July 31, 2015

AP Buries Judge’s IRS Contempt Threat in Final Graphs of Story on Congressional Hearing

On Thursday, Curtis Houck at NewsBusters noted how the Big Three networks and the two leading Spanish-language networks ignored the latest developments in the now 813 day-old IRS targeting scandal. As usual, only Fox News covered a congressional hearing on, in Fox’s words, “the lack of accountability following the IRS targeting of tea party and other groups” as well as a federal judge’s threat “to hold (IRS Commissioner John Koskinen and Justice Department attorneys in contempt of court for failing to produce status reports and Lois Lerner e-mails.”

Not that this excuses the non-coverage, but if these outfits were relying as subscribers on the Associated Press to make sure that the contempt threat made by U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan got the visibility it deserved so they would be aware of it and use it, the wire service’s Stephen Ohlemacher let them down — and, I would argue, deliberately so.

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More Deadpan Humor at AP: Concern That We’re ‘Entering … Historically Slow Growth’

These economics reporters at the Associated Press have become experts at deadpan humor.

Earlier today, I noted how the wire service’s Christopher Rugaber told readers, in the wake of a government report showing the lowest wage and benefit increases on record, that “the job market is not yet back to full health.” No kidding, Chris. On top of that, the AP’s Martin Crutsinger reacted to yesterday’s tepid report on gross domestic product, which was accompanied by significant downward revisions to the past three years, by expressing “concerns that the U.S. economy has entered a period of historically slow growth.” Dude, we have been living through historically slow growth for six years, ever since the recession officially ended in the middle of 2009.

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Delusional AP: ‘Job Market Is Not Yet Back to Full Health’

Christopher Rugaber at the Associated Press and the “expert” he quoted in his writeup on the government’s awful Employment Cost Index report seemed to be taking their cues from Steven Wright’s deadpan comedy act. The problem, of course, is that they were writing and saying isn’t funny at all.

Rugaber, with his “expert” help, assembled an impressive array of understatements and misstatements in the wake of the smallest reported quarterly increase in U.S. worker pay on record. His worst characterization: “[T]he job market is not yet back to full health.”

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More on Our Fundamentally Transformed Economy

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:20 am

Those who are expecting Americans to start lining up in droves to buy houses with all the money they’re earning from all of the supposedly “robust job growth” and “solid hiring” going on are going to be disappointed with this news:

Compensation costs for civilian workers was little changed at 0.2 percent, seasonally adjusted, for the 3-month period ending June 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Wages and salaries (which make up about 70 percent of compensation costs) was also little changed at 0.2 percent, and benefits (which make up the remaining 30 percent of compensation) was little changed at 0.1 percent.

Our friendly Bureau of Labor Statistics “somehow” forgot to tell us that this was “the weakest US wage growth since records begain in 1982 and half as slow as the weakest of 57 economist estimates.”

Bloomberg News wrote that the news was “dashing projections that an improving labor market would boost pay.” Uh, maybe that’s because the labor market isn’t genuinely “improving.”

Friday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (073115)

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: Austin officer saves woman choking on biscuit

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Austin, Texas (video at link):

Posted: Jul 13, 2015 9:25 PM EDT
Updated: Jul 13, 2015 10:25 PM EDT

An Austin police officer pulls over a woman. Instead of giving her a ticket, he gives her the Heimlich maneuver and saves her life.

Incredible dash cam video shows an APD officer jumping into action after realizing a woman is choking. He is being praised for his fast actions.

A traffic stop turns into a life-saving moment. “Did you get it? Did you get it?” says Senior Officer Dustin Clinkscales, Austin Police Dept.

For the woman’s father, an Austin police detective, he is forever grateful. Especially knowing one of his brothers in blue, did the saving.

“I gave him a hug,” says Detective Damon Dunn, father of driver.

This dash cam video shows exactly what happened last Sunday. APD Senior Police Officer Dustin Clinkscales was headed west on Ben White Blvd. After seeing a woman on the phone, he turns on flashing lights. As the officer approaches, the woman begins to open her door. She has her hands over her throat. That’s when Officer Clinkscales realizes the woman is choking. He gets her out of the car and begins to perform the Heimlich maneuver. After several attempts, the object is dislodged. Then the woman faints.

“Well this will be an example of what officer’s do every day. They step up to the moment, they help save lives. They do the job they need to do whether it is the use of force, or it is saving someone from choking,” says Lt. Robert Hightower, Officer Clinkscales Commander, Austin Police Dept. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

July 30, 2015

Ohio Press Mostly Ignores Black Democrat’s Inspiring Pro-Life Speech

Ohio’s newspapers have reported that two state legislators, one Democrat and one Republican, are cosponsoring a bill to defund Planned Parenthood in the Buckeye State. But they have mostly failed to note the key points made by Cleveland Democrat Bill Patmon in his inspiring, passionate speech at an Ohio Right to Life rally announcing his cosponsorship.

You see, Mr. Patmon is black, and he has had it up to here with the hypocrisy of the “Black Lives Matter” movement, especially in their failure to denounce the disproportionate slaughter in the U.S. of black babies through abortion.

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Absurd CNN Email: (Annualized) 2.3 Percent Is ‘Solid’ GDP Growth

The bar-lowering in the business press continues.

In the wake of today’s disappointing news from the government on U.S. economic growth, an email from CNNMoney.com failed to properly describe reported second-quarter growth, and falsely characterized today’s results as “solid”:

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2Q15 GDP Advance Estimate and Prior-Year Revisions (073015): 2.3 Percent 2nd Quarter, Prior Growth Knocked Down 2.6 Points; 3Q12 Growth Cut by 75 Percent From Pre-Election Release

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:30 am

The Wall Street Journal’s bottom line: “The Worst Expansion Since World War II Was Even Weaker”

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Note: This post originally appeared at 1:30 a.m., and was revised to have an 8:30 post time when the GDP report is released.

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So here we are — after another winter of contraction (two in a row, and the three of the past five), about to get the first take on second-quarter GDP, the report everyone watching the economy has been waiting for.

We’ll learn what the government thinks second-quarter growth was, and we’ll see what it did to preceding quarters and years (2012-2014 and 1Q15 for sure, and possibly further back, based on my understanding of the guidance).

The government’s “Preview of the 2015 Annual Revision of the National Income and Product Accounts” (full PDF here) is going to include the following, in the their words:

  • An improved treatment of federal refundable tax credits in the personal income and outlays account and the government receipts and expenditures account.
  • Two new aggregates—the average of gross domestic product (GDP) and gross domestic income (GDI) and final sales to private domestic purchasers—that will facilitate the analysis of macroeconomic trends.
  • Improvements to the seasonal adjustment of GDP components, including federal defense spending on services, and of the source data underlying several other NIPA components.
  • An expanded presentation of payments and receipts of transfers and taxes between the United States and the “rest of world” that will harmonize the NIPA presentation of these transactions with the presentation in BEA’s international transactions accounts (ITAs).
  • An improved presentation of exports and imports that provides detail on exports of petroleum and products that will align the NIPA presentation of trade in industrial supplies and materials with the presentation in the ITAs.

These are not all benigh changes. The third item in particular is going to give a nod to the mostly nonsensical “residual seasonality” ideas first conveniently raised by lefty Steve Liesman in April. If we see first quarters of previous years showing significant improvement over what was previously reported, it will in my opinion show that the government gave in to the pressure to fiddle, delivering yet another blow to its credibility.

On the other hand, it does appear that the Bureau of Economic Analysis intends to (eventually) release not seasonally adjusted data which can be compared to the seasonally adjusted results and, eventually, the raw data of previous years. That’s a significant transparency improvement — if it indeed comes to pass.

Now as to today’s 2Q15 report, here are various second-quarter predictions, all of which may prove wildly wrong thanks to the multiyear revision:

  • Federal Reserve Atlanta — annualized 2.4 percent
  • Moody’s — 3.2 percent
  • Associated Press — 2.5 percent to 2.7 percent, depending on which economics writer authored related pieces during the past week.
  • Briefing.com (per Yahoo’s Economic Calendar) — 1.3 percent
  • “Market” (per Yahoo) — 2.5 percent

I remain stunned that the growth estimates remain so positive, given that so many indicators in manufacturing, wholesale and retail are trailing levels seen a year ago. I’m not aware of any precedent for such a disconnect between production- and sales-based data compared to consumption-based data. It’s very hard to imagine how there can be such a big difference between the two without one of them being very wrong.

Thurs, I have to believe that if there’s a surprise in the works, it will be seriously to the downside. But the default is that it’s Keynesian consumption uber alles as far as reported GDP is concerned, so we’ll probably march along at 2 percent or so, which will be enough for the administration to say things are okay enough, but also mediocre anough to keep the Fed from increasing interest rates for a while.

Meanwhile, the underlying economy out here in Realville continues to stink.

We’ll see here at 8:30. The currently empty tables seen below will get filled in as quickly as possible after that occurs.

HERE IT IS (full text version): Well, they got their first quarter back into positive territory —

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 2.3 percent in the second quarter of 2015, according to the “advance” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the first quarter, real GDP increased 0.6 percent (revised).

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

… The acceleration in real GDP growth in the second quarter reflected an upturn in exports, an acceleration in PCE, a deceleration in imports, and an upturn in state and local government spending that were partly offset by downturns in private inventory investment, in nonresidential fixed investment, and in federal government spending and a deceleration in residential fixed investment.

GDP3Q14thru2Q15at073015

Here are the changes to the quarters and full years (2009 through 2011 were unchanged):

GDPchanges0715from2009Fd

Sticking out like a sore thumb is the 2-point knockdown of 3Q12 to 0.5 percent instead of 2.5 percent. That was the preelection GDP report, which came in at 2.0 percent when originally reported on October 26, 2012. How flipping convenient.

Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (073015)

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.

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Rob Portman, just another corrupt politician:

In 2013, the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations probed Apple’s tax avoidance schemes, finding that the technology company paid little to no corporate taxes on over $74 billion in income over a four year period.

As the accusations mounted, Apple paid Mark Isakowitz, a Washington lobbyist, to work on corporate tax and international tax structure issues in the Senate.

The tables have turned as Isakowitz was hired in January of this year to become the chief of staff to Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, the new chief of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. According to a report by Bloomberg’s Jesse Drucker and Richard Rubin, the subcommittee under Portman is “shifting its focus” away from digging into inappropriate corporate behavior.

Imagine that. You hire a guy from who lobbied for Apple, and all of a sudden you’ve lost interest in investigating Apple.

Rob Portman is all about … Rob Portman.

Positivity: Teenager’s Relentless Nosebleed Turns Out To Be Blessing In Disguise That Saved Both Of Her Parents’ Lives

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Dallas, Texas:

July 23, 2015 12:12 PM

When a Texas teen developed a nosebleed that just wouldn’t stop back in January 2013, her parents knew something was wrong, but nothing could’ve prepared them for what came next. After doctors diagnosed the now-17-year-old, Crystal Enns, with a rare kidney disease known as juvenile nephronophthisis and told the family the condition would require a transplant, her parents Cristy and Mark Enns decided to see if they could be donors. After all, they do share the same blood type with their daughter.

Although her parents were unable to donate a kidney, they did receive some life-saving news as a result of the donor screening. Cristy was the first to go in for her screening, and everything seemed to be going well until her final screening. Doctors noticed a spot on her kidney that turned out to be kidney cancer. Her diagnosis took her out of the running to be her daughter’s kidney donor.

Next up was Cristy’s husband and Crystal’s father, Mark Enns. The doctors overseeing Mark’s screening were stunned to learn that Crystal’s father would also be unable to donate, after diagnosing him with kidney cancer. Dr. Albert Quan, a pediatric nephrologist at Medical City Children’s Hospital in Dallas who treated Crystal, said that in 25 years of practicing medicine he’s never encountered two parents receiving a cancer diagnosis following donor screening.

“We are overwhelmed with gratitude to God for allowing us to find out about her kidney disease when we did because Mark and I would never have been tested otherwise,” Cristy Enns said in an email to ABC News. “The timing of her nosebleed allowed us to begin the donor screening process early, with plenty of time to discover and take care of our alarming cancer diagnosis before it came time for Crystal’s transplant.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.

July 29, 2015

O’Reilly Discusses ‘Black Lives Matter’ Funding, Including Supporters Jay-Z and Beyoncé

On his Tuesday night show, with the help of Kelly Riddell of the Washington Times, Bill O’Reilly of Fox News described how the “Black Lives Matter” movement sustains itself. The rest of the press wants readers, listeners and viewers to presume that it is a self-sustaining, grass-roots movement. It isn’t.

O’Reilly also noted that megastars Jay-Z and Beyoncé, numbers 28 and 29, respectively, on the Forbes list of top-paid celebrities, are supporting the movement, which describes itself as “grass-roots” but is really the ultimate in Astroturf. Also at the end of this post, following up on one I did on ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith last week, I have posted Smith’s original six-minute radio-show rant on how selective and tyrannical the movement is.

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And Today’s Winner of the Internet Is …

Filed under: Business Moves,Life-Based News,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:24 pm

“Chris Burke,” who, in response to a ghastly, truly sick tweet from former Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, had this to say:

UndocumentedBabyParts072915

Venezuela Orders Food Providers to ‘Divert’ Output to Empty State Stores

The news out of Venezuela has apparently become so grim that the arguably Chavista-sympathetic press barely bothers to report it in any kind of sutstantive fashion. Inflation has gone wild, the level of violent crime has become frightening, and the government has taken to jailing citizens who dare to tweet their dissatisfaction with the regime of Nicolas Makuro (note that the linked report was prepared by a freelance journalist and not one of the worldwide wires; where have they been while this has been going on?).

One telling Associated Press dispatch from Venezuela last week concerned what’s left of the nation’s food distribution system. The item revealed that the press refuses to get over its classist obsessions, even as an entire country falls apart. A video seen after the jump will show that the government’s “solution” has no realistic chance of fixing the problem.

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‘Unexpectedly’ Again: Pending Home Sales, Predicted to Rise, Fall Almost 2 Percent

Yet another important economic statistic confidently predicted to rise has fallen — hard.

This time it was June’s pending sales of existing homes. Just in time for summer, they were predicted to increase by a seasonally adjusted 1.0 percent to 1.5 percent. Instead they fell by 1.8 percent, the steepest drop since December 2013. Additionally, May’s original 0.9 percent increase was revised down to 0.6 percent. This brought out yet another appearance of the dreaded “U-Word” (“unexpectedly”) — accompanied, as usual, by excuses at Bloomberg News (bolds are mine):

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