April 17, 2014

Initial Unemployment Claims (041714): 304K SA; Raw Claims Up 5.8% From Previous Week

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:58 am

Predictions: 

Seasonal adjustment factors:

  • Week ended April 12, 2014 — 104.6
  • Week ended April 13, 2013 — 101.9

Raw claims:

  • Week ended April 5, 2014 — 298,393 (before possible revision; Update: revised to 300,189)
  • Week ended April 13, 2013 — 359,415

For the predictions above to come true, raw claims will need to be 330,000 or lower (330K divided by 1.046 is 315K, rounded).

That’s way too easy. We really should expect a seasonally adjusted value of 287,000 or below, which would mean that raw claims came in at 300,000 or below, or just above what we’ve seen in raw claims during the past two weeks. It’s difficult to see why raw claims should come in any higher, unless conditions are deteriorating. So to be clear, a seasonally adjusted reading of 295K or higher should be seen as BAD news.

We’ll see here at 8:30 a.m. (Note: The Department of Labor began issuing the report in PDF format last week).

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UPDATE: The DOL home page says 304,000, but the new report isn’t at the link yet.

HERE IT IS (the permanent link works):

SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

In the week ending April 12, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 304,000, an increase of 2,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised up by 2,000 from 300,000 to 302,000. The 4-week moving average was 312,000, a decrease of 4,750 from the previous week’s revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since October 6, 2007 when it was 302,000. The previous week’s average was revised up by 500 from 316,250 to 316,750.

… UNADJUSTED DATA

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 317,701 in the week ending April 12, an increase of 17,512 (or 5.8 percent) from the previous week. The seasonal factors had expected an increase of 16,022 (or 5.3 percent) from the previous week. There were 359,415 initial claims in the comparable week in 2013.

Well, the change in “the seasonal factors” doesn’t make sense. Both the week ended April 5 and the one ended April 12 were full, five-day, early-spring business weeks, and there really shouldn’t have been much change in raw claims from the first week to the second. But there was.

So, though the press surely won’t see it as such, this is a disappointment.

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UPDATE: I haven’t mentioned this in a few weeks, and need to remind readers of it every so often, with a bit of an update.

“Covered employment,” or the number of workers who would be eligible for unemployment benefits if they were laid off or let go, peaked at 133.902 million at the end of 2008. After over five years of “recovery,” it’s currently 130.938 million, or 2.2% below that peak.

Given that private-sector employment is finally back to its pre-recession peak, this tells me that there has been a noticeable shift in the workforce towards people who aren’t eligible for unemployment benefits, i.e., temps and part-timers.

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Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (041714)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:05 am

This open thread will stay at or near the top today. Rules are here. Possible comment fodder may follow. Other topics are also fair game.

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GM Risked Lives to Save 25 Cents Per Car — and the Obama administration’s stepchild wants to shield itself from accountability as a result of its 2009 bankruptcy subterfuge (“Oh, that was OLD GM, which is gone; we’re NEW GM”).

Really? If they’re so completely separate, then how about giving back the billions in corporate income taxes not paid because the Treasury Department allowed NEW GM to use OLD GM’s net operating loss carryforwards?

Even better idea — Let’s nuke this attempted defense, and see where it takes us:

… even if one were to believe that Old GM was somehow engaged in “fraud on the court” with respect to the ignition defect (overlooking the difficulty that the bankruptcy court was not a safety regulator and there is really nothing in the bankruptcy code or logic that requires extensive disclosure in a sale context about a liability that is not moving anywhere in the sale), it is hard to see how New GM could be tagged with the assumed fraud.

One has to demonstrate a “fraud on the court” to overcome a one-year “fraud by the seller” limitation on legal action. If it’s a “fraud on the court,” there’s apparently no time limit.

The problem with that defense is that NEW GM at the time of the bankruptcy was the government, which had exclusive control over the entire process, and arbitrarily doled out shares in the new company based on doing favors to its UAW employees and certain lenders and bondholders (while putting the screw to others).

If it can be shown in documentation or drawn out in sworn testimony that agents of the government (i.e., car czar Steve Rattner and his crew) knew about the ignition problem and did not disclose it to the court throughout the Chapter 11 proceedings … that sure looks like a “fraud on the court” to me. If so, NEW GM would and should indeed be “tagged with the assumed fraud,” and be forced to deal with the tort claims based on the problem it deliberately chose not to disclose.

Following logically from that, the “pump and dump” U.S. Treasury Department should be subject to a class action suit for waiting until it had fully exited GM to allow what its agents knew all along to finally see the light of day.

Also: At Huffington Post (!) — “So Much for the Great GM Bailout”

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Positivity: ‘I can’t leave my people’ — Priest killed in Syria hailed as martyr

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Vatican City, and Syria:

Apr 15, 2014 / 07:21 am

Days after Dutch priest Fr. Frans van der Lugt S.J. was murdered in Syria, a close young friend recalled his saintly life, noting both his personal holiness and extraordinary advances in Christian-Muslim relations.

Wael Salibi, 26, recalled how when the Christian area in Homs was taken over by rebels, 66,000 of the faithful “left their home, and just few of them stayed there. He was the only priest, he stayed in his church.”

“Just months before he died, he said ‘I can’t leave my people, I can’t leave my church, I am director of this church, how can I leave them?’” Salibi told CNA on April 11.

Salibi, who hails from the now-ravished city of Homs, grew up as a close friend and pupil of Fr. Frans, who was brutally killed on April 7. Days before his 76th birthday, an unknown gunman entered his church, beat him and shot him in the head.

For the past three years Syria has been embroiled in conflict which sprang up after citizens protested the rule of Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s president and leader the country’s Ba’ath Party.

Since then, the violence has morphed into a civil war which has claimed the lives of an estimated 140,000 people. There are currently 2.6 million Syrian refugees in nearby countries, most of them in Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey, and an additional 6.5 million Syrian people are believed to have been internally displaced by the war.

Currently a refugee living and studying in Rome, Salibi fled his city just a year and a half ago – following a two-week religious visit to Europe – after receiving a call from his mother telling him not to return.

Recalling his life growing up with the priest, Salibi explained that because Fr. Frans had been living and working in Syria since 1966, his family formed close ties with the priest, who would often visit after celebrating Christmas Mass in order to wish his father a happy birthday, and was at one point the spiritual director for his sister.

“This is what makes Fr. Frans special,” Salibi noted, “because he influenced thousands of people, and he remembered all people with little details, and he listened to others.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.

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April 16, 2014

Forget the Obama-Nixon Comparisons …

Filed under: Activism,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:59 pm

… because there is no comparison.

Nixon wanted the Internal Revenue Service to go after a small cadre of his enemies. The IRS refused to go along. Nixon could have sacked those who refused, and didn’t.

Barack Obama’s IRS, with the now clearly established knowledge of Eric Holder’s Justice Department, deliberately went after Obama’s mobilizing opposition, often by delaying and deliberately over-scrutinizing activist groups’ non-profit status applications, but sometimes by employing much more serious tactics, including coordinating multi-agency harassments of certain applicants’ businesses.

Now we know that the IRS also wanted DOJ’s help in criminally prosecuting opponents (links are in original; bolds are mine):

Judicial Watch has been chipping away at the IRS stonewall with Freedom of Information Act requests, and just released some new emails that show Tax Exempt Organizations director Lois Lerner was talking to the Justice Department about criminal prosecutions for the groups targeted by her organization.  She was also trying to get the Federal Elections Commission – where she used to work, under similar suspicions of politicized abuse of her authority – involved in the witch hunt.  Judicial Watch previously discovered that the IRS handed tax returns for conservative groups over to the FEC, an action of both questionable utility and dubious legality.

Read the whole thing.

Lest we forget, the IRS was being egged on by congressional Democrats, and the veneer of White House plausible deniability has for all practical purposes evaporated:

We now have a sitting Democrat congressman, Elijah Cummings, a sitting Democrat senator, Sheldon Whitehouse, the Federal Elections Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Internal Revenue Service all implicated in the scandal. Flax’s involvement puts the abuse squarely into the IRS commissioner’s office. But it takes an entity above all of those agencies to coordinate their actions. That entity can only be the White House.

Also, go here:

  • Judicial Watch — “JW Obtains IRS Documents Showing Lerner in Contact With DOJ about Potential Prosecution of Tax-Exempt Groups”
  • Doug Ross — ” IRS Leadership Conspired with Holder Justice Department to Imprison Political Opponents”

Ross’s reax:

… this horrifying scandal … makes Nixon look like a shoplifter at the Dollar Store.

We have a President, an Attorney General, a ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, the IRS, the FBI, and heaven knows what other alphabet soup agencies conspiring to jail political opponents. Our country has been reduced to something akin to Venezuela, only with craploads more debt.

That, my friends, is fascism, straight up.

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Another Anti-Brinkman ORPINO Mailing, and Two More Reasons to Vote For Him

Filed under: Activism,Education,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:04 pm

ORPINO (the Ohio Republican Party In Name Only) has sent out another mailer attacking 27th District State Representative candidate Tom Brinkman, claiming that he was named one of the most ineffective legislators or some such nonsense based on his previous State Rep record.

News Flash: ORPINO’s and the Columbus political establishment’s definition of “effective” is “going along with the ever-expanding and ever-encroaching bureaucracy.” Yeah, Tom Brinkman never was a part of that crowd. He opposed all tax increases on principle. In other words, like our Governor, he was Tea Party before there was a Tea Party. Unlike Governor Kasich, he hasn’t betrayed the Tea Party’s core principles.

So the mailer constitutes Reason #2 to vote for Brinkman and to fire Pete Stautberg, his incumbent opponent. (Reason #1 was the first mailer.)

Lest anyone believe I’m solely motivated by dislike of ORPINO (which as a practical matter is enough anyway for those who are pressed for time to do detailed research), I decided to look into the candidates’ positions on Common Core upon learning that Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has courageously changed his formerly supportive stance (courageous because the pressure from the Jeb Bush-Bill Gates axis to just keep going along must have been intense). Jindal now opposes it.

Since excising Common Core from Ohio’s classrooms is a very important matter, I emailed the Brinkman campaign and asked where the candidate stands and where his opponent stands.

The candidate responded within a few hours:

I am against Common core.

My opponent is for Common Core.

Thank you for the inquiry.

Please contact me with any other questions.

Thanks.
Tom Brinkman Jr.

So there’s Reason #3.

On the off-chance that the Stautberg campaign doesn’t like being down 0-3, I would welcome their official response.

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No Press Story IDs Sentenced Former Bell, Calif. City Manager as a Democrat

In September 2010, Lachlan Markay at NewsBusters put up a post entitled “Eight Dems Arrested in Bell, CA ‘Corruption on Steroids’ – Not a Single Mention of Party Affiliation From Media.”

Almost four years later (!), reviews of search engine results and specific news stories on the sentencing of Robert Rizzo, the community’s former city manager, are again returning no mentions of the fact that Rizzo is a Democrat.

(more…)

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Homebuilding Data Misses Despite Weather-Clearing Hopes

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:20 am

March was going to be the month the housing industry shook off its bad-weather doldrums and came roaring back due to all kinds of pent-up demand, and … Uh, not really.

From the Census Bureau:

Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 990,000. This is 2.4 percent (±1.0%) below the revised February rate of 1,014,000, but is 11.2 percent (±1.1%) above the March 2013 estimate of 890,000.

Single-family authorizations in March were at a rate of 592,000; this is 0.5 percent (±1.0%)* above the revised February figure of 589,000. [1] Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 370,000 in March.

HOUSING STARTS

Privately-owned housing starts in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 946,000. This is 2.8 percent (±14.7%)* above the revised February estimate of 920,000, but is 5.9 percent (±8.4%)* below the March 2013 rate of 1,005,000. [2]

Single-family housing starts in March were at a rate of 635,000; this is 6.0 percent (±15.5%)* above the revised February figure of 599,000. [3] The March rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 292,000.

Notes:

[1] — Actual single-family permits of 50,800 slightly trailed last year’s 51,400. It was the second month in a row actual single-family permits have trailed the previous year.

[2] — Actual starts, at 79,100, were 5.0 percent below the 83,300 seen in March 2013. It too trailed the previous year for the second straight month.

[3] – Actual single-family starts of 54,000 were slightly above the 52,500 seen in March 2013.

Business Insider’s predictions were for 1 million seasonally adjusted annual permits (the report came in 1.0 percent lower) and seasonally adjusted annual 975,000 starts (the report came in 3.0 percent lower). February’s original figures in each category were revised up slightly.

The message from the year-over-year comparisons is, at least for now, that the homebuilding industry has flattened out. If that’s indeed the case, it’s doing so at a completely unacceptable level signifying malaise (and there’s an outside chance that we may really be witnessing the beginning of a decline).

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UPDATE: The Associated Press’s predictable near-whitewash notes that (seasonally adjusted annual) starts “rose 30.7 percent in the Northeast and jumped 65.5 percent in the Midwest” from February to March. The other two regions fell. That doesn’t bode well for future months.

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Wednesday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (041614)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:05 am

This open thread will stay at or near the top today. Rules are here. Possible comment fodder may follow. Other topics are also fair game.

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Positivity: Human life sacred and inviolable, Pope Francis affirms

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Vatican City:

Apr 12, 2014 / 12:54 am

At a meeting with Italy’s Pro-Life Movement, Pope Francis thanked members for their work to defend the right to life and promote the dignity of all human beings, from conception to natural death.

“Human life is sacred and inviolable. Every civil law is based on the recognition of the first and fundamental right, that of life, which is not subordinate to any condition, neither qualitative nor economic, much less ideological,” the Roman Pontiff said March 11.

“Thank you for your witness of promoting and defending human life from the moment of conception!”

The Holy Father’s words came in a meeting with Movimento per la Vita, an association of more than 600 local Italian movements. He greeted in particular the movement’s president, Carlo Casini, who is also a member of the European Parliament, where he represents the Union of Christian and Centre Democrats party.

Pope Francis thanked the organization particularly for two of its initiatives. The first is the Gemma Project, which “through a particular form of practical solidarity” – the adoption of children while still in the womb – has made possible “the birth of many babies who would otherwise have not seen the light.”

The second is “One of Us,” a European Union citizens’ initiative to ban the funding of policies that destroy human embryos. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

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NYT Relays News of Census Bureau’s Health Coverage Survey Changes, Buries Lack of Disclosure Before Elections

In a Tuesday story which appears to have been handed to it on a silver platter, and which the rest of the establishment press seems uninterested in spreading (given that searches at 11:45 p.m. Tuesday at the Associated Press and at Politico returned nothing relevant), the New York Times has reported that the Census Bureau “is changing its annual survey so thoroughly that it will be difficult to measure the effects of President Obama’s health care law in the next report, due this fall, census officials said.”

It took Times reporter Robert Pear 15 paragraphs to tell readers that measurement and reporting under the new survey design will be so supposedly difficult that “the agency was not planning to release coverage data from early this year in its next report.” That statement indicates that the government will not disclose anything about how the rollout of Obamacare really affected the number of uninsured Americans — even under the new methodology — before this fall’s elections. Everyone together now, say “How convenient.”

(more…)

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April 15, 2014

Washington Elite Nutritionist Goes After Bubba Watson For Celebrating Masters Win at Waffle House

After his Masters victory, pro golfer Bubba Watson celebrated with his family at a Waffle House. Pictures tweeted from there went viral. Waffle House appreciated the appreciation.

What’s not to like about this great story? Apparently some self-appointed nanny state-loving guardians of nutrition like Katherine Tallmadge believe that Watson set a bad example for Americans by eating there. Oh, and with her powers of telepathy, she just knows that Watson’s a complete phony about what he really eats. She went after Watson on one of Neil Cavuto’s Fox programs yesterday, and in doing so caught talk show host Rush Limbaugh’s attention. Since Tallmadge’s career success is, as Limbaugh accurately described it, “based on pestering people over what they eat,” and because she apparently likes to play the Washington insider game (complete with a picture of Michelle Obama promoting the Obama administration’s heavy-handed obesity fight at her home page), it seems fair to say that she is not alone in her elitist outlook. So let’s hear what Rush had to say about all of this (HT Daily Rushbo), and why this really is a teachable media moment:

(more…)

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In Covering House’s Passage of Ryan Budget, AP’s Taylor Presumes $600B Annual Deficits Are ‘Sustainable’

Monday afternoon at the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press, Andrew Taylor predictably described the House’s passage of the Ryan Budget in shrill terms (in order of appearance): “A slashing budget blueprint”; “Sweeping budget cuts”; balances the budget “at the expense of poor people and seniors”; “sharp cuts to domestic programs”; “staking out a hard line for the future”; and “tough cuts.” Naturally, he failed to disclose that the Ryan budget increases the federal government’s total outlays in each and every fiscal year from 2015 to 2024, with the final projected year coming in at $4.995 trillion, or 42 percent above the $3.523 trillion in spending the Congressional Budget Office predicted yesterday for fiscal 2014.

In the process of performing the AP’s usual hatchet job, Taylor let loose with a howler about the federal government’s ability to continue on its current financial path. The AP reporter may also have inadvertently let something slip into his narrative about the viability of a cherished government program, something which is a deep, dark secret to most Americans, but is quite well-known to those who watch things more closely:

(more…)

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NewsBusted (041514)

Filed under: NewsBusted — Tom @ 6:35 am

Here we go:

Topics:
- Kathleen Sebelius Resigns
– Healthcare.gov
– Al Sharpton
– Hank Aaron
– Topless Woman Ransacks McDonald’s
– Wife of Jesus?
– Dallas IRS Office
– Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Best Lines:

  • “HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius resigned last week in the wake of the HealthCare.gov debacle. She wanted to resign last October, but her word processor kept crashing.”
  • “Baseball legend Hank Aaron says that people who oppose Obama are like the KKK. I think Hank got the two mixed up. You see, people who oppose Obama are Republicans, and the KKK was started by Democrats.”
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Tuesday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (041514)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:05 am

This open thread will stay at or near the top today. Rules are here. Possible comment fodder may follow. Other topics are also fair game.

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Fantabulous “housing recovery” update: “Mortgage originations have plummeted by more than 70 percent from a year ago at Citigroup Inc. and were down by more than a third from the prior quarter.”

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Positivity: Family Armed With Guns Did Exactly What You’d Expect After an Intruder Charged Into Their Kitchen

Filed under: 2nd Amendment,Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Florida:

Apr. 9, 2014 11:40am

Police told TheBlaze on Wednesday that no charges will be filed against a Florida father and mother who armed themselves after hearing an intruder breaking into their home and fired shots at the man, killing him.

“If this guy would’ve stayed home, he’d have been alive right now,” Denver Kemp, a neighbor of the family, told WTVT-TV in Tampa Bay.

Public Information Officer Jamie Brown told TheBlaze on Wednesday that a son who was armed along with his mom and dad “fumbled around with the weapon and did not fire.”

Luis A. Pena, 54, told police when he investigated the noises he saw a man trying to open the French doors leading off his back porch, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Pena fired a warning shot above the back door to deter the burglar, but the man continued to work his way inside the home in Winter Haven, which is about 50 miles east of Tampa.

“That warning shot did not deter the intruder,” Police Chief Gary Hester told WTVT about the Monday morning incident. “The intruder didn’t retreat.”

But by the time Mitchell G. Large, 40, made it into the kitchen just before 7 a.m., Pena’s wife and son had also armed themselves and the three of them were waiting for the intruder. When Large charged at Pena, he shot the man in the torso at least once, police said, noted the Sentinel.

“It appears at least two of the family members fired in defense of themselves and their property,” Hester told WTVT.

While investigators don’t believe Large was armed, Hester said it appears as though the mother and father were within their rights to fire their weapons. …

Of course they were.

Go here for the rest of the story.

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