August 28, 2014

AP Headline Describes 160 Syrian Soldiers Massacred by ISIS as ‘Dozens’

I struggle to come up with a reason, other than an irresponsible attempt to minimize the impact of the horror, why the headline at a Thursday evening Associated Press story by Zeina Karam and Ryan Lucas about “more than 160 Syrian government troops” massacred by ISIS is “JIHADISTS KILL DOZENS OF CAPTURED SYRIAN SOLDIERS.”

But that’s how the wire service is presenting it:

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‘Americans Could Die!’: Megyn Kelly Goes Off On Obama’s Friday Fundraising Plans

Wednesday night, Megyn Kelly, perhaps the best host on the air today at responding and adapting to new information, did a double-take when Fox News White House correspondent Ed Henry told her that President Obama would be traveling to Rhode Island on Friday for a Democratic Party fundraiser.

Having been so informed, she then made those plans the first topic of discussion with each of her next two guests: Marc Tiessen of the American Enterprise Institute and Democratic Pary strategist Penny Lee. Along the way, it because obvious that White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest’s claim that the administration has “a comprehensive strategy” for dealing with ISIS is a load of rubbish. Video and transcribed highlights follow the jump (HT Fox News Insider via The Blaze and Mediaite):

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AP Relays Left’s Charges That Health Insurace Cos. Still Discriminate in Coverage

The Golden Age of Obamacare has apparently not led to the Golden Age of access to medical care anywhere, any time its promoters promised. Thanks to non-payments, the true enrollment numbers aren’t what we’ve been told. The networks patients can access — approved by government regulators — are often highly restricted. Sky-high-deductibles are present in most Obamacare plans before any kind of reimbursed coverage kicks in. Finally, since this is for the time being a country where people usually can’t be forced to provide money-losing service, many doctors are refusing to see Obamacare-”covered” patients.

Since things aren’t working out as wonderfully as planned, the left and the Obama administration are on the prowl for scapegoats. The easiest targets are the insurance companies, some of whom foolishly thought that being on the Obamacare team would buy them immunity. According to a Wednesday Associated Press story by Tom Murphy, they’re being charged with chasing sick people away — even though it appears, from a sentence eight paragraphs into the dispatch, that it’s not financially advantageous for them to keep such patients out (bolds and numbered rage are mine):

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2Q14 GDP, 1st Revision (082814): An Annualized 4.2%, Up From 4.0%

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:05 am

Predictions: They’re barely exist. As of 6:30, I couldn’t find one that was specific. Early Monday, in a rundown on the upcoming week’s reports, I found a Bloomberg prediction of 3.9 percent, down only slight from the initial 4.0 percent. An article this morning at Bloomberg containing mentions of upcoming reports doesn’t even mention GDP. This AP dispatch, which will be revised when the data comes out, carries no prediction. UPDATE: Business Insider has 3.9%.

Things have been awfully quiet since that 4.0 percent initial report in late July. That could either be because nothing has happened which would cause one to expect a revision, or that there are expected downward revisions that haven’t been disclosed. It probably doesn’t indicate any realistic chance of a significant write-up.

We’ll see here at 8:30.

HERE IT IS: It went up, but not significantly —

Real gross domestic product — the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States — increased at an annual rate of 4.2 percent in the second quarter of 2014, according to the “second” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the first quarter, real GDP decreased 2.1 percent.

… The increase in real GDP in the second quarter primarily reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE), private inventory investment, exports, nonresidential fixed investment, state and local government spending, and residential fixed investment. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.

Here is how things changed from the original estimate:

2Q14GDP1stREvVsAdv.png

There was more fixed investment, the inventory increase shrunk, and net imports were less of a drag.

This beats expectations, and isn’t bad. But we need about 10 more quarters like to this to make up the $2 trillion GDP vs. historical trend gap the Obama bare-recovery has created.

Initial Unemployment Claims: 298K SA; Raw Claims 9% Below Same Week Last Year

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:03 am

Prediction: Bloomberg predicts 300,000 seasonally adjusted claims, up a bit from last week’s 298,000.

Seasonal Adjustment Factors:

  • Week ended August 23, 2014 — 83.4
  • Week ended August 24, 2013 — 83.2

Raw Claims:

  • Week ended August 16, 2014 — 248,759 (before likely revision)
  • Week ended August 24, 2013 — 279,803

For today’s report to come in at 300K or below, raw claims will need to be 250K or below (250K divided by .834 is 300K, rounded. That looks like an even bet to occur.

We’ll see what happens here at 8:30. I’ll cover it after I look at the GDP report which is coming out at the same time.

HERE IT IS:

SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

In the week ending August 23, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 298,000, a decrease of 1,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised up by 1,000 from 298,000 to 299,000. The 4-week moving average was 299,750, a decrease of 1,250 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised up by 250 from 300,750 to 301,000.

UNADJUSTED DATA

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 248,622 in the week ending August 23, a decrease of 841 (or -0.3 percent) from the previous week. The seasonal factors had expected no change from the previous week. There were 279,803 initial claims in the comparable week in 2013.

The result is in line with expectations. We’ll have to wait a week to see if these low claims numbers translate into a lower unemployment rate.

Entitled

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:59 am

Obama, Her Highness Hillary and our leftist overlords.

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

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Recently uncovered information about what former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton demands from those to whom she deigns to speak tells us all we need to know about how “progressive” leaders and wannabes really view the rest of us. From President Obama on down, it’s clear that it’s not as their equals.

To be graced with her presence, Mrs. Clinton expects to be treated like a rock star, and arguably even better. In doing so, she has effectively appropriated the three-letter abbreviation “HHH,” once the exclusive property of 1968 presidential candidate and selflessly driven Democrat Hubert Horatio Humphrey, for herself — as Her Highness Hillary.

Public records obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal show that our 21st century HHH extraordinarily obligates those who run the events at which she delivers a contractually limited 90-minute address..

On the financial side, the events must, among other things, provide round-trip private jet transportation on “a Gulfstream 450 or larger jet.” The going rate for the use of a G450 is over $6,000 — per hour. She also requires “a presidential suite” for herself and three to five additional rooms for her staff. Mrs. Clinton has quite an entourage, including an advance team of two to scout the event site, as well as several travel aides. Naturally, she demands expensive room, board and perks for all of them. All of these expenses, and more, are over and above Her Highness’s $300,000 standard speaking fee, which was marked down to a rock-bottom $225K for the UNLV Foundation.

HHH’s controls over the proceedings, as described by the Review-Journal, are particularly galling. They include:

  • Final approval of all moderators or introducers.
  • Being “the only person on the stage during her remarks.”
  • No more than 50 photos with no more than 100 people.
  • No press coverage or taping of her speech.
  • No physical record of what she said, except for a transcript to be given to her — prepared by a stenographer the event must hire and pay.

The UNLV Foundation’s defense for its expenditure and cave-ins on conditions is that Mrs. Clinton’s appearance is a money-making venture, with donors paying up to $20,000 for a table. The obvious question thus becomes what these donors, an apparent who’s who of Vegas business and politics, believe they’re getting for their substantial “investment” that they wouldn’t receive by simply cutting checks to the foundation to further its mission. Sadly, the answer appears to be the “opportunity” to get barely more than a fleeting glimpse of someone who somewhere, someday, might grant them a favor or cut them a break. What a racket.

By their actions, modern progressive leaders, despite all of their pieties about protecting the middle class and defending the downtrodden, betray a belief system which in their minds entitles them to live the high life at someone else’s expense.

It hasn’t always been that way, as a rundown of post-Depression Democratic Party presidents will demonstrate.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was rich, and flaunted his wealth, but it was inherited. His status as a polio survivor “served the purpose of humanizing him for the masses.” Harry Truman “was so poor upon his return to Missouri that he had to move into his mother-in-law’s house.” John F. Kennedy also relied on inherited wealth, and vacationed at his own place; it was during the “Camelot” presidency that the first hints of the press’s and public’s fascination with the trappings of presidential power became evident. Lyndon Baines Johnson and Jimmy Carter deferred that urge during their time in office. LBJ usually vacationed at his ranch. Carter, for all of his considerable faults, including how he “faked carrying his own luggage” when in public view on trips, mostly imitated Johnson, and for the most part hasn’t cynically capitalized on his fame since he left the White House.

This brings us to the Clintons. While Bill was in office, his administration actually commissioned a poll to find out where people thought they should take their vacation. Although it is said that he took only 28 vacation days, his presidency marked when supposedly official trips came off as vacation-like. The lists of accompanying apparatchiks grew, and related costs reached levels never previously seen.

Bill Clinton has cashed in after his presidency as no other former White House occupant ever has. As of May of last year, his total take in speaking fees since leaving behind a spree of questionable pardons in January 2001 — with, apparently like Her Highness, all other expenses paid — was $106 million. Again, one must question what people believe they are getting for their money when they see Clinton speak. Do they believe that it’s their duty to ensure that the guy who beat the system after being impeached gets to live a rich and famous lifestyle? If so, how twisted is that?

If a vacation is defined as doing what one prefers to do to avoid what one should be doing, Barack Obama is the all-time presidential vacation champion. Beyond his supposedly unimpressive 125 days of official vacation and his 192 rounds of golf (as of the morning of August 25), he had spoken at nearly 400 fundraisers through mid-July. It’s quite obvious that Obama enjoys fundraisers; no president in U.S. history has been so enamored of hearing his own voice. Meanwhile, wife Michelle and now even the couple’s children have proven quite adept at running up their own outrageous vacation tabs at taxpayers’ expense.

No one should doubt that modern leftists like Her Highness Hillary and the Obamas believe that they are our betters, and that they richly deserve every dime they can extract for personal benefit from their subjects. These are not the kind of people our Founders had in mind when they designed a system they hoped would hold greedy, self-righteous hypocrites and their grifters in check. If we let such people control it much longer, that system will soon exist in name only.

As CBO Reduces Its Growth Projection, AP Still Gives Cred to Obama Admin’s Absurd Forecast

In a Wednesday report on the Congressional Budget Office’s downward revision of this year’s predicted gross domestic product growth to a dismal 1.5 percent, the Associated Press’s Andrew Taylor acted as if the Obama administration’s prediction of 2.6 percent still has a realistic chance of occurring.

While one never wants to absolutely say never, the administration’s higher prediction would require annualized growth to come in at roughly 4.3 percent during the second half of this year — something virtually no one is predicting. It would also rely on the second quarter, initially reported at 4.0 percent in July’s first release, not to be revised downward significantly. The government’s second iteration of GDP growth will be released at 8:30 this morning. Excerpts from Taylor’s report follow the jump.

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Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (082814)

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

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.

Positivity: EWTN series to profile Catholics who ‘come home’

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Roswell, Georgia:

Aug 27, 2014 / 08:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The evangelization group Catholics Come Home is set to premiere a 13-episode television series that fosters engagement in the “New Evangelization” and interviews people who have recently returned to the Catholic faith.

“I believe God’s mercy is reaching the hearts of returnees, converts, agnostics and atheists through creative media, helping to bring them home,” Tom Peterson, founder president of Catholics Come Home, said in a video announcement for the series.

“Join us as we travel across North America with incredible stories of redemption, as the Holy Spirit transforms souls.”

Dr. Gloria Sampson, a former atheist and linguistics professor who is now an active Catholic, will be featured in the first episode, which will air on EWTN Sept. 4.

She will discuss her recent return to the Catholic Church after 52 years away from God. She credits seeing a Catholics Come Home commercial broadcast in Vancouver, Canada with helping to inspire her return.

“(A)ll I want to do now, is evangelize!” she said.

Each of the series’ half-hour episodes will also discuss evangelization.

The “Catholics Come Home” series will air on EWTN television every Thursday at 10 p.m. Eastern Time. Episodes will be rebroadcast at 6 p.m. on Sundays and can also be watched live online.

Guests include former fallen-away Catholics, atheists, agnostics, and Protestants who have turned or returned to the Catholic Church.

Episodes have been filmed in more than a dozen archdioceses and dioceses in the U.S. and Canada.

Catholics Come Home, which is based in Georgia, has broadcast many short segments on television that encourage inactive and former Catholics to return to the Church. They also reach out to those who have never been Catholic. The organization has produced segments in several different languages that have reached an audience of millions.

The apostolate says that since 1998 it has helped over 500,000 people “come home” to the Catholic Church. …

Go here for the rest of the story.