March 25, 2009

Here’s an Argument for Suspending the Natural-Born Citizen Rule for Presidents

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:56 pm

(of course, we may have done so already ….)

…. as long as we consider making this guy the one and only exception:

Daniel Hannan’s blog is here. Yeah, I’ve noticed he supported, or at least hasn’t rejected, Obama. I also know that as a Brit he didn’t have to do the dirty work needed to decide to actually vote for him. After perusing his blog’s front page, I have little doubt that, had he been here, Hannan would have clearly understood Obama’s radicalism before the election, and would have rejected him.

So much of Hannan’s speech could substitute Barack Obama for Gordon Brown that it’s scary.

And …. and …. can you believe it? Hannan spoke from notes, not a Teleprompter.

__________________________________________________

UPDATE: Here’s a transcript –

Prime Minister, I see you’ve already mastered the essential craft of the European politician, namely the ability to say one thing in this chamber and a very different thing to your home electorate. You’ve spoken here about free trade, and amen to that. Who would have guessed, listening to you just now, that you were the author of the phrase ‘British jobs for British workers’ and that you have subsidised, where you have not nationalised outright, swathes of our economy, including the car industry and many of the banks? Perhaps you would have more moral authority in this house if your actions matched your words? Perhaps you would have more legitimacy in the councils of the world if the United Kingdom were not going into this recession in the worst condition of any G20 country?

The truth, Prime Minister, is that you have run out of our money. The country as a whole is now in negative equity. Every British child is born owing around £20,000. Servicing the interest on that debt is going to cost more than educating the child. Now, once again today you try to spread the blame around; you spoke about an international recession, international crisis. Well, it is true that we are all sailing together into the squalls. But not every vessel in the convoy is in the same dilapidated condition. Other ships used the good years to caulk their hulls and clear their rigging; in other words – to pay off debt. But you used the good years to raise borrowing yet further. As a consequence, under your captaincy, our hull is pressed deep into the water line under the accumulated weight of your debt We are now running a deficit that touches 10% of GDP, an almost unbelievable figure. More than Pakistan, more than Hungary; countries where the IMF have already been called in. Now, it’s not that you’re not apologizing; like everyone else I have long accepted that you’re pathologically incapable of accepting responsibility for these things. It’s that you’re carrying on, willfully worsening our situation, wantonly spending what little we have left. Last year – in the last twelve months – a hundred thousand private sector jobs have been lost and yet you created thirty thousand public sector jobs.

Prime Minister, you cannot carry on for ever squeezing the productive bit of the economy in order to fund an unprecedented engorgement of the unproductive bit. You cannot spend your way out of recession or borrow your way out of debt. And when you repeat, in that wooden and perfunctory way, that our situation is better than others, that we’re ‘well-placed to weather the storm’, I have to tell you that you sound like a Brezhnev-era apparatchik giving the party line. You know, and we know, and you know that we know that it’s nonsense! Everyone knows that Britain is worse off than any other country as we go into these hard times. The IMF has said so; the European Commission has said so; the markets have said so – which is why our currency has devalued by thirty percent. And soon the voters too will get their chance to say so. They can see what the markets have already seen: that you are the devalued Prime Minister of a devalued government.

Post-Obamamania, Big 3 Nets’ Evening News Viewership Decline Resumes

All that cheerleading for Obama-Biden, and all they got was a continuation of their lousy long-term ratings drop.

Perhaps one reason why Big 3 network coverage of the 2008 presidential election was so heavy on fawning favoritism towards Barack Obama and Joe Biden combined with all-out attacks on John McCain and Sarah Palin was that the belief that an Obama presidency might revive interest in their declining evening newscasts.

If so, that strategy has spectacularly failed. Nine weeks into Obama’s presidency, it’s clear that after a short-lived revival, the audiences for NBC’s Brian Williams, ABC’s Charles Gibson, and especially CBS’s Katie Couric are smaller than ever, and that (with the exception of NBC’s Williams) the remainder who are still tuning in are older than ever.

After a significant post-election rise that peaked during the first full week after Obama’s inauguration, the viewership drop at all three networks has been steep, to the point where all three have fewer people tuning in than they did a year ago at this time (source: the Evening News Ratings page at Media Bistro):

EveningNewsStats031609

From their respective levels during the week of January 26, NBC, ABC, and CBS are down 17%, 15%, and 21%, respectively. As a whole, as seen above, they’re off 17.4%. In the coveted 25-54 demo, the decline from January 26 is even worse (off 26%, 19%, and 26%). An astonishing 70% of viewers are not in the 25-54 demo, and it can be safely assumed that the vast majority of those are 55 or over.

It looks like the geniuses at the Big 3 Nets got the worst of both worlds: They lost even more older viewers, not in small part because of their obviously biased coverage, and they couldn’t hold onto younger people who, at least during the election, were disproportionately Obama fans. Too bad, so sad.

We now return to our regularly scheduled evening news show meltdown.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Things the Obama Admin and Its POS (Pork Over-Stuffed) ‘Stimulus’ Had No Part In (Bonus: More Evidence of No Recession Until 3Q08)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:31 am

I suspect this will turn into a multi-part venture, because these kinds of things need to be documented as they occur.

Three things in the past week or so clearly fit the description of “Things Over Which The Obama Administration’s POS ‘Stimulus’ Had No Influence”:

  • Housing starts were up 22.1% in February, beating expectations of a roughly 3% decline.
  • Existing home sales were up 5.1%, again whipping expectations, this time of a 1% decline. The first-time homebuyer credit of up to $8,000 is a large element of this improvement. But that is something virtually everyone supported, because it’s an immediately stimulating tax cut. It has nothing to do with the hideous POS (Pork Over-Stuffed) portions of the plan.
  • Durable goods orders were up 3.4% in February, beating expectations of a 2.0% decline (January’s contraction was significantly revised downward from -4.5% to -7.3%).

While I’m at it, here’s another graphic example of the dire impact of the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy last year:

CensusDurables12mos0209

It took a month or so, because durables manufacturers can’t react on a dime, but the generally steep declines beginning in August clearly show that the Pelosi-Obama-Reid energy-starving, tax increase-promising magic had its effect.

The graph is also another entry into evidence showing that the National Bureau of Economic Research’s (NBER’s) claim that the country was in recession during the first half of 2008 lacks credibility.

Ignoring compounding, durable goods orders were up 0.3% from March to June. That’s not impressive, but it’s also not negative, meaning that it was not recessionary.

NBER says that a recession requires “a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy” that is “normally visible in production, employment, real income, and other indicators.”

Historical results on the ground continue to show that for the most part there wasn’t any decline from March through June, let alone a significant one:

  • Durable goods orders increased slightly (see above).
  • Manufacturing overall was barely contracting, according to the Institute for Supply Management (March through June index values averaged 49.1%; a reading above 50% indicates expansion).
  • Everything except manufacturing was basically okay until the June reading (March through June values were 49.6%, 52.0%, 51.7%, and 48.6%). That June reading of sentiment in the real world is where I detected that the POR Economy had begun sometime during that month.
  • The ISM indices on a weighted-average basis show that the economy as a whole improved from March through May (values were 49.1%, 51.5%, and 51.4%).
  • GDP wasn’t in decline. Instead, second quarter annualized GDP growth was 2.8%.
  • Disposable income increased at an annualized rate of 10.7% in the second quarter, and would have been positive even without the tax stimulus payments of $75.4 billion during that period ($77.5 minus $2.1). (The annualized increase in disposable income was $380 billion; the non-annualized equivalent of roughly $95 billion comfortably exceeded the stimulus payments.)

The only thing consistently declining during that time was employment (March 26 reminder: And the seasonally adjusted employment drop as a percentage of the workforce during the first six months of 2008 was lower than during the previous two recessions). Declining employment alone does not a recession make; it never has.

The case that NBER blew its recession call from December 2007 through June grows ever more compelling. At worst, there was a mini-recession from December through February, followed by 3-4 decent months, followed by the POR Economy’s recession that began in July after it began taking hold in June.

Back to the original point of the post: The above good-news cites are examples of the economy attempting a recovery on its own, thanks largely to lower energy prices and lower mortgage rates. Certainly no one can legitimately claim any stimulus/Porkulus-related impact on the above results. Based on estimates of when the mislabeled “stimulus” money will actually be spent, no one will be able to do so until sometime this fall, if even then.

Lucid Links (032509, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 9:22 am

Noteworthy Net-Worthies:

The AP’s Matthew Brown doubles down –Yesterday, I noted Brown’s and his wire service’s despicable, class-warfare references to the 14 Montana air-crash victims, including seven young children, as “ultrarich,” and the resort they were heading to as “ritzy.” In a different report brought to my attention by NewsBuster commenter Advocate 123, Brown referred to an “ultra-exclusive resort” in his first sentence when he could have more specifically written “the Yellowstone Club resort,” and decided that we just had to know that it is a “millionaires only” place in a later paragraph. Commenters at the link are quite justifiably not pleased.

Congressman Fortney “Pete” Stark “represents” a district in California. According to the LA Times (HT TaxProf), Stark “is registered to vote at his wife’s parents’ address in San Lorenzo and has a California driver’s license.” He also is attempting to claim his Maryland home as his primary residence for property tax purposes. According to Wiki, “Under Maryland law, in order to qualify, the owner must register to vote and drive in Maryland.” Stark clearly is not a resident of the district he is pretending to serve. Accordingly, even apart from his documented intemperance, which should be reason enough (but hasn’t been), he deserves a voter ouster in 2010.

More than 80,000 111,000 (HT Michelle Malkin) have signed a petition protesting President Barack Obama’s invitation to speak at Notre Dame. I went here and made that more than 111,001.

Interesting, under-reported AIG fact — “(Longtime Democrat Richard) Holbrooke, a veteran diplomat who is now the administration’s point man on Pakistan and Afghanistan, served on the board between 2001 and mid-2008.” Holbrooke is thus among those who helped disgraced Eliot Spitzer oust Hank Greenberg, and was certainly around when the supposedly outrageous bonus plans were put into place. Another interesting, under-reported Holbrooke fact (HT Kaus) — Holbrooke and his family got breaks apparently only available to “Friends of Angelo Mozilo” of Countrywide on five (count ‘em) different mortgage loans.

Anti-life evil has indeed infested the Catholic Church in Boston (HT Voting Catholic in 2008). Properly understood, this is a result of Mitt Romney’s CommonwealthCare and its $50 subsidized abortions. CommonwealthCare forces Catholic hospitals and health services to choose between leaving the state-controlled system and “accommodation” (i.e., providing abortion referrals and information) dressed up to look acceptable, when it isn’t. There are national lessons here. ObamaCare must be stopped, as it will inevitably institutionalize the anti-life culture. Mitt Romney must be stopped, because he has proven that will support the same thing.

Positivity: Girl, 4, rescued from burning house

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:58 am

From Contra Costa, California:

Posted: 03/19/2009 09:09:43 AM PDT

The fire had grown so intense in a house near City Hall on Thursday morning that plumes of black smoke could be seen from Highway 4, and it was nearly impossible to enter the building.

Fire crews were still on the way, and a 4-year-old girl was trapped inside. Two Pittsburg police officers knew they had to act fast.

In the end, the officers rescued the child — and their acts ensured that all three residents survived, Lt. Brian Addington said.

The single-alarm fire broke out about 8:45 a.m. at the home on the 300 block of Jimno Avenue, two blocks from where city offices are headquartered, the Contra Costa Fire District said.

Pittsburg police, also housed in the city office complex, were the first to arrive. Officer Mark Mays got to the house and found a man and woman outside, with the man telling him a young girl was trapped in a rear bathroom. The man said he tried to go back in the house but was overwhelmed by the heat, Addington said.

Mays circled the house to look for the girl. By this point, Officer Ryan Wilkie arrived and entered the house, yelling for the girl. He couldn’t go in very far but instructed the girl to go to a window, Addington said.

Mays spotted the girl from outside but couldn’t pull her through the window. While he held her, Wilkie used his baton to break the window, and they were able to pull the girl to safety.

All three residents who were home when the fire started — two adults
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and the child — were taken to a hospital for smoke inhalation, Addington said.

The squad of about 15 firefighters arrived soon after and quickly extinguished the blaze, bringing it under control within 15 minutes, fire district spokeswoman Emily Hopkins said.

Go here for the rest of the story.