Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

The real “war on women”

Funny stuff from the “you just can’t make this stuff up” department. Retiring Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA):

“In this Senate race, I’ve been watching some of these ads,” Harkin said at the Story County Democrats’ annual fall barbecue last week honoring the retiring senator. “And there’s sort of this sense that, ‘Well, I hear so much about Joni Ernst. She is really attractive, and she sounds nice.’”

“Well I gotta to thinking about that. I don’t care if she’s as good looking as Taylor Swift or as nice as Mr. Rogers, but if she votes like Michele Bachmann, she’s wrong for the state of Iowa.”

Ernst responded:

“I believe if my name had been John Ernst attached to my resume, Sen. Harkin would not have said those things.”

I believe she’s right. It is kind of like if Nikki Haley’s name had been Nick Haley, she likely wouldn’t have been called a “whore” by her Democratic opponent, huh?

Oh, and:

Harkin’s comments were met with loud applause from the audience.

A Democratic audience, it can be reliably reported.

So if we grade Harkin’s remarks as the left would had they been pinned on someone from the right, at a minimum you’d have seen him tagged as arrogant, patronizing, sexist and a soldier in the “war on women”, no? Ernst is getting the Sarah Palin treatment from Harkin, something perfected by the left in 2008.

Just for fun and to check on the acceptability of what Harkin said (before the left tries to tell us what he said isn’t offensive), let’s reword that slightly and make it say something no one ever said, but makes an instructive point:

“In this Presidential race, I’ve been watching some of these ads,” Harkin said at the Story County Democrats’ annual fall barbecue last week honoring the retiring senator. “And there’s sort of this sense that, ‘Well, I hear so much about Barack Obama. He is really attractive, and he sounds nice.’”

“Well I gotta to thinking about that. I don’t care if he’s as good looking as Sidney Poitier or as nice as Oprah Winfrey, but if he votes like Nancy Pelosi, he’s wrong for the United States.”

Any question about how that would be treated by the left?

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 31 Oct 14

Personal income rose by 0.2% in September, while personal spending declined by -0.2%. The PCE Price index rose 0.1% at both the headline and core rates. On a year-over-year basis, consumer spending has risen 1.4%, while the PCE Price index has risen 1.5%.

The Employment Cost Index rose 0.7% in the 3rd Quarter of 2014, due mainly to upward pressure on wages and salaries. On a year-over-year basis, the ECI is up 2.2%.

The Chicago Purchasing Managers’ Index rose nearly 6 points to 66.2 in October.

The Reuter’s/University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index rose half a point to 86.9 in October, the highest since July 2007.

Oh, and…uh…Boo!


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Mary Landrieu is in danger of losing because of … the South … oh, and racism

Lord I get tired of the mealy mouthed politicians who try to explain away their political demise be claiming the backwardness of the region, people or the culture is why they’re losing.

Republicans are slamming Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) for comments they say suggested Louisiana voters dislike President Obama because of his race.

Gov. Bobby Jindal and Landrieu’s GOP opponent in her tough reelection race, Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), both pounced on comments she made to NBC’s Chuck Todd that the South “has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans.”

“It’s been a difficult time for the president to present himself in a very positive light as a leader,” she said, before adding that the South has not always been friendly to women either.

Apparently Mary Landrieu felt differently when she was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996 and was re-elected by increasing margins in competitive races in 2002 and 2008. That’s right, the largely red state has elected a woman and a Democrat to terms totaling 18 years in the US Senate.

But now … sexism.

And we have an abomination of a President, one who has nothing to present in a “positive light”, who happens to be black, so … racism.

And don’t forget to throw in a stereotypical comment about the South … because she’s in danger of losing.

As usual, its everyone else that’s the problem, not the fact that Mary Landrieu has done things, such as vote for ObamaCare, that have caused the voters in the state to finally say “enough”. Nope, with Democrats, it’s never the message, policy or vote, it’s always something or someone else’s fault.

Racism. Sexism. Republican dirty tricks. Etc., etc., etc. ad nauseum.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 30 Oct 14

The initial estimate for 3rd Quarter 2014 GDP came in at 3.5% annualized, led by personal consumption expenditures. The GDP price index rose at 1.3% annualized.

Initial weekly jobless claims rose 3,000 to 287,000. The 4-week average fell 250 to 281,000. Continuing claims rose 29,000 to 2.384 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell -0.5 points to 37.2 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $5.1 billion last week, with total assets of 4.536 trillion. Reserve bank credit rose $14.2 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $42.5 billion in the latest week.


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From the Department of I Told You So

The subdepartment of “If You Like Your Coverage, You Can Keep Your Coverage“:

Small companies are starting to turn away from offering health plans as they seek to reduce costs and increasingly view the health law’s marketplaces as an inviting and affordable option for workers.

In the latest sign of a possible shift, WellPoint Inc. said Wednesday its small-business-plan membership is shrinking faster than expected and it has lost about 300,000 people since the start of the year, leaving a total of 1.56 million in small-group coverage.

Of course anyone with a brain and a passing understanding of economics and human nature saw this coming – despite the assurances of our elites. It is called “responding to incentives or disincentives” – something human beings have done since the dawn of our time.

Provide enough of a disincentive to maintain the status quo and you won’t. You’ll go with what is best for the business. And the incentive to drop health care plans has been provided by this awful ACA law. Now these people will go onto the exchanges and pick a plan with huge deductibles that will never be met in a year. They’ll effectively pay for their medical care. Or, we’ll pay for their medical care through subsidies.

Result? Well, as you can imagine with huge deductibles, people will likely go to the doctor less and one of the supposed reasons this law had to be passed was in order to stress and implement “preventive medicine”. But if you have a $6,000 deductible, and are a middle income family that wouldn’t qualify for subsidies, when are you going to visit the doctor? When whatever problem you have is so bad you have little choice. Of course, that’s the most costly way to do this, isn’t it?

So now we have a huge problem, don’t we? And what will we point to as the cause of that problem? That’s right … government intrusion. Oh, the good news? Their high deductible coverage will be portable. But we could have solved that problem without ever creating this health care monster we’re stuck with now, couldn’t we?

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 29 Oct 14

The MBA reports that mortgage applications fell -6.6% last week, with purchases down -5.0% and refis down -7.0%.

The FOMC Meeting ended today, with the announcement that interest rates would remain unchanged, with a Fed Funds target rate of 0% to 0.25%. The FOMC characterized the economy as “expanding at a moderate pace”, and the job market as “improving”.


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Economic Statistics for 28 Oct 14

ICSC-Goldman reports weekly retail sales rose 0.3%, and rose 2.8% on a year-over-year basis. Redbook reports retail sales rose 4.4% on a year-ago basis.

September durable goods orders fell for the second straight month, down -1.3% overall, and -0.2% ex-transportation. On a year-over-year basis, orders are up 3.3% and orders excluding transportation are up 7.3%.

The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index for August fell -0.1%, contracting for the fourth straight month. On a year-over-year basis, the index is up 5.6%.

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index for October rose to 94.5, the highest since October 2007.

The Richmond Fed manufacturing index rose 6 points to 20 in October.

The State Street Investor Confidence Index came in at 115.1, compared to September’s especially strong reading of 123.9.


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Calling all Grand Dragons …

Say what you will of Bill Maher (I’m not a fan), his statement about Muslims seems to have some legs:

“In his comments on his HBO show, Maher noted that too many Muslims reject the very notion of free thought and free speech, that the problem is not just ‘a few bad apples.’”

See Europe after the Mohommed cartoons and just about anywhere else concerning a little known video that Muslims found to be sacrilegious (and the US government blamed for the deaths in Benghazi).  Or any of a thousand examples.

It is also something many of us believe about the left, for the most part.  And good old UC Berkley has decided to prove the point.  And Bill Maher is the “problem”:

In response to an announcement last week that comedian Bill Maher would speak at UC Berkeley’s fall commencement, an online petition started circulating Thursday that demanded that the campus rescind its invitation.

The Change.org petition was authored by ASUC Senator Marium Navid, who is backed by the Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian Coalition, or MEMSA, and Khwaja Ahmed, an active MEMSA member. The petition, which urges students to boycott the decision and asks the campus to stop him from speaking, has already gathered more than 1,400 signatures as of Sunday.

Maher, a stand-up comedian and host of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, is best known for his often-polarizing political commentary. Recently, Maher faced some backlash after controversial remarks regarding Islam during a segment on his Oct. 6 show.

Navid claims this isn’t about free speech, it’s a matter of “campus climate”:

“The First Amendment gives him the right to speak his mind, but it doesn’t give him the right to speak at such an elevated platform as the commencement. That’s a privilege his racist and bigoted remarks don’t give him.”

For the most part, I agree that freedom of speech doesn’t give one the “right” to speak anywhere – that, in fact, this is an invitation to speak at a “commencement”, and that’s a privilege the university extends.  Okay, got it.

But that’s not what this is about … it’s about shutting Bill Maher and those like him up.  It’s about letting a certain group outside the administration of the university decide who will be awarded the privilege to speak and who won’t.  And in that case, it becomes a matter of free speech, doesn’t it?

Perhaps the most ironic development, though, was on MSNBC (of all places) when an advocate for free speech on campus crossed swords with a spokesman for CAIR:

In a heated debate on MSNBC with free speech advocate Greg Lukianoff, CAIR’s Ibrahim Hooper defended UC Berkeley students’ efforts to uninvite comedian Bill Maher for his comments on Islam, comparing him to the Grand Dragon of the KKK.

[…]

LUKIANOFF: The fact that people so vehemently disagree with him is the more reason to hear him out. It’s an art that I feel is actually being lost on the campuses, where we should be teaching people is to at least hear people out before you to get them kicked off campus.

HOOPER: So if they invited the Grand Dragon of the KKK…

 

CAIR, of all organizations, comparing any other organization to the KKK … well, let’s leave it at “ironic” shall we?

The left’s the “useful idiot” in the attempt of organizations like CAIR to stifle any debate or criticism of Islam.  And, Maher is the Grand Dragon?

~McQ

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