December 13, 2014

Barely News: Congresswoman Lummis’s ‘Most Moving Moment’ at Gruber Hearing

Dictionary.com defines “glib” as “readily fluent, often thoughtlessly, superficially, or insincerely so.”

Jonathan Gruber’s apology at his Tuesday congressional hearing included that word. The word, especially the “superficial” element of its definition, applies to how the establishment press covered the hearing. With only rare exceptions, it excluded any mention of what has accurately been called “the most moving moment of the Gruber hearing”: Wyoming Republican Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis’s emotional recounting of how her husband died while the status of his coverage under Obamacare was in dispute.

(more…)

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Saturday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (121314)

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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Positivity: Pro-life ad group sees unprecedented success in 2014

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Austin, Texas:

Dec 12, 2014 / 07:09 pm

Heroic Media is celebrating their most successful year yet, reporting their pro-life ads have generated more than 360,000 responses, the highest number in the apostolate’s ten-year history.

“This is more than a number for us – every woman we are able to connect with a pregnancy center means a potential life saved,” Joe Young, vice president of operations at Heroic Media, said in a Dec. 9 statement.

Heroic Media is a pro-life organization that uses a variety of media outlets to connect pregnant women to life-affirming resources, utilizing information and pregnancy centers to provide women with alternative choices to abortion.

“Heroic Media is committed to serving women with positive messages. Our team of media experts works to produce and place research-based messages to meet women right where they are,” stated Marissa Cope, director of marketing for Heroic Media.

The more than 360,000 persons who contacted Heroic Media because of its advertising were given access to information about pregnancy resources and support. Contacts included texts, chats, online clicks, website visit, and calls to pregnancy centers.

“We empower women with information and access to hopeful, life-affirming resources,” Cope stated.

Those who responded to Heroic Media were given access to pregnancy centers across the country for support and information. Various pregnancy centers nationwide teamed with Heroic Media to spread life-affirming messages, promoting adoption instead of abortion as a viable option. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

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December 12, 2014

Congresswoman’s Husband Dies While in Obamacare Limbo

I was hoping to do more with this item this morning, but getting ready for this got in the way (I know, it’s late notice for those who don’t go to Facebook, but hopefully a few readers will be able to make it to the musical extravaganza described at the links).

Anyway, Wyoming Republican Congresswomn Cynthia Lummis gave her own form of testimony during the John Gruber hearing on Tuesday (beginnning at the 0:45 mark in the video below). Since the establishment press has decided it’s not newsworthy — and they’re full of crap, as usual — I’m showing it below (HT Western Journalism Center and others):

Money quote:

… the so-called ‘glibness’ that has been referenced today have direct consequences for real American people. So get over your damn glibness.”

This whole administration can take its arrogant glibness and put it where the sun doesn’t shine.

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More BLS BS

There’s far less than meets the eye in November’s jobs report.

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This column went up at PJ Media and was teased here at BizzyBlog Wednesday morning.

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UPDATE, Dec. 12: Longtime commenter dscott wants to make sure I remind everybody of the following item I left on the cutting room floor (and maybe shouldn’t have) —

[F]ull-time employment is STILL 2.4 million below where it was in November 2007 (seasonally adjusted and not seasonally adjusted) — seven long years ago. But yet, wer’re supposed to believe that Obama administration policies, and particularly Obamacare, have nothing to do with this incredibly depressing statistic.

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On Saturday at the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press, reporter Christopher Rugaber described the economy’s pickup of 321,000 payroll jobs in November as “booming.”

Not so fast, pal.

Even if you accept that November’s seasonally adjusted result fairly reflects the underlying reality — and it doesn’t, which will be shown shortly — it will only be “booming” once we see such a figure repeated for at least five more months. On a workforce-adjusted basis, the analogous post-recession period during Ronald Reagan’s presidency in the 1980s had a streak of 19 out of 20 months with an equal or better performance than just seen in November while averaging 323,000 monthly job additions over 65 months. Monthly job growth during the Obama administration’s 65-month faux recovery has averaged only 140,000.

Additionally, the seasonal adjustment process at the Bureau of Labor Statistics — an attempt to normalize results to smooth out normal and supposedly predictable fluctuations occurring throughout the year — generated an artificially high November result, as illustrated in the following comparison:

NSAandSAjobAddsSepNov2008to2014

As seen in the red boxes, BLS currently estimates that the economy really added 497,000 jobs in November. That’s 26,000 fewer than were added in November 2013. Yet somehow, after seasonal adjustment, November 2014 came in 47,000 jobs higher than the same month last year. A more reasonable seasonally adjusted result in Friday’s report would have been in the neighborhood of 250,000 — far from awful, but definitely not “booming.”

By contrast, as seen in the green boxes, October’s seasonally adjusted result understated that month’s strength. Before adjusting for workforce size, the 1.051 million in estimated job additions that month is the best result since the government began monthly recordkeeping in 1939, and is 107,000 jobs greater than November 2013. October is the month which should have seen a seasonally adjusted result well above 300,000; instead, it was barely better than October 2013.

What’s going on here?

As former BLS head Keith Hall told John Crudele last year, as paraphrased by the New York Post reporter:

All parts of Washington’s data-collecting machine adjust to smooth out the bumps caused by the seasons of the year. But the recession that started five years ago was so severe and the recovery so anemic that the seasonal adjustments have been thrown off.

Gee, I’ve been saying that for over five years, including this statement from mid-2011:

In normal times, it’s usually acceptable for data users to stick with seasonally adjusted (SA) information while avoiding the adventure of delving into and analyzing the raw, not seasonally adjusted stuff. But these are not normal times. … In abnormal times such as these, you cannot be sure that the SA data adequately reflects what’s happening in the raw information.

To be clear, I’m not alleging that the BLS is deliberately engaging in deception in its Establishment Survey of employers — yet. But the agency knows how misleading its official adjusted data have often been, and has done next to nothing to alert the public to the problem. Meanwhile, reporters in the business press, most of whom know better, still treat the adjusted numbers as gospel while barely acknowledging the raw numbers’ existence.

Thus, the public has every reason to believe that November was a great month in the job market, while October was lukewarm. The reality is exactly the opposite — which should be leading people to wonder if economic conditions might once again be deteriorating.

One likely reason why the press isn’t interested in touching the BLS’s detailed machinations is the strong likelihood that there have been and continue to be problems with data integrity and manipulation in the Household Survey. That’s the Census Bureau-managed operation which collects the information used to calculate the nation’s unemployment rate and the civilian population’s degree of engagement.

The Post’s Crudele, virtually the only reporter in the land pointing out the fundamental problems in the government’s jobs reports, noted last week that “whistleblowers in five of the six Census regions in the US have alleged data were being falsified on a regular basis.” The falsification is occurring because workers who can’t meet the Department of Labor’s aggressive and likely unrealistic survey completion requirements are submitting fake surveys.

A likely far bigger problem with the Household Survey, based on discussions I’ve had with an informant out in the trenches, is that BLS, under current far-left agenda-driven director Erica Groshen, appears to have stealthily raised the bar for what it takes to be considered actively looking for work. If you aren’t considered an active job seeker, you’re not considered unemployed, or even part of the civilian labor force. As a result, there’s reason to believe that BLS is deliberately undercounting the number of unemployed by several million, thereby significantly understating the unemployment rate.

Hall believes that the unemployment rate’s understatement may be as high as three percentage points. Imagine how different everyone’s outlook would be if he is right, and today’s unemployment rate, consistently defined and calculated, is really over 8.5 percent. My Census informant tells me that almost every experienced worker in the field believes that the government’s current reported unemployment rate of 5.8 percent is really much higher.

Other indicators point to the existence of a genuinely higher unemployment rate.

Take food stamps. Even given the program’s aggressive recruitment efforts and overly lax qualification requirements, it’s hard to square the idea that the unemployment rate dropped from 9 percent to below 6 percent in the 36 months ending in September, while food stamp enrollment remained between 46 million and 48 million during that entire time.

Now let’s look at income. The Census Bureau alums at Sentier Research estimate that real median household income is still 5 percent below where it was before the Great Recession officially began, and that it has barely budged in the past year. An economy which really has an unemployment rate of 5.8 percent would be showing far more signs of upward pressure on wages. Those questioning the unemployment rate surely should include administration apologists who believe that “full employment” has somehow become 5.5 percent instead of the 4.0-4.5 percent commonly accepted a decade ago.

Sadly, the BLS’s credibility is quickly becoming yet another casualty of the President’s self-described “most transparent administration” ever. We’re all poorer because of it — figuratively and literally.

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NewsBusted (121214)

Filed under: NewsBusted — Tom @ 6:20 am

Here we go:

TOPICS:
– Afghanistan Casualties
– Brian Williams/NBC Nightly News
– Strip Club Christmas
– Michelle Obama
– Hillary Clinton Drinking?
– Hillary Clinton Speaking Fees
– Missing Brains
– New Super-Ferrari

Best Lines: “The U.N. reports that 8,000 civilians have been killed or injured this year in Afghanistan — which means Afghanistan has now become almost as dangerous as Chicago.”

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Friday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (121214)

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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Positivity: Palestinian nuns among newly advanced causes for sainthood

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Vatican City:

Dec 11, 2014 / 12:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis on Saturday approved the advancement in the causes for sainthood of eight men and women, including two Palestinian nuns and an 20th century Italian wife and mother.

The Holy Father authorized the promulgation of the decrees for three Blesseds and five Servants of God during a Dec. 6 audience with the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Cardinal Angelo Amato.

The promulgation declared miracles attributable to the three Blesseds, paving the way for their canonizations. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

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December 11, 2014

Gruber Called a ‘Household Name’ in an LA Times Editorial, While the Paper Had No News Stories

Tuesday afternoon, Kyle Drennen at NewsBusters observed that the Big Three networks “Appear Finished With Gruber Coverage,” and that their Tuesday morning shows had no coverage of the de facto Obamacare architect and his congressional appearance.

One factor likely influencing the nets’ posture is how original news sources like the Associated Press and the nation’s largest dailies have managed to shield their readers from almost anything relating to Gruber for weeks. One particularly comical example of that has been the Los Angeles Times.

(more…)

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I’m Calling BS on November’s Retail Sales …

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:37 pm

… until someone explains this:

RetailSalesNov2014andNov2013

Start with October (green boxes), where 2014 unadjusted sales were 4.85% greater than October 2013, and seasonally adjusted sales were up by 4.51%. Those percentages are comparable, and within reason.

Now look at November, where 2014 unadjusted sales were 3.36% greater than November 2013, while seasonally adjusted sales were up by 5.13%.  Those percentages are NOT comparable, and do not seem to be within reason.

It looks to me like the seasonally adjusted numbers are overstated.

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Celeb-Worshipping WaPo Thoroughly Vets U.Va.’s ‘Jackie,’ Lets Dunham Off the Hook

Two recent items in the Washington Post support my contention that the establishment press is currently doing more than anyone besides Lena Dunham and “Jackie,” both of whom have been irrefutably exposed as rape story fabulists, to cause victims of sexual assault to be reluctant to come forward (Note: That’s not to say that the two women haven’t been victims of sexual assault, “only” that the stories they are currently promulgating cannot possibly be true).

As Tim Graham at NewsBusters noted this morning, the Post provided feminist character witnesses supporting Dunham (including one who still “completely believe(s) her”) and made pathetic excuses for the “Girls” star, including that she has a “demanding job.” Meanwhile — and to be clear, this is appropriate work which Rolling Stone should have done in the first place — the Post has been thoroughly vetting the story of alleged University of Virginia fraternity gang-rape victim “Jackie.” We’re now at the point where the coed’s original story, like Dunham’s, which “evaporated into pixie dust” after Breitbart’s John Nolte’s fact-check, has also become impossible to believe.

(more…)

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Initial Unemployment Claims (121114): 294K SA; Raw Claims at 388K

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:13 am

Predictions:

  • Business Insider — carried no predictions
  • Bloomberg — expects “unchanged” from last week’s 297,000

Seasonal adjustment factors:

  • Week ended Dec. 6, 2014 — 132.0
  • Week ended Dec. 7, 2013 — 129.3

Raw claims:

  • Week ended Nov. 29, 2014 — 294,185
  • Week ended Dec. 7, 2013 — 463,413

I would hope that there’s a pretty big seasonally adjusted dip, given how high the seasonal adjustment divisor is. Update: To match last week, raw claims would have to come in a 392,000, which would be a horrible result in light of what we’ve seen during the past several months.

We’ll see here at 8:30. I may not comment on the result until 10.

10:30 a.m.: HERE IT IS (permanent link):

SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

In the week ending December 6, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 294,000, a decrease of 3,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level of 297,000. The 4-week moving average was 299,250, an increase of 250 from the previous week’s unrevised average of 299,000.

UNADJUSTED DATA

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 388,258 in the week ending December 6, an increase of 93,834 (or 31.9 percent) from the previous week. The seasonal factors had expected an increase of 97,745 (or 33.2 percent) from the previous week. There were 463,413 initial claims in the comparable week in 2013.

That was way too close for comfort. I don’t care what the adjusted result is, 388K in raw claims is potentially troubling — emphasis on “potentially.” It’s the highest number of claims in any single week since January.

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Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (121114)

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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Positivity: Former Vatican librarian, a friend of Pope Francis, dies at 91

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Vatican City:

Dec 10, 2014 / 12:01 am

Cardinal Jorge Maria Mejìa, a former prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Library and a longtime friend of Pope Francis, died on Tuesday Dec. 9.

The Pope had been visiting the cardinal since the very first days of his pontificate and had administered the Anointing of the Sick three times.

Cardinal Mejìa was born in Buenos Aires on Jan. 31, 1923. Ordained a priest in 1945, he finished his studies at the Angelicum, the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas in Rome. There, he became acquainted with Karol Wojtyla, the future St. John Paul II.

He taught Old Testament at the Catholic University of Argentina until 1962, when he was called to Rome to serve as expert at the Second Vatican Council.

In 1977, because of his expertise in Catholic-Jewish dialogue, Blessed Paul VI appointed him secretary of the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews.

In a 2009 interview with the Vatican daily newspaper ‘L’Osservatore Romano,’ Cardinal Mejìa recounted that his interest in Judaism began before the Second Vatican Council.

“Numerous Jews live in Buenos Aires and in certain provinces such as Entre Rios and Santa Fe, as a result of the emigration encouraged by Baron Hirsch,” the cardinal said, referring to a leading nineteenth century Jewish advocate of emigration.

“I became interested in Judaism essentially for two reasons,” he explained. “The first was because, as a teacher of Sacred Scripture, I realized that to have greater familiarity with Biblical Hebrew it was important to know modern Hebrew.

He said another reason was his meeting Rabbi Leon Klenicki, an interfaith relations advocate who was a leader with the Anti-Defamation League. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

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December 10, 2014

St. Louis Reporter: Dorian Johnson, Now Hired by City As a Temp, ‘Rose to Fame’ in Michael Brown Saga

St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Nick Pistor has quite an odd take on Dorian Johnson, the closest eyewitness to the killing of Michael Brown by Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson in early August.

The occasion enabling Pistor to publicly purvey his perception was news on Monday that Johnson had taken a job with the City of St. Louis. Before getting to those details, let’s look at Pistor’s astonishing opening paragraph (bolds are mine throughout this post):

(more…)

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