September 26, 2014

Green Hypocrisy, Exposed by the Blaze

Filed under: Activism,Economy,Environment,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:13 pm

Amy Holmes utters a great potential headline during this presentation — “Lifestyles of the Clean and Famous,” except, of course, they’re not really clean:

These folks would surely exempt themselves from any legal restrictions to be imposed on the rest of us.

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Holder Gets Mostly Gushing Sendoff at USA Today

USA Today gave the equivalent of almost a full page to Eric Holder’s resignation in Friday’s print edition.

The paper’s primary story by Gregory Korte, at the top right of the front page, described him as having “championed gay, civil, voting rights.” The item’s continuation on Page 8A included a quote from Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, which calls itself “America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality.” Griffin called Hold “our Robert Kennedy.” How odd, given that Michael Lind’s 2000 book on RFK described him as “prudish and homophobic.” That’s what happens when you grow up learning airbrushed history, Chad. The paper’s second story went into puffery by describing how “Holder Took Work as AG Personally.” Excerpts from each follow the jump.

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NewsBusted (092614)

Filed under: NewsBusted — Tom @ 9:49 am

Here we go:

Topics:
– U.S. Treasury
– Food Stamps
– Non-Citizen Income
– Californians and Marijuana
– Jay Carney
– CNN
– Sylvester Stallone
– iPhone 6

Best Lines:

  • “According to the U.S. Treasury, federal tax revenues reached a record $2.7 trillion for the fiscal year. The bad news: It’s already been wasted.”
  • “According to the Census Bureau, non-citizen income rose 15 times faster than the income of non-citizens last year. As a result, citizens are now demanding a path to non-citizenship.”
  • “The National Labor Relations Board ordered CNN to rehire 100 fired employees. That’s not fair; CNN doesn’t even have 100 viewers.”
  • “Sylvester Stallone has confirmed he plans to shoot another Rambo movie. In this installment, the former soldier fights the VA trying to get a medical appointment.”
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Q214 GDP, Third Reading: An Annualized 4.6 Percent

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:33 am

The travel situation kept me from getting to this right away, but here goes:

Real gross domestic product — the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States — increased at an annual rate of 4.6 percent in the second quarter of 2014, according to the “third” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the first quarter, real GDP decreased 2.1 percent.

The GDP estimate released today is based on more complete source data than were available for the “second” estimate issued last month. In the second estimate, the increase in real GDP was 4.2 percent. With the third estimate for the second quarter, the general picture of economic growth remains the same; increases in nonresidential fixed investment and in exports were larger than previously estimated.

Here are a few of the changes in contributions to GDP:

  • Personal consumption expenditures — from +1.69 points to +1.75.
  • Nonresidential fixed investment — from +1.25 points to +1.45.
  • Inventories — from +1.39 points to +1.42.
  • Net exports — from -0.43 points to -0.34.
  • Government — from +0.27 points to +0.31.

This is a good result. Another 10 quarters of this would be needed to make a dent in the $2 trillion trendline gap the Obama recovery has created.

Zero Hedge has raised definitional issues which require a closer look at another time.

Looking forward to this quarter, which ends in just a few days, the relatively weak personal consumption contribution does not bode well.

Yesterday’s durable goods report certainly didn’t help:

New orders for manufactured durable goods in August decreased $54.5 billion or 18.2 percent to $245.4 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau announced today. This decrease, down following two consecutive monthly increases, followed a 22.5 percent July increase. Excluding transportation, new orders increased 0.7 percent. Excluding defense, new orders decreased 19.0 percent.

Combining July and August nets out to no change (1.225 x .818 is 1.002).

Shipments have gone up 2.13 percent from June to August (3.7 followed by -1.5), which isn’t particularly impressive either.

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Friday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (092614)

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: Church-state separation allows rules on employee morality, lawyers say

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Kansas City:

Sep 24, 2014 / 04:54 pm

The separation of church and state includes the freedom to require employees to follow Church teachings, said a legal group responding to a lawsuit over the firing of an employee of the Kansas City – St. Joseph diocese after her same-sex “marriage” became public.

“If dioceses are forced to employ people who do not follow Church doctrine, the government will have corrupted the Church, which will no longer be able to minister freely in accordance with its faith,” Erik Stanley, Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel, said Sept. 18.

Stanley said that a church “is not obligated to employ those who willingly act contrary to the church’s teaching,” noting that this right was upheld by the Supreme Court in a unanimous decision two years ago.

Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a brief in support of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, asking for the dismissal of a lawsuit filed on behalf of Colleen Simon, a fired church employee.

Simon began working as director of social ministries for the diocese’s St. Francis Xavier parish in July 2013. She said that her civil marriage, to a woman who is a pastor at a local Lutheran church, was known to the parish at the time it hired her under its previous pastor.

In May, the church’s new pastor asked for Simon’s resignation after a newspaper article identified her as married to a woman. She did not submit a resignation letter but continued to work, and was fired a few days later.

In a June letter, the diocese’s human resources director said in a letter to Simon that her conduct “contradicts church laws, discipline, and teaching and the diocesan policy on ethics and integrity in ministry.”

Go here for the rest of the story.

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September 25, 2014

Initial Unemployment Claims (092514): 293K SA; Raw Claims Only 239K

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:00 am

Because of travel commitments, I won’t get a chance to look at the Department of Labor’s latest unemployment claims report until mid- to late-morning on Thursday.

The only prediction I could find late Thursday was a vague one at MarketWatch: “initial jobless claims are expected to edge a bit higher after sinking to 280,000 in the second week of September.”

I didn’t get a chance to look at the seasonal factors because that page at DOL wasn’t available late Thursday evening.

The DOL’s report will be here at 8:30.

UPDATE: I’ll spare readers the current travel nightmare for a later time. Here is the DOL’s report (permanent link) —

SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

In the week ending September 20, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 293,000, an increase of 12,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised up by 1,000 from 280,000 to 281,000. The 4-week moving average was 298,500, a decrease of 1,250 from the previous week’s revised average. The previous week’s average was revised up by 250 from 299,500 to 299,750.

UNADJUSTED DATA

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 238,539 in the week ending September 20, a decrease of 3,533 (or -1.5 percent) from the previous week. The seasonal factors had expected a decrease of 13,214 (or -5.5 percent) from the previous week. There were 255,087 initial claims in the comparable week in 2013.

As far as I’m concerned, the fact that the raw claims number was so low negates any negatives from the seasonally adjusted figure’s rise.

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Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (092514)

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: Bone Marrow Recipient Meets Donor Who Saved His Life

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Staten Island, NY, and Dallas, Texas:

Sep 19, 2014, 10:40 AM ET

Two men who changed each other’s lives forever by being on the giving and receiving ends of a bone marrow transplant met for the first time today and had their first chance to say, “Thank you,” face-to-face.

“Thank you so much,” Joe Yannantuono, 33, said to his bone marrow donor, Justin Jenkins, 35, as he embraced him in a hug in a live, emotional meeting on “Good Morning America.”

Yannantuono, not very long ago, was waging a two-year long battle for his life against stage 4 lymphoma.

As his wife, Christine Buono, and his 4-year-old son, JJ Yannantuono, stood by his side, the family, from Staten Island, N.Y., got the unbelievable news that a man in Texas, a stranger, was a rare 10 for 10 genetic bone marrow match.

That stranger in Texas, Jenkins, of Dallas, had registered to be a bone marrow donor by chance 15 years ago when he was 21-years-old and donated blood because they were offering free snacks.

Soon after Jenkins was found to be a match, his stem cells were transported by airplane to New York and transplanted into Yannatuono’s body in December 2012 at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

For more than one year after the successful transplant, Yannantuono had no idea whose cells he was now carrying in his body.

As Yannantuono was rebuilding his life, Jenkins’ life was thrown a tragic curveball. His mother, who raised him on her own and had been a big part of his donation journey, was killed in a car crash.

Just days after his mother’s death, in April of this year, Yannantuono called Jenkins as they found out each other’s identities, giving Jenkins something to help pull him through his grief. …

Go here for the story.

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September 24, 2014

Politico’s Gerstein Thinks Both Obama and Bush Had ‘Zig-Zag’ Foreign Policies

The Politico’s Josh Gerstein wants readers not to have a problem with President Barack Obama singing the praises of American exceptionalism when in front of U.S. audiences but deep-sixing it when speaking at the United Nations. Though Obama has almost always avoided actually using the E-word, he has recently taken to speaking of this nation’s “unique” abilities and capabilities, and for some time has described the U.S. as “the one indispensable nation.”

But Gerstein, in his column this evening, indicated that it’s okay that “Obama watered down his noble-America rhetoric” at the U.N. today. Oh, and in the Politico reporter’s fantasy world, Obama’s back-and-forth foreign policy postures — it’s hardly accurate to call them genuine “positions” — are really no different than what we saw under George W. Bush. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):

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NewsBusted (092314)

Filed under: NewsBusted — Tom @ 8:05 pm

Here we go:

Topics:
– Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel
– Senate Armed Forces Committee
– ISIS
– Centers for Disease Control
– President Obama
– Congress
– White House Picnic
– Benghazi
– Michelle Obama

Best Line: “In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel tried to explain President Obama’s ISIS strategy — which is also known as ‘Operation Making It Up As We Go Along.’”

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Wednesday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (092414)

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: A delayed desire: Albanian priest waited decades for ordination

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Tirana, Albania:

Sep 22, 2014 / 07:44 am

An Albanian Catholic priest shared his story of encountering persecution for his faith by the country’s repressive state atheism, noting how he waited decades before his dream to be ordained was fulfilled.

“When I first said I wanted to be ‘like Him,’ a priest told me that it was a dark path to take, but I replied: ‘I see no darkness,’” Father Gjergj Simoni said.

In a Sept. 21 interview with CNA, he recalled feeling drawn to the priesthood at an early age.

“When my grandmother took me to Mass when I was six, and at the moment of the consecration, I had the feeling that I wanted to be like Jesus in the hand of that priest. I soon realized I wanted to be a priest, even if my dream did not come true for years.”

Pope Francis touched on Albania’s recent history of religious oppression several times throughout his one-day trip on Sunday. Albania lived under state-imposed atheism from 1967 to 1991, but priests and other religious leaders began to endure persecution when dictator Enver Hoxha took power in 1946.

The regime conducted a war against religions: almost 2,100 people, including Catholic priests and adherents of other religions, were brutally killed because of their religious beliefs.

Despite Fr. Simoni’s strong desire to be ordained, the day would not come until much later when Albania’s communist rule ended. He was the first Albanian priest to be ordained in decades on April 21, 1991.

Fr. Simoni was raised in a Catholic family – his brother, Zef Simoni, was ordained a priest during the 1960s and later consecrated a bishop.

“My brother ordained me,” Fr. Simoni said, noting that both of them were persecuted under the Enver Hoxha regime.

“My brother was a brilliant professor. He was also offered scholarships in the countries of the Soviet Union, but he refused. In 1958, he decided to enter the seminary. It was a secret seminary, since persecution had already begun,” he said.

Fr. Simoni said that he, too, studied to be a priest, but he was not ordained “in order to avoid problems.”

Though he was not a priest yet, he too suffered persecution from the regime. In 1967, he was arrested after police found sacred objects, books from the archbishop’s house and a book of poems he had written against the regime were found at his home.

“I had a house with a big garden, and I was asked to hide in my garden chalices and other sacred objects and books,” he said.

He agreed to hide the objects. He excavated a big hole in the garden and planted flowers on it in order to hide everything. However, someone saw him. He was reported to the authorities, who sent police to his house to search.

“They searched in my house and then outside in the garden for eight days. They also brought a metal detector, in order to find a chalice,” the priest recounted.

Fr. Simoni was arrested and sentenced to 10 years in prison. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

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September 23, 2014

AP’s Lederman Deletes Ridiculous Tweet Hyping Obama’s Anti-ISIS Coalition (See Update)

Twitter users happening upon a Monday evening tweet by the Associated Press’s Josh Lederman can be forgiven if they thought they were visiting a parody account.

Lederman is a White House reporter for the AP. His LinkedIn profile indicates that his journalism career began about three years ago. His education, up to and including “a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism” after obtaining “a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from The George Washington University,” apparently left him woefully short of genuine knowledge of recent U.S. history, as indicated in the tweet which follows the jump (HT Twitchy):

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An Exercise in Fantasy: Paul Weber’s AP Story on Texas Davis-Abbott Debate

This morning (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis’s awful performance in Friday’s debate with Republican aspirant Greg Abbott was predictably ignored by the Politico, the New York Times, and the Associated Press’s national site.

The AP did have a story it apparently limited to distribution within Texas. As I also noted this morning, though it’s probably not the case, it would not surprise anyone if we learned the wire service’s Paul Weber wrote his story in advance and stayed in his hotel room during the event. That’s because his Saturday dispatch was so divorced from reality that it’s hard to imagine that he could really have written it based on what he and other viewers actually saw.

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