Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Economic Statistics for 3 Dec 15

Chain stores are posting slightly better year-on-year sales rates in November, hinting at better news in the government’s official report.

Challenger’s count of layoff announcements fell nearly -20,000 in November to 30,953 for the lowest reading since September, 2014.

The Gallup Good Jobs Rate for November fell -0.4% to 44.9%.

Factory orders bounced back from September’s -1.0% drop, coming in with an increase of 1.5% in October.

The PMI Services Index rose 1.3 points to 56.1 in November. Conversely, the ISM Non-Manufacturing Index fell -3.2 points to 55.9.

Initial weekly jobless claims rose 9,000 to 269,000. The 4-week average fell 750 to 269,250. Continuing claims rose 6,000 to 2.161 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell -1.3 points to 39.6 in the latest week, the fifth drop in six weeks.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $1.0 billion last week, with total assets of $4.478 trillion. Reserve bank credit fell $-11.4 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply rose by $19.8 billion in the latest week.


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The Paris Conference is about income redistribution, not the health of the planet

We’ve been offered all sorts of nonsense about the importance of battling climate change.  Lately the meme has been that ISIS is a result of climate change (even though, for the past 10 years, the climate hasn’t changed).  We’ve been treated to all sorts of theories masquerading as “proof” that climate change is real.  We’ve watched the alarmists ignore contrary data and continue to tell their big lie.

Why?  How does the lie survive as an actual movement?

Well, for one thing, there is a 100 billion dollars at risk, offered by the apparently guilt-ridden alarmists of the West, and the “third world” isn’t about to let that get away.  It is about global income redistribution.  All you have to do is look at who lines up on what side.  India and China, for instance, insist they are “third world” and by George, they want a piece of that 100 billion.  So they become willing participants in this lie, not because they necessarily believe any of it, but because there’s a pay-off.

Do they plan to actually do anything to mitigate CO2 production?  Uh, not really.  And they’re not the only ones:

More than 2,400 coal-fired power stations are under construction or being planned around the world, a study has revealed two weeks after Britain pledged to stop burning coal. The new plants will emit 6.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year and undermine the efforts at the Paris climate conference to limit global warming to 2C. China is building 368 plants and planning a further 803, according to the study by four climate change research bodies, including Ecofys and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. India is building 297 and planning 149. Rich countries are also planning new coal plants. The nuclear disaster at Fukushima has prompted Japan to turn back to coal, with 40 plants in the pipeline and five under construction.

Here it is in graphic form:

inline_e358737c-98_1021170a

In other words, no one is really serious at all about reducing CO2 – except the guilt-ridden, “white privilege” shamed Westerners who are more than happy to use their dubious “science” and your money to assuage their guilt. And of course, the “third world” who is quite happy to take advantage of that guilt, and your money, while ignoring the supposed “problem” completely – well, other than talking the talk.  They have no intention of walking the walk.

The big lie, told often enough, becomes “the truth” … if you let it.

This, however, is just a lie fashioned to take your money and give it to others your imperial rulers deem “more deserving”.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 1 Dec 15

Automobiles fairly flew off the dealers’ lots in November, as auto sales rose to a 18.2 million annual pace, a 12-year high.

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales rose to 3.9% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s weak 1.5%. Thanks, Black Friday!

Markit’s PMI Manufacturing Index slowed from 54.1 to 52.8 in November.

The ISM Manufacturing Index slowed from a barely positive 50.1 to a contractionary 48.6 in November.

Construction pending rose a solid 1.0% in October, and is up 13.0% on a year-over-year basis.

The Gallup Economic Confidence Index remained unchanged at 013 in November.


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Quick thought for the day

Contemplate for but a moment, that while numerous murderous gunmen and hijackers who self identify as warriors of Islam,  killing tens of hundreds of people (if not thousands), specifically do NOT represent Islam when they commit their heinous crimes;  one lone whack job with questionable social practices that are hardly deemed Christian, by anyone, ( peeping tom, animal cruelty, rape, spousal abuse, philanderer, adulterer and more) and holding an unquestionably warped view of what it is to be a Christian altogether, DOES in fact represent American Christians.

He is also the complete responsibility of pro-life Americans, and Americans who owns firearms (entertaining photo meme courtesy of Zerohedge at the end of the article).

 

 

You may now resume your day, pondering the fairly obvious double standard, assuming you’re not a progressive liberal, or the President of the United States (but I repeat myself) who won’t be able to see one at all.

 


 

UPDATE: DEC 3 – Post San Bernadino


 

Now that some smoke has cleared and the progressive left has, you know, some actual details on the shooting in San Bernadino:

Given the spew of rhetorical bull that started 5 minutes after the 1st reports of the shooting I have some questions.

Would it still be safe to assume that Sayed Farook is a “white” gun toting American Christian motivated and inflamed by rhetorical bombast against abortion clinics to take his wife and launch an assault on his fellow county workers having a party in a building a couple miles away from the Planned Parenthood building?

Can someone ask President Obama and former Secretary of State, felony violator of her oaths to properly handle secret government materials, Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton; would it still solve all our problems if we closed up that mystical ‘gun show loophole’ that allows Right Wing Christian maniacs to buy weapons and shoot up the country?

Perhaps Secretary of State Kerry can explain again how it was probably motivated by justifiable anger over cartoons of the prophet Muhammad?

Should we assume that it was all spontaneous, based on Sayed getting into an argument or being thrown out of the party and going home to get the mock pipe bomb, weapons, vests and wife (and their GoPro cameras to record the special moments)….to come back for the attack?

Is it really just another case of work place violence, like Fort Hood?

 

So –

When will the idiot left and their media morons stop jumping to conclusions before the damn brass has stopped bouncing on the ground at the killers feet?

How many times do they have to look like complete fools in their desperate wish for the perfect Tea Party, Republican, Christian, middle class traditional American Ozzie and Harriett, straight, white male, mentally balanced, MACHINE GUN toting shooter before they hold their damned tongues long enough to get some actual details and facts before they start spouting off and BLAMING THEM when they don’t have any real clue about the shooters, their motives, or the freaking weapons used?

 

Enough with my snarky, and wasted on progressive leftist morons, anger –

I have some questions for the armed America side too.

Full disclosure I was one of the record setting 185,000+ background checks on Black Friday this year, purchasing a ‘military style’ carbine that was intended by the manufacturer to appeal to law enforcement, 32 round magazines and all.

and it ain’t the only high capacity, high caliber semi-automatic weapon I own.

 

ARE we really going to solve this problem by arming everyone, by eliminating gun free zones?     Neither of those things will happen of course..  I do believe an armed person in the room certainly stands  a better chance of putting a stop to it than someone armed with a paper plate of turkey, potatoes and gravy.   But pandering politicians on the right claiming that’s the answer need to shut up when this stuff happens, this ISN’T the time.

WAS this a function of the shooters religion?   Is it not just it too easy to assume that a non-muslim couple could not have done this for some reason?

IS there actually an answer, or is this just something we’re going to have to endure until we get a bunch of other needful things back under our control, like a sane honest government and ALL that that entails.

Honest dialog between honest opposing sides without this ‘win at all costs, screw you and screw your rights’ mentally that seems to have developed.

Perhaps it is needful for a recognition for many amongst us that no matter how hard we try, no matter how much control we hand over to someone else for our lives, no matter who we hire, appoint, elect, no matter how many stupid useless laws we pass that we just cannot achieve perfect safety. 

 

It’s was depressing as all hell yesterday afternoon and I want my damn country back.

 

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The media, the left, their politicians and the truth about gun violence

I don’t know about you but I find that no matter where I turn, I’m being told that gun violence, gun crime … anything negative to do with guns … is at an all time high.

Is it any wonder that this is what people believe?

SDT-2013-05-gun-crime-1-4

Check out the second chart. Note the key word in the title of the chart … “unaware”.

Why are they unaware?

Well, for one the media sensationalizes every event that might involve a gun.  And they usually misrepresent, or don’t report, the fact that gun crimes and homicides are down … a lot!  They imply it is getting more and more dangerous out there and the threat is … guns.

But that is simply not true.  In fact:

SDT-2013-05-gun-crime-1-1

 

Yet we have a President and the Democrats who’ve claimed that gun violence is epidemic.  Obama even made the claim yesterday that other countries don’t have mass shootings … in Paris … a week or so after a mass shooting (what effin type of a cocoon does the man live in to make such out of touch and idiotic statements such as that?).

In reality, in a country in which there are more people than in 1993 as well as more guns, we see everything trending down and markedly so:

Compared with 1993, the peak of U.S. gun homicides, the firearm homicide rate was 49% lower in 2010, and there were fewer deaths, even though the nation’s population grew. The victimization rate for other violent crimes with a firearm—assaults, robberies and sex crimes—was 75% lower in 2011 than in 1993. Violent non-fatal crime victimization overall (with or without a firearm) also is down markedly (72%) over two decades.

Those are huge numbers.  Yet to hear the left, you’d think the gun violence epidemic was about to overwhelm us unless we do something NOW!  And of course, the solution they most favor is the elimination of guns for law abiding citizens.  I say that very purposely because it would only be law abiding citizens who would be effected.  Criminals would then have free reign.

The point of this rant is to point out that, just like with “climate change”, we’re being lied to again and the data obviously refutes the lie … in both cases. But for the left that doesn’t matter.  They firmly believe in their agenda and they’re more than willing to lie to accomplish it, credibility and integrity be damned.  The media is complicit and politicians are the most visible agitators. That’s why you have a Democratic President in Paris pushing both lies and the media doing its usual job of spreading them.

Sometimes you just want to bang your head against the wall, for all the good calling them out on it does.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 30 Nov 15

The Chicago PMI plunged from 56.2 to 48.7 in November. A reading below 50 indicates economic contraction, but this is a volatile index.

Pending home sales rose only 0.2% in October to 107.7, reflecting soft home sales.

The Dallas Fed Manufacturing survey improved, but still remained in negative territory in November, rising from -12.7 to -4.9.


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The Obama administration backs racial discrimination

This is absurd enough:

The Supreme Court has just issued an order (read it here) blocking the racially discriminatory separatist election in Hawaii.  The order enjoins (stops) the counting of ballots and certification of results pending further order of the Supreme Court.  I covered the election here and here at PJ Media.

Only one race is permitted to register to vote with Hawaiian government officials for the separatist election.Hawaii has given a private organization millions of dollars to run the election. They believe these actions are constitutional. Judicial Watch has sued Hawaii, and the Public Interest Legal Foundation has filed an emergency brief with the Supreme Court on behalf of the American Civil Rights Union asking the court to stop the election process.

That’s right, one race is permitted to register to vote for or against the separatist election.  Because, you know, those who’ve lived there for generations but aren’t native, tough cookies.  And while one might suppose that some of the natives are smart enough to realize when they have it much better connected to the US than they would unconnected, you might also suppose that there are enough infected with “native rights” to have not thought to deeply about a vote for a separation and the consequences thereof.

But if that is absurd, this is downright crazy:

Naturally, the Obama administration took their side and filed a brief supporting the racially discriminatory election.  They argued that even though Congress has never authorized a new government on Hawaii comprised of the native race, the state should be allowed to establish one.

That’s right, our government argued for the discriminatory vote.  Suddenly, they’re a huge “states rights” fan.  Well unless that state doesn’t want to take in Syrian refugees.  And then, not so much.

Wasn’t this the guy who was supposed to stop the oceans from rising and healing the wounds of racism with his magic touch.  Is this how one goes about that?

Amazing.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 24-25 Nov 15

It’s a massive set of statistical releases, as the Thanksgiving holidays have compressed the week’s releases into the day before the holiday. Without further ado, therefore…

The first revision to 3rd Quarter GDP added 0.6%, coming to a 2.1% annualized rate of growth. The GDP Price Index was revised up to 1.3%.

The nation’s trade gap in goods came in at a lower-than-expected deficit of $58.4 billion in October. 

Corporate profits in the 3rd Quarter were revised to $1.786 trillion, up a year-on-year 1.4%.

Redbook reports that last week’s retail sales rose to 1.5% on a year-ago basis, from the previous week’s 1.2%, as sales weakness continues.

The S&P/Case-Schiller Home Price Index rose 0.6% in September, and is up 5.5% from the previous year.

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index sank from 97.6 to 90.4 in November, on weak confidence in the jobs market.

The Richmond Fed Manufacturing index dropped -2 points to -3 in November.

The State Street Investor Confidence Index dropped -7.5 points to 106.8 in November.

The MBA reports that mortgage applications fell -3.2% last week, with purchases down -1.0% and refis down -5.0%.

Durable goods orders rose 3.0% in October, mainly on aircraft orders coming out of the Dubai air show, but the previous several months of decline means orders are only up 0.5% from last year. Ex-transportation orders rose 0.5%, but are down -2.4% from a year ago. Core capital goods rose 1.3% and are up 0.4% from last year.

Initial weekly jobless claims fell 12,000 to 260,000. The 4-week average fell 750 to 271,000. Continuing claims rose 34,000 to 2.207 million.

Personal Income rose 0.4% in October, while spending rose 0.1%. The PCE price index rose 0.1% overall, but was unchanged, ex-food and energy. On a year-over-year basis, the PCE Price index is up 0.2% at the headline level, and 1.3% at the core.

The FHFA House Price Index for September rose 0.8%, increasing in all nine regions of the country.

The PMI Services Flash for November rose 2.1 points to 56.5.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell -0.3 points to 40.9 in the latest week.

Following the previous month’s -12.9% drop, new home sales in October rose 10.7% to a 495,000 annual rate.

The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index fell -1.8 points to 91.3 for November.


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Officer Friendly is Dead

The Chicago Police Department was forced to release a video today—one that they went to court to keep from publicly releasing—of the shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. He was shot last October by Officer Jason Van Dyke. Despite the fact that Mr. McDonald fell to the ground after being shot once by Officer Van Dyke, Van Dyke proceeded to shoot Mr. McDonald 15 more times as he lay on the ground, then proceeded to reload his pistol, apparently to shoot some more, until stopped by his fellow officers. Thanks to this video, Officer Van Dyke is now under charge for 1st Degree Murder, which as far as I can tell from the video, is entirely appropriate. As I write this, protests are happening on the streets of Chicago.

This video has prompted further thought.

Spbadge

On 14 September, 1984, I graduated from the USAF Security Police Academy at Lackland AFB, in San Antonio, TX. On that day, I was issued Security Police badge number H3329. For the next decade I wore that badge while working as a security specialist, patrolman, police supervisor, desk sergeant and, somewhat to my surprise, as an Air Base Ground Defense Specialist—an infantry grunt—since Security Police were tasked with providing defense of air bases against ground forces.

The recruiter failed to mention that last bit when I signed up.

I learned a lot during that time, like how to de-escalate conflict and use verbal judo to disarm hostility. I learned about use of force, and to always use the absolute minimum of force necessary to effect an arrest. You’d think that military police would have a more leeway than civilians to knock heads, and deliver a little street justice, but that’s not true. We were held to high standards, on duty and off, and were expected to meet those standards. And we knew, without question, that any use of force on our part would be thoroughly investigated to ensure that it was justified, and that we would be severely punished if it was judged excessive.

We’d go to work every day decked out in crisply starched shirts, razor-creased pants, mirror-shiny shoes, carrying a loaded pistol or rifle and given the authority to use those weapons, if necessary, to arrest or detain anyone of any rank. In return, we’d adhere to rigorous standards of appearance, behavior, and conduct in exercising that authority. That was the deal. I can remember a number of fellows who couldn’t keep their end of that deal, and finished their short careers handing out ping-pong balls at the rec hall as Recreational Service Specialists.

After I left the service, I worked part-time for a number of years in Orange County, doing armed, high-risk security in gang areas. Again, we were required to wear sharp uniforms, and maintain high standards of professionalism.  Even though we regularly had to detain gang-bangers, druggies, and other riffraff, not once did we engage in any excessive use of force, perforce being more limited to persuasion and advice than head-knocking.

Security

That’s me, second from the left. All of us were either ex-military police, or graduates of a California POST academy, except for the fellow in the middle, who was attending the Academy at Golden West at the time this photo was taken. A few months later, he graduated, and started with Westminster PD.

That Sig-Sauer P229 I’m carrying, by the way, is the best duty pistol I ever carried. Loved that pistol. Great trigger pull. 

Ah, memories.

But, that was long ago, and much has changed.

I was at the shopping mall in my little suburb of San Diego recently, and a local police officer was walking through the mall on patrol. He was decked out in combat boots, black BDUs, full body armor and SAPI plate, and a Molle vest covered with flex-cuffs, extra magazines, and other gear. His uniform was far more appropriate for a patrol in Fallujah than a suburban shopping mall in a community where the rate of crime has declined by half over the past 20 years.

That change is, I think, symbolic of a deeper, more fundamental change to policing that has occurred.

From the 1960s to the 1980s, many police departments participated in the “Officer Friendly” program, whereby elementary school children were introduced to amiable police officers, given coloring books that contained exhortations to remember that police officers were their friends, and were generally given to understand what wonderful fellows the local constables were. Now, of course, “Officer Friendly” is the sarcastic name given to abusive police officers.

I get the sense that police today are quicker to use force, less interested in de-escalating conflict, and far quicker to take offense to any suspected questioning of their authority. There seems to be a new class of crime today, one that isn’t actually the subject of any legislation. I call this offense “Insufficient Servility.” 

There is a web site that you should read regularly. It’s called Photography is Not a Crime, and it catalogs, on a daily basis, the darker underside of policing in America today. It contains interesting stories on a regular basis. For instance, just culling from today:

  • There are the NYPD cops who, after making some aggressive arrests at a restaurant, returned a bit later to delete the restaurant’s surveillance video.
  • Or the homeless fellow who was beaten to death by the Fullerton, CA, police.
  • Or the Delaware State Police, who decided they needed to use a SWAT team to serve a warrant on a home that was occupied only by a dog, which, of course, they shot.
  • Perhaps you’d be interested in the story of the San Antonio man who was taking photos of his wife’s business, when he was jumped by three SAPD officers without warning, and left paralyzed from the beating they gave him, thinking he was someone else.

Even more amazing is how often the police escape all but the most minimal of punishments—if they are punished at all—for incidents like this. Sure, you’ll be in serious trouble if you’re videotaped unloading an entire magazine into a suspect on the ground. Absent that, however, you have an excellent chance of not being charged with any crime at all, usually because the fellow you shot started to “reach for his waistband”. 

We are told of course, that there are bad apples in any basket, and most officers are very professional. In other words, the bad cops are a tiny minority of police officers. Much like Jihadists are a tiny minority of Muslims, presumably.

But now that video cameras have become ubiquitous, we sure are seeing a lot of video of this tiny minority, and as far as I can tell, the vast majority of the good officers don’t seem to be falling all over themselves to report and discipline the bad apples. In other contexts, that lack of enthusiasm might be referred to as “being an accessory”.

And I wonder, if there hadn’t been video of chunks of pavement and Mr. McDonald’s tissue being flung into the air from the impact of Officer Van Dyke’s bullets, if Officer Van Dyke would ever have been charged with anything. I wonder why we’re routinely using SWAT teams and no-knock entry for warrant service. I wonder why the new term “puppycide” has entered the lexicon. And, I wonder why, when violent crime has declined by 50% since 1993, police officers are shooting as many people today as they did when violent crime was at its height.

Policing, we are told, is a tough and dangerous job. Not as dangerous as, say, being a taxi driver or construction worker, but, still, dangerous, and they need to be proactive to protect themselves. Maybe so, but, frankly, I have little sympathy with that argument. No one is holding a gun to their head, so to speak, to remain a police officer. And in return for that danger, they are among the most highly-paid blue-collar workers, and certainly have among the most generous benefits and retirement.

In short, if the job is too dangerous for you to do in a courteous, professional manner…do something else. Otherwise, I suggest you find the physical courage to do the job properly, and deal respectfully with the public, rather than acting as if you were an armed overlord who is due whatever level of servility you judge acceptable, and empowered to punish those who refuse to offer it.

Certainly, it’s unacceptable to disguise cowardice as aggression, which is, I suspect, what Officer Van Dyke is guilty of. In addition to, you know, the murder. Allegedly.

What we should demand—indeed, the minimum we should demand in a free society—are police forces that live and work by the principles of policing laid down by Sir Robert Peel, nearly two hundred years ago, in 1829, when he created the modern police force:

1. The basic mission for which police exist is to prevent crime and disorder as an alternative to the repression of crime and disorder by military force and severity of legal punishment.

2. The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police existence, actions, behavior and the ability of the police to secure and maintain public respect.

3. The police must secure the willing cooperation of the public in voluntary observance of the law to be able to secure and maintain public respect.

4. The degree of cooperation of the public that can be secured diminishes, proportionately, to the necessity for the use of physical force and compulsion in achieving police objectives.

5. The police seek and preserve public favor, not by catering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to the law, in complete independence of policy, and without regard to the justice or injustice of the substance of individual laws; by ready offering of individual service and friendship to all members of society without regard to their race or social standing, by ready exercise of courtesy and friendly good humor; and by ready offering of individual sacrifice in protecting and preserving life.

6. The police should use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient to achieve police objectives; and police should use only the minimum degree of physical force which is necessary on any particular occasion for achieving a police objective.

7. The police at all times should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police are the only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the intent of the community welfare.

8. The police should always direct their actions toward their functions and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary by avenging individuals or the state, or authoritatively judging guilt or punishing the guilty.

9. The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them.

 If the police want to make their jobs less dangerous, then they need to pay particular attention to Principle #2, because if they lose public respect—which I submit they are moving awfully close to losing—their job will become effectively impossible.

The police are given wide authority, and the authorization to use deadly force, when necessary. They owe us, at minimum, 1) a commitment to uphold the very highest standards of professional behavior, including using the absolute minimum of force necessary, and 2) to ruthlessly extirpate from their ranks those who fail to meet those standards. Anything else creates, to a greater or lesser degree, a police state.

In the interim, however, my advice to you is to avoid committing the crime of Insufficient Servility, and to never, ever, “reach for your waistband”. Because we all know how that will turn out.


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