Friday, April 6, 2012

Quick Hits - April 5 and 6, 2012

As feared, a busy day prevented yesterday's QH, so today is another double dose.  We should be back to the normal schedule for the upcoming few weeks.

The mainstream media still remains silent over the Obama campaign openly works to circumvent campaign finance laws - particularly when the Obama Super PAC continues to struggle to raise money to compete against the GOP Super PAC's....

Today's big news is the release of the March job report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The general consensus from economists was looking for about 200,000 new jobs to have been created in March.  However, the data from the BLS was that only 120,000 new jobs were added in March, well below expectations and the lowest amount of new jobs added in 5 months.

The focus of the majority of stories from the MSM is on the 120,000 new jobs being added - and that according to the BLS, the 'official' unemployment rate has dropped from 8.3% to 8.2% on the basis of these 120,000 new jobs.

Reason to celebrate?  Not at all.

Looking behind the Obama cheerleading of major mainstream elements, and we find some major problems in not only the job information around BLS manipulation of the data, but also in real trend we are facing on the jobs front.  For example, left unmentioned in the majority of the reports on the March jobs report was that another 164,000 discouraged workers were dropped from the work force numbers - which was the primary contributing factor to the drop in the 'official' unemployment rate - yet again.  The total number of people reflected by the BLS as not being in the 'active' labor force has risen to 88 million - a record size.

Zerohedge has the detailed 'fisking' of the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics tally...
This is the latest tally: since the start of the Second Great Depression, the US has lost a total of 5.2 million nonfarm payroll jobs, beginning with 138 million jobs in December 2007, and printing at 132.8 million as of 90 minutes ago. So far so good. The problem, however is that the denominator in the equation is not fixed, and as everyone knows the US labor force, despite the ridiculous BLS data fudging, is growing in line with population, albeit at a slower pace. According to all non-partisan budget forecasters, each month the labor force should be adding 90,000 people. Which in turn means that since December 2007, the labor force has really grown by 4.6 million. Adding these two together leads to a 10 million job deficit. So what has to happen for these 10 million to get promptly put back into jobs, and for America to get back to the ~5% unemployment rate it boasted just as the credit bubble peaked? Nothing too crazy: the country just has to create 262,000 jobs every month…
The bottom line is that this Obama Administration recovery remains anemic, spotty, and far less than what is needed to restore the US to a vibrant recovery.  [That would require 264,000 new jobs being added each and every month for the next 5 years.]  Whatever growth we are seeing is far more likely to be despite of the efforts and policies of the Administration than because of the efforts and policies of the Administration. 

We can expect the President to campaign based on the fudged numbers - and ignore the fact that millions have been moved off the work force rolls in order to create the appearances that the President is doing something positive.

The rating company, Egan Jones, has downgraded the USA's credit standing from a AA+ to AA and placed the country on a negative outlook.  In February, the S&P noted a negative outlook for the US indicating that it could downgrade the US again in as soon as 6 months if there was no budget plan.

President Obama has overseen the first downgrades of the US credit rating - and the failure of the Administration to address the fiscal status of the country, promote a real and vibrant recovery, and ensure that the Senate Democrats break their now 1,070+ day refusal to pass a budget will ensure that the other rating agencies, like Standard & Poors will be taking a new look at another downgrade of the country in the waning months of the Presidential election.  This cannot bode well for President Obama.

The President and his Press Secretary, Jay Carney, continue to have challenges walking back his pre-emptive attack on the Supreme Court over their deliberations on the future of Obamacare - saying that it is 'unprecedented' for the Supreme Court to overturn a bill passed by Congress even though this has happened 168 times since Marbury vs Madison in 1803.

The need for the pre-emptive attack by the President in an attempt to intimidate the Justices came from the challenges that the Government had during the 3 days of oral arguments before the court.

The immediate fallout was for many to be absolutely stunned by not only the unprecedented attack on the Court by the President, but by the President, who used to be a Constitutional Law Professor at the University of Chicago and the Editor of the Harvard Law Review.

On the left, we have various responses - ranging from the ideologically motivated deranged where an equally clueless law Professor, David R. Dow, is calling for the impeachment of any Supreme Court Justice who votes to overturn Obamacare - to the pathetic spinning effort of Jay Carney to walk back the President's gaffe...

One of the challenges with the vapid argument of the President are the poor choices of words - which can be reviewed and debunked quite easily. Referencing the ObamacareObamacare passed by a 219-212 margin in the House - and needed reconciliation to avoid a filibuster in the Senate. To ensure passage, both the House and Senate had to 'bribe' Democrats in order to get their votes.

If that is an example of a 'strong majority' - what can we say about the latest GOP budget which the President and his minions are attempting to discredit? It passed by a larger majority in the House, 228-191, than Obamacare - but Senate Democrats still promise to not bring it to a floor vote.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals took umbrage to the President's attack not only on the Supreme Court, but on judicial independence - demanding that the Attorney General provide a written brief to the Court indicating that the Department of Justice and Administration accept not only the separation of powers, but that Federal courts do have the power (and precedent) to overturn legislation that is determined unconstitutional.
The Justice Department shot back Thursday against a federal court’s suggestion that President Obama doesn’t recognize the role of the judicial branch.

Three judges on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the Justice Department to file a three-page letter outlining its view of the courts’ powers — a response to comments in which Obama said it would be “unprecedented” for the Supreme Court to overturn his healthcare law.
Obama’s remarks were “fully consistent” with well-established legal principles, the Justice Department said Thursday in its response to the 5th Circuit.

“The department has not in this litigation, nor in any other litigation of which I am aware, ever asked this or any other court to reconsider or limit long-established precedent concerning judicial review of the constitutionality of federal legislation,” Attorney General Eric Holder wrote.

There is nothing unprecedented about federal courts overturning federal laws, but the White House says the courts have historically deferred to Congress and the president on how to regulate the economy. Striking down a law with such enormous economic implications would indeed be unprecedented, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
The thing is - does this really answer the request made by the Court?  It doesn't acknowledge the President misspoke.  I read it as an arrogant lecture from the AG to the Court that courts need to defer to the President and Congress regarding the regulation of the economy as opposed to making a determination based on [implied] ideological grounds.  Seems the AG is as much a dunce as Obama is...

Jay Carney had more trouble today trying to dance around the President's gaffe...saying 'Americans just didn't 'understand' what President Obama said because he is a 'law professor'..."He spoke in shorthand"...

The gentlemen at Powerline have looked at this gaffe and the failed attempts to spin out of it and see that the President is really reaching deep into territory that he does not want to be in during his Presidential campaign - Jimmy Carter country...

At some point the President and his team need to remember the first rule of hole digging.....Stop digging.

The Administration and the Department of Energy have decided to revitalize the green energy loan program that was responsible for sending billions in taxpayer funds to green companies that failed - like Solyndra which collapsed costing US taxpayers $537 million dollars. 

This is as info about Solyndra continues to leak out that reflects poorly on the Administration and the Department of Energy's fiscal responsibility regarding the program.  The Treasury Department was only given 1 day to review the company before the $537 million loan was granted because the DoE wanted to make a big PR / Political splash with the announcement of the grant.  Compare this to the time and effort made in the Administration to mask the companies fiscal problems until after the 2010 midterm elections so this would not be a last minute election issue.

Fallout continues also from the scandal involving the Administration's GSA $823,000 training conference in Las Vegas for 300 GSA employees.  The mission of the GSA is to help other federal agencies 'foster an effective, sustainable, and transparent government for the American people." - in other words - making the federal government bureaucracy more efficient.

That clearly did not happen because the agency 'followed neither federal procurement laws or its own policies on conference spending' which then resulted in the demand for the resignation of the head of the GSA, the dismissal of her 2 senior direct reports, and the suspension of 4 managers.  But there is more to the story of this step by the Administration to hold these people accountable...  According to Darrell Issa, the WH knew about this violation of spending and procurement 11 months ago - but didn't take any action against ANY official until the press learned of the mismanagement.

Change you can believe in?

Remember my posts in previous QH about bias in academia?  Some say that this doesn't exist - it's just something else invented by conservatives... but this looks like a case that disproves that excuse...
Iowa Republicans are taking aim at the state's top law school for denying a faculty position to a conservative law professor, who an assistant dean once said embraces politics the rest of the faculty "despises."

Teresa Wagner, who works as an associate director of writing at the University of Iowa College of Law, is suing former dean Carolyn Jones for employment discrimination, claiming she was not hired for a professor position because Jones and other law faculty disapproved of her conservative views and activism.

To hold a law faculty position at the publicly funded university is viewed as a "sacred cow," Wagner said in an interview, and "Republicans need not apply."
The US Coast Guard has sunk the Japanese tsunami 'ghost ship' - a fishing ship that has been adrift since the March 2011 tsunami and now approaching the US / Canadian coastline.  The decision was made to sink the ship before it became a maritime hazard or an environment disaster waiting to happen...

On This Day in History

April 5th

1792 - President George Washington exercises the first Presidential veto of a Congressional bill

1951 - Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, convicted in their role for passing atomic weapon secrets to the Soviet Union, are sentenced to death.  They are executed for their crime on June 19, 1953.

1955- Sir Winston Churchill resigns as Prime Minister of Great Britain - he will remain in Parliament until 1964.

1976 - Billionaire recluse Howard Hughes dies at the age of 70.

2008 - Oscar winning actor and former NRA President, Charlton Heston dies at the age of 84.

April 6th

1862 - The Battle of Shiloh begins as Confederate General Johnston attacks the forces of Union General US Grant.  The 2 day battle becomes one of the bloodiest engagements of the Civil War.

1865 - Battle of Sayler's Creek in Virginia results in the cutting off of a third of the retreating Robert E. Lee's army - Lee continues his retreat towards Appomattox Court House.

1896 - First modern Olympic Games are held in Athens, Greece.  280 participants from 13 nations compete in 43 events.

1917 - US House of Representatives vote to declare war on Germany by a 373-50 margin.  The US formally enters World War I.

1938 - The United States government recognizes the German conquest of Austria.

1941 - German forces invade Yugoslavia and Greece; British forces defeat the Italians in Ethiopia - capturing the capital of Addis Abada.

1998 - Citicorp and Travelers Group announce their merger forming Citigroup - the largest financial services conglomerate in the world; Dow Jones Industrial Average closes above 9,000 for the first time.

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