February 16, 2013

Bloomberg’s Exposure of Worried Walmart Emails Stays Mostly in the Business Pages

On Friday, Renee Dudley at Bloomberg News exposed the contents of February 12 internal emails revealing that Walmart executives are worried — very worried — about sales during the first 10 to 14 days of the its most current fiscal period (mostly likely either the first 10 days of February if the company works with calendar months, or 14 days if it began the second period of the fiscal year on Monday January 28), because of the payroll tax increase and slower tax refunds (bolds are mine):
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The Unreality Based Presidency

Filed under: Economy,Environment,Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:59 pm

Obama’s speech promises four more years of what hasn’t worked, and threatens to ruin what has.

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This column went up at PJ Media on Thursday and was teased here at BizzyBlog yesterday.

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As the 2004 presidential election approached, so-called “progressives” took to calling themselves “the reality-based community.”

Originally adopted as a defiant rebuttal to the Bush administration’s alleged dominance by faith-based, fact-denying zealots, it has morphed over time into a more widely used and arrogant expression intended to communicate the following: “We have the facts on our side and we understand how the world works. Anyone who disagrees with us is in denial, delusional, and dangerous.”

For some time now, I’ve considered compiling a list of some of the most ridiculous and untenable beliefs held by hardened members of the left, now known as “mainstream Democrats.” Thanks to President Barack Obama, I have now crossed out that task on my to-do list. He and his speechwriters worked it up for me, and for posterity, in his State of the Union address on Tuesday. As such, I’ll only need to deal with a few of the most blatant examples of truly dangerous and delusional reality denial here.

On the economy, Obama insisted that “the true engine of America’s economic growth” is “a rising, thriving middle class.” No sir. A prosperous middle class is the result of a free-market economy operating in an environment where the rules of the game are clearly understood and evenhandedly enforced. We largely had those conditions in place during the 1980s, when during the first 14 full quarters following a recession which was arguably as serious as the one which officially ended in June 2009, the economy grew by 20 percent.

To a greater extent than commonly understood, we no longer have those conditions. This largely explains why the economy has grown by only 7.5 percent during the past 14 quarters. The fact that it has grown at all is almost a miracle, given the unprecedented level of cronyism; stifling over-regulation; misguided and corrupt attempts by the government to pick winners and losers, invariably leading to the selection of hordes of losers; and powerful deterrents to hiring, which will only became worse as the impact of Obamacare’s definition of a full-time employee as someone who works 30 or more hours per week and therefore must be covered under an employer’s insurance plan spreads. Census Bureau and other data show that these government-driven and government-imposed conditions are in fact gutting the middle class.

Speaking of ObamaCare, Obama claimed that it “is helping to slow the growth of health care costs.” No it’s not, according toan Employee Benefit News report which cites the government’s own Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services:

[A] separate CMS report projects that even after PPACA is fully implemented, U.S. health spending is expected to reach nearly $4.6 trillion by 2019, growing at an average annual rate over the next decade of 6.3%, as opposed to a 6.1% rate anticipated before reform.

By 2019, health care is predicted to account for nearly one of every five U.S. dollars spent or about 19.6% of the gross domestic product, 0.3 percentage points higher than projected previously, CMS economists concluded.

For those in touch with reality, 6.3% represents faster growth of health care costs, not “slower.”

In discussing the federal government’s precarious financial situation, Obama claimed: “Over the last few years, both parties have worked together to reduce the deficit by more than $2.5 trillion.”

Unfortunately, Obama’s statement includes over $1 trillion in spending cuts which haven’t happened, and savings of hundreds of billions in interest costs which won’t occur unless those spending “cuts” (really reductions in projected spending increases) really take place.

But it’s in the area of “climate change” — the supposedly less threatening term replacing “global warming” — that Obama reveals how dangerous it is when we have an unapologetic, unreality-based White House occupant.

Marc Morano at Climate Depot exhaustively demonstrated in a Wednesday post that the climate-related assertions in Obama’s speech are almost entirely without basis (links in Climate Depot quotes are in the original post):

  • Obama: “[T]he 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15.” CD: “Global temperatures have essentially been flat lining for 16 years nowThe halt in global temperatures has shown up in multiple data sets and peer-reviewed literature.” Even NASA climate change crusader James Hansen has admitted that “Mean Global Temperature Has Been Flat For The Last Decade” — which perhaps explains why he didn’t write that “Obama has four years to save the planet,” as he did in January 2009.
  • Obama: “Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods — all are now more frequent and intense.” CD: “(The) EPA says heat waves were worse in the 1930s”; “flooding has not increased in the United States over records of 85 to 127 years”; “Wildfire numbers since 1950 have decreased globally by 15%.”
  • Obama: “We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy … (and other natural disasters) were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science — and act before it’s too late.” CD: “Sandy was terrible, but we’re in a relative hurricane drought.”

What will happen if Congress doesn’t buy into Obama’s unreality and fails to “act soon to protect future generations” from this non-existent calamity? Why, he’ll do everything he can to force his unreality upon us:

I will direct my cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.

Kirsten Powers, one of an apparently very few sane liberals remaining on our non-warming planet, recognized the chilling nature of that threat: “The edict on climate change was despotic, not liberal.”

Despotism is the final refuge of those in power who choose to remain trapped in their unreality. They believe they can ultimately bend reality to their will. The more their flawed perceptions cause them to fail, the more despotic such people become.

We truly live in dangerous times.

Mort Zuckerman Gets It (‘By Any Measure, the Jobs Disaster Continues’)

Concerning January’s employment report, which we should recall the AP’s Christopher Rugaber described as “mostly encouraging,” and the matter of seasonal adjustments, the liberal chairman and editor in chief of U.S. News & World Report had this to say in the Wall Street Journal last night:

By Any Measure, the Jobs Disaster Continues

… Sometimes the employment numbers that are announced are simply not understood. January was supposed to have seen 157,000 jobs created. The news provoked relief and even enthusiasm in some quarters. But the supposed hiring was based on seasonally adjusted numbers—numbers adjusted to reflect regularly occurring shifts in employment, such as increased hiring of farm workers during crop harvests or retail employees after Thanksgiving. The real, unadjusted figures for January show that nearly 2.8 million jobs disappeared, which happened to be worse than the 2.63 million lost in January 2012. Even though the 157,000 jobs created were fewer than the 311,000 of January 2012, many commentators cheered because they don’t understand the effects of seasonal adjustment.

Or it could be that they don’t want to understand.

Or, even worse, they do understand, but are more worried about looking good over at the White House.

Government Intimidating Businesses’ Free Expression, Banking Division

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:30 am

This probably could be Part 1 of a very long-running series.

An Investor’s Business Daily column by Paul Sperry (“Top Banker Says Government Caused Housing Crisis”) deals with one banker who isn’t intimidated, largely because he’s leaving the industry:

Bribed by federal bailouts and threatened by lawsuits, top bankers have grudgingly gone along with the narrative that greed and deregulation caused the recession.

But one prominent CEO is breaking ranks as he leaves the embattled industry.

While running regional giant BB&T for two decades, John Allison had an insider’s view of the factors behind the crisis. A burst of greed wasn’t one of them, he says. Nor was deregulation.

“The financial industry was not deregulated, it was misregulated,” he asserted.

In his new book, “The Financial Crisis and the Free Market Cure,” Allison says at every step of the way, Washington politicians and regulators brought on the crisis and then made things worse during the panic.

Now, he warns, they’re sowing the seeds of another financial crisis, thanks to new rules sold to the public as insurance against another crisis but that in fact double down on old mistakes.

Read (and bookmark) the whole thing.

In June 2009, BB&T repaid its $3 billion in TARP loans early to get out from under its most onerous regulations.

In September 2008, Allison warned that the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) was “primarily a bailout of poorly run financial institutions…. Corrections are not all bad. The market correction process eliminates irrational competitors.”

Saturday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (021613)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:10 am

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

Positivity: Couples vow life-long fidelity before tomb of St. Valentine

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:02 am

From Terri, Italy:

Feb 15, 2013 / 12:16 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Nearly 120 soon-to-be-married couples promised to be faithful to one another in a special Feb. 10 ceremony at the tomb of St. Valentine in the Italian city of Terni.

Engaged couples from across Italy endured freezing temperatures to participate in the ceremony at St. Valentine Basilica, led by the president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia.

St. Valentine, the third century bishop and martyr, helped Christian couples marry in secret during the time of the Roman persecution.

Archbishop Paglia told the couples gathered for the ceremony, “You are here because before getting married, you want the blessing of St. Valentine, and you want your love to never end, to be authentic, to be forever.”

“You are living in a world that does not understand the importance of marriage and the family,” the archbishop explained.

Nor does society see the “beauty” and “courage” of the choice to commit oneself to married life, he added.

However, he continued, the world needs the sacrificial love of strong, committed marriages.

“If you only think of yourselves, you will end up in loneliness,” he said. “For this reason, pray to St. Valentine for the help to be more united that ever in times of difficulty.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.