December 13, 2012

Told Ya: Susan Rice Withdraws From Secretary of State Consideration

BizzyBlog, November 28:

How Amazingly Convenient: Lefties ‘Discover’ That Susan Rice Has ‘Conflict of Interest’ Energy Investments

… In what would appear to be a sure sign that the Obama administration’s leftist allies, perhaps with the President’s go-ahead, are preparing to throw current U.N. ambassador Susan Rice under the bus, Alex Guillen at the Politico reported at 6:14 p.m. on information that has from all appearances been public for at least three months, but which the National Resources Defense Council’s On Earth blog noted about an hour earlier.

David Jackson at USA Today this afternoon:

Rice pulls out of Secretary of State race

Susan Rice withdrew from consideration for the Secretary of State position on Thursday, citing Republican criticism of her record that had signaled a tough confirmation battle.

In a letter to President Obama, Rice said she could have done the job “ably and effectively,” but added that “I am now convinced that the confirmation process would be lengthy, disruptive and costly — to you and to our most pressing national and international priorities.”

… Rice also faced criticism for owning stocks in a Canadian energy company seeking State Department approval to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline in the United States. Others questioned her past support for controversial African leaders, such as Paul Kagame of Rwanda.

The unlabeled Keystone “criticism” came from leftist environmentalists and Democrats. THAT was the signal that her situation was dire. Now, after a sufficient passage of time to avoid direct linkage, she’s out of consideration for SoS.

Video: Hot Dog Vendor’s Equipment Destroyed by Union Thugs in Lansing

Just watch (HT Twitchy via Legal Insurrection):

A related photo of nobody in the union helping “Clint The Hot Dog Guy” clean up is here.

You can make book that this won’t get establishment press coverage.

Legal Insurrection:

Dana Loesch interviewed the man also, and he recounted how he was called the N-word.

The mainstream media is silent about the union violence in general because it does not fit their narrative, and the racist conduct of the union members is off limits.

Right to work in Ohio: Now it’s Kasich’s move

Filed under: Economy,Ohio Economy,Ohio Politics,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:55 pm

Right to work’s time has come.

This column went up with some editing at Watchdog.org earlier this afternoon.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has put John Kasich, Ohio’s chief executive, on the spot by changing his mind about right-to-work legislation and signing it into law.

On Tuesday, in a move which just a few weeks ago seemed less likely than baseball’s Chicago Cubs winning the World Series again — something they haven’t done in over 100 years — the Wolverine State enacted a right-to-work law in the nation’s fifth-most heavily unionized state. As explained by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, this means Michigan workers cannot “be compelled, as a condition of employment, to join or not to join, nor to pay dues to a labor union.”

The move represents an about-face for Snyder, who had publicly resisted backing right to work when he campaigned for governor and during his first almost two years in office. As explained by Tom Walsh at the Detroit Free Press, Snyder felt forced to change his mind for two reasons:

Frustration with labor as an impediment rather than a partner in fixing Michigan.

And frustration with himself for his naïveté in not realizing it earlier.

Walsh went on to describe how organized labor has hamstrung efforts to rescue insolvent cities and school districts while stonewalling attempts at saving nearly bankrupt Detroit, which as of early this year had 65 people working full-time just handling payroll for its police department.

In a word, the state, already in peril after eight years of fiscal irresponsibility and drift under previous governor Jennifer Granholm, was rapidly approaching the point of becoming ungovernable, almost entirely because of organized labor’s intransigence. Right to work, though not the entire answer by a long shot, will go a long way towards preventing that by creating an environment for greater employment growth in a state where the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is still over 9 percent.

Back in Ohio, Kasich must deal with the fact that the neighboring Indiana and now Michigan have now upped the ante this year in the contest for jobs, growth, and improved standards of living by enacting right to work — and by the fact that he has been publicly unreceptive to a related grass-roots ballot initiative. In February, he called it a “massive change” which would require “a couple years explaining to people what it even means and why it’s important to them.” The reluctance, while somewhat understandable, is still indefensible.

Despite a strong record of economic improvement in Ohio during his two years as governor and significant improvement in his approval rating, Kasich is still smarting from the November 2011 defeat of Issue 2, also known as SB5. In retrospect, it’s clear that Kasich and the legislature, in enacting a grab bag of public-sector reforms all at once, tried to accomplish too much. As a result, most Ohioans who are generally sympathetic to reform were able, thanks to the help of millions of Big Labor dollars and a disjointed campaign by the issue’s supporters, to find something they didn’t like in the law.

But as Ohio’s voters were rejecting Issue 2, they overwhelmingly passed the Ohio Healthcare Freedom Amendment, which added roughly 120 words to the state’s constitution prohibiting the enforcement of any federal or state laws requiring citizens to purchase health insurance. Why? Because it was easy to understand and is consistent with the freedom-loving instincts of most of the state’s residents.

So is right to work. Michigan’s new law takes up fewer than three pages. The constitutional amendment language submitted by Ohioans for Workplace Freedom, which has been certified as “fair and truthful” by Attorney General Mike DeWine, is less than one page, and the related ballot language the group hopes to get onto the November 2013 ballot is roughly 180 words.

Kasich, whose administration has been extremely good at everyday blocking and tackling, needs to stop licking his wounds and focus harder on Ohio’s long-term future, either by getting behind the right-to-work initiative effort or persuading the legislature to enact its own law. Otherwise, in a few years, the state he claims to love, which already has the most bloated public sector in the U.S. with among its most militant government unions, may itself become ungovernable despite his best efforts.

Wires Ignore Bad News in Raw Unemployment Claims Data

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:35 pm

Today’s news from the Department of Labor on initial weekly unemployment claims was supposedly good — as long as one doesn’t scratch beneath the surface. Journalists used to do that. Today they didn’t.

All one had to do is reach the third paragraph of DOL’s release to realize that today’s seasonally adjusted claims number of 343,000, touted as the lowest in two months in several news reports, was suspect. That paragraph told us that the 428,814 actual claims filed during the week ended December 8 were barely lower than the 435,863 claims seen in the week ended December 10, 2011, last year’s comparable week; today’s result only occurred because this year’s seasonal adjustment factor was significantly different from last year’s. I believe that this year-over-year drop of less than 2% in raw claims is the smallest weekly difference in a week not affect by storms or holidays this year. In other words, it really is news — but not in the business press, which runs with the government’s seasonally adjusted data and almost never looks any further. Examples follow the jump.

(more…)

After Years of Conflicted Reporting, AP Reporter Claims North Korea ‘Already Has a Nuclear Weapons Arsenal’

The word games in the press, especially at the Associated Press, concerning North Korea’s nuclear capabilities are head-spinning.

In a June 16, 2009 dispatch, Ben Feller’s story at the AP carried the following headline at the Huffington Post: “Obama, Lee: We Won’t Allow North Korea To Have Nuclear Weapons” (“Lee” is Lee Myung-bak, then and still President of South Korea). Yet Feller’s first paragraph referred to the North as a “nuclear-armed nation.” If you’re “armed,” doesn’t that mean you have a “weapon”? Additionally, a CNN report on the same day mentioned that President Obama would not be “allowing North Korea to develop nuclear weapons,” though the country has claimed possession of them since early 2005. An exercise in excuse-making at the AP Wednesday evening by Bradley Klapper only adds to the confusion (bolds are mine throughout this post):

US HESITANT IN CONDEMNING NORTH KOREAN LAUNCH

(more…)

Initial Unemployment Claims: 343K SA; Raw Claims Down Less than 2% From a Year Ago

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:13 am

From the Department of Labor:

SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

In the week ending December 8, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 343,000, a decrease of 29,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 372,000. The 4-week moving average was 381,500, a decrease of 27,000 from the previous week’s revised average of 408,500.

… UNADJUSTED DATA

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 428,814 in the week ending December 8, a decrease of 72,117 from the previous week. There were 435,863 initial claims in the comparable week in 2011.

As “SteveEgg” commented at this morning’s open thread, “The administration caught a hell of a seasoning break in jobless claims – 429K unseasoned translated to 343K seasoned, compared to 436K unseasoned last year translating to 371K seasoned.”

Yes it did — And by the time next week is revised, we’ll probably see about 3,000 more raw claims, making the this year’s and last year’s raw claims even closer to being identical.

If last year’s comparable-week seasonal conversion factor of 117.4 had been used on last week’s raw number instead of the 124.9 actually used, claims would have come in 22,000 higher (428,814 divided by 1.174 is 365,000, rounded).

Today’s report is pretty much a NewsBusters post waiting to happen, as I don’t expect most of the press to care (or in most cases even notice) that this year’s raw number is barely lower than last year’s, even though that’s the real news in today’s report.

At the Fed, It’s QE as Far as the Eye Can See (Also See Discussion Question: What If the Fed Just ‘Forgives’ U.S. Debt?)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:43 am

Also, see below for today’s discussion question.

__________________________________________

The Fed’s insistence on continued easing is foolish, as explained in a Wednesday Wall Street Journal editorial published in today’s paper:

The Fed’s Contradiction
Easier money hasn’t led to more growth, so we need still easier money.

Four years ago this month the Federal Reserve began its epic program of monetary easing to rescue an economy in recession. On Wednesday, Chairman Ben Bernanke declared that this has worked so well that the Fed must keep easing money for as long as anyone can predict in order to save a still-sputtering recovery.

That’s the contradiction at the heart of the Fed’s latest foray into “unconventional policy,” which is a euphemism for finding new ways to print money: The economy needs more monetary stimulus because it is still too weak despite four years of previous and historic amounts of monetary stimulus. …

… The Fed committed Wednesday to purchase an additional $45 billion in long-term Treasury securities each month well into 2013, in addition to the $40 billion in mortgage assets it is already buying each month. At $85 billion a month, the Fed’s balance sheet will thus keep growing from its current $2.9 trillion, heading toward $4 trillion by the end of the year. Four years ago it was less than $1 trillion.

… All of this will create a fiscal cliff of its own when interest rates start to rise. The Congressional Budget Office says that every 100 basis-point increase in interest rates adds about $100 billion a year to government borrowing costs. Pity the President and Congress who have to refinance $15 trillion in debt at 6%. If Mr. Bernanke really wants to drive the President and Congress to reduce future spending, he shouldn’t keep bailing them out with easier money.

The overarching illusion is that ever-easier monetary policy can return the U.S. economy to a durable expansion and broad-based prosperity. The bill for unbridled government spending stimulus is already coming due. Sooner or later the bill for open-ended monetary stimulus will arrive too.

Here’s the dirty little secret: The Fed is buying all of these Treasury securities and mortgage assets because no one else will, at least not in the monthly volumes required to keep the entire house of cards from falling.

Now here’s today’s question: What if the Fed at some point simply decides to forgive the U.S. government debt on its balance sheet? Then what?

Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (121312)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:05 am

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

__________________________________________

Positivity: Drury Hotel founder says faith, family shape business decisions

From Washington and Missouri:

Dec 13, 2012 / 04:01 am

Missouri business executive Charles Drury, who helped found the hotel chain that bears his name, attributes his success to a firm reliance on God and a willingness to value family over material possessions.

“We don’t believe that we are smart enough to be successful on our own,” Drury told CNA on Dec. 11.

At age 85, Drury has enjoyed a successful career with Drury Hotels Company, LLC, which has more than 130 hotels in 20 states. However, life was not always easy for him and his family.
(more…)