October 3, 2013

Explaining the Obvious

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:41 pm

President Obama, today:

And many representatives, including an increasing number of Republicans, have made it clear that had they been allowed by Speaker Boehner to take a simple up or down vote on keeping the government open, with no partisan strings attached, enough votes from both parties would have kept the American people’s government open and operating.

Uh, the House has passed a budget and submitted it to the Senate. It’s Harry Reid who hasn’t allowed an up-or-down vote on the budget the House passed.

Until he does, Obama is directing his whining in the wrong direction.

If Reid allows and up-or-down vote and the Senate rejects the House’s budget, so be it. But until then, Obama does not have a valid complaint.

Harry Reid has allowed the government to partially shut down, and Barack Obama is cheering him on.

The House didn’t shut down the government. No amount of lies and spin, media-driven or otherwise, will ever change that.

Punk President Spends Tax Dollars ‘Barry-cading’ Private Mount Vernon

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:58 pm

Pure spite. Pure punk (bolds are mine; link is in original):

Barrycades: Feds Try to Shut Down Privately Owned Mount Vernon
“Deliberate effort by Obama to hurt the public”

The National Park Service erected barricades to shut down parking lots surrounding Mount Vernon despite the fact that the tourist destination is privately owned, another example of how the feds are deliberately worsening the government shut down.

Mount Vernon is the former plantation of George Washington and is owned by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, which doesn’t receive any government funding. The attraction’s official website reads, “NO SHUTDOWN HERE – The Federal government may be shut down, but Washington’s home remains open. Mount Vernon has remained a private non-profit for more than 150 years.”

However, a dispute began when the National Park Service began putting up barricades to block off the facility’s car park, blockading the entrance as well as a spot where tour buses turn around.

The parking lots are co-owned by Mount Vernon and the NPS, but require no immediate maintenance at all, meaning the decision to close them down was completely unnecessary.

Well, that depends on what you mean by “necessary.”

Our petty, petulant Punk President believes he needs to show America who’s boss, and doesn’t care who gets hurt in the process.

Can’t Blame the Shutdown For This: ISM Non Manufacturing Index Plunges to 54.4% from 58.6%, But Is Still Quite Positive

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:34 pm

What the Insitute for Supply Management’s Manufacturing Index giveth, the Non Manufacturing Index has taken away — and then some, bigtime:

Economic activity in the non-manufacturing sector grew in September for the 45th consecutive month, say the nation’s purchasing and supply executives in the latest Non-Manufacturing ISM Report On Business®.

“The NMI™ registered 54.4 percent in September, 4.2 percentage points lower than August’s reading of 58.6 percent. This indicates continued growth at a slower rate in the non-manufacturing sector. The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index decreased to 55.1 percent, which is 7.1 percentage points lower than the 62.2 percent reported in August, reflecting growth for the 50th consecutive month but at a significantly slower rate. The New Orders Index decreased by 0.9 percentage point to 59.6 percent, and the Employment Index decreased 4.3 percentage points to 52.7 percent, indicating growth in employment for the 14th consecutive month. The Prices Index increased 3.8 percentage points to 57.2 percent, indicating prices increased at a faster rate in September when compared to August. According to the NMI™, 11 non-manufacturing industries reported growth in September. The majority of the respondents’ comments continue to be positive; however, there is an increase in the degree of uncertainty regarding the future business climate and the direction of the economy.”

This isn’t a problem unless it repeats itself next month. Then it’s a really big problem.

The “right now” indicator of Business Activity’s plunge is the most troubling and has the greatest potential to negatively affect GDP. The two orders-related figures (New Orders and Backlog) basically held steady. The New Orders number is so strong I don’t think the fact that Backlong was still just above the expansion/contraction breakeven point of 50% for the second straight month is particularly worrisome.

The comments are mostly lukewarm to downbeat. Here’s a particularly interesting one:

“The federal government’s spending is increasing greatly as agencies execute their final budgets and utilize fiscal year 2013 appropriated funds prior to their expiration on September 30th. This has caused a major increase in procurement activity for goods and services. Budgets are uncertain for fiscal year 2014, so some items requiring funding in future years are not being purchased.” (Public Administration)

That would appear to point to potential for October weakness, and of course means that the supposedly brutal sequestration constraints aren’t stopping federal bureaucrats from engaging in their normal fiscal year-end spending binges.

AP Howler, Easily Disproven: Obamacare Enrollment Mess Shows ‘Strong Demand’

Early Thursday morning, swallowing an Obama administration fallback talking point hook, line, and sinker, Juliet Williams and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar at the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press, described the horrible problems users have had during the past two days in even accessing the Obamacare exchanges, including “overloaded websites and jammed phone lines,” as proof of “strong demand for the private insurance plans,” and of “exceptionally high interest in the new system.”

Really, guys? That doesn’t reconcile with other information gleaned from other sources about low enrollments and unimpressive site visit totals. I’ll note just a few of them after the jump.

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Initial Unemployment Claims (100313): 308K SA, Up From Revised 307K Last Week; NSA Claims 16% Below Same Week Last Year

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:35 am

Unlike the monthly Employment Situation report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which at last report will be not be released tomorrow if the partial government shutdown continues, the unemployment claims report is set to come out today.

Prediction: Bloomberg has 315,000 seasonally adjusted claims.

Seasonal adjustment factors:

  • Week ended Sept. 28, 2013 — 81.8
  • Week ended Sept. 29, 2012 — 81.7

Raw claims:

  • Week ended Sept. 21, 2013 — 253,668 (before revision)
  • Week ended Sept. 29, 2012 — 301,054

For seasonally adjusted claims to come in at 315,000 or below, raw claims will have to be 258,000 or below ( divided by .818 is 258K, rounded). That seems ambitious, but who knows, given the computer-driven confusion in several states during the past few weeks. DOL said last week that they were caught up. We’ll see.

The report will be here at 8:30 a.m.

8:32 a.m.: DOL’s web site has a top-of-page “NOTICE” saying that “Due to suspension of Federal government services, this website is not being regularly updated.” We’ll see if that stops the unemployment claims report from going up.

8:35 a.m.: Well, here it is (permanent link) —

SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

In the week ending September 28, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 308,000, an increase of 1,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 307,000. The 4-week moving average was 305,000, a decrease of 3,750 from the previous week’s revised average of 308,750.

… UNADJUSTED DATA

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 252,092 in the week ending September 28, a decrease of 3,018 from the previous week. There were 301,054 initial claims in the comparable week in 2012.

This is pretty good news.

Yesterday on the ADP conference call, Mark Zandi predicated that September’s unemployment rate would come in at 7.2%, a slight reduction from August’s 7.3%. Today’s claims news is consistent with that in the land of conventional wisdom, though I’m not sold on the idea that claims and the unemployment rate are meaningfully interrelated.

Of course, barring an agreement to end the shutdown, we’re not going to find out for a while.

Despite Three-and-a-Half Years to Prep Obamacare, A Fiasco Takes Shape

From all indications, the Mother of All Trainwrecks has arrived.

_____________________________________

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

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The best clue that the initial open enrollment period for Obamacare’s health insurance exchanges is destined to be a bureaucratic nightmare which will fail virtually every benchmark came on Saturday morning. Hadas Gold and Kyle Cheney at Politico, two advocates posing as reporters, all but begged the press to avoid “any rush judgments (which) could have a big impact on public opinion of the law” during its critical first few days. They described administration officials as “pleading with reporters to avoid being seduced into treating every technical snafu as a catastrophic failure.”

I don’t see why the Politico pair or the Obama administration should be all that worried. A small number of local and regional reporters may balk at drinking the “all is well” Kool-Aid if the foul-ups are sufficiently blatant and visible, but the nation’s establishment press has already shown its bonafides. (Though in 2006 under George W. Bush, they didn’t hesitate to dwellfor months on problems in the rollout of Medicare Part D, which were in retrospect relatively minor.) The national press is vested in the current venture’s success, and perhaps even less likely to acknowledge serious complications and failure than certain Obama administration officials will be in unguarded moments.

The facts, whatever the PR turns out to be, are that the administration and the press have failed Obamacare tests for three-and-a-half years. Admittedly, they have had assistance from the law’s opponents, who have inexplicably failed to highlight easily understood and financially crippling design flaws which — if conveyed to the public — would have caused the program’s meager popularity to crater.
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Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (100313)

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: Chinese pro-life activist awarded human rights fellowships

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Washington:

Oct 2, 2013 / 06:14 pm

Chinese pro-life activist Chen Guangcheng has announced a new three-year partnership with the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., as well as with two other human rights groups.

The blind human rights advocate will also partner with the Witherspoon Institute, a non-profit organization focused on moral reasoning in a free society, and the Lantos Foundation, a human rights organization which promotes the advance of human rights in American foreign policy.

“I believe that human rights supersedes partisan politics and is greater than national borders as well,” Chen said, adding that he looks forward to a “new starting point” and working for institutions “that are not intimidated by the powerful.”

“The kinds of concerns that he expressed on human life issues are something that Americans really need to hear,” Catholic University of America president John Garvey told CNA.

“The lack of concern for human life or respect that we have seen in the last 40 years in America reaches its highest form in places like where he’s lived.”

Chen, who has been blind since childhood, became a self-taught human rights lawyer while in China, speaking out in particular against forced abortions and sterilizations under the country’s one-child policy.

His activism attracted the attention of the Chinese government, and Chen spent four years in prison for his advocacy. In September 2010, he was placed under house arrest with no formal charges, and has said that during this time he and his family were treated harshly, beaten and denied proper medical care.

In April 2012, Chen escaped from house arrest, seeking refuge in the U.S. embassy in Beijing. Attracting growing international attention and voicing concern for the safety of his family, Chen was offered a fellowship at New York University’s law school in May 2012. The Chinese government agreed to allow him to travel with his immediate family to the U.S.

New York University announced in June that Chen’s fellowship was ending, stating that the position was meant to be a temporary post. The pro-life activist claimed in a June 17 statement that the university ended his fellowship following “great, unrelenting pressure” from the Chinese government. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

Mark Levin to Obama: ‘You lay one hand on WW2 vets and I’ll Bring Half a Million People to That Memorial’

Filed under: Taxes & Government,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 12:23 am

Just listen (HT Right Scoop):