February 12, 2016

January 2016 Retail Sales: +0.2 Pct.; December Revised Up to +0.2 Pct.

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:22 am

Okay, the weather wasn’t all tha bad in January … right? Or was it too good, which was the go-to excuse during the Christmas shopping season?

Anyway, the predictions today for the Census Bureau’s retail sales report vary a bit. Briefing.com expects a flat reading, while the “market expect” +0.2 percent.

I suspect the reading will be in the middle of those two predictions. The other thing to watch for is whether December, which initially came in at -0.1 percent, gets revised. I’m thinking that if that happens, it will be downward, but with the seasonal adjusters doing their quirky thing, who knows?

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

HERE IT IS (link):

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for January, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $449.9 billion, an increase of 0.2 percent (±0.5%)* from the previous month, and 3.4 percent (±0.7%) above January 2015. Total sales for the November 2015 through January 2016 period were up 2.5 percent (±0.5%) from the same period a year ago. The November 2015 to December 2015 percent change was revised from down 0.1 percent (±0.5%)* to up 0.2 percent (±0.3%)*.

Retail trade sales were up 0.3 percent (±0.5%)* from December 2015, and up 3.1 percent (±0.5%) from last year. Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores were up 9.1 percent (±2.1%) from January 2015 and nonstore retailers were up 8.7 percent (±1.2%) from last year.

Looking into the seasoning, which appears suspect …

Positivity: Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address

Filed under: Positivity,Taxes & Government,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 5:55 am

This post became a BizzyBlog tradition on Lincoln’s birthday in 2012. Bolds and several additional paragraph breaks are mine.

March 4, 1865:

Fellow Countrymen:

AT this second appearing to take the oath of the Presidential office there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement somewhat in detail of a course to be pursued seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself, and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.

On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war—seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came.

One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it.

Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged.

The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him?

Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

February 11, 2016

The Nation’s Walsh ‘Wonders’ If ‘White Working Class’ Isn’t Supporting Hillary Because of Obama (Hint: His Race)

Joan Walsh, who after a long tenure at Salon.com is now National Affairs Correspondent at far-left publication The Nation, is responding as leftists usually do when their favored candidates and causes are in trouble: immaturely, and by smearing recalcitrant people who, in their fevered minds, should be supporting them.

Walsh is a big fan of Hillary Clinton, whose legal and electoral situations seem to get more dire with each passing week. In Walsh-World, Mrs. Clinton is having problems garnering “white working class” Democrats because of racism. But of course, she won’t directly say that. Instead, she issued the following passive-aggressive tweet, followed by the oh-so-predictable “Who, me?” response (HT Breitbart via Instapundit):


Yellen, Associated Press Continue to Blame ‘The World’ As U.S. Economy Weakens

The Federal Reserve, Fed Chair Janet Yellen, and the ever-cooperative Associated Press have a message for America: “If there’s an economic downturn, even one that turns into a recession, it’s going to be the rest of the world’s fault. The U.S. economy is fine, and it will stay fine if everybody else doesn’t ruin it.”

As the AP’s Martin Crutsinger reported today (“YELLEN: TOO EARLY TO DETERMINE IMPACT OF GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS”), Yellen told members of the Senate Banking Committee that, in Crutsinger’s words, “that global economic pressures pose risks to the U.S. economy,” and that the Fed will wait until its next meeting to see “how much economic weakness and falling markets around the world have hamstrung U.S. growth.” Folks, to “hamstring” growth, you’ve got to have growth, and the best estimates at the moment are telling us that at the end of last year there either wasn’t any, or that it barely existed.


Paglia at Salon: Hillary ‘Has a Rap Sheet 5 Miles Long,’ ‘Heavy With Lies and Greed’

As Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential effort has weakened, many on the left in fairly prominent places have begun releasing years of pent-up frustrations about her, her husband, and their record. At long last, the long knives are beginning to come out.

Many of these missives are unhinged, but one which isn’t, and deserves a closer look, comes from Camille Paglia at Salon.com. Given that Paglia’s views don’t neatly check off all of the far-left boxes, the fact that Salon has Paglia back for biweekly commentary on “the presidential race, the culture world, and everything in between” after a four-year hiatus is quite telling. Meanwhile, readers can count on the establishment press hanging on to Hillary as long as they can, while ignoring the mostly excellent points Paglia strenuously made early this morning.


Initial Unemployment Claims (021116): 269K SA; Raw Claims (291K) 10 Percent Below Same Week Last Year

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:29 am

Predictions, per Yahoo’s Economic Calendar: Briefing.com, 283,000 seasonally adjusted claims; “Markets Expect” 280,000.

Last week came in at 285,000, with raw claims running ahead of the same week last year.



In the week ending February 6, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 269,000, a decrease of 16,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level of 285,000. The 4-week moving average was 281,250, a decrease of 3,500 from the previous week’s unrevised average of 284,750.


The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 290,804 in the week ending February 6, a decrease of 21,136 (or -6.8 percent) from the previous week. The seasonal factors had expected a decrease of 3,988 (or -1.3 percent) from the previous week. There were 324,158 initial claims in the comparable week in 2015.

This year’s seasonal adjustment factor 108.1 is virtually the same as last year’s 107.5.

This is a welcome change from the past two weeks, when it started to look like raw claims were going to take off relative to last year. We’ll see if that trend continues next week.

February 10, 2016

AP Pair Deceptively Covers Supremes’ Stay of EPA ‘Clean Power Plan’ Reg

If you’re a couple of reporters at the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press, it’s one thing to be personally disappointed and even upset at yesterday’s move by the Supreme Court to grant a stay to states challenging the “Clean Power Plan” regulation issued by the Obama administration’s Environmental Protection Agency last October.

It’s quite another thing to falsely portray what occurred and the related impacts, which is what AP reporters Michael Biesecker and Sam Hananel most certainly did early Wednesday morning. The nature of their dispatch, which emphasized the administration’s defiant reaction, likely contributed to TV networks’ decisions to ignore or downplay what the Court did, choices which Julia Seymour at NewsBusters noted earlier today.


WashPost Writer: Albright and Steinem Didn’t Hurt Hillary; Offers No Evidence

A truly annoying trend among leftist writers whose work appears exclusively online is their tendency to write a clickbait headline which either has nothing or almost nothing to do with the related post’s content, or directly contradicts it.

On Monday, following the Carolina Panthers’ poor Super Bowl performance, Salon.com writer Nathaniel Friedman’s headline claimed that “Racist vitriol pours down on Cam Newton: Single-minded haters rush to judgment after a rough Super Bowl.” Friedman’s column provided zero evidence of “racist vitriol.” Two days later, in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s shellacking in the New Hampshire primary by Bernie Sanders, Janell Ross’s headline at the Washington Post’s “The Fix” blog told readers not to “blame Madeleine Albright and Gloria Steinem” for contributing to Mrs. Clinton’s debacle — again, without any supporting evidence.


Baltic Dry Update: More All-Time Lows

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:32 pm

All is not well:


A reminder:

Most directly, the index measures the demand for shipping capacity versus the supply of dry bulk carriers.

There is very little demand, because there is relatively little economic activity.

UPDATE, 7 p.m.: Make that 290.

Napolitano: Hillary ‘Is a Felon and Should Be Indicted’

On Judge Jeanine Pirro’s Saturday Fox News program, Judge Andrew Napolitano succinctly summarized the implications of the latest revelations concerning Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was the Obama administration’s Secretary of State.

One can’t help but notice that almost no one else is making Napolitano’s obviously valid points. If a Republican or conservative had done similar things on Mrs. Clinton’s scale, establishment press reporters and pundits would be making them on a daily basis:


February 9, 2016

New Hampshire Primary Live Blog: Sanders, Trump Win; Kasich Distant 2nd on GOP Side; Cruz-Bush Dogfight for GOP 3rd Place

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:03 pm

Let’s hope this one doesn’t drag on like Iowa last week (which on the Dem side really isn’t settled, and may never be).

Polls mostly close in the Granite State at 7 p.m., but some apparently stay open until 8. My memory is that results pour in pretty quickly. Hope so; not looking forward to the idea of another late night plus early morning drama plus days — or an eternity — of uncertainty.




FEB. 10, 9:20 A.M.: Nothing changed much in the rest of the counting overnight. Cruz, who was leading for third, took third by a decent margin, while Rubio’s fith-place finish came fairly close to Bush’s fourth. Christie, Fiorina and Carson were distant also-rans.

9:40 p.m.: Need to give up for the night due to feeling under the weather, but don’t see significant changes taking place from here on out. Cruz v. Bush for 3rd on the GOP side can certainly wait until the morning. Thanks to all who stopped by.

9:38 p.m.: Drudge headline linking to a NY Times item“Hillary lost every demographic group except 65+ and incomes of $200,000+ …”

9:36 p.m.: CBS is giving 14 Dem delegates to Sanders, 7 to Clinton, and three haven’t been claimed yet.

9:34 p.m.: With 33 percent counted, Ace is showing Sanders with a 22-point lead over Hillary.

9:32 p.m.: The nets are declaring Kasich the GOP runner-up.

9:28 p.m.: Let’s not lose sight of the fact that Donald Trump has doubled every opponent tonight and won over one-third of the vote in an essentially 8-person field — reportedly with little to no ground game.

9:25 p.m.: With 31 percent counted, Cruz has a 275-vote lead on Bush, per Townhall.

9:23 p.m.: Cruz is ahead of Bush at Townhall, CBS and Ace’s place by tiny margins. Rubio is well on his way to finishing no better and no worse than 5th. Christie almost certainly won’t catch him, and Fiorina and Carson are miles behind.

9:18 p.m.: Ace is showing Sanders with a 20-point lead on Hillary with 30 percent counted. 9:20 p.m.: Make that 21 points.

9:16 p.m.: CBS is giving 10 delegates to Trump, 2 to Kasich, and one each to Bush, Cruz and Rubio. 8 have not been determined.

9:09 p.m.: The Hill has reported that Hillary Clinton conceded New Hampshire quickly — “in a memo.” Classy.

9:04 p.m.: CBS has Bush ahead of Cruz now, and Kasich down to 15 percent to Bush’s and Cruz’s 12 percent. Update: With about 21 percent counted, Cruz and Bush are now TIED. Townhall has the same numbers, but claims that 26 of the counting is done.

8:58 p.m.: At the 25 percent counted mark, Townhall has Bernie up on Hillary by 57.9-40.0.

8:53 p.m.: With almost 22 percent counted, Cruz is ahead of Bush by ONE vote.

8:50 p.m.: Townhall has Cruz barely ahead of Bush for 3rd.

8:47 p.m.: CBS also has Cruz in third. Kasich’s second-place cushion is about 4 percentage points, which appears comfortable — not quite enough to give him the sillver medal, but getting close.

8:41 p.m.: Townhall is still showing Bush in 3rd and Cruz in 4th with a percentage count similar to Ace’s. Go figure.

8:39 p.m.: Rubio appears destined to finish fifth, trailing the first four by a discernible amount, and ahead of the rest of the pack by a larger amount. But … it’s early.

8:35 p.m.: With 15 percent counted, Ace has Sanders up 59-40, and with 10.6 percent counted Trump is up on Kasich-Cruz-Bush by 34-16-12-11.7. Yes, Cruz is in third.

8:30 p.m.: Things are dragging at the moment. If there’s drama, it’s whether Cruz can catch Bush for third on the GOP side.

8:24 p.m.: Ace has almost 10 percent counted, and Sanders has 60 percent of the Dem vote. If he somehow holds there or does better, there’s no way to spin this other than as a resounding defeat for Hillary Clinton. Update: Even at 56 percent or so for Sanders, it would be a brutal humiliation for Mrs. Inevitable.

8:22 p.m.: Everyone seems stuck at about 9 percent counted, which is hardly a basis for anyone throwing in the towel officially, despite what the nets, Politico and AP might say.

8:17 p.m.: Drudge has Sanders up 56-42, Trump up on Kasich-Bush 35-16-12.

8:10 p.m: Politico and the TV networks have called the GOP race for Trump. How big the ultimate margin will be is important, as are the relative positions of the other players.

8:08 p.m: Politico and the TV networks have called the Dem race for Sanders. That obviously leaves the important question of how big the margin will be, but with the earliness of the call, it seems pretty likely that it will be in double digits.

8:05 p.m.: Drudge has Sanders up 53-40. (Where are the other 7 percent going?)

8:00 p.m.: Well, they’re off to a fast start. Ace has 8 percent of results in, with Sanders up 57-41 and Trump up on Kasich and Bush by 30-19-12.


LA Times ‘Humor’ Writer Uses Daughter As a Prop to Criticize ‘Frightening’ GOP Candidates

Gary Jacobs is a former television comedy writer and producer who occasionally writes supposedly humorous and satirical columns for the Los Angeles Times.

Previous offerings from Jacobs, whose work is not labeled as humor, include what anyone would recognize as obvious sendups, such as “A sneak peek of President Trump’s first State of the Union address,” and “What a GOP presidential debate with a candidate-approved format might be like.” But on Monday morning, the Times posted and published an item by Jacobs about how Saturday’s GOP debate “frightened” his 6 year-old daughter. Readers unaware of his previous work, and perhaps even some who are, likely believed he was being serious until several paragraphs in.


Not News: January’s Actual Payroll Job Losses, Seasonally Adjusted to Look OK, Were the Third-Worst on Record

On Friday, in its January Employment Situation Summary, the government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics served up a stack of lemons disguised as lemonade. President Barack Obama declared in a tweet that “We’ve recovered from the worst economic crisis since the 1930s,” and the press dutifully fell in line.

The BLS reported that the economy added seasonally adjusted 151,000 payroll jobs and that the unemployment rate fell to 4.9 percent. As has been their habit for years, business reporters failed to label either key data point as “seasonally adjusted,” even though they routinely apply that label to most other government data in their dispatches on the economy. The business press almost never looks at the raw (i.e., not seasonally adjusted) figures in any area. If they had looked at last Friday’s raw jobs data, they would have wondered how the BLS could possibly have reported such a large number of additional seasonally adjusted jobs.


February 8, 2016

Since Gloria Steinem Is Ridiculing Young Women Who Support Sanders …

… Let’s remind everyone that Steinem, who said last week that young women who support Bernie Sanders are only doing so because that’s “where the boys are,” opposed the growing calls for Bill Clinton’s impeachment in a March 22, 1998 New York Times op-ed — because, according to her, Bill Clinton never, ever engaged in sexual harassment, and because what Clarence Thomas allegedly did in the presence of Anita Hill (never proven, with most of Hill’s claims demonstrated to be false) was worse (original found in ProQuest Library database, used for fair use and discussion purposes; go here to see the full column on a single screen):



* * * * *


February 7, 2016

NY Times: Albright, Steinem Telling Young Women Backing Sanders to ‘Grow Up’

Hillary Clinton’s campaign is in a place it doesn’t want to be, and the New York Times really, really wants to help. Yesterday, Madeleine Albright told a New Hampshire audience at a Clinton rally that “there’s a special place in Hell” for women who don’t support Hillary. Her outrageous attempt to shame women into voting for Mrs. Clinton followed Gloria Steinem’s Friday appearance on Bill Maher’s HBO show, during which the 81 year-old feminist dismissed young women who support Bernie Sanders as only doing so because “That’s where the boys are.”

The blowback from these statements brought an emergency late Sunday morning Times dispatch. Reporter Alan Rappeport’s ability to conduct damage control was limited, given that Albright and Steinem are on videotape saying what they said. In the process of trying, it appears that Rappeport and the Times may have done additional damage by uniting Albright’s and Steinem’s separate assertions in a common theme.