January 31, 2015

Time 2013 and WSJ 2015: ‘Car of the Future’ Will Still Use the Internal Combustion Engine; Al Gore Hardest Hit

At the recent meeting of the world elites in Davos, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and former Mexican President Felipe Calderon circulated a proposal to ban cars in all major cities in the world by dense-packing their layouts. The cost, as I noted on Monday: a mere $90 trillion (that’s right, trillion). It’s telling in a foreboding sense that the pair’s idea wasn’t laughed off the continent.

Enviro-nutty ideas such as these trace their origin to Gore’s 1992 book, “Earth in the Balance,” in which Gore called the internal combustion engine “the mankind’s greatest enemy.” In reality, it is arguably the greatest enabler of human progress in the world’s history. So readers should take some delight in articles appearing two years apart — one at Time.com, and another at the Wall Street Journal, where the authors predict that the odds seem to be in favor of the evil internal combustion engine continuing to outshine the enviros’ favored alternatives for at least the next couple of decades. Gore and his media enablers surely wail and gnash their teeth when such inconvenient items rear their scientific heads.

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NYT Correction Completely Undercuts Premise of Item on U.S.-Netanyahu Spat

Over at American Thinker, Thomas Lifson caught a damning admission the New York Times made in a correction to a Thursday piece by Carl Hulse and Jeremy W. Peters. The correction blew apart their write-up’s entire premise, namely that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was trying to make amends with congressional Democrats and having to explain why “the White House had been circumvented before he was invited to speak before Congress.”

Trouble is, the White House hadn’t been circumvented at all, as the correction clearly indicated (bold is mine):

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Geez, Take a Walk: Politico Labor Reporter Wants to Unionize It Because Being 28 Is Hard

The world’s smallest violin this week goes to Politico labor reporter Mike Elk.

Elk, who has bragged about unionizing workplaces where he has previously toiled, is working on doing the same thing at the alleged news site, which is really a Democratic Party stenography machine posing as one. His major complaint, seen in an item by Erik Wemple at his Washington Post blog, follows the jump (bolds are mine):

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AP, WSJ Reactions to Friday’s GDP Report Vary Sharply

Yesterday’s government report on the economy’s growth, which told us that the nation’s gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 2.6 percent sharply underachieved analysts’ expectations of an annualized 3.0 percent to 3.6 percent. The stock market clearly reacted negatively to the downside surprise. Bloomberg’s take at the end of the day: “U.S. stocks fell Friday, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index to its biggest monthly decline in a year, as weaker-than-forecast economic growth overshadowed a rally in energy shares sparked by a surge in the price of crude.”

That didn’t stop Martin Crutsinger and Josh Boak at the Associated Press from celebrating the result in late-morning and overnight reports, respectively. Meanwhile, Josh Mitchell at the Wall Street Journal delivered a more sanguine take on the situation.

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Saturday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (013115)

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: Interviews from the record-breaking papal Mass

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:01 am

From the Catholic News Agency blog:

Jan. 19, 2015

Pope Francis has officially concluded his week-long trip to Sri Lanka and the Philippines. CNA’s Rome Bureau Chief Alan Holdren was on the ground for the papal visit to the Philippines. Holdren spoke with two religious sisters who stood in the rain for hours for the chance to attend Mass with Pope Francis in Rizal Park in Manila. The Mass had a record attendance of 6-7 million.

Sister Marigold Magbanua of the Carmelite Missionaries, Quezon City Provincial House. Sr. Marigold is the provincial superior of the Philippine Province - including the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Taiwan and Australia.

Sister Marigold Magbanua of the Carmelite Missionaries, Quezon City Provincial House. Sr. Marigold is the provincial superior of the Philippine Province – including the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Taiwan and Australia.

Holdren: What is the emotion you’re feeling right now as the Pope comes?

Sr. Marigold: I’m feeling serene at the moment but, I guess when he comes, I will be overwhelmed, because when I was just watching him on T.V., I could feel mixed emotions of joy and also, it’s like very edified.

Holdren: The Pope seems to be giving special attention to Asian countries. Why do you think that is?

Sr. Marigold: Well, I think it’s because in Asia a lot of people are basically poor and I think that the Holy Father has a special place for the poor. Especially for children, the infirm, and the women. And also Asia is the home of different religions and I think it’s very open to it.

Holdren: What do you think Pope Francis will do for the Philippines, as a result of this trip?

Sr. Marigold: I haven’t thought about it, but I think the Philippines will remain as it is now – a special place in his heart. I think he’s going to pray very much for us and I think his trip to Tacloban is really touching because it was at first an experience of really seeing the people. And, as he said, he was kind of late, but he said it’s not too late to be with the people – to be one with them. Although, I think he couldn’t do much physically, but I think he’s going to be with us in spirit and he’s going to be united with us in all of our miseries and pains as well as in our joys. …

Go here for the rest of the post.

January 30, 2015

Positivity: Assisted living centers defeat HHS mandate in court

Filed under: Health Care,Life-Based News,Positivity,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:53 pm

From Denver:

Jan 29, 2015 / 04:56 pm

A federal court has permanently barred the Obama administration from enforcing the federal contraception mandate against the group of Evangelical-owned senior citizen and assisted living centers.

“All Americans should oppose unjust laws that allow the government to force people to surrender their constitutionally protected freedom to live and work according to their deepest beliefs,” Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Michael J. Norton said Jan. 27.

Norton’s legal group filed the challenge to the federal rule on behalf of Stephen W. Brisco, who owns several Colorado companies that operate senior citizen residences, assisted living centers, and skilled nursing facilities and related businesses that mange them.

Brisco, an Evangelical Christian, objected to federal mandates that he provide employees with insurance coverage for contraceptive drugs that can cause abortions.

Refusal to provide the coverage would have resulted in heavy fines.

Norton said that Americans have a “clearly protected right” to be “free from this type of government coercion at home, in their family businesses, and in non-profit endeavors that benefit everyone.”

On Jan. 27 a U.S. District Court for Colorado issued a permanent injunction against the federal government from enforcing the mandate. It cited the Supreme Court’s June 2014 ruling that the mandate’s application to closely-held private companies like Hobby Lobby violated the 1993 federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The Supreme Court had said the government had not shown that the mandate was the least restrictive means of achieving its goal of providing free contraceptives to employees.

The Obama administration announced the controversial mandate in 2012. It requires employers to cover sterilization, contraception and some drugs that can cause abortions. Its narrow exemption for those with religious and moral objections to the coverage drew much criticism and prompted many legal challenges.

Norton said the Obama administration should give up what he described as “its blind and indefensible efforts to punish people of faith.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.

AP Double Standard: Atlanta Chief’s Firing Over Religious Views Is National News, But His EEOC Challenge Isn’t

Former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran, who alleges he was fired from his position solely because of his Christian beliefs, has filed a religious discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

That’s not news at the Associated Press’s national site, and it appears that the AP has not even carried a local story about Cochran’s EEOC complaint — omissions that reeks of a double standard.

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For Once, AP Skeptical of Dems’ Over-the-Top Claims About the Economy

Even Charles Babington at the Associated Press, for once not the completely beholden Administration’s Press, seemed to be having a hard time buying what Democrats at a meeting in Philadelphia were selling. Unfortunately, he decided to let Joe Biden’s direct contradiction of his party’s congressional delegation’s sunnyside-up stance on the economy go unreported.

In a video carried at the Weekly Standard, Biden said, “To state the obvious, the past six years have been really, really hard for this country, And they’ve been really tough for our party. Just ask [former DCCC chair] Steve [Israel]. They’ve been really tough for our party. And together we made some really, really tough decisions — decisions that weren’t at all popular, hard to explain.” Despite how “really, really hard” it has all been, the party is attempting an “in your face” at those who want to claim that it has been that way because of the Obama administration’s economic policies. Excerpts from Babington’s AP report follow the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):

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4Q14 GDP: An Annualized 2.6%, Badly Trailing Expectations of 3.0% to 3.6%

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:15 am

Predictions for GDP growth during the fourth quarter are running from the New York Posts’s John Crudele’s annualized 3.2 percent to 3.6 percent at Seeking Alpha.

Recent data would make you think that today’s figure might trail the range just noted, but the past two quarters’ GDP figures averaging 4.8 annualized growth seem disconnected from the underlying reality, making predictions at this point a crapshoot.

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

8:25 a.m.: Well, well … Bloomberg is carrying a 3 percent prediction. Business Insider also has the 3 percent prediction, which will, per them, be driven by an annualized 4 percent increase in consumption.

HERE IT IS (permanent full text link): Bloomberg’s late writedown to 3 percent turns out to have been a harbinger of a poorer result, and I guess the meme be that federal government “austerity” ruined everything —

Real gross domestic product — the value of the production of goods and services in the United States, adjusted for price changes — increased at an annual rate of 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014, according to the “advance” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the third quarter, real GDP increased 5.0 percent.

The increase in real GDP in the fourth quarter reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE), private inventory investment, exports, nonresidential fixed investment, state and local government spending, and residential fixed investment that were partly offset by a negative contribution from federal government spending. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.

The deceleration in real GDP growth in the fourth quarter primarily reflected an upturn in imports, a downturn in federal government spending, and decelerations in nonresidential fixed investment and in exports that were partly offset by an upturn in private inventory investment and an acceleration in PCE.

The price index for gross domestic purchases, which measures prices paid by U.S. residents, decreased 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter, in contrast to an increase of 1.4 percent in the third. Excluding food and energy prices, the price index for gross domestic purchases increased 0.7 percent, compared with an increase of 1.6 percent.

Excuse me, but that 0.3% deflator is more than a little hard to take.

Here’s how the 3Q14 and 4Q14 components compare:

3Qand4Q14GDPcomponents013015

Once again, noninventory investment is virtually flat.

Once again, health care spending, which in my opinion is adding no standard of living value (see the end of this PJ Media column I wrote earlier this month), was a disproportionate contributor. (An additional health care-related contribution might explain why the “financial services and insurance” component, not listed above, contributed 0.32 points).

Absent an inventory buildup, which I believe represents manufacturers and retailers building up stocks beyond their anticipated need, GDP grew by an annualized 1.8 percent.

I feel the consumption number is going to come down a bit in future revisions, but that other component increases will probably offset that.

We’ll see in future months, but today’s report was not good at all.

Friday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (013015)

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.

January 29, 2015

NewsBusted (012715)

Filed under: NewsBusted — Tom @ 1:36 pm

Here we go:

Topics:
– Obama Up in the Polls
– Military Disapproves of Obama
– Boy Lies about Heaven
– IRS Budget Cuts
– Dartmouth Cheating Scandal
– ISIS
– College Reading Levels
– Colorado Virus

Best Lines:

  • “Readers were disappointed to learn that a boy who once claimed to have died and visited heaven recanted his story. Meanwhile, the man who promised us heaven is still sticking with his story.”
  • “The quality of service at the IRS continues to deteriorate due to budget cuts. The IRS warns it may not even have the revenue necessary to adequately harass the Tea Party.”
  • “A third of Americans disapprove of how President Obama is handling ISIS. The other two-thirds didn’t know that he was handling ISIS.”

Welcome to the New, Sickening Normal

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:21 pm

So they’ve had six years to recover from the recession and get the economy on track, and this is what we get:

RealGDP2015andFd

The bar-lowerers in Washington and in the press, who would never accept it coming from a non-leftist administration, are simply letting CBO’s published assumption that we’re doomed to annual GDP growth of barely above 2 percent as far as the eye can see slide by virtually without comment.

News Flash: Despite CBO’s predictions, the chances that household incomes will ever recover if growth really ends up being that tepid for that long are very low.

Initial Unemployment Claims (012914); 265K SA, Lowest Since 2000; NSA Claims Down 22% From Same Week Last Year

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:37 am

From the Department of Labor:

SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

In the week ending January 24, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 265,000, a decrease of 43,000 from the previous week’s revised level. This is the lowest level for initial claims since April 15, 2000 when it was 259,000. The previous week’s level was revised up by 1,000 from 307,000 to 308,000. The 4-week moving average was 298,500, a decrease of 8,250 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised up by 250 from 306,500 to 306,750.

… UNADJUSTED DATA

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 280,237 in the week ending January 24, a decrease of 102,358 (or -26.8 percent) from the previous week. The seasonal factors had expected a decrease of 57,297 (or -15.0 percent) from the previous week. There were 357,806 initial claims in the comparable week in 2014.

Of course, this result blew away expectations of 300,000.

The seasonal adjustment factor this year (105.6) was reasonably close to the one used during the comparable week last year (103.7).

The news is very good, and comes at a time, given other developments, when we could use some.

Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (012915)

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.