Monday, March 31, 2014

Obama Befriends Illegals: ICE Arrests Plummet 40% Since 2011, 870,000 Deportable Aliens Remain Deep In Country

. . . and these Republicans support him.
The Daily Caller reports here:

Since June 2011, when the first of the Obama administration’s “prosecutorial discretion” policies were put in place, the [Center for Immigration Studies] report adds, interior ICE arrests have declined by 40 percent. ... ICE reports that there are more than 870,000 aliens on its docket who have been ordered removed, but who remain in defiance of the law.

To paraphrase Aristotle, citizens have the back of the king but a tyrant relies on foreigners for protection.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Maryland Junks Its Failed Online Healthcare Exchange, Now If Only The Feds Would Do The Same

Story here:

Maryland is not alone in having deep-seated problems with its health marketplace. Technical issues also have plagued Oregon, Minnesota and Hawaii. But Maryland will be the first to walk away from its site, a particular embarrassment for Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D), who was placed in charged of implementing health-care reform in Maryland by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D).

Bailed-Out GM Auto Recall Surges To 4.8 Million In 2014 From 0.76 Million In 2013

Top 20 vehicles by sales volume 2013
There's your everyday, run-of-the-mill, garden-variety recall from going automobile companies like Toyota and Honda who recall vehicles and still make a profit, and then there's your government-subsidized, taxpayer-funded, otherwise bankrupt recall like one from General Motors or Chrysler.

Which would you prefer?

The New York Times reports here:

General Motors announced on Saturday morning that it was recalling 490,000 trucks and 172,000 compact cars, meaning the automaker has now recalled about 4.8 million vehicles in the United States during the first three months of the year. That is about six times the number of vehicles it recalled in all of 2013. ... G.M. recalled about 758,000 vehicles in the United States in 2013, ninth among automakers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Toyota was first, with about 5.3 million vehicles, followed by Chrysler with 4.7 million and Honda with almost 2.8 million.

Taxpayers lost $10 billion on the GM bailout, $1.3 billion on the Chrysler bailout.

Lost For Three Weeks, Malaysian Flight 370 May Join 83 Other Disappearances Since WWII

Bloomberg has a good graphic here of aircraft which have simply vanished in the post-war, about 1.2 per year on average.

Wikipedia now has quite a large page devoted to Flight 370, here.

In addition Wikipedia devotes pages to 33 individual lost aircraft over the years, listed here.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Memo To Larry Kudlow And Other Defenders Of GM/TARP Bailouts: Free Market Capitalism This Is Not

General Motors, bailed out at a loss to the American people in 2009, has now had to recall approximately 2.6 million vehicles according to this story, many built well after the fact:

General Motors is boosting by 971,000 the number of small cars being recalled worldwide for a defective ignition switch, saying cars from the model years 2008-2011 may have gotten the part as a replacement.

The latest move brings the total number of cars affected to 2.6 million. The questionable handling of the problem, including GM's admission that it knew the switches were possibly defective as early as 2001, has embarrassed the nation's largest automaker. The recalls — which are under investigation by Congress and federal regulators — have overshadowed the improved quality of GM's newer cars.


Improved quality? You mean like the Volt which catches on fire? The Cruze whose steering wheel comes off? If this were a free market capitalist economy, Larry, GM would have been allowed to fail instead of being allowed to keep on selling this garbage to the American people.

GM should have gone through bankruptcy instead of being bailed out. It might have been reorganized as a result, but not as a worthless union shop. Otherwise its assets would have been acquired by the highest bidders who know how to build cars. Unfortunately GM's still here making crummy cars with shitty parts, some of which could kill more people, all thanks to the taxpayers, some of whom are still dumb enough to keep buying the things. Just Google the forums and read the horror stories. I'll bet they're the same ones who don't know Monday is the deadline to sign up for ObamaCare.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: no more GM cars for me, ever. The bailout was a bridge too far.

Ditto Chrysler.

Larry Kudlow's Kudlow Report On CNBC Ended Tonight

CNBC posted the farewells here on the day ending the television show's 5-year run, which wraps up 25 years with the network so far.

Kudlow remains affiliated with CNBC in a senior capacity and will appear daytimes on occasion instead of nightly at 7:00 PM.

Kudlow, 66 and an avid tennis player,  has had back problems requiring surgery in the last year, according to his own remarks on his 10:00 AM Saturday radio program on, where you can download podcasts.

Ending his television program was reportedly his own choice and was made in the interest of slowing down.

Others have pointed to the show's very poor ratings as the reason for ending it, but the show has an enthusiastic and devoted, if not large, following.

The Reaganite supply-sider is known for his belief in free market capitalism as the best path to prosperity, as well as for strong dollar policy, growth oriented economic policies and a militarily strong America which welcomes and befriends others wishing to be free.

Kudlow credits his conversion to Roman Catholicism with helping him overcome a drug and alcohol addiction.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Incompetent Boob

He can't even make a gimme

WaPo's Chris Cillizza Doesn't Realize The Voters Already Decided Obama Was Incompetent Way Back In 2010

Yeah, Obama was reelected in 2012 and retained the Senate twice, but the House went Republican in 2010 and stayed that way in 2012 despite all the help the press has given Democrats, which is why they all remain so damn angry.

The only reason the House and Senate flipped Democrat under George Bush was the full court press of the press against him, which in the case of Obama has been completely silent on his Hurricane Sandy debacle, just as it has been on the worst GDP record in the post-war . . . under Obama. Scores of other bungles and idles also apply, from the Macondo Blowout to the Fruit of Kaboom Bomber to the Tsarnaevs to JOBS, and most recently Obama's signature debacle, the rollout of In every case the response is the same, learned from the Lutheran catechism: put the best construction on everything under Obama.

By comparison the economy and the country was a paradise under Bush, including the successful implementation of the awful Medicare Part D. GDP was 1.7 times better than it is under Obama, and will be even better than that by the time Obama is through. At least George Bush's liberalism was competent.

Cillizza's laughable commentary here.

Obama Is Going To Finish His Presidency With The Worst GDP Performance Since World War Two

The Bureau of Economic Analysis reports here today its third and final estimate of Q4 2013 GDP at 2.6%, up from 2.4% in the second estimate. 2013 overall remains stuck at 1.9%, another paltry sum in the fourth full year after the so-called Great Recession ended.

Obama's average report for the five years 2009-2013 is 1.24%, the worst in the post-war.

Bush's average report at 2.13%, the worst up to the time, was 1.7 times better than Obama's to date.

Even if Obama racks up 3.5% real GDP growth in each of the next three years 2014, 2015 and 2016, he'll still end up with a worse record than Bush and the worst record since World War Two.

What a complete and utter loser.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

High On Dope Again, Obama Calls Russia A "Regional Power" Despite Its Nuclear Stockpile Of 8500 Warheads And Hundreds Of ICBMs

A country which can obliterate another nearly 10,000 miles away is not a regional but a strategic power, but as we all know by now, Obama is a little challenged in the spatial reasoning and math departments, which, unfortunately, could get us all killed. 

Obama today, apparently after a few puffs on a doobie, as quoted by WaPo here:

“Russia is a regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbors — not out of strength but out of weakness,” Obama said in response to a reporter’s question about whether his 2012 election opponent, Mitt Romney, was right to characterize Russia as America’s biggest geopolitical foe.

Unreliable Conservatism: Judge Bernard A. Friedman, Reagan Appointee, Overturns Michigan's Marriage Amendment

As a Democrat in recovery, Ronald Reagan proved more than once that his journey to conservatism was incomplete.

On the social issues he was full of soothing words to keep the religious rubes in the Republican line at the voting booth, but appointed to the courts people confused by liberalism (the Reagan Democrats), such as Judge Bernard A. Friedman in Michigan, who openly encouraged in 2012 lesbian plaintiffs to challenge Michigan's constitutional amendment of 2004 defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Appointed as Friedman was in 1988, conservatives may wish to console themselves with the thought that Ronald Reagan was already senile in his last year in office and was co-opted by the George H. W. Bush faction. You remember him . . . the same guy who happily signed his name recently as a witness to a lesbian "wedding" in his own dotage.  

And here we are in 2014 and the same judge Friedman has struck down what was passed by the voters with 59% approval just 10 years ago:

In his 31-page written opinion, Friedman said the constitutional amendment known as the Michigan Marriage Act, passed by 2.7 million state voters in 2004, was unconstitutional because it denied gays and lesbians equal protection under the law.

When conservatism admits liberal ideas into its universe, a queer thing known as libertarianism, the rule of law goes out the window because the rules go out the window. Societies form around consensus (culture springs from the cult), and when the consensus breaks down so does the concept of society. Order gives way to chaos, whether imposed from without by judicial usurpation or by voter apathy, acquiescence or decadence.

If capturing the heights through elections has shown us anything it is that sometimes leaders can persuade the people from the ramparts, but unless the laws spring forth organically from the beliefs of the people the future of the idea of one nation remains in doubt.

As many have pointed out, marrying your dog, multiple men or women, a herd of sheep, or minor boys and girls cannot be far behind unless Nature and Nature's God once again capture our imaginations.

Monday, March 24, 2014

"Our outlook continues to be more favorable for Treasuries going forward."

So says Market Anthropology's Erik Swarts, here.

"[O]ur current estimates of prospective S&P 500 total returns are negative on every horizon shorter than about 7 years," says John Hussman, here.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Foreclosure's Ground Zero Finally Shifts To New Jersey And New York After Region Being In "Suspended Animation" For Years

So reports Bloomberg here in late February:

The epicenter of the U.S. foreclosure crisis is shifting to New Jersey and New York, threatening a housing rebound in one of the country’s most densely populated areas. ...

The number of New York and New Jersey homeowners losing their houses reached a three-year high in 2013. Banks in these states have been slowly working through a backlog of delinquent loans that enabled borrowers to skip mortgage payments for years. ...

“It is really a delayed reaction in New Jersey and New York,” said Michael Fratantoni, chief economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association in Washington. “Loans that were made pre-crisis have been in this state of suspended animation for a number of years. And now, we are beginning to see the pace of resolution pick up.”

Keith Jurow has been warning about this since at least early 2013.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

All But One Big Bank Would Fail Real Stress Tests, Which Means In An Actual Crisis It's 2008 All Over Again

So says Bloomberg View here, naming Wells Fargo as the only one which would pass:

The results aren’t pretty. Using a start date of Sept. 30, 2013, the same as that of the Fed's latest round of stress tests, the NYU model gives only one of the six largest U.S. banks -- Wells Fargo & Co., Inc. -- a passing grade. The other five -- JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley -- would have a combined capital shortfall of more than $300 billion. That's not much less than they needed to get themselves out of the last crisis.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

China Ups The Ante In The Race For Thorium Reactors

The earth is loaded with thorium, but so is the moon.
The South China Morning Post reports here:

A team of scientists in Shanghai had originally been given 25 years to try to develop the world's first nuclear plant using the radioactive element thorium as fuel rather than uranium, but they have now been told they have 10, the researchers said. ... 

Professor Li, director of the project's molten salt chemistry and engineering technology division, said the smog crisis had provided huge impetus for their research. ...

Western countries such as the United States have experimented with thorium reactors but gave up on the technology because of the engineering difficulties.

Analysts have also suggested the US lost interest in thorium as a fuel for reactors because uranium was a more suitable material to produce nuclear weapons.

Interest, however, has been revived in recent years and research projects have been established in several countries, including the United States, France and Japan.

"This is definitely a race," said Li. China "faces fierce competition from overseas and to get there first will not be an easy task", he said.

h/t Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

The Federal Reserve Couldn't Hit A Bull In The Ass With A Sack Of Peaches, Let Alone Target The Inflation Rate

The all items CPI had climbed to 219.016 on July 1, 2008 and didn't surpass that level again until October 1, 2010 at 219.024. The deflationary gale of the Great Recession blew for 27 months.

The collapse in prices in the five months from July 2008 through November 2008 was 3.48%, after rising in 2007 by 4.29%, a spread of 7.77 points.

So much for inflation targeting by the Federal Reserve, which couldn't hit a bull in the ass with a sack of peaches.

In 2012 and 2013, despite explicitly targeting the rate at 2%, the Fed could only come up with 1.6% and 1.56% respectively, suggesting that deflationary winds remain a problem.

Bonds Beat Both Stocks And Cash For The Last 15 Years 1999-2014

The return from cash in the Vanguard Prime Money Market Fund has been 2.3% per year for the last 15 years, according to Morningstar. Note that the return over the last one, three and five years of that period has been effectively zero, which is what you get also from gold at all times and in all places . . . plus the shine.

The return from stocks in the Vanguard S&P500 Index Fund has been 4.2% per year for the last 15 years, according to Morningstar. Note that the one, three and five year returns have been three to five times the 15 year return. The S&P500 is currently very richly valued, and in real terms its level is about 7.1% off its all time high in August 2000.

The return from bonds in the Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Fund has been 5.15% per year for the last 15 years, according to Morningstar. At the current NAV of 10.71, the price of the fund is richly valued, about 2% above what looks like the historical high end of normal at around 10.50 per share.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Your 15 Year Real Return From The S&P500: Just 2% Per Year 1999-2014

The inflation-adjusted return from an investment in the S&P500 from January 1999 to January 2014 is just 2% per year.

At that rate it takes 35 years to double your fortune in real terms.

Calculate your return here.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Americans Still Earn Way Too Little To Afford The Median Priced Home

The national median price for an existing home in December 2013 was $196,300.

Median household income at the end of 2013 had reached $52,297.

That's a ratio of 3.75:1, which is even higher than the 3:1 ratio which prevailed a year ago, and 44% higher than the recommended ratio of 2.6:1.

Either housing is still much too high or wages are much too low to support ownership of the median priced home in the United States. It is more likely that both things are true.

And forget about buying a new house on such an income.

The median new house price reached a new record in December at $270,200, vaulting the ratio to 5.17:1.

Housing prices have continued to rise because of deliberate government policy to reinflate the housing bubble.

Sellers should sell and buyers should beware. 

Like The Size Of The Civilian Labor Force, Average Weekly Hours Have Stopped Their Recovery

Edward Lazear for The Wall Street Journal here has called attention to two months of back to back declines in average weekly hours, using the seasonally adjusted figures.

average weekly hours, not seasonally adjusted, quarterly average
It got me to looking at the not seasonally adjusted figures, which do not show the same thing. In fact, they show that we've been flirting with the 34.3 level quite a bit in 2013, but also even since before the Great Recession, and before ObamaCare and the recent spate of nasty winter weather. But what is interesting is that the quarterly average of the figures shows that we failed to make a new high in average weekly hours last summer, breaking a pattern of ever higher highs in 2010, 2011 and 2012 which had developed after the lows in late 2009, early 2010. You'll also notice a pattern had developed of higher lows in the measure at the beginning of 2011 and 2012,  but broken at the beginning of 2013.

civilian labor force level, not seasonally adjusted
This is interesting because you can see this same pattern in the level of the civilian labor force. The post-recession level bottomed at the beginning of 2011 and made higher lows at the turn both to 2012 and 2013, but not to 2014, which appears to signify more than seasonal shrinkage. Similarly there's been a pattern of ever higher highs in the summers in 2011, 2012 and 2013, but if the pattern doesn't hold in the summer as it hasn't in the winter, we'll not beat the 2013 summer level in the summer of 2014.

It stands to reason that as the civilian labor force recovers and grows, which it has, average weekly hours should rise, which they have, until recently. But the recent weakness in hours probably goes hand in hand with recent weakness in the size of the labor force, not with something else, like ObamaCare or the weather. And that probably has more to do with flagging demand in the economy than anything else.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

What This Country Needs Is A Good 5-cent Dollar

Which would be an improvement of 25%.

Between March 5-12 Someone (Russia?) Yanked $104.5 Billion In US Treasuries From US Custodial Supervision

Peter Coy has the story here:

There’s circumstantial evidence that Russia may have yanked tens of billions of dollars in assets out of a custodial account at the U.S. Federal Reserve, possibly to keep it from being frozen by U.S. authorities in case of heightened conflict in Ukraine.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

LA Employment Agencies Place Illegal Chinese In Jobs All Over America

The LA Times reports here:

Here in this bare room, where a map of the U.S. is one of the only decorations on the walls, a young man newly arrived from northeast China can find work washing dishes in Minnesota or Utah for 12 hours a day, six days a week. ...

"You can call from any part of the country to get a nanny or a restaurant worker sent to you," said Xiaojian Zhao, a professor of Asian American studies at UC Santa Barbara who has studied the employment agencies. "They are like labor distribution centers for the ethnic economy." ...

"We have been the portal, the Ellis Island, of Asian immigrants for 30 years," said Talbot, the [Monterey Park, California] city manager. "We see people walking down the sidewalk with suitcases. They've just landed. I don't know how they get here from the airport, but they get here."


Politically the area has in the past routinely elected Democrat notables such as Judy Chu and Hilda Solis.

h/t Mickey Kaus

Bet You Didn't Know Japan Has 44 Tons Of Plutonium

I didn't either.

Story here:

Japan now has 9 tons of plutonium stockpiled at several locations in Japan and another 35 tons stored in France and the U.K. The material is enough to create 5,000 nuclear bombs. The country also has 1.2 tons of enriched uranium. ...

It also has plans to open a new fast-breeder plutonium reactor in Rokkasho in October. The reactor would be able to produce 8 tons of plutonium a year, or enough for 1,000 Nagasaki-sized weapons.

FDIC Sues 16 Big Banks Saying LIBOR Rigging Hurt 38 US Banks Which Eventually Failed

CNBC reports here:

The FDIC said the defendants' conduct caused substantial losses to 38 banks that the U.S. regulator had taken into receivership since 2008, including Washington Mutual Bank and IndyMac Bank.

Among the banks named as defendants include Bank of America, Barclays, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank AG, HSBC Holdings, JPMorgan Chase, the Royal Bank of Scotland Group and UBS.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Sink Sunk In FL 13 By Libertarian Spoiler In Low Turnout Special Election Where Fixing ObamaCare Got No Traction

Flashback to November 2010 when Eric Cantor already said he wanted to keep the good parts of ObamaCare and not repeal the thing outright. Eric Cantor never saw the Republican blowout in 2010 as a resounding verdict against ObamaCare, even though the Republican sweep of the House was history making. Newsmax reported Cantor's remarks here.

Today, repeal of ObamaCare is much more appealing than keeping it as is, by almost 2:1 in December polling by Gallup, here. Those who want to scale it back or expand it somehow to fix it are evenly divided in the polling data and together represent 40% of those polled. The polling overall, however, is negative on ObamaCare by 52% to 37%.

The narrowly won Florida 13 District seat this week by a Republican was a test of the Democrat strategy of running on a platform of fixing ObamaCare. It didn't work.

Politico reports here:

Democrats had hoped that defeating Jolly would show that they could beat the GOP’s anti-Obamacare offensive. Sink had embraced the national Democratic Party’s “fix it, don’t repeal it” mantra, which candidates across the country are expected to adopt this year.

Election results at 10 News WTSP here show that a libertarian spoiled the race for the Democrat Alex Sink. Usually libertarians ruin elections for Republicans, not Democrats. The libertarian strongly supported marriage equality and liberalization of marijuana laws.

Turnout was low in the narrowly Republican majority district where older voters weren't particularly engaged by ObamaCare, as reported separately, here.

San Fran Gay Rights Activist Sentenced For Child Porn

Just remember people, homosexuality is completely unrelated to child sexual abuse. Completely.

Vivian Ho of The San Francisco Chronicle reports here:

Veteran gay rights advocate and former San Francisco Human Rights Commission staff member Larry Brinkin was sentenced to one year in county jail Wednesday for possessing child pornography. ... Brinkin, who worked as a senior contract compliance officer with the rights commission until his 2010 retirement, was arrested in June 2012 after e-mail attachments were found on his AOL subscriber's account that contained images of toddlers engaged in sex acts with men.

h/t Savage

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Here come the Chinese industrial bankruptcies: Officials to respond with a mixture of capitalism and Keynes

The Chinese premier's comments are discussed here in The UK Guardian:

Premier Li Keqiang told lenders to China's private sector factories they should expect debt defaults as the world's second largest economy encounters "serious challenges" in the year ahead. ... Li's warning followed the failure of Shanghai Chaori Solar Energy to make a payment on a 1bn yuan (£118m) bond last week. The default was the first of its kind for China and widely seen as pointing to the end of 11th-hour government bailouts for troubled enterprises. Some analysts said the decision to let some indebted firms collapse was a sign the authorities had learned from the Japanese boom and bust experience of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Tokyo was plunged into two "lost" decades of stagnation after it prevented zombie companies from declaring bankruptcy – even blocking petitions from bondholders in the courts - when a property collapse exposed debts many times the value of their businesses.


If only we could get Americans to practice some similar capitalism by letting companies and banks fail instead of bailing them out.

China can afford the Keynesian stimulus, however, unlike the US. They've got the savings Keynes prescribed, in the form of massive foreign reserves.

Too bad America has no such savings.

Malaysia Still Can't Find Boeing 777 Missing For 5 Days

Amazing. Maybe they should start looking on the ground, like in Pakistan.

FERC Study Warns Sabotage Vs. 0.01% Of Electrical Grid Could Blackout The Nation For Months

Reported here:

A study by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission raises concerns about the seriousness of electricity grid vulnerability, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The study found that if saboteurs attacked just nine of the country's 55,000 electric-transmission substations, the country's power network would collapse. An ensuing nationwide blackout could last weeks or even months, the newspaper said.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Uh Oh, A Lot More Than The 1% DON'T Worry About The Economy

Gallup, here.

Incidentally, precisely 59% of American wage earners in 2012 made less than $35,000 per year. You need to make about $80,000 to reach the top 11%.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

January Margin Debt Was 5th Record High In A Row

Reported here:

Margin debt hit record levels at the end of January, according to New York Stock Exchange data. Margin debt at the end of January reached $451.3 billion, its fifth record month in a row. Margin debt returned and surpassed record levels set in July 2007 back in April when it topped $384.37 billion.

Senate Dems Pull All-Nighter Talking Global Warming As Lake Michigan Posts All-Time High Ice Cover

The Christian Science Monitor reports here:

Twenty-eight Democrats and two left-leaning Independents, including Senate majority leader Harry Reid of Nevada and his top lieutenants, are scheduled to speak in shifts until about 9 a.m. Tuesday. The event is not a filibuster, nor is it related to any legislation. The intent is to urge a divided Congress and nation to “wake up” on this issue.

Meanwhile Lake Michigan broke a record on Saturday for ice coverage at 93.29%, as reported here:

The National Weather Service says more than 93-percent of the lake was covered in ice on Saturday. A rapid build-up of ice came with a stretch of cold weather from late February into the first week of March. The Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory measured the ice cover at 93.29 percent. That's the most since record keeping started in 1973, breaking the record of 93.1 set in 1977.

Monday, March 10, 2014

NR's Libertarian Kevin Williamson Helpfully Informs Us The Koch Bros. Support Sodomy

Kevin Williamson of National Review obviously has no imagination when he says "There is no CPAC of the Left" right after almost busting his buttons informing us that Gov. Rick Perry at CPAC and Mike Lee and Ted Cruz in the US Senate all support reductions of mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders.

Of course there's a CPAC of the Left. It's called CPAC.

But this was helpful here:

Senator Reid’s recent obsession with denouncing Charles and David Koch from his congressional perch is of a piece with that: Never mind the merits of the things the Kochs endorse politically — from liberalizing energy markets to gay marriage — they are a handy bogeyman. And, given the politics of the situation, Senator Reid surely would prefer to talk about the Koch brothers’ allegedly nefarious plans for world domination (the great “libertarian conspiracy to take over the world and leave you the hell alone”) than about Democrats’ recent meandering energy policies, which would hold hostage U.S. producers in order to appease the Birkenstocks-and-white-boy-dreadlocks set.

Tyranny Of The Legislative: The Worst Congress(es) Ever Because Of ObamaCare

Discussed here:

David Mayhew, a professor of political science at Yale University, pointed to the debates over ObamaCare as one cause of [Congressional] inaction.

“The subject has been dominating the domestic politics for several years and nobody can get over it. It’s really quite unusual. It’s bogging them down,” he said.

All The Republicans, Especially CPACers, Will Sell Out On Immigration

Louis Woodhill: Premature Signifi-ca-tion

not seasonally adjusted civilian labor force February 2008 to February 2014
Louis Woodhill, here, evidently referring loosely to the seasonally adjusted measure of the civilian labor force level, which is up 523,000 on January 1 and 264,000 on February 1 to 155,724,000:

It was extremely significant that labor force participation continued to move up during February, after its big surge in January. This confirmed that allowing extended unemployment benefits to expire in late December was the right thing to do.

Progressives predicted that limiting unemployment benefits would cause people to drop out of the labor force, but the exact opposite occurred. It turns out that people respond to incentives. Who knew?

Otherwise, I don't know what he's talking about.

The not seasonally adjusted figure was down January 1 and up February 1, more on which below. The seasonally adjusted participation rate was up slightly on January 1 and flat on February 1. Not seasonally adjusted the rate was down Jan. 1 and up February 1.

In the key 25-54 age group, the labor force level is up both seasonally and not seasonally adjusted two months straight: 607,000 and 402,000. That's important because this measure of the vital core of the workforce has been in freefall from the 105 million level reached before the Great Recession. But as it is, the members of this group are still struggling to pop back above 101 million. The deficit in the level of this group's participation is key to a jobs recovery: 4 million people. It's hard to tell why they are back in the labor force in the last two months. It could be their unemployment benefits ended, as Woodhill says. It could also be they've finished new degrees and certifications and have reentered the fray. It could be both of these things, and more.

Not seasonally adjusted, unfortunately, the civilian labor force level still looks troubled to me. Since the beginning of 2011 the level has made three consecutive new highs and two consecutive higher lows, until January 1, 2014 when the low at 154,381,000 fell below the March 1, 2013 nadir of 154,512,000. That broke the pattern of higher lows. At least the level went up on February 1.

The real test is if we make a new high in the summer of 2014 above 157,196,000, the last high and the all time high on July 1, 2013.

Arguably had the Great Recession not intervened, we'd be talking about levels more like 164 million by now. That's how far we still have to go.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Number Of Words Actually Contributed By Sarah Palin To Dr. Zeuss Send-Up At CPAC

                  spying, man

we're       we     there's

and we won't take

All the rest, not just a couple of lines as she said, predated her speech at CPAC by over 3.5 years. View them here.

Another New High For S&P500 On Friday, March 7, 2014


Sarah Palin Hat Tipped The Internet For "A Couple Of Lines" Of Dr. Seuss Rewrite When 7 Were Verbatim Full Line Steals, The Other 7 Changed But 12 Words From The Original But Retained The Order

Full video here.

Politico here gave her a pass without checking the depth of the theft, which is almost 90% of the text and 100% of the structure:

Palin singled out Cruz for his marathon speech on the Senate floor last year during his push to defund Obamacare, when the freshman senator read Dr. Seuss’s “Green Eggs and Ham” to his young daughters watching at home. Palin brought her own version of the rhyme, crediting a couple lines of it to the Internet. “I do not like this Uncle Sam,” it began. “I do not like this health care scam. I do not like these dirty crooks or how they lie and cook the books.” The crowd devoured it.

Martin Luther King Jr. lifts a bunch of material without attribution in his dissertation and gets ripped for it, correctly, but I dare say Sarah Palin won't get any blowback for this from the right, or the left . . . a sign she no longer matters.

Sarah Palin At CPAC Plagiarized US Submariner's August 2010 Rewrite Of Dr. Seuss, Changing Just 12% Of The Words

Sarah Palin claimed authorship of this at CPAC 3/14
Sean G. posted the original rewrite on his blog 8/10

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Sarah Palin's Claim At CPAC That She Spiced Up Dr. Seuss A Little Bit Ala ObamaCare Is Plagiarism

Sarah Palin's claim at CPAC that she rewrote Dr. Seuss about ObamaCare is a lie. She didn't spice it up. She just lifted someone else's work and edited it a little bit. It's been up on the internet since August 2010, posted by one Sean G. at the toomuchliberty blog. Sarah Palin lifted whole lines, and edited a few others, and never gave the guy attribution. Pretty low.

Here's Palin's stolen version, posted here with video claiming authorship:

"I do not like this Uncle Sam.
I do not like his health care scam.
I do not like -- oh, just you wait --
I do not like these dirty crooks,
or how they lie and cook the books.
I do not like when Congress steals,
I do not like their crony deals.
I do not like this spying, man,
I do not like, 'Oh, Yes we can.'
I do not like this spending spree,
we're smart, we know there's nothing free.
I do not like reporters' smug replies
when I complain about their lies.
I do not like this kind of hope,
and we won't take it, nope, nope, nope."

Here's Sean G.'s original version, posted here August 3, 2010 as "A New Dr. Seuss":

I do not like this Uncle Sam,
I do not like his health care scam.
I do not like these dirty crooks,
or how they lie and cook the books.
I do not like when Congress steals,
I do not like their secret deals.
I do not like this speaker, Nan,
I do not like this 'YES WE CAN.'
I do not like this spending spree,
I'm smart, I know that nothing's free.
I do not like your smug replies,
when I complain about your lies.
I do not like this kind of hope.
I do not like it, nope, nope, nope!

I guess that communications degree with an emphasis in journalism wasn't worth much after all, even after six different whacks to finish it. So now Sarah Palin's stooping to stealing from obscure internet personages who were way ahead of her and Ted Cruz in the brains department about ObamaCare. Not only does she talk like she comes from the gutter, she acts like it too.

"Other" Beats Jeb Bush, Sarah Palin, Chris Christie, Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee, Paul Ryan, Bobby Jindal, Donald Trump and Rick Santorum In Drudge Poll During CPAC

The fight is between Ted Cruz and Rand Paul among the junkies.

Wisconsin governor Scott Walker did not appear this year at CPAC, wisely having something else to do, like getting reelected in Wisconsin this year.

If Harry Reid Is Protesting Unlimited Money In Politics, You Know He Must Mean His Own

Kimberley Strassel for The Wall Street Journal, here:

Mr. Reid was quite agitated on the Senate floor about "unlimited money," by which he must have been referring to the $4.4 billion that unions had spent on politics from 2005 to 2011 alone, according to this newspaper. The Center for Responsive Politics' list of top all-time donors from 1989 to 2014 ranks Koch Industries No. 59. Above Koch were 18 unions, which collectively spent $620,873,623 more than Koch Industries ($18 million). Even factoring in undisclosed personal donations by the Koch brothers, they are a rounding error in union spending. ...

[I]n addition to a system in which organized labor spends "unlimited money" to "rig the system to benefit themselves" and "buy elections," (to quote Mr. Reid)[about the opposition], Mr. Obama's IRS has made sure to shut up anyone who might compete with unions or complain about them.

Democrats: The things they are for and against are the things they are against and for.

Arguably Obama's 2008 Election Caused All The Job Losses, And We Still Have Not Recovered

total nonfarm employees n.s.a. 1/07-2/14
Arguably the response of business to the election of Obama was outright fear, leading to record job losses. And just as arguably, Obama's class warfare rhetoric has justified those fears. The number one enemy of a communist after all, is a climber. You wouldn't know that of course because the socialist fellow travelers who've taught you and your kids since the 1960s conveniently left that out of the narrative. But that is a separate story.

The fact of the matter is, the so-called Great Recession had already been long in the tooth on election day 2008, and total nonfarm had declined just 2.7 million from its zenith in November 2007 at 139,443,000. But there is really nothing out of keeping for such a large decline given that total nonfarm usually falls off at the end of calendar years. A good example which raised no alarms at the time was in December 1998 when total nonfarm fell 2.7 million . . . in one month.

December 2008 was the worst month on record for t.n.f.
But more people lost their jobs in the first full month following the 2008 election than in any other month in the data series. For a country which supposedly saw Obama as a savior, the response of business was clearly otherwise: nearly 30 million Americans went on to make first time claims for unemployment in 2009 because they lost their jobs in his wake, 13.3 million more than in George Bush's best year 2006 when such claims came in just over 16 million. You can call business a bunch of spineless cowards who took the everyman for himself approach. But isn't that what the healthcare industry did when faced with ObamaCare? Play along to get along, or face the consequences. Few are the fighters for principle who sacrifice themselves for a cause. The only people we have who even make a pretence of doing that do it safely atop places like Berkshire Hathaway (taxes), Apple (global warming), Microsoft (birth control), the Oval Office and the well of the US Senate where no man can touch them.

total nonfarm employees, n.s.a., 2/07-2/14, monthly arrows
The data show that the bottom for total nonfarm did not drop out until December 2008. Nearly 3.7 million Americans lost their jobs in December 2008 alone, the most on record. November 2008 had been only a warning of what was coming. By the end of that month, in which the general election had occurred on November 4, just over a million total nonfarm employees lost their jobs. The dust settled at 135,656,000 on December 1st. Then as December unfolded, the bottom fell out with total nonfarm dropping to 131,965,000. And one year later, despite "jobs saved or created", the February 2009 stimulus, cash for clunkers, TARP and the GM, Chrysler and AIG bailouts, scores of big bank failures and trillions of dollars of cheap loans by the Federal Reserve to all and sundry banks and businesses here and abroad, total nonfarm fell another 4.2 million to 127,736,000.

And where are we today? On February 1, 2014, after 5 full years of Obama, total nonfarm is 136,183,000, barely 200,000 jobs ahead of where we were at this same point in 2007. While the trend has clearly been positive for total nonfarm, with a consistent pattern of higher, if muted, highs and lower lows alternating summers and winters as is typical of the data series, the profile of total nonfarm remains terribly weak.

usually work full time 2/07-2/14, n.s.a.
Consider that those who work usually full time today are 2.7 million fewer in number than at this same point in 2007, the record year for full time jobs and for total nonfarm jobs, despite adding 15 million to the population.

part time for economic reasons 2/07-2/14, s.a.
And while those who work usually part time are up nearly 2.4 million, those working part time for economic reasons remain up almost 3 million, seasonally adjusted, February 2007 to February 2014.

For the last four full years monthly job growth has averaged barely 167,000 new jobs per month. Compare that to a Clinton or Reagan when job growth clipped along at an average of 235,000-250,000 per month for years.

I predict jobs will come back when Obama goes away, unless of course Hillary Clinton becomes president. Right now I can't think of a better candidate to complete the job of eradicating the middle class. She'll burn through them like she does through jet fuel and vodka.

FISA Court Rules Your NSA Metadata Can Only Be Kept For Five Years

The Department of Justice under Eric Holder wanted to keep your data indefinitely. You know Eric Holder, the only cabinet official in the history of the country to be held in contempt of Congress. Ronald Reagan helped advance his career in 1988 by appointing him to the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.

Story here.

Friday, March 7, 2014

February Unemployment Ticks Up To 6.7%, Year Over Year Job Growth Slows 2.5% Compared To All Of 2013

The BLS reports here:

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 175,000 in February, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 6.7 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment increased in professional and business services and in wholesale trade but declined in information.

Both the number of unemployed persons (10.5 million) and the unemployment rate (6.7 percent) changed little in February. The jobless rate has shown little movement since December. Over the year, the number of unemployed persons and the unemployment rate were down by 1.6 million and 1.0 percentage point, respectively. ...

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 175,000 in February. Job growth averaged 189,000 per month over the prior 12 months. In February, job gains occurred in professional and business services and in wholesale trade, while information lost jobs.


The poor job growth in January of 113,000 was revised up a paltry amount, to 129,000. 2013 job growth averaged 194,000 per month and year over year in February is down 2.5% compared to that.

How Unemployment Ends In Obama's America

traitors heads on old London Bridge

  • You get fired from your 20 year full-time job in December 2008 where you made $24/hour
  • Then you search for work in vain for six+ years
  • When suddenly you snag a part-time job offering less than 20 hours a week and $10/hour
  • They call it fundamental transformation
  • I've got a different name for it

Thursday, March 6, 2014

S&P500 Rises Above 1873.91 To New High Of . . .

. . . 1877.03, today.

Sean Trende Calls For A Larger US House But Never Mentions The Actual Language Of The Constitution

In "It's Time To Increase The Size Of The US House", here, Sean Trende of Real Clear Politics makes many of the same points we have made about the sorry state of representation in these United States, including the importance of the "unratified" Article the First as the real First Amendment as opposed to the mythology which has grown up around the default one.

As Trende ably shows, Article the First would have fixed representation eventually at 1 US representative for every 50,000 of population. He appears horrified, however, at the prospect of a Congress of 6,100 representatives today.

Is that why he never mentions Article I Section 1 of the actual constitution which is ratified and under which we are supposed to operate?

"The number of representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand . . .."

If 6,100 representatives is horrifying, the 10,533 representatives we should have according to the spirit of the actual constitution is downright heart-stopping. I can understand Trende not talking about this, but how come the Tea Party never does? After all, they carry the constitution around with them pretty much everywhere and are supposed to be the quintessential originalists these days, second only to Antonin Scalia.

This was the language Article the First was supposed to remedy. But as it stands, the constitution was ratified with this loophole specifying how many representatives we may not have, but not how many we should. As a consequence, when the light finally dawned on the dimwits in Congress in the 1920s that they could fix representation at the then current 435, they set up for themselves quite the little oligarchy of power, influence and corruption, and representation ceased to expand ever since. And along with that expanded our discontent.

That's why your congressmen doesn't know your name nor the name of the other 728,000 average constituents in his district. Nor does he care to. The only name in his Rolodex (sorry, I'm dating myself) is the Club for Growth or some such "org".

It's also why we have the other problems Trende mentions: malapportionment as in Montana, gerrymandering of the most unnatural sort just about everywhere, underrepresented minority enclaves and rural areas, and the expensive bought and paid for campaigns which depend on mostly outside money.

Trende mentions the British House of Commons has more representatives than we do, but the irony that they are better represented than we are never dawns on him. Nor does Trende mention New Hampshire. They have 400 in their House, a ratio of 1:3300.

America should be more like New Hampshire.  

Total Household Net Worth Rises About 3.5% In Real Terms Since April 2007 Through The Last Quarter Of 2013

I used all items CPI of about 13.17% from April 2007 to date, not seasonally adjusted, on April 2007 peak household net worth of $68.82486 trillion.

This yields $77.889 trillion to record date in Q4 2013, meaning the current dollar figure of $80.66 trillion of household net worth represents a real gain, that is an inflation adjusted gain, of about 3.5% in household net worth since April 2007, over six years ago. That's not really saying very much.

The Fed is cited here as saying the vast majority of the increase in household net worth is attributable to rising stock prices, which rose in value by a factor of 2.4 times the rise of housing values, owing to the nearly 30% rise in the stock market in 2013:

The Fed said household net worth rose 14 percent in the full year, driven by a $5.6 trillion rise in the value of shares and a $2.3 trillion increase in the value of real estate.

Using the Wilshire 5000, total stock market capitalization increased $5.65 trillion in nominal terms in 2013. But a mere 20% correction to today's market would wipe out over $4.8 trillion in an instant, and a 40% crash would annihilate over $9.5 trillion.

Housing prices overall have reached a valuation nearly 20% above the long term mean level, which means to some that we are in a reinflated housing bubble. The Case Shiller Home Price Index is up almost 10% just in the last year. The high end of normal on the index used to be 140. Today we are in excess of 150. So reversion to the mean could easily wipe out the $2.3 trillion increase from 2013, and then quite a bit more.

The real increase in net worth may be nothing more than a Fed induced mirage based on artifically cheap money and grotesquely punitive rates of return on same which encourage speculation in asset classes like stocks and real estate.

Wise men know what wicked things are written on the skies.

Among Other Things Henry Kissinger Reminds Us That The EU Shares Much Of The Blame For The Ukraine Fiasco

Here in The Washington Post, after which he admonishes the neocons that Ukraine must not become a part of NATO and posits other principles to defuse the situation:

The European Union must recognize that its bureaucratic dilatoriness and subordination of the strategic element to domestic politics in negotiating Ukraine’s relationship to Europe contributed to turning a negotiation into a crisis. Foreign policy is the art of establishing priorities.

Say what you will about Henry Kissinger, but he was a Secretary of State of the highest caliber and remains a statesman we should listen to, unlike the Hillary Clintons of the world who go shooting off their mouths in the teeth of a crisis comparing Vladimir Putin to Adolph Hitler.

If anyone should never be president it's Hillary Clinton. At least Democrats got that right in 2008. Ambassador Christopher Stevens is proof enough of that.

Jeb Bush Still Has A Flip-Flop Problem: "I Used To Be A Conservative"

Jeb Bush, quoted here in February 2012:

"I used to be a conservative and I watch these debates and I'm wondering, I don't think I've changed, but it's a little troubling sometimes when people are appealing to people's fears and emotion rather than trying to get them to look over the horizon for a broader perspective and that's kind of where we are," said the former Florida Governor. "I think it changes when we get to the general election. I hope."


How can you "used to be" something but say you haven't changed?

Easy: the same way you can be for a pathway to citizenship and then be against it and claim you haven't flip-flopped:

"Where the hell was this Jeb Bush during the campaign?" the [Romney] advisor said. "He spent all this time criticizing Romney and it turns out he has basically the same position. So he wants people to go back to their country and apply for citizenship? Well, that's self deportation. We got creamed for talking about that. And now Jeb is saying the same thing."

Liberal Republicans: making suckers of conservatives since . . . well, forever!

Crimean Regional Parliament Votes Unanimously To Join The Russian Federation

So reports the BBC here (you wouldn't know it was unanimous from US news stories):

11:27: To recap:

  • Members of Crimea's regional parliament have voted unanimously to make Crimea part of Russia
  • The plan will be put to a referendum on 16 March, when the majority Russian-speaking population is expected to approve it
  • The parliament does not officially have power to do this, but the peninsula is still in effect under Russian control
  • An advisor to the Russian government has told the BBC the Kremlin is unlikely to stand in the way of a referendum