Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Stray Voltage

Another thing I decided during my holiday hiatus was to make “Stray Voltage” a regular Friday feature. Why? Well, it covers a number of subjects/issues and gives everybody a lot to talk about over the weekend.

Question: Why is it the SJWs insist there is a “rape culture” on campus, but are mostly silent about the real rape culture that is rearing its ugly head in Europe among Muslim “refugees”?

Mr. Obama at his recent townhall meeting:

Obama didn’t hold back when asked by CNN moderator Anderson Cooper about the notion that the federal government — and Obama in particular — wants to seize all firearms as a precursor to imposing martial law. He blamed that notion on the NRA and like-minded groups that convince its members that “somebody’s going to come grab your guns.”

I have only one thing to say to that Mr. Obama: “If you like your insurance, you can keep your insurance.”

Well here’s a surprise.  Another late night release, and more evidence that Hillary Clinton should be prosecuted:

The latest batch of emails released from Hillary Clinton’s personal account from her tenure as secretary of state includes 66 messages deemed classified at some level, the State Department said early Friday.

In one email, Clinton even seemed to coach a top adviser on how to send secure information outside secure channels.

All but one of the 66 messages have been labeled “confidential”, the lowest level of classification. The remaining email has been labeled as “secret.” The total number of classified emails found on Clinton’s personal server has risen to 1,340 with the latest release. Seven of those emails have been labeled “secret.”

Does the name Petraeus mean anything to you?  And in comparison his security breaches were minor.  Which makes you wonder what it is going to take to finally see Clinton prosecuted.  I also wonder if the Obama administration may be interested in keeping his executive actions in place after he leaves … enough so they’re willing to make a deal with the Democratic front runner?  I’m sure everyone would be shocked, shocked I tell you, if that was the case.

And while the president is crying and wailing about you folks owning too many guns, the beat goes on:

Two Palestinian men who were born in Iraq and came to the United States as refugees have been arrested in connection with terrorism investigations, federal prosecutors said Thursday.

Imagine that.  Both men of fighting age, both refugees, both engaged in terroristic activities, but I’m the xenophobe (or racist or, well, pick your favorite pejorative)  if I say don’t import trouble in the form of refugee men from Islamic countries that support and foment terrorism?

Finally, Mr. Obama seems to think that if he repeats the same nonsense over and over again, it somehow becomes true.  To wit:

“But we are the only advanced country on Earth that sees this kind of mass violence erupt with this kind of frequency. It doesn’t happen in other advanced countries. It’s not even close. And as I’ve said before, somehow we’ve become numb to it and we start thinking that this is normal.” –President Obama, announcing his new executive orders on guns, January 7, 2016

This claim is simply not true.

This claim is simply not true.  Between January 2009 and December 2015, there are 11 European countries with a higher frequency of these mass public shootings than the US, and 10 European countries with a higher rate of deaths from these attacks.

But hey, this is for the low information citizen who only reads headlines and listens to sound bites (read the whole thing).  What’s that old saying?  A lie can travel around the world before the truth gets its shoes on?  Something like that.  That is why propaganda is so powerful.  And this, my friends, is nothing but propaganda … dutifully retransmitted by an willfully incurious media.

Have a great weekend.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 7 Jan 15

Chain store sales—approximately 10% of all retail sales—reported rising rates of year on year sales growth today.

Challenger’s layoff count fell sharply in December, to 23,622, the lowest monthly level since June, 2000.

The Gallup Good Jobs Rate rose 0.4% to 45.3% in December.

Initial weekly jobless claims fell 10,000 to 277,000. The 4-week average fell 1,250 to 275,750. Continuing claims rose 25,000 to 2.230 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 0.6 points to 44.2 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $0.2 billion last week, with total assets of $4.487 trillion. Reserve bank credit fell $-7.5 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply fell by $-10.8 billion in the latest week.

Finally, in other good news, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has fallen around 1,000 points, or -5.2% in the first four days of trading this year.


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The “Agenda” Media

What is that, you may ask?  Well, it’s the “new media” of sorts.  In the old days, reporters reported.  They came up through the ranks and they were fairly objective. They knew their territory and they knew their subject.  Yes, I know about “yellow dog” journalism.  But it wasn’t hidden then under the patina of “objectivity” we suffer through today.   Today’s journalists, for the most part, are agenda journalists.  They have an ideological agenda that has been introduced to them early and nurtured through years of schooling and grad school.

Given what we read and hear, most people would gather that the agenda they follow is that of the left.  Why?  Well, has anyone taken a good hard look at academia lately?  Or is asking that a micro-aggression?  Help, I need a safe space.

Here’s an example.  If you saw a headline that said “Poll: 70 percent believe in climate change“, what would you infer from that?  We all know that “climate change” is the left’s newest code phrase for man-made global warming.  They had “global warming” pretty much shoved down their throats by multitudes of questions they couldn’t answer and conditions that didn’t meet their claims.  So they decided on a squishy term: climate change.

Here’s the term in use:

“Americans know climate action is critical — they’re seeing its impacts with their own eyes. Climate change is a moral issue, a health issue, and a jobs issue — and that’s why the strong majority of Americans want the federal government to do something about it, and support the strong outcome in Paris.”

And naturally, the headline in question reinforces McCarthy’s claim.  “The strong majority of Americans” want the fed to do something about as well as supporting the outcome in Paris.  70% would sure seem like a “strong majority” would’t it?  And “The Hill” is on it, reinforcing the agenda the claim.

Unfortunately for the alarmists, the data again doesn’t support the claim.  The Hill has to admit:
But the support is complicated. Pollsters found that only 27 percent of respondents agree with the overwhelming scientific consensus that human activity is the main cause of climate change.
Oh, so wait, only 27% agree with the government and EPA?   So the headline could have been “27% agree that human activity is the main cause of climate change?”  Well, that’s certainly a different kettle of fish, isn’t it?  One could then assume that while the rest agree that the climate is likely changing and they may believe it has to do with the natural cycles of the earth.  But of course, that wouldn’t further the agenda, would it.   So a deceptive headline and the hope that the marginally informed won’t read any further has to be what The Hill is shooting for here.
Instead, The Hill decides it is the result of partisanship, not a lack of scientific proof:
“The data exposes the extent to which this has become a partisan political issue in the U.S. rather than a scientific issue,” Tony MacDonald, director of Monmouth University’s Urban Coast Institute, said in a statement accompanying the poll results.
Again, nonsense. No mention of the “scientific” problems with the alarmist “science”.  An 18 year hiatus from warming.  Fudged data.  Totally inaccurate models.  Predictions and claims that have shown themselves to be wildly false.  That’s not politics, that’s hype, based on pseudo-science, gone terribly wrong and the American people have recognized it for what it is.  But the claim of partisan politics helps the agenda, because it infers that the other side is simply too ignorant and partisan to see the forest for the trees.
As for what Americans “strongly believe”, the environment, or “climate change”, barely registers as shown here in a Gallup roundup of problems the citizens of this country are concerned with.  It comes in 16th on a list of 23.
gallupproblems2
Yes, that’s right, the environment/pollution weighs in just before “Guns/Gun control”.  Yet these two non-issues are being heavily pursued by those in charge of our agenda driven government with the aid of the media.  Will of the people?  Passe.  Used simply as rhetorical window dressing.  There is no desire to do the people’s will.  There is only a desire to fulfill the political and ideological agenda.   And that’s why the number one issue that concerns the most people is our “Government/Congress/Politicians”.  The facade of popularly sanctioned government is cracking noticeably finally and the intent is clear, even with the agenda media trying to clear the way and patch up the cracks.

It’s this unholy alliance that has helped apply and tighten the shackles that have crippled our abilities to properly exercise our freedoms.   You’d think real journalists would have a natural skepticism about anything government says, yet for the most part, they are the government’s publishing arm, putting out unchecked propaganda at every turn or, as above, twisting information in such a way as to favor the agenda talking points.

But only the agenda of the left.  They’re relentless in their “fact checking” if the agenda is challenged.
All one has to do is consider how the current president, who by any standard has been a total failure at foreign policy, has been left alone by the media where a president on the right would have been challenged at every failure and hounded for answers as to why he’s performing so miserably.

And yet, we see the media instead concentrating its efforts on numbers 16 and 17 on the above list.

Surprise!

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 6 Jan 16

November factory orders slipped back into negative territory, falling -0.2%, with core capital goods down -0.3%.

The nation’s trade deficit narrowed to $-42.2 billion in November, as exports fell -0.9% and imports dropped -1.7%.

In December, the PMI Services index fell -1.8 points to 54.3, while the ISM’s Non-Manufacturing Index fell -0.7 points to 55.3.

ADP’s Employment Report is calling for an unusually sharp increase of 257,000 new private-sector jobs in December.

Gallup’s US Job Creation Index fell a point to 30 in December.

The MBA reports that mortgage applications plunged -27.0% last week, with purchases down -15% and refis down -37%. This is a volatile index during shortened holiday weeks.


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The political strategy of a crocodile tear

Mr. Obama shed a tear yesterday as he told us why he was going to bypass Congress and enact gun control (at least a small part of it) by executive order.  Speaking of “gun violence” instead of violence in general, he said:

“We do not have to accept this carnage as the price of freedom,” Obama said.

That’s simply poppycock. We don’t have to like it but freedom, as has been said any thousands of times, is not free.  Nor is it pretty or neat.  Nor are there those who don’t suffer because of it. It always has a cost – a price. But the alternative, what most Democrats seem to want, is the state deciding everything you can or cannot do, everything you can or cannot own.  That alternative is unacceptable to those who value freedom and are willing to suffer the cost.

No one is in favor of “carnage”.  But it isn’t the guns which cause the violence, sir.  Figure it out please.  When you tell me that abortion instruments are what kill about a million unborn human beings in the US each year, perhaps I’ll at least consider your thinking to be somewhat consistent.  And of course, that means cars and pools and rope, well you name it, also need to be controlled even more because the “carnage” they cause rivals anything to do with that involving guns.

Gee, given the numbers, perhaps he ought to be going after Planned Parenthood instead of demonizing the NRA.

Oh, and this was rich:

“No matter how many times people try to twist my words around, I taught constitutional law, I know a little bit about this. I get it,” he said. “But I also believe that we can find ways to reduce gun violence consistent with the Second Amendment.”

Apparently he thinks he knows the Constitution, but if true, he’d know it doesn’t allow aristocracy, and certainly it doesn’t allow kings.  Laws are passed through Congress and if the President doesn’t have the heft or gravitas or whatever he needs to see it done, then it doesn’t get done. Obama doesn’t have any of that. And the people have been quite clear that they don’t consider guns or gun control to be much of an issue.  In fact, it barely registers, no pun intended. So instead he  does “work arounds” with executive orders.  Tell us again about how you know the Constitution, please?

But let’s get to the nuts and bolts of what went on yesterday, shall we?  It is about, get ready for it, ideology:

Despite professing an unflinching commitment to curbing gun violence, Obama and Biden have been thwarted by Congress and what Obama calls a lack of national will to change the way Americans think about guns.

Got it.  It’s about changing the way you think about guns.  Its about making them the equivalent of a cigarette.  You remember when cigarettes were popular?   And what happened?  Well, think about it.  It wasn’t about people making poor choices and suffering for them that was the “cause” of their diseases. It wasn’t about their refusal to heed the strident warnings about smoking.  It became “the cigarette”.  That was the “cause”. And it was the cigarette that was killing people, not the people’s choices.  The object became the problem.  People were excused for making poor decisions even though the information that cigarettes caused horrific health problems had been out for years … decades.

The same sort of argument is being made about guns and “the strategy of a tear” was just the latest emotional appeal to a people who’ve been pretty darn logical about guns so far and aren’t buying into the argument as readily as they did with cigarettes.  In fact, they’re not buying into it at all and are, instead, buying more and more guns.  If you can’t get them to swing your way, cry on national TV.  That’ll show ’em how sincere you are.   And, of course, it seems to have fooled a good number of people out there already.

But to the point – this is frustration for Obama because you and most Americans won’t think the way he wants you to.  So?  So screw you, he’ll stamp his feet, hold his breath and make you do it by taking unilateral action.  But he knows the Constitution, by George.

This is just another in a long line of tantrums by this man.  When he can’t get his way, he simply looks for a means to impose his will.  He has no concept of what a President is or what one is supposed to do and he’s certainly no Constitutional scholar.  This is just the latest example.

So why is the cigarette model not working for the left?  For the most part it is because there really is no redeeming value to a cigarette.  But there is tremendous positive value to a gun.  You can’t defend yourself or your family with a cigarette.  You can’t feel more secure in your person with a cigarette.  You can’t protect your life or your property with a cigarette.  So despite the demonization of the object the left has committed itself too, the positive aspects of gun ownership simply won’t be buried, even with a tear.

The bottom line however should be clear – the left will do whatever it thinks necessary to strip Americans of their right to own firearms.  You will see every sort of argument tendered and numbers that, without context, seem horrific.  Such as “30,000” gun deaths – 62% of which are suicides.  Anyone who believes removing guns will prevent suicide just isn’t very serious about discussing suicide.  Japan, which has strict gun control laws, has more suicides than the US.  The problem isn’t the means.  It is the mental state of the person.  35% are homicides, most gang related.  No matter the laws passed, criminals are not going to obey them.  This seems to be a point the left can’t comprehend.  And finally accidents claim most of the remainder (about 606 in 2010).  “Mass shootings”?  A small minority of the final total.  And, in fact, gun violence and gun homicides are and have been trending down for quite some time.

However, like “climate change”, the alarmist hysteria continues despite the fact that the data doesn’t support it.

So now, it is all about an emotion.  A tear.

My freedom isn’t for sale for a tear, crocodile or otherwise, Mr. Obama.

~McQ

 

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Economic Statistics for 5 Jan 15

December auto sales fell a sharp -5.0% to an annualized 17.3 million, hinting at a bad month for retail sales, overall.

December’s economic confidence index from Gallup averaged -11 in December, up from November’s -13.

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales rose to 2.9% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 2.5%. Still not great numbers.


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Welcome to 2016

You know, I got to thinking about it over the holidays.  I needed a break.  I feel somewhat refreshed and ready to face a brand new shiny year that will, unfortunately, contain the same old political dreck … times 10, since it is a presidential election year.  As has been pointed out here, many times, we are woefully served by our political class.  And, frankly, that’s our fault.  Complain all you want about government and politicians, but the bottom line is, the incumbents continue to be reelected  and give away the farm and the bureaucrats continue to siphon off our freedoms through unaccountable fiefdoms imposing freedom killing regulations.

The one good thing this year brings is seeing the Obamas ushered out of the White House.  The two bad things are the front runners for president in each major party.  I’m sorry, I see no intrinsic leadership value in either of them.  One is a blowhard opportunist with no concept of how to do what he claims he can get done and the other is, plain and simple, a crook and a liar.  This is what present day presidential politics has come down to.  What a non-choice.

Well, that’s not true.  We always have a choice, don’t we?  Even if it is to do nothing.  And if those are the two running in November, that will be my choice.  But, as with just about everything to do with today’s political and the class of politicians we suffer, this is an old complaint and frankly, I see nothing on the horizon to change that.  The polity is who makes these decisions, and it appears, for the most part, they believe that the government has money and can give them “free” things.  The depth of ignorance, especially about basic economic principles and how government functions is appalling, but that’s with what we continue to deal.

I’ve decided I need to take a little more time with my posts than with last year.  So I’m going to attempt to rearrange my schedule to where I have more time to devote to them.  That may mean posting in the evening when the work day is done.  Or not … depends.  But what doesn’t “depend” is the desire to be less reactive, less prosaic and more thoughtful.  Anyone can be outraged (and I will be) and upset, but it’s time to do more than state that.  It’s time to talk about the whys and wherefores.  It’s time to talk about alternatives.  It is time to take a good look at this grand experiment and dissect it to find out where the pathogen introduced itself and began to corrupt the system.  My guess is it will mostly boil down to human nature, opportunity and the quest for power.

Anyway, that’s my desire for this year.  Hopefully, I’ll keep this in mind and not let myself wander into the rut I found myself in last year.

Welcome to 2016.  Let’s see how it goes.

~McQ

 

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Economic Statistics for 4 Jan 15

The PMI Manufacturing Index fell -1.6 points to 51.3 in December.

The ISM Manufacturing Index fell another -0.4% in December to 48.2, the lowest reading since July, 2009.

Construction spending unexpectedly fell -0.4% in November, but the year-on-year gain is still at 10.5%.

Gallup’s US Consumer Spending Measure rose from a daily average of $92 to $99 in December.


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Economic Statistics for 31 Dec 15

The Chicago PMI plunged -5.8 points to a recessionary 42.9. I suspect the national PMI will be significantly better, though.

Initial weekly jobless claims jumped 20,000 to 287,000. The 4-week average rose 4,500 to 277,000. Continuing claims rose 3,000 to 2.198 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 1.4 points to 43.6 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet fell $-9.9 billion last week, with total assets of $4.487 trillion. Reserve bank credit fell $-6.1 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $53.1 billion in the latest week.


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Economic Statistics for 29 Dec 15

November’s international trade goods deficit narrowed to $-60.5 billion from the revised $-63.0 billion in October. Exports fell -2.0%, while imports fell -1.8%.

The State Street Investor Confidence Index rose to 108.3, up 1.0 point from November’s revised reading of 107.3. 

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index rose 6.1 points in December to 96.5.

The S&P/Case-Shiller home price index rose 0.9% in October, and is up 5.5% on a year-over-year basis.

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales rose to 2.5% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 1.8%.


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