October 1, 2013

AP’s Daly Hides Foiled Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Nominee’s Radicalism

On Tuesday, Ron Binz, nominated by President Obama to head the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, withdrew his name from consideration. Those who want to see the economy prosper should be relieved that the position described by Matthew Daly at the Associated Press as that of “the nation’s top energy regulator” won’t be occupied by a died-in-the-wool “renewable” energy radical.

The AP’s Daly somehow kept the word “carbon” out of his coverage of Binz’s withdrawal, even though, as the Wall Street Journal noted in a September 15 editorial which appropriately used the word 11 times, the man is obsessed with it to the point of wanting to establish, in the Journal’s words, a “carbon-free paradise.” Excerpts from Daly’s dodging, followed by additional ones from the Journal’s editorial, follow the jump.

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Politico: Obama, In Acquiescing to Govt. Shutdown, Puts on a ‘Display of Resolve and Strength That Could Redefine His Presidency’

The folks in office administration at the Politico had better put in for extra janitorial help. With all the horse manure their reporters are slinging during the partial government shutdown, it’s gotta be getting knee-deep in those hoary halls.

One of the more egregious examples of insufferable obsequiousness today came late this morning via Edward-Isaac Dovere and Reid J. Epstein. You see, in their narrow world, President Barack Obama’s stature has done a sudden and complete turnaround because he and Harry Reid have chosen to shut down the government (HT the Weekly Standard; bolds are mine):

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Latest PJ Media Column (‘Despite Three-and-a-Half Years to Prep Obamacare, A Fiasco Takes Shape’) Is Up

It’s here. Subheadline: “From all indications, the Mother of All Trainwrecks has arrived.”

It will go up here at BizzyBlog on Thursday (link won’t work until then).

As Obamacare Exchange ‘Glitches’ Arrive, Will Media Heed Politico Pair’s Virtual Plea to Avoid ‘Rush to Judgment’?

Michelle Malkin’s Twitchy.com has capsulized the Obamacare exchanges’ opening day thus far as follows (links are in the original): “HealthCare.gov tried to kick off the Obamacare marketplace this morning … and failed miserably. The website is an error-ridden mess and users are being asked for their patience as the marketplace works out “known issues” with security. But never mind the pesky bugs preventing people from signing up — HealthCare.gov is psyched!”

On the pretty safe assumption that the problems continue, three key questions arise. First, how much exposure will the establishment press give the snafus? Second, to the extent they give them attention, how will they present them — i.e., as “normal startup problems” or “poor execution and planning”? And third, how effective, if at all, will center-right truth-tellers be at breaking through to the general population? Hadas Gold and Kyle Cheney at Politico obsessed over these matters Saturday morning, and in essence virtually begged everyone to be patient (bolds are mine):

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Looks Like It Was a Pretty Weak September for Auto Sales, Especially at GM

Filed under: Economy — Tom @ 10:37 am

Not that I’ve been watching it particularly closely, but I didn’t expect this.

Reuters:

U.S. auto sales seen stalling in September after torrid summer

The U.S. auto industry’s sizzling summer pace stalled in September for the first year-on-year sales decline in more than two years as the month suffered because part of the Labor Day shopping weekend landed in August and there were two fewer days than last year to buy.

Despite September’s expected sales decline of 2 percent to 5 percent, analysts expect the industry’s momentum – it has largely outperformed the broader economy – to continue in the fourth quarter.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Ford was up 5.8% over last year, while Chrysler was up “less than 1%.”

So where’s the negative offset? Guess where (AP breaking story presented in full):

General Motors says its September sales dropped 11 percent from a year ago. Even the company’s big pickup trucks saw sales declines, with the Chevy Silverado down almost 11 percent and the GMC Sierra off 2 percent.

Industry analysts are predicting that total U.S. auto sales fell about 4 percent because Labor Day weekend was counted in August figures this year The normally strong weekend probably pulled sales from September into August.

GM says it sold almost 188,000 cars and trucks last month. The company says its sales to fleet buyers like rental car companies were off 27 percent for the month.

GM sold 12,730 Chevrolet Cruze compacts, less than half of what it sold a year ago.

Ford’s total of 185,146 came very, very close to GM’s official 187,195 (how does that round to the AP’s 188,000?).

GM claims that its 670,000 in unsold vehicles is a 64-day supply. Uh, no. If the company’s sales continue to average 200,000 per month as they have during the past two months, that’s a 100-day supply (670,000 divided by 200,000 is 3.35 months).

The other major point to make — the strength of which won’t be seen until all the numbers come out — is that the “Big Three” share of total sales, which is now in the low-40% range (correction: It’s in the mid-40s, and in September went to 45.2% from 44.3% a year earlier), has continued to trend down, and is about as low, if not lower, than it has ever been. (it still is nearly as low as it’s ever been; year-to-date this year is 45.5% vs. 45.0% in 2012).

That “fourth-quarter momentum” assumption above seems shaky.

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UPDATE, 11:45 a.m.: More — Toyota was down 4%, VW 12.2%, and Nissan 6%, with a quote:

That will make it look like sales “took a big hit in September,” said Edmunds analyst Jessica Caldwell, but “the industry is still selling more cars per day than it did last year.”

She has a point as long as the decline isn’t more than 6%, which remains to be seen.

UPDATE 2: Now that the Wall Street Journal’s data is out, we see that September 2013 had 1.139 million in sales in 23 days vs. 1.189 million in 25 days in September 2012. That boils down to 49,500 in average daily sales in 2013 vs. 47,500 last year — a 4% increase, compared to a nearly 13% year-over-year percentage increase in August (after equalizing for number of days).

At the very least, most of the momentum is gone.

September ISM Manufacturing: 56.2% (Best This Year), Up From 55.7%

Filed under: Economy — Tom @ 9:56 am

Prediction: Business Insider is going with 55.1%, down from 55.7%.

The report will be here at 10:00 a.m.

HERE IT IS (permanent link):

Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in September for the fourth consecutive month, and the overall economy grew for the 52nd consecutive month, say the nation’s supply executives in the latest Manufacturing ISM Report On Business®.

“The PMI™ registered 56.2 percent, an increase of 0.5 percentage point from August’s reading of 55.7 percent. September’s PMI™ reading is the highest of the year, leading to an average PMI™ reading of 55.8 percent for the third quarter. The New Orders Index decreased in September by 2.7 percentage points to 60.5 percent, and the Production Index increased by 0.2 percentage point to 62.6 percent. The Employment Index registered 55.4 percent, an increase of 2.1 percentage points compared to August’s reading of 53.3 percent, which is the highest reading for the year. Comments from the panel are generally positive and optimistic about increasing demand and improving business conditions.”

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, 11 are reporting growth in September in the following order: Electrical Equipment, Appliances & Components; Food, Beverage & Tobacco Products; Furniture & Related Products; Petroleum & Coal Products; Fabricated Metal Products; Paper Products; Printing & Related Support Activities; Transportation Equipment; Computer & Electronic Products; Machinery; and Plastics & Rubber Products. The six industries reporting contraction in September — listed in order — are: Apparel, Leather & Allied Products; Primary Metals; Textile Mills; Nonmetallic Mineral Products; Miscellaneous Manufacturing; and Chemical Products.

It seems odd that one-third of the 18 industries tracked would show contraction in a report that is so positive overall, but there it is.

Two of the three GDP drivers (production, orders) were over 60%, and backlog was almost breakeven (49.5%) after spending several months quite a bit lower than that.

The obvious question, and I’m not going to pretend to know the answer, is how can the ISM indices continue to be so strong while the economy’s overall performance is so mediocre. Anyone with a clue on that is welcome to put in their two cents.

Sherrod Brown Responds to Yours Truly’s Obamacare Questions

Filed under: Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:23 am

The specific question I phoned in about a week ago concerned what Senator Brown intends to do about Obamacare’s “wedding tax.”

What follows, without further commentary, is the complete text of his canned (non)-response (warning: if you can stand it):
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NewsBusted (100113)

Filed under: NewsBusted — Tom @ 8:14 am

Here we go:

Topics:
– Obamacare
– Computer Glitch
– John McCain
– Ted Cruz
– Harry Reid
– Filibuster
– Dan Pfieffer
– Republicans
– Terrorists
– Iran’s Hassan Rouhani
– Colbert Report
– Chris Matthews

Best Line: “President Obama telephoned Hassan Rouhani, which is the first time leaders from the U.S. and Iran have spoken since 1979′s Iranian revolution. Of course, Obama would talk to the President of Iran. He’s not a Republican.”

Tuesday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (100113)

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

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

Positivity: Bishops push for conscience protections in government funding

Filed under: Health Care,Life-Based News,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Washington:

Sep 30, 2013 / 01:04 pm

Leaders of the U.S. bishops have written to lawmakers insisting on the importance of including religious liberty protections and the conscience rights of health care workers as part of government funding negotiations.

“Protection for conscience rights in health care is of especially great importance to the Catholic Church, which daily contributes to the welfare of U.S. society through schools, social services, hospitals and assisted living facilities,” wrote Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley of Boston and Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore in a Sept. 26 letter.

The bishops wrote regarding the federal contraception mandate – issued by the Department of Health and Human Services – which requires employers to provide employee health coverage for sterilization and contraception, as well as drugs which can cause early abortions.

While the mandate has a narrow exemption for religious employers, many Catholic institutions do not meet the government’s criteria. More than 200 plaintiffs across the country have filed lawsuits challenging the mandate, and some legal analysts believe the Supreme Court will take up the case in the coming months.

Cardinal O’Malley and Archbishop Lori – who head the U.S. bishops’ pro-life committee and religious liberty committee, respectively – reminded the nation’s lawmakers that the bishops “strongly support universal access to health care.” However, they said, “such access is threatened by Congress’ continued failure to protect the right of conscience.”

They applauded the provisions of the Health Care Conscience Rights Act, which was introduced earlier this year by Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.).

Key elements of this bill should be incorporated into “must-pass” legislation as Congress considers a continuing resolution to prevent a government shut-down, the bishops said. …

Go here for the rest of the story.