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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Recognizing Reality and Cutting Through the Nonsense

I want to revisit today's government report that the US economy grew at an annual rate of 0.1% during the first quarter of 2014 particularly in view of the statements made by the White House following that release.

First of all, think about what a 0.1% annual growth rate actually means.  That figure is computed by comparing the GDP for the fourth quarter of 2013 and the first quarter of 2014 and then multiplying the result by four to get an annualized change.  In other words, the difference between  the GDP in the last quarter of 2013 and the first quarter of 2014 was roughly .025%.  From a statistical standpoint, that result is the same as saying that there was no growth during the quarter.  After all, for each one thousand dollars of production in the fourth quarter, there was supposedly an extra 25 cents worth of production in the first quarter of this year.  The government just cannot measure these things so finely.

Second, the Obama White House was quick to argue that winter weather was to blame for the bad numbers.  Jay Carney, the White House Liar, excuse me, the White House spokesman said that economists estimate that one percent of GDP was lost to bad weather.  Let's assume that Carney is both telling the truth and that the economists are correct.  I realize that it is a big assumption to ever believe that Carney is telling the truth, but let's try it this time.  That would make the annual growth rate of the American economy 1.1% during the first quarter.  That means that had there been no bad weather, the USA still would have had the second worst quarter of the last five years on this score.  It means that even without the bad weather, America would be on the edge of another recession.  It means that even without the bad weather, our economy would be failing to grow, failing to create jobs, failing to provide hope for the poor, and generally just failing.

Third, the response by president Obama to today's figures has been his usual response to bad news:  Obama has ignored the bad news and tried to change the subject.  Obama actually made a statement today about the economy, but his focus was the failure of the Democrat controlled Senate to pass a bill to raise the federal minimum wage.  There are countless things that Obama could easily do to increase economic growth and jobs, but instead, he is focused on the minimum wage.


The Worst Move Ever -- Carney Explodes Benghazi Coverup

It may seem hard to believe that the Obama White House could make things much worse so quickly after the latest disclosures about Benghazi, but spokesman Jay Carney just did that.  Remember that only yesterday, the White House was forced by court order to turn over email pertaining to Benghazi to Judicial Watch.  One of the email that was released came from Ben Rhodes, a deputy spokesman at the White House at the time.  That email makes clear that it was the White House that created the phony claim that the attack on our consulate in Benghazi was the result of a protest regarding a youtube video rather than being a terrorist attack.  The email also makes clear that the reason for this phony story was to keep the public from thinking that the attack by the al Qaeda related terrorists was due to any policy failure of Obama.

Moments ago in the daily press briefing, Jay Carney was asked about the email.  Carney could not have been surprised by these questions.  Everyone in Washington knew that the media would ask about the email at today's briefing.  So what was Carney's response about the email?  Carney said that the email was not about Benghazi.  Let me repeat that with emphasis.


It is hard to understate how crazy Carney's story is.  Remember, the court ordered the White House to turn over email about Benghazi and the White House turned this email over to Judicial Watch.  Now, just one day later, the same White House is saying that the email is not about Benghazi.  Also, the email was written three days after four Americans were murdered in Benghazi to discuss the briefing for UN Ambassador Susan Rice who was going to appear on the Sunday talk shows to discuss BENGHAZI, but somehow the email about the briefing is not about Benghazi according to Carney.  Really?  Let's not forget that there is a section in the email itself that has the heading "Benghazi", but Carney says that the email is not about Benghazi.  Really?

There's more, but you get the point.  Carney is lying.  First, Obama and his people lied to the American people about what happened in Benghazi.  Next, the White House tried to cover up the lie.  Next the White House tried to cover up the cover up.  But now the whole cover up is crashing down around their ears.  Obama lied.  Carney lied.  Hillary lied.


0.1% - Quite A Recovery, Isn't It

The latest report is out on the rate of economic growth during the first quarter of 2014.  According to the government's own statistics, the American economy grew at this rate during the first three months of the year:


I have to confess that I put the number in bold and in larger type so that I could make it look bigger. 

There will undoubtedly be those who tell us that the low growth figure is due to the bad weather during the last winter, and there is some truth to that.  In fairness, however, had we just been through a normal winter, that growth rate would still have come in at something like 0.5%, an unacceptable anemic failure of a number (but still five times higher than the actual result.)

The terrible thing about this lack of growth in the American economy is that it is totally preventable.  Indeed, most of the slow growth is the result of government policies from team Obama that have worked to slow rather than grow the economy.  And there are all sorts of simple steps that president Obama could have taken or asked Congress to take that would have resulted in a major increase in economic growth.  For example, Obama could have asked for changes in the tax code that would remove those provisions which encourage companies to invest outside the USA rather than here.  Just declaring a one-year reduction in the tax on bringing foreign profits back to America would result in an increase in investment here at home of something like half a trillion dollars while at the same time bringing in increased tax revenues to the government of at least 30 billion dollars.  That investment alone would have meant an additional growth in the economy of at least 2%. 

But Obama seems not to care about economic growth.  He wants to talk about inequality, but his remedy is to make everyone equally poor.  There are millions who need jobs, but Obama's remedy is not to have growth create jobs but rather to have the government extend unemployment benefits.  The federal budget still has huge deficits, but Obama's solution is to spend more without taking in more.  Obama really seems more interested in pushing his ideology rather than helping the American people.  It's disgusting and sad.


There's Really No Escape

President Obama is sinking fast these days.  Just look at what is going on:

1.  Obama went to Asia on a trip which was supposed to have a new trade agreement with Japan as its big accomplishment.  Obama came and went from Japan, but no trade agreement was reached.  our most important ally in the Far East, a country which is facing a major threat from China, still said no to Obama.

2.  Ukraine is about to be swallowed up (or at least partly swallowed) by Russia.  Obama has condemned the move in some rather tepid language and imposed sanctions on a few men in Moscow.  Each time Obama announces sanctions, the Russian stock market soars because the Russian public understands that they are meaningless.  Indeed, everyone understands that the sanctions are meaningless no matter what Obama says.

3.  The latest discovery regarding the terror attack in Benghazi reveals yet another major lie coming from the Obama White House.  This time, the lie is the one that the Obamacrats told the American people after al Qaeda related terrorists attacked our consulate on September 11, a diplomatic installation which was left largely unprotected by Obama and Hillary despite specific threats that both were aware of ahead of time and despite written requests by the ambassador (who was murdered in the attack) for increased security.  Obama and his people blamed the attack on a youtube video and told that story relentlessly for three weeks during the election campaign.  When it was clear that the video story was phony, the Obamacrats claim that they were misled by the CIA.  Well now we have email from a very high White House staffer making clear that the whole "blame the video" effort came right from the top of the White House.  It requires flipping the old chant that the left used to use against George Bush.  "People died, Obama LIED!!!"

4.  Secretary of State John Kerry is under siege.  First, Kerry spent months on a clearly fruitless effort to get some resolution to the Israel - Palestinian situation despite the Palestinians making clear that they would never agree to the most basic demand from Israel.  Israel wanted the Palestinians to agree that in a peace treaty, the Palestinians would recognize Israel and its right to exist as a Jewish state.  Abbas of the PA said no.  No country would voluntarily agree to a peace deal where its adversary expected it to end its existence.  Even a moron like Kerry should have understood that fact.  Instead, when the talks broke down, Kerry said Israel could become an "apartheid state".  It was and is crazy.  The response has been so great that #Kerryshouldresign was trending on Twitter for a long time.

5.  Obama has been pushing for a higher minimum wage as a centerpiece to the Democrats campaign this year.  That effort is going to die today in a Senate vote.  That's right, the Senate which is controlled by the Democrats is going to kill Obama's effort.

There's a lot more.  Obama's critics are now questioning his manhood, but those are critics from his own party.  It is a symptom of the constant shrinking of the president.  The Greek god who stood in front of phony Greek columns in Denver in 2008 to accept nomination to the presidency, did not go to Olympus but rather to a starring role in "The Incredible Shrinking President".

The sad problem, however, is that our new mini-president still has over two years in office.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Benghazi Unravels

Judicial Watch was able to get a court to order release of certain emails requested from the White House under the Freedom of Information Act.  As a result, we now know that White House staffers were the ones who put out the phony story that the Benghazi terror attacks in which four Americans died were actually the result of a youtube video.  That phony story was spread by the Obama administration and the president himself even though they knew the story was false.  It's called intentional lying to the American people.

Obama and his people are a disgrace.

Here's the detailed story of the email.


Islamic Outreach

Remember a few years ago when we were told that president Obama had decided that the main goal of NASA should be "Islamic outreach"?  For those of you who think I am kidding, here is the statement of the head of NASA in 2010 about what president Obama had asked him to accomplish while at the agency:

"One, he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math; he wanted me to expand our international relationships; and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science and engineering — science, math and engineering."

It's important to notice that none of the goals set by Obama for NASA had anything to do with space exploration or even flight of any kind.  As a result, the American space program has been wasting away for the last five plus years while Obama has been in the White House.

Today, the true impact of that terrible policy decision has been made clear to all of us.  The Russians have responded to the new so called sanctions put in place by the West by saying that those new restrictions would threaten the American astronauts aboard the International Space Station.  That's right; Putin is now threatening to hold the astronauts hostage because the only way for them to return to Earth is aboard Russian spacecraft.  America no longer has any craft capable of carrying men back and forth to space.

It is truly amazing that things have fallen to the point where Putin and his gang are confident enough that America will never take any meaningful action against them that they actually threaten our astronauts.  Obama has made America into a laughing stock around the world. 

Remember, the USA won the Cold War and Russia lost.  Now, Russia is suddenly acts like the super power while America and its president sit by and sputter.


Speaking Truth to Media

For years, the left has told us how they "speak truth to power".  That claim is a rather bizarre one, given what the progressives usually say.  Much of what they state is about as far from the truth as Australia is from New York.  Nevertheless, it is time to speak truth to one of society's pillars:  the mainstream media.  Today, I came across one of the most "mistaken" articles I have read in a long time.  It was written by Sally Kohn a loyal leftist at the Daily Beast. Ms. Kohn has never been a slave to the truth, so I cannot tell if she knows that she is mistaken and does not care, or if she is just uninformed.  Kohn was writing about Thomas Piketty, the liberals economist du jour.  Here is the heart of what she had to say about Piketty:

Piketty documents with meticulous detail—and data—how we are returning to an era of extreme inequality where a few dynasties amass great fortunes through inheritance and everyone else withers and suffers.  Such gross inequality, Piketty argues, is not an accident but inherent in capitalism and can only be addressed through government intervention. All of which is plainly true.

That's just two sentences and a claim that they are "plainly true".  Nevertheless, there are all sorts of factual errors in this short statement.

First of all, where are the few dynasties that have amassed great fortunes through inheritance?  Who are the super rich in America today?  Let's look at the so-called 1%, those who were the objects of attack by the Occupy movement.  According to recent studies, only 15% of the folks in this group inherited their money.  The other 85% made it themselves.  Among the richest in the country, the billionaires who get listed by Forbes each year, the percentage of self made people is even higher.  So there are not a few dynasties that have amassed great fortunes while everyone else withers.  Lie #1.

Second, the people in the 1% change all the time. Even the self made rich are not creating dynasties.  According the US Census Bureau, 9% of all Americans will find themselves in the top 1% in income at some point during their lives.  If we expand this to the top 10%, then according to the same source, it is more than 40% of all Americans who will be in this group at some point in their lives.  That hardly sounds like wealthy dynasties forming a new aristocracy.  Instead, it is the result of a vibrant economy that provides opportunity to millions of people to become successful.  Lie #2.

Third, according to Piketty as retold by Kohn, "everyone else withers and suffers" as an "inherent" part of capitalism.  Strange isn't it that for the century prior to 2009, the median household income for ALL Americans rose dramatically so that the USA was the richest country in the world.  After all, during all that time, America was a capitalist country.  The inherent suffering of everyone but the super rich dynasties somehow did not kick in.  Indeed, the only sustained reduction in income for Americans since the start of the Second World War in 1941 has been the five plus years when president Obama has been in office.  And Obama's policies have all been those which move us away from capitalism.  Lie #3.

Fourth, Kohn says government intervention is required to right this supposed problem.  Let me put it this way:  the greatest periods of government intervention in the economy of the last 100 years have been during the Obama years and during the Great Depression.  Need I say more?  Lie #4.

Let's all speak truth to the media.  Maybe then they will publish something that is at least remotely related to the truth.


Monday, April 28, 2014

It's Not Sexy But It Avoids Errors

The President of the United States of America, speaking in Asia, actually described his foreign policy by saying that it is "not sexy" but "it avoids errors."  I am not kidding.  The man whose foreign policy consists of talking and not much of anything else, says that he has avoided errors.

Now let's tell the truth, something with which Obama ought to be more familiar.  There are two kinds of errors that can be made:  errors of commission and errors of omission.  Since Obama does next to nothing beside talk, he makes few errors of commission.  After all, you cannot make an error by doing the wrong thing when you choose to do nothing at all.  On the other side of the ledger, however, Obama makes frequent errors by choosing to do nothing when there is an urgent need to do something.  On that score, Obama's foreign policy is fraught with errors.