Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Economic Statistics for 2 Sep 15

The MBA reports that mortgage applications rose 11.3% last week, with purchases up 4.0% and refis up a very strong 17%.

The ADP Employment report shows only 190,000 net new private sector jobs were created in July.

Following the upward revision to 2nd Quarter GDP, productivity for the Quarter has been revised up to 3.3%, with labor costs down -1.4%.

Gallup’s U.S. job creation index held unchanged at 32 in August for the 4th consecutive month. 

Pulled down by petroleum and coal products, factory orders rose a lower-than-expected 0.4% overall in July, but the durable good orders component rose a strong 2.2%.

The Fed’s Beige Book reports that 11 of 12 districts report only moderate to modest growth with the Cleveland district reporting only slight growth.

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Stray Voltage

“There’s a lot of ignorance, they are claiming that they’re uncomfortable. I don’t believe for a second that they are. I think this is pure and simple bigotry,” Perry told local news station KMOV.

That’s a quote from a gay fellow who has decided he’s really a girl,  wears a wig and dress and therefore  believes he is “transgendered”.  In fact, he’s merely a cross-dresser since he’s not had any sort of treatment or surgery to change his gender.

As you might imagine, his demand that he be able to use the girls locker room (instead of a gender neutral bathroom available to him) has been met with stiff resistance by the girls of the school (and their parents).

A few back his demand:

But another 40 students expressed their support for Perry, who has identified as female since the age of 13.

Good for him … that doesn’t make him a female.  Biology 1o1.  He may want to revisit it, speaking of “ignorance”.

The above reminds me of a great rant I read this week:

The perpetually offended want to wrap themselves in metaphorical bubble wrap to ensure that no offense, no bad word, no insult – perceived or otherwise – grinds sand into their delicate vulvas. And they take it as a given that you must conform to their standards – protect them, spoil them, shield them from all possible indelicacies – or else…

That’s precisely what is happening in the school cited in the first paragraph.  Attention seeking narcissists and their “ignorant” backers demand others “conform to their standards” or else … bigots!

Read the whole thing.

A couple of CUNY professors write approvingly of the rise in the minimum wage (they claim government must set a floor for wages – uh, no, that’s what a market is for) but note a great number of disadvantages in doing so, among them:

Second, there are two reasons why minimum-wage increases do not significantly affect poverty rates. In 2010, only 12 percent of minimum wage workers lived in households with incomes below the poverty threshold ($23,000), and only one-third in households with incomes less than double the poverty threshold. Indeed, almost half of minimum-wage workers lived in households with incomes above the national median. Thus, the minimum wage is not well targeted to the poor.

In addition, among poor or near-poor households that do gain wage increases, most will lose significant government safety-net benefits. With higher incomes they qualify for less in food stamps, earned income tax credits, and housing and child-care subsidies. With increased payroll taxes, these households could easily give back at least half of their wage gains. For a significant share, it could be more than three-quarters.

They’ve almost convinced me that the raise would be worth it. Of course, getting all those off government benefits would never mean a tax roll-back, would it, so screw ’em.

But they do pop the bubble of the effect on poverty.

President Barack Obama locked in enough support in Congress Wednesday to ensure he can overcome bipartisan opposition and implement a landmark nuclear accord with Iran.

Yes, friends, the Democrats have again sold you down the river.  This is the Executive Department equivalent of ObamaCare and as usual, the Democrats have to pass it to see what is in it.

The NY Times remarks on the problem with murders in a number of US cities, to include, New York City:

Cities across the nation are seeing a startling rise in murders after years of declines, and few places have witnessed a shift as precipitous as this city. With the summer not yet over, 104 people have been killed this year — after 86 homicides in all of 2014.

More than 30 other cities have also reported increases in violence from a year ago. In New Orleans, 120 people had been killed by late August, compared with 98 during the same period a year earlier. In Baltimore, homicides had hit 215, up from 138 at the same point in 2014. In Washington, the toll was 105, compared with 73 people a year ago. And in St. Louis, 136 people had been killed this year, a 60 percent rise from the 85 murders the city had by the same time last year.

Name two things these cities all have in common.

And finally the “blender test” as applied to Hillary Cliton’s email excuses:

MSNBC host Joe Scarborough tore into Hillary Clinton defenders Wednesday morning, saying anyone who believed her email excuses was too stupid to be trusted with household appliances.

“She’s Secretary of State,” the Morning Joe host said. “This is her only server. You would have to be really, really stupid–”

“It’s the blender test: Do I trust you with a blender in my home to not stick your hand in there and get it all gnarled up?” Scarborough continued. “If you believe that Hillary Clinton’s only account did not receive and send classified material in high volumes, then you should not be allowed within five feet of a blender.”

There are a whole lot of people out there who don’t need to be in the same room as a blender, then.


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Economic Statistics for 1 Sep 15

Motor vehicle sales rose a strong 1.5 percent to a 17.8 million annual rate in August.

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales fell to 1.3% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 1.7%, as sales weakness continues.

Markit’s PMI Manufacturing Index fell -0.8 points in August to 53.0.

The ISM Manufacturing Index fell -1.6 points to a lower-than-expected 51.1 in August

Construction Spending rose 0.7% in August, with a year-over-year increase of 13.7%.

The Gallup Economic Confidence Index fell -1 point to -13 in August, an 11-month low.

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All lives matter … except to the media

Unfortunately, the broader point expressed below is dead on right:

Who gets believed, in our age of ever-present media, is who talks the loudest. Donald Trump, for example.

Then there’s the Black Lives Matter movement, with its clamorous dedication to the idea that white racism is behind the killing of black men around the country, nothing else — not circumstance, not misjudgment, not fear — just out-and-out racism, end of discussion, period, shut up.

And so, because they interrupt Democratic party candidate rallies and shout down speakers, they’re suddenly “believed” to be a potent and credible group.

But they’re not. They’re just loud.  And rude. Kanye West rude.  They may represent a good portion of the black population, at least in some form or fashion (i.e. the general belief that, in fact, black lives do matter), but any group that chants,  “Pigs in a blanket! Fry ’em like bacon” pointed at the police isn’t about saving black lives.  And the various factions which have taken leadership in this group have made that very clear its not really about black lives.  One even challenged blacks to kill a white, take a picture and send it to them. Yeah, that’ll ensure black lives matter won’t it?  A couple of days later, an officer is gunned down in cold blood refilling his patrol car by a cowardly murderer who happens to be black.

And if you say “all lives matter”?  Well, this vocal minority will boo you and try to shut you down.

There’s a larger point here though:

The media, which lean overwhelmingly left, and the political fraternity, with its own leftist component, don’t fool around much with narratives that contradict left-wing (aka “progressive”) essentials. Among these essentials: the conviction that American whites, having racked up a record of racial oppression, are due for a comeuppance. On such terms, a dead white cop, shot by an inner-city (or in the Harris County case, a suburban) black man isn’t half so interesting a story as an inner-city black man shot by a white cop.

That’s right, the media and the narrative they unwaveringly carry and push has culpability in the violence and unrest we suffer today.  It also has culpability in setting race relations back 30 years in favor of this false narrative.  Advocacy journalism has now replaced fact and research based journalism, much to everyone’s detriment.

The narrative and support of the narrative helps paper over the real problems and shift the blame on the less favored:

Excluding racism as a grievance causes you to fall back on more embarrassing factors: e.g., the country’s moral/cultural climate, wherein Doing Whatever You Feel Like Doing is the normal expectation; when “guilt” for the past can be made to compensate emotionally for present-day failures and shortcomings; when government remedies (gun control, more spending, etc.) can be represented as more urgent than any morally reparative work likely to come out of home or school or church.

It becomes more important, on these paltry terms, to haul away a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis from the University of Texas main mall (as happened over the weekend of the Minnesota fair demonstrations and the Harris County execution) than, say, to pray for human reconciliation on terms profounder than modern academic leaders are likely to understand or commend.

And we suffer because of it.

This is what decades of progressivism have wrought.  A morally rudderless nation, becoming less and less free and led by incompetent politicians who kowtow to vulgar and racist tribes by trying to make common cause with them … for their “votes”.

What a world we live in.


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When you shift blame to others, problems never get solved


“Here is what I would like for you to know,” writes Ta-Nehisi Coates in his new book, which is addressed to his 14-year-old son. “In America, it is traditional to destroy the black body – it is heritage.”

Mr. Coates is being widely described as the heir to James Baldwin, the novelist and social critic whose powerful work on the brutal realities of race galvanized an earlier generation of Americans. Much of the nation remained segregated then. Black people were denied their voting rights, and racists blew up little girls in churches.

As Mr. Coates tells it, nothing has changed. Instead of being gunned down by the Klan, black men are gunned down by the cops. Racism is still the essence of America. White prosperity was built on black suffering, which created the privileges that white people enjoy today. Black-on-black carnage (as in Chicago, where gun crime is epidemic ) is the poisoned fruit of white supremacy, and is embedded in a structure that is dominated by whites. If you are white, you have an unfair advantage based solely on your skin colour. You are part of the problem.

Emperor Has No Clothes problem:

Mr. Coates’s book, Between the World and Me, has been lionized by the white intelligentsia. “Extraordinary,” said The New Yorker’s David Remnick. David Brooks, the usually level-headed New York Times columnist, sincerely asked if he, as a white man, has the moral standing to question any part of it. The Times’s film critic, A.O. Scott, called his writing “essential, like water or air.”

But some are skeptical of all this rapture. “This is more than admiration. It is an affirmation of enlightenment,” observed Carlos Lozada, the Washington Post’s book critic. “The more radical Coates’s critique of America, the more tightly America embraces him.”


The racial horrors of the past are undeniable. But the reality of black life has changed immensely since the ’50s. Black governors, mayors, and a president are the new normal. Black families are far more prosperous. Although discrimination has by no means disappeared, social attitudes have undergone a revolution. Yet even as racial attitudes and racial equality evolve, enlightened people rush to don the shroud of guilt.

Yes they do, and for what reason I have yet to fathom.  I feel none of the supposed “guilt”, but then I’m conversant with history and understand that while blacks did suffer slavery in this country it was whites who stopped it and whites who’ve ensured that blacks are accepted as equals in today’s society.

Now I understand that’s heresy to the progressive mind.  And that it is my “white privilege” that allows me to believe that.  Except I grew up when Jim Crow was alive and I lived in the segregated South and I happen to know what it was like and how very far we’ve come since then.  So, unlike most of those today who parrot the grievance line, I actually know what it was like then.  And the statement above is completely true – “the reality of black life has changed immensely since the ’50s” – but you wouldn’t know it to listen to the left today.

Denial of reality and the result:

Much of the liberal establishment today is obsessed with white supremacy, and what to do about it. Schoolteachers are required to take “cultural proficiency training,” so that they can “recognize the impact of systemic oppression of people in America who are not heterosexual white men.” The New York Times is currently publishing an exhaustive series on white privilege that features interviews with intellectuals such as Joe Feagin, a (white) sociologist who claims that Americans are no less racist than they ever were (they just disguise it better), and that children are indoctrinated into racism from the time they’re babies. When Mr. Coates published an article in The Atlantic last year calling for trillions in reparations, it was received with widespread enthusiasm.

And, of course, guys like Feagin have absolutely no scientific proof of anything.  It’s pure poppycock pop science.  This drive by the progressive left to don the mantle of “white guilt” is one thing – if they want to feel guilty, let them.  But when they talk about messing with my life because they’ve chosen to feel this guilt, the ball game changes.  While they’re entitled to their fantasy, they’re not entitled, through the force of law, to fund their fantasy (i.e. reparations in payment for “white guilt”) with my money.

The problem with the fantasy:

The political commentator John McWhorter argues that the doctrine of structural racism according to Mr. Coates has become a new form of liberal religion. His book is not so much an intellectual argument as a fiery testament from the pulpit. White progressives have embraced the gospel because it allows them to feel absolved from the charge of racism. By professing their guilt, they can also display their virtue to their peers. “You have original sin, you have this guilt, you acknowledge your guilt,” Mr. McWhorter said in a recent podcast. “What you’re doing is being religious – eating the wafer and life goes on.”

Mr. McWorter calls this a form of social signalling. Whether it really helps to ease racial tensions in America – or advance the cause of black people – is beside the point. “When you acknowledge your white privilege it doesn’t do anything for us,” he said. “It has nothing to do with creating change.”

The religion of structural racism allows everyone to duck the profound challenges still faced by the black community. It disempowers people and absolves them of responsibility. If structural racism is to blame for black violence, then communities will never be able to heal themselves. Mr. McWhorter argues that blaming white racism for the existential crisis in black communities like Chicago’s is a monstrous evasion.

Indeed it is.  As long as one group is able to shift the blame for that group’s problems on another group, the first group will never face or solve their problems.  And that’s precisely what is happening.  Aided and abetted by progressives.

Secondly, McWorter is right …. “structural racism” has become a religion, primarily because one has to take it on faith it exists since no one can point it in reality.

Sad but true note:

Where is today’s equivalent of Martin Luther King? Tragically, he doesn’t exist. And if he did, nobody would listen to him. He’d be booed off the stage as an Uncle Tom. The tragedy of race relations in America today is that nihilism and rage are a bigger draw.

Obama had a chance and he chose to go in the opposite direction.

We now live with the result.


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Equally Clueless

Yesterday it coalesced for me that the pundits and loyal party members of both the Republican and Democratic parties are completely clueless about what’s happening in the world outside of the Beltway or their echo chamber living accommodations.

For the Democrats there’s this piece in the New York Times.  The authors have queried numerous high level Democratic leaders and mouthpieces across the country and they’ve all concluded that the biggest problem Hillary Clinton is facing isn’t that she broke the law or jeopardized national security with her mail server antics, it’s that she just hasn’t handled it well when explaining so everyone shrugs, says “what difference at this point does it make” on her behalf and lets her get on with her ascension to the Presidency of Clinton II as foretold in prophecy.

If any of them think she’s actually committed a crime it’s not very evident.   No, the problem is she hasn’t said the words that will make everyone understand why it was okay for her to have her own server and personal email system (she gave herself permission) and why all that stuff about various levels of national security law being broken is irrelevant or worse yet invented by the Republicans to tarnish her glorious achievements as First Cuckquean, Senator and Secretary of State.  You may pick some other reason as long as it won’t result in criminal prosecutions, can be explained with a few rounds of “mea culpa now let’s move on”, and will result in her accepting the nomination for her party and her ultimate swearing in as President.

Surely you understand the worst thing she’s done is she’s joked about it!  Although no laws were broken she should still take it seriously, probably because the slugs they think they’re dealing with as voters want her to take it seriously even if it’s not serious. Granted it’s just a Vast Right Wing conspiracy manifesting itself (again) as a Republican attack on her candidacy but she still mustn’t make bad jokes over it.  Instead she might consider saying “I’m sorry”. That would make it all better and it would get the press off her case and soothe their fears that Joe Biden might be their candidate in 2016.

Then read the comments section of the article where further hilarity will ensue, you might go read many lead articles in nationally syndicate media outlets as well.  The excuse making and denial is epic.  National security concerns are; contrived, overstated, inappropriate, really not necessary, or all in all clearly exaggerated.  Perhaps some minor law was broken by some unnamed unknown non-entity who is, you can be sure, not Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Come on America! Any good Democrat can tell you unless you’re part of the G.W. Bush White House and your name is Lewis “Scooter” Libby classified data isn’t a reason to start some crazy witch hunt to find out who knew what when and did what with secret information!   Valerie Plame’s secret identity, now that’s some TS/SCI classification stuff!  On the other hand Satellite intelligence that would demonstrate we can read this article from space as I write it on my monitor in Texas, through the window behind me and over my shoulder not so much.   Come on….how is that a secret! Sheesh! (I exaggerate…..maybe).

For those of us who at least have a passing understanding of security clearances, I think we have all acknowledge regrettably the woman is unlikely to see jail time over this, because “Clinton”.  But the idea that if she just says she’s sorry she can go on with her Presidential bid is a bit much.    The reason she didn’t deal with it sooner is because she knew she broke the law and she never expected to be called on it. Who exactly was going to call her out? Obama Justice, State or FBI?   While she was breaking the law the House and Senate were busy crafting and frog marching ObamaCare through the halls of Congress.  Like Nan and Harry were going to allow us to peek into Hillary’s doings or dare to do it themselves.

But the wheel has turned.

The Dems need to find another candidate because this one is once again fork tender.


One the Republican side it’s all Trump, all the time.

The latest mosquito boat tactic the GOP mouthpieces have formulated is essentially “if you support Donald Trump, you’re a racist” and the implication from the linked article here is Trump supporters are looking forward to shooting some brown people too, I’m just sayin.  They remind us Trump is a racist because only a racist would want to deport people who are here illegally.  Only a racist would consider deporting children of these same people after they’re born on American soil, so by extension only a racist would support him. Got that all you racists?

Never mind that racist thing is merely the reverse of the Democratic strategy that’s kept Barack Obama in the White House for two consecutive terms.   Hey, it probably worked.

The 14th is cited as automatically granting birth location citizenship.  None of these people want to discuss the perfection in contradiction then offered in explaining why Congress felt it had to pass an Act in 1924 to grant the birth location right to American Indians though the 14th Amendment passed in 1868.   The 14th was extent for 56 years yet Congress went and addressed the issue again specifically in 1924 because? Yeah, go figure, Native Americans had to have a special act because they weren’t considered citizens although physically born in the US, which, sans Congressional act, sounds exactly like any child of people who sneak in illegally yesterday and are born here today.

Robert Tracinski wants you to know if you’re supporting Trump it’s likely you’re not only a racist, but you’re probably a moron and did I say ‘fanatic’, well yes, you’re possibly a fanatic.

George Will, I think, has given up trying to scare you with the Ronald Reagan Democratic talking points from 1979 (NUKES!!!!! HE’LL KILL US ALL!!!!) and joins in to remind us that (racist) white voters need to get some color mix in their party voting plan to get a President elected and that’s why Trump the Racist isn’t a good choice.

Sometimes mentioned is that many people who might vote for Trump aren’t really ‘in kids’ who vote in most elections and the implication is you probably don’t want to hang around with those kids do you?

Other writers, less interested in trying to tell you you’re a white racist b*****d (but probably still a US Citizen) and more interested in appealing to your rational side point out Trump is; hardly conservative, blindingly undiplomatic, rather bullying, and generally has the personality one associates with a circus ring master.

Not sure I’m a ‘writer’ but I’m in that group, and yet I’m not trying to dissuade you from any Trumpish feeling you possess because, well, read on.

The last one I will mention is Mark Salter, who I think accurately describes Trump as a narcissist and demands to know what your excuse is for supporting him.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” he asks.

I want it noted for the record that Mr. Salter worked for John McCain as a senior advisor on his Presidential campaign – I do that so I can laugh about winning campaign strategists as well as making it clear I believe Mr. Salter, who I have absolutely no personal acquaintance with, is a ruling class GOP Gentry hack.

I also chose Mr. Salter for last because he’s almost got a clue about why you might be, at this time, cheering for Trump, even if you’re not actually supporting the man.

“Politicians and pundits are making excuses for you. They say you’re so sick of bad government and polarized politics that you’re willing to take a chance on making Donald Trump the most powerful man on Earth.

My emphasis there – see, he does sort of understand.   Part of bad government I think is being lied to by your leaders. I think we’re sick of being lied to by our elite elected servant-masters in addition to being sick of our ever expanding, and often badly managed, government. And I personally find being lied to by ‘real’ Republicans more sickening than being lied to by Democrats. So he almost gets it.

For Mr. Salter and the other clueless Ruling Party hacks, leaders and mouthpieces I’ll demonstrate with a single word why Trump gets cheered on by otherwise rational conservative voters. Nota bene, we don’t appreciate being lied to and then being called racist moron fanatics.

We already get that from the Democratic Party, thanks.

I submit for your consideration Speaker of the House of Representatives and squishy GOP leader, Ruling Class business as usual John Boehner, and his view of conservative Presidential candidate Ted Cruz.


Yes, Orange John prefers Senators like Mitch McConnell and John McCain and they’d all really rather you prefer Jeb Bush, or if not Jeb then maybe Marco Rubio, who it appears can be controlled.  Both candidates have spoken in favor of the forms of Scamnesty that Trump is actively campaigning against.   Jeb doesn’t think the country that built the Panama Canal can handle building a wall across its southern border if it wants to.    And they’re all convinced since we can’t possibly deport 11 million people ALL at once in one afternoon in time for supper, we mustn’t bother discussing, let alone trying, anything of that nature at all.

They can’t see their get along, go along, bought and paid for by big money special interest plans of riding the big government train to socialist third world hell is what inspires a considerable portion of Donald Trump’s support.

So to help the clueless GOP Ruling class campaigners I leave this tweet from “Empire of Jeff” to explain where a lot of Trump’s conservative support probably comes from.


“You “conservative” “pundits” still don’t get it: Trump isn’t our candidate. He’s our murder weapon. And the GOP is our victim. “

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Absurdity, thy name is UT

The freaking world is going off the rails at a faster rate than I thought. Now this silliness:

The University of Tennessee is asking students to use “ze, hir, hirs, and xe, xem, xyr.”

No, those words are not another language. They’re actually the gender-neutral singular versions of pronouns.

Oh, how … nice. And their purpose?

The University of Tennessee Office for Diversity and Inclusion is asking students and faculty to use the pronouns in order to create a more inclusive campus. They say it alleviates a heavy burden for people expressing different genders or identities.

A more inclusive campus?  Really?  Given the SWJs and their vendettas, how inclusive will the campus be if you happen to forget to use these idiotic affectations?

“These may sound a little funny at first, but only because they are new,” Braquet said. “The she and he pronouns would sound strange too if we had been taught ze when growing up.”

Braquet said if students and faculty cannot use ze, hir, hirs, xe, xem or xyr, they can also politely ask. “’Oh, nice to meet you, [insert name]. What pronouns should I use?’ is a perfectly fine question to ask,” ze said.

Talk about infantile nonsense.  Would you ask [insert name] what “pronouns” to use to address them, or would you operate off of your ability to discriminate and choose the proper one all by your stupid little lonesome?

Yes, Ms. Braquet, the do sound a “little funny”, not to mention a little stupid and frankly totally unnecessary.  You, madam, have too much time on your hands as well as an unnecessary “job” that is one of the reasons college tuitions are higher (more admin than professors).

Please treat this woman and her silliness as the absurdity it is, students at UT.  If not, try using these “pronouns” when you graduate and apply for a job.  I can’t wait to here about the results when you do.


Oh, and irony of all … they still seem to identify someone by their … gender!  “Hir” is female and “Zir” is male – or so it seems.  “Gender neutral” would make no distinction.



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