Saturday, May 5, 2012

Quick Hits - May 4 and 5, 2012

It's amazing how much and how fast a day can get away from someone....

There's a lot to cover...

The biggest news of this Friday and Saturday has to be on the dismal April jobs report...

April jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics provides another major hammer blow to Obamanomics - and demonstrates the continued feckless job number shenanigans being practiced by the BLS to obfuscate the bad news to the President, his policies, and his reelection effort.

Only a net of 115,000 new jobs were added in the month of April - well below the expectations of about 165,000 new jobs being created.  This is the 2nd consecutive month of a major miss in the expectations - and a substantial drop from the December, January, and February job creation numbers.

Even with this major disappointment, the BLS announces that the 'official' unemployment rate has dropped from last month's 8.2% to the BLS dropped 522,000 people from the labor participation rate.  This brings the labor participation rate to the lowest level seen since December 1981 - more than 30 years ago.  This arbitrary decision by the BLS to cook the books is intended for one purpose only - muddy the waters and support the reelection efforts of Barack Obama.

If we look deeper at these numbers - we are seeing that even this effort to cook the books cannot mask the Carteresque disaster that Obamanomics has become.  Of those still being counted on the books as unemployed - 40% of those are classed as long-term unemployed, out of a job for an average of 27 weeks and one of the highest numbers in this category we've seen in decades.

Then there is the labor force participation rate of 63.6% - and the employment-population ratio of 58.4% - showing a huge decline in both numbers since the President took office in January 2009.

University of Maryland Economist Peter Morici wrote in response the jobs report, “The economy added 115,000 jobs in April - much less than expected and not enough to keep up with natural population growth. The unemployment rate fell to 8.1 percent because another 522,000 adults quit looking for work and are no longer counted.”

According to AEI’s James Pethokoukis the labor force participation rate is at the lowest level since 1981, and if it “had stayed the same as in March, unemployment rate would have risen to 8.4%” he tweeted.

Two days before the April jobs report was released, CNN Money published an article on “The 86 million invisible unemployed,” complete with a graphic depicting Americans not in the labor force by age group. According to that story, roughly 36 million of them are over 20-something and under age 65 and “The truth is, the Labor Department simply doesn't know why they're not in the labor force.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the April report on May 4 showing 115,000 jobs added and an 8.1 percent unemployment rate. It was the second disappointing jobs report in a row from the BLS.

Following the March jobs report which showed only 120,000 jobs gained, a huge disappointment when 200,000 were forecast, the media coverage was filled with spin especially on MSNBC.
CNBC tried to downplay the jobs number, but found that task pretty daunting - as the labor force participation games are being harder and harder to ignore...
Overall the report painted a picture of a jobs market that had gotten a boost from unseasonably warm winter weather but now has cooled. Though the headline number indicated job creation, the total employment level for the month actually fell 169,000. The disparity likely emanates from a drop in the labor force participation rate — or the level of Americans actively looking for jobs or otherwise employed — from 63.8 percent to 63.6 percent, its lowest level since December 1981. The amount of discouraged workers swelled from 865,000 to 968,000, an increase of 12 percent. Those working part-time for economic reasons surged 181,000 to more than 7.8 million. "In the weakest recovery since the Great Depression, more than four-fifths of the reduction in unemployment has been accomplished by a dropping adult labor force participation rate —essentially persuading adults they don't need a job, or the job they could find is not worth having," said University of Maryland economist Peter Morici.

Zerohedge takes a hard fact hammer to the BLS numbers - noting that the 8.1% rate is the 'propaganda' rate.
Propaganda unemployment rate: 8.1%; Real unemployment rate: 11.6%. Reason for difference: organic growth of labor force which grows alongside the broader population. Don't be confused by cheap explanations on TV why the labor force should be declining (especially with ZIRP meaning pre-retirement workers have to stay in the labor force ever longer to supplant their meager fixed income): the widely accepted definition of the labor pool, that used by the CBO and all other government forecasting agencies, assumes a 90,000 growth in the labor force every month as it has to keep in line with the growth of the US population! The implication is simple: using a real labor force participation rate long-term average of 65.8%, the real unemployment rate in April was 11.6%, based on the 5.4 million additional workers that should be counted as part of the U-3 which then means that the real number of unemployed is not 12.5 million but 17.9 million, which in turn implies a 11.6% unemployment rate in the US. This also means that the spread between the propaganda, and the real number is now 3.5%: the most it has been since the early 1980s.

Why is the Bureau of Labor Statistics 'cooking the books'? If the labor participation rate present in January 2009 was the level today, the 'official' unemployment rate would 11.6% (if we included growth of the US population, 11.1% if we don't).  Ask yourself - How would that impact the President's polls? His favorability rating?  His standing with independents? 

Speaking of media spin and MSNBC -we have to ask ourselves is MSNBC's Chris Matthews stupid, dishonest, or both?

As the following chart from the Bureau of Labor Statistics clearly shows, the unemployment rate was 7.3 percent when Obama was sworn in.

However, as Inauguration Day is January 20, most people consider a new president's starting point as far as jobs are concerned to be that January's number. As such, Obama's term began with unemployment at 7.8 percent.

Then we have the efforts of Nancy Pelosi, the former Speaker of the House - who names the President with the worst jobs record since the Great Depression....
Pelosi was not to be outdone, however, firing back at the president who she claimed had “the worst jobs record since the Great Depression,” in spite of Friday’s news that the October jobless rate fell to 4.4 percent, the lowest it has been in more than five years.

“While we are glad there is some good news for the American people, this jobs report does not fundamentally change the fact that President Bush’s handling of the economy is not good for America’s middle-income families,” Pelosi charged in a statement released after the Labor Department put out its October numbers.

Not to be outdone, the Washington Post embraces the 'Blame Bush' meme - spinning furiously for President Obama. They are arguing that the decline in the labor participation rate is a trend started by George W. Bush - and that the rate of decline was far greater than the decline under the Obama Administration... using the strawman 'economists say' - they breathlessly point out that in January 2000, under the Clinton Administration, the labor participation rate was 67.3%. Seven years later, under Bush (43), it had collapsed to 66%...and was 65.7% when President Bush took office. That decline apparently according to the WaPo is greater than the decline from 65.7 to 63.6%.... Is it? The drop in the Bush Admin was 1.6%. The drop in the Obama Admin is 2.1%...or graphically...

Hmm, since the trend started under Bush's watch, it must be Bush's fault.  But wasn't Obama supposed to fix all that Bush did wrong?  And if he couldn't he didn't deserve a 2nd term?

And the polls?  Powerline highlights some major questions around a Washington Post poll on the campaign race in Virgina - a key swing state for the November election.  The Washington Post, as is now their norm has not released their party affiliation breakdown of their poll sample, but the numbers they are reporting sure make it appear as if the sampling was heavily skewed in favor of Democrats...
A brand new Washington Post poll has President Obama leading Mitt Romney by 7 points, 51 percent to 44 percent. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 points.

The Post’s results make little sense. Obama carried the state in 2008 by 6.3 points. That year, according to the Post, independent voters divided evenly. In the Post’s poll, they now favor Obama by 10 points (51-41). Is Obama really as strong in Virginia today, and much stronger among Independents, than he was in the heady days of “hope and change?”

If so, why? According to the same Post poll, twice as many Virginians believe the country is on the wrong track as believe it is on the right track.

A number of pollsters are apparently as busy cooking the books as the Administration is itself. Why? To drive the perception that the President is doing far better than he actually is - to create a situation where perception takes over reality.

Here's how the polling books are being cooked...
According to Rasmussen’s polling, at the end of the month in which Obama took the oath of office (January 2009), Democrats enjoyed an 8-point advantage in party affiliation — as 41 percent of Americans then said they were Democrats, while only 33 percent said they were Republicans. Eleven months later, a few days after the Democratic Senate’s passage of Obamacare on Christmas Eve, the Democrats’ lead had dropped from 8 points to just 1.5 (35.5 percent Democratic, 34 percent Republican). By the end of the month in which the midterm elections took place — 7 months after Obama had signed Obamacare into law — the Democrats had lost their advantage altogether and actually trailed the Republicans by a point (36 percent Republican, 35 percent Democratic). Seventeen months later, not much has changed — Republicans now enjoy a 2-point lead, with 35 percent of Americans identifying themselves as Republicans and 33 percent identifying themselves as Democrats.
Are these polls based on a party affiliation sample (D/R/I) of 33/35/32?  Not many.  Most are not sampling Democrats at -2 of the Republican sample - but at +8 to+12 of the Republican sample.  Are we really supposed to believe that there are more democrats, and more engaged democrats now than there were in January 2009 or even November 2008?  Trying to pass that off is cooking the books to build a poll that 'proves' a desired end result.  When pollsters do this and publish their sampling data, bloggers like me call them on it.  They think that not publishing this information, as the WaPo now does, will give them a pass for being called on their shenanigans.  Nope - as Powerline demonstrates.

President Obama is kicking off his reelection campaign today with a campaign event at Ohio State University.  Kicking off?  Yep, the Obama campaign is trying to tell us that the President hasn't been campaigning for the past year -despite holding more campaign fundraisers in the last year than his five immediate predecessors did combined in their reelection efforts.
In reality, President Obama has been in campaign mode for months. The DNC and the President have raised $244 million already, and that's supposedly without actually being on campaign. Republicans are worried that they'll have to contend with an Obama war chest in excess of $1 billion. If the President can raise almost a quarter of that without campaigning, just imagine what he can do when he actually kicks off his campaign!

The President is going to Virginia and Ohio this weekend in hopes of bolstering his numbers. Obama leads Mitt Romney in both of those states. Townhall's Poll Tracker puts Obama up by two points in Virginia and by four points in Ohio. These are pivotal swing states that Obama hopes to win, and Mitt Romney can't afford to lose both of these to the President if he's going to stand a chance in November.

And he's using the slogan - FORWARD...

Or would it be more accurate to use the term 'Hype and Blame' as the main Obama campaign message...

Even the biased New York Times is noting the differences in the approach and message of the Romney campaign and the Obama campaign.

They note that the Romney campaign wasted little time hammering the President over the dismal jobs report - while the Obama campaign focused on - massive redirection and the focus on the phony issue of the immediate need to extend the student loan interest rate reduction - which Romney and most Congressional Republicans have already endorsed.

The sticking point on this issue is how to pay for the over $6 billion cost. The GOP wants to limit the subsidization to only those students really in need - and to use the President's HHS / Obamacare Medicare slush fund to cover the costs. The Democrats are opposing any limitations to those who can get the subsidy and using the slush fund to cover the costs.

Slush fund?  That's the program being run by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to delay a major negative impact on Medicare for seniors by the Obamacare legislation until after the 2012 election - simply for the purpose to not lose Obama the senior vote.
In recent congressional testimony, Obama’s secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), Kathleen Sebelius, was asked about the GAO report. In that report (see the link in the upper-right corner here), the nonpartisan GAO declares that the project — which would cost more than the previous 85 Medicare demonstration projects launched since the middle of the Clinton administration combined — is so riddled with “design shortcomings” that Sebelius “should cancel” it. Amidst a wide variety of concerns, the GAO notes that the project’s “quality bonuses,” which the administration says are designed to reward excellence, “mainly benefit average performing plans — those receiving 3-star and 3.5-star ratings [out of 5].”

When asked during her testimony about this GAO claim, Sebelius replied, “Well, it’s just not accurate.” Immediately thereafter, however, she essentially confirmed its accuracy, by saying, “The plans are rated 1-through-5 stars. The 3-, 4-, and 5-star programs have gotten some additional incentives to offer quality outcomes.” But as the GAO observes, 87 percent of all Medicare Advantage plans get 3 or more stars. In other words, all but the bottom 13 percent of plans get the “quality bonuses.” And “most” of those bonuses, according to the GAO, are going to 3-star or 3.5-star plans — that is, to “average performing plans.”

Why is any of this important? Because either this is a legitimate demonstration project, aimed at improving the execution of current law —which by all accounts it’s not — or else it’s a cynical and probably illegal ploy to spend billions in taxpayer dollars to help Obama win reelection.

Think about Congressional testimony, Secretary Sebelius flat out denies the GAO claim being a slush fund - and then proceeds to confirm the accuracy of the GAO claim. One has to wonder if she is the most utterly incompetent member of the Obama cabinet?

It's actually hard to say though. In a cabinet that features AG Eric Holder, SecTres Tim Geithner, SecLabor Hilda Solis, SecInterior Ken Salazar, and SecEnergy Steven Chu - there's a lot of competition towards being the most incompetent and damaging to the country. Each has a dismal record in their respective office.

We can also add the vapid Democrat National Committee Chair, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz to that list of major progressive leaders who are incredibly incompetent.  Earlier this week, DWS attacked Republicans in another effort of misdirection and innuendo - claiming that Republicans are assaulting women's rights by trying to redefine the definition of rape...
I think the agenda of the Republican Party and of Mitt Romney has clearly been--and can be interpreted as--an attack on the issues that matter to women,” Wasserman-Schultz said during a conference call.

“From the very beginning of this Congress,” she said, “the first priorities in the first bills the Republicans introduced repealing the Affordable Care Act which would dramatically impact women in a negative way [by] making sure that insurance companies could drop us or deny us coverage for preexisting conditions, making sure that we could once again be charged more simply because of our gender for insurance coverage, making sure that we would redefine rape as only being forcible rape--that was H.R. 3.”

To simplify her position - because Republicans oppose taxpayer funding for abortions, they are redefining rape.

DWS is, however, forgetting one very inconvenient detail about H.R. 3...
The bill was co-sponsored by Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski (Ill.) and 16 Democrats voted with Republicans in support of the measure, which passed by a 251-175 vote last May.

Actually, the bill never proposed to redefine rape in any statute. The limitation of “forcible” applied only to federal funding of abortions, not to the definition of rape itself. The Democratic Senate never took up the bill anyway, but HR3 was basically the Hyde Amendment written into statute rather than as a budget rider. That would have allowed Congress to ensure that taxpayer funding didn’t go to abortion coverage under ObamaCare — which the Obama administration assured pro-life Representatives and voters wouldn’t happen as long as Obama’s weak executive order of the time remained in force.
So who has the more demeaning position towards women?  A bill that seeks to block the federal government from using taxpayer funds to pay for abortions (which could be covered by voluntary charitable contributions by individuals) - or a DNC chair who thinks that the rapes that took place at OccupyWallStreet encampments are fine...

Charles Krauthammer has a great column this week on our 'Divider in Chief'...
What else to run on with 1.7 percent GDP growth (2011), record long-term joblessness, and record 8 percent-plus unemployment (38 consecutive months, as of this writing)? Slice and dice, group against group.

There is a problem, however. It makes a mockery of Obama’s pose as the great transcender, uniter, healer of divisions. This is the man who sprang from nowhere with that thrilling 2004 convention speech declaring that there is “not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America.”

That was then. Today, we are just sects with quarrels — to be exploited for political advantage. And Obama is just the man to fulfill Al Gore’s famous mistranslation of our national motto: Out of one, many.

Where is this idiot on the job numbers?

And this is before the Obama campaign's idea of promoting Julia - and her lifetime of government dependence as being the ideal....
The Obama campaign website has a feature that's supposed to show how his policies will help a fictional "Julia" during her life. What it really shows is Obama's vision of cradle-to-grave government dependency.

The campaign's "Life of Julia" interactive feature tries to depict how Obama would help, and Romney would hurt, women in America.

It's so ridiculously amateurish, you have to wonder who's in charge of the $170 million the campaign has spent.

Still, it provides a window into Obama's warped worldview — one in which everything good that happens in America is due to some federal program or other.

Julia, for example, gets a good start on education only because of Head Start, and does well on her SATs only because of Obama's education programs.

She manages to get into college thanks to still more federal help. And when she gets a job, she can "focus on her work" because under ObamaCare "health insurance is required to cover birth control."

Then – the article continues with what really will happen… is this the vision for the future?
Getting a 'Do-Over'...will President Obama get it right this time?
TransCanada Corp is taking its second shot at asking Washington to approve the contentious Keystone XL oil pipeline, betting that a new route through Nebraska and post-U.S. election time frame for a decision will push the project forward.

The reapplication to the U.S. State Department on Friday comes after Canada's largest pipeline company carved the proposal into two parts.

U.S. President Barack Obama rejected the full $7.6 billion project early this year due to concerns about the proposed northern portion of the route near an aquifer in Nebraska. Obama has expressed support for the southern portion.

TransCanada has been negotiating with Nebraska state officials over a new route and hopes to have the northern part of the pipeline in service by the end of 2014 or early 2015, assuming it wins State Department approval by the first quarter of next year. That portion would cost $5.3 billion.
Will he?  Nope.  He will continue to appease his anti-fossil fuel environmentalist base.  He needs everyone of them to support him in November.

In fact, the next battleground on left's war on fossil fuels is already underway...
The Sierra Club is intensifying its natural-gas reform campaign and renaming it “Beyond Gas,” a spin-off of its decade-old “Beyond Coal” campaign seeking the phaseout of coal-fired power plants.

“As we push to retire coal plants, we’re going to work to make sure we’re not simultaneously switching to natural-gas infrastructure,” Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune told National Journal in an interview on Wednesday. “And we’re going to be preventing new gas plants from being built wherever we can.”

The name for the campaign was actually decided about two weeks ago but hasn’t yet appeared prominently on the group’s website, Brune said. “Beyond Gas” represents a significant expansion of the group’s ongoing efforts against increased natural-gas production and will be integrated with campaigns against the other major fossil fuels, oil and coal.

The stronger anti-gas push is “in large part due to the emerging reality that the climate impact of gas is much worse than we thought, and the availability of renewables is much better than we thought,” Brune said.

That 33 states now have renewable-electricity standards shows that the country is closer to depending on clean energy sch as wind and solar power than most people think, he said. “It would be the height of irony if we decrease our reliance on coal and rather than jumping to clean energy, we replace one dirty fuel with another.”

To some longtime energy experts, the Sierra Club’s growing hostility toward natural gas isn’t surprising. "I have warned that based on concerns by some environmentalists, gas could become the coal of tomorrow," said Lisa Epifani, a partner at Van Ness Feldman who was previously an assistant secretary of Energy and counsel to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee under former Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M.

Vast reserves of shale natural gas discovered in recent years have promised the country decades of a domestic energy supply that many experts—along with President Obama—consider a cleaner fossil-fuel alternative to coal and oil. Natural gas burns with 50 percent fewer emissions than coal and is 20 to 30 percent cleaner than oil.
Reset our relations with Russia - or create a path to a devastating conflict?
Russia's top military officer has threatened to carry out a pre-emptive strike on U.S.-led NATO missile defense facilities in Eastern Europe if Washington goes ahead with its controversial plan to build a missile shield.

President Dmitry Medvedev said last year that Russia will retaliate militarily if it does not reach an agreement with the United States and NATO on the missile defense system.

Chief of General Staff Nikolai Makarov went even further Thursday. "A decision to use destructive force pre-emptively will be taken if the situation worsens," he said at an international conference attended by senior U.S. and NATO officials.
Change you can believe in....

Did the Obama Administration sell out Chen Guangcheng - choosing to appease the Chinese government over protecting principles of human rights?

KSM and 4 other co-conspirators of the 9/11 terror attack on the US are in the process of being arraigned today before a military judge.  The five were once again doing all they could to disrupt the proceedings - refusing to speak or cooperate with the judge when questioned, yelling that wearing the headphones for translating the proceedings was 'too close to the torture we suffered', etc.  Imagine if this was being done in a civilian court as Obama and Holder originally wanted?

In the UK, one bright spot on an election day that saw the governing Conservative Party take a drubbing in local elections was the reelection of Boris Johnson as Mayor of London - and the rejecting of 'Red' Ken Livingstone.  To put the local elections into perspective - this was to the Conservative Party what 2006 was to the Republican Party.

The latest polls from France before tomorrow's Presidential election shows that the race between the leftist Hollande and centrist incumbent Sarkozy is narrowing - but Hollande is still holding onto a lead...

The UN isn't active very aggressively to halt the carnage in Syria, particularly since it's obvious that the peace plan and cease fire is being actively ignored by the Syrian government.  So what is the UN focusing their human rights attention on?
The United States must do more to heal the wounds of indigenous peoples caused by more than a century of oppression, including restoring control over lands Native Americans consider to be sacred, according to a U.N. human rights investigator.

James Anaya, the U.N. special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, just completed a 12-day visit to the United States where he met with representatives of indigenous peoples in the District of Columbia, Arizona, Alaska, Oregon, Washington State, South Dakota, and Oklahoma. He also met with U.S. government officials.

"I have heard stories that make evident the profound hurt that indigenous peoples continue to feel because of the history of oppression they have faced," Anaya said in a statement issued by the U.N. human rights office in Geneva Friday.

That oppression, he said, has included the seizure of lands and resources, the removal of children from their families and communities, the loss of languages, violation of treaties, and brutality, all grounded in racial discrimination.

Why are we still in the UN? Why are we funding an organization that is more irrelevant and feckless than it's predecessor - the League of Nations?

Finally, a brief sports report.  New York Yankee closer Mariano Rivera, 42, arguably the best in the history of the game, was thought to be in his last season before retiring.  However, his season was cut short by tearing his ACL while shagging fly balls before a game last Thursday night.  This is a major - and season ending injury for the Yankee closer. 

Mariano Rivera is now vowing to return in 2013 to pitch again - saying that he will 'not go out like this'. 

Lawhawk has a brief rundown on Rivera's record -and why he is a model for the game...
The numbers for this 12-time All-Star are simply ridiculous:
First on the all-time saves list with 608
1119 strikeouts and 277 walks in more than 1200 innings
A 2.21 ERA and 0.998 WHIP
A career ERA+ (which measures his ERA against his peers, with 100 being average) of 206.
And then don’t forget the postseason: 42 saves in 96 games. A 0.70 ERA and a 0.759 WHIP. And five championship rings.

His ERA is the lowest of any pitcher with 1,000+ innings since the live-ball era began. Better than Hoyt Wilhelm. Better than Whitey Ford. Better than Sandy Koufax.

Yet, Rivera's statistics tell only part of the tale. While his career on the field is worthy of first ballot Hall of Fame induction, it's his off the field demeanor and grace that sets him apart from everyone else.

He's as classy and respectful of the game, his fellow players, and the fans as anyone who ever put on cleats.

It's not hype to say that he is destined to be a first ballot Hall of Famer.

This Day in History

May 4th

1865 - President Abraham Lincoln is laid to rest in his hometown of Springfield, Ill.

1945 - Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov informs U.S. Secretary of State Stettinius that the Red Army has arrested 16 Polish peace negotiators who had met with a Soviet army colonel near Warsaw back in March. When British Prime Minister Winston Churchill learns of the Soviet double-cross, he reacts in alarm, stating, "There is no doubt that the publication in detail of this event...would produce a primary change in the entire structure of world forces." – Churchill clearly saw the start of the ‘Iron Curtain ‘ – and ordered British ‘holding’ forces into Denmark to prevent any further advance by the Red Army.

1970 - 28 National Guardsmen open fire on a group of anti-war demonstrators on the campus of Kent State University - killing 4 students, wounding 9 - including one who was permanently paralyzed.

1977 - British journalist David Frost interviews former President Richard Nixon - where the former President answered questions regarding the Watergate scandal and his resignation in 1974.

1979 - Margaret Thatcher is sworn in as Britain's first female Prime Minister.

May 5th

1821 - Napoleon Bonaparte dies as a British prisoner exiled on the remote island of St. Helena in the southern Atlantic Ocean.

1945 - In Lakeview, Oregon, Mrs. Elsie Mitchell and 5 neighborhood children are killed when attempting to drag a Japanese balloon out of the woods.  Unknown to them, the balloon was armed with a bomb that exploded as they moved it.  They are the only casualties in WW2 to be killed in the continental United States as a result of an enemy attack.

1955 - The Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) becomes a sovereign state when the United States, France, and Britain end their military occupation.

1961 - Alan Shepard Jr. is launched into space on board Freedom 7 - becoming America's first man in space.

1981 - IRA Terrorist Bobby Sands dies in prison after a 66 day hunger strike.

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