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Archive for January, 2013

Programming Note

They must have liked me.

I’ll be on the Week in Review panel on tomorrow’s “Joy Cardin Show” on local Wis­con­sin Pub­lic Radio from 8 AM to 9 AM.  My spar­ing part­ner will be Ruth Coniff of the Pro­gres­sive magazine.

Won­der if I can get her to explain how her “Russ Feingold’s the True Tea Party Can­di­date” from 2010 wasn’t meant to be a humor piece?

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Cartoon of the Day

With or with­out the pic­tures.

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Q4">Economy Shrinks in Q4

Worst part for the White House?  This was sup­posed to hap­pen in the 1st Quar­ter accord­ing to their script.

Then they could have blamed it on the GOP House and the fis­cal cliff.  This way, it’s all on Obama.

The U.S. econ­omy unex­pect­edly con­tracted by 0.1 per­cent in the fourth quar­ter, the first set­back in eco­nomic growth since the mid­dle of 2009.

The down­turn will inevitably fac­tor into the ongo­ing bud­get war in Wash­ing­ton. Con­gress and the White House are wran­gling over what to do with a round of spend­ing cuts set to take place on March 1 — and a pos­si­ble gov­ern­ment shut­down in late March — that some econ­o­mists have warned could fur­ther slow eco­nomic growth.

Ana­lysts had expected GDP growth to be 1 per­cent to 1.2 per­cent, but the advance fourth quar­ter esti­mate from the Com­merce Department’s Bureau of Eco­nomic Analy­sis on Wednes­day painted a dif­fer­ent picture.

The down­turn, accord­ing to the BEA, reflected lower pri­vate inven­tory invest­ment, reduced gov­ern­ment spend­ing at both the fed­eral and the state and local lev­els, as well as decreased exports.

Reduced gov­ern­ment spend­ing” is a bogus claim.  Fed­eral spend­ing was up $31 Bil­lion in Q4 2012 com­pared to Q4 2011.   Unless the C+I+G+(X-M) for­mula has changed since I last took a macro­eco­nom­ics course…

No, what hap­pened in Q4 will likely be explored in the com­ing days and weeks. The likely answer: In antic­i­pa­tion of higher taxes from either Oba­maCare, the tax deal or both, com­pa­nies and indi­vid­ual con­sumers just stopped spending.

Or have the sto­ries about a piss-poor Christ­mas shop­ping sea­son not come out yet?  Per­haps the fact that while Ama­zon had sales jump 22 per­cent, at the same time prof­its shrink­ing 45 per­cent is a por­tent of things to come?

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Cartoon of the Day


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Remember When We Wanted to Hunt Feral Cats?

We might have been onto some­thing there…

In a report that scaled up local sur­veys and pilot stud­ies to national dimen­sions, sci­en­tists from the Smith­son­ian Con­ser­va­tion Biol­ogy Insti­tute and the Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice esti­mated that domes­tic cats in the United States — both the pet Fluffies that spend part of the day out­doors and the unnamed strays and fer­als that never leave it — kill a median of 2.4 bil­lion birds and 12.3 bil­lion mam­mals a year, most of them native mam­mals like shrews, chip­munks and voles rather than intro­duced pests like the Nor­way rat.

The esti­mated kill rates are two to four times higher than mor­tal­ity fig­ures pre­vi­ously bandied about, and posi­tion the domes­tic cat as one of the sin­gle great­est human-linked threats to wildlife in the nation. More birds and mam­mals die at the mouths of cats, the report said, than from auto­mo­bile strikes, pes­ti­cides and poi­sons, col­li­sions with sky­scrap­ers and wind­mills and other so-called anthro­pogenic causes.

Peter Marra of the Smith­son­ian Con­ser­va­tion Biol­ogy Insti­tute and an author of the report, said the mor­tal­ity fig­ures that emerge from the new model “are shock­ingly high.”

When we ran the model, we didn’t know what to expect,” said Dr. Marra, who per­formed the analy­sis with his col­league, Scott R. Loss, and Tom Will of the Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice. “We were absolutely stunned by the results.” The study appeared Tues­day in the jour­nal Nature Communications.

The find­ings are the first seri­ous esti­mate of just how much wildlife America’s vast pop­u­la­tion of free-roaming domes­tic cats man­ages to kill each year.

New num­bers like this are going to reignite a whole mess of things, the least being a dis­cus­sion about hunt­ing feral cats.

Then there’s “herd man­age­ment” which means envi­ron­men­tal­ists wor­ry­ing about cats (feral or won­der­ing domes­tics) tak­ing out nat­ural habi­tats and being an inva­sive species going up against ani­mal wel­fare advo­cates who don’t wish to see mil­lions of cats destroyed via euthana­sia tac­tics.  (Bob Barker was right, spay and neuter your pets folks.)

There are report­edly over 80 mil­lion feral cats roam­ing the Amer­i­can coun­try­side.  We’re going to have to deal with them even­tu­ally; whether were mocked for want­ing to set up a hunt­ing sea­son for them or not.

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Obama Administration Closes Office in Charge of Closing Gitmo


The State Depart­ment on Mon­day reas­signed Daniel Fried, the spe­cial envoy for clos­ing the prison at Guan­tá­namo Bay, Cuba, and will not replace him, accord­ing to an inter­nal per­son­nel announce­ment. Mr. Fried’s office is being closed, and his for­mer respon­si­bil­i­ties will be “assumed” by the office of the department’s legal adviser, the notice said.

The announce­ment that no senior offi­cial in Pres­i­dent Obama’s sec­ond term will suc­ceed Mr. Fried in work­ing pri­mar­ily on diplo­matic issues per­tain­ing to repa­tri­at­ing or reset­tling detainees appeared to sig­nal that the admin­is­tra­tion does not cur­rently see the clos­ing of the prison as a real­is­tic pri­or­ity, despite repeated state­ments that it still intends to do so.

Mr. Fried will become the department’s coor­di­na­tor for sanc­tions pol­icy and will work on issues includ­ing Iran and Syria.

The announce­ment came as Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four other Guan­tá­namo Bay detainees fac­ing death penalty charges before a mil­i­tary tri­bunal over the Sept. 11 attacks made their first pub­lic appear­ance since Octo­ber on Mon­day, sit­ting qui­etly in a high-security court­room at the naval base in Cuba as pre­trial hear­ings resumed. A closed-circuit feed of the pro­ceed­ings was shown at Fort Meade.

When asked about the office clos­ing at yesterday’s White House brief­ing, spokes-hack Jay Car­ney said that Pres­i­dent Obama ‘remains com­mit­ted’ to clos­ing Gitmo by the end of his term.  Funny, he said that four years ago too.

(Won­der if the Left has got­ten in on the joke that he’s likely never going to yet?)

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Cartoon of the Day


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I Know, We’re Shocked. Unions Lying in Right-to-Work Critique

Great pick up from the guys across the lake at the Mack­inac Cen­ter for Pub­lic Pol­icy (Dis­claimer: I have friends there.).  Seems that the union talk­ing point that “states with right-to-work laws earn less” is done by fudg­ing the numbers.

Over the years, Big Labor has inten­tion­ally done them while whole­heart­edly ignor­ing one fac­tor: The cost of liv­ing between dif­fer­ent places in the coun­try.  (H/T Red­State)

Scores of right-to-work crit­ics rang­ing from politi­cians to econ­o­mists have cited lower per-capita incomes in right-to-work states as why the new law is not good for Michigan.

How­ever, not fac­tor­ing in cost-of-living exposes a flaw in that analy­sis, said Mack­inac Cen­ter for Pub­lic Pol­icy Fis­cal Ana­lyst James Hohman. Once that is con­sid­ered, Hohman said the per-capita income is higher in right-to-work states than non-right-to-work states.

For exam­ple, Texas per-capita income was $37,098 but would have a pur­chas­ing power of $49,700 in the state of New York in 2007, accord­ing to Hohman’s analy­sis. New York’s per-capita income was $47,852.

Hohman found that in terms of Michi­gan dol­lars in 2000, right-to-work states had 4.1 per­cent higher per-capita per­sonal incomes than non-right-to-work states when fac­tor­ing in cost of liv­ing. Michi­gan was con­sid­ered a non-right-to-work state because the law was passed in late Decem­ber 2012. Hohman said the right-work-states didn’t sur­pass non-right-to-work states until 2003.

One of the most basic argu­ments repeated time and time again by right-to-work oppo­si­tion is that Michi­gan is going to lose income by pass­ing this law,” Hohman said. “That just isn’t the case. When you adjust for what a dol­lar can get you, the dif­fer­ence reverses itself.”

Hohman used the cost of liv­ing index done by polit­i­cal sci­en­tists William Berry, Richard Ford­ing and Rus­sell Han­son. They adjusted for cost-of-living in every state from 1960 to 2007.

A dol­lar buys dif­fer­ently in dif­fer­ent loca­tions.  Gas prices vary from place to place, as do any other com­mod­ity; even groceries.

Any econ­o­mist knows this, and for unions to not just hide this infor­ma­tion, but out­right lie about it is a dis­ser­vice to both them­selves and their members.

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Cartoon of the Day


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Questions I’ve Been Pondering…

1] It just me, or does Chris Larsen sound a lot like those who 15 years ago were say­ing we’d need a decade to tap and deliver the oil which could be found in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge when he’s talk­ing about it need­ing seven years before the jobs appear?

Funny, we haven’t started drilling in ANWR yet either…

If you want to say you’re for job growth, you’re going to have to even­tu­ally allow the first steps.  A cake doesn’t bake itself, a rela­tion­ship doesn’t just hap­pen, and invest­ment doesn’t work on a clock set by hands of gov­ern­ment interventionists.

2] If it is now “vol­un­tary” to let women into com­bat, when do women groups lobby Con­gress to write leg­is­la­tion that would force 18 year-old women do what 18 year-old men do: File for Selec­tive Service?

No doubt the basis for the entire exer­cise by out-going SecDef Leon Panetta is the prac­tices of the Israeli Defense Forces (in which women serve), so why not go the full route and have women con­scripted as well (which all Israelis also do).

3] When doesn’t the NFL just end the Pro Bowl?

It’s been called the game every­one wants to selected to and no one wants to play.  Like usual, I’m skip­ping the game and going to watch some­thing else instead.  One almost feels sorry for Fox Sports hav­ing the con­tract to broad­cast the game.

In the near future, the NFL should just have a nice din­ner and awards cer­e­mony for the All-Pros in the Super Bowl city (most of these guys will be there any­way) and give them a paid voucher for an all-expenses paid trip to Hon­olulu that can be used dur­ing the off-season.

There, think that makes every­one happy.

4] Will the media even bother report­ing that the Obama Jobs Coun­cil ends this week and might not be renewed?

The two-year exec­u­tive order which estab­lished the group expires on the 31st.  They haven’t met in over a year.  Sort of tells you how impor­tant job cre­ation has been to this presidency.

Of course, the lack of men­tion­ing it dur­ing his sec­ond inau­gural address ought to have been a clue.

5]  How come lib­er­als get more chances than in the media than conservatives?

Oh, I’m prob­a­bly answer­ing my own ques­tion here, but think about it.  Locally, James Rowen lied to the press for months on end dur­ing the Mar­i­lyn Figueroa scan­dal (read the tes­ti­mony here) and he’s rewarded with his own blog at the Jour­nal Sen­tinel.  Really?

Nation­ally, it was George Stephanopoulus who for two years danced and joked around with reporters from the White House press room until ABC decided he was wor­thy of host­ing not one, but two shows.

Pity the guy can’t tell Bill Rus­sell and Mor­gan Free­man apart.

6] Am I really to believe “Obama for America’s” email list can beat the NRA’s mem­ber­ship list?

One of the best laughs I’ve had in the past week was the announce­ment from Obama deputy cam­paign man­ager Stephanie Cut­ter say­ing they’d take on the NRA one-on-one with their cam­paign email list.

For starters, it idi­otic and arro­gant for the Obama folks to assume that they didn’t get any NRA mem­bers to vote for them.  As their prim­i­tive, lib­eral minds might not under­stand this, but a lot of NRA folks are not “single-issue vot­ers” and may have indeed voted for Obama for other rea­sons.  Now, the very pres­i­dent they voted for — whom they didn’t think was going to go after their guns — is now going after their guns and thus, their right to defend their lives and their families

No won­der “Glen­garry Glen Ross” play­wright David Mamet wrote this.  He’s Jew­ish, as Hol­ly­wood as they come, and given a lot of money to Democ­rats.  And now he’s writ­ten a piece for Newsweek / The Daily Beast com­par­ing the President’s gun con­trol agenda to com­mu­nist rule and the Pol­ish vil­lage of Chelm from Jew­ish lore.

So best of luck to the pro­posed “Obama-Bloomberg” tag-team on guns.  It sounds doomed to fail.

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