanic homicide deaths than black homicide deaths. According to the Post database, in 2015 officers killed 662 whites and Hispanics, and 258 blacks. (The overwhelming majority of all those police-shooting victims were attacking the officer, often with a gun.) Using the 2014 homicide numbers as an approximation of 2015’s, those 662 white and Hispanic victims of police shootings would make up 12% of all white and Hispanic homicide deaths. That is three times the proportion of black deaths that result from police shootings.

The lower proportion of black deaths due to police shootings can be attributed to the lamentable black-on-black homicide rate. There were 6,095 black homicide deaths in 2014—the most recent year for which such data are available—compared with 5,397 homicide deaths for whites and Hispanics combined. Almost all of those black homicide victims had black killers.

Police officers—of all races—are also disproportionately endangered by black assailants. Over the past decade, according to FBI data, 40% of cop killers have been black. Officers are killed by blacks at a rate 2.5 times higher than the rate at which blacks are killed by police.

Some may find evidence of police bias in the fact that blacks make up 26% of the police-shooting victims, compared with their 13% representation in the national population. But as residents of poor black neighborhoods know too well, violent crimes are disproportionately committed by blacks. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, blacks were charged with 62% of all robberies, 57% of murders and 45% of assaults in the 75 largest U.S. counties in 2009, though they made up roughly 15% of the population there.

Such a concentration of criminal violence in minority communities means that officers will be disproportionately confronting armed and often resisting suspects in those communities, raising officers’ own risk of using lethal force.

So this gathering of facts would, or should, support an entirely different narrative – if the media reported on it honestly and if they had analysts who dealt in facts instead of emotion and opinion driven by ideology and agenda.

I’ ve seen these facts numerous times in numerous places and they’re pretty hard to argue against.  If black men are disproportionately represented in crime statistics it is because they disproportionately commit crimes – especially homicide.  If black lives mattered to “Black Lives Matter” that is one of the major issues the movement would be confronting.  But, of course, it’s not.  Instead it is focused on another issue, one that they have wildly misrepresented.  That is that police are out to kill blacks and black men specifically.

Nonsense.  There is nothing among the facts above that supports that contention.  Conversely, there’s much to say that BLM’s claim is exactly what I called it – nonsense.

Once you add to that the lack of leadership from the White House and Barack Obama and you can see why this has become an explosive problem.  As Myron Magnet points out in City Journal:

True to form, Obama went into grievance-mongering mode on July 7. . . . . His familiar conclusion: “If you add it all up, the African American and Hispanic population, who make up only 30 percent of the general population, make up more than half of the incarcerated population. Now, these are facts. And when incidents like this occur, there’s a big chunk of our fellow citizenry that feels as if because of the color of their skin, they are not being treated the same. And that hurts.” . . .

If you want to ignite race riots, a sure-fire way to do it is to stir up black hatred and suspicion of cops, which will in turn make cops warier of blacks and more trigger-happy, and so on, until an explosion occurs. So thanks, President Obama. You have set back American race relations by 50 years.

And he has.  Grievance mode that blows past the facts provided by Heather MacDonald in favor of – nonsense.  Gangs and gang related activities of two minority populations lend themselves heavily to what grievance mongers like Obama would like to call “disproportionate.”  Also note that he’s gone after police who are responsible for 258 deaths of blacks while other blacks are responsible for the remaining 5,827 deaths.  That, to a reasonable person, would seem the most frightening statistic if you were concerned about “black lives”, wouldn’t it?

Finally, as for “disproportionate,” when you see statistics like blacks were charged with 62% of all robberies, 57% of murders and 45% of assaults in the 75 largest U.S. counties in 2009, though they made up roughly 15% of the population there, what would you expect to see in arrest results?  Those who are making this “disproportionate” aren’t the police.  They’re the black criminals.  Another great issue for a real human rights organization to address.

But Black Lives Matter isn’t a human rights organization.  They totally ignore the real issues facing the black community.  No, they’re a racist organization that, in the mold of the blamer-in-chief, are trying to play victim and blame shift the problems of the black community on whites and police while claiming the motivation is racism.

It’s … that’s right … nonsense.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 8 Jul 16

In June, a greater-than-expected 287,000 net new jobs were created as the unemployment rate rose 0.2% to 4.9%, as 414,000 entrants came into the labor force, bringing the Labor force participation rate up 0.1% to 62.7%. Average hourly earnings rose 0.1%, while the average workweek was unchanged at 34.4 hours.

Consumer credit rose a large $18.6 billion in May, but the growth was mainly in non-revolving credit, indicating relatively weak consumer spending.


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Stray Voltage

The Dallas police murders, and that’s what the are, appear to have been a conspiracy.  Again it appears to be the result of the other side of “The Ferguson Effect” – the implied “wink and nod” that violence toward police is ok.

It was toward the end of a very peaceful protest, ironically against “police violence”, that the murderer struck.  Interestingly, even though the killer was pretty explicit about his purpose, we’ve seen none of the usual race baiting language from the left, because …

But during the overnight standoff, the suspect told a police negotiator he acted alone and wanted to kill white people, especially white police officers, Brown said.

Recall how it went with the Charleston shooter? Remember what he hoped to accomplish by those shootings? My guess is that’s precisely what this fellow hoped to foment.  Check out the link.

Another irony of the Dallas situation is that the Dallas police were pretty much a model for what the Obama administration thought a police department should be. He’d even hailed their effort recently.  However …

The relationship between Dallas police and the community is hardly perfect, of course. But the ironic effect of Thursday night’s murders is that quick assumptions about how they fit into the national debate over police use-of-force obscure a more nuanced and more positive truth.

And that, of course, is because of the insta-analysis news networks, the 24 hour news cycle and their arguing “know-it-alls.”  They  can be depended upon to inflame and misinform, especially initially, because it is more about sensationalism and ratings than about the hard work of good journalism.  Watch how this gets zero mention in the next few days.

Is “diversity” destroying what it means to be “American”?  The very short answer is, “yes”.  A commenter to the WSJ and immigrant who became an American had this to say:

One cannot become Chinese or Hispanic or Eskimo; one is either born so, or not. But one—everyone—can choose to become American (“At Home in America” by Aatish Taseer, Review, July 2). I know, because I did, immigrating to this country in 1959. I did not abandon my Hungarian origins or family, but I did embrace the values and mindset of a free and brave people, bound by common ideals and a heritage that was inheritable and sharable by the simple act of pledging allegiance to a flag.

Sadly, the melting pot of my youth is gone, replaced by an insidious celebration of diversity. Diversity celebrates not common goals, common values, common aspirations and certainly not who you are. Diversity enshrines what you are, embeds you in what “community” you belong to.

I am glad that Mr. Taseer has found his home, as I did so many years ago. But I fear that few of his fellow American immigrants and citizens share his longing to be “free of the past, and safe in the future.” Rather, they are busy throwing away our common American identity in the name of diversity. Differences, “the knots of intractable history that [are] integral to identity,” divide and rule more and more every day in America, too.

I too have been around long enough to see the melting pot be replaced by this diversity nonsense as well.  Tribalism with a new name.  We all know what tribalism has done to many lesser developed nations over the eons.  Why we think, or should I say, our elite think that reverting to tribalism is a positive is beyond me.  Bottom line, what makes America exceptional is the melting pot.  What will make it just like any other country is “diversity”.

Speaking of tribalism, Glenn Reynolds, while talking about something else, hit the nail on the head – politics:

Tribalism is the default state of humanity: The tendency to defend our own tribe even when we think it’s wrong, and to attack other tribes even when they’re right. Societies that temper those tribal tendencies do much better. But there is much opportunity for political empire-building in tribalism, and if the benefits of stoking tribal fires exceed the costs, then expect political actors to pour gasoline on even the smallest spark.

This is precisely the intent of “diversity”.  It is to enable “political empire building” and that’s exactly what has happened.  So, as mentioned, the “exceptionalism” of America, until the insistence on “diversity”, was the ability to “temper those tribal tendencies” and to establish goals and aspirations that held common ground for all people, regardless of the culture from which they came .  Liberty, freedom and the way of life they promised were what made “America” a great country.  Large government, factional policy and pushing tribalism are a sure formula for its demise.

Finally, speaking of  politics and tribalism, the proverbial race baiting extortionist who pointedly ignores the violence in his home town of Chicago to talk about Dallas chose to weigh in on the shootings.

Human rights activist Jessie Jackson has pointed the finger at Donald Trump and his followers for helping to create a rising climate of fear in America which has contributed to the shocking deaths of five police officers in downtown Dallas.

Calling this guy a “human rights activist” is akin to calling Hillary Clinton an “honest politician”.  Jackson is an opportunist of the first degree, and extortionist who has used race as a basis for boosting cash from corporations and is as dishonest as the day is long.  That said, what he’s doing is called “projection” by most psychiatrists.  There is no one who has helped “create a rising climate of fear” than have he and Al Sharpton, another race baiting extortionist (and tax evader).  How one gets from Dallas to Trump when the killer said he wanted to kill cops and white people is only for Jesse Jackson know.  I, on the other hand, blame the murders on the Jesse Jacksons of the world and their constant attempts to demonize the police.

Hope you have a great weekend.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 7 Jul 16

Chain stores reported mixed sales results for June, sparking uncertainty about the government’s retail sales report.

Challenger reports that layoff announcements totaled 38,536 in June, up from 30,157 in May.

ADP’s Employment Report indicates that 172,000 new private sector jobs were created in June.

Gallup’s Good Jobs Rate for June rose 0.5% to 46.0%.

Initial weekly jobless claims fell 16,000 to 254,000. The 4-week average fell 2,000 to 264,750. Continuing claims fell 44,000 to 2.124 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell -0.4 points to 43.5 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $4.1 billion last week, with total assets of $4.471 trillion. Reserve bank credit fell $-6.3 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $31.7 billion in the latest week.


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Economic Statistics for 6 Jul 16

The nation’s trade deficit widened sharply in May, to $41.1 billion from April’s $37.4 billion.

The PMI Services Index was little changed in June, up 0.1 points to 51.4, while the ISM Non-Manufacturing Index jumped from 52.9 to 56.5.

Gallup’s U.S. Job Creation Index was unchanged at 33 in June.

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales growth rose to a weak 0.6% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 0.5%.

The MBA reports that a sharp drop in mortgage rates drove mortgage applications up 14.2% last week, with purchases up 4.0% and refis up 21.0%.


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Cowardice

What happened today, with the FBI Director folding like a wet paper box and recommending Hillary Clinton not be prosecuted, has to go down in the annals of the history of the United States as the day respect for the law in this country died.

Andrew McCarthy outlines the irrefutable facts in the case:

There is no way of getting around this: According to Director James Comey (disclosure: a former colleague and longtime friend of mine), Hillary Clinton checked every box required for a felony violation of Section 793(f) of the federal penal code (Title 18): With lawful access to highly classified information she acted with gross negligence in removing and causing it to be removed it from its proper place of custody, and she transmitted it and caused it to be transmitted to others not authorized to have it, in patent violation of her trust. Director Comey even conceded that former Secretary Clinton was “extremely careless” and strongly suggested that her recklessness very likely led to communications (her own and those she corresponded with) being intercepted by foreign intelligence services.

So what shouldn’t be something that anyone could get around, assuming every box was checked as Comey says, is the consequences of their felony violations.

But … when it comes to the elite (politicians and various media types), there’s always a “but” … then Comey says:

Yet, Director Comey recommended against prosecution of the law violations he clearly found on the ground that there was no intent to harm the United States.

Intent or lack of intent really doesn’t repair the damage her gross negligence cost us, does it? In fact, that’s the point – “intent” is irrelevant.  Damage to our national security is relevant.  Comey is arguing that opposite – that if we mishandle classified material in such a way that it causes damage to the United States and its national security, but we do it  with “no intent to harm”, why we’re good to go. As long as we intended no harm, well, in “otherworld” apparently “no harm was then done” and we should be left to do it again when occupying an even higher office.  One can come up with endless variations on the “no intent to harm” nonsense when applied to other crimes.  And guess what – it doesn’t do any better when used in those sorts of context either.

I have to wonder where James Comey will go to get his integrity back, because with that bit of nonsense he lost it.  As did the organization he heads.

I wonder if he even thought about that.  Apparently this whitewash was worth his honor and reputation, including that of the former proud organization he leads.  Disgraceful doesn’t even begin to cover it.

Intent?  In a gross negligence case?  It isn’t even relevant.  As McCarthy points out:

In essence, in order to give Mrs. Clinton a pass, the FBI rewrote the statute, inserting an intent element that Congress did not require. The added intent element, moreover, makes no sense: The point of having a statute that criminalizes gross negligence is to underscore that government officials have a special obligation to safeguard national defense secrets; when they fail to carry out that obligation due to gross negligence, they are guilty of serious wrongdoing. The lack of intent to harm our country is irrelevant. People never intend the bad things that happen due to gross negligence.

I would point out, moreover, that there are other statutes that criminalize unlawfully removing and transmitting highly classified information with intent to harm the United States. Being not guilty (and, indeed, not even accused) of Offense B does not absolve a person of guilt on Offense A, which she has committed.

 

One doesn’t need to be a Supreme Court Justice much less even have a law degree to understand these points.  So how in the world did Comey justify this to himself to the point that he actually made this pitiful argument?  How?  How does a man who is qualified enough to be selected to lead one of the most elite law enforcement agencies in the world – one more time … law enforcement agency – just trade in his honor, integrity and reputation that quickly for … what?!

Finally, I thought McCarthy’s conclusion was spot on:

Finally, I was especially unpersuaded by Director Comey’s claim that no reasonable prosecutor would bring a case based on the evidence uncovered by the FBI. To my mind, a reasonable prosecutor would ask: Why did Congress criminalize the mishandling of classified information through gross negligence? The answer, obviously, is to prevent harm to national security. So then the reasonable prosecutor asks: Was the statute clearly violated, and if yes, is it likely that Mrs. Clinton’s conduct caused harm to national security? If those two questions are answered in the affirmative, I believe many, if not most, reasonable prosecutors would feel obliged to bring the case.

Comey’s job is not to decide whether to prosecute or not.  His job is to gather the evidence and let those who do that job make that decision.  And he clearly gathered enough evidence, according to himself, to make the case.

And then threw out an irrelevant excuse as justification for not doing so.

No penalty for Clinton’s obvious gross negligence and the harm she did to national security.  No accountability.

And the same can be said for Comey.  Oh he won’t be reprimanded, you can count on that.  No, the only way he’d have gotten in trouble with the administration is to recommend indictment.  Nope, he’ll likely be able to keep his job in the next Clinton administration – at least until Hillary finds someone more suitable and amenable to her priorities.  Yup, no accountability for Comey either.

Well, except to be seen by those who know better as a honorless political hack who traded his integrity and reputation, and that of the FBI, for a pat on the head from his masters.

Remember, folks … laws are for the little people.

~McQ

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