January 19, 2011

Pathetic December New Building Permits Result Described as ‘Surge’ in CNN E-Mail Alert

The folks in the establishment press are looking for any sign of upward movement in the housing market, especially in new home construction, that they can portray positively as the beginning of a general recovery.

That desperate search explains the content of the following e-mail alert from CNN, which arrived in my inbox this morning:


Some “surge.” As seen here (scroll to the very end of the report), the actual, i.e., not seasonally adjusted, number of building permits issued in December was 47,700. That’s fewer than the 49,200 permits issued in December 2009, and the second-lowest December in the 52 years the Census Bureau has been tracking permits.

Seasonal calculations like the one leading to the “surge” CNN cited are suspect because there has been a significant deviation from the norm during the most recent two years in housing. Such deviations can distort the results. The reality: Surge, schmurge.

Sadly, e-mails like the one CNN issued have a great deal of undeserved influence, especially among the relatively disengaged, who use such alerts to try to quickly get a handle on what’s going on without having to dig around for it. In this case, they’ve been misled.

I’ll have more to say about the disgraceful reporting of Wednesday’s housing news, particularly by the Associated Press, tomorrow.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Mark Steyn: ‘Great convulsions lie ahead’

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 10:06 am

At the New Criterion (HT to an e-mailer), “One Man Global Content Provider” Steyn analyzes the decline of the UK, and assesses the chances of a repeat performance here — or, more accurately, the chances that the repeat performance already in progress here can be halted.

The “Dependence Day” title comes from this portion of Steyn’s essay:

After the (2005) London Tube bombings, (then-UK Prime Minister) Gordon Brown began mulling over the creation of what he called a “British equivalent of the U.S. Fourth of July,” a new national holiday to bolster British identity. The Labour Party think-tank, the Fabian Society, proposed that the new “British Day” should be July 5th, the day the National Health Service was created. Because the essence of contemporary British identity is waiting two years for a hip operation. A national holiday every July 5th: They can call it Dependence Day.

Find the time to read the whole very sobering thing.

If the U.S. is somehow able to put the brakes on its decline, it will be in no small part due to “The Tea Party’s Lasting Influence” cited in Rob Roll’s earlier post.

The Tea Party’s Lasting Influence (Robert Roll Guest Column)

Filed under: Activism,Education,Taxes & Government — Rob Roll @ 10:00 am

After they were sworn in two weeks ago, the members of the Republican-controlled 112th House of Representatives did something that had never been done before on the floor of the House: they read the Constitution in its entirety. Some liberals complained that the version read omitted parts that had been amended, like the part that counted slaves as three-fifths of a person. And these are the people who, in the aftermath of the Arizona shootings, tell us not to try and score political points on everything? But I digress.

Along with reading the Constitution, the House instituted a new rule which requires all bills submitted to cite where in the Constitution Congress is given the authority to enact such a law. These new genuflections to the Constitution run in stark contrast to the shredding of the document that the Democrat-controlled 111th Congress engaged in. The trashing of that sacred document was best exemplified by then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s response to a reporter’s question about how Congress can force Americans to buy health insurance. With noticeable contempt she replied, “Are you serious? Are you serious? Are you serious?”

This begs the question, where did this new found respect for the Constitution come from? It did not come from Congress because Congress, by its very nature, is reactive. It came from the Tea Party. It is the Tea Partiers who have brought the Constitution back into the center of the political dialogue, where it belongs.

In the aftermath of the landslide midterm election, the question has been asked, “Will the Tea Party continue to be a powerful force in American politics?” I believe I found the answer to that question last weekend.

I had the opportunity to judge a high school speech and debate tournament. The event I judged, Student Congress, allowed students to write their own bills and then submit them for debate. I was surprised by what I heard. I heard the Constitution invoked in the debate on almost every single piece of legislation. What is even more important is that I did not just hear the standard invocations of the first amendment, I heard students bring up parts of the Constitution that are usually ignored. For example, one student mentioned the the very-important yet often-forgotten Tenth Amendment, which states that all powers not given to Congress are given to the states to the people. Even more encouraging than that, some students even cited the Federalist Papers, which were written by the framers of the Constitution to explain why they structured the federal government the way they did.

This is and will be the lasting legacy of the Tea Party movement; it has increased the American people’s awareness of our founding documents and the messages they contain. The most important message is this: that our rights come from God and no politician can give you them or take them away.


Robert Roll is a freshman majoring in Finance at Ohio Northern University, and the blog owner’s nephew.

Investors Business Daily: ‘UK Vs. ObamaCare’

Filed under: Economy,Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:06 am

Donald Berwick, Barack Obama’s recess-appointed head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services, has just received a stinging rebuke from a country he praised as a model worth following in health care services delivery, as noted in an Investors Business Daily editorial last night:

In his speech, (UK Prime Minister David) Cameron noted he thought Britain was falling behind on health care. “In Shanghai, the average child is two years ahead of a child here,” he said. “In Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Austria or, interestingly, Poland, you are less likely to die once admitted into hospital after a heart attack than you are in the U.K.”

During an interview with BBC Radio 4′s Today program, Cameron went farther, saying, “I don’t think we should put up with a second-rate — with coming second-best,” he said, quickly correcting himself. “We should aim to be the best.” Some consider it a gaffe. We consider it the honest truth, a rare moment of candor from a politician.

Dr. Donald Berwick, President Obama’s choice to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services, has praised the NHS, whose horror stories of rationed services and medicines with sometimes fatal effects we have documented.

Berwick says: “Any health care funding plan that is just, equitable, civilized and humane must, must redistribute wealth from the richer among us to the poorer and the less fortunate. Excellent health care is by definition redistributional. Britain, you chose well.” Well, Dr. Berwick, Britain is having second thoughts.

We have a chance not to repeat the British mistake and stop the runaway train of nationalized health care before it leaves the station. We can repeal ObamaCare then replace it, adding real market reforms, like taking lawyers out of the operating room through malpractice reform, allowing insurance competition across state lines, and empowering health care consumers through health savings accounts or their equivalent.

This administration has a clear tendency to imitate socialists experiments which failed, the most obvious being its attempt to stimulate the economy through massive amounts of government spending. It stimulated nothing — not even employment.

Berwick may think he’s pursuing health care excellence, but the UK’s National Health Service has proven that a statist approach to health results in the achievement of the opposite. As with the stimulus, the stubborn use of previously failed policy prescriptions indicates that it isn’t about achieving excellence at all. It’s about increasing power and control over citizens’ lives.

Positivity: Man’s 3,700-mile run across America emphasizes importance of prayer

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 8:58 am

From Oceanside, California:

Jan 19, 2011 / 05:43 am

A Catholic man is running across America and praying the whole way. Despite the difficulties he has faced, he says he wants to use his talents to serve God and to help those he prays for.

Jeff Grabosky, 27, plans to begin his 3,700-mile run in Oceanside, California on Jan. 20 and end in Long Island’s Smith Point in New York City on May 26.

The primary mission of his run is to encourage prayer in America and across the world. He is taking prayer requests and praying a decade of the Rosary for each intention during his run.

Grabosky’s faith has helped him survive some “very difficult times,” he told CNA in a Jan. 17 interview. A week after his mother died from cancer in 2006, his wife told him that she was leaving him.

“I was left living out of my car for two months,” he said. “It took everything I had just to make it to the end of each day, as it felt the world around me was crashing down. The one consistent thing in my life was prayer as I constantly asked God for his help. As difficult as things were, I trusted that the Lord would help pull me through and that He had a plan.”

Grabosky’s “long road back” included setbacks like a collapsed lung and a week-long stay in intensive care. But his faith in God “only became stronger” because of what he experienced.

Now he wants to inspire others to pursue their dreams “even if this world thinks that it may be out of the ordinary or even impossible.”

The New Jersey native has been around runners since his childhood, when his mother would take him to the track on summer mornings. He ran cross country and track through middle school and high school, but he was not fast enough to run on the Division I team of University of Notre Dame, where he graduated from in 2005. He only ran intramural cross country and finished his first marathon as a senior in college.

He first had the idea to run across America after his second marathon finish in 2008.

“I thought a run across the country would be an awesome experience and an incredible challenge, but I put it on the back burner for some time because of what I had going on in my life.”

He said that the physical challenges of his task will be “extremely difficult” but the mental challenges will be even harder.

“I think it will be easy to become frustrated and to think negatively,” he added. “I will need to stay focused at all times.”

Loneliness is one problem he anticipates because he is running solo without a support team. He said he has planned in advance how much food and water to carry, appropriate clothes to wear, where to stay, and what route to follow.

Grabosky took inspiration from his mother, who used to pray the Rosary whenever she ran.

The prayer requests he is receiving have opened his eyes to how “everyone is struggling with something.” He saw no better way to help those in need than to encourage prayer and pray for their intentions.

“It’s interesting how God works. I started out thinking I would need to finish this run for myself, but now more than anything I need to finish it for all those I am praying for,” he said. …

Go here for the rest of the story.