August 31, 2018

Vacation ‘Trumps’ Principles for Dems on President’s Judges

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:02 am

From The Blaze:

Some on the left expressed anger and outrage as Democrats in the U.S. Senate showed that they put much more of an importance on one thing over defeating the legacy of President Donald Trump — their vacation time.

Here’s what happened

The Republicans controlling the Senate cancelled their scheduled August recess in order to pursue legislation in advance of Trump’s and their agenda.

Rather than stay and fight by using parliamentary procedures to stall and possibly block some of them, Democrats decided to cave on his judicial nominations so that they could go home.

Even progressive news outlet Huffington Post called it a “major win” for Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose “No. 1 priority is filling up federal courts with conservative judges ― many of whom are incredibly anti-abortion, anti–LGBTQ rights and anti–voting rights.”

Those are delicious liberal tears emanating from HuffPost.

The results:

… (Marco Rubio tweeted) “Cancelling August recess resulted in the most productive Senate work period in recent memory. Today alone we confirmed seven more judges & 27 executive branch nominees.”

Rubio predicts that eight more judges will be confirmed next week.

Friday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (083118)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 7:00 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: Ohio high school football team invites bullied boy to sit on the sidelines with them entire season

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:55 am

From Findlay, Ohio (video at link; HT Weasel Zippers):

August 31, 2018

Taylan Orton has loved football as long as he could remember, so he was understandably excited to sign up for his first ever youth football league.

But the eight-year-old Ohio boy, who has cerebral palsy, was left in floods of tears in the middle of his first practice after he was yelled at by coaches and berated by another kid.

His mom Carrie Wilmoth, who told the league about his condition ahead of time, said he cried himself to sleep that night and kept asking her why he wasn’t good enough.

Wilmoth shared the heartbreaking experience in a Facebook post that went viral.

One of those moved by the post was a local football coach’s wife, Emily Buchman, who came up with an idea to lift Taylan’s spirits.

On Wednesday, several Findlay High School football players surprised Taylan at lunch, invited him to join them on the sidelines for every home game this season, and presented him with a poster that said: “Taylan come hang out with us Friday nights”.

“Hey, do you wanna come hang with us on game days?” one of the players asked him.

Taylan said “Yeah” and screamed with excitement before they took a group photo.

“This means the world to him after everything that happened,” Wilmoth said.

Taylan wanted to tell everyone about how he was the “was the coolest kid in the lunchroom,” she said, adding that he fell asleep with the poster in his bed. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

August 30, 2018

Initial Unemployment Claims: A 49-Year Low Which Is Really an All-Time Low

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:36 pm

I initially thought that a genuinely strong economy would need to have more upheaval — and thus, more short-term layoffs — to get fully on track.

It appears I was wrong about that, partially because people who are getting laid off are finding their next job fairly quickly, and partially because employers aren’t feeling the need to change a lot of staff members to become more productive.

In any event, today’s unemployment claims report from the Department of Labor marks a new historic low:

In the week ending August 25, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 213,000, an increase of 3,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level of 210,000. The 4-week moving average was 212,250, a decrease of 1,500 from the previous week’s unrevised average of 213,750. This is the lowest level for this average since December 13, 1969 when it was 210,750.

But in 1969, covered employment — the number of workers eligible for unemployment benefits if laid off — was about 60 percent lower than it is now.

Since the covered workforce continues to grow (even though DOL only adjusts their own reported figure quarterly), this means that the 4-week seasonally adjusted average of initial claims reported today is the lowest on record as a percentage of the covered workforce since DOL began reporting weekly claims in the mid-1960s.

I “blame” Trump and the GOP-majority Congress which passed last year’s tax law.

Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (083018)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 12:00 pm

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: Utah firefighter adopts German shepherd he rescued during California wildfires

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 11:55 am

From Draper City, Utah (HT Weasel Zippers):

August 28, 2018

A German shepherd who Utah firefighters found “huddled under a tree” during the California wildfires has found a new home.

A Draper City firefighter, only identified as Patrick, adopted the dog after rescuing him while battling the Mendocino Complex fire, the Mendocino County Animal Shelter said Saturday. The firefighters from Utah immediately befriended the dog, who they named Mendo.

“After receiving excellent care by the staff at Mendocino Animal Hospital, this dog now named Mendo by his firefighting friends, came to the Ukiah Shelter. It was clear from the start, if not found by his guardian, Draper City fire fighter Patrick wanted to adopt him,” the shelter wrote on Facebook. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

August 29, 2018

2Q18 Gross Domestic Product, Second Estimate (082918): An Annualized 4.2 Percent, Up From Original 4.1 Percent

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:46 am

Predictions: An annualized 4.0 percent seems to be the consensus. (The Wall Street Journal also had a 4.0 percent prediction earlier this week.)

HERE IS THE REPORT (full text link with tables): Though the swing is tiny, its upward move defies reported expectations of a downward move —

Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 4.2 percent in the second quarter of 2018 (table 1), according to the “second” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the first quarter, real GDP increased 2.2 percent.

The GDP estimate released today is based on more complete source data than were available for the “advance” estimate issued last month. In the advance estimate, the increase in real GDP was 4.1 percent. With this second estimate for the second quarter, the general picture of economic growth remains the same; the revision primarily reflected upward revisions to nonresidential fixed investment and private inventory investment that were partly offset by a downward revision to personal consumption expenditures (PCE). Imports which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, were revised down. (see “Updates to GDP” on page 2).

Real gross domestic income (GDI) increased 1.8 percent in the second quarter, compared with an increase of 3.9 percent in the first quarter. The average of real GDP and real GDI, a supplemental measure of U.S. economic activity that equally weights GDP and GDI, increased 3.0 percent in the second quarter, compared with an increase of 3.1 percent in the first quarter (table 1).

The increase in real GDP in the second quarter reflected positive contributions from PCE, nonresidential fixed investment, exports, federal government spending, and state and local government spending that were partly offset by negative contributions from private inventory investment and residential fixed investment. Imports decreased (table 2).

The acceleration in real GDP growth in the second quarter reflected accelerations in PCE, exports, federal government spending, and state and local government spending, as well as a smaller decrease in residential fixed investment. These movements were partly offset by a downturn in private inventory investment and a deceleration in nonresidential fixed investment. Imports decreased after increasing in the first quarter.

Current‑dollar GDP increased 7.6 percent, or $370.9 billion, in the second quarter to a level of $20.41 trillion. In the first quarter, current-dollar GDP increased 4.3 percent, or $209.2 billion (table 1 and table 3).

The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 2.3 percent in the second quarter, compared with an increase of 2.5 percent in the first quarter (table 4). The PCE price index increased 1.9 percent, compared with an increase of 2.5 percent. Excluding food and energy prices, the PCE price index increased 2.0 percent, compared with an increase of 2.2 percent.

Updates to GDP

The percent change in real GDP was revised up 0.1 percentage point from the advance estimate, reflecting upward revisions to nonresidential fixed investment, private inventory investment, federal government spending, and state and local government spending that were partly offset by downward revisions to PCE, residential fixed investment, and exports. Imports were revised down. For more information, see the Technical Note. A detailed Key Source Data and Assumptions” file is also posted for each release. For information on updates to GDP, see the “Additional Information” section that follows.

… Corporate Profits (table 10)

Profits from current production (corporate profits with inventory valuation and capital consumption adjustments) increased $72.4 billion in the second quarter, compared with an increase of $26.7 billion in the first quarter.

Profits of domestic financial corporations increased $16.8 billion in the second quarter, in contrast to a decrease of $9.3 billion in the first quarter. Profits of domestic nonfinancial corporations increased $63.6 billion, compared with an increase of $32.3 billion. Rest-of-the-world profits decreased $8.0 billion, in contrast to an increase of $3.7 billion. In the second quarter, receipts decreased $6.0 billion, and payments increased $2.0 billion.

I’ll update the components table shortly.

UPDATE: Here is how the second estimate compares to the first —

GDPcomponentsThru2Q18at082718

The highlighted increase in Nonresidential Fixed Investment figure is the ongoing story here. Its 2018 average is now 1.3 points. The last time we saw a two-quarter average greater than 1.30 points was during the final two quarters of 2011. The average quarterly contribution during calendar 2015 and 2016 — the last eight full quarters under the Obama administration — was only 0.07 points.

The inventory decrement to GDP still seems to overstate what happened. But we’ll have to see about that in future short-term and long-term revisions.

Overall, today’s news confirming a strong second quarter has to be heartening for those who supported the tax cuts passed in December.

Wednesday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (082918)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 8:00 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: Catholic Charities school supply giveaway brings joy to Virginia families

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:55 am

From Arlington, Virginia:

Aug 29, 2018 / 12:27 am

For the third year in a row, Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia has given away free school supplies for children in need, ages 5-17.

This year’s giveaway was held on Aug. 24 at Catholic Charities’ food pantry Christ House in Alexandria, and began with a prayer led by Bishop Michael Burbidge, followed by a meal. Backpacks filled with supplies were then handed out to the students by Burbidge and Catholic Charities president and CEO Art Bennett.

The backpacks, prepared by volunteers, were stuffed according to the specific grade level of each child, with high schoolers receiving supplies such as three-ring binders, protractors and spiral notebooks while elementary students received supplies such as crayons, glue sticks and pencil pouches.

Each child also received a gift card to Payless shoe store as well as snacks and water.

“We really care about these families who come to Christ House,” Bennett told The Arlington Catholic Herald. “This event makes a real difference for them. And it brings children and parents – and us – a lot of joy. We want to help parents help their kids feel excited about school and ready to go right out of the gate. That happens here.”

This year, 130 students received school supplies through the giveaway.

Lashay Bailey, who attended the event with her seven children, told the Herald that the giveaway was “a blessing” and “means a lot. We’re going through a tough time right now.”

Junice Talbert, a single mother of three, came to the event to pick up a backpack for her 5-year-old son who is starting kindergarten.

“You spend so much for everything and, as a single mom, it’s hard to also pay for these supplies,” she said. “The prayers help a lot sometimes; it’s really stressful.”

The giveaway was funded by the Basilica of St. Mary in Alexandria and individual donors through Christ House, the St. Lucy Food Project and the Emergency Assistance Program (EAP). …

Go here for the rest of the story.

August 28, 2018

Why Does ANYONE Place ANY Reliance on CNN …

after this? —

Michael Cohen’s lawyer admitted on Monday that he was the anonymous source for a widely-criticized CNN report that claimed Cohen was willing to tell Special Counsel Robert Mueller that President Donald Trump knew in advance about the Trump Tower meeting in which Russians were expected to offer his campaign dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper last week that Cohen “does not” have any information that Trump knew about the meeting in advance, saying, “I think the reporting of the story got mixed up in the course of a criminal investigation. We were not the source of the story.”

However, Davis told BuzzFeed News on Monday that he was the source for CNN’s July 26 report — which directly contradicts what he told Cooper.

Davis insisted that he did not lie, but claimed that he “unintentionally misspoke,” and that he “made a mistake.”

However, Davis admitting that he was the source for the report — which he has since stated was not true — was not the only development to come out of CNN’s report. BuzzFeed News notes:

The original CNN story — broadcast during Chris Cuomo’s prime-time show and written by Jim Sciutto, Marshall Cohen, and Watergate reporting legend Carl Bernstein — said that Davis had “declined to comment.” His involvement in the story, on so-called “background,” has not been previously reported.

CNN used Davis as the anonymous source for their report and then claimed that they reached out to him for comment, stating that he “declined to comment.”

Talk about deception.

My take: This is all about creating false, Trump-discrediting headlines and breathless news stories which get heavy attention — and following them up with “never mind” stories which hardly get any.

It has happened time and again for the past two years. Clickbait, not basic personal and professional integrity, is driving the establishment press, particularly CNN.

The odds are that this bad behavior won’t stop until they’re all financially driven into the ground — if then.

Tuesday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (082818)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 1:30 pm

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: Texans Player J.J. Watt Raises $41.6 Million For Hurricane Harvey Aftermath With Fundraiser Created One Year Ago

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 1:25 pm

From Houston, Texas (HT Weasel Zippers):

August 27, 2018

Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, created a fundraiser to aid the victims of Hurricane Harvey one year ago with the modest goal of raising $200,000. Now, Watt has announced that his goal was blown out of the water with a total of $41.6 million in donations.

According to the Houston Texans website, the fundraiser was the largest crowdsourced fundraiser in world history.

“As I reflect on the events of Hurricane Harvey one year ago, the memories of destruction and devastation remain, but they are accompanied by memories of hope, selflessness and the beauty of the human spirit,” Watt said in a letter. “The actions of professional first responders and everyday citizens alike were an inspiration to the world and a shining example of the inherent good that lies within us all.”

“I was fortunate enough to witness that generosity first hand, as the fundraiser that I started with a simple goal of $200,000 turned into an unbelievable outpouring of support from people all around the globe,” Watt added.

The Justin J. Watt Foundation reportedly distributed the funds to eight nonprofits: All Hands and Hearts, Americares, Boys & Girls Clubs, Baker Ripley, Feeding America, Habitat for Humanity, Save the Children, and SBP. The funds were reportedly used to repair and rebuilt over 600 homes and 420 childcare centers, distribute 26,000,000 meals, provide physical and mental health services to over 6,500 people, and distribute medicine to over 10,000 patients.

While a lot has been accomplished, Watt says the work is not done.

“While a great deal has been accomplished in the past 12 months, there is still much work to be done,” Watt said. “Moving forward, there will be more of the same, as we continue to work with our incredible nonprofit partners to provide as much help and support as we possibly can for those affected by Harvey.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.

August 27, 2018

Comey’s Calamity: He Last-Ditch Attempt to Cover for Hillary STILL Couldn’t Push Her Over the Finish Line

We now have a better idea of the quandary then-FBI director James Comey faced in September and October of 2016.

In late September, agents discovered hundreds of thousands of emails relating to Hillary Clinton’s time at the State Department on the computer of disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner and his wife Huma Abedin, who was Mrs. Clinton’s trusted aide.

It is now clear that the top dogs at the FBI tried to run out the clock until Election Day without revealing those emails’ existence.

Comey concluded shortly before Election Day that the stall-ball strategy wasn’t going to work. So he revealed that the FBI had found the emails before agent-whistleblowers could.

Having thus taken control of the narrative with a compliant Hillary-sympathetic media, he announced only days later that FBI agents had somehow managed to review hundreds of thousands of emails and had found nothing incriminating, nothing that was classified, and nothing which compromised national security.

Paul Sperry, in a very long, please read-the-whole-thing investigative report at Real Clear Investigations reported late last week that the key statements in Comey’s all-clear announcement were brazen lies:

Despite Comey Assurances, Vast Bulk of Weiner Laptop Emails Were Never Examined

… Comey later told Congress that “thanks to the wizardry of our technology,” the FBI was able to eliminate the vast majority of messages as “duplicates” of emails they’d previously seen. Tireless agents, he claimed, then worked “night after night after night” to scrutinize the remaining material.

But virtually none of his account was true, a growing body of evidence reveals.

In fact, a technical glitch prevented FBI technicians from accurately comparing the new emails with the old emails. Only 3,077 of the 694,000 emails were directly reviewed for classified or incriminating information. Three FBI officials completed that work in a single 12-hour spurt the day before Comey again cleared Clinton of criminal charges.

… even the “extremely narrow” search that was finally conducted, after more than a month of delay, uncovered more classified material sent and/or received by Clinton through her unauthorized basement server,

… Although the FBI’s New York office first pointed headquarters to the large new volume of evidence on Sept. 28, 2016, supervising agent Peter Strzok, who was fired on Aug. 10 for sending anti-Trump texts and other misconduct, did not try to obtain a warrant to search the huge cache of emails until Oct. 30, 2016. Violating department policy, he edited the warrant affidavit on his home email account, bypassing the FBI system for recording such government business. He also began drafting a second exoneration statement before conducting the search.

… the evidence shows Comey and his inner circle acted only after worried agents and prosecutors in New York forced their hand. At the prodding of Attorney General Lynch, they then worked to reduce and rush through, rather than carefully examine, potentially damaging new evidence.

It’s impossible to understate the importance of Sperry’s findings.

Mrs. Clinton’s excuse-makers have blamed Comey’a conduct during the 2016 campaign’s final weeks for her loss. It is now clear that what Comey really did (which Lynch’s help) is save her from the pre-election humiliation she deserved, and in doing so tipped the scales in her favor.

The fact that Mrs. Clinton still managed to lose doesn’t alter that historical fact. What it does is reinforce the related historical fact that all the actions of Deep Staters who favored Mrs. Clinton failed to fully compensate up for the shortcomings of the worst and most corrupt presidential candidate in my lifetime, and probably in U.S. history.

Positivity: ‘God saved my life through sports’ – Catholics prepare for Ironman race

Filed under: Marvels,Positivity — Tom @ 9:38 pm

From Dallas, Texas:

Aug 24, 2018 / 12:00 pm

Competitors in an Ironman race swim 2.4 miles and bike 112 miles, and then run a marathon to complete more than 10 hours of racing that tests athletes’ highest levels of endurance. For some Catholics, preparing for an Ironman contest includes spiritual, as well as physical conditioning.

Karime Nevarez is a Catholic mother of two, who has not only competed in multiple Ironman races, but she is training to race the fastest endurance athletes in the world.

As she prepares to compete in the Ironman World Championship in South Africa on Sept. 1, Nevarez shared with CNA how faith has been the foundation of her training.

Nevarez wakes up at 4 a.m. six days a week to begin her triathlon workouts at 5 a.m., so that she can be home in time to take her children to school. However, lately she has been training at 11 p.m. to acclimate to the time change in Africa.

“If I did not have God in my life, I couldn’t be doing this,” she said, “Everything I do I offer to him. Everything for his glory. I’m sure that I couldn’t do this on my own. My own strength is not enough. I need spiritual help.”

Two years ago, Nevarez did not know how to swim. This proved to be her biggest challenge as she prepared to compete in her first half-Ironman race in Monterrey, Mexico in 2016.

“Before we started to swim, I prayed and asked God, ‘I know you are too busy, but you helped Peter walk on water. Allow me to finish swimming this 1.2 miles,’” she said.

Nevarez still prays the rosary as she swims. She also likes to meditate on Isaiah 40:31, “They who hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar on eagles’ wings. They will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint.”

When Nevarez has young, she struggled with her mental health, even contemplating suicide. She said that God lifted her out of this struggle by giving her an opportunity to participate in sports, like basketball and running, as a teenager in Mexico.

“God saved my life through sports,” she said. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

Monday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (082718)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:00 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.