June 5, 2013

LAT Story on UCLA Study Relayed By AP: ‘It’s Not a Recovery. It’s Not Even Normal Growth. It’s Bad’

NoRecoveryAheadWideThe most interesting thing (to me, at least) about Wednesday’s report in the Los Angeles Times by Ricardo Lopez on how the author of an economic report out of UCLA has said that the U.S. economy’s performance since the recession officially ended in June 2009 stinks — “It’s not a recovery. It’s not even normal growth. It’s bad” — is how the Associated Press relayed it to its readers and subscribers. I don’t recall ever seeing a 15-plus paragraph report go unbylined, but this one did.

Maybe whoever wrote the AP item didn’t want to incur the wrath of his or her colleague Tom Raum, who early last week wrote that the economy is “clearly, if slowly” recovering. It’s also somewhat likely that Christopher Rugaber, who wrote “Gone are the fears that the economy could fall into another recession” in early April, might be a bit miffed. Choice nuggets from Lopez’s LAT lament follow the jump:

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Obama Can Now Claim Executive Privilege to Keep Rice From Testifying; Only Fox’s McFarland Notes It

SusanRiceWide2013A Google News search on ["Susan Rice" "executive privilege"] (typed exactly as indicated between brackets) returns two stories. The main one is at Fox News, where K.T. McFarland pointed out that President Obama, now that he has appointed Susan Rice to be his National Security Adviser, can invoke executive privilege to keep her from testifying before Congress. The second is at Mediate, and notes that McFarland said the same thing to Fox News Channel anchor Martha MacCallum earlier today.

Among those who conveniently didn’t note this: Frank James at NPR, who didn’t identify the executive privilege dodge in his “5 Takeaways From Obama’s Susan Rice Appointment”; the Associated Press, whose three Wednesday items on Rice (here, here, and here) don’t mention it, and where a search on “executive privilege” (not in quotes) returned nothing relevant; and the Politico, where a search on “Rice executive privilege” (not in quotes) also returned nothing relevant. Excerpts from McFarland’s column, with harsh words about Rice’s lack of qualifications, follow the jump (bold and italics are hers except final paragraph):

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National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar and Clinton Smear Artist James Carville Agree …

… in essence that only a Punk President would make a move like appointing Susan “I’m lying about Benghazi being a spontaneous uprising over a video because that’s what my bosses want me to do” Rice to be the next National Security Adviser.

Kraushaar at National Journal:

In Scandal’s Wake, Obama’s Hardball Tactics Could Backfire
By appointing loyalists and dismissing GOP criticisms, the White House is cocooning itself — just as voters are growing critical.

By picking two loyal allies as national security adviser (Susan Rice) and ambassador to the UN (Samantha Power), Obama is taunting Republican critics who slammed Rice for her role in the Benghazi spin, derailing her prospects to become Secretary of State. While second terms often feature new faces and perspectives from the outside, the president has kept his inner circle tight. Combine that with his former top adviser trash-talking Republicans and media critics on Twitter, and the White House’s push to pressure Republicans to fill vacancies on the DC Circuit Court, you’d think the president has weathered the worst of the scandal storm.

But there are fresh signs from two new, well-respected polls, that while Obama has faced down the scrutiny for now, the White House would be wise to anticipate headwinds — and prepare accordingly.

You don’t get it, Josh. This is the Punk Presidency, whose motto is: “We do what we want. Bleeeeeeep you.” They don’t care what Republicans or Americans in general think. They’ve got the run of the place until January 20, 2017, and they’re going to milk it for all it’s worth, and take every opportunity — legal and extralegal — to impose their statist worldview on the country whether it likes it or not.

Carville at RealClearPolitics:

“My guess is that he wanted her to be Secretary of State and he felt like she kind of got railroaded there and this is kind of in your face appointment, but he obviously thinks a great deal of Ambassador Rice. Like I say, he wanted her to be Secretary of State. She’s not confirmable and it’s like a message that he’s going to stick by. He views her as a competent person and probably as a friend of his. You know, I think it’s an in your face appointment and he feels good about making it.”

It also should merit an “up yours” from House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. I say it should, not that it will.

There is an alternative explanation, which is that Rice demanded the job as a precondition for keeping her mouth shut about what’s really going on inside the Obama administration cesspool.

For the Overstuffed ‘Rob Portman Is All About Rob Portman’ File

Filed under: Scams,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 5:53 pm

He changes his tune on gay marriage, shows squishiness in general (AFP rating: 67%) … and now is visiting New Hampshire.

Deliver us, Lord.

Wow, That Was Fast; Cincy Gas-Price Average Near $4; Many Stations Already There

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 5:22 pm

Weren’t gas prices in Greater Cincinnati about $3.55 or so a gallon about a week ago?

Why, yes they were (they’re usually a bit lower in Mason) — and now they’re not:

CincyGasPricesOneMonth060513

$4-plus for regular signs are starting to sprout like summer weeds. In Mason (confirmed here), every station I’ve seen (except Sam’s Club) is between $3.80 and $4.00.

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UPDATE: It could be worse. We could be in Chicago, where the average is $4.40, and some prices are as high as $4.80 – $4.90.

UPDATE 2, 7:30 p.m.: Now the average is at $3.966 in Greater Cincy. 10:45 p.m.: Make that $3.974.

May ISM Non Manufacturing (060513): 53.7%, Up Slightly From April and Matching Expectations

Filed under: Economy — Tom @ 9:40 am

Business Insider is carrying a prediction of 53.8%, which would be an increase from April’s 53.1% and indicate a stronger expansion. Consider me skeptical.

Regardless of the overall result, what will bear watching are the orders, order backlog, and production, the key indicators that directly tie into current and future economic growth.

HERE IT IS (direct link): This one basically matched expectations overall (bolds and paragraph breaks are mine) —

The NMI™ registered 53.7 percent in May, 0.6 percentage point higher than the 53.1 percent registered in April. This indicates continued growth at a slightly faster rate in the non-manufacturing sector. The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index registered 56.5 percent, which is 1.5 percentage points higher than the 55 percent reported in April, reflecting growth for the 46th consecutive month.

The New Orders Index increased by 1.5 percentage points to 56 percent, and the Employment Index decreased 1.9 percentage points to 50.1 percent, indicating growth in employment for the 10th consecutive month. The Prices Index decreased 0.1 percentage point to 51.1 percent, indicating prices increased at a slower rate in May when compared to April. According to the NMI™, 13 non-manufacturing industries reported growth in May. The majority of respondents’ comments are optimistic about business conditions. However, there is a degree of uncertainty about the long-term outlook.”

The three key GDP-related components did well:
- Business Activity/Production — 56.5, up 1.5.
- New Orders– 56.0, up 1.5.
- Backlog of orders — 51.5, no change.

Given the move to slight contraction in manufacturing reported on Monday, today’s Non Manufacturing news is an overall relief.

ADP Employment Report (060513): 135K Private-Sector Jobs Added in May, April Revised Down Slightly

Filed under: Economy — Tom @ 8:11 am

Business Insider carries a prediction of 171,000 private-sector job additions.

The report will be here at 8:15 a.m.

While we wait … last month, ADP started issuing a regional report, breaking the country down into nine regions. They also have info at the state level, as the report’s headline was “Texas, Florida, Tennessee, Utah and Arizona Show Largest Job Increases in April.” Red states all. What a surprise (not).

HERE IT IS (more detail), and it continues the string of reports which have trailed expectations:

Private-sector employment increased by 135,000 from April to May, on a seasonally adjusted basis. (The estimated gain from March to April was revised down to 113,000).

(from press release) “U.S. private sector employment increased by 135,000 jobs during the month of May 2013, a slight increase over the previous month of April,” said Carlos A. Rodriguez, president and chief executive officer of ADP. “The majority of new jobs in May came from the service-providing sector, which added a total of 138,000 jobs, while the goods-producing sector recorded a loss of 3,000 jobs. Notably, a gain of 5,000 jobs in the construction industry during May was offset by a decline of 6,000 lost jobs in the manufacturing industry.”

Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, said, “The job market continues to expand, but growth has slowed since the beginning of the year. The slowdown is evident across all industries and all but the largest companies. Manufacturers are reducing payrolls. The softer job market this spring is largely due to significant fiscal drag from tax increases and government spending cuts.”

Notice that he mentioned tax increases first.

Wednesday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (060513)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:55 am

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

Positivity: Church to beatify father of seven who saved 100 lives

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:45 am

From Rome:

Jun 4, 2013 / 01:20 pm

Odoardo Focherini will be beatified in the Italian city of Carpi on June 15 for his life of faith and dedication to helping those in need, including 100 Jews he helped escape the Nazis.

“One of the Jews whom he saved said, ‘we are the miracles of Odoardo Focherini,’ and they saw his as their savior and angel,” said Focherini’s grandson, Francesco Manicardi.

“His neighbors weren’t just Jews, but also his family, of which there are now 21 great grandsons,” he added during a June 4 Vatican Radio press conference.

Focherini, an Italian journalist and father of seven children, died at 37-years-old in the Hersbrueck Nazi concentration camp in 1944, after a wound in his leg became infected.

On Saturday, June 15, he will also be beatified, the step before being recognized as a saint, for having managed his work and family life as an exemplary Catholic.

Focherini married his beloved wife Maria Marchesi in 1930, and by 1943 they had seven children.

During those years, Focherini helped organize important diocesan events, such as Eucharistic congresses, and in 1939 he became the managing director of L’Avvenire d’Italia, a Catholic newspaper.

He first started helping Jews flee the Nazi persecution in 1942, but his large-scale effort did not begin until Sept. 8, 1943, when he asked his wife’s permission to help provide false identity cards so that the Jewish refugees could cross the Italian-Swiss border. …

Go here for the rest of the story.