December 23, 2011

One Must Laugh to Keep From Crying

New home sales data came out from the Census Bureau today. As seen here (scroll to the bottom), total actual (i.e., not seasonally adjusted) new-home sales in the entire country were 22.000. Yeah, in the whole freakin’ country.

That the 19th month in a row (23rd in the past 25) during which sales were 30,000 or less. The only two exceptions were March and April of last year when the supposedly stimulative Homebuyers’ Credit was about to expire — yet another Keynesian calamity which accomplished nothing good in the long-term.

In light of this info, it seems appropriate to post the President’s opinion of himself, as framed by the folks at AmericanCrossroads.org (HT Hot Air):

I still don’t think we’re seeing enough emphasis placed on the “possible exception” part of Obama’s odious quote. He’s holding out the notion that he might really be the Muhammad Ali (“I am the greatest“) of all presidents of all time. Even CBS, which pulled the quote from its 60 minutes interview, knows how damning this is.

Memo to 2012 GOP nominee — Run that footage in August, September, and October non-stop. If CBS tries to claim ownership and prevent its airing, tell them to bleep themselves, thereby making it an even bigger story.

At BigGov: Go Away, Kevin DeWine

Filed under: Ohio Politics,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:08 pm

NoToKevinDeWine1211At BigGovernment.com, Bytor, who also toils at Third Base Politics, makes an important point at his post about how “Ohio’s Major Conservative Blogs Agree: ORP Chairman DeWine Should Step Down.”

He cites, in reverse order (so that the last shall become first :–>) Matt at Weapons of Mass Discussion, yours truly, Great Ohio Perspective, and Jason Hart at 3BP (so the first is now last :->), all of whom for various reasons are calling on Kevin DeWine, Chairman of ORPINO (that’s the Ohio Republican Party In Name Only, which most know as the ORP, or Ohio Republican Party) to step down.

All of the reasoning is sound, but from an integrity standpoint, perhaps the most obvious and practical argument is the one Bytor himself raised at 3BP and repeated at BigGov, which is that DeWine took an intraparty fight into the public arena which had no business being there (bolds are mine):

Kasich’s request to DeWine was made in private. He didn’t publicly call out DeWine or criticize him to the press. DeWine can’t seem to portray the same professionalism, and it is DeWine who is damaging the Republican Party in the process. When he makes public, erroneous and negative criticisms about the governor in public like he did to the central committee earlier this month, he is doing … (Democrats’) … job for them.

Mr. DeWine, it is time for you to step down as chairman. If you refuse to do so, the very least you could do is to behave honorably and stop the public attacks on the governor. If you bring him down, you bring the whole state party down. Your chairmanship isn’t worth destroying the party over, especially heading into a crucial presidential election.

Every Republican in Ohio wants a united party to beat Obama and (Sherrod) Brown, but DeWine’s actions are putting that at risk.

You have to wonder if Kevin DeWine still harbors a fantasy that a failed Kasich governorship opens the door for his good buddy, pal, and current Secretary of State John “AWOL” and “I Love Election Fraud” Husted in 2014. For those of you who believe that this can’t possibly be on Kevin’s mind — What would he be doing differently if it was?

Say it ain’t so and go, Kevin.

Unreported: Private-Sector GDP Still Smaller Than When Recession Began

flatlineYesterday at my home blog, in the wake of Uncle Sam’s reduction of third-quarter growth in gross domestic product (GDP) from an annualized 2.0% to 1.8%, I predicted that the establishment press’s reaction would be the following: “Yeah, but the fourth quarter will be 3% or more. It really, really will be. Please believe us.”

Martin Crutsinger at the Associated Press made that easy prediction come true 48 minutes after the report was released. He and the rest of the establishment press also missed something far bigger, namely that yesterday’s small GDP reduction brought its private-sector component back to a level below where it was at the beginning of the recession, no matter how you define that beginning. Excerpts follow the jump:

Economy grew more slowly in summer than thought

The U.S. economy grew more slowly in the summer than previously thought because consumers spent less than the government had first estimated. But economists expect growth in the current October-December quarter to be stronger.

The Commerce Department says the economy grew at an annual rate of 1.8 percent in the July-September quarter. That was the fastest growth this year, up from 1.3 percent in the April-June quarter. But it was down slightly from last month’s estimate that the economy was expanding at a 2 percent rate in the summer.

The government now estimates that consumer spending grew at a 1.7 percent annual rate last summer, instead of 2.3 percent. The updated estimate reflects data showing less spending on hospitals.

Economists think the economy is growing at an annual rate of more than 3 percent in the final three months of this year. That would be the fastest pace since a 3.8 percent performance in the spring of 2010.

Among the positive factors are a brightening job market, strong holiday shopping, further gains in factory production and cheaper gas prices, which leave consumers with more money to spend on other items.

Stronger growth would be needed to significantly drive down the unemployment rate. Unemployment did fall to 8.6 percent last month after remaining around 9 percent for 2 1/2 years. The rate is now the lowest since March 2009, two months after President Barack Obama took office. Unemployment passed 9 percent that spring and had stayed there or higher for all but two months since then.

Marty’s message: “Hey, things were really pathetic during the first three quarters of this year. But they’re really okay now and getting better. Trust us.” Though the linked report is still available at the “hosted2.ap.org” site, the AP’s main site doesn’t have it. It’s been revised and replaced by a report yesterday evening from Crutsinger and Daniel Wagner which concentrates far more on yesterday’s report on initial unemployment claims, and holds out the possibility that fourth-quarter growth might be an annualized 4% (write that one down, and save it for the end of January 2012 — and then the end of March after subsequent revisions).

Here’s the proof that the private sector is still smaller than it was before the recession began, regardless of whether you think it began after the second quarter of 2008, the normal definition, which requires at least two consecutive quarters of economic contraction, or after the end of 2007, the subjectively determined beginning point according to the National Bureau of Economic Research (third quarter 2011 value is from Table 3 at yesterday’s full release; 4Q07 and 2Q08 are shown here; figures are in 2005 chained dollars):

GDPprivateAndPublicTo3Q11at122211

Additionally, as Investor’s Business Daily graphically pointed out several months ago, the nine quarters it has taken the economy as a whole to get back to where it was when the recession began (as seen above, by the barest of margins) is three times longer than during any other post-World War II recovery. Also as seen above, the government component of GDP is up by over 2%. Broken down but not shown: Federal, +15.3%; State and local, -9.4%.

If we were seeing this kind of thing happen during a Republican or conservative administration, we’d be seeing historical references like the above invoked constantly by the establishment press. Instead, we get stone cold silence concerning references to the past, and Herbert Hoover-like “big improvements are just around the corner” utterances from a press looking desperately for meaningful improvement where what we have at best are decent early signs of it.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

On Mitt Romney: An Intervention Is Needed — And Is Coming

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:14 am

RomneyNo0808First, the good news, from Thomas Sowell — The esteemed intellectual articulates exactly why, if it really comes down to a choice between Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, Newt’s the one:

Thomas Sowell: I’ll Take Gingrich over Romney

Against this background (of Barack Obama’s dangerously bad performance), how much does Newt Gingrich’s personal life matter, whether we accept his claim that he has now matured or his critics’ claim that he has not? Nor should we sell the public short by saying that they are going to vote on the basis of tabloid stuff or media talking points, when the fate of this nation hangs in the balance.

… Do we wish we had another Ronald Reagan? We could certainly use one. But we have to play the hand we were dealt. And the Reagan card is not in the deck.

While the televised debates are what gave Newt Gingrich’s candidacy a big boost, concrete accomplishments when in office are the real test. Gingrich engineered the first Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in 40 years — followed by the first balanced budget in 40 years. The media called it “the Clinton surplus” but all spending bills start in the House of Representatives, and Gingrich was Speaker of the House.

… Did Gingrich ruffle some feathers when he was Speaker of the House? Yes, enough for it to cost him that position. But he also showed that he could produce results.

In a world where we can make our choices only among the alternatives actually available, the question is whether Newt Gingrich is better than Barack Obama — and better than Mitt Romney.

Romney is a smooth talker, but what did he actually accomplish as governor of Massachusetts, compared to what Gingrich accomplished as Speaker of the House? When you don’t accomplish much, you don’t ruffle many feathers. But is that what we want?

Can you name one important positive thing that Romney accomplished as governor of Massachusetts? Can anyone? Does a candidate who represents the bland leading the bland increase the chances of victory in November 2012? A lot of candidates like that have lost, from Thomas E. Dewey to John McCain.

Those who want to concentrate on the baggage in Newt Gingrich’s past, rather than on the nation’s future, should remember what Winston Churchill said: “If the past sits in judgment on the present, the future will be lost.” If that means a second term for Barack Obama, then it means lost big time.

The author of a mountain of work which “is considered ground-breaking … that will outlive the great majority of scholarship done today” has convinced me to hold my nose and withdraw the “simply unacceptable” and “unfit” tags I hung on Gingrich earlier this year. I’m still far from convinced that he’s the best potential GOP nominee.

That gets me to the bad news, which is that a number of people who have a general track record of sanity are coming out in support of and/or endorsing Objectively Unfit Mitt Romney for President. They include a whole host of people who should know better: profamily advocates, other syndicated columnists, and even politicians who are considered Tea Party pioneers.

This leads us a juncture where, in the face of overwhelming evidence that it would be a political and national disaster, the real possibility exists that Willard Mitt Romney may actually become the 2012 presidential nominee of the Republican Party.

This is madness. It must be stopped.

Next week, in the runup to the Iowa caucuses, I’ll articulate as clearly as I can why the former Massachusetts Governor does not deserve the vote of a single sensible conservative, or even that of a single American citizen. Stay tuned, and encourage others to come by. For those who can’t wait, the following two items will serve as a good start:

  • Nov.24, 2010 — Not This Mitt Again
  • Dec. 6, 2007 — The Full Scope of Mitt Romney’s Same-Sex Marriage Deception, and His Unfitness to Be President

Bill Whittle’s Latest Afterburner at PJTV: ‘Three Years Under Obama’

Devastating, and painfully true (PJTV link):

We need to hear a lot more of this from opposition politicians. Time is short.

Friday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (122311)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 7:15 am

Rules are here. Possible comment fodder may follow later. Other topics are also fair game.

__________________________________________

Positivity: Good Samaritan Santa pulls man from burning truck

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Coppell, Texas (HT Daryn Kagan):

Posted on December 20, 2011 at 9:56 PM
Updated Tuesday, Dec 20 at 10:19 PM

You’d think this late in the game, Santa Claus would be way too busy to just show up at the corner of Interstate 635 and Belt Line Road.

But, then again, he tends to be there when you need him. And so, there he was, right after a two-car collision, directing traffic around the burning wreckage.

“It must have just happened,” said an incredulous Margie Culberson, who grabbed her iPhone and started taking pictures of the Good Samaritan Santa. “It was a fireball and a lot of black smoke.”

And while Coppell police have a record of the crash, they have no record of Santa being there.

News 8 found him.

Turns out, he came from Arlington. And his name is Brad Luddeke.

He was in costume, delivering toys to families in need, as he does every year. And the former volunteer firefighter was in the right place at the right time.

“As soon as I grabbed his jacket and pulled him away, I said, ‘Your car’s on fire,’” Luddeke said. “We turned to leave, and I guess the battery exploded. And that’s when everything went up.”

He won’t say so, but Luddeke probably saved someone’s life Tuesday.

And he, of all people, knows how much that means.

“Seven years ago, I lost my 17-year-old son in a single-vehicle accident,” Luddeke said. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

Related: “Good Samaritan Santa saved life of family friend”