June 30, 2009

Warning to Republican Officials…

Filed under: Activism,Taxes & Government — Rose @ 10:58 pm

Well, it’s official…whack-nut Senate liberals now have their 60th missing link (and I mean that in every sense of the expression).

A word of warning to the Republicans left on the hill…especially the wussy republicans:  From this day forward, you will determine the value, effectiveness and subsequent existence of the Republican Party.  Perhaps even more disturbing (as I stated in the link above), your actions will unarguably determine how timely and literal the next revolution gets.  You can either fight for what you know is right according to the founding principles of this country, or continue on the wide, progressive path to irrelevancy.

You see, thanks to your contributions that have been turning this country into something it was never meant to be, the people who are waking up to your foolishness no longer see things in conventional terms of ”Democrat and Republican.”  Rather, as Ayn Rand so prophetically coined, we are seeing things in terms of “looters and producers.” In your role, that means you either vote in favor of creating more looters dependent upon government (socialism) or more producers (free-markets, limited government).  Your performance to date is unacceptable…

Let’s face it, en masse, your record hasn’t been much better than progressive liberals.  In some cases, republicans have advanced liberal causes more than they could have ever hoped.  Government grew just as significantly on your watch and after several USSC appointments, we still have the atrocities of Roe v. Wade/Doe v. Bolton.  Republicans like Mitt Romney spear-headed the destruction of traditional marriage in addition to capitulating on “universal healthcare” (two words that should NEVER come out of a [true] conservatives mouth, let alone tyrannical policy chamber).  Mitt Romney, the man over whom women swoon, was a liberal’s dream.

We could go onand onand on

Additionally, while this goes without saying in most circles, we no longer view most of you in a favorable way (shocker!).  How proud we are (sarcasm) that we now simply expect you to be scoundrels,  philanderers…and adultering pigs who say one thing but do another.  In fact, the disdain we have for you and the cess pool that is Washington DC is exactly what keeps many from running against you.  You consistently betray the trust of the people who put you in office and are consistently remiss with any majority we give you.  In the private sector, you would have been fired long before 2006 & 2008.  It is an understatement to say that WE, the People have become more informed (we read our bills), more involved and actively educate each other one hundred times more than any of you, period.

Tangent:

There has been a lot of “nah, nah, nah look at the hypocritical conservatives” over the Mark Sanford situation.  Let’s be clear about the liberal hypocrisy here.  Their premise is that conservatives encourage a certain way of life (pro-family values) and then break their own standards.  True enough in some cases, but make no mistake, liberals are just as guilty about telling people how they should live (preferably forced via legislation) while considering themselves exempt from the mandate or fleeting, social norm.

End of Tangent.

So what is left for the pro-producers to focus on? Only two things, really…

  1. The courage to stand on principle and make the pro-looters own every destructive policy they pass until pro-producers get back into the majority.  This would entail learning and actually repeating the word “no” ad nauseum.
  2. Having the basic, fundamental ability to fricking count.  Nothing too complex, the four basic mathmatical functions will do.  For example, looters think that -$11 trillion + $1 trillion equals $1 trillion that they can take in and spend…producers who work for a living know that it equals ”negative” $10 trillion).

Yep, it’s that simple, folks.  Can you grow a spine and can you count?  Both are non-negotiable lest you learn to count by calculating the number of votes by which you lose your next race.

Whether you realize it or not, you have brought a frustrated electorate to the point that puts you in the most danger… we have nothing to lose…and that should scare the hell out of you.

“Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into air. “  ~John Quinicy Adams

June Federal Receipts: The Dive Continues, As Does Media Near Silence

As we near the end of June, which is supposed to be one of the four biggest months for federal tax collections (January, April, and September are the others), it is clear that the serious receipts shortfalls are not only continuing, but have caused the March 20 projections of the administration and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to be outdated.

Media coverage of the ongoing receipts dive has been minimal at best. A Google News search on “federal receipts” (typed in quotes) returns on seven items, two of them originating from yours truly.

Here is where things stand as of the last Friday of June in both 2009 and 2008, per Uncle Sam’s related Daily Treasury Statements:

USreceipts062708v262609

Comparing June 26, 2009 to June 27, 2008 is more valid than comparing the same days of both years, because each period contains the same number of Mondays, a big day for receipts, and Fridays, a big day for sending out refund checks.

As you can see, as we approach the end of the month, June 2009 receipts from economic activity are down 25% from last year. It’s clear from last year’s results that it would be unreasonable to expect a high level of receipts from other than withholdings in the final two days of this year.

Estimating on what I believe is the high side, it looks like total June 2009 receipts will come in at about $230 billion, consisting of about $198 billion in the line items identified above (i.e., another $13.2 billion will come in during the final two days) plus $32 billion in other receipts. That would be a 12% drop from last year’s official total, but a 20% drop from last year’s $287.8 billion in total receipts from economic activity.

Looking forward to the rest of the year, I estimate the following results based on how the government defines receipts:

USreceiptsFullYr2009estAsOf062709

I believe these estimates, if anything, are on the high side. July 2009 will probably come in at 90% or worse compared to July 2008, because July 2008 had over $13 billion in stimulus payments, which Uncle Sam (erroneously, in my opinion) treated as negative receipts instead of outlays. August 2009, vs. August 2008 will be worse than July, because August 2008 stimulus payments were barely $1 billion. September 2009 vs. will probably be even worse than the previous two months, because that month is heavily influenced by corporate income and non-withheld tax receipts, which as you can see above have fallen far more than the overall average.

Also note that August and September of 2009 will show year-over-year declines for the second straight year. Monthly year-over-year receipts from economic activity increased for an almost unbroken string of four years up until August of last year, when the recession as normal people define it began.

You can also see that my full-year receipts estimate is almost $60 billion, or 2.8%, below the CBO’s March 20 estimate (PDF) based on budget information supplied to it by the White House, and 4% below the White House’s own estimate based on the same underlying information CBO used.

As I mentioned in a June 20 post (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), the repayments of roughly $68 billion of TARP money during June by many of the larger banks are not being treated as receipts by Uncle Sam, because the original TARP disbursements/”investments” were not treated as outlays. More on how “Net Present Value” accounting is rendering almost indecipherable federal financial information that used to be mostly understandable is here.

When federal spending is hemorrhaging in the hundreds of billions and trillions, it may seem relatively unimportant to focus on differences of less than $100 billion in receipts. But that is far from the case. First, the declines are far more than what one would expect from an economy that has contracted by about 3.2% (non-annualized) in the past three reported quarters, indicating that something beyond normal business reactions is at work here. Second, the steeper the receipts decline, the smaller the foundation on which to build an economic recovery will be, and the more likely it is that the administration will give us a fake hand-wring and push tax increases as the only answer to the shortfall — even though tax increases, based on history, would more than likely extend the economic spiral instead of stopping it.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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UPDATE, 4:10 p.m.: The relevant line items just came in pretty much as expected on the June 29, 2009 Treasury Statement at about $10.8 billion, vs. about $13.4 billion on Monday, June 30 of last year.

Lucid Links (063009, Morning)

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

Noteworthy Net-Worthies:

Doocy’s Doozy — Energy Czar Carol Browner, busted

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TEXT –

STEVE DOOCY: “[I] know the bill is over 1,000 pages long. Have you have read it?”

CAROL BROWNER: “Oh, I’m very familiar with this bill.”

DOOCY: “Have you have read it?”

BROWNER: “We have obviously been watching this for a very long time. I am very …”

DOOCY: “I’m sure you’ve got an idea of it, but you have read it?”

BROWNER: “I’ve read major portions of it, absolutely.”

DOOCY: “So the answer no you haven’t read it. But you’ve read a big chunk of it.”

BROWNER: “No, no, no that’s not fair. That’s absolutely not fair.”

DOOCY: “No, I’m just asking you if you read the thousand pages.”

BROWNER: “I’ve read vast portions of it.”

DOOCY: “Ok.”

++++++++++++++

No wonder the Obama admin despises Fox News. Their people ask questions normal people would ask. Obama and his peeps can’t handle it.

Doocy could have gone further and pressured Browner about what the Examiner’s David Freddoso reported last week (HT Powerline via The Corner’s Andy McCarthy), namely that “the 300-plus page managers’ amendment, added to the bill …. (the night before the vote) in the House Rules Committee” was “not even …. integrated with the official copy of the 1,090-page bill at the House Clerk’s desk.”

I am soooooo sure that in the 56 or so intervening hours between the vote and the Fox interview, Carol Browner sat down with the two docs and self-integrated them as she read the entirety of both.

Hardly. Doocy dis-integrated her disingenuousness, and then Browner whined about how “not fair” he was.

Cry me a river, babe. What’s “not fair” is that 219 Congresspersons, NOT ONE of whom deserves re-election, voted for a bill they could not possibly have read, let alone understood.

This leads me to Steve Driehaus. DirectorBlue at the Green Room writes that “We cannot afford politicians like Steve Driehaus, who vote for economy-crippling legislation, then hope their colleagues in the other house of Congress will kill it before it hardens into a tumor.” I mostly agree, but judging by what the Cincinnati Enquirer reported Sunday about Driehaus’s defense of his vote, it seems that the congressman really wants the bill to go all the way. Regardless of its ultimate success, the bill is a lengthy IQ test of fitness for office, and Driehaus has flunked.

Exit point: Michelle Malkin reminded us in December that just before Bush 43′s inauguration, Browner, then the outgoing head of the Environmental Protection Agency, “oversaw the destruction of agency computer files in brazen violation of a federal judge’s order requiring the agency to preserve its records.” Browner has no business serving in any government position of any kind, and is a walking, talking, one-person mockery of the President’s alleged high ethical standards.

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Questions for those advocating the “public plan” option in Obamacare:

  1. Will the “public plan” pay income and other taxes like the companies who run private plans must? (Example: Aetna alone incurred $790 million in income tax expenses in calendar 2008, and over $3.5 billion in the past four years. The company’s most recent 10-K [PDF] indicates that this expense is almost entirely related to its Health Care and Group Insurance.)
  2. What will anyone do to keep the “public plan” from taking advantage of other unfair advantages, which could at least include general government absorption of administrative costs, sales-tax exemptions, property-tax exemptions, ”public service” advertising, and much more?
  3. Will the “public plan” be just as vulnerable to class-action and no-limit malpractice lawsuits as private plans currently are?
  4. If the answers to Question 1, 2, or 3 are “no” or “I don’t know,” how can you possibly claim to know that the “public plan’s” competition against private plans will be conducted on a level playing field?

Related Update: On Sunday, Alo at Brain Shavings went after and properly characterized Obama’s snotty question (“Why would [the "public option"] drive private insurers out of business?”), and tore it to pieces. You can add the items ID’d in Questions 1-3 above to Alo’s cited reasons.

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The wrap at a Wall Street Journal editorial today — “Bernie Madoff is headed for a deserved personal end-game in the slammer, but until the cops catch his accomplices or explain why they can’t, the Madoff case remains open.” Surely there are others who knew that Madoff’s house was made of cards.

________________________________________________

At Hot Air“Press corps now openly laughing at Obama’s backtracking on taxes.” Trouble is, the “joke,” if new taxes come to pass, will be on us.

Positivity: Midwest students take mission trip to NYC

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:00 am

From Lincoln, Nebraska, and New York City:

Lincoln, Neb., Jun 29, 2009 / 05:53 pm

Twelve high school and college students from southeastern Nebraska traveled to New York City early this month to spend a week doing mission work with the city’s different religious orders.

Father Jamie Hottovy of St. John Parish in Prague, Nebraska and Ss. Cyril and Methodius Parish in Plasi took the young group to the bustling city so they could experience the work that the different orders in the city do to assist the people living there.

“Every day we did something different. We spent each day with one of the groups we were helping, doing whatever they asked of us,” said one student named Jessica Sousek.

The days were long and filled with activity. Morning began around 6 or 7 a.m. and the group worked until 10 or 11 p.m. The students shared meals together, as well as daily Mass, and an afternoon Holy Hour. A few sight-seeing excursions were squeezed in between projects as well

“We prayed hard, we worked hard, and we played hard,” Father Hottovy said. “We did about a month’s worth of activities in one week.”

On the first day, the women helped the Sisters of Life cook and clean the formation house. Meanwhile, the men worked with the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (CFR) at St. Crispin Friary in the Bronx, renovating their building with new drywall and paint.

The next day, the group worked with the Missionaries of Charity, the New York division of Blessed Mother Teresa’s order. In preparation for summer catechism programs for underprivileged kids, the Nebraska students cleaned and set up the auditorium, saving the sisters a great deal of time.

Later in the week, the group returned to serve the Missionaries of Charity at one of their AIDS hospices, once again cooking and cleaning.

“That was something very powerful,” Father Hottovy said describing the seemingly mundane tasks. “By sweeping and by cleaning toilets, [the students were] working for the greater good and helping people who don’t have as many advantages as they do.”

The students also assisted the Franciscan brothers in preparing for a “Jesus Run.”

“The ‘Jesus Run’ consisted of sharing physical needs, such as food, drink, and clothing, with spiritual and emotional needs, such as sharing in prayer or just talking, for the homeless of New York City,” explained Ashley Paseka, another student.

Brother Marianon, CFR, prepared them for interaction with the homeless.

“He emphasized that, whomever we met that night, we should see Jesus in each one of those people and receive them with the love you’d receive Christ,” recalled Father Hottovy. “It brought the experience to a whole new level.”

Go here for the rest of the story.

Will ABC’s Knocks on the Stimulus Get Past ‘The Note’?

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:01 am

RichardKleinABC0609.jpg

ABC’s online “The Note” describes itself as “Washington’s Original and Most Influential Tipsheet.” ABC News’s Senior Political Reporter Richard Klein is its current content creator.

We’ll see how influential “The Note” really is if what Klein writes about the machinations behind the attempt to make us forget that the Obama stimulus plan was supposedly going to be making some kind of difference at this point gets out anywhere else. Color me skeptical.

No doubt, Klein gets in some pretty strong, accurate, and long-overdue rips (links are in original):

Moving the Stimulus GoalpostsWith public confidence in the stimulus package showing signs of ebbing, the Obama administration is continuing to sell its impact with nation-wide events and press appearances.

Today brings this explanation, from Christina Romer, the chairman of the president’s Council on Economic Advisers: Stimulus spending, Romer told the Financial Times, is “going to ramp up strongly through the summer and the fall.

“We always knew we were not going to get all that much fiscal impact during the first five to six months. The big impact starts to hit from about now onwards,” Romer said.

….. But top Obama advisers haven’t always been so cautious in predicting how long the stimulus would take to be felt.

Back in February, with Congress moving swiftly to approve President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package, White House budget director Peter Orszag said the benefits of the stimulus would “take weeks to months” to be felt.

Larry Summers, director of the National Economic Council, was even more optimistic: “You’ll see the effects begin almost immediately,” Summers told CNN in February.

Just last month, Jared Bernstein, Vice President Joe Biden’s top economic adviser, joined administration officials in asserting that the stimulus was already working, despite rising unemployment rates.

….. The stimulus, of course, did pass, though the national unemployment rate is now 9.4 percent. Two weeks ago, President Obama predicted that unemployment will top 10 percent this year.

The sad thing is how many of these defenders really know better. Romer, for example, authored a 2007 paper showing that tax cuts had over twice the impact (second item at link) of the same amount of government stimulus.

Klein’s report would appear to be a way for the network to say “See, we did tough coverage of Obama,” while, barring a surprise on “Good Morning America,” “World News Tonight,” or “20/20,” letting few people see it.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

June 29, 2009

Well Ya Don’t Say…er, Write?

Filed under: Activism,Scams,Taxes & Government — Rose @ 1:50 pm

Jack Cashill over at American Thinker has finished quite an extensive amount of phenomenal research that puts into question – no, pretty much nails – Barack Obama on some “originality” issues with regards to who wrote “his” book, “Dreams From My Father.”

This is old-fashioned journalism at its best…here is an excerpt.

++++++++++++++++++++++++

The experts in the field have told me to stick with old-fashioned literary detective work, and I have done just that. Mr. Midwest (anonymous to the public, but known to Cashill — Ed.) has helped.  His most recent contribution is a good example of keen-eyed detection.

Going forward, I will be referring to five books.  These include Ayers’ 1993 To Teach, his 1997 A Kind and Just Parent (shorthand: Parent), his 2001 memoir Fugitive Days, and Obama’s 1995 Dreams From My Father (Dreams). Casual critics of this research have repeated the canard that I attributed both Obama books, Dreams and the 2006 Audacity of Hope (Audacity), to Ayers.  I never have.  From the beginning, I have asserted that the two books appear to have two different authors, and so I will leave Audacity out of the equation until the end.

What Mr. Midwest noticed recently is that both Ayers in Parent and Obama in Dreams make reference to the poet Carl Sandburg.  In itself, this is not a grand revelation.  Let us call it a C-level match. Obama and Ayers seem to have shared the same library in any case.  Both talk of reading the books of Malcolm X, James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, W.E.B. Dubois and Frantz Fanon among others.  In fact, each misspells “Frantz” as “Franz.”

Ayers and Obama, however, go beyond citing Sandburg.  Each quotes the opening line of his poem “Chicago.”  From Dreams:

He poured himself more hot water. “What do you know about Chicago anyway?”

I thought a moment. “Hog butcher to the world,” I said finally.

From Parent:

“At the turn of the century, Chicago had a population of a million people and was a young and muscular city – hub of commerce and industry, the first skyscraper city, home of the famous world exposition, “hog butcher to the world” – bursting with energy.”

This I would call a B-level match.  What raises it up a notch to an A-level match is the fact that both misquote “Chicago,” and they do so in exactly the same way.  The poem actually opens, “Hog butcher for the world.”

Last week, the first email I received from Mr. West had in the message box “759 striking similarities between Dreams and Ayers’ works.”  This claim seemed so outsized I did not take it seriously.  When I was unable to open the documents, I emailed Mr. West back, asked him to reformat, and then forgot about the email.  He resent his documents a few days later.

This time I was able to open them and was promptly blown away.  Mr. West’s analysis was systematic, comprehensive, and utterly, totally, damning.  Of the 759 matches, none were frivolous.  All were C-level or above, and I had no doubt of their authenticity.  I had been gathering many of them in my own reserve waiting for a book-length opportunity to make my case.  Mr. West had done the heavy lifting.  He even indexed his matches.  This represented months of works.  As I learned, he had been patiently gathering material since November when he first began building on my own research.

++++++++++++++++++++++++

Read the whole thing here (and make sure to read the ongoing narrative summary where he also links to a video interview w/Ayers).

Now, anyone who has heard Obama speak without at teleprompter knows that he is FAR from an original…unless of course we’re talking about his politics in which case he gets closest to Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Marx…

So, for those who are upset that Obama can’t produce a $7 long-form birth certificate, don’t feel bad, turns out he can’t produce anything original…shocker.

Lucid Links (062909, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 7:18 am

Noteworthy Net-Worthies, relatively light on commentary:

Indiana Sitting On Billion Dollar Budget Reserve — “If the Governors of Ohio and Kentucky want tips on how to balance their budget, they might pick up the phone and call Mitch Daniels of Indiana.” I’ve suggested that Indiana is worth emulating at least a couple of times (here and here), not that either of them are listening.

The Honduran “coup” is really, as Ed Morrissey at Hot Air astutely notes, democracy functioning as it should when a tyrant wannabe tries to put himself above the law and his country’s constitution. Guess whose side the White House is on?

Joan Vennochi at the Boston Globe“THE FUZZY math behind the Massachusetts universal healthcare law is starting to add up – just as Washington studies the law as a possible model for the nation.” The trouble is that the real math doesn’t add up, and that liberal commentators like Vennochi, when faced with reality, still won’t let go of the nationalization idea.

No elaboration necessary (HT Berman Post) — “The Obama administration is open to discussions with Iran over its nuclear ambitions despite protests questioning the legitimacy of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election, U.S. officials said Sunday.”

The Coschocton (OH) Tribune editorializes — “More Broken Promises by Strickland.” The opening: “I’ll tell you one thing, but do another. Gov. Ted Strickland should consider that as a slogan for his re-election campaign. It may not work in his favor, but at least it would be forthright.” Ouch.

At the Cincinnati Enquirer, a “let’s make this as vague as possible” headline — “Tea Partiers Protest (Cap and Trade) Bill, Driehaus (‘Yes’ Vote).” I had to add what is in parens to make it comprehensible. Driehaus’s defense — “(The bill will) provide fair, measured controls to reduce carbon emissions 83 percent by 2050. I’m proud to stand with my colleagues today to do the right ting (sic) for the future of America’s economy and security.” The “ting” is, the bill will trash American’s economy and our ability to defend ourselves. His ouster from the First Congressional District is a “ting” that can’t happen soon enough.

Positivity: Nicaraguan bishops chide Ortega — Justice requires action and not just prayer

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:26 am

Standing up to a wannabe tyrant who would dictate what clerics can and can’t do is a positive thing.

From Managua, Nicaragua:

Jun 17, 2009 / 08:51 pm

In response to Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s recent “invitation to pray” and to refrain from giving opinions on political issues, the bishops of Nicaragua reminded that justice requires action and not just prayer. The one who prays, they said, must always speak out to defend the truth.

Ortega responded to recent criticism of his administration by “exhorting” the bishops to “pray everyday.” According to El Nuevo Diario, Archbishop Leopoldo Brenes of Managua said, “We don’t belong to any political party, but we do exercise political action at a general level, which means for the common good … .” “Generally as pastors we are always in tune with the sense of our people, and we convey that to those who have the capacity to bring about solutions to problems.”

For his part, the vice president of the bishops’ conference, Bishop Juan Abelardo Guevara, responded to Ortega’s comments by saying it was “abominable to use the word of the Lord to justify absurd positions.”

Auxiliary Bishop Silvio Jose Baez Ortega of Managua …. also reminded the president to listen to the opinions of others, to examine his own conscience and to practice self-correction.

….. “He who prays has the obligation to raise his voice in support of the truth,” he added. “Praying does not exempt one from working for justice, from being a prophet. In the Bible, the prayer and the prophet go hand in hand. He who prays, he who speaks with God, speaks also of God and also denounces the situations in which God is not present.”

Go here for the full story.

MarketWatch and Rex Nutting Gets GDP History Wrong

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:30 am

nuttingr.jpgThose who have followed my posts for a while know that I have a particularly low regard for the work of MarketWatch’s Rex Nutting (pictured at right). It goes back to the pre-housing mess days when he tried to tell me that the the drop in housing prices would look like the 75%-plus drop in the NASDAQ from 2000-2002 or the collapse of Dutch tulip prices centuries ago. . As of April 2009, according the Federal Housing Finance Authority (FHFA), the successor to the Office of Housing Enterprise Oversight, the two-year drop in housing prices since the April 2007 peak has been 11.2% (PDF). Of course, give the Obama administration enough time, and who knows what it might do to housing values?

After the government’s “final” GDP report for the first quarter of 2009 on Thursday (future comprehensive revisions during the next two years could still ultimately change the outcome), it occurred to me that the reported annualized contraction of 5.5%, in combination with the annualized -6.3% logged in the fourth quarter of last year, might be some kind of record. I looked at historical info, and found that the most recent two-quarter dive is the worst since the same quarters of 1957-58. Then in seeing who might have written this up, I came across Nutting’s related report, which contains two statements that are patently untrue.

What’s remarkable is that one of his errors indicates that he or someone else at MarketWatch must have looked for the numbers in question and, along with his editors (if they exist), blown right by them.

Nutting’s erroneous statements in his Thursday MarketWatch report are the first two sentences (bolded by me) in the following paragraph:

The two-quarter contraction is the worst in more than 60 years. Since 1947, the economy had never contracted by more than 4% for two consecutive quarters. With a 0.5% drop in the third quarter of 2008, it’s the first time the economy has contracted for three consecutive quarters since 1975.

Both statements are demonstrably false. A review of 1947-2009, the entire period during which quarterly data has been reported (annual data goes back to 1930), shows that the two quarters I cited earlier came in at -4.2% and -10.4%:

USgdp1957and1958

The economy’s actual (not annualized) contraction during that six-month 1957-58 time period was 3.75%. The actual contraction during the most recent two quarters, after Thursday’s revision, has been “only” 3.0%.

How Rex Nutting or someone helping him could have looked at the government’s GDP history and missed the fact that both 1957-58 quarters in question had annualized contractions worse than 4% — something he specifically said has never happened since 1947 — is a mystery. Additionally, 4Q-1981 and 1Q-1982 had annualized contractions of over 4%, though their two-quarter combined actual (non-annualized) contraction of 2.87% is less than the two most recent quarters.

But there may be a psychological clue in Nutting’s sub-headline: “Trivial revisions can’t hide enormity of economic collapse.”

Perhaps Nutting and MarketWatch have conditioned themselves to believe this is the worst ever collapse already, and contrary data simply can’t penetrate their brains.

The current economic collapse isn’t the worst — yet. But again, give Barack Obama and Congress enough time, and they could very well get us there. Look what they’ve done since they started trashing the economic expectations of investors, businesspeople, and entrepreneurs a year ago.

Nutting reveals elsewhere in his report that predictions for the second quarter of this year are currently for another contraction, this time at an annualized rate of 1.5%. If that occurs, it will be the first time ever that four quarters of contraction in a row have occurred since the government began keeping quarterly data. It will be interesting to see if Nutting maintains his gloom or, given further progress into the Obama administration, whether he’ll try to put a happy face on things like so many of his business-press colleagues.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

June 28, 2009

Bert Brady: Person of the Week

Filed under: Activism,US & Allied Military — Rose @ 10:26 pm

This video is two years old, but I wanted to document the fact that before they sold their souls to become the “All Barack Channel,” ABC News actually produced a 3-minute segment worth watching…and repeating:

Person of the Week – Bert Brady – Welcome Home (audio saved at host) —

BTW, Barack’s “Prescription for America” infomercial came in dead last (HT The Live Feed via Michelle Malkin) …along with some re-runs.

You’re Welcome; Any Time, John

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:56 pm

KasichOnBBeconomyPost0609

And I’ll take any excuse I can get to re-post the graphic from that post at BizzyBlog (there’s no space between the words):

USspendingWithKasichStrickland0609

I’m glad John is having fun with the campaign. Ohioans, on the other hand, aren’t having a lot of fun with the results of Ted Strickland’s poor economic stewardship or the year-old nationwide POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy.

(Can’t wait for the campaign coordination conspiracy theorists to weigh in ….)

Positivity: Boston Cardinal O’Malley Yields — Caritas ends venture over abortion issue

Filed under: Activism,Health Care,Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 10:55 am

From Boston, and Massachusetts, via Voting Catholic/Lead Us Not Into Temptation), noting a near-total activist triumph that will more than likely save pre-born lives — for now:

NEWS RELEASE

SATURDAY, JUNE 27, 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: C. J. DOYLE
(781) 251-9739

CARITAS CHRISTI WITHDRAWS FROM CELTICARE

The Catholic Action League of Massachusetts today welcomed the news that Caritas Christi Health Care — the network of six Catholic hospitals affiliated with the Archdiocese of Boston — has withdrawn, under Archdiocesan pressure, from the HMO CeltiCare, which it co-founded and co-owned with the Centene Corporation. CeltiCare was established in May to administer a state funded Commonwealth Care health insurance contract, scheduled to start on July 1, which includes abortion coverage. It was the Catholic Action League which revealed on June 8 that CeltiCare advertised abortion as part of its health plans and listed Planned Parenthood as a reproductive services provider.

The Catholic Action League called the decision by Caritas to withdraw from CeltiCare “an 11th hour, but only partial victory, for the thousands of pro-life Catholics who have spent the last four months bombarding the Archdiocese of Boston with letters, petitions, phone calls and e-mails. The League warned however, that any continued participation by Caritas Christi in Commonwealth Care would obligate Caritas, directly or indirectly, to make abortion referrals.

Catholic Action League Executive Director C. J. Doyle stated: “Caritas Christi has indicated that a woman seeking an abortion at a Caritas hospital will be sent back to her insurer. For Commonwealth Care members that insurer will be CeltiCare, which will not only procure the abortion but will provide transportation to the abortion facility. Instead of offering compassionate alternatives to abortion, Caritas Christi will still be engaged in a two-step abortion referral. Troubling questions also remain about whether Caritas has already benefited financially from this contract, and whether it continues to have an ongoing relationship with the Centene Corporation.”

“Other questions are still unanswered. It has been publicly known since the 27th of February that this contract entailed participation in state subsidized abortions. The Caritas Christi Board of Governors, which includes an Archdiocesan Cabinet Secretary, has presumably known this since the end of 2008. Why did Caritas, with Archdiocesan support, seek to secure and eventually sign a contract which they knew to be morally problematic? Why did Cardinal O’Malley castigate the now vindicated critics of the contract as doing ‘a great disservice to the Catholic Church’? Why did it take the Archdiocese six months (just five days before the start-up date) to begin to disengage?”

“Caritas withdrew from CeltiCare because it became a toxic public relations liability for the Archdiocese, provoking a firestorm of pro-life opposition throughout the country. If Caritas is to remain faithful to Catholic moral principles is must withdraw however, not only from CeltiCare but from the entire Commonwealth Care contract.”

More is at the American Life League’s press release, Voting Catholic/Lead Us Not, NECN (where the Catholic Action League’s Doyle asks a pointed question about the Cardinal), and the Boston (typically biased; see comment 6 at link) Globe.

This of course raises questions yet to be explored if an arrangement like CommonweathCare ever goes national.

Fun With Numbers

Note: This column appeared at Pajamas Media and was teased at BizzyBlog on Friday.

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Employing basic math functions enhances understanding of current events.

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In his important 1988 book, “Cultural Literacy,” E.D. Hirsch warned “that children in the U.S. are being deprived of the basic knowledge that would enable them to function in contemporary society.”

Two decades later, we see the tragic results of our near-total failure to heed Hirsch’s alarm. The basic information that most high school and college graduates don’t know continues to astound those of us of all ages who managed to received a pretty decent, often non-public education. In the Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s 2008 test of civic literacy, gauging citizens’ “knowledge of America’s founding principles and texts, core history, and enduring institutions,” 71% failed. (The 33-question test is here. It isn’t that tough.)

That there has been a steep decline in basic math skills during the same time period is no secret to anyone who has taught classes to young adults and quietly gasped upon seeing many of them reach for their calculators so they could perform a division as easy as 72 by 9. Many of them literally cower in fear at the thought of completing a math “word problem.”

In 1989, the year after Hirsch’s book appeared, according to a November 14, 2006 New York Times article, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the nation’s leading group of math teachers, introduced “standards” that “let children explore their own solutions to problems, write and draw pictures about math, and use tools like the calculator ….” This move, properly derided as “fuzzy math,” contributed mightily to the nation’s basic skills decay. One parent quoted by the Times reported being told by a teacher that “We don’t teach long division; it stifles their creativity.”

Though it would be easy to exaggerate its significance, it seems that there has been a bit of a rebirth of interest in basic math. If so, it’s coming none too late, because nature abhors a vacuum. Those who wish to capitalize on a math-ignorant populace are only too eager to fill it. Many of the void-fillers work in government, or for “advocacy groups.”

Applying basic math to recent news reports can reveal very useful information. Here, phrased as those dreaded “word problems,” are four such examples (numbers are rounded in some cases to make calculating the results easier).

Problem: Chrysler sold 79,000 vehicles in May during 26 selling days. During the month, before 800 dealers were terminated, it had 3,200 dealers. How many cars did the average Chrysler dealer sell per selling day in May?

Answer: Less than one (79,000 ÷ 26 ÷ 3,200 = 0.95).

Comments: That really makes you wonder what your billions of tax dollars are subsidizing, doesn’t it? Even with the dealer reductions, if overall sales volume stays the same, the average Chrysler dealer will be selling about 1.27 cars a day. Big whoop.

Problem: The Underground Railroad Freedom Center in downtown Cincinnati may receive a 2-year subsidy of $3.1 million from the State of Ohio to keep its doors open. The Center receives 62,000 visitors per year who pay $9 or less to get in. If attendance stays the same, how much will each visit be subsidized by state taxpayers during the next two years?

Answer: $25 ($3.1 million ÷ 2 ÷ 62,000).

Comments: The Center is a noble endeavor. But, in the white guilt-ridden aftermath of the city’s 2001 riots, it was placed on too-valuable land, and its potential was overhyped. There’s no reason the important and awful legacy of slavery cannot be recalled on a smaller but equally effective scale. As long as the taxpayer subsidy of roughly triple what visitors pay continues, that won’t happen.

Problem: President Obama claims that his health care plan will cost $1 trillion over 10 years while reducing the number of Americans without health insurance from 46 million to 30 million. If all of this comes to pass, how much will taxpayers shell out for the average newly insured person per year, even if the expected drop in the number of uninsured occurs immediately?

Answer: $6,250 ($1 trillion ÷ 10 ÷ the 16 million alleged reduction in the uninsured).

Comments: I know health insurance costs are high, but any pre-Medicare single person without major health issues should be able to get gold-plated coverage for far less than $6,250. The result also implies that the government will be shelling out an absurd $25,000 for a family of four. Where is all that money going to go? And how in the world can the Obama plan claim to be reducing costs? Additionally, the real answer to the problem is much, much higher in the real world, because the drop in the uninsured will occur gradually.

Problem: An advocacy organization claimed in mid-June that “clean energy” jobs grew by 9.1% during the decade ending in 2007, while jobs in the economy as a whole grew by only 3.7%. Seasonally adjusted data found at the Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us that there were 124 million Americans working at the end of 1997, and 138 million at the end of 2007.
A) What was the percentage of job growth in the whole economy during the decade?
B) What does that result do to the claim by the advocacy group that ” The number of jobs in America’s emerging clean energy economy grew nearly two and a half times faster than overall jobs between 1998 and 2007″?

Answers:
A) 11.3% ([138 – 124] ÷ 124).
B) The result blows the claim made by the Pew Charitable Trusts to smithereens.

Comments: The Associated Press repeated Pew’s claim. Its reporters were either ignorant, lazy, or were conditioned to believe the organization’s absurdly low number by the wire service’s virtual non-stop denigration of the economy during the Bush years. Nobody with a brain at Pew or the AP should have bought the 3.7% claim. The fact that a Pew representative has lamely defended the study instead of retracting it is a risible disgrace. If AP has issued a correction, I haven’t seen it, and I’ve looked.

Hmm. It turns out that my problems mostly involved only one of the four basic math functions. That goes to show that America badly needs a lot more of at least one kind of division.

June 27, 2009

Iran Fading From Media Attention

NedaIranMartyr0609(Photo is of the martyred “Neda“)

In a passionate Wall Street Journal op-ed this morning (“Silence Has Consequences for Iran”), former Spanish Prime Minister José Aznar who, in case anyone cares, serves on the board of WSJ parent News Corp., says that “It would be a shame …. if our passivity gave carte blanche to a tyrannical regime to finish off the dissidents and persist with its revolutionary plans.”

Shaking off passivity requires visibility. America’s media establishment almost across the board is providing very little. The Associated Press and the New York Times reports exist, but their distribution is dwarfed by the death of a pop star and a governor’s infidelity.

Here are useful comparisons (all searches were done at Google News at about 8:45 a.m. for June 23-27, limited to USA sources):

“Michael Jackson” (entered in quotes) –

MJacksonGoogNewSearch062709

“Mark Sanford” (entered in quotes) –

GoogNewsSearchSanford062709

“Iran” –

GoogNewIranSearch062709

Recapping the score on “all articles” after the main headline: Jackson – 20,375; Sanford – 9,576; Iran – 4,689.

The total results number (Jackson 25,457; Sanford -11,166 ; Iran – 64,235) is probably less reliable than the numbers in the previous paragraph. For example, about  1/3 of the Google News results total for “Iran” appears to be more about how Jackson has crowded out Iran on Twitter and Google that about events in that country –

MJacksonOverloadsNet062709.jpg

Getting to the coverage most aren’t seeing, here are the opening paragraphs from the Associated Press’s coverage found at NPR:

Iranian Cleric Urges Executing Some Protesters

A senior cleric on Friday urged Iran’s protest leaders to be punished “without mercy” and said some should face execution — harsh calls that signal a nasty new turn in the regime’s crackdown on demonstrators two weeks after its disputed election.

Hard-liners have ordered long sentences and hangings before, and some fear those awaiting trial by a judiciary whose verdicts reflect the will of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei could face the most severe punishments the Islamic system can dish out.

“Anyone who takes up arms to fight with the people, they are worthy of execution,” Ayatollah Ahmed Khatami, a ranking cleric, said in a nationally broadcast sermon at Tehran University.

Khatami said those who disturbed the peace and destroyed public property were “at war with God” and should be “dealt with without mercy.”

His call for merciless retribution for those who stirred up Iran’s largest wave of dissent since the 1979 Islamic Revolution came as Mir Hossein Mousavi, the nation’s increasingly isolated opposition leader, has been under heavy pressure to give up his fight and slipped even further from view.

Mousavi said he would seek official permission for any future rallies, effectively ending his role in street protests organized by supporters who insist he – not hard-line incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – won the June 12 election.

Here are the opening paragraphs from a June 26 story by Nazila Fathi and Michael Slackman in the New York Times, which to its credit had the story near the top at its front page most of this morning and as of the time of this post:

Iranian Leaders Gaining the Edge Over Protesters

The direct confrontation over Iran’s presidential election was effectively silenced Friday when the main opposition leader said he would seek permits for any future protests, an influential cleric suggested that leaders of the demonstrations could be executed, and the council responsible for validating the election repeated its declaration that there were no major irregularities.

Rather than address the underlying issues that led to the most sustained, unexpected challenge to the leadership since the 1979 revolution, the government pressed its effort to recast the entire conflict not as an internal dispute that brought millions of Iranians into the streets, but as one between Iran and outside agents from Europe, the United States and even Saudi Arabia.

It was a narrative that spoke both to the leadership’s belief that it had beaten back the popular outburst, and to the fragility of the calm.

Even the Times gets a few brickbats for not telling us that “millions” had hit the streets until now. I don’t know that AP ever has. The Times headline also leans toward sterile.

Both reports clearly show that the protesters’ situation has taken a serious turn for the worse. This seems to be a virtual secret in most of the celebrity-obsessed, scandal-obsessed US establishment media, sadly including Fox News.

As the WSJ’s Aznar notes, this plays into the hands of Khamenei’s regime. It should be a source of media shame.

As to television, Brent Baker at NewsBusters noted last night that “Friday night’s broadcast network evening newscasts which …. spent 95 percent of their air time on Michael Jackson — all but 1:03 of ABC’s approximate 22 minutes was devoted to Jackson, all but 34 seconds of CBS and all but 1:22 of NBC, for 2:59, less than three minutes in total for all news beyond Jackson.”

Oh, and someone help me with something — What is this “cap and trade” thing? Is it some kind of sports collectibles show?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

‘The less we protest, the more people will die.’

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:38 am

This is why the difference between Reagan’s response to Poland and Obama’s response to Iran is so stark, and in Obama’s case, so tragic, as Spain’s former prime minister tells us in a Wall Street Journal op-ed today:

Silence Has Consequences for Iran

If there hadn’t been dissidents in the Soviet Union, the Communist regime never would have crumbled. And if the West hadn’t been concerned about their fate, Soviet leaders would have ruthlessly done away with them. They didn’t because the Kremlin feared the response of the Free World.

Just like the Soviet dissidents who resisted communism, those who dare to march through the streets of Tehran and stand up against the Islamic regime founded by the Ayatollah Khomeini 30 years ago represent the greatest hope for change in a country built on the repression of its people. At stake is nothing less than the legitimacy of a system incompatible with respect for individual rights. Also at stake is the survival of a theocratic regime that seeks to be the dominant power in the region, the indisputable spiritual leader of the Muslim world, and the enemy of the West.

The Islamic Republic that the ayatollahs have created is not just any power. To defend a strict interpretation of the Quran, Khomeini created the Pasdaran, the Revolutionary Guard, which today is a true army. To expand its ideology and influence Iran has not hesitated to create, sustain and use proxy terrorist groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. And to impose its fundamentalist vision beyond its borders, Iran is working frantically to obtain nuclear weapons.

Those who protest against the blatant electoral fraud that handed victory to the fanatical Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are in reality demanding a change of regime. Thus, the regime has resorted to beating and shooting its citizens in a desperate attempt to squash the pro-democracy movement.

This is no time for hesitation on the part of the West. If, as part of an attempt to reach an agreement on the Iranian nuclear program, the leaders of democratic nations turn their backs on the dissidents they will be making a terrible mistake.

….. …. Delayed public displays of indignation may be good for internal political consumption. But the consequences of Western inaction have already materialized. Watching videos of innocent Iranians being brutalized, it’s hard to defend silence.

My guess is that it’s already too late, and even if it somehow isn’t, that our President is only too relieved (or is it glad?) to let a celebrity-obsessed and personal scandal-obsessed media culture wallows in its addictions for a few days while Khamenei and his Revolutionary Guard do their mop-up.

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Related: At the New York Times, which to its credit has the story near the top on its home page —

Iranian Leaders Gaining the Edge Over Protesters

TEHRAN — The direct confrontation over Iran’s presidential election was effectively silenced Friday when the main opposition leader said he would seek permits for any future protests, an influential cleric suggested that leaders of the demonstrations could be executed, and the council responsible for validating the election repeated its declaration that there were no major irregularities.

Also Related: Sorry Neda ….

Also related: At NewsBusters — “Friday night’s broadcast network evening newscasts …. spent 95 percent of their air time on Michael Jackson — all but 1:03 of ABC’s approximate 22 minutes was devoted to Jackson, all but 34 seconds of CBS and all but 1:22 of NBC, for 2:59, less than three minutes in total for all news beyond Jackson.”