January 26, 2012

As New-Home Sales Wraps ‘Worst Ever’ Year, AP’s Kravitz Is ‘Unfazed’

Today’s report by Derek Kravitz at the Associated Press (also known to yours truly as the Administration’s Press) covering the Census Bureau’s December and full-year 2011 new-home sales release put a smiley-face on the “worst ever” year (the AP headline’s term) in the category.

I like the adjective used at Sweetness & Light’s related blog post to describe Kravitz’s crud: “unfazed.” The AP reporter follows four paragraphs of facts with three paragraphs of sunshiny “analysis” which are so wholly unsupported by reality that you would fall off of your chair laughing if you didn’t also realize that most readers, listeners and viewers who saw and heard this garbage today didn’t know any better than to believe it:

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Rush Responds to the ‘Coordinated Avalanche’: ‘If Nancy Reagan thought … that Newt was anti-Reagan, she would never have been on the same platform with him’

Filed under: Quotes, Etc. of the Day,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 5:11 pm

So says Rush. More here.

The core argument by Team Romney that Newt Gingrich was not a Reagan true believer is Gingrich’s 1988 assertion that “If (George H.W.) Bush Runs as a Continuation of Reaganism, He Will Lose.”

Gosh, nobody beat up on Al Gore for not staking his campaign on saying “I’m going to keep on doing Clintonism,” did they?

Gore could have run on that basis and perhaps have won (well, he would have had to make an exception for avoiding repeats of the Lewinsky saga). Instead, he tacked so far to the left that George W. Bush got enough of an opening to win.

Nobody beat up on Dick Nixon in 1960 for failing to say that he would continue doing what the Eisenhower administration had done during the past eight years.

And it would have been really, really dumb for the vice-presidential candidate who ended up becoming Bush 41 to say that “I’m going to keep on doing everything Reagan did,” and offer nothing else, which was the true context of Gingrich’s comment. Why? He had to establish his own persona and identity. He did so, and beat Mike Dukakis. Whether “kinder, gentler America” was the way to go is highly debatable, but the fact that he did this to establish himself as an electable and qualified presidential candidate is not.

Similarly, Newt Gingrich in 1988 was telling George W. Bush to be his own man and not to merely pledge a continuation of Reaganism. There’s nothing wrong with that; he was not rejecting Reagan. Desperate Romniacs, whose candidate has pointedly rejected virtually every Reagan platform which ever existed, are acting as if Newt’s campaign-related strategy statement is a capital crime.

I can’t wait for Hugh Hewitt to denounce Romney’s gutter tactics. (/sarc)

Rush Limbaugh’s full defense is here (“Coordinated Avalanche Against Newt Doesn’t Match My Memory of Reagan Years”) at his place.

New Home Sales: Ending 2011 in the Pits

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:30 am

Based on Census Bureau data (today’s release; database detail link; keep in mind that at the time 2008 was considered an historically awful year, because it was):

AnnualHomeSales2008to2011

Those wishing to take tiny comfort in the fact that the last six months of 2011 were slightly better than the last six months of 2010 should know that December’s sales of 21,000 were down from 23,000 in December 2010.

Here’s President Obama, in early 2009:

“If I don’t have this done in three years, then it’s going to be a one-term proposition.”

Not only hasn’t “this” not gotten “done” in three years, it’s worse. Far worse.

Initial Unemployment Claims: 377K SA (Up 21K From Last Week’s Hokey Number), 414K NSA (Down 15% Year-Over-Year)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:57 am

From the Department of Labor:

SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

In the week ending January 21, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 377,000, an increase of 21,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 356,000. The 4-week moving average was 377,500, a decrease of 2,500 from the previous week’s revised average of 380,000.

… UNADJUSTED DATA

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 414,122 in the week ending January 21, a decrease of 112,817 from the previous week. There were 485,950 initial claims in the comparable week in 2011.

Today’s number shows that last week’s number was indeed artificially low. After next week’s revision, this week will likely be about 380,000. Recall that if last week’s number had been seasonally adjusted using the same factor as the analogous week from a year ago, seasonally adjusted claims would have been 394,000. So today’s number, after revision, was actually a bit of an improvement over last week.

Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (012612)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 8:15 am

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

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Barack Obama Is the Food Stamp President

ObamaOnFoodStampCert2012 Saying so is factual, and certainly not racist.

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Note: This column went up at PJ Media and was teased here at BizzyBlog on Tuesday.

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Newt Gingrich has taken to characterizing President Barack Obama as “the food stamp president.” That description of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue’s current occupant is factually correct, both narrowly and broadly. Stating that fundamental truth does not make Gingrich or anyone else a racist, as leftist smear merchants in government, the Democratic Party, and the establishment press want America to believe.

Participation in the food stamp program, technically known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), has increased by 44% from 32.0 million in January 2009 to 46.2 million in October 2011, the last month for which data is available. During that time, the average monthly benefit per person has increased by over 18% from $114 to $135, even though the costs of food eaten at home have increased by only 5%, and even though gross benefits before deductions for income and assets three years ago roughly approximated what was needed to maintain adequate nutrition on a “thrifty meal plan.” Monthly program costs have increased by over 70%, from $3.6 billion to $6.2 billion.

So-called “fact-checkers” in the press are of course focusing on Gingrich’s one slightly wrong (for now) statement that “more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in American history.” That’s not exactly a whopper, especially in comparison to Obama howlers like “If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan” and “My mother, who was self-employed, didn’t have reliable healthcare,” or even “The detention facilities at Guantánamo … shall be closed as soon as practicable, and no later than 1 year from the (January 22, 2009) date of this order.”

The food stamp rolls indeed increased by 14.7 million under George W. Bush compared to “only” 14.2 million under Obama (so far). But Bush’s figure works out to an average of about 153,000 additional recipients per month during his eight years in office. Monthly additions during Barack Obama’s first 33 reported months have averaged 431,000. During the economy’s relatively strong years of 2005 through 2007, the food stamp rolls stayed relatively steady at 25-27 million. In the past fiscal year under Obama, while the economy added over 1.6 million seasonally adjusted jobs, the food stamp rolls still grew by over 3.3 million. Finally, food stamp program spending under Obama is on track to exceed all that was spent during Bush’s eight years by June, the administration’s 41st month.

More broadly, food giveaways under all guises have exploded under Obama. School food program costs have increased by 22% during the past three fiscal years, even though it should be obvious that the government is already paying many kids’ parents to feed them through food stamps. Women, Infants and Children? Up 16%. Other food distribution programs? Up 52%. With all of this spending, what’s the main nutrition-related problem facing the country, even more among those in poverty than among the general population? You guessed it: obesity.

When the first of the bogus “food stamp challenges” began appearing throughout the country about five years ago, Mona Charen wrote:

Why is it that whenever you listen to a Democrat you feel that the year is 1966? They seem to live in a time warp in which no progress has been made on race relations, poverty, childhood malnutrition, and on and on.

Indeed. The “food stamp challenges” still occur quite frequently — eight Democratic congresspersons participated in one late last year designed to “prove” that they could not feed themselves on $4.50 a day — even though per-person benefits are 50% higher than they were when the idea was conceived.

As to Charen’s reference to race relations, the biggest smear of all coming from defenders of the indefensible is that anyone who points out that federal food assistance programs are too expensive, duplicate services, lack appropriate controls, and have eligibility criteria which are far too generous must be a racist. NBC’s Ann Curry went after Gingrich with that arrogant assertion Thursday morning, asking him, in light of his “food stamp president” criticism, “Are you intentionally playing the race card to win votes?”

Gingrich’s answer was pretty good:

When conservatives care about the poor and conservatives offer ideas to help the poor, and conservatives suggest that the poor would rather have a paycheck than a food stamp, the very liberals who have failed them at places like the New York Times promptly scream “racism,” because they have no defense for the failure of liberal institutions which have trapped poor children in bad schools, trapped them in bad neighborhoods, trapped them in crime-ridden situations. Liberal solutions have failed, and their only answer is to cry “racism” and hide.

That said, Newt could have and should have gone farther and turned the racism charge back on Curry and the editorialists she quoted at the Times — as all sensible conservatives should when confronted with similar slime.

You see, Curry believed her question to be valid only because she assumed that blacks make up a wildly disproportionate share of food stamp recipients. They don’t. In 2010, the population living in poverty as defined by the Census Bureau was 23% black. In fiscal 2011, blacks who identified their race made up 22% of all food stamp recipients, and 30% of those who self-identified their race (27% of food stamp participants did not self-identify).

So, Ann Curry and all you other leftists, why do you assume that food stamp program participants are disproportionately black when it clearly isn’t so? It’s quite racist for you to believe that, and you wouldn’t have asked the question if you didn’t.

Criticizing the food stamp program and the president who has grown it like no other predecessor isn’t about racism. It’s about controlling its costs, making sure that benefits only go to those who need them, figuring out ways of getting people self-sufficient to the point where they no longer need to participate — and sending the guy under whom the irresponsible growth has occurred into retirement.

Positivity: N.H. Soldier Surprises Father At Breakfast

Filed under: Taxes & Government,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 7:45 am

From Derry, New Hampshire (video at link; HT Daryn Kagan):

POSTED: 8:38 pm EST January 21, 2012
UPDATED: 10:10 am EST January 23, 2012

Fresh off a flight from overseas where she was recently deployed in Afghanistan, U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Amanda Dawdy didn’t tell her dad she was coming home.

Instead, Dawdy’s sister picked her up Friday.

“I haven’t seen my dad in about 2 1/2 years, and my sister in about 2 1/2 to 3 years,” Dawdy said.

The two sisters beat their father to Mary Ann’s Diner in Derry on Saturday.

Dawdy put on a waitress uniform, and when her dad came to meet her sister and niece, Dawdy appeared at their table.

“She asked if we had been served, and I’m like, ‘I don’t see any food,” Philip D’Acunto Sr. said. “I looked at my other daughter, and I looked back, and I’m like, ‘Boy, she looks like my daughter,’ and she’s like, ‘Daddy,’ and I’m like, ‘Wow.’ It’s like, ‘What are you doing here?’”

There was a pause, surprise, a deep hug and tears.

”After that, it was just tears and just glad to see my dad and spend time with family again,” Dawdy said.

Go here for the rest of the story.