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Interesting, but not surprising

The first shoe drops on the President’s executive amnesty order:

According to the opinion by Judge Arthur Schwab, the president’s policy goes “beyond prosecutorial discretion” in that it provides a relatively rigid framework for considering applications for deferred action, thus obviating any meaningful case-by-case determination as prosecutorial discretion requires, and provides substantive rights to applicable individuals.  As a consequence,  Schwab concluded, the action exceeds the scope of executive authority.

Ya think?  So, now what?  Will this proceed up the line to the Supreme Court?  And if it does, will the “ObamaCare is a tax” court manage to actually rule as this judge has, that the executive has unconstitutionally exceeded his power?

Anymore, you never know.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 16 Dec 14

ICSC-Goldman reports weekly retail sales rose 3.0%, but fell to a weak 1.1% on a year-over-year basis. Conversely, Redbook reports retail sales rose 4.2% on a year-ago basis.

Housing starts fell -1.6% in November, erasing most of October’s 1.7% increase, as starts fell to a 1.028 million annual rate. Similarly, building permits, an indicator of future activity, slipped -5.2%, following a 5.9% jump in October. 

The Markit PMI manufacturing index flash for December fell -1.0 points to 53.7.


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Journalism – kingdom of fools

I’m sure you’ve been at least keeping tabs on the drama in Sidney, Australia (now thankfully concluded).  When you watch some of what passes for reporting these days, you sometimes get an indication of how poor the journalism of today is:

Despite the Sydney, Australia hostage-taker displaying a flag reading in Arabic, ”There is no God but God and Mohammed is the prophet of God,” despite his being a self-proclaimed sheikh and despite his demand that police give him an ISIS flag, MSNBC “The Rundown” host José Diaz-Balart wondered if Iranian-born Man Haron Monis is motivated by Islam at all. (VIDEO: NBC Journo: Islamic Lone Wolf Terrorism ‘Not A Religious Issue’)

“Could very well be he’s hiding behind the flag of Islam to just deal with his own criminal past,” Diaz-Balart said. “It may have very little to do with it. It’s still too early to tell.”

Yet, when it comes to lynch mobs on little other than here-say evidence, we get the full narrative treatment – take the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case, or better yet, Ferguson.  In both cases, the media played judge, jury and lynch mob with hysteria driven reports that had no real basis in fact.   In fact, precisely what all the talking heads and other experts claimed came to be absolutely false.

Meanwhile, Islam gets the benefit of the doubt even when it appears that perpetrator in this case had a history of religious fueled violence.  Like the shootings at Ft. Hood were a simple matter of “workplace violence”, this is just some guy using Islam as front to hide his “criminal past”.

The simple question I wish someone would put to the reporter is “why?”  If he’s simply a criminal, why would he care about his past?

Oh, I know – too early to tell.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 15 Dec 14

The Empire State manufacturing index for December fell more than 13 points to -3.58, the first negative reading since January, 2013.

November industrial production rose 1.3%, while capacity utilization in the nation’s factories rose 0.9% to 80.1%.

The Housing Market Index fell 1 point in December, to a still-solid 57.

Foreign demand for long-term US securities fell slightly in October, down $-1.4 billion, following September’s $164.3 billion gain.


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Economic Statistics for 12 Dec 14

Producer Prices for Final Demand fell -0.2% in November, while prices less food and gas were unchanged. Goods prices fell -0.7% while prices for services rose 0.1%. PPI-FD less food, energy & trade services was also unchanged. The decline in goods prices was led mainly by falling energy prices. On a year-over-year basis, the PPI-FD rose 1.4%, while prices less food and energy rose 1.7% and prices less food, energy & trade services rose 1.6%. Goods prices are up 0.4% and services prices rose 1.9%.

The Reuters/University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index jumped a full 5 points to 93.8 in December.


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Another AGW myth … gone with the wind

We’ve seen it any number of times.  Whenever there is a weather event, well, the true believers come out of the woodwork to declare it to be the “worst” in umpteen thousand years and, of course, caused by man.  The “Chicken Little” contingent never looks for a more reasonable or scientific explanation, they’ve got their models and their junk science and that’s all they need.  So when California went into a state of extreme drought, what was the claim?  Yup, it was caused by man and his emissions.

One problem with the claim – it’s just not true:

Natural weather patterns, not man-made global warming, are causing the historic drought parching California, says a study out Monday from federal scientists.

“It’s important to note that California’s drought, while extreme, is not an uncommon occurrence for the state,” said Richard Seager, the report’s lead author and professor with Columbia University’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory. The report was sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The report did not appear in a peer-reviewed journal but was reviewed by other NOAA scientists.

“In fact, multiyear droughts appear regularly in the state’s climate record, and it’s a safe bet that a similar event will happen again,” he said.

History!  Go figure. “Not uncommon”.

Not only that, but this important point:

The persistent weather pattern over the past several years has featured a warm, dry ridge of high pressure over the eastern north Pacific Ocean and western North America. Such high-pressure ridges prevent clouds from forming and precipitation from falling.

The study notes that this ridge — which has resulted in decreased rain and snowfall since 2011 — is almost opposite to what computer models predict would result from human-caused climate change.

 

“Almost the opposite of what the computer models predict.”  There’s a surprise.

And the dissenters?

“The authors of the new report would really have us believe that is merely a coincidence and has nothing to do with the impact of human-caused climate change?” Penn State meteorologist Michael Mann wrote Monday in The Huffington Post. “Frankly, I don’t find that even remotely plausible.”

This, coming from the discredited author of the hockey stick effect and a false claim of a Nobel prize is something we should even consider?  His dissent is more “plausible” than the findings of the study? Yeah, not really.  Weather is weather.  Someone should clue Mann into how it works.

While the NOAA study easily refutes the alarmist claim, NOAA, being a government agency, isn’t immune to pushing the AGW myth itself, at least a little:

The NOAA report says midwinter precipitation is projected to increase because of human-caused climate change over most of the state. Seager said a low-pressure system, not a high-pressure system, would probably form off the California coast because of climate change.

Low pressure creates clouds and precipitation.

Yes, you see, “human-caused climate change” is now regional … er, global.  Tell me again how that high pressure ridge came to be there?  Oh, nevermind.  And note, even if you want to believe in AGW, in this case, it would actually be a “good thing”.  Oh, bother.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 11 Dec 14

November retail sales were stronger than expected, rising 0.7% overall, 0.5% less gas, and 0.6% less gas and autos.

Export prices fell -1.0% in November, while import prices fell -1.5%. On a year-over-year basis, export prices are down -1.9% while import prices are down -2.3%.

Business inventories rose 0.2% in October, while business sales fell -0.1%. The stock-to-sales ratio was unchanged at 1.30.

Initial weekly jobless claims fell 3,000 to 294,000. The 4-week average rose 250 to 299,250. Continuing claims rose 142,000 to 2.514 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose points to a seven-year high of 41.3 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $2.7 billion last week, with total assets of $4.489 trillion. Reserve bank credit rose $1.8 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $35.6 billion in the latest week.


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Politics at its worst (update)

First I’d like to say that my position on torture is well known and not what this post is about.  It’s about intent and timing.  The subject just happens to be torture, or enhanced interrogation techniques, if you prefer.

Secondly, I’d like to point out that we’ve been through this before – this is truly old news.  This has been investigated.  It’s been commented upon and debated.  It is something that anyone who follows the news and politics has been aware of for years.

So why, then, in a lame duck session after which Senate Democrats lose their majority, does an idiot like Sen. Diane Feinstein decide that this is something that must be released now.  What is the utility of this report?  What is the intent of releasing it now?  What positive does a biased report that only casts America in a bad light in the middle of a war bring to the table?

Biased, you say?  How do you know that?  Well here’s a clue:

The outgoing Democratic leadership of the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report on C.I.A. rendition, detention and interrogation of terrorists in the years following the 9/11 attacks. But here’s a red flag: Not one person who managed or ran the interrogation program was interviewed.

Not one?  So what sort of “report” was it then?  What sort of “investigation” took place?  Again, regardless of your views on “torture” this is pure politics.  And bad politics at that.  It is a smear dressed up as something to take seriously.

Why does it matter? Because the way this “report” was generated colors the notional facts it professes to share. Many of the “revelations” of C.I.A. techniques and black sites are old hat to most. Some approve; others don’t. Fair enough, and in a democracy, such a debate is worthy. The larger challenge comes in determining the efficacy of these techniques. Opponents insist (fueled less by fact and more by their sense of righteousness) that enhanced interrogation doesn’t work. So claims the outgoing chairman, of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein.

Here is the problem: Her claim is false. And taken in conjunction with the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s unwillingness to interview the targets of their critique, one can only assume that much of the rest of the document is also tainted.

When you dig down to the very bottom of it, you realize its written to support a narrative.  It is the same sort of garbage we have seen in the Rolling Stone story about the rape at U Va.  As with this report, the “journalist” involved never interviewed anyone who might shed a different sort of light on the rape story. She never verified much of anything.  It was all about supporting a narrative.

Rape is bad.  Yes, it is.  We all accept and understand that.  But false and embellished accusations are bad too.  That’s what no one ever seems to say on the “rape is bad” narrative side of the house.  Additionally, there are two sides to every story – and if you want to report factually, you include both sides.  If you’re interested in pushing a narrative, then you don’t.

Hiawatha Bray sums up today’s journalism rather nicely and it applies to this biased piece of garbage Feinstein’s committee produced as well.

What’s wrong with journalism? Lots of stuff. But this is one of the worst features of our industry. All too many of us approach stories with preconceived “narratives.” What matters is not what’s actually going on; it’s whether a particular event gives us the chance to tell some story we already want to tell. If the story is that frat boys are incorrigible rapists, that’s how the story gets spun. What actually happened is of secondary importance. And that’s how we can get a student journalist–contra an earlier draft, I’m not sure she’s actually a journalism major–who can say without embarrassment that the facts of a story are not all that important. This is scary stuff. The only thing we have to offer as journalists–the only thing that’s worth a twopenny damn–is accurate, trustworthy information. If the facts in our stories can’t be relied upon, then those stories are worthless, regardless of what “noble cause” they’re designed to advance. To me it seems horrifying that it’s necessary to explain this.

It is the same story with this report that Feinstein, et. al, have decided must be published now.  Old news, repackaged, biased to come to a particular conclusion and intended, apparently, to embarrass the US.  Not to mention it is something which will further endanger our military in a time of war. And, of course, provide wonderful propaganda and recruiting material for our enemies (who, per some reports, are already using it).  And then there are the useful idiots who will revel in this diminishing of the country’s image.

How this helps the US is beyond my comprehension I guess.  It is something we’ve confronted and dealt with years ago.  The country is divided over the use of certain “techniques”.  And, we’ve seen a Democratic majority in government for 6 years who had the ability to ensure that whatever they believed about such use of these techniques was curtailed or eliminated.  What was the utility of this report except, as a friend of mine said, a willful “eff you” by the outgoing Senate majority?

Just when you think this sort of politics can’t get any worse … it does.

UPDATE:  Well, of course.  Feinstein’s “mission accomplished”:

A United Nations human rights official is calling for individuals who carried out, planned or authorized abusive practices against al-Qaeda detainees in the aftermath of 9/11 to be put on trial, saying the U.S. was obliged under international law to bring those responsible to justice.”

He also warned Tuesday that perpetrators could be prosecuted anywhere in the world, noting that “torture is a crime of universal jurisdiction.”

Meanwhile the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said the Senate Intelligence Committee’s release of a declassified portion of a report on CIA interrogation and detention programs was insufficient, calling for the full 6,000 page report to be released, and for “accountability” for those who overstepped the mark.

~McQ

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