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Free Markets, Free People

Economic Statistics for 17 Feb 15

The Fed’s Empire State Manufacturing Survey fell to 7.78 in February from January’s 9.95.

The NAHB housing market index fell -2 points in February to 55.

E-Commerce sales from the 4th Quarter of 2014 fell to 2.3%, down from 3.6% in the 3rd Quarter. Year-on-year, sales are up 14.6%, while e-commerce sales to 0.1% to account for 6.7% of all retail sales.


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ISIS doesn’t need killing. They need jobs!

To describe our State Department (and it’s spokes person) as boneheaded is an insult to boneheaded people.  Here’s State Department Spokesperson Marie Harf and, of all people, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews:

MATTHEWS: How do we stop this? I don’t see it. I see the Shia militias coming out of Baghdad who are all Shia. The Sunnis hate them. The Sunnis are loyal to ISIS rather than going in with the Shia. You’ve got the Kurds, the Jordanian air force and now the Egyptian air force. But i don’t see any — If i were ISIS, I wouldn’t be afraid right now. I can figure there is no existential threat to these people. They can keep finding places where they can hold executions and putting the camera work together, getting their props ready and killing people for show. And nothing we do right now seems to be directed at stopping this.

HARF: Well, I think there’s a few stages here. Right now what we’re doing is trying to take their leaders and their fighters off the battlefield in Iraq and Syria. That’s really where they flourish.

MATTHEWS: Are we killing enough of them?

HARF: We’re killing a lot of them and we’re going to keep killing more of them. So are the Egyptians, so are the Jordanians. They’re in this fight with us. But we cannot win this war by killing them. We cannot kill our way out of this war. We need in the medium to longer term to go after the root causes that leads people to join these groups, whether it’s lack of opportunity for jobs, whether —

MATTHEWS: We’re not going to be able to stop that in our lifetime or fifty lifetimes. There’s always going to be poor people. There’s always going to be poor muslims, and as long as there are poor Muslims, the trumpet’s blowing and they’ll join. We can’t stop that, can we?

HARF: We can work with countries around the world to help improve their governance. We can help them build their economies so they can have job opportunities for these people…

Good grief, these people don’t want better “governance” and they’ve got the job they want … building the Caliphate.  For heaven sake when are these ass-clowns going to wake up?

I’m again going to recommend an article that does the best analysis and explanation of ISIS that you’re going to find.  It is very clear that those who rally to the ISIS banner think they’re building a righteous future with the Caliphate and that what they’re doing is preordained by their religion.

But the fools who run this country and our foreign policy – that would be the White House and State Department – are terrified of facing the threat and calling it what it is.  It’s absurd and cowardly.  It makes them come up with the sorts of pitiful nonsense that Harf is told to go out and spread.

This is a religious movement which is based, at its very core, on Islam.  It is as religious a movement as you can get.  In fact, as explained in the Atlantic article I’ve pointed you too, it is based in a literal interpretation of Islam’s holy book and its history.  Let me hit you with that one particular quote again:

The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.

Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology,” which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail. Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it. We’ll need to get acquainted with the Islamic State’s intellectual genealogy if we are to react in a way that will not strengthen it, but instead help it self-immolate in its own excessive zeal.

Note what the author points out – that “pretending it isn’t actually religious … has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it.”

See above!  Harf is just a symptom of the idiocy and cowardice that infests our highest levels of government.  When you refuse to actually identify the enemy and his motivation, you cannot hope to devise and develop a plan to counter his threat.  History is littered with the failure such nonsense brings.  Chamberlin thought Hitler could be reasoned with and would keep his word.  He was clueless.  And, as such, he developed a “strategy” that was an abject failure and, in fact, played right into Hitler’s hands.

Obama and Kerry are no different.  They refuse to face the reality of the threat.  That’s why we have no strategy, or at least no strategy (patience?  really?) that will counter the threat.  What they are doing is cowardly and reprehensible, not to mention being derelict in their sworn duties.  This is unacceptable, but then neither Obama nor Kerry have ever been mistaken as leaders.

And when you elect or appoint people with no leadership experience and no real world experience, you get this.  Something 50% of the idiots who live in this country approve of (sorry, I’m a little grumpy today).

~McQ

 

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Stray voltage

More subjects than one can conveniently throw a stick at … so we’ll throw several sticks.

Have you seen the latest Brookings Institute poll on Obama’s “greatness” as a President?  It is interesting.  They decided to poll the American Political Science Association.  Their “consensus”?

First, President Obama ranks 18th overall, but beneath the surface of the aggregate figures lurks evidence of significant ambivalence. For example, those who view Obama as one of the worst American presidents outnumber those who view him as one of the best by nearly a 3-1 margin. Similarly, nearly twice as many respondents view Obama as over-rated than do those who consider him under-rated.

Well there you go.  Even a liberal leaning think tank polling liberal leaning academics can’t manage to put lipstick on a pig.  18th overall?  Hilarious.

Remember we were told that Iraq was “poorly thought out” and that “armed intervention” was a mistake?

Wouldn’t it be interesting if someone applied the same standard to Libya?  Yesterday we got to see what some of the result of that awful decision when 21 Coptic Christians were beheaded by ISIS.  And the White House reaction?

The United States condemns the despicable and cowardly murder of twenty-one Egyptian citizens in Libya by ISIL-affiliated terrorists.

Can’t even get up the gumption to identify who the “Egyptians citizens” were.  They weren’t beheaded for being Egyptians, folks.

We call on all Libyans to strongly reject this and all acts of terrorism and to unite in the face of this shared and growing threat.  We continue to strongly support the efforts of the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General Bernardino Leon to facilitate formation of a national unity government and help foster a political solution in Libya.

Because, you know, Obama and the boys kind of broke the last government.

Meanwhile in Oregon, the Democratic governor resigns in disgrace, a victim of corruption in the “green energy” field.

It is a safe bet that Kitzhaber’s implosion has sent the rest of the nation’s Democratic governors, and even a few officeholders in Washington, scrambling to review their affairs. It is the very nature of green energy that its unprofitability ensures that it is only viable in the marketplace if it is subsidized at taxpayer expense. The political class’ favorability toward clean energy and the media’s deference to the project of green technology have created the perfect conditions where corruption can thrive.

Leftist billionaire Tom Steyer is deeply implicated in all of this.  I wonder if he’ll get the “Koch brothers” treatment by the media.

You can read on when you stop laughing hysterically.

Oh, and here’s another in a long line of damning reports about ObamaCare.

On another subject, I’m old enough to remember friends crippled by polio and the “iron lung”:

“We are at a stage where people have no memory of just how dangerous pathogens used to be. There is no visceral fear of viruses and bacteria. Children in wheelchairs as a result of polio are a thing of the past because the United States has been polio free since 1979 as a result of vaccines. The only people I’ve ever met who were hobbled by damage from polio were older than me. . . . I do not expect an innumerate and unscientific public to become more trusting of medical organizations that support vaccination. In some communities herd immunity has already been lost and it will be lost in more other communities. This trend will continue until an old disease comes sweeping thru and racks up lots of damage and fatalities.”

On the other hand, the government has reported for 40 years that cholesterol was going to kill us and then, recently said, “never mind”.  But they still want us to believe their science about “global warming”.  That said, one small pox plague and I’d bet everything would change.  Its hard to be fearful when you’ve never had to live with the results of awful afflictions like polio.   I remember that being the greatest fear of many parents.  Now, well, now they don’t even give it a second thought.  That’s because of a vaccination, for heaven sake.  Same with small pox.  But then anti-vaxxers are using the same sort of science that warming alarmists do, so you shouldn’t be particularly surprised.

Meanwhile in Wisconsin (not surprisingly, Madison, WI) 30 homes were spray painted with anti-Semitic graffiti.  My guess is the White House would characterize the act as “a random act by some juvenile delinquents”.  I’m still in awe of the spineless characterization of the victims in the Kosher Deli in Paris as some “folks” in a random incident.  But then, this is the same administration that for years characterized the Ft. Hood shootings as “workplace violence”, so it really isn’t a big surprise.  Back in Madison, don’t even begin to believe that the vandalism will ever be classified as a hate crime.  That is reserved for favored minorities only.

Graeme Wood (read the whole thing) lays the wood to the cowardly among us who can’t find it in themselves to identify the enemy and the enemy’s foundation:

The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.

Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology,” which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail. Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it. We’ll need to get acquainted with the Islamic State’s intellectual genealogy if we are to react in a way that will not strengthen it, but instead help it self-immolate in its own excessive zeal.

Meanwhile, at the State Department and White House …

~McQ

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Lord save us … from ourselves

The world today sometimes amazes even me.  Politics today, however, doesn’t at all.  Pretty much everything that happens is a variation on a theme – and that theme is we’re served by the worst political class in our history (I’m talking generationally here, not just the last election).  And there seems to be no relief in sight.  We have a scam-artist in the White House now who has, in reality, never done anything of significance in his life up till now.  And now he’s significantly ruining this country.

And in the wings?  Hillary Clinton?  Good lord.  Or Jeb Bush?  Lord save me.  Or this – the darling of the Left, Elizabeth Warren:

Then there is the scandal-in-waiting concerning her sleazy scholarship while a law professor. She co-authored a highly-publicized study in 2005 that claimed that 54.5 percent of all bankruptcies have “a medical cause” and that 46.2 percent have a “major medical cause,” telling interviewers that those findings demonstrated the need for national health care. In fact, the proportion of bankruptcies caused by catastrophic medical losses is more like 2 percent. Her numbers were inflated by including “uncontrolled gambling,” “alcohol or drug addiction,” “death in family,” and “birth/addition of new family member” as “a medical cause.” In addition, spending as little as $1,000 in unreimbursed medical expenses over the course of two years — hardly unusual for a family — was enough to get a bankruptcy classified as “a major medical cause” even when the debtor himself or herself did not list illness or injury as a cause of the bankruptcy. A number of scholars have criticized the study as intentionally misleading.

Just what we need … another politician who uses corrupt studies to bolster her agenda driven objective.  They don’t call her Fauxahauntus only because she faked indian heritage to snag a gig at Harvard.  Another “professor”/Senator  who has never done anything or run anything being seriously touted for the top job?  [Is any journalist out there looking deeply into this?  No.  Oh, sorry, they’re all worried about Scott Walker not having a degree.]

Conclusion – it’s the electorate that needs a serious overhaul.  Same song, different verse – you’d think the last 6 years would have cured anyone from looking at a no-name junior senator who has never done anything of significance in her life, but not the Left.  Or the yellow dogs or the low information, government dependent voters that actually think government services are “free” and it’s the “greedy rich” who are the problem.

We’ve got a mess, the tipping point seems to have been reached and the only thing that might save us is if a statesmen or woman with leadership credentials steps forward.

Meh – we’re screwed.

~McQ

 

 

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Economic Statistics for 12 Feb 15

Initial weekly jobless claims rose 25,000 to 304,000. The 4-week average fell 3,000 to 289,750. Continuing claims fell 51,000 to 2.354 million.

Retail sales fell -0.8% overall in January, while sales less autos fell -0.8%, and sales less autos and gas rose 0.2%.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell -1.2 points to 44.3 in the latest week.

Business inventories rose only 0.1% in December, but business sales fell a very sharp -0.9%. The stock-to-sales ratio jumped to a troubling 1.33, the highest since July 2009.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $1.4 billion last week, with total assets of $4.502 trillion. Reserve bank credit rose $0.9 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply jumped by $71.6 billion in the latest week.


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Stuff and whatnot

The idiocy continues on all sorts of fronts.  A few things that caught my eye.  David Axlerod’s autobiography and his expectations:

“More than anything, this is what’s terrible about modern media and how these books roll out,” Axelrod says. “I was determined to write a book that wasn’t going to be characterized by some titillating nugget that had about a three-day half-life, but rather an entire story of my life and the conclusions that life has led me to. I wanted to write a book that people might want to read years from now and not just today’s publication because they wanted to find out who had been knifing who.”

A lovely sentiment. But Axelrod, who likes to think of himself as a real-world idealist, surely knew not to get his hopes up.

Oh balderdash.  Axelrod is about as calculating a political hack as one can find.  To assume he was so naive or stupid to believe his book would be treated any other way is irony on steroids.  The only thing interesting about the man at all are the political secrets he may reveal.  I got a good laugh out of his disappointment.

Under the sarcastic title of “wow, I’d have never guessed this … ” we find:

A shadowy Bermudan company that has funneled tens of millions of dollars to anti-fracking environmentalist groups in the United States is run by executives with deep ties to Russian oil interests and offshore money laundering schemes involving members of President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.

Look, those guys learned how to successfully co-opt liberal left anti-war groups ages ago.  This is just the updated effort.  Why this would surprise anyone is a mystery to me.  And, of course, it’s the big names of the movement – Sierra Club, the Natural Resource Defense Council, Food and Water Watch, the League of Conservation Voters, and the Center for American Progress.  Bought and paid for … by evil oil.

Irony … it’s just lost on the left.

Under the title of “when bureaucrats get huffy”, things got a little testy in a Congressional hearing yesterday with the newest VA Secretary.  Apparently he’s not used to having his competence questioned:

The fracas started when Coffman criticized the VA for citing its effort to defend cost and time overruns at a Denver hospital projects as a major accomplishment.

“How is that a success?”

[Rep. Mike] Coffman [(R-Colo.)] asked. “You lost that case on every single point for the hospital in my district that is hundreds of millions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule.”

“I think that that’s just characteristic of your glossing over the extraordinary problems confronted by your department,” Coffman added. “This is a department mired in bureaucratic incompetence and corruption. And I gotta tell you, I think the public relations is great today, but there’s no substance.”

McDonald said he was offended by those remarks, and then dodged the question and tried to shift the blame to Coffman and others in Congress.

“Actually, I’ve been here six months,” McDonald said to Coffman. “You’ve been here longer than I have. If there’s a problem in Denver, I think you own it more than I do.”

Really … because Coffman has what to do with running the VA project in question?  After all the failure of the past 6 years, that’s just what you need, an egoistic, thin-skinned nincompoop at the head of the VA.  McDonald followed that little jewel up by showing he knew nothing about the person he was insulting:

… McDonald ended by barking at Coffman, “I’ve run a large company, sir. What have you done?”

Well, as it happens, Mike Coffman is a combat veteran who started his own company, and is the only member of Congress to have served in both Iraq wars.  And as it happens, Secretary McDonald is an ass, just like the head of the IRS, just like our Attorney General, just like … yes, it’s the culture and climate that has evolved within this administration and it all goes directly to the head of it all … our snarky, sarcastic and disrespectful president.

Btw, in my estimation, McDonald ended up looking like a fool, something he richly deserved.

Instead of hurling insults, McDonald should be interested in actually doing something useful.  Like his job:

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ vast health network — beset by a scandal last year over delayed care — has been listed as a high-risk federal program by congressional auditors for the first time.

The report by the watchdog Government Accountability Office, which is issued every two years, includes a broad indictment of the $55.5 billion VA program, one of the nation’s largest health care systems. USA TODAY obtained the VA section of the report, scheduled for release Wednesday.

And this goob, like most of the administration, is trying to lay off any blame.  It’s a perfect example of an ossified bureaucracy that is more than incompetent, it’s lethal.

Finally, for those of you who like strolling down the memory lane of climate alarmist predictions, there’s a website up dedicated to reminding us again how wrong they’ve all been:

A senior environmental official at the United Nations, Noel Brown, says entire nations could be wiped off the face of the earth by rising sea levels if global warming is not reversed by the year 2000.

San Jose Mercury News 30 Jun 1989

Ah, yes, the good old days.

~McQ

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Welcome to the club, Ace

Over at Ace of Spaces, Ace writes:

I have long argued against a third-party split and the Nightmare Option of simply conceding the country to the liberals for 20 disastrous years.

I am no longer confident in such arguments.

Lots of us passed that point years or even decades ago. We’ve been called all sorts of names. We’re told we’re immature and unreasonable because we don’t support people who are much closer allies to their Democratic colleagues than they will ever be to those of us who believe in limited government.

Every election cycle we get inundated with all the tactical reasons that we simply have to support whatever stuffed-shirt, big-government-friendly, Democrat-lite candidate who made it through a nomination process mostly controlled by moneyed corporate interests, using their campaign contributions and media influence.

The battle cry of the GOP loyalists is “But the Democrats are Worse (TM)”. I’ve been through this before, so no need to rehash why I think that battle cry is worse than useless.

The main thing I would ask the GOP loyalists at this point is this: exactly what would cause you to give up on the GOP?

Suppose the GOP does win the White House and keeps Congress in 2016. What do you expect from them? Write it down. Decide on the minimum you’re willing to accept to continue supporting this party that has screwed you nine ways from Sunday for two decades at least.

Ace has reached his breaking point. He’s tired of the “Small government on the campaign trail, big government as soon as they get off the plane in DC” shell game.

For those GOP loyalists still left: If you have not reached that breaking point yet, what will cause you to? And could you at least admit that those of us who gave up on the GOP have a point?

Billy
@thisispointless

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Economic Statistics for 11 Feb 15

The MBA reports that mortgage applications fell -9.0% last week, with purchases down -7.0% and refis down 10.0%.

The US Treasury reports that the January budget deficit was $-17.5 billion, which is 6.2% higher than a year ago. In January, receipts rose 8.7%, while spending rose 8.3%. For the US Government’s fiscal year so far, the total deficit now stands at $-194.2 billion vs. $-182.8 billion a year ago.


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