April 29, 2015

Not News: Obama Education Secretary Threatens to ‘Step In’ Over Common Core Testing Opt-Outs

Well, this is awkward — or rather, it would be if the press cared about the federally-driven tyranny which is in the process of capturing the nation’s public and private K-12 schools.

Common Core’s proponents have insisted and still insist that “it was and will remain a state-led effort” (italics is theirs). Yet when faced with the “problem” of too many parents opting out of its intrusive testing regime — something they are supposedly free to do without penalty or reprisal — guess who steps in with threats and smears? You guessed it: Federal Education Secretary Arne Duncan.



WashPost Fact-Checker Hits O’Malley For Truthful Statement on Baltimore Crime

At the Washington Post early Tuesday morning, Michelle Ye Hee Lee vetted a statement frequently made by former Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley, a Democrat and possible 2016 presidential contender, about reductions in crime on his watch.

Ms. Lee must have been in a hermetically sealed cave during the previous two days, because her sole justification for conducting the fact check was the protesting taking place against “the police-custody death of Freddie Gray,” despite the fact that Baltimore’s “mass riots” began Saturday night.



1Q15 Gross Domestic Product (042915): An Annualized +0.2 Percent, With a 0.74-Point Inventory Buildup (UPDATE: Health Care is +0.62 Points)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:25 am


  • Yahoo’s Economic calendar has Briefing.com predicting an annualized 0.4 percent with the “Market” at 1.0 percent.
  • A report on the decline in consumer confidence yesterday at the Associated Press predicted 1.0 percent to 1.5 percent. This morning, in a separate report, it’s 1.0 percent. (Ever since Dear Leader took office, the AP has been a laggard in recognizing downward forecast trends.)
  • A Bloomberg writeup carries a prediction of 1.0 percent.
  • The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta is at 0.1 percent. Moody’s is at 1.0 – 1.2 percent.

Readers here know that many hard statistics relating to orders, shipments and production have declined from what was seen during the fourth quarter. Some of them are lower than they were during the first quarter of 2014. These indicators would seem to presage a trip into contraction for today’s change in GDP.

But this ia a government report, so who knows? Additionally, we shouldn’t forget that today’s release is the first of three. In the first quarter of 2014, the first estimate was +0.1 percent and fell to -2.9 percent two months later, before being comprehensively revised in July to -2.1 percent.

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

HERE IT IS (full HTML link): Initial props go to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, which almost nailed it —

Real gross domestic product — the value of the production of goods and services in the United States, adjusted for price changes — increased at an annual rate of 0.2 percent in the first quarter of 2015, according to the “advance” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the fourth quarter, real GDP increased 2.2 percent.

The Bureau emphasized that the first-quarter advance estimate released today is based on source data that are incomplete or subject to further revision by the source agency (see the box on page 3 and “Comparisons of Revisions to GDP” on page 5). The “second” estimate for the first quarter, based on more complete data, will be released on May 29, 2015.

The increase in real GDP in the first quarter primarily reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE) and private inventory investment that were partly offset by negative contributions from exports, nonresidential fixed investment, and state and local government spending. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.

… The deceleration in real GDP growth in the first quarter reflected a deceleration in PCE, downturns in exports, in nonresidential fixed investment, and in state and local government spending, and a deceleration in residential fixed investment that were partly offset by a deceleration in imports and upturns in private inventory investment and in federal government spending.

The price index for gross domestic purchases, which measures prices paid by U.S. residents, decreased 1.5 percent in the first quarter, compared with a decrease of 0.1 percent in the fourth. Excluding food and energy prices, the price index for gross domestic purchases increased 0.3 percent, compared with an increase of 0.7 percent.

… The change in real private inventories added 0.74 percentage point to the first-quarter change in real GDP after subtracting 0.10 percentage point from the fourth-quarter change. Private businesses increased inventories $110.3 billion in the first quarter, following increases of $80.0 billion in the fourth quarter and of $82.2 billion in the third.

Without the inventory buildup — which relies on the assumption that you’re going to be able to sell what you’re making or buying, it’s a 0.5 percent contraction. Yikes.

More later, after I update the components table.


UPDATE: Here are the components, showing yet another large contribution from health care, which is a relatively small item ($2.2 trillion out of $17.7 trillion, or 12.4% in current dollars) —


As seen above, health care has been over 60 percent (1.50 points out of 2.40 points) of the GDP increase during the past two quarters. Everything else has contributed less than one point.

The increases in health care costs can’t possibly be entirely supported by improvements in quality. They’re mostly a drain from spending available for everything else.

The combined +1.36-point contribution of inventory buildups and health care costs tell us that today’s report represents a substantive contraction of over 1 percent (annualized) as it affects average Americans.

I expect that the weather excuse machine will be pushed to its limit for the rest of the day.

UPDATE 2: The -0.40 point negative contribution in fixed investment excluding inventories is the worst such result since 2009.

UPDATE 3: Bloomberg economist Carl Riccadonna — “Disappointing Q1 GDP looks similar to what occurred last year, when growth was ultimately nudged into negative territory through revisions.”

UPDATE 4: That negative gross domestic purchases deflator (corrected from “GDP deflator,” which is not how the text reads; thanks to commenter Steve for that catch) of -1.5 percent also seems far more negative than it should be (the lower it is, the higher the resulting GDP growth).


Wednesday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (042915)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 7:13 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: Baltimore archbishop — With God, a broken city can heal

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:13 am

From Baltimore:

Apr 29, 2015 / 02:43 am (CNA/EWTN News).- After both peaceful protests and violent riots following the death of an African American man in the custody of the Baltimore police, the local archbishop appealed to prayer and truth as means of healing and restoring human dignity.

“May we pray together that God will grace us with his presence always, so that our broken city can once again be made whole, and that our minds and our hearts will be open to peace and God’s love beyond all understanding,” Archbishop William E. Lori said in an April 28 video message.

“Today, many in our city are trying to come to grips with the aftermath of emotional and sometimes violent protests that threaten to overshadow two realities that cannot and should not be lost: a family’s devastating loss of a young man whose body was laid to rest Monday, and a grieving community’s peaceful quest for answers and for justice.”

Baltimore resident Freddie Gray, 25, died on April 19, one week after he sustained injuries while being transported following an arrest by Baltimore police. His injuries included a severed spinal cord and a crushed voicebox.

His funeral was on Monday.

“Our hearts cannot help but go out to the loved ones of Freddie Gray, whose pain and anguish we share,” Archbishop Lori said. “Freddie was not merely a symbol, but a real person whose life was tragically cut short.”

The archbishop said this pain will be endured by “far too many other Baltimore families” as long as “senseless violence and hatred continue.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.

April 28, 2015

Orioles to Play in an Empty Stadium on Wed., Play 3 Home Games in Tampa

At NewsBusters this morning, Matthew Philbin posted on how Michael Eric Dyson, in a guest appearance on MSNBC (where else?), placed a great deal of blame for Baltimore’s blight on “the ways in which the Baltimore Ravens and Baltimore Orioles with their tax-exempt status were given tremendous goodies to stay into the city.”

It would be reasonable to believe that Dyson, who has revealed a vengeful streak in the recent past — in July 2013, after George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the death of Trayvon Martin in Florida, he said that “Not until, and unless, the number of white kids die that approximate the numbers of black and other kids who die, will America see” — is quite pleased at the financial losses the Orioles, their employees, and businesses in the vicinity are being forced to absorb. Thanks to arguably necessary decisions made today, they will continue.



Sherrod Brown’s Fictions About Bush 41 and Trade Spanning 12 Years Don’t Interest Ohio’s Newspapers

It must be nice to be a leftist Washington politician representing congressional districts in or the entire state of Ohio.

You can serially fib about something for years on end, and ordinarily the folks back home won’t know any better. Even when you’re caught red-handed by the national press occasionally breaking down and doing its job, your area’s or the Buckeye State’s press will ignore it. A case in point is the Washington Post’s finding on April 23 at its Fact Checker blog that Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown has for a dozen years completely fabricated statements he has attributed to President George H.W. Bush.



AP Protects Obama, Who Said ‘Thugs,’ Carries Baltimore Mayor’s Apology For Using the Word

The language police came out in full force today, expressing outrage that President Barack Obama employed an accurate word — “thugs” — to describe many of those involved in Baltimore’s three days of rioting.

The PR flaks at a leftist media group went to a spokesperson for a Latino “organizing” group. He attacked Obama, not for using the word, but for having the temerity to apply it a “handful” (Obama’s word) of rioters instead of to the police — “President Obama Should Call Freddie Gray’s Murderers Thugs, Not Protesters.” The Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press, has dutifully fallen into line, not only protecting Obama by ignoring his use of the word, but also by giving prominence to Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s pathetic apology for having previously used it.



MSNBC Guest: White Supremacy’s Influence Doesn’t Require Having a White Person Around

As I demonstrated last week, MSNBC and CNN, the two also-rans in the cable news race, survive in large part because about half of their revenues are, once contracts are signed with cable and other providers, guaranteed for several years. This insulates them from much of the financial impact of declining viewership.

MSNBC’s far-leftism is particulary painful to watch — so painful that it’s hard to imagine anyone other than a critic voluntarily watching it. One of the more egregious recent examples of far-left lunacy occurred this weekend on tax scofflaw Melissa Harris-Perry’s show, where a guest actually said that “you don’t have to have a white person around to have white supremacy play out.” Thus, Baltimore’s descent into lawlessness, despite having entirely black leadership, is still apparently whites’ fault.



Japan’s Retail Sales Dive; Press, Pundits Want Even More ‘Stimulus’

Japan just reported yet another awful retail sales result. Though it far exceeeded predictions of a 7.3 percent fall, the 9.7 percent March 2015 plunge compared to March 2014 doesn’t reveal much, as March 2014 saw a splurge at the stores ahead of a steep sales tax increase which took effect on April 1. The really telling figure is the 1.9 percent seasonally adjusted dive compared to February.

Proving once again that they haven’t learned, and probably never will, the press and financial commentators are really hoping that the government will respond, after two decades of Keynesian deficit spending and quantitative easing which have given the country slow growth, several recessions and a dispirited populace, with (good heavens) more stimulus.



NewsBusted (042815)

Filed under: NewsBusted — Tom @ 8:57 am

Here we go:

– Hillary Clinton
– Bruce Jenner
– President Obama
– Al Qaeda Airstrike
– Coachella Music Festival
– Tim Tebow to Eagles
– Al Capone

Best Lines:

  • “Security guards confiscated hundreds of fake IDs at California’s Coachella Music Festival. The phony IDs were turned over to the Obama administration, who immediately redistributed them to illegal immigrants.”
  • “A new study shows that Al Capone was probably the worst tax evader of all time. Historians claim that if Capone were alive today, he would probably be a host on MSNBC.”

Tuesday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (042815)

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: The ‘theology of the people’, according to Pope Francis

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:10 am

From Vatican City:

Apr 27, 2015 / 03:38 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In a previously unpublished 2012 lecture, Pope Francis explains the inner sense of the ‘theology of the people,’ emphasizing that popular piety is the antithesis of widespread secularization.

The lecture has now been published for the first time, in the Italian edition of “An Introduction to the Theology of the People,” by Argentine theologian Ciro Enrique Bianchi, a pupil of Victor Manuel Fernandez – rector of the Catholic University of Argentina and one of Pope Francis’ closest collaborators.

The book was conceived as a theological and spiritual profile of the Argentine thinker Rafael Tello, considered one of the founders of the ‘theology of the people’ which Pope Francis holds in high esteem.

The ‘theology of the people’ was popular in Argentina as an alternative to radical liberation theology. While radical liberation theologians looked to Marxist, immanentist interpretations of the Gospel, theology of the people was founded on common peoples’ culture and devotion, including their spirituality and sense of justice.

While Archbishop of Buenos Aires, then-Cardinal Bergoglio wrote the foreword to the original, Spanish edition of Bianchi’s book on ‘theology of the people’ and held a lecture at its official presentation. This lecture zeroed in on “the faith of our humble people,” and has been used as the foreword of the Italian edition; excerpts were published
April 27 in Avvenire, the Italian bishops’ daily paper.

Cardinal Bergoglio wrote that Latin America was largely characterized by poverty and Christianity, and that this latter is expressed by various and colourful forms of popular piety such as processions, vigils, and public prayer.

“When we approach our people with the gaze of the good shepherd, when we do not come to judge but to love, we can find out that this cultural way to express the Christian faith is still present among us, especially in our poor,” he said. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

April 27, 2015

Inadvertent Truth? Short-Lived AP Headline: ‘Obama Pledges Help to Riot’

The headline is already gone from the Associated Press’s national site, but it’s still present elsewhere.

In the context of events in Ferguson and elsewhere since August of last year, one could argue that it contains more truth than the wire service and the headline’s accidental creators will ever admit.



Columnist Slurs the South, Sees ‘White Micro-Aggression’ in Reporter’s Question to Jesse Jackson About Cop Cameras

At Instapundit, Elizabeth Price Foley caught a real doozy of a column in the Cincinnati area’s only daily newspaper — if you insist on calling something which looks like it was cobbled together overnight at Fedex-Kinko’s a “newspaper.”

If there was a daily prize for the largest quantity of subtle but arrogant condescension in an opinion column, Cincinnati native, Ohio State graduate, and current North Charleston, South Carolina middle school teacher Meg Stentz would be yesterday’s hands-down winner. Proving that she’s keeping up with the latest trends in political correctness, she even dragged one of the left’s favorite new words into her Sunday writeup.