Archive for June, 2013

Superman, where are you?

The War on Poverty, in a Picture…

One word: FAIL.

 

Character

I personally have a hard time with people who leak secrets.

I find that for the most part, there is almost never an altruistic motive for doing so.

So, off the bat, I have concerns with the recent disclosure of the NSA program. It does not help that I think there is a lot of misinformation out there on what this program is or isn’t. Since the American people are not read into it, it is hard to know what the ground truth is. The ubiquitous nature of electronic communications and the means of travel from Point A to Point B make it difficult to regulate. There are a tremendous amount of regulations involved in intelligence collection, and by its very nature, because of the need to protect sources and methods, not everyone knows about everything.

That said, the breadth and scope of the program—according to media—is alarming. It is one thing to target a U.S. person for collection, but entirely another to have a blanket dragnet encompassing millions of people who have no connection to security threats. To buy into the Administration’s position and accept that this program is not being abused, we have to have faith that the government will, as a fair arbiter, engage as an honest broker in the pure interests of security. Of course, when you have an Administration that has been exposed to be acting as a very unfair arbiter, then there is little to no trust. There has been a myriad of real—no shit—scandals over the last month or so (and this excludes the myriad of scandals from the last term, like Fast & Furious), and all of them are serious and revolve around two things: 1) a lack of trust and honesty from the Administration and 2) a rampant abuse of power.

From Benghazi, Department of Justice targeting the Media, IRS intimidation, HHS extortion, EPA FOIA bias, Department of Energy loans to political contributors, to this NSA wiretapping—all of these amount to tremendous abuses of power and corruption. Most importantly, they undermine any trust a society can have in a Government that is supposed to be of, for and by the People.

  • Benghazi was about corrupting the information cycle to protect an Administration running for reelection.
  • DoJ/Media was a corrupted abuse of power to intimidate the fourth pillar to protect the Administration from public scrutiny.
  • IRS was a corrupted policy to intimidate political opposition, in order to suppress their ability to assemble and vote.
  • HHS extortion is a corruption in a regulatory body intimidating funds from companies it is suppose to regulate.
  • EPA/FOIA was a corrupted policy to financially discourage and suppress freedom of information to political opponents.
  • DoE loans to political contributors was flat out financial corruption.

Which brings us to the NSA wiretapping program: I don’t know. Two points don’t make a trend, but six certainly do. Were they abusing the system? I don’t know, but there is a clear indication that the system is ripe for abuse from an Administration that has clearly shown a propensity to abuse the system.

So, is Snowden a traitor for leaking this information? Yes. Intelligence professionals take an oath to protect the information they are privy to and he broke it. Does this hurt the ability of the U.S. to collect intelligence against its enemies? Absolutely. So the question is, right now, should he have broken his oath, exposing this program, and does that excuse Snowden from his actions? I don’t know, but maybe we can’t answer this question till we answer this one: should we trust this Administration—let alone any other—with this level of power and insight into your private life?

Ultimately, we come full circle in how we should view and consider our government. The tenant of trust is paramount at this point. The clichés of ‘We get the government we deserve’ and ‘Elections have consequences’ don’t sound so cliché right now. More importantly, the importance a character in our elected officials suddenly becomes ever so clear. We have been derided, insulted, demeaned and marginalized by the left because of the sincere character questions we had/have for Obama. Cocaine and marijuana use for any other Presidential candidate really mattered (remember not inhaling?) and would have been a near fatal issue because respect for law and—more importantly—the character to use illegal drugs would have cast serious doubt on the candidate.

Of course there is also the character issue of leadership. Yes, leadership is a character issue. I’ve learned through life that there are three P’s to “leadership”: (P)olicing, which is what Supervisors do. (P)roduction, which is what Managers do. And (P)otential, which is what Leaders develop and foster. Not all Supervisors or Managers are leaders, but leaders certainly have all of these traits. So when we look at a Presidential candidate who has never been an executive, who has never been individually accountable for the success or failures of a team of individuals that he is responsible for, it begs the question—why not? How has this person managed to go through life and never be in a leadership position? How could they possibly be prepared to be the Executive of the U.S., yet have never been the executive of anything else?

How about the character issue of fairness? The ability to foster and maintain an environment that does not threaten those different from yourself. Hell, we have Constitutional Amendments on this, yet we were told repeatedly by a lapdog media that we were to overlook an overwhelming bias. Obama is suppose to be the President of United States, not the Liberals in the U.S., so when we see him come out and specifically target a media outlet critical of his actions, we should pause. When he calls on his follows to crush their political enemies, when he demeans a massive, grassroots movement with serious and legitimate concerns about his policies. Obama has demonstrated, repeatedly, that he is not interested in Governance, only in Power.

To me, however, the most critical character issue is honesty, and frankly, Obama’s honesty came into question early on. Unfortunately, he was never challenged to explain his inconsistencies to the American people, and we never demanded it enough to force him. His many contradictions to what he was saying while campaigning versus what he had said while in the Senate (State or U.S.), what he had written (or had claimed to write), and what he had done while in office—any office. Obama has been pretty much the only politician I’ve ever seen who has been allowed to get away with, ‘it is what I say now’ versus ‘what I have said or done before’ that matters.

But this isn’t limited to Obama. Congress has either endorsed or failed to provide oversight to an Executive clearly out of control. Likewise, the appointment of activist judges has resulted in the ideological approval/disapproval of policies and legislation that fly in the face of the Founding documents and the American spirit. The issue of character applies to all levels of government. Our government was designed to balance itself through the checks and balances of the branches, yet we’ve seen through the years the dismantling of these balances through the distortion of powers in the branches, most notably in the power of the Executive. There has been some effort to reassert balance, 2010 being the greatest example of this, and 2014 will likely follow suit, but this is only possible because the People still have a vote. Unfortunately, the judiciary—the last line of defense and arguably the ultimate arbiter of impartiality—is distorted and manipulated by partisan ideologues masquerading as justices (9th Circus, here’s looking at you), one loses hope. 2014 may be the last chance we get to stop an out of control Administration was attempting to stack the judicial bench with sycophants who worship at the alter of Obama, and not the Constitution.

The character of the situation, and of the Administration, is severely in question right now. The question of Governance vs. Power is beginning to take root. Many of us have, for some time now, cried foul at the rampant abuses and power-grabs of an Administration bent on ridding itself of political enemies instead of governing the populace. Unfortunately, the deception has allowed the Administration to continue, but there is a growing disquiet in America—a buyer’s remorse—that is beginning to finally question who the doppelganger in the White House really is. Perhaps all is not lost…

Perception

Welcome to the Other Side

“In the meantime, has anyone noticed that the Republican House of Representatives hasn’t done sh*t to help this country in quite some time? No jobs bill. No infrastructure bill. No nothing. The economy is slowly improving in spite of them.

P.S. And yes boys the economy is improving — consumer confidence rising, new homes rising — two strong indicators. Deficit shrinking. Notice, I’m not going to mention the stock market which is basically a casino. I won’t even claim that as a positive indicator.

Bed time. See ya on the other side.” — Rutherford

Recognizing the strong financial skills Rutherford possesses… I found the above comment, entertaining. Again, it boggles the mind how someone who went to an “Ivory Tower” institution can be so ignorant. Granted, MSNBC doesn’t get into money, and thus he’s likely never going to exposed to facts and stats, but still… damn.

This morning’s 11.5% week-over-week plunge in mortgage applications is the fourth week of fading demand in a row as it appears the bloom is very much off the rose of the second-coming of the housing bubble. This makes it the worst plunge in mortgage applications since June 2009 and the lowest level of activity since December 2011. Wondering how this is possible? We explained in detail here but this collapse in mortgage demand fits perfectly with Mark Hanson’s insights that a number of “large private mortgage bankers had mass layoffs last Friday to the tune of 25% to 50% of their operations staff.” This all feels very deja vu all over again.

Zero Hedge does a great job of expanding on the above with this:

The airwaves are full of stories of economic recovery. One trumpeted recently has been the rapid recovery in housing, at least as measured in prices. The problem is, a good portion of the rebound in house prices in many markets has less to do with renewed optimism, new jobs, and rising wages, and more to do with big money investors fueled by the ultra-cheap money policies of the Fed. It seems entirely wrong that the Fed bailed out big banks and made money excessively cheap for institutions, and that this is being used to price ordinary people out of the housing market.  Said another way, the Fed prints fake money out of thin air, and some companies use that same money to buy real things like houses and then rent them out to real people trying to live real lives.

And then of course there’s this:

So much for the thesis of declining labor slack and rising labor leverage. Moments ago the BLS reported its Q1 labor costs which poured cold water over all recent hypotheses that the US worker’s plight is improving. It isn’t: productivity increased by 0.5% in Q1 in ling with expectations of 0.6% (on what is not exactly clear – everyone on their iPhones?) but it was labor costs which plunged -4.3% on expectations of a +0.5% increase driven by a 3.8% collapse in hourly compensation that was the stunner. This was the biggest labor cost drop in four years and the biggest collapse in hourly compensation in well, ever and confirms our observations from the last NFP report that quantity gains in jobs continue to be offset by quality declines in actual worker pay. As a reminder we were scratching our heads following the soaring Q4 labor cost and declining productivity data which made no sense in the general context of deteriorating labor conditions. Following this print, it all falls back into place and confirms the Q4 data was nothing but an outlier.

As for consumer confidence, again, I guess things are relative, but still, context doesn’t really help Rutherford’s position.

Very clear trend so far of lower highs and lower lows. Since the all-time high in May 2000 at 144.70 we have been in a clear downtrend Data on this indicator only goes back to Feb 1967 and prior to the all-time high in 2000 the peak had been 142.30 in October 1968 (right at the start of the lost 16 year period from 1966-1982) LET US BE CLEAR there is no certainty at this point that a high has been posted in this move…but there are good reasons to suspect that it may have been (or at least that we are very close to that dynamic). If the chart above is consistent then the peak may well come from either the May or the June number.

We are getting “relative triple divergence” between consumer confidence and the equity market. As the S&P has hit a high, higher high and now 3rd higher high consumer confidence has hit a high, lower high and lower high again. This suggests a larger disconnect between the level of “feel good” at the consumer level and the elevated level of the Equity market in an economy that is about 70% consumer driven.

So much for that “improving” economic confidence. Since we’ve debunked in context—something the left avoids at all costs—the left’s mantra of improving housing, improving consumer confidence and improved consumer purchasing power, let’s get into some inconvenient truths about where we stand as a nation, under Obama, economically.

  • Food Stamps at Record High: Citing the latest statistics released by the Department of Agriculture, the Weekly Standard reported food stamp participation was at an average of 46,609,072 people every month of 2012. In December of last year, 47,791,996 people received food stamps, or one in seven Americans. This is up from 28,223,000 in 2008.
  • U.S. Labor Force Participation Rate Lowest Since 1979: Instead, the number of Americans in the labor force — those who have a job or are looking for one — fell by nearly half a million people from February to March, the government said Friday. And the percentage of working-age adults in the labor force — what’s called the participation rate — fell to 63.3 percent last month. It’s the lowest such figure since May 1979.
  • Americans Have Recovered Only 45% Of Wealth Lost During Recession: The research from the St. Louis Fed shows that households had accumulated net worth totaling $66 trillion at the end of last year. After adjusting for inflation and population growth, the bank found that meant families on average have only made up 45 percent of the decline in their net worth since the peak of the boom in 2007. In addition, most of the improvement was due to gains in the stock market, according to the report, primarily benefiting wealthy families. That means the recovery for most households was even weaker.
  • HHS Already Rationing Enrollment In Obamacare’s Pre-Existing Condition Plan: A pre-existing condition health insurance program established by Obamacare is already straining its own budget and, to control costs, the administration’s Health and Human Services Department (HHS) has stopped enrolling any new people in the program, according to an audit by the General Accountability Office (GAO). In addition, to further control spending, HHS has directed the program to shift more of the costs onto the current enrollees, thus raising the out-of-pocket health care expenses for the people with pre-existing conditions.
  • CBO: Between 30-55 Million People Will Remain Uninsured Under Obamacare: However, for those who have kept up with Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projections on the implementation and progress of Obamacare over the next decade, the results will not be all that surprising.  On the contrary, the most recent report issued by the CBO in May appears pessimistic by comparison. Of the 55 million “Uninsured Nonelderly People” the report lists for 2013, only 11 million, or 20 percent, are projected to obtain insurance during 2014; the number of uninsured falls only to 44 million next year according to the CBO.  This leaves a full 80 percent uninsured, significantly more than the 67 percent found by the survey.

We haven’t even begun to discuss the myriad of scandals afflicting the Administration right now. From the IRS targeting political opponents based on religious and ideological beliefs, to the DoJ targeting journalists for reporting stories critical of the Administration, to the HHS targeting corporations that it is responsible to regulate for private donations to fund Obamacare implementation, to the Administration stonewalling, stalling, lying and obstructing the release of Congressionally subpoenaed information on all of these scandals as well as the travesty that is Benghazi.

Of course, Rutherford—or any liberal for that matter—refuses to address any of these in substance. The left is terrified right now. The Messiah’s feet are getting wet and the illusion of infallibility is crumbling. We heard consistently through the last five years about how Obama was so much smarter than everyone else, that his IQ was off the charts—potentially higher than any other President in history—and that we, as mere mortals, couldn’t grasp the concepts Obama envisioned for us because we were simply not intelligent enough. Just believe. Hope and change, however, have now evolved into suspended disbelief. Brilliance and genius are now detachment and ineptitude. He’s too distracted (with thinking I suppose), too detached (golf anyone?). His greatest failure—dare we suggest such—is that he has not been involved in the trenches of his Administration, and thus good natured people have strayed…

Never could Obama be involved in any of this. Of course, this requires the suspension of disbelief when Obama’s Deputy Campaign Manager was meeting with the IRS Director in the White House in the heat of the 2012 campaign. Further suspension is required as both the Solicitor General and the White House Chief of Staff knew in mid-2012 of the IRS targeting of conservative groups. Of course, we could just cut out the middle man, while suspending belief, and ignore the simple fact that the IRS Director met with Obama more than any other cabinet official, and that in the plethora of meetings, he never once mentioned the targeting of conservatives—that he was well aware of at the time—to the man running for office against conservatives.

As for the GOP not doing “shit”, well, that’s… shit—as in BULLSHIT.

http://majorityleader.gov/JobsTracker/

There are 40 job bills currently stalled in the DEMOCRAT controlled Senate.

The left is completely devoid of an argument right now. Everything they ever could have leveled at George W. Bush has been amplified a hundred fold under Obama. And today we get this tid bit of data:

Washington is reeling after a court order was uncovered last night showing Verizon has secretly been handing over reams of customer phone records to the National Security Agency on a daily basis. The records don’t contain the content of phone calls—so, just to be clear, this isn’t wiretapping—but they do contain information such as phone numbers, the location and duration of calls, and subscriber and handset ID numbers, all of which fall under the category of “telephony metadata.”

The irony of course is that George Orwell’s 1984 was published 64 years ago… today.

This Administration is out of control.

Arguing with Liberals