Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Quote of the Day: Rule of Law edition

From the inestimable Kevin Williamson:

When the law does not apply to the lawmakers and law-enforcers, you are not being governed: You are being ruled. And we are ruled by criminals. If you treat IRS rules the way the IRS treats IRS rules, you go to prison; if you treat federal law the way the secretary of state does, you go to prison. If you treat immigration controls the way our immigration authorities do, you go to prison. If you’re as careless in your handling of firearms as the ATF is, you go to prison. You cook your business’s books the way the federal government cooks its books, you go to prison.

If you believe that any of those who you’ve watched arrogantly refuse to follow the law are going to actually be prosecuted and pay the same penalty you would, you’ve not been paying close attention.  When’s the last time you saw any politician or bureaucrat with any real power frog marched off to jail?  When is the last time you actually saw one held accountable for their actions?

All of Williamson’s statements are true when applied to you and I.  I’ve always used the example of a numbers racket.  You run a numbers racket and you go to jail.  The government runs one and they call it “the lottery” – and, of course, it’s proceeds are “for the children” – so its ok if they do it.

Until we see scofflaws like Hillary Clinton and others actually held accountable by law and suffer consequences for breaking it, there’s no downside for politicians and bureaucrats who break or ignore the law.  And since there is no incentive right now for them to change and every incentive not too (in terms of increasing their control and power) we’re not going to see anything change.  They’ll just continue to abuse and disobey the law and dare us to do anything about it.  We’ll be treated to outrageous story after outrageous story (sort of what our fare has been for the last few years) and nothing will change.  In fact, you can count on those stories becoming even more frequent.

But “rule of law”?  That, apparently, is an old fashioned concept for our ruling elite and reserved only for the “little people”.  And they hang us high when they get the chance to keep the fear of government alive and ensure their control doesn’t slip.

We have a ruling elite, folks, and we need to hold them accountable in the most basic way – if we want to see a return of the “rule of law” for all, bring government under control and again have the politicians and bureaucrats serve us instead of rule us.

~McQ

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Economic Statistics for 6 Mar 15

The labor department reports that 295,000 net new jobs were created in January, as the unemployment rate fell from 5.7% to 5.5%. The labor force participation rate slipped -0.1% to 62.8% as 178,000 people left the labor force. Average hourly earnings rose 0.1%, while the average workweek remained unchanged at 34.6 hours. The U-6 unemployment rate, the broadest measure of labor utilization, fell from 11.3% to 11%. Normally, at this point, I would calculate the “real” unemployment rate based on the historical labor force participation rate of 66.2%. Well, I’m not going to do that any more. Labor force participation has been declining steadily for the past 15 years, so I’m no longer sure what the “real” labor force participation rate should be. Below is labor force participation since 1960.

Labor force participation rate since 1960

Lower oil prices narrowed the US Trade deficit from $-46.6 billion in December to $-41.8 billion in January.

Consumer credit rose $11.6 billion in January, but revolving credit fell $1.1 billion. Credit increases mainly came from auto financing and the government’s acquisition of student loans. 


Dale’s social media profiles:
Twitter | Facebook | Google+

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Screw the science, we need the money!

The title is essentially what is going on in California as the Democratic controlled state imposes a tax for the “prevention” of global warming.

Californians will now have to pay yet another tax as part of the state’s effort to fight global warming. Residents will now pay a global warming tax for buying gasoline on top of the already existing state gas tax.

But being “smart” politicians, they don’t call it a tax:

The global warming tax on gas retailers is part of the state’s cap-and-trade program. But state officials are not calling the global warming charge a tax, instead they are saying it’s a fee paid by gas retailers when distributors load tanker trucks — even though the cost is passed onto consumers through the cost of fuel.

“They are not calling it a tax, and these guys (wholesalers) are adding it to the cost of the fuel, so you are paying a tax on a tax,” Max Castillo, who owns a convenience store and gas station, told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “California is the leader of the nation in paying taxes.”

That’s right, folks, it’s a “fee”.  So Californians, who live in the state with the highest taxes, now get to pay a tax on a tax “fee”.  The result?

The global warming tax adds about 10 cents a gallon to wholesale gas prices and 12 cents to diesel prices, reports the Union-Tribune. But with gas prices down about one dollar from last year, few residents have noticed the global warming fee being added to their gas bills.

Californians pay a whopping 77 cents per gallon extra on gasoline due to fees and taxes. The Union-Tribune reports that “[e]xcise taxes… cost consumers 36 cents per gallon for the state and 18.3 cents for the federal government.” This is in addition to the 2 cent underground storage tank fee and the “global warming fee, which is variable and could soar in the future, added about a dime this week.”

The global warming fee adds 2.25 percent to the full retail price of gasoline — which includes existing taxes and fees — meaning that once gas prices start to rise, Californians may take notice when their gas bills go way up.

Science doesn’t support this.  It simply isn’t there.  And California’s politicians deciding to do it on their own is simply an exercise in political arrogance and vanity.  A decision to get the “little people” to again pay for a political boondoggle (see current “light rail” boondoggle).  Nothing will come of this in real terms.  California fossil fuel usage for transportation needs is 96%. That hasn’t changed much and isn’t likely to change anytime in the near future.

However, that apparently doesn’t prevent politicians from imposing their utopian pipe dreams on the citizens of that state – and frankly, they richly deserve this given their past voting record.

The imposition of a global warming tax on fuel retailers comes as Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown announces plans to push the state to get 50 percent of its energy from green sources and move away from oil.

“If we have any chance at all of achieving that, California, as it does in many areas, must show the way. We must demonstrate that reducing carbon is compatible with an abundant economy and human well-being,” Brown said in a recent speech.

Brown wants to put the state on track to get 50 percent of its energy from green sources, like wind and solar, by 2030 and cut the state’s use of petroleum in half in the next 15 years. Brown also promised more rules to make buildings more energy-efficient.

“All of this is a very tall order. It means that we continue to transform our electrical grid, our transportation system and even our communities,” Brown said.

It’s BS built on a questionable scientific theory based in models which have been found to be horribly wanting and consistently wrong.  This isn’t about the environment (other than it will help keep that lobby a bit quieter and in the politician’s pocket), it’s about money – revenue.  And power.

But then, when isn’t it anymore?

~McQ

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Economic Statistics for 5 Mar 15

Chain stores are reporting roughly the same rates of year-on-year sales growth as they did in January, indicating flat sales.

Challenger’s layoff count fell to 50,579 in February vs 53,041 in January. But, the monthly average during the 4th quarter was below 40,000, so the 1st quarter’s layoff count is significantly higher.

Nonfarm productivity growth for the 4th quarter 2014  was revised down to an annualized drop of -2.2%, as unit labor costs increased 4.1%.

Factory orders fell -0.2% in January, the 6th straight decline, as a -3.1% decline in non-durable goods offset a 2.8% rise in durables. The increase in durable goods orders, however, mainly resulted from the volatile transportation sector, due to a big gain for commercial aircraft, which jumped 9.7%.

Gallup’s US Payroll to Population rate dropped slightly in February from 44.1% to 43.9%.

Initial weekly jobless claims rose 7,000 to 320,000. The 4-week average rose 10,250 to 304,750. Continuing claims rose 17,000 to 2.421 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 0.7 points to 43.5 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $0.9 billion last week, with total assets of $4.488 trillion. Reserve bank credit fell $-10.7 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $43.5 billion in the latest week.


Dale’s social media profiles:
Twitter | Facebook | Google+

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

More news that makes ya go hmmmmm.

A few items caught my eye yesterday:

Immigration is seriously worried about the Chinese coming to the US to have kids to get them the American Citizenship prize.   Called Birth Tourism, apparently it’s bad and wrong and the US government wants to stop it.   Seems these people buy plane tickets, rent hotels, have their kids and go back to China, where after some number of decades their child might return to the US for, among other things, the education.   I’m not sure how I feel about all that, but I do observe they are playing by the stupid rules we’ve established that being a foreign national and having a kid in the US makes the kid a citizen and entitles their parents to come along for the ride.   And they seem to be doing it through perfectly legitimate, even trackable means too.

The Chinese may be getting screwed on this deal.  California being California there’s no guarantee that 17 years of so from now they won’t pass a law saying Californians are obligated to educate everyone in China anyway, because that’s how they seem to roll out there on the high powered left coast.

It’s an interesting insight that so many Chinese would like to be Americans isn’t it?   Well, at least in the current currency of American citizenship which the Obama Administration is working so diligently to debase these days.

Hmmmm.

Imagine, some of them are defrauding the hospitals!   Well!   Thank heavens everyone else who staggers across the borders illegally and avails themselves of our services makes sure they settle all their hospital bills right?

and these Chinese people, they lie!

“These people were told to lie, how to lie, so that their motives for coming to the U.S. wouldn’t be questioned,” Claude Arnold, a special agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told the Associated Press.

Shocking!

this must be as opposed to not even bothering to have to lie and just crossing the Rio Grande or the desert someplace between San Diego and El Centro where you get scooped up and processed at a  “detention facility” before you are flown or bused by the government to the city of your choice in the US.

What makes me go hmmmmm is the curious fact that our government, nay, our very President, has encouraged tens of thousands of Mexican and Central Americans to sneak into the country, and is intent on making all of them citizens right now, well, certainly trying to get the job done by the 2016 election, when of course they won’t vote for  Republican candidates.  There’s no point in beating around the Obama here and pretending that’s not the plan going forward.    I’m trying to figure out why the usual host of Raul Gravilja’s and Luis Gutierrez’s aren’t out there doing their best to protect these Asian-American citizens in the making!

I guess it’s not all illegals, I’m sorry, undocumented (though technically, they ARE documented aren’t they) immigrants that Raul and Luis and Barack are fighting for.

I don’t know who the Asians pissed off, maybe they didn’t properly celebrate Thanksgiving in 2014.

Hmmmmmm.

While I’m thinking on it, stray thought as it were, with respect to McQ’s post the other day on Nanny State, I wonder if CPS in various locales are investigating all those families that let their kids wander into the country without their parents during 2014.

68,000 of them- that should keep the Nanny State busy, no?

Is it worse to let your kid wander half a mile from school to the house, or across the Rio Grande from Mexico to Texas?   Duh, school to the house, hands down.

 

Another bit of news was..

It turns out according to the prosecution in the Boston Marathon bombing that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was an Islamic holy warrior.

Federal prosecutor William Weinreb took charge of presenting the first profile of Tsarnaev to the jury, stating that the accused had “had murder in his heart” and had wanted to kill Americans.

“He believed that he was a soldier in a holy war against Americans,” Weinreb said. “He also believed that by winning that victory, he had taken a step toward reaching paradise.”

Tsarnaev also thought that the U.S. government was the enemy of the Muslim people,” Weireb added.

Or, he thought he was a holy warrior, for Islam.

See, that’s just silly, the jury should disregard that allegation from the getgo, because it’s just not possible according to the White House and State Department and numerous other executive agencies.   There had to be something else that motivated him, like anger about marathons or something.   After all, in the closing of the trial of Major Nidal Hasan, the Army prosecutor said it wasn’t about religion, it’s wrong and un-supportive to tie his actions to religion.   So why would the Federal prosecutor in Boston start out by explaining the perp thought he was a holy warrior fighting for Islam against Americans?   That just doesn’t make sense.  There’s no tie to Islam here!

If those ‘committing the crime’  delusionaly think it’s for Islam, it doesn’t matter what they think.   If we decide that’s not why they’re doing it then that’s not why they did it.  That’s been made pretty clear in the Fort Hood massacre, the case where the solider was decapitated in England, the beheading in Oklahoma, the Charlie Hebdo massacre, or the coffee shop attack in Sydney, or the one in Copenhagen.   And that whole ISIS isn’t Islam thing too.  The Crusades!

Hmmmmm.

I’m not sure what the Federal prosecutor is trying to say, or prove here.  I hope someone from the West Wing gives him a call and tells him to knock that crap off.  I could better understand if it were being done by a prosecutor working for the whackjob rightwing citizens of the city of Boston, those redneck morons, but a Federal prosecutor?

If he’s not careful and keeps making these links to Islam then there could be a mistrial or it might fuel people’s intolerance.  They might start getting irritated and commit hate-crimes like drawing cartoons of the prophet or saying there’s a link between Islam and radical terrorism (as opposed to just plain old conventional terrorism).

 

Almost last and not least, not to tell the Supreme Court justices how to do their jobs and all, but does it matter more how much damage is done to the country when an unconstitutional law is allowed to stand or how much economic damage is done if it is determined to be against the Constitution?

So these discussions yesterday about Obamacare death spirals and all,  do I misunderstand the principle such that the Supreme Court determinations should be based on the damage done if we find something isn’t Constitutional and we can and must excuse bad law if it’s going to cause economic hardship above some arbitrarily determined point?

Hmmmmm

Oh well, clearly if it’s going to economic hardship we should just let the law stand as currently interpreted by his Highness, because well, it would hurt to undo the thing now.  Besides His Majesty can probably fix it with an executive extension or rescission or action or something to get around whatever silly argument is being made that the legislation as written and intended, shouldn’t be taken verbatim in THAT particular portion.   All the other things the legislation said should be taken at absolute face value until the King changes what he wants them to mean, but the wording in the part about State exchanges should be considered fungible because it might hurt to undo it.

 

I wanted to mention the Republican’s brave stand in refusing funding for the 14% of DHS that isn’t mandatorily funded but that is probably  just to much hmmmmmm for one day right?

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Economic Statistics for 4 Mar 15

The MBA reports that mortgage applications rose 0.1% last week, with purchases down -0.2% and refis up 1.0%.

ADP’s employment report estimates that 212,000 new private-payroll jobs were created in February.

Gallup’s U.S. Job Creation Index rose 1 point in February, to 29.

The US Services Purchasing Managers’ Index rose 2.9 points to 57.1 in February.

The ISM’s non-manufacturing index rose 0.2 points, little changed at 56.9.

The Fed’s Beige Book describes current economic expansion as “moderate.” Inflation is seen as flat. Consumer spending is up most Districts. 


Dale’s social media profiles:
Twitter | Facebook | Google+

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

The “entitled” who would be president

Yes, today I’m going to talk about Hillary Clinton, who does indeed feel entitled and also seems to believe that the law is only for “the little people”.  There are others who feel entitled to the presidency (on both sides) that I don’t want anywhere near it as well, but this is one person who would essentially be an Obama third term if she were to win … and her actions prove that.

Right now we have a man in the Oval Office who is, frankly, a scofflaw. If a law is inconvenient, he simply ignores it, or issues his own in the guise of an executive action or, working through his “executive agencies” sees that unelected bureaucrats produce regulations that do his will, all without Congress.  Or oversight. Or the Constitution for that matter.

Now we have a contender for his position who has demonstrated the same sort of inclination to ignore the rules and laws that are designed to keep our elected and government officials on the straight and narrow and provide a vital record of their doings.

Hillary Clinton, did, with malice aforethought, conspire to work around the law and the rules that required her to do government business on a government email account.  There’s no disputing this.  The email server is in her home.  It was set up prior to her becoming Secretary of State.  And we know, thanks to a hacker, that she received highly sensitive emails from various cronies and State Department personnel on that account.  An account that wasn’t at all secure enough for such traffic (that point made obvious by the hack).

Then there’s this:

Just last week, the Washington Post shocked the public with the news that the Clinton Foundation had “accepted millions of dollars from seven foreign governments” during Hillary’s “tenure as secretary of state, including one donation that violated its ethics agreement with the Obama administration.” In and of themselves, these gifts were highly abnormal.

But, as Charles Cooke continues:

“Rarely, if ever,” the Post noted drily, “has a potential commander in chief been so closely associated with an organization that has solicited financial support from foreign governments.” But the infringement is made even worse when one acknowledges that these donations were never so much as reviewed for eligibility by the powers that be within the State Department. There really is no other way of putting it than to record bluntly that, while she was secretary of state, Hillary Clinton was making private deals with foreign governments via private e-mail, and then declining to request the requisite approval from the U.S. government.

So, let’s see if we have this straight.  Private email account, knowingly refusing to use the government one, and soliciting foreign governments for donations while Secretary of State?

That’s definitely, at a minimum unethical and an abuse of office.  So who does she think she is?

Cooke answers that:

The answer to that question is as it ever was: She is Hillary Clinton, and she believes, with some justification, that she will get away with anything and everything she tries. “Why,” supporters grumble, “knowing full well how effective the charge of elitism can be during a presidential campaign, does she continue to take $300,000 per speech?” Answer: Because she’s Hillary Clinton. “Why,” others inquire, “when tempers are still hot and nerves are still frayed, does she continue to take money from the outfits that are widely blamed for the financial crisis of 2008?” Answer: Because she’s Hillary Clinton. “How could she possibly believe that her ex-president husband’s temporary inability to buy a multi-million-dollar house rendered her ‘dead broke’”? Because she’s Hillary Clinton, and she has a sense of entitlement that would make Imelda Marcos blush. And so, having been championed and overpraised for years, lionized more for her immutable characteristics than for any concrete achievements, and allowed to pretend that her few successes have been the product of her own ability and not her husband’s uncommon political talent, Clinton has of late fallen disastrously deep into the professional celebrity’s most pernicious trap: She has begun to believe her own hype. How long can it be before her fellow disciples begin to lose faith in more than just the small hours of the night?

Supreme arrogance, and a willingness to take a chance that this will all come to nothing. After all, we’re talking about the era of politics and government where no one is really held accountable for anything. The smartest woman in the world probably also figured we’d never put two and two together (i.e. private email, foreign donations). And if we did? Heh … they tried that out yesterday and it failed miserably:

The strongest argument in favor of this behavior — legally, at least — is that Clinton is a clueless, confused, and out-of-touch old woman who struggles to grasp basic technological concepts, and that she therefore had not the first idea what was expected of her. In the immediate aftermath, this was the first defense offered. It’s “worth remembering,” a former Clinton administration staffer assured me quickly on Twitter, “that Hillary didn’t have email until she was in her forties. She was clueless.” “I just mean,” he added, desperately, that “she’s no dummy — except possibly with computers — where she kinda is.”

Bulltacos. There have been countless stories and battles over the use of official emails that this is a complete non-starter. As Cooke notes, it’s “desperate”.  This wasn’t some technodunce-granny completely befuddled by this new age.  This was a deliberate and calculated attempt to circumvent the system:

Digging a little into the story today, Business Insider’s Hunter Walker recorded today that Clinton did not so much inadvertently continue to use her previous account as she had her team build and configure an alternative system over which she had full and unadulterated control.

Exactly.  And now, she should pay the price.

If anyone can find it in themselves to hold people like Hillary Clinton accountable for her misdeeds.

I certainly have no qualms about doing it.  At a minimum, she should be shamed, shunned and dismissed from public life.  She’s demonstrated she isn’t fit to hold the highest office in the land.  And we certainly don’t need and probably couldn’t survive an Obama 3rd term anyway.

~McQ

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Economic Statistics for 3 Mar 15

Motor vehicle sales fell for the 3rd straight month in January, down -2.6 to a 16.2 million annual rate. Foreign vehicle sales fell -8.8% to a 3.1 million rate, while sales of vehicles made in North America fell 0.7% to a 13.5 million rate.

The Gallup Economic Confidence Index fell -2 points to 1 in February.

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales fell -0.1% to 2.7% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 2.8%.


Dale’s social media profiles:
Twitter | Facebook | Google+

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

Buy Dale’s Books!