April 23, 2015

At AP, Report on New-Home Sales ‘Collapse’ Argues For a ‘Bounce Back’

The Census Bureau reported today that sales new homes in the U.S. (seasonally adjusted at an annual rate) plunged sharply in March to 481,000 after hitting a seven-year record level of 543,000 in February.

As has been the case so often, AP reporter Josh Boak didn’t look past the seasonally adjusted numbers, and as a result gave the “expert” he quoted a free pass to supply sunnyside-up commentary in his mid-day Wednesday dispatch. He also shakily claimed that “winter storms” were a “likely” major impediment to March sales (bolds are mine):



Initial Unemployment Claims (042315): 295K SA; Raw Claims 7 Percent Below Same Week Last Year

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:24 am

Predictions: At Yahoo’s Econ Calendar — Briefing.com expects 285,000 seasonally adjusted claims, while “Markets” expect 288,000.

The report will be here at 8:30.



In the week ending April 18, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 295,000, an increase of 1,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level of 294,000. The 4-week moving average was 284,500, an increase of 1,750 from the previous week’s unrevised average of 282,750.


The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 279,097 in the week ending April 18, a decrease of 28,102 (or -9.1 percent) from the previous week. The seasonal factors had expected a decrease of 29,369 (or -9.6 percent) from the previous week. There were 299,182 initial claims in the comparable week in 2014.

There was a significant difference in the seasonal adjustment factors (94.6 this week, 90.7 for same week last year). Last year’s comparable week was the week before Easter, but I don’t see the fact that this year’s week didn’t have Easter as justifying such a big change. Seasonally adjusted claims would have been 308,000, or 13,000 higher, using last year’s factor; I’d split the difference and say that today’s figure “should” have been a bit over 300,000.

Though it’s too early to get overly concerned, the overall trend here is not in a very favorable direction.


Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (042315)

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: Men and women complete each other – there’s no other option, Pope says

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Vatican City:

Apr 22, 2015 / 11:39 am

Pope Francis said Wednesday that marriage is a vocation all believers are called to defend, specifically in terms of the complementarity of the union between a man and a woman.

In the account of creatio n, “man appears for a moment without woman, free and master, but he is alone, he feels alone,” the Pope told attendees of his April 22 general audience.

“God himself recognizes that this reality is not good, that there is a lack of fullness and of communion, and because of this decided to create woman,” Francis said, explaining that when the woman is finally presented to the man, “the man recognizes that only this creature, and only she, is part of him.”

Man doesn’t see woman as a mere replica or reflection of himself, the Pope noted, but immediately recognizes her as someone reciprocal and complimentary to him.

The woman, he said, “is not a ‘replica’ of the man; she comes directly from the creative act of God. The image of the ‘rib’ does not in any way express inferiority or subordination, but on the contrary, that man and woman are of the same substance and are complementary.”

Francis spoke to the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his general audience address, during which he continued his ongoing catechesis on the family. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

April 22, 2015

Press Takes to Calling Japan’s Most Recent Very Real Recession ‘Technical’

So when is a recession not a genuine recession? Apparently when it’s “technical.”

Unfortunately, the term “technical recession” appears to be well on the way to devolving into what has long been considered the real definition of a recession for the purpose of discounting its validity.



Wednesday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (042215)

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: National outpouring of love, prayers for Cardinal George

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Chicago:

Apr 17, 2015 / 04:09 pm

The death of Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago on April 17 was met with an outpouring of prayer, as well as gratitude for the life and service of the prominent Church leader.

Archbishop Blase Cupich, who currently heads the Chicago archdiocese, remembered his “beloved” predecessor in a press conference shortly after the news was announced.

Around the United States, other bishops and Catholic organizations also offered their reflections and prayers, remembering the cardinal for his courage, intellectual contributions and selfless service to the Church.

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, president of U.S. bishops’ conference

The death of an exemplary churchman such as Cardinal Francis George brings much sadness at a time of joy and resurrection. We find peace in knowing that, after so much suffering, he has been raised up with our Lord. As archbishop of Chicago and president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, Cardinal George led as a kindly servant and unmatched intellectual, a man who encouraged everyone to see how God makes us all brother and sister to one another. I join with my brother bishops in thanking God for the gift of his witness and invite all to pray for the faithful repose of his soul.

Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, D.C.

It was with great sorrow that I learned today of the death of Cardinal Francis George, whom I have known and had the privilege of working with for over 25 years. As brother bishops, we had many opportunities to work together on a number of committees in service to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Over our many years of association, I appreciated Cardinal George’s many intellectual contributions to the conference, his pastoral concern for the faithful in his diocese, and his example of faith and courage. Particularly over the last couple of years as he fought his illness with great grace, he was an example of faith in the Lord.

I offer my prayers and sympathy to Cardinal George’s family and friends and the many people whose lives he touched by his ministry over the years and ask the Lord to grant him eternal rest.

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York

While we have all realized for a while that it was near, the passing of Cardinal Francis George still comes as a jolt, and leaves us with a sense of emptiness and loss.

I assure Archbishop Cupich and the Catholic family of Chicago of our love, condolences, and prayers here in New York.

I will miss him as a pastor, friend, and guide, and can only thank God for the gift that he was and will ever be.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia

I was deeply saddened today to learn of the death of Cardinal Francis E. George, Archbishop Emeritus of Chicago.

Cardinal George was a close friend over many years, from the time I was a young bishop in Rapid City. We talked often. He was a constant source of good counsel and encouragement. As a fellow religious, he was a model for me of living the Beatitudes well, despite the daily crush of leading a large local Church. As a bishop and a scholar, he was the finest intellect the Church in America has seen in many decades. The only consolation in losing him is knowing that he served the Lord well, and the Lord has welcomed him home.

On behalf of the Church in Philadelphia, I extend prayerful condolences to Cardinal George’s family and many friends as well as Archbishop Blase J. Cupich and the priests, religious, and lay faithful of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

I ask the people of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to offer prayers for Cardinal George, and our priests to offer Masses for the repose of his soul. All of us are very grateful for the gifts of his life and service to the Universal Church. May God grant him the gift of eternal life, and give peace and consolation to all those who loved, admired, and respected him. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

April 21, 2015

Press Ignores Gold Star Mom Demanding, and Getting, an Apology from Gen. Dempsey

A decade ago, a Gold Star Mom who had lost her son in Iraq gained national attention when she staged a protest against the Iraq War near George W. Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas. Leftist PR flaks took control of Cindy Sheehan’s every move, keeping her in the headlines for months on end as a symbol of supposedly strong opposition to the war which toppled Saddam Hussein. In August 2005, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote that “the moral authority of parents who bury children killed in Iraq is absolute.”

Yet Dowd and the rest of her fellow travelers in the establishment press have almost completely ignored, by their definition, the “absolute moral authority” of Gold Star Mom Debbie Lee, whose son Marc “was the first Navy SEAL who sacrificed his life in Ramadi, Iraq (on) Aug 2, 2006.” Lee wrote a scathing letter to Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Martin Dempsey after the general’s insensitve contention that, in essence, the fact that Ramadi is in danger of falling to the Islamic State is not particularly important.



NewsBusted (042115)

Filed under: NewsBusted — Tom @ 8:11 pm

Here we go:

– U.S. Debt
– Millennials Living with Parents
– California Drought
– Al Gore
– Condom Use
– CBS Bob Schieffer Retiring
– Meth Use Among Seniors

Best Lines:

  • “In a recent speech Al Gore says severe snowstorms are caused by global warming. He also claims that all the weight he’s gained was caused by dieting.”
  • “‘Face the Nation’ anchor Bob Schieffer announced he will retire this summer. And he plans to stay out of the public eye by getting his own show on MSNBC.”

Eonnline.com Hypes, Airbrushes Paltrow’s ‘Failed’ ‘Food Stamp Challenge’

Readers who have seen my previous posts on actress Gwyneth Paltrow’s recent “failed” attempt to complete the deceptively designed “Food Stamp Challenge” know far more than people who rely on Eonline.com ever will. Although it’s far from encouraging when considering the nation’s future, what we have here is an object lesson in how the entertainment press airbrushes the truth to polish the image of a celebrity who is either breathtakingly ignorant or in on the scam.

Readers here know that Paltrow tried and “failed” to eat for a week on $29, when the program’s benefit before reductions for available income and financial resources for a single person is really about $45. They also know that, after getting by for “about four days” after spending $24.40 on a dubious collection of food items, she was actually still on track to stay within the actual $45 benefit, but quit. Those who only go to Eonline.com, watch the related cable channel, or go to other entertainment media venues for their “news” won’t know any of this, as the video and coverage which follow the jump will demonstrate.



Tuesday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (042115)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 7:15 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: Cardinal Francis George of Chicago dies at 78

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Chicago:

Apr 17, 2015 / 12:20 pm

Cardinal Francis George, the Emeritus Archbishop of Chicago, passed away Friday morning after a long batter with cancer.

Archbishop Blase Cupich, who currently heads the archdiocese, remembered Cardinal George as “a man of peace, tenacity and courage.”

At an April 17 press conference, Archbishop Cupich lauded the cardinal for his bravery in overcoming challenges, which included a battle with polio as a teenager that left his legs permanently weak.

“Cardinal George was a respected leader among the bishops of the United States,” Archbishop Cupich noted, particularly pointing to his work to fight the clerical sex abuse scandal: “He stood strong among his fellow bishops and insisted that zero tolerance was the only course consistent with our beliefs.”

The 78-year-old cardinal had been fighting cancer for several years. He was first diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2006 and underwent a five-hour surgery to remove his bladder and other parts of his body affected by cancer. In 2012, his doctors discovered that the cancer had returned, this time to his kidney and liver.

In an effort to battle the returning cancer, Cardinal George took part in a cancer drug clinical trial last year, which experimented with helping the body recognize cancerous cells through the immune system. After it was determined that his trial was proving to be ineffective, he halted the treatment in January.

The first Chicago native to become the city’s archbishop, Cardinal George retired in 2014 amid his battle with cancer and was succeeded by Archbishop Cupich. He had shepherded the archdiocese since 1997.

Last year, he said that the cancer would likely be the cause of his death, but that he was counting on prayers so that he “might be of service to the Lord and His Church in the time left.”

Cardinal George leaves behind a robust legacy as a leader among the American bishops and an influential figure in the global Church. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

April 20, 2015

Minneapolis Star Tribune Reporter Bemoans ‘Youth Exodus,’ Doesn’t Mention Taxes

Minneapolis Star Tribune reporter Jackie Crosby’s writeup on how “Minnesota has been losing residents to other states” since 2002, and that it’s especially troubling because “young adults are leaving in the greatest numbers,” contained an enormous blind spot.

The Gopher State, aka the Land of 10,000 Lakes, is also sardonically known as the Land of 10,000 Taxes by many residents, and with good reason. Yet the only time the word “tax” appeared was in a sentence discussing the need for “robust tax rolls.”



Positivity: HHS mandate loses again — Supreme Court order protects Pennsylvania Catholic groups

Filed under: Health Care,Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 1:30 pm

From Washington:

Apr 18, 2015 / 04:25 pm

The U.S. Supreme Court has continued its trend of decisions stopping enforcement of a federal contraception mandate against religious employers with moral objections.

On April 15, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito issued an order barring the federal government from enforcing the mandate against Catholic Charities affiliates, Catholic schools and social service organizations in the dioceses of Erie and Pittsburgh.

“Every time a religious plaintiff has gone to the Supreme Court for protection from the government’s discriminatory mandate the Court has protected them,” Lori Windham, senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, said April 17.

“How many times must the government lose in court before it gets the message?” she added. “For years now the government has been claiming that places like Catholic Charities and the Little Sisters of the Poor are not ‘religious employers’ worthy of an exemption. That argument has always been absurd.”

The plaintiffs in the case have objected to a Department of Health and Human Services rule mandating insurance coverage of sterilization procedures and contraception, including some drugs that can cause abortions.

The organizations said they cannot help employees acquire the objectionable drugs and procedures without violating their religious beliefs.

Alito’s court order requires the government to brief the court on why it should be able to fine the objecting organizations, according to the Becket Fund.

Windham noted that the court has sided with plaintiffs against the HHS mandate in four previous cases. Other plaintiffs which have prevailed against the mandate include institutions and businesses such as the Little Sisters of the Poor, Wheaton College, the University of Notre Dame and Hobby Lobby. …

Go here for the rest of the story.


Monday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (042015)

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.