January 10, 2014

NBC’s David Gregory: Christie Should ‘Prove He Didn’t Create an Atmosphere Where This Was Okay’

A frontrunner for the award going to the most obvious media double standard of the week certainly has to be NBC reporter and Meet the Press host David Gregory.

Asking a question virtually no one in the press has asked about President Barack Obama in matters far weightier than Chris Christie’s “Bridgegate,” Gregory addressed the following tweet to New York Times White House Correspondent Peter Baker (HT Twitchy):

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Ray Stevens: ‘Mr. President, Mr. President!’

Humorous indeed, but sadly true (HT Eagle Rising):

Lyrics:

REPORTER: Hey Mr. President, Mr. President!
We got record foreclosures, folks are losing their homes,
the banks have got money but they won’t make loans,
the taxes are bringing small business to their knees,
and we owe our soul to the Red Chinese.
Mr. President, Mr. President! What are you going to do?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I’m going to take off my coat and roll up my sleeves,
turn on the teleprompter and give another speech,
act real cool and talk real soft,
then go out and play another round of golf.
Throw a party at the White House and give a big show,
board Air Force One and away I go,
up to New York, take Michelle to a play,
Then shoot a few hoops and call it a day.

REPORTER: But Mr. President!
We got illegal aliens goin’ ‘cross our borders,
and drug lords committin’ mayhem and disorder,
states are goin’ broke trying to pay their benefits,
bond markets in the toilet, job markets in the pits,
Mr. President, Mr. President! What are you going to do?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Now listen real close, and hear what I say,
never let a good crisis slip away,
you got to look at things out of my window,
what’s bad for America is good for my agenda!

REPORTER: But Mr. President, Mr. President! What are you going to do?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I’m going to take off my coat and roll up my sleeves,
turn on the teleprompter and give another speech,
act real cool and talk real soft,
and then go out and play another round of golf.
Throw a party at the White House and put on a show,
board Air Force One and away I go,
to blame George Bush and his capitalist ways,
Then I’ll shoot a few hoops and call it a day.

The December Employment Situation Summary (011014): 74K SA Job Adds, Unemployment Rate at 6.7%, Participation Rate Drops Again

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:10 am

Econ Catchup:

  • ISM Manufacturing — 57.0% in December, down from 57.9% in November.
  • ISM Non-Manufacturing — 53.0% in December, down from 53.9% in November.
  • Auto Sales — only up by 0.3% year-over-year in December; overall, 2013 was 7.6 percent higher than 2012. GM was down by 6.3% in December; Toyota was down by 1.7%. Ford and Chrysler were at +1.7% and +5.7%, respectively.
  • ADP Private-Sector Payroll — 238,000 jobs added in December
  • Initial Unemployment Claims: a seasonally adjusted 330,000 yesterday; 345,000 a week ago.

Predictions:

  • Mark Zandi of Moody’s, in Wednesday’s ADP conference call — 230,000 seasonally adjusted jobs added, unemployment rate staying at 7.0%.
  • Bloomberg — 197,000 jobs, 7% unemployment.
  • Reuters — 196,000 jobs, 7% unemployment. Reuters emphasized that their poll was done before ADP’s report came out.
  • Associated Press — same as Reuters.

Not seasonally adjusted benchmarks:

Here’s a look at the raw (i.e., not seasonally adjusted) and seasonally adjusted numbers for the past 12 years:

NSAandSAjobAddsJan01toNov13

This one’s difficult to peg, because it looks like the seasonal trends are now significantly different from the middle of last decade, last time the economy was in really good shape — either that, or a consistently mediocre economy generates significantly different seasonal trends.

I’ll go with the latter in benchmarking. Evidence of genuine improvement would mean 25,000 or fewer jobs actually lost overall, and 75,000 or more jobs gained in the private sector.

This is one of those reports where the seasonally adjusted number may not reflect the underlying reality very well, e.g., note how better raw results in December 2012 compared to December 2011 (+78K overall and +50K in the private sector) somehow generated lower December 2012 seasonally adjusted results (-11K and -25K, respectively).

Other items to watch for:

  • Labor force growth or contraction.
  • Continued divergence between the Household and Establishment Surveys on jobs added.
  • Part-time vs. full-time job adds.
  • Which industries are picking up jobs.
  • The workforce participation rate, especially since Gallup is foreshadowing a possible drop in that already historically low figure.

The report will be here at 8:30.

HERE IT IS (permanent link): More of the same, it would appear. That is, a lower unemployment rate despite little job growth (pending a closer look, of course) —

The unemployment rate declined from 7.0 percent to 6.7 percent in December, while total nonfarm payroll employment edged up (+74,000), the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment rose in retail trade and wholesale trade but was down in information.

Household Survey Data

The number of unemployed persons declined by 490,000 to 10.4 million in December, and the unemployment rate declined by 0.3 percentage point to 6.7 percent. Over the year, the number of unemployed persons and the
unemployment rate were down by 1.9 million and 1.2 percentage points, respectively.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (6.3 percent) and whites (5.9 percent) declined in December. The rates for adult women (6.0 percent), teenagers (20.2 percent), blacks (11.9 percent), and Hispanics (8.3 percent) showed little change. The jobless rate for Asians was 4.1 percent (not seasonally adjusted), down by 2.5 percentage points over the year.

… Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment edged up in December (+74,000). In 2013, job growth averaged 182,000 per month, about the same as in 2012 (+183,000 per month). In December, job gains occurred in retail trade and wholesale trade, while employment declined in information.

Employment in retail trade rose by 55,000 in December.

… Employment in professional and business services continued to trend up in December (+19,000). In 2013, job growth in professional and business services averaged 53,000 per month. Within the industry, temporary help services added 40,000 jobs in December, while employment in accounting and bookkeeping services declined by 25,000.

… Construction employment edged down in December (-16,000).

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged down by 0.1 hour to 34.4 hours in December.

… The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for October remained at +200,000, and the change for November was revised from +203,000 to +241,000.

So the seasonally adjusted job adds dropped by over two-thirds from November to December (241K to 78K).

Let’s look at the not seasonally adjusted results … they really, really stink:

NSAandSAjobAddsJan01toDec13

The overall actual loss of 246,000 jobs missed its -25K benchmark by 221,000 jobs. In the private sector, the actual loss of 120,000 came in 195,000 worse than the +75,000 benchmark. These are huge setbacks compared to what needed to happen.

Now let’s look at a few Household Survey/unemployment rate-related items:

  • (Table A-1) The labor force dropped by 347K, and is 548K below where it was a year ago. The labor force participation rate dropped to an almost unfathomable 62.8%. “Not in labor force” increased by 525K to an all-time record 91.8 million.
  • (Table A-9) Full-timers went up by 1.543 million in 2013. Part-timers decreased by 188K. The net is 1.355 million. But the Establishment survey (Table B-1) says employment is up by 2.186 million. My theory is that the Establishment Survey’s higher result has a lot of people who are part-timers that the Household Survey isn’t picking up.
  • (Table B-1) There are several items which strongly differ from what ADP reported on Wednesday. One of the most obvious is construction. ADP had (not kidding) +48K; BLS had -16K.
  • (Also Table B-1) The seasonally adjusted temporary help services adds of 40.4K are well over half of ALL seasonally adjusted jobs adds.
  • (Table A-15) Interesting that the “official” unemployment rate went down, but the fully-loaded U-6 rate stayed at 13.1%.

My overall reaction to this is that we’re turning into a zombie economy.

_________________________________________

UPDATE: Zero Hedge is calling BS on Mark Zandi’s ADP conference call comments:

ADP’s Mark Zandi went on the record to say that “The job market ended 2013 on a high note. Job gains are broad-based across industries, most notably in construction and manufacturing. It appears that businesses are growing more confident and increasing their hiring.” It appears not.

I thought Zandi’s assessment was overly rosy (“The job market has kicked into a higher gear”). He claimed to base his take partly on actual discussions with businesspeople. I wonder which ones?

UPDATE 2: Also at Zero Hedge — “The good news: the unemployment rate plunged to 6.7% from 7.0%… For all the wrong reasons – the number of people not in the labor force rose to a record 91,808,000. As a reason for the plunge the BLS says there was a major weather effect seen on the forced part-time series, and notes the decline in healthcare which is rare and part of the sector slowing. Thank you Obamacare.

UPDATE 3: CNBC — “The monthly job creation was the worst in nearly three years.”

Oh, and here’s Zandi: “Economists Mark Zandi and Austan Goolsbee said on CNBC that the numbers shouldn’t be taken seriously and likely will be revised higher in future counts.” A Conference Board economist is also claiming that the weak month “stands in contrast to the strengthening posted in other major economic data, suggesting the dip in hiring might prove temporary.”

Looking at the upated tables above, the overall job market went from +81K vs. a year ago in November (476K vs. 395K) to MINUS 170K (from -76K to -246K). That’s a one-month negative swing of a quarter million (from +81K to -170K).

So maybe BLS did miss some job creation (they had no trouble finding a lot of temps, did they?), and we’ll see December revised upward. Or maybe this is the start of a serious meltdown. I don’t think Zandi and others who are downplaying today’s bad news really know —how can they, when there is no precedent for gauging the potential impact of Obamacare? — and that they’re putting on brave fronts.

UPDATE 4: This CNBC video shows Zandi going all-in, still insisting, as he did on Wednesday, that “we’ve turned the corner.”

NewsBusted (011014)

Filed under: NewsBusted — Tom @ 7:26 am

Here we go, now at two episodes per week:

Topics:
– Cold Spell
– Global Warming
– Electronic Voting
– Recreational Marijuana
– Movie THE WOLF OF WALL STREET
– Fiat and Chrysler
– MSNBC
– Obama-shaped Urn
– Chinese Toddler

Best Line: “The movies ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ set a record for the most uses of the F-word. And the second-most uses of the F-word? The first guy who tried to log on to the Obamacare website.”

A Chaos-Driven Path to Single Payer?

Yet another strong indication that this may be the plan has emerged.

____________________________________________

Note: This column went up at PJ Media and teased here at BizzyBlog on Wednesday.

____________________________________________

Those who have resisted the idea that the HealthCare.gov web site and Obamacare in general may have been intentionally designed to create confusion and chaos as a means for imposing a single-payer healthcare system on a currently unwilling populace are going to have a tough time explaining away yet another recently discovered “quirk.”

To be clear, I’m not claiming, as some have inferred from previous columns, that there is a widely orchestrated chaos creation plan, or that any attempt to capitalize on the current bedlam to impose single-payer is destined to succeed. What I am saying is that the evidence supporting the idea that certain of Obamacare’s key players are determined to try continues to mount.

The latest “Nobody’s this stupid and incompetent” revelation is that Obamacare’s enrollment system “lacks a way for consumers to quickly and easily update their coverage for the birth of a baby and other common life changes.”

Press reports indicate that it’s literally impossible to add a new child to an existing health plan once a person or household has enrolled. That’s not all. HealthCare.gov also cannot handle “marriage and divorce, a death in the family, a new job or a change in income, (or) even moving to a different community.”

No one should try to verify the existence of these problems on their own. That’s because the web site is such a security nightmare that outside IT experts have publicly stated that it’s too dangerous for a user concerned about the privacy of their personal data (i.e., anyone with a brain) to use. As if that’s not enough, in late September, the chief information security officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services “told congressional interviewers that she explicitly recommended denial of the website’s Authority to Operate.” She “was overruled by her superiors.”

As red flags for true intentions go, Obamacare’s inability to accommodate common life changes is an even stronger indicator than the failures previously identified.

As to security, I suppose it’s possible for designers to be so ignorant that they believe it’s something they can layer in later instead of following currently accepted protocols which call for baking it in from the outset. As to the lack of progress in building a system to process billions of dollars in subsidy payments to insurers, it’s theoretically but barely conceivable that the administration is telling the truth when it insists, in essence, that “we just haven’t been able to get to that.”

But HealthCare.gov’s life changes bust takes things to a whole new level. Has anyone, anywhere, ever built an interactive database which is unable to interact, i.e., to handle fundamental changes in key information once it has been entered? Who would even think of doing this? It’s overwhelmingly likely that a programming team would have to deliberately decide to exclude the ability to carry out such basic functions during the initial design process.

There is already a precedent showing that Obama’s people are not averse to removing key features from a system’s normal design. In 2008, his presidential campaign deliberately chose to “manually disable the safeguards … in place to verify a person’s address and zip code with the cardholder’s bank.” This enabled unidentifed and unidentifiable small-dollar contributions from all over the world to pour into the campaign, likely to the tune of millions of dollars. From all appearances, as the press slept, the 2012 campaign did the same thing.

As the mountain of evidence supporting deliberately induced chaos piles up, the obvious question is: What’s their end game? I wish I knew, but what follows seems plausible.

Readers who follow the British press may have caught the news that patients have been turned away from emergency rooms in Northern Virginia, while others who arrived for treatment of possibly serious medical conditions chose to walk away when presented with a requirement to pay or promise to pay several thousand dollars out of pocket because of uncertainties about the status of their coverage. (Unfortunately most of the U.S. establishment press appears to be so intimidated by this administration that it won’t dare relay such important developments.)

It’s reasonable to believe that situations such as these are occurring throughout the nation. The only question is their frequency.

It won’t be long before a few patients who have tried and failed to get treatment die or suffer serious, debilitating complications. Who will get blamed when this happens?

In cases where the unresponsive government is at fault — which I believe will be most of them — bureaucrats will bury or destroy the damning details and count on their reliable press apparatchiks and captive hospitals, other medical providers, and insurance companies to look the other way.

I suspect that the administration is lying in wait for high-visibility opportunities to pounce on any providers who fail to provide care to duly enrolled patients, and to pillory insurers who erroneously refuse to pay for customers’ life-saving treatments. Particularly tragic circumstances would give the single-payer crowd openings to say, “See? They can’t be trusted. Keeping the private sector involved was a mistake. The government has to control healthcare, or it won’t work.”

A large portion of a populace conditioned by a half-century or more of “business is evil, government is good” in the education system might buy it.

Friday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (011014)

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: Church expert to help California priest’s canonization cause

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Los Angeles:

Jan 9, 2014 / 12:58 am

Supporters of the canonization cause of California priest Father Aloysius Ellacuria, C.M.F., have welcomed the help of prominent canon lawyer Dr. Andrea Ambrosi.

Fr. Kevin Manion, a representative of the group The Friends of Father Aloysius, said Dec. 6 that the support from Ambrosi “confirms we are on the right track.”

Ambrosi, who is based in Rome, has worked on the canonization causes of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, Bl. John XXIII, Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen, and U.S. military chaplain and Servant of God Father Emil Kapaun.

He will now take on the role of diocesan and Roman postulator for the canonization cause of Fr. Ellacuria, making the case for why the priest should be considered to have led a life of heroic virtue.

The 20th century priest, who was born in the Basque region of Spain in 1905, worked for many decades around Los Angeles, Phoenix, and San Antonio. Many of those who knew the priest say God worked miracles of healing through him and gave him special charisms like prophecy, reading souls and expelling demons.

Fr. Ellacuria entered the Claretian Missionaries at the age of 11 and was ordained a priest at the age of 24. Soon after his ordination, he went to the United States and served as a Greek and Latin professor.

He served as a novice director and a superior for the Claretians. He founded the Missionaries of Perpetual Adoration in Fatima, Portugal to help spread the message of the Marian apparition at Fatima.

Fr. Ellacuria died on April 6, 1981 and is buried at the old San Gabriel Mission in San Gabriel, Calif. His life has been the subject of several books and the documentary movie “The Angel of Biscay.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.