May 2, 2014

Establishment Press Has Virtually Ignored DOJ’s Pernicious ‘Operation Choke Point’ For Over a Year

In June 2006, the New York Times, over strident pleas not to from the Bush 43 administration, published details of how counterterrorism officials were “tracing transactions of people suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda by reviewing records from the nerve center of the global banking industry.” According to the administration, the program had “helped in the capture of the most wanted Qaeda figure in Southeast Asia.” Other outlets like the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times, which were apparently on the brink of breaking what the Times reported first, also chipped in with their own supplements. The stories received prominent network TV coverage, and reinforced the image of the Bush administration as secretive and far less than transparent.

So the details of how the government was monitoring the operation of the world’s financial system to obtain clues to help catch terrorists apparently deserved full exposure. If that’s fine, why has the press been barely interested in a far more troubling development, namely Eric Holder’s U.S. Department of Justice using pressure on the financial system to conduct “a massive government overreach into private businesses that are operating within the law,” which has been going on for at least a year? Welcome to “Operation Choke Point.”


‘May Day’ …

Filed under: Education,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:36 pm

… as Ilya Somin reminds us, is better remembered as “Victims of Communism Day.”

Communism has the blood of over 100 million on its hands — yet it’s disgracefully still the professed system of choice in much of U.S. academia.


Well Now, That Answers the Debate Over Whether Obama’s 2012 Reelection Was Legitimate

The answer is — it wasn’t (HT Instapundit):

Internal Emails: State Dept. Immediately Attributed Benghazi Attacks to Terrorist Group

Excuse me while I emphasize that headline:

Internal Emails: State Dept. Immediately

Attributed Benghazi Attacks to Terrorist Group

A newly-released government email indicates that within hours of the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks on Americans in Benghazi, Libya; the State Department had already concluded with certainty that the Islamic militia terrorist group Ansar al Sharia was to blame.

The private, internal communication directly contradicts the message that President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice and White House press secretary Jay Carney repeated publicly over the course of the next several weeks.

They often maintained that an anti-Islamic YouTube video inspired a spontaneous demonstration that escalated into violence.

The email is entitled “Libya update from Beth Jones. ” Jones was then-Assistant Secretary of State to Hillary Clinton. According to the email, Jones spoke to Libya’s Ambassador at9:45am on Sept. 12, 2012 following the attacks.

“When [the Libyan Ambassador] said his government suspected that former Qaddafi regimeelements carried out the attacks, I told him the group that conducted the attacks—AnsarAl Sharia—is affiliated with Islamic extremists,” Jones reports in the email.

There is no uncertainty assigned to the assessment, which does not mention a video or a protest. The State Department provided the email to Congress in Aug. of 2013 under special conditions that it not be publicly released at that time. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) sought and received permission to release it Thursday.

“If the video was a cause, why did Beth Jones of the State Department tell the Libyan Ambassador that Ansar Al Sharia was responsible for the attack?” said Chaffetz.

Geez, since when does the Executive Branch get to dictate conditions not tied to immediate national security interests under which the information it releases can be made public?

We all know what should be done next, and we all know what won’t be done next.

April 2014 Employment Situation Summary (050214): 288K Jobs Added; Unemployment at 6.3%; Malaise Indicators Worse Than Ever

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:00 am

Econ Update:


  • Bloomberg — 218,000 jobs added; unemployment rate drops to 6.6 percent.
  • Associated Press — 210,000 jobs added; unemployment rate drops to 6.6 percent.
  • Business Insider — 218,000 jobs added, and “we wouldn’t be surprised by a stronger performance.”
  • Zero Hedge range — Jobs added, 180K – 250K; Unemployment rate, 6.5% – 6.8%.

Not Seasonally Adjusted Data:


I’ll put up the graphic shortly, but the economy really needed to add 1.25 million jobs overall and 1.2 million in the private sector to be on track to a genuine recovery. Those numbers, if achieved would probably generate seasonally adjusted results of about 400,000 in each category and calls for the canonization of Barack Obama, but in historical context and in light of what’s needed to pick up slack in the labor markets, that’s what’s really needed.

The Labor Department’s report will be here at 8:30.

HERE IT IS (full HTML): It looks strong at the topside, but the real answer is in the not seasonally adjusted results, which I’ll look at shortly:

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 288,000, and the unemployment rate fell by 0.4 percentage point to 6.3 percent in April, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment gains were widespread, led by job growth in professional and business services, retail trade, food services and drinking places, and construction.

Household Survey Data

In April, the unemployment rate fell from 6.7 percent to 6.3 percent, and the number of unemployed persons, at 9.8 million, decreased by 733,000. Both measures had shown little movement over the prior 4 months. Over the year, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons declined by 1.2
percentage points and 1.9 million, respectively.

Among the major worker groups, unemployment rates declined in April for adult men (5.9 percent), adult women (5.7 percent), teenagers (19.1 percent), whites (5.3 percent), blacks (11.6 percent), and Hispanics (7.3 percent). The jobless rate for Asians was 5.7 percent (not seasonally adjusted), little changed over the year.

In April, the number of unemployed reentrants and new entrants declined by 417,000 and 126,000, respectively. (Reentrants are persons who previously worked but were not in the labor force prior to beginning their job search, and new entrants are persons who have never worked.) The number of job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs decreased by 253,000 to 5.2 million.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) declined by 287,000 in April to 3.5 million; these individuals accounted for 35.3 percent of the unemployed. Over the past 12 months, the number of long-term unemployed has decreased by 908,000.

The civilian labor force dropped by 806,000 in April, following an increase of 503,000 in March. The labor force participation rate fell by 0.4 percentage point to 62.8 percent in April. The participation rate has shown no clear trend in recent months and currently is the same as it was this past October. The employment-population ratio showed no change over the month (58.9 percent) and has changed little over the year.

… Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 288,000 in April. Job growth had averaged 190,000 per month over the prior 12 months. In April, employment growth was widespread, led by gains in professional and business services, retail trade, food services and drinking places, and construction.

Professional and business services added 75,000 jobs in April. Employment in this industry had increased by an average of 55,000 per month over the prior 12 months. In April, employment growth continued in temporary help services (+24,000), in management of companies and enterprises (+12,000), and in computer systems design and related services (+9,000).

Retail trade employment rose by 35,000 in April. Over the past 12 months, employment in this industry has grown by 327,000. Within retail trade, job growth over the month occurred in food and beverage stores (+9,000), general merchandise stores (+8,000), motor vehicle and parts dealers (+6,000), and nonstore retailers (+4,000). Electronics and appliance stores lost 11,000 jobs in April. Wholesale trade added 16,000 jobs over the month and has added 126,000 jobs over the year.

In April, employment rose in food services and drinking places (+33,000), about in line with its prior 12-month average gain of 28,000 per month.

In April, employment in construction grew by 32,000, with job growth in heavy and civil engineering construction (+11,000) and residential building (+7,000). Construction has added 189,000 jobs over the past year, with almost three-fourths of the gain occurring in the past 6 months.

Health care employment increased by 19,000 in April, about in line with the prior 12-month average gain of 17,000 per month. Employment in other services, which includes membership associations and personal and laundry services, rose by 15,000 over the month.

… Employment in other major industries, including manufacturing, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, and government, changed little over the month.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 34.5 hours in April. The manufacturing workweek decreased by 0.2 hour in April to 40.8 hours, and factory overtime was unchanged at 3.5 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls
was unchanged at 33.7 hours.

In April, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls were unchanged at $24.31. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have risen by 1.9 percent. In April, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees edged up by 3 cents to $20.50.

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for February was revised from +197,000 to +222,000, and the change for March was revised from +192,000 to +203,000. With these revisions, employment gains in February and March were 36,000 higher than previously reported.

Revised and Updated Not Seasonally Adjusted Data:


Total nonfarm payroll raw changes in February and March were almost nothing, but the seasonally adjusted values went up by 36,000 (analogous private sector: -5K in raw led to +25K seasonally adjusted).

The raw additions in April were pretty strong, but again not quite up to what’s needed. Both numbers are in between what we saw in 2010 and 2011, and both years were part of the nearly five years of tepidness we’ve seen since the recession officially ended in June 2009.

Other observations (seasonally adjusted unless otherwise indicated):

  • Commenter steveegg noted that Household Survey employment dropped by 73K. The civilian labor force contracted — yes, CONTRACTED! — by 806,000.
  • Reverting back to where we were in December, the labor force participation rate is now back to a level last seen in 1978.
  • “Not in labor force” topped 92 million for the first time ever.
  • Full-time workers went up by 412,000; part-timers fell by 398,000.
  • The economy has added 49,000 temps in the past two months. Temporary employment continues to hit new all-time highs month after month. This month, the category accounted for 8% of all job growth, though it’s only about 2% of all employment.
  • Question which will never be answered: How many of the recently added temps are working on cleaning up the horrendous back-office messes created at insurance companies by’s lack of a back end to communicate with them?
  • While, the white teen unemployment rate dropped from 18.3% to 15.9%, the African-American teen rate went up from 36.1% to 36.8%.

Comments from elsewhere:

Americans for Limiated Government

“The unemployment rate dropped by 0.4 percent, but that is owed almost entirely to 1 million people leaving the labor force. 73,000 jobs were lost, according to the Bureau’s household survey. This is not a good report. We’re not creating jobs, and the only reason the rate dropped is because so many people gave up looking for work. This coupled with weak first quarter growth calls into question continued stimulus policies by the Federal Reserve, and Obama’s regulatory stranglehold on job creators.”

Hot Air — “Stay tuned for the White House’s ritual spin-doctoring/endzone dancing.”

CNBC — “The headline rate tumbled as 806,000 people left the civilian labor force, a development one market strategist called ‘shocking.’”

A CNN email: “U.S. stocks get little opening lift from strong jobs report.” That’s because, overall, it wasn’t that good.


UPDATE: More on the workforce dropout factor — The civilian workforce is 549,000 smaller than it was in June 2012, 22 months ago, and only 1.211 million greater than in January 2009, when Barack Obama took office.

UPDATE 2: Zero Hedge — “in the one most important age group for jobs, those workers aged 25-54 which represent the bulk of the US labor force and are also the best and most productive group, the total number of jobs tumbled from 95,360K to 95,151K, a drop of 209K!”

NewsBusted (050214)

Filed under: NewsBusted — Tom @ 7:05 am

Here we go:

- Keystone Pipeline
– Senator Elizabeth Warren
– California Schools
– President Obama
– Wendy Davis
– Seattle Seahawks
– The Vatican
– Bill Clinton
– Jon Stewart

Best Line:

  • “The Vatican canonized two new saints last week, and President Obama was disappointed to learn that he wasn’t one of them.”
  • “John Stewart is begging CNN for more global warming coverage — which makes perfect sense. I mean, John Stewart is the king of fake news.”

Friday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (050214)

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.


6:05 a.m.: One impact of right to work in Michigan (HT to commenter “Par For the Course”; bolds are mine; SEE Update) —

Michigan union loses 80 percent of members in one year

SEIU Healthcare Michigan, a branch of the powerful Service Employees International Union, saw its membership drop from more than 55,000 in 2012, to just under 11,000 in 2013, according to Labor Department data. The decline happened the same year Republican Gov. Rick Snyder signed the right to work law.

The sheer size of the shift suggests that a majority of SEIU Healthcare Michigan’s members never wanted to be in the union in the first place. The federal data indicates that those opting out are primarily people who participate in the state’s Home Help Services program. The program subsidizes people who provide health care for others, usually family members, in their own home.

In 2005, then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat, created the Michigan Quality Community Care Council — commonly referred to as “MQC3″ — ostensibly for the purpose of keeping tracking track of program’s 45,000 participants. However the entity also made it legally possible for the state to claim the participants were actually employees and therefore eligible for collective bargaining.

The following year, Granholm signed a collective bargaining contract with SEIU Healthcare Michigan, after a mail-in ballot in which only 20 percent of the program participants voted. It is not clear how many in the program even knew an election was going on or what the ballot represented.

“This evidence shows the truth about the Granholm-inspired unionization of those in the home help program,” said Patrick Wright, director of the free market Mackinac Center Legal Foundation, which first reported the union’s federal filing. “When given the choice, those in the program didn’t want to give the union a dime.”

… Federal data shows that a majority of those funds in 2012 went to spending on union political activities and lobbying, not collective bargaining. The union was fined more than $200,000 in March by the state for violating campaign finance laws (in) 2012, the second-largest in state history.

If I recall correctly, at least a few of the workers forced into unionization were relatives taking care of elderly parents or siblings, but who had received state aid to do so and had saved the state a great deal of money compared to heavily utilizing outide firms.

I don’t believe there’s an analogous situation in Ohio, but there’s always the potential. Why isn’t John Kasich behind right to work?

UPDATE: Par for the course indicated the following in a comment at yesterday’s open thread —

After posting this, Joseph G. Lehman, president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, contacted me to clarify that the passage of the right-to-work legislation was not actually what ended the practice of forcing home care workers into SEIU representation. A lawsuit from Mackinac was followed by some complex legislative action and decisions by Gov. Snyder that ultimately ended the practice in a timeline that happens to coincide with Michigan’s right-to-work laws.

Understood. I guess it’s an open question whether the workers could have decided to stop paying due anyway in the absence of what the Mackinac Center did, for which we should all be grateful.

Positivity: Baby’s kick dissuades pregnant model from abortion

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

From London, England:

May 1, 2014 / 07:04 am

A 19-week pregnant model who had said she would have an abortion to further her career in U.K. reality television now says that feeling her unborn baby kick made her turn away from an abortion clinic.

“I just couldn’t do it,” Josie Cunningham told U.K. tabloid The Mirror. “I really thought I would be able to but I couldn’t. I’d felt the baby kick for the first time 24 hours earlier and I couldn’t get that feeling out of my head.”

Cunningham already has two sons, ages six and three.

“I’d forgotten what the feeling was like. It was magical. It was like the baby was telling me not to go through with it.”

She said the kick “took me totally by surprise” and was “a real boot.”

“I never imagined how hard it would be to have an abortion after that.”

Two weeks ago, the 23-year-old model had said she was a candidate to appear on the U.K. reality show Big Brother, but started considering an abortion after the show’s producers “suddenly turned cold” when they learned she was pregnant.

“This time next year I won’t have a baby. I’ll be famous instead,” she said.

Her remarks about wanting an abortion in order to pursue other offers to further her career, fanned by the media, had triggered a backlash against her in social media and criticism from other media personalities.

However, the day before her appointment, Cunningham felt the baby suddenly begin to kick. That night, she began watching videos of abortions of unborn babies close to Britain’s 24-week legal limit.

“What I saw horrified me,” Cunningham told The Mirror.

She said she felt “physically sick” in the taxi drive to the London abortion clinic the next day; she was shaking and “burst into tears.”

“I wanted to throw myself out of the moving car to get away. I had my hands on my bump and I had the strongest feeling I couldn’t let anyone take my baby away,” Cunningham said.

“As soon as I realized I was going to keep the baby, I felt happy – like a weight lifted.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.