June 2, 2014

LA Weekly Cover Cartoon Shows Tea-Party Republican as a Klansman

This past weekend at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, attendees who voted in a straw poll gave almost 60 percent of their straws to Hispanic-American Ted Cruz (30.3 percent), who edged out African-American Ben Carson (29.4 percent), leaving all others, only one of whom broke 10 percent, in the dust.

In what should be considered embarrassing timing, LA Weekly Magazine is running a June 1 cover cartoon showing establishment and anti-establishment Republicans playing tug-of-war with an elephant in the middle. Among those pulling on the anti-establishment side is a hooded Klansman who serves as the primary puller (reproduced after the jump for fair use and discussion purposes; HT Joel B. Pollak at Breitbart via Godfather Politics):

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May ISM Manufacturing: 53.2% 55.4%, Down UP From 54.9%, Misses Expectations of 55.5% (Updates: ISM Corrections, April Construction Spending Per Census Bureau Up Only 0.2%)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:56 am

Update, 5:30 p.m.: In something I have not seen in over 9 years of following ISM, the organization has “corrected” its May index reading to 55.4%. AP says ISM actually made two mid-day corrections.

The Census Bureau’s weak construction report hasn’t changed (yet).

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From the Institute for Supply Management:

Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in May for the 12th consecutive month, and the overall economy grew for the 60th consecutive month, say the nation’s supply executives in the latest Manufacturing ISM® Report On Business®.

The May PMI® registered 53.2 percent, a decrease of 1.7 percentage points from April’s reading of 54.9 percent, indicating expansion in manufacturing for the 12th consecutive month. The New Orders Index registered 53.3 percent, a decrease of 1.8 percentage points from the 55.1 percent reading in April, indicating growth in new orders for the 12th consecutive month. The Production Index registered 55.2 percent, 0.5 percentage point below the April reading of 55.7 percent. Employment grew for the 11th consecutive month, registering 51.9 percent, a decrease of 2.8 percentage points below April’s reading of 54.7 percent. Comments from the panel reflect generally steady growth, but note some areas of concern regarding raw materials pricing and supply tightness and shortages.

Of the 18 manufacturing industries, 17 are reporting growth in May …

Business Insider had an expectation of 55.5%.

All three key GDP drivers were in expansion mode: Production and New Orders as seen above, and Backlog (at 52.5%). But all three dropped.

Given that April was supposed to be the first month of getting back on a normal footing after the oh-my-god-awful-terrible winter, it was reasonable to have expected an increase in May’s PMI. It didn’t happen. With the usual caution that this is a sentiment survey and not a hard-numbers report, that still doesn’t bode well for the optimists’ predictions of 4 percent annualized growth for the second quarter.

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UPDATE: Zero Hedge“The weather bounce is over … The actual print was below the lowest Wall Street estimate.”

UPDATE 2, 11:05 p.m.: Speaking of weather bounces, April didn’t have one in construction spending, which was up only 0.2 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from March, and didn’t grow at all in the private sector.

The raw numbers show that the overall March-April increase was 8.6 percent. The private sector was up by 7.0 percent, while the public sector was up by 12.9 percent. The respective raw increases last April, following a relatively mild winter, were 8.5% overall, 7.8% private and 10.4% public. This year’s raw April vs. March differentials, based the weather excuse which was flogged ad nauseam, should have been far greater. But they weren’t.

Monday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (060214)

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.

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From Saturday’s New York Times, Page A1 (HT Patterico) —

Senior administration officials cautioned that the discussions over the prisoner swap, which were secretly restarted last fall after collapsing several months earlier, did not necessarily presage the resumption of the broader, on-again-off-again peace talks to end the 13-year war.

“This is the only issue we’ve discussed with the Taliban in recent months,” said one senior Obama administration official involved in the talks. “We do hope that having succeeded in this narrow but important step, it will create the possibility of expanding the dialogue to other issues. But we don’t have any promises to that effect.”

But word of renewed, secret negotiations with the Taliban brought immediate criticism from some lawmakers, including Representative Mike Rogers of Michigan, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

There’s only one problem with that. When asked by Candy Crowlley of CNN, Obama’s best presidential debate buddy, whether “you had to negotiate with terrorists to secure the release of the sergeant,” Rice said: “We actually negotiated with the government of Qatar, to whom we owe a great debt.”

What hogwash. Does anyone believe that “government of Qatar” speaks for the Taiiban?

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“Housing recovery” Update

Pending Home Sales Turn in Weak Performance

Contracts on existing homes moved higher for the second month in a row. But the increase was weak, and activity sank compared to a year earlier.

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The slogan the administration is promoting to describe its foreign policy is “Don’t Do Stupid Sh*t.” Really.

Can’t wait for the explanation as to why the following wasn’t stupid:

Bergdahl Deal Could Be First Step to Emptying Gitmo
Now that President Obama has proven Congress can’t stop him from releasing terrorists, the administration could be primed to empty out the prison at Guantanamo Bay.

President Obama released five Taliban leaders from the Guantanamo Bay detention facility on Saturday without consulting Congress and without strict assurances that the militants won’t somehow return to the fight.

Emptying Gitmo unilaterally by freeing terrorists to kill again would represent an exponential increase in “stupid sh*t.”

Related, from the Wall Street Journal:

The return of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl from the clutches of the Taliban is cause for relief for his family and all Americans. But there’s no denying that the price of his recovery is high. The Obama Administration swapped five of the hardest cases at Guantanamo in a fashion that will encourage terrorists to kidnap more Americans to win the release of more prisoners.

Even fever-swamp lefty Mike Lupica at the New York Daily News gets it, but only partially:

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl needed to come home, but trading him for Taliban leaders sets dangerous precedent

By making a deal like this, how many bad guys will get their ticket out of Guantanamo the next time the Taliban grabs an American? If this was about saving the life of a soldier, then bring everyone home from Afghanistan today.

The reality is that Obama’s move endangers American soldiers and citizens around the world.

Positivity: Christ’s resurrection unites us, Pope tells faithful in Israel

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Jerusalem:

May 25, 2014 / 12:28 pm

At an ecumenical celebration in Jerusalem during his visit to the region, Pope Francis told inter-denominational Christians that the Risen Christ unites them all in a message of hope for the world.

“Each of us, everyone baptized in Christ, has spiritually risen from this tomb, for in baptism all of us truly became members of the body of the One who is the Firstborn of all creation,” Pope Francis said.

The Pope encouraged those gathered to “pause in reverent silence before this empty tomb in order to rediscover the grandeur of our Christian vocation,” since “we are men and women of Resurrection, and not of death.”

“Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of the basis of our hope! Let us not deprive the world of the joyful message of the resurrection! And let us not be deaf to the powerful summons to unity which rings out from this very place!”

Pope Francis made his remarks on May 25 at the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre after a private meeting with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Costantinople Bartholomew I in Mount Scopus. The pontiff’s three-day visit to the area took him first to Jordan, Palestine and now Jerusalem. Aside from stressing peace, an end to the arms trade and a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Pope has insisted on the importance of Christian unity during his trip.

In his address to faithful gathered at the church built where Christ was crucified, Pope Francis underscored the basis “of the faith which unites us,” given by the empty tomb of the Risen Lord.

The pontiff then stressed that “the divisions which continue to exist among us, the disciple of Jesus” cannot be denied and that “this sacred place makes us even more painfully aware of how tragic they are.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.