September 12, 2013

Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (091213)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 9:10 am

(Moved to the top)

This open thread will stay at or near the top today. Rules are here. Possible comment fodder follows. Other topics are also fair game.


7:30 a.m.: At WaPo“The D.C. businessman at the center of an ongoing city corruption investigation secretly spent more than a half-million dollars on get-out-the-vote efforts for Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, according to interviews and court documents filed Wednesday. … A search of federal campaign records found no evidence that Thompson or White disclosed the alleged expenditures or activities to the Federal Election Commission, as required by campaign finance laws.”

7:35 a.m.: At the Wall Street Journal — “Lois Lerner’s Own Words; Emails undercut the official IRS story on political targeting.” An excerpt:

In a February 2011 email, Ms. Lerner advised her staff—including then Exempt Organizations Technical Manager Michael Seto and then Rulings and Agreements director Holly Paz—that a Tea Party matter is “very dangerous,” and is something “Counsel and [Lerner adviser] Judy Kindell need to be in on.” Ms. Lerner adds, “Cincy should probably NOT have these cases.”

That’s a different tune than the IRS sang in May when former IRS Commissioner Steven Miller said the agency’s overzealous enforcement was the work of two “rogue” employees in Cincinnati. When the story broke, Ms. Lerner suggested that her office had been unaware of the pattern of targeting until she read about it in the newspaper. “So it was pretty much we started seeing information in the press that raised questions for us, and we went back and took a look,” she said in May.

Earlier this summer, IRS lawyer Carter Hull, who oversaw the review of many Tea Party cases and questionnaires, testified that his oversight began in April 2010. Tea party cases under review are “being supervised by Chip Hull at each step,” Ms. Paz wrote to Ms. Lerner in a February 2011 email. “He reviews info from TPs, correspondence to TPs etc. No decisions are going out of Cincy until we go all the way through the process with the c3 and c4 cases here.” TP stands for Tea Party, and she means 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) nonprofit groups.

So we see that there were deliberate delays and obstruction.

Read the whole thing.

9:10 a.m.: Groundhog Day headline — “Obama signals shift back to economic focus.” One good thing about preoccupying the administration with Syria would be that they’d have less time to focus on ruining the economy more than they already have.

Initial Unemployment Claims (091213): Garbage (See ‘NOTE’ and ‘UPDATE’)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:03 am


Seasonal Adjustment Factors:

  • Week ended Sept. 8, 2012 — 78.6
  • Week ended Sept. 7, 2013 — 78.1

Raw (i.e., not seasonally adjusted) Claims:

  • Week ended Sept. 8, 2012 — 299,729
  • Week ended Aug. 31, 2013 — 268,843 (before revision)

For seasonally adjusted claims to come in at 330,000 or lower,  raw claims will need to be 258,000 or less (258K divided by .781 is 330K, rounded).

I think raw claims will come at about the same level as last week, and that the resulting seasonally adjusted reading will be in the low 340s.

We’ll see here at 8:30 a.m.

HERE IT IS (permanent link), delayed by a shaky network connection. So much for my theory, but the drop is so low that it seems not credible –


In the week ending September 7, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 292,000, a decrease of 31,000 from the previous week’s unrevised figure of 323,000. The 4-week moving average was 321,250, a decrease of 7,500 from the previous week’s revised average of 328,750.


The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 228,399 in the week ending September 7, a decrease of 40,250 from the previous week. There were 299,729 initial claims in the comparable week in 2012.

NOTE: Steve in the comments is citing “faulty reporting by states. So the number really is not credible.


UPDATE: Zero Hedge: “Initial Jobless Claims Plunge Due To ‘Computer Upgrades” And “Faulty Reporting By States’” –

Specifically, a larger state and a smaller one that retooled their computer networks still provided the Labor Department with applications counts. Furthermore, the BLS also said that the decrease in filings probably didn’t signal a change in labor-market conditions. In other words, the number is garbage, and the BLS knows the reporting is faulty, but let’s go ahead and report it anyway.

Next we await for the unemployment rate to hit -100% as the BLS upgrades from Windows 3.11 to Vista.

Lord have mercy. I’ll revisit this report next week when they hopefully have things together — or sooner if something credible arises.

Positivity: Anonymous Postal Worker Responds to Little Girl’s Letter to God About Taking Care of Her Deceased Pet Dog

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

Major hanky alert (posted in full; HT Daryn Kagan):

We don’t know who replied, but there is a beautiful soul working in the dead letter office who understands LOVE.

Our 14-year-old dog Abbey died last month. The day after she passed away my 4-year-old daughter Meredith was crying and talking about how much she missed Abbey. She asked if we could write a letter to God so that when Abbey got to heaven, God would recognize her. I told her that I thought that we could, so she dictated these words:

Dear God,

Will you please take care of my dog? Abbey died yesterday and is with you in heaven. I miss her very much. I ‘m happy that you let me have her as my dog even though she got sick. I hope you will play with her. She likes to swim and play with balls. I am sending a picture of her so when you see her you will know that she is my dog. I really miss her.

Love, Meredith

We put the letter in an envelope with a picture of Abbey & Meredith, addressed it to God/Heaven. We put our return address on it. Meredith pasted several stamps on the front of the envelope because she said it would take lots of stamps to get the letter all the way to heaven. That afternoon she dropped it into the letter box at the post office.

A few days later, she asked if God had gotten the letter yet. I told her that I thought He had. Yesterday, there was a package wrapped in gold paper on our front porch addressed, ‘To Meredith’ in an unfamiliar hand.

Meredith opened it. Inside was a book by Mr. Rogers called, ‘When a Pet Dies.’ Taped to the inside front cover was the letter we had written to God in its opened envelope. On the opposite page was the picture of Abbey & Meredith and this note:

Dear Meredith,

Abbey arrived safely in heaven. Having the picture was a big help and I recognized her right away. Abbey isn’t sick anymore. Her spirit is here with me just like it stays in your heart. Abbey loved being your dog. Since we don’t need our bodies in heaven, I don’t have any pockets to keep your picture in so I’m sending it back to you in this little book for you to keep and have something to remember Abbey by. Thank you for the beautiful letter and thank your mother for helping you write it and sending it to me. What a wonderful mother you have. I picked her especially for you. I send my blessings every day and remember that I love you very much. By the way, I’m easy to find. I am wherever there is love.