April 3, 2008

Quote of the Day: On the Dem Presidential Campaigns Negatively Influencing Economy

First, the setup from Reuters:

DETROIT, April 1 – U.S. auto sales dropped 12 percent in March in a decline blamed on shaky consumer confidence, high fuel prices and concern that a housing market downturn could spread into a full recession.

Next, the specifics, at the same link:

  • GM — down 13%.
  • Chrysler — down 13.2%.
  • Ford — down 7.6% (I know it would be politically incorrect to suggest that maybe Ford did better than the first two listed here for the first time in a while because of a bit of pent-up demand from the American Family Association boycott that was lifted three weeks ago; so pretend I didn’t say it :–>).
  • Toyota — down 3.4%.
  • Nissan — up 3.6%.
  • Honda — up 4.2%.

Finally, the Quote of the Day, at that very same link (bold is mine):

“I think the main weakness is consumer confidence,” said GM sales chief Mark LaNeve. “It’s (mortgages) resetting. It’s worry about the news. It’s presidential candidates telling you how bad it is. It’s Bear Stearns.”

Remember, I didn’t say it; he did.

The American people would like to NOT thank the presidential candidates I refer to as BOOHOO (Barack O-bomba Overseas Hussein “Obambi” Obama) and HR4C (Hillary Rodham Cackling Crying Complaining Clinton) for their parts in talking down the economy, and in making it more difficult than it would otherwise be for the blue-collar, unionized workers they profess to love and support to hold on to their jobs.

ISM Non-Manufacturing Comes in at Near-Breakeven

Filed under: Economy — Tom @ 10:24 am

The Institute for Supply Management’s Non-Manufacturing Index (NMI) came in with a “barely contracting” reading of 49.6%, up from 49.3% in February. Any reading above 50% indicates expansion.

This appears to indicate stabilization after an in-the-tank reading of 44.6% in January.

Bloomberg reports that, as with the Manufacturing Index released two days ago, that the “experts” expected the NMI to go down — in this case to 48.5%, but it instead went up. It also tells us that the Old Media-driven certainty that we’re already in a recession is not a lock:

Combined with the group’s manufacturing index, which earlier this week showed a smaller contraction than anticipated, the report indicates growth is unlikely to collapse. The figures are welcome news for Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, who yesterday said there was a risk the economy would shrink in the first half of the year.

“The degree of softening in the economy is not especially pronounced at this point,” Michael Moran, chief economist at Daiwa Securities America Inc. in New York, said before the report. “The economy most likely will slow further in the months ahead, but we don’t anticipate a dire outcome.”

Separately, as Bloomberg also noted, claims for unemployment benefits went up. Also, ADP’s dubiously reliable Employment Report showed an increase of 8,000 nonfarm private employment jobs in March.

Tomorrow’s Employment Situation Report from Uncle Sam’s Bureau of Labor Statistics looms large.

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UPDATE, 12:45 p.m.: Closer review of the report shows that 11 industries expanded (Real Estate, Rental & Leasing; Mining; Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting; Construction; Information; Other Services; Utilities; Retail Trade; Accommodation & Food Services; Health Care & Social Assistance; and Public Administration), while six contracted (Transportation & Warehousing; Wholesale Trade; Educational Services; Finance & Insurance; Management of Companies & Support Services; and Professional, Scientific & Technical Services).

This is significant on two counts. First, the fact that almost 2/3 of the industries expanded in March means that most of the economy is holding its own. Second, if I’m right, Finance & Insurance would the industry that contracted the most among the six losers. The stock market rally early this week was largely based on the notion that the financial sector has hit bottom and is turning around. Assuming the markets are right (it’s hard to bet against them), even if that sector only gets to where it’s at least treading water, the economy may get into growth mode again, and quickly.

UPDATE, 1 p.m.: Of course, the Associated Press’s Eileen Alt Powell saved the 11-6 growing vs. contracting industry breakdown for the last two paragraphs of her report.

Couldn’t Help But Notice (040308)

This could be the day’s second BizzyBlog Positivity post — Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) has news from Africa, reported by the Catholic News Agency:

Speaking on Wednesday on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives in support of a 2008 bill that would renew the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the congressman said recent reports showed the effectiveness of African HIV/AIDS prevention program based on promoting positive behavioral change.

“Five years after PEPFAR first began, the efficacy and importance of promoting abstinence and ‘be faithful’ initiatives have been demonstrated. The evidence is compelling,” Smith said.

PEPFAR, he said, relies on the ABC model, which stands for “Abstain, Be faithful, use Condoms.” Smith cited comments about PEPFAR from the U.S. State Department, USAID, and the Department of Health and Human Services that said the ABC model “is now recognized as the most effective strategy to prevent HIV in generalized epidemics… The legislation’s emphasis on ‘AB’ activities has been an important factor in the fundamental and needed shift in USG (Unitied States Global) prevention strategy from a primarily ‘C’ approach prior to PEPFAR to the balanced ABC strategy.”

Rep. Smith added that a “growing body of data” validates the behavioral changes encouraged by ABC programs. Data from Zimbabwe and Kenya “mirrors the earlier success of Uganda’s ABC approach to preventing HIV,” he noted.

….. Smith also referred to the September, 2007 testimony of Dr. Norman Hearst before the Foreign Affairs Committee. Hearst said, “Five years ago, I was commissioned by UNAIDS to conduct a technical review of how well condoms have worked for AIDS prevention in the developing world.” After he and his associates collected “mountains of data,” he said, “we then looked for evidence of public health impact for condoms in generalized epidemics. To our surprise, we couldn’t find any. No generalized HIV epidemic has ever been rolled back by a prevention strategy primarily based on condoms.”

The Bush behavior-based initiative has helped slow down AIDS in Africa. That’s how a President not obsessed with a legacy, or whether Old Media thinks his legacy is, creates a real one. (Update: Bleep — It’s obvious from reading press coverage elsewhere that the amounts being spent have gotten out of control, and are probably enriching a bunch of totally undeserving NGO types and corrupt bureaucrats/kleptocrats. That, unfortunately, will be a damning element of the Bush legacy.)

Read the whole thing. I will be surprised if you see the abstinence data reported anywhere else.

Posted in longer and revised form at NewsBusters.org.

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This bears watchingThe latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on the employment situations in individual states shows that Oklahoma’s unemployment rate (seasonally adjusted) has dropped from 4.1% in December, to 3.7% in January, to 3.1% in February.

The Sooner State’s not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate (i.e., based on the raw data) went from 4.2% in January to 3.5% in February. The number of unemployed dropped from 72,900 to 59,700 in one month.

These results have potential national significance, because Oklahoma enacted tough illegal-immigrant enforcement legislation that took effect in November 2007.

Correlation, anyone? If it weren’t for the politically incorrect nature of the possible reason for the improvement, Old Media would be all over this story.

Maybe Ohio, where February’s unemployment rate was 5.3%, should emulate Oklahoma.

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Stuff I don’t have time to comment on (much), but which deserves notice:

  • Captain Ed at Hot Air — “Oil-for-Food exec a Russian spy”
  • Steven Spruiell (HT TIB All-Stars post at Weapons of Mass Discussion) — “Factory-sized Deception” (the truth about the saturation “corporations like Delphi are cruel, and we’ve gotta stop ‘em” ads run by the Obama campaign during the Ohio Primary in late February and early March); with an interesting sidebar on the ad’s spokesperson.
  • Michelle Malkin — “MoveOn: Stop Fox News from taking over the world!”
  • Weapons of Mass Discussion — “Ohio Just Raised Your Grandkids’ Taxes.” True, unless your kids vote with their feet.

New Pajamas Media Column (’Social Security: Anything But Secure’) Is Up

It’s here.

I will post it at BizzyBlog Saturday morning (link will not work until then) under the title, “Social Security Will Cause Fiscal Headaches Within Just Two Years.”

Positivity: Marine awarded Silver Star for bravery, life-saving acts

Filed under: Positivity,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 6:55 am

From Camp Pendleton, near San Diego, California:

7:11 p.m. March 28, 2008

In all probability, Marine Sgt. Randy Roedema never would have met his daughter if not for another man’s bravery.

Roedema’s platoon – part of a quick-reaction force – was on patrol in the Iraqi desert south of Rawah on Aug. 2, 2007, when insurgents ambushed it with a hail of automatic weapons fire. Roedema, 25, was shot twice and collapsed to the ground.

A Marine tried to rescue him and was killed in the process, he recalled Friday. Then Lance Cpl. Moses Cardenas rushed to Roedema’s aid, dragging him 100 yards to safety while shooting at the insurgents. Cardenas suffered two bullet wounds in the process.

Roedema’s first child, Juliannah, was born just days after the ambush, and Roedema credits Cardenas with giving the girl a chance to have a father.

He gave the testimonial during a ceremony at Camp Pendleton in which Cardenas received the Silver Star, the military’s third-highest honor for combat valor.

Marine commanders awarded Cardenas the medal for his efforts to rescue Roedema.

Cardenas said he knew he had been shot, but didn’t really feel the pain until minutes after the rounds had stopped and all the insurgents were dead.

“It didn’t really register how dangerous it was with all the adrenaline going,” said Cardenas, 20, of Fullerton. “It’s either you kill them or they kill you.”

Cardenas and fellow members of his platoon now wear wrist bands engraved with the name of the Marine who was killed that day: Lance Cpl. Cristian Vasquez, 20.

Among the people who came Friday to congratulate Cardenas were his parents and his sister. Cardenas cried briefly as he introduced his family to some of his fellow Marines after the ceremony.

His platoon mates patted him on the back, shook his hand and offered praises such as “Oorah!” and “Good job, devil. We’re all proud of you.”

The Marine Corps’ citation notes that Cardenas “left his safe position behind a vehicle and fought his way across 50 meters of fire-swept, open desert against five armed insurgents to rescue the fallen Marine.”

“After sustaining a gunshot wound to the neck that knocked him to the ground. . . . Cardenas tenaciously rose to his feet, calmly reloaded his squad automatic weapon and continued his assault until he reached the wounded Marine.”

Roedema said Cardenas essentially shielded him with his own body.

Cardenas was on his first combat tour of Iraq at the time, and he will return there for a second tour in September. His enlistment with the Marine Corps will expire in two years, but he intends to re-enlist and remain in the service “until they kick me out,” he said. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.