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Economic Statistics for 8 May 15

Wholesale inventories rose 0.1%, but a -0.2% drop is sales leaves the stock-to-sales ratio at a chubby 1.30.

The March Employment Situation shows 223,000 net new jobs created, with the unemployment rate dropping -0.1% to 5.4%. Labor force participation rose a tick to 62.8%, which is still at 1978 levels. Average hourly earnings rose just 0.1%, while the average workweek is unchanged at 34.5 hours. The already weak February report was revised sharply downwards to 85,000 net new jobs from the already weak initial report of 126,000.


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News bites

Our bias media is amazing at times.  AP in reference to the Garland event:

Pamela Geller at AP headquarters, where she said she had no regrets over TX cartoon contest that left 2 dead.

Why should she?  It is the actions of the two dead that led to their deaths.  Why would Geller regret doing what she did because two terrorists decided to attack it?  Seems like blaming the victim to me.

Here’s the dirty little secret about “why” we see such a push-back/defense of the terrorists from the left:

Unable or unwilling to formulate a strategy to comprehensively defeat jihad or even to adequately defend our nation, our elites adopt a strategy of cultural appeasement that only strengthens our enemy. Millions in the Muslim world are drawn to the “strong horse” (to use Osama bin Laden’s phrase), and when jihadists intimidate the West into silence and conformity, the jihadists show themselves strong.

And that’s why they are having little problem recruiting more jihadists.  The ill informed zealots actually think they are winning or can win.  Because the West as it now appears, is spineless.  So people like Geller are to be condemned and vilified.  Appeasement.

Meanwhile, in Idaho, a little book banning:

The Great Depression is part of our nation’s history. So why would an Idaho committee seek to ban one of the greatest books written about that time period?

John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” is under fire from a Coeur d’Alene committee which says the book is too dark and depressing for teens to read.

They’re also complaining about the book’s inappropriate language.

You know, I read “Of Mice and Men” when I was about 15, along with “Cannery Row”, “Grapes of Wrath” and just about everything else Steinbeck wrote.  I was living in Monterey, CA at the time and he was a bit of a local legend.  I cannot for the life of me figure out why anyone would ban that book.  It is terrific.  But, well, we have helicopter parents now who are concerned with a few bad words in a book, but who are otherwise willing to turn their kids over to the tender mercies of public school administrations who teach 2nd graders about sex, etc.

I don’t understand it — never will.

By the way, that would be the same public schools busily engaged in teaching “white privilege” in our schools.  For example:

According to PEG, white culture is based on “white individualism” or “white traits” like “rugged individualism,” “adherence to rigid time schedules,” “plan(ning) for the future,” and the idea that “hard work is the key to success.”

Minority students shouldn’t be expected to subscribe to those values because they are foreign to their culture, according to PEG.

Juan Williams has written about it and strongly disagrees.

“The tradition of black Americans throughout history is one that values the opportunity for education,” Williams said. “That includes being on time and working hard in school. You won’t find a black mother or father who says that’s not our tradition.

“We’re all in the same American culture. In any job you have to be on time. That’s just the way the world works. These people are engaged in cultural and political arguments that are based on negative stereotypes of black capacity to achieve in any situation. They are not helping these kids.”

Ya think!?  But that’s what your tax dollars are going toward.

Have you ever wondered where “liberation theology” came from?  Would you believe the godless commies?

Ion Mihai Pacepa has been called “the Cold War’s most important defector,” and after his defection, the Romanian government under Nicolae Ceausescu placed two death sentences and a $2 million bounty on his head. During the more than ten years that Pacepa worked with the CIA, he made what the agency described as “an important and unique contribution to the United States.”

He is reported in fact to have given the CIA “the best intelligence ever obtained on communist intelligence networks and internal security services.”

“Liberation theology has been generally understood to be a marriage of Marxism and Christianity. What has not been understood is that it was not the product of Christians who pursued Communism, but of Communists who pursued Christians,” Pacepa said in a recent article. In his role as doctrinal watchdog, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger called liberation theology a “singular heresy” and a “fundamental threat” to the Church.

Pacepa says that he learned details of the KGB involvement with Liberation Theology from Soviet General Aleksandr Sakharovsky, Communist Romania’s chief foreign intelligence adviser, who later became head of the Soviet espionage service, the PGU.

In 1959, Sakharovsky went to Romania together with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, for what would become known as “Khrushchev’s six-day vacation.” According to Pacepa, Khrushchev “wanted to go down in history as the Soviet leader who had exported communism to Central and South America.” He chose Romania as his point of export, since it was the only Latin country in the Soviet bloc and provided a logical liaison to Latin America because of the similarity of language and culture.

Pacepa claims that the Theology of Liberation was not merely infiltrated by the KGB, it was actually the brainchild of Soviet intelligence services.

“The movement was born in the KGB, and it had a KGB-invented name: Liberation Theology,” Pacepa said.

We first learn this week that “hate-speech” limitations came from these guys and now “liberation theology”.  Next you’ll tell us they infiltrated anti-war groups during the VietNam war … oh, wait.

On the good news front, the FBI has finally purged the Southern Poverty Law Center from its list of sources:

Christian groups are celebrating with the news that the Federal Bureau of Investigation appears to have scrubbed the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) from its hate crimes webpage, where the controversial group was listed as a resource and referred to as a partner in public outreach.

A letter to the U.S. Department of Justice, drafted by Lieutenant General (Ret.) William G. Boykin, Executive Vice President of the Family Research Council (FRC), calls such an association “completely unacceptable.”

Cheers! Have a good weekend.
~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 7 May 15

Chain stores reported generally lower year-on-year rates of sales growth for April, mainly due to the early Easter this year.

Price weakness in the oil sector led the big jump in Challenger’s April layoffs report, which jumped to 61,582.  A third of those layoff came from the oil sector.Today’s number is a huge increase from March’s 36,594.

Gallup’s US Payroll to Population unemployment index fell from 44.1 to 43.9 in April.

Initial weekly jobless claims rose 3,000 to 265,000. The 4-week average fell 4,250 to 279,500. Continuing claims fell 28,000 to 2.228 million. Jobless claims are currently at a 15-year low.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell -1 point to 43.7 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $1.2 billion last week, with total assets of $4.473 trillion. Reserve bank credit fell $-11.3 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply fell by $-27.4 billion in the latest week.

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How times have changed when it comes to free speech – just ask the NY Times

At the risk of beating a dead horse, I’m going to talk about how the left continues to attack free speech by trying to argue that somehow what they consider “hate speech” isn’t a part of it.  We watched CNN’s Chris Cuomo embarrass himself (well he probably wasn’t embarrassed, but he should have been) when he admonished the right to read the Constitution because it clearly didn’t support such speech.  And I pointed out yesterday the totalitarian origins of “hate-speech” exemptions from free speech rights.

That said, I’m fascinated by the attacks on this event in Texas and its sponsor, Pamela Geller.  Agree or disagree with her agenda, in terms of free speech she had every single right in the world to put that on and not expect to be attacked.   The presumption that she would be attacked is just that, a presumption.  It isn’t valid in any terms but apparently the left feels that their presumption that an attack would happen is all that is necessary to condemn Geller’s event as a hate-fest and hate-speech.  You have to wonder what they’d have said if no violence had erupted?

The usual suspects, however, attacked her.  In the particular case I’ll cite, it was the NY Times.  Watch how they set up their editorial “But!”:

There is no question that images ridiculing religion, however offensive they may be to believers, qualify as protected free speech in the United States and most Western democracies. There is also no question that however offensive the images, they do not justify murder, and that it is incumbent on leaders of all religious faiths to make this clear to their followers.

End of editorial.  That’s the crux of the free speech argument.  There are no “buts” after that.  However, there is for the NYT:

But it is equally clear that the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest in Garland, Tex., was not really about free speech. It was an exercise in bigotry and hatred posing as a blow for freedom.

Pure editorial opinion masquerading as some sort of “fact”.  What is the NYT doing here?  Arbitrarily deciding what is or isn’t hate.  And how dangerous is that?  See the USSR and all previous and existing totalitarian regimes.  They do that every day.

Anyway, in 1999, the NYT wasn’t in such a rush to equate an extraordinarily similar event as “an exercise in bigotry and hatred”.  You may remember it:

The Times in 1999 endorsed the showing at a public museum in New York of a supposed art work consisting of a crucifix in a vial of urine, arguing, “A museum is obliged to challenge the public as well as to placate it, or else the museum becomes a chamber of attractive ghosts, an institution completely disconnected from art in our time.” 

And what happened at that time?

Well, apparently the “image ridiculing” this religion was tolerated to the point that no violence occurred, meaning one can assume that leaders of that religion must have made it clear that it didn’t “justify murder” and none occurred.  That’s as it should have been.

So why, then, if the Times believed in free speech in 1999 when an obviously a large segment of the population viewed the crucifix in urine as offensive, provocative and sacrilegious, does it not believe the same thing in 2015 when the same conditions exist?

Because of the “but”, of course.  A “but” that didn’t exist when it was a religion being ridiculed that was not in favor with the left.

Some of those who draw cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad may earnestly believe that they are striking a blow for freedom of expression, though it is hard to see how that goal is advanced by inflicting deliberate anguish on millions of devout Muslims who have nothing to do with terrorism. As for the Garland event, to pretend that it was motivated by anything other than hate is simply hogwash.

The Times has yet to answer how “inflicting anguish” on millions of Christians who have done nothing to the artist is somehow “striking a blow for freedom of expression” or how that display wasn’t motivated by “hate” (hint: because their definition of “hate” is arbitrary).  It sure had no problem putting it’s editorial heft in support of that “hate” then.  And there’s no argument by anyone who can reason –  it was as “hateful” as anything at the Garland event.  And pretending otherwise is, to borrow the NYT term, “hogwash”.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 6 May 15

The MBA reports that mortgage applications fell -4.6% last week, with purchases up 1.0% but refis down -8.0%.

ADP is signaling that Friday’s Employment Situation will be weak, showing just 169,000 new private sector jobs in April.

2015’s weak 1st Quarter economy pulled productivity down by -1.9%, while unit labor costs surged 5.0%. On a year-over-year basis, productivity is up only 0.6%, though labor costs are also restrained at 1.1%.

Gallup’s U.S. Job Creation Index rose 2 points in April to 31.


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There is no “line” between free speech and hate speech – nor should there be

But the LA Times thinks there is as it states in its piece about the Garland, TX attack by Islamists:

The Garland attack refocused public attention on the fine line between free speech and hate speech in the ideological struggle between radical Islam and the West.

Hate to break it to them but what they categorize as “hate speech” is a subset of “free speech”.

Of course the term is now in popular use all across the world, but it has very interesting and nasty origin as the Hoover Institution discusses here.

The origin of the term comes from the Soviet Union and its satellites in arguments about the 1948 UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (udhr).  The arguments during its drafting and particularly the area concerning freedom of speech showed the world the totalitarian concept of “free speech” as articulated by the USSR and its satellites.

The drafting history of the protection of the freedom of expression in the udhr does not leave any doubt that the dominant force behind the attempt to adopt an obligation to restrict this right under human rights law was the Soviet Union. On the other hand, led by the U.S. and uk, the vast majority of Western democracies, albeit with differences in emphasis, sought to guarantee a wide protection of freedom of expression and in particular to avoid any explicit obligation upon states to restrict this right.

In particular the USSR sought language that addressed “hate”:

The first draft was limited to the prohibition of “any advocacy of national, racial, or religious hostility that constitutes an incitement to violence.” However, a number of countries led by the Soviet Union were adamant that incitement to violence was insufficient, and sought a broader prohibition against “incitement to hatred.” Poland expressed dissatisfaction with a provision only prohibiting incitement to violence, since it did not tackle “the root of the evil,” and worried that freedom of expression could be abused and “contribute decisively to the elimination of all freedoms and rights.” The Yugoslav representative thought it important to “suppress manifestations of hatred which, even without leading to violence, constituted a degradation of human dignity and a violation of human rights.”

Of course we all know how loosely such a term as “hate” can be interpreted and how arbitrarily it can be applied, especially by a state bent on oppression of the opposition.  And, of course, that was the point.  The totalitarian regimes were looking for the blessing of the UDHR to sanction their planned oppression.

Eleanor Roosevelt found the language “extremely dangerous” and warned against provisions “likely to be exploited by totalitarian States for the purpose of rendering the other articles null and void.” She also feared that the provision “would encourage governments to punish all criticism under the guise of protecting against religious or national hostility.” Roosevelt’s concern was shared by, among others, the five Nordic countries. Sweden argued that “the effective prophylaxis lay in free discussion, information, and education,” and that “fanatical persecution” should be countered with “free discussion, information and debate”. Australia warned that “people could not be legislated into morality.” Furthermore, it noted that “the remedy might be worse than the evil it sought to remove.” The uk representative stated that “the power of democracy to combat propaganda lay . . . in the ability of its citizens to arrive at reasoned decisions in the face of conflicting appeals.” When challenged by the Soviet Union, the uk representative pointed out that during World War II, Hitler’s Mein Kampf had not been banned and was readily available in the uk, and that its government “would maintain and fight for its conception of liberty as resolutely as it had fought against Hitler.”

Of course, at the time this was being discussed, the West was adamantly against the restrictions that the Soviets were seeking, i.e. including “hate speech” as a legitimate reason to limit speech. They clearly understood the implications of such restrictions and how they could and most likely would be used.

Fast forward to today:

All western european countries have hate-speech laws. In 2008, the eu adopted a framework decision on “Combating Racism and Xenophobia” that obliged all member states to criminalize certain forms of hate speech. On the other side of the Atlantic, the Supreme Court of the United States has gradually increased and consolidated the protection of hate speech under the First Amendment. The European concept of freedom of expression thus prohibits certain content and viewpoints, whereas, with certain exceptions, the American concept is generally concerned solely with direct incitement likely to result in overt acts of lawlessness.

So, in essence, Europe has capitulated to Soviet demands a few decades after the communist nation ceased to exist.  It apparently buys into the notion that that state has the right to limit speech if hateful and reserves to itself the right to define what is or isn’t hate.  Eleanor Roosevelt, of course, was right – such laws are “likely to be exploited by totalitarian States for the purposes of rendering” free speech “null and void”.  That’s precisely what totalitarian regimes always do, with or without the blessing of a UDHR.  They are going to control speech and they’re going to suppress as “hateful” anything they don’t agree with.

Interestingly it was a representative from Columbia who said it best:

Punishing ideas, whatever they may be, is to aid and abet tyranny, and leads to the abuse of power . . . As far as we are concerned and as far as democracy is concerned, ideas should be fought with ideas and reasons; theories must be refuted by arguments and not by the scaffold, prison, exile, confiscation, or fines.

Kirsten Powers points out that we’re slowly drifting toward tyranny when she talks about how it once was on the college campus and how it is now.  Contrary ideas are now characterized as “violence” and intolerance to those ideas is rampant for some.  Interestingly, for the most part, those who would ban speech they disagree with mostly find themselves on the left side of the political spectrum, which, at least, is historically consistent.  They’re heirs to the Soviet Union’s attempts to oppress free speech.

They must be very proud.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 5 May 15

March’s trade deficit was much higher than expected at $-51.4 billion. This may push 1st Quarter GDP into negative territory on revision.

Gallup’s U.S. economic confidence index for April fell from -2 in March to -9.

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales weakened again, falling to 1.4% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 1.6%.

The PMI Services Index fell -1.8 points to a still-strong 57.4 in April. Both costs and finished prices rose, some of the first inflation signals of any report.

The ISM non-manufacturing index strengthened from 56.5 to 57.8 in April. Unlike the PMI, however, there are no signs of price pressure.


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The hypocrisy immune left and free speech

It is interesting to me to examine events and the reaction too them in certain contexts, such as left and right.  Below is a listing I found on Facebook (h/t Christopher Buckley) which succinctly states the left’s reaction to each of the events listed:

Rioters in Baltimore: EXPRESSION OF SPEECH
Stomping on US flag: EXPRESSION OF SPEECH
Crucifix in a jar of urine: EXPRESSION OF SPEECH
Cartoon art display: UNPROTECTED INCENDIARY HATE

In fact, rioting is now being redefined (or at least the attempt is being made) from a criminal enterprise to a “free speech” event if a protected minority is involved.  If it’s a bunch of straight white guys, they’re going to jail.

Stomping the flag and a crucifix in a jar of urine have always been defended by the left as free speech.  Burn the flag – free speech.  Neo-Nazi’s marching in a Jewish neighborhood – free speech.  The list goes on.

However, it appears that there is a line somewhere on the left where that changes.  Outrageous acts focused on offending certain groups are always free speech.  Outrageous acts, of exactly the same nature but against protected groups, yeah, screw free speech, it’s hate speech.  And, of course, the protected group is the “victim”.  On the other side, however, the deeply offended group is told to get over it, free speech is inviolate … well, except … yeah.  I’m not sure how the left keeps it straight in their tiny little heads and don’t keel over from an overdose of hypocrisy.

But then, they seem to have developed some sort of tolerance for hypocrisy over the ages – no pun intended.

~McQ

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