July 10, 2015

GOP Was in the Senate Minority and Opposed OPM Head Archuleta’s Nomination; AP Blames Data Breaches on Inadequate Funding

Of all the media memes ever attempted, the one blaming Republicans for the fact that now-resigned Office of Personnel Management Director Katherine Aruchleta was confirmed is high on the list of the most ridiculous ever. A reasonably close runnerup is the idea that Congress failed “to adequately fund OPM.”

Matt Balan at NewsBusters covered CNN’s ridiculous tweeted claim that “Republicans acknowledge … they didn’t properly vet Archuleta’s qualifications.” It’s as if only Republicans — who, I must remind the media herd, were in the minority in the Senate in late 2013 when she was confirmed and who mostly opposed her by a 35-8 margin — were the only ones responsible for vetting this woman. Why isn’t the press asking Harry Reid why his Senate Democratic Party majority didn’t do its job? Far more fundamentally, did the president’s responsibility for selecting competent people vanish when Barack Obama was elected?

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Wholesale Sales and Inventories: The Slump Deepens

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:26 pm

The Census Bureau’s report today on Wholesale Trade is awful.

The seasonally adjusted numbers look bad, but are far better than they arguably should have been.

Let’s look at not seasonally adjusted sales:

WholesaleSales0107to0515

Don’t even try to make sense of the seasonal adjustments. The fact is that May’s year-over-year raw sales, a comparison which is by definition free of seasonal influence, were down almost 7 percent from May 2014, and came in lower than three years ago.

You would have to go back to the time period from November 2008 (the month Barack Obama was first elected president; imagine that) until October 2009 to see worse year-over-year comparisons.

On the inventory side, again concentrating on the raw (i.e., not seasonally adjusted data), we see that wholesalers trimmed inventory levels by $1.5 billion. That’s nowhere near the $11.3 billion April-May decline in raw sales:

WholesaleInventories0107to0515

As seen in the year-over-year comparisons at the bottom of the graphic, inventories were 18 percent higher in May than they were in May 2012, despite monthly sales (seen earlier) declining by 1.5 percent in the same period.

That’s unsustainable. Wholesalers either have a crystal ball telling them that sales are going to come roaring back and that they need their current high inventory levels to meet that demand when it comes, or they need to seriously trim their inventories.

It seems far more likely that it’s the latter, meaning that they have to sharply cut back on what they order, which in turn means that those who serve them need to sharply cut back on what they produce.

How can that inventory-trimming scenario, which again seems quite likely, exist in the same universe with an overall economy which the so-called experts say is going to show growth at an annualized 2.5 percent to 3.0 percent for the final three quarters of this year?

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UPDATE: I must remind readers that I have been told by the government’s Bureau of Economic Analysis that it uses seasonally adjusted data from reports such as the one I’ve just covered.

As with retail sales noted a few weeks ago, that means that figures which are unduly high are being thrown into the GDP mix, likely leading to a result which is higher than justified.

Friday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (071015)

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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1:25 p.m.: Ariana Grande has issued a second apology after she was caught on tape licking doughnuts she hadn’t bought and saying “I hate America.” The apology basically meets the unconditional “I was wrong, I am sorry” test. It seems inspired more by the need for career preservation after her first pathetic, diva-like diet-preachy attempt blew up in her face, but it beats nothing.

That said, I’ve decided not to include a link to Grande’s apology. That’s because the 22 year-old delivered it in three painfully long, often-incoherent paragraphs using juvenile language you’d expect from someone 10 (or more) years younger. I don’t want to be responsible for any reduction in any audience member’s IQ as a result of seeing or reading it. At least anyone who wants to find it anyway has been warned.

For those who were up to now blissfully unaware of Grande’s original gross acts, and for some history of other sadly similar exploits by privileged entertainers of all ages, see Michelle Malkin’s column at National Review today.

Positivity: Exeter man shares birthday cake with those who saved his life

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Exeter Township, Pennsylvania:

Sunday July 5, 2015 12:01 AM

James Bortz is lucky to be alive.

And he knows it.

The Exeter Township man had been cooking breakfast in the family’s Grande Valley Road rental home March 16 when he went to pick up a laundry basket and passed out as he bent over. When he woke up, he realized the stove was on, but he couldn’t get up. Bortz reached up from the floor to turn off the burner, but mistakenly turned up the heat, igniting the pan and spreading the fire to the area surrounding the stove.

Bortz called 9-1-1 and passed out a few moments later.

The next thing he remembers is waking up in the hospital.

“If it wasn’t for the firefighters and police who rescued me, I wouldn’t be here,” he said.

That’s why Bortz thought it was fitting to celebrate his 38th birthday on Saturday with the people who made another year with his friends and family possible. So he presented Exeter Township’s firefighters and police officers with birthday cake Thursday.

“It was just a small token of my appreciation for what they did,” he said. “I have a lot to be thankful for this year.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.