Friday, April 27, 2012

Quick Hits - April 27, 2012

This morning we got the news on another measure of the state of the national economy - with the release of the 1st Quarter 2012 GDP numbers.

The White House calls the results 'encouraging' and celebrates the '11th straight quarter of positive growth'.

In 2011, the annual GDP growth was an anemic 1.7%.  This dismal number was only this high because the 4th quarter of 2011 witnessed 3% GDP growth.  That's a decent number for an economy that is humming on autopilot - but a low number when one is expecting or touting a viable, vibrant economic recovery.

So what was the 1st quarter GDP growth for 2012 that was so 'encouraging' and 'celebrated' by the White House?


Expectations were of a number at or slightly above 2.6% GDP growth for this quarter - and even that was a drop from the previous quarter.  'Encouraging'?  Hardly.  Celebrating the '11th straight quarter of positive growth' is what can simply be termed as 'putting lipstick on the pig'.  But the WH aren't the only one's trying to spin this disappointing number into something that it is not.

The New York Times brings forth a usual Administration foil, the strawman, to proclaim that this GDP growth number, despite being well under expectations is 'maintaining what many economists have started to call a 'sustainable' pace of recovery'.  The Washington Post shills this number saying that the drop was larger than expected because 'government spending declined'... as if to try to promote the meme that the massive spending of the Obama Administration which has given us $5 trillion in new debt in 39 months has rebooted the economy.

Is that a 'sustainable pace of recovery'?

This latest GDP number continues the pace of this 'recovery' being far slower and shallower than any other post World War II economic recovery.  It also appears to portrend another year with a stagnant spring and summer as the economic policies of the Obama Administration continue to place a huge damper on the national economy. 

Surprisingly, The Hill, is one of the few media elements that is reflecting these economic numbers as they are - headlining their report 'Economic Growth Slows to Disappointing 2.2 Percent'...
For the political world, the news is likely to worry the White House, which hopes the economy will grow and employment will rise ahead of November's election. Unemployment has fallen to 8.2 percent, but will be hard-pressed to fall further without stronger growth.
But that doesn't start to cover some of the details. For example, without the boost in consumer spending, primarily in auto purchases during this first quarter, the GDP growth would have only been 1.1%. How sustainable is that level of spending on cars? Very possibly, it's not sustainable as consumers had a brief 'splurge' to address their need before retrenching.

Zerohedge raises this point, but the most important point that the raise about this disappointing number is this...

Presented without much commentary, because little is necessary: the only ratio that matters for the US economy, the change in US public debt ($359.1 billion) and US GDP ($142.4) in the first quarter, hit 2.52x and rising.

It takes $2.52 in new debt to increase $1 of GDP.
That is unsustainable.

Stephen Green, Vodkapundit, notes that one of the messages that has to be driven to the American voter for this Presidential election is the message that Obamanomics has failed.  He references that presumptive GOP Presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, has a challenge doing this when there is a 'growing economy' and declining unemployment numbers.

As the WH link above demonstrates, any positive number, even 0.1%, is being presented as a 'growing economy' - and we've highlighted numerous times how the Labor Department cooks the books.  We don't need any more evidence of our economic challenges than another dismal quarter of GDP growth, more 'cooked' books around job numbers, and the fact that to gain $1 increase in GDP - it costs us $2.52 in new debt.

Here's how Stephen Green makes the case to highlight why Obamanomics failed...
• The economy bottomed out in Q2 of 2009, before a single Obama policy had taken hold. Not one stimulus dollar had been spent, ObamaCare was still just talk, Dodd-Frank did not exist. Obama did not “save” us from Depression. The recession found its natural bottom without him.

• The economy has been sputtering along that natural bottom ever since. Perky job creation went catatonic with the passage of ObamaCare. Dodd-Frank has enshrined Too Big to Fail while freezing consumer credit. ZIRP is impoverishing the elderly. Stimulus was partisan theft. Quantitative easing has resulted in food & gas inflation which is killing consumers.

• As a result of these policies, we’re on the verge of a double dip recession, which will start with 15% underemployment and 28% of all mortgages underwater. Where’s the natural bottom for that? And with an extra $5,000,000,000,000 in new debt, and interest rates already at zero — what tools does Washington have left to fix it? None.

The image of Obamanomics which Romney needs to sell is this: You take an economy on its back, then stomp the boot of the regulatory state firmly on its throat. You then beat it on the head with a big sack of money. When that fails, get a bigger sack. We’ve tried this for three years now, and yet the economy is still on its back. It’s time to let it breath once more.

Peggy Noonan, writing in the Wall Street Journal talks about this election season this way...
There is a growing air of incompetence around Mr. Obama's White House. It was seen again this week in Supreme Court arguments over the administration's challenge to Arizona's attempted crackdown on illegal immigration. As Greg Stohr of Bloomberg News wrote, the court seemed to be disagreeing with the administration's understanding of federal power: "Solicitor General Donald Verrilli . . . met resistance across ideological lines. . . . Even Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the court's only Hispanic and an Obama appointee, told Verrilli his argument is 'not selling very well.' " This follows last month's embarrassing showing over the constitutionality of parts of ObamaCare.

All of this looks so bush league, so scattered. Add it to the General Services Administration, to Solyndra, to the other scandals, and you get a growing sense that no one's in charge, that the administration is paying attention to politics but not day-to-day governance. The two most public cabinet members are Eric Holder at Justice and Janet Napolitano at Homeland Security. He is overseeing the administration's Supreme Court cases. She is in charge of being unmoved by the daily stories of Transportation Security Administration incompetence and even cruelty at our airports. Those incidents and stories continue, but if you go to the Homeland Security website, there is no mention of them. It's as if they don't even exist.


Maybe the 2012 election is simpler than we think.

It will be about Mr. Obama.

Did you like the past four years? Good, you can get four more.

Do the president and his people strike you as competent? If so, you can renew his contract, and he will renew theirs.

If you don't want to rehire him, you will look at the other guy. Does he strike you as credible, a possible president?
Then you can hire him.
Interesting series of terms to describe the Obama Administration - incompetence, bush league, and references to the effects of a regulator boot on the throat of the American economy.  The Administration and their defenders will deny that these are accurate descriptions of the Administration or their policies....and then point the finger of blame at either President George W. Bush or the 'do-nothing' Republican Congress. 

This defence falls flat when faced with evidence right in front of us about the Administration that lives up to these claims against the Administration.  Like this case -

This is EPA Administrator for the Region 6 Dallas Office. He's a political appointee of President Obama to lead Region 6 - appointed in November 2009 to much fanfare from the environmentalist left. In this clip, he defines not only his personal agenda and approach - but also apparently the agenda and approach towards regulatory responsibility that is supported by the Obama Administration since he is still holding his job as the Administrator for Region 6.

Bureaucratic administrators do not 'make examples out of people' or 'hit them as hard as you can' - particularly since many of his steps and actions against fossil fuel energy companies on steps like fracking have been without evidence of wrongdoing or that the processes cause the claimed environmental damage. Instead, it's exercising a political agenda for punitive purposes.

Nor is this an 'isolated' incident of these types of steps. As Michelle Malkin highlights in her column today, this is 'The Obama Way'...
It was Obama’s power-mad interior secretary Ken Salazar who vowed to keep his “boot on the neck” of BP after the Gulf oil spill in 2010. Salazar and former eco-czar Carol Browner colluded on a fraudulent report — condemned by federal judges — that completely distorted a White House–appointed expert panel’s opposition to the administration’s job-killing, industry-bashing drilling moratorium.

It was Obama’s EPA that railroaded a senior government research analyst for daring to question the agency’s zealous push to impose rules on greenhouse gases. When Alan Carlin asked to distribute an analysis on the health effects of greenhouse gases that didn’t fit the eco-bureaucracy’s blame-human-activity narrative, he was gagged and reprimanded: “The time for such discussion of fundamental issues has passed for this round. The administrator and the administration has [sic] decided to move forward on endangerment, and your comments do not help the legal or policy case for this decision. . . . I can only see one impact of your comments given where we are in the process, and that would be a very negative impact on our office.” Public-relations management trumped truth in science, the deliberative process, and fairness.

It was Obama’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in cahoots with the witch hunters at the Department of Justice, that raided Gibson Guitar factories in Memphis and Nashville three years ago over an arcane endangered species of wood. The guitar police have yet to bring charges, leaving the company in costly legal limbo.

Use of strawmen and deception to score political points is a standard operating procedure for this President -

When people say we should get rid of Planned Parenthood, they’re not just talking about restricting a woman’s ability to make her own health decision; they’re talking about denying, as a practical matter, the preventive care, like mammograms, that millions of women rely on.

Which Republicans are trying to eliminate Planned Parenthood? None. All that a number of Republicans are advocating is that the Federal Government stop providing taxpayer funds for Planned Parenthood - saying that PP should derive their funds from charitable contributions as opposed to receiving taxpayer money courtesy of the federal government. If an individual supports the values and services of Planned Parenthood, then that individual is free to use their personal income to donate to that cause...and those individuals who oppose the values and services that PP promotes are free to not donate to that organization.

Then there is the farce around mammograms - which one thought would have been addressed during the Komen Foundation kerfuffle when Planned Parenthood admitted that they do not do mammograms. If a woman goes to Planned Parenthood and wants a mammogram done, PP refers them to other caregivers. If they do not do mammograms, then there is no reason or justification for them to receive taxpayer funding for services they do not provide.

Charles Krauthammer has a double smackdown of President Obama's feckless foreign policy in his weekly column today titled, 'While Syria Burns'....
Last year President Obama ordered U.S. intervention in Libya under the grand new doctrine of “Responsibility to Protect.” Moammar Gaddafi was threatening a massacre in Benghazi. To stand by and do nothing “would have been a betrayal of who we are,” explained the president.

In the year since, the government of Syria has more than threatened massacres. It has carried them out. Nothing hypothetical about the disappearances, executions, indiscriminate shelling of populated neighborhoods. More than 9,000 are dead.

Obama has said that we cannot stand idly by. And what has he done? Stand idly by.

Obama’s other major announcement — at Washington’s Holocaust Museum, no less — was the creation of an Atrocities Prevention Board.

I kid you not. A board. Russia flies planeloads of weapons to Damascus. Iran supplies money, trainers, agents, more weapons. And what does America do? Support a feckless U.N. peace mission that does nothing to stop the killing. (Indeed, some of the civilians who met with the U.N. observers were summarily executed.) And establish an Atrocities Prevention Board.

With multiagency participation, mind you. The liberal faith in the power of bureaucracy and flowcharts, of committees and reports, is legend. But this is parody.

Now, there’s an argument to be made that we do not have a duty to protect. That foreign policy is not social work. That you risk American lives only when national security and/or strategic interests are at stake, not merely to satisfy the humanitarian impulses of some of our leaders.

But Obama does not make this argument. On the contrary. He goes to the Holocaust Museum to commit himself and his country to defend the innocent, to affirm the moral imperative of rescue. And then does nothing of any consequence.
When we look at the challenges we face - domestic and foreign - it's clear that we have a Chief Executive whose core values and beliefs differ significantly from the majority of the American people.  Unlike 2008 when he ran on the basis of being to the right of Hillary Clinton, and under the moniker of 'Hope and Change' which encouraged voters to project onto him what they wanted to see - as opposed to who the candidate really was (Bill Ayers, Rev. Wright, et al), Barack Obama has a record to be held accountable to.  He's tried 'fundamental change' in this country - to advocate a political agenda and policies beyond what's best for the country and the American people. 

This is why we have a stagnant economy, 15.6%+ real unemployment, unprecedented national debt, and a future that looks more like Greece or Spain than it does of the America of a previous generation. 

This is why Jimmy Carter is Barack Obama's biggest supporter...because now Mr. Carter is no longer the worst President of the last one hundred and fifty years.

Today in History

1805 - During the Barbary War, US Agent William Eaton leads a small force of US Marines (commanded by Lt. Presley O'Bannon) and Berber mercenaries to capture the Tripolitian port city of Derna, despose the Pasha ruling Tripoli, and waging war against the US / US trade in the region.  This is the source for the phrase, ' the shores of Tripoli...' in the Marine Corps Hymn.

1813 - American forces capture the city of York (known today as Toronto) during the War of 1812.

2006 - Construction begins on the 1,776 ft tall Freedom Tower on the site of the former World Trade Center in lower Manhattan.  Next week, the 100th floor of the Freedom Tower will be completed - and the building will surpass the Empire State Building as New York's tallest building.

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