Archive for April, 2010

Trust Them Anyway: Elites On The Economy

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

So the Wall Street Journal has an article documenting the split betwixt economists:

Economists were evenly divided between those who fear inflation will accelerate over the next year and those who see a bigger risk that the inflation rate will slow from already low levels, according to the latest Wall Street Journal forecasting survey.

See forecasts for growth, unemployment, housing and more. Plus, views on the Fed’s rates, stimulus and more. Survey conducted April 9-13. (Or download all data as .xls)

Complete Coverage: Forecasting Survey
On average, the 56 surveyed economists, not all of whom answer every question, expect tame inflation, forecasting consumer prices in December will be just 1.8% above year-earlier levels.

But there was a wide variance in the estimates which ranged from predictions of no increase in prices at all to a 4.4% increase. Consumer prices barely rose in March from February, and increased 2.3% over the previous year.

When asked what presents a bigger risk over the next year, 23 economists said accelerating inflation and 23 said slowing inflation. That mirrors a divide inside the Federal Reserve. At their March policy meeting, some officials argued the downturn in house prices is causing key measures to understate prices increases; others focused on the decline in inflation measures that exclude food and energy. Chairman Ben Bernanke appears to be in the latter camp.

“The moderation in inflation has been broadly based, affecting most categories of goods and services with the principal exception of some globally traded commodities and materials, including crude oil,” he said Wednesday.

The inflation issue is a key consideration for Fed officials debating when to signal markets that they are preparing to raise their target for short-term interest rates, now being held near zero.

“The Fed doesn’t want to start raising rates when you haven’t got really solid employment momentum,” said economist Kurt Karl of Swiss Re, who doesn’t see much risk of inflation amid widespread unemployment.

About the Survey

The Wall Street Journal surveys a group of 56 economists throughout the year. Broad surveys on more than 10 major economic indicators are conducted every month. Once a year, economists are ranked on how well their forecasts have fared. For prior installments of the surveys, see: WSJ.com/Economist.

On average, the economists expect the unemployment rate, currently at 9.7%, to fall to just 9.3% by December while the economy adds around 1.9 million jobs over the next 12 months. The survey found that, on average, the economists expect the U.S. economy to expand at about a 3% annual rate in each of the four quarters of this year, although three-quarters said growth is more likely to be stronger than weaker than their forecast.

Economists continued to push back their expectations for when the Fed will begin raising rates. On average, the economists don’t expect the central bank to move until November; two months earlier they were predicting September. But predictions ranged widely from June 2010 to January 2012.

Some respondents worry that Fed officials are too focused on today’s measures of consumer inflation. “Pipeline price pressures are there,” said Conrad DeQuadros of RDQ Economics. He noted signs of increased prices of imports, commodities and at the wholesale level. “Commodity prices are increasing very rapidly, which suggests markets are sniffing out an inflation problem down the road.”

Most of the respondents—45 of 52 who answered the question—think that over the next five years, the risks of accelerating inflation are bigger than the risks of slowing inflation. Some say near-term inflation debate shouldn’t be the key to Fed policy.

These are the same people who would like to dictate policy. Every. Single. One. Of. Them.

The only thing worse than divided economists? Economists who agree. They are “certain” that this or that will or won’t happen.

Do you want these people telling you how to live your life?

The reason I bring this all up is this: We are constantly told that the smart people know what is best for us if we’d just listen. But they don’t know.

How about this simple economic advice? Get out of debt. Stop spending so much. Yeah, I’m talking to the folks who run the government and can’t manage their own house and want to manage yours.



Podcast: MSM Bias Against The Tea Party Movement & A Class-Action Lawsuit Against The Government Over Health Care Reform

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

This podcast will make your blood boil and encourage you at the same time. Richard Noyes of the Media Research Center talks about their analysis of media coverage of the Tea Party. In the second half, Van Irion talks about his Congressional race and the Class Action suit to consider Health Care Reform unconstitutional. Interesting discussion of Federalism, too.

Some highlights from the research:

After reviewing every mention of the Tea Party on ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening newscasts and Sunday talk shows, the MRC found the below alarming trends, statistics and comparisons with other political protests.  Highlights:

Miniscule Coverage

§                                 ABC, CBS and NBC aired a mere 61 stories or segments about the Tea party over a 12-month period despite the movement’s demonstrated political force

§                                 Another 141 items included brief references to the movement

§                                 Networks virtually refused to recognize the Tea Party in 2009 (just 19 stories) with coverage increasing only after Scott Brown’s election in Massachusetts

No Comparison to Liberal Protests

§                                 The Nation of Islam’s “Million Man March” in 1995 was featured in 21 evening news stories on just the night of the march – more than the Tea Party received in all of 2009

§                                 The anti-gun “Million Mom March” in 2000 was preceded by 41 broadcast network reports heralding its message with a dozen positive pre-march interviews w/ organizers and participants

§                                 This promo favor was never granted to the Tea Party

Smeared as Extreme Racists

§                                 After the Sept. 12, 2009 rallies, networks suggested the Tea Party was an extreme or racist movement (see report for examples)

§                                 44% of network stories (27 out of 61) suggested the movement reflected a fringe or dangerous quality (see report for examples)

§                                 Network reporters strained to protect left-wing causes (such as the anti-war movement)  from the outrageous acts of individual protesters, but no such effort was made for the Tea Party

It’s a Tea Party bonanza!

iTunes

The Right Doctor: It’s Tea Time



More Jobless Claims: Obama Administration & Press [But That’s Redundant] Flummoxed By “Unexpected” Economic News

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

Okay, I might have made up that last part. It’s true, though, the jobless claims have gone up again. My prediction? They’ll continue to go up for a while, unfortunately. If gas prices inflate (and they will), costs to employers inflate across the board. Makes it tough to hire more people.

Here’s the deal:

In the week ending April 10, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 484,000, an increase of 24,000 from the previous week’s unrevised figure of 460,000. The 4-week moving average was 457,750, an increase of 7,500 from the previous week’s unrevised average of 450,250.

Also, as Ed Morrissey points out, the government is still hiring thousands of temporary workers so that means that the private sector is losing significantly more jobs–thousands of them.

If the Democrats succeed in enacting more of their policies, permanent joblessness will be the American way.

Thanks, President Obama!

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The Geico Guy Goes Psycho: Calls Freedom Works And Tea Partiers “Mentally Retarded”

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Dude. He’s a voice actor aka an actor, which is nearly automatically a sign of instability, but really, a recorded phone call? How stupid can you be? Wouldn’t a person want to hide their identity when making a politically incorrect call? Not if you’re a liberal.

Go to Big Government to listen.



Another Way To Punish Doctors…And Patients

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

More unintended consequences. For doctors who offer payment plans for patients who can’t afford to pay up front, a new regulation by the government. It’s designed to “fix” problems, don’t you know:

Our new ad below. Learn more at StopTheCFPA.com.

“Of course I allow my patients to pay in installments. They couldn’t afford orthodontics otherwise. Does that make me a financial company?”

Legislation that has passed the House and is pending in the Senate would create a new regulatory agency with the power to regulate a small business that allows its customers to pay in more than four installments or applies late fees –Senate Bill § 1027(a)(2)(B)(iii)– This is the wrong way to fix financial regulation and the wrong way to protect consumers. Let’s get it right by working together on a commonsense solution without creating a new $410 million big government bureaucracy with powers to regulate businesses that had nothing to do with the financial crisis.

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Obama Disrespects The Press, Not That There’s Anything Wrong With That

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Why should President Obama respect the press? He knows they will do his bidding anyway. From the Washington Post:

The Press Trust of India, at Obama’s meeting with the Pakistani prime minister, reported, “In less than a minute, the pool was asked to leave.” The Yomiuri Shimbun correspondent found that she was “ushered out about 30 seconds” after arriving for Obama’s meeting with the Malaysian prime minister. A reporter with Turkey’s TRT-Turk went to Obama’s meeting with the president of Armenia, but “we had to leave the room again after less than 40 seconds.”

Even the Chinese president, Hu Jintao, was more talkative with the press than Obama. Michelle Jamrisko, with Japan’s Kyodo News, noted in her pool report that Hu, at his session with Obama, spoke to the Chinese media in Chinese, while Obama limited himself mostly to “say hello to the cameras” and “thank you everybody.”

Obama’s official schedule for Tuesday would have pleased China’s Central Committee. Excerpts: “The President will attend the Heads of Delegation working lunch. This lunch is closed press. . . . The President will meet with Prime Minster Erdogan of Turkey. This meeting is closed press. . . . The President will attend Plenary Session II of the Nuclear Security Summit. This session is closed press.”

Reporters, even those on the White House beat for two decades, said it was the most restricted set of such meetings they had ever seen. They complained to both the administration and White House Correspondents’ Association, which will discuss the matter Thursday with White House press secretary Robert Gibbs.

The restrictions have become a common practice for the Obama White House. When Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu came to the White House a couple of weeks ago, reporters were kept away. Soon after that, Obama signed an executive order on abortion, again without any coverage.

Over the weekend, Obama broke with years of protocol and slipped off to a soccer game without the “protective” pool that is always in the vicinity of the president in case the unthinkable occurs. Obama joked about it later to Pakistan’s prime minister, saying reporters “were very upset.”

In “bilateral” meetings with foreign leaders, presidents usually take questions, or at least trade statements. But at most of Obama’s, there were only written “readouts.” Canada: “The president and the prime minister noted the enduring strength of our bilateral partnership.” India: “The two leaders vowed to continue to strengthen the robust relationship between the people of their countries.” Pakistan: “President Obama began by noting that he is very fond of Pakistan.”

And for all the respect President Bush showed the press, look what it got him.

But the issue for Obama is deeper. He just doesn’t respect Freedom of the Press or the Constitution all that much. It’s more fundamental than being a complete narcissist and not wanting to deal with uncomfortable questions or restricting an environment that is not 100% controlled–although those are big factors.

All Presidents want to control message. That’s nothing new. President Obama doesn’t feel the need to even share a message when it doesn’t suit him. And so, in utter contempt for American notions of freedom of the press, he doesn’t.

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CNN Poll: Any GOP Candidate Nearly Beats President Obama

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

This CNN poll came out with great fanfare because it put Huckabee ahead of Romney and Palin. But when all three of these folks are put up against President Obama, this is the result:

What about the hypothetical general election matchup in 2012 against President Obama?

The poll shows Obama topping Romney 53 percent to 45 percent, beating Huckabee 54 percent to 45 percent, defeating Gingrich 55 percent to 43 percent and topping Palin 55 percent to 42.

“It is important to remember that at this stage of the game, candidate matchups are largely driven by name recognition, and at least a quarter of all Americans are unfamiliar with Romney, Huckabee and Gingrich. As a result, Obama has an 8- to-12-point edge over each of them in hypothetical matchups,” adds Holland. “But in a previous CNN poll, Obama managed no better than a tie against an unnamed Republican.”

But there is something more than name recognition at work in Obama’s big lead over Palin.

“Palin is almost as well known as Obama, but the general public appears to have some doubts about what they have seen of her so far,” says Holland.

Hmmm…. Well, for being so unqualified, she’s almost neck in neck with Huckabee and Romney and that’s very interesting.

She has a couple years to demonstrate her qualifications. And if things get bad enough, her optimistic attitude might well be enough.

Hotair has more.

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Meanwhile, We STILL Don’t Know What President Obama Was Up To When He Disappeared For A Couple Hours?

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Where was President Obama, since he wasn’t at his daughter’s soccer game, and why isn’t the press asking?

What’s more concerning is that no one can confirm if the Secret Service even accompanied Obama on his adventure. Furthermore, let’s look at the elapsed time. If the president left the White House at 9:20AM as reported, according to Mapquest, it takes about sixteen minutes to get from the White House to 40th and Chesapeake NW, bringing his arrival time to the field at 9:36AM or so. But then he would have had to leave the field at the latest at 10:00AM to return to the White House at the documented time of 10:17AM. So he spent about twenty minutes at the game? When did the game end? That time is vague as well.

With all of the technology that people have — iPhones, Blackberries — not one person took a photo of Obama? And the press didn’t get a shot of him getting into his vehicle? Obama loves the cameras, and this is what he looks like at his daughter’s soccer game.

Even three days later, there are still no pictures of the president from Saturday’s game. The USA just disarmed to Russia, Poland’s president and 95 others were killed hours before, and there were many international leaders in Washington, D.C. for the nuclear summit set to begin on Monday, April 12.

And we shouldn’t raise even more questions on his whereabouts? According to the MSM, the answer is yes.

We still don’t know the answer to questions number one: Where was he?

We do know the answer to question number two: They are President Obama’s lap and attack dogs.

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Is The Tea Party Dead? Moving Beyond Adding To The Tea Party Movement: Here’s How

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

When another inevitable tea party break-up happened in my home town of Houston, the derivative group–a fine field of motivated folks–discussed their alternatives. We talked about branding. I suggested that they don’t use the words “Tea Party” at all, but instead become a mission-focused organization. They did just that and currently fight corruption in local elections.

That seems to be the future of the Tea Party movement ultimately–breaking down into activist organizations either locally or nationally to fulfill a certain purpose. Some of those involved have jumped into the Republican organization with the goal of transforming it to a small-government, fiscally conservative party again. Others have decided to become watchdogs of their local school boards. Still others have organized Get Out The Vote efforts.

There’s a lot of work to do.

Today, RedState’s Erick Erickson has decided to leave the Tea Party movement behind–to move beyond it. He alludes to the Tea Party movement disintegrating into sects like churches.

The last straw? This:

Then last week, in what everyone would have thought was a joke had it happened on April Fools Day, a bunch of tea parties, or at least one saying it was doing it for more, put out a press release announcing the birth of the National Tea Party Federation, which is not an organization, not a structure, not a new set of leaders, but an evolution of alliances of 19 tea party organizations and a handful of other groups, except for the Tea Party Patriots, which has worked overtime to be simply a volunteer group of concerned activists who neither get paid nor make money. Yeah, I have a soft spot for Tea Party Patriots living up to their ideal.

Most of us can sit back and ask one simple question: What the heck happened?

The tea party movement, one year later, is descending into a self-parody of infighting, money making, claims of national leadership, protests, unions, federations, amalgamations, etc. The groups have been so busy organizing themselves to distinguish themselves from each other that the core message is gone and media and left have been able to seize on the discord and paint a picture of the tea party movement as something other than it is and what we all know it to be — concerned Americans.

This has nothing at all to do with actual tea party activists. Let me be clear. I do not want to nor intend to slight the activists who care and show up with their hand painted signs, sometimes risking violence against themselves by the left and ridicule by the media.

But I have a simple message for them all — it is time to stop calling yourselves tea party activists and start calling yourselves concerned Americans.

The Tea Party Federation nonsense, and it is nonsense, bothered me too. Dan Riehl has touched on the problems. Here’s my take:

A small group of spokespeople would be the mainstream media’s dream come true. Only four or five “leaders” to undermine and smear? Awesome. Should one of these people have personal issues, misrepresent the movement, the media can smear the whole movement with the actions of one “hypocrite” (almost as bad a word as racist in the media world).

Why in heavens name would the Tea Party Federation group want to give the opposition ammo and line up to be shot?

Power. Money. Opportunism.

Yeah, that. There are bad actors in every movement and there are those kinds of folks in the Tea Party movement. And those folks are trying to get a federation of some kind to aggrandize themselves–TV appearances, business, whatever, under the pleasing call to put out a unified voice.

The Tea Party movement doesn’t need a spokesman. It needs concrete action.

And that is happening. Sure, there are protests and that serves a very good purpose: Demonstrating the sheer numbers of people fed up with big government. It also gives people an image to associate with an idea: millions of people wanting smaller government heartens those who fear that the government is going to take over everything. Cynicism is a democracy killer. The public image helps that.

Still, more needs to be done. If we want empty bloviating, we can turn on C-Span to watch the latest Senatorial panel. What we need is to fundamentally change some things.

Are you a Tea Party activist or leader wondering what to do? Here are some ideas:

1. Go after education reform. If it seems like we’re raising a bunch of no-mind Marxists, it’s because the curriculum overwhelmingly favors liberal ideology.

2. Watch the School Boards or better yet, run for them. These bastions of local politics are notoriously corrupt and misguided. Help find ways to cut costs, hold teachers accountable and increase parent involvement.

3. Become polling-place observers. How many wrong things happen at voting stations? Depends on the place. Go observe. Bring your camera. Bring your video camera. Catch the corruption on tape.

4. Get out the vote. Make sure you get people out to vote on important days. Today in Texas, for example, is run-off day. Make sure people vote.

5. Run for office. Don’t just stand there, do something. Sick of corrupt politicians? Replace them!

6. Blog. Oh, party operatives will hate you. Politicians may hate you. Heck, your brother might hate you. But since the MSM simply refuses, or because of funds, can’t write stories keeping officials accountable, bloggers can and do. And no, there are still not enough of them.

7. Inform: Email, Twitter, Facebook, lunch with the ladies: Preach the small government gospel to anyone who will listen. Hearts and minds need to be won to the cause and evangelism happens person to person.

8. Fundraise. Good politicians, efforts and ideas need money to transmit and promote them. One blogger friend of mine said that he was changing his focus from blogging to giving money to candidates. He was done screaming and wanted to put his money where his mouth is. Many people, formerly unwilling to give politically, see the consequences of staying out of the process and would donate to help others.

9. Become a teacher or college professor. Start inculcating the next generation with pro-democratic ideals and free thinking.

10. Be an individual success. Be a star at something, or if you already are a star, and then, on your big platform, come out of the small-government closet and trumpet your message of excellence. Explain why you succeeded. Explain why America is great. Lead by example. Do you know how many people are still afraid to verbalize their ideology for fear of being called stupid, racist, fill-in-the-blank evil? Yeah. Have courage and state the truth.

There are so many ways to make a difference. Many Tea Party organizations are doing many of these things. Most aren’t just showing up and complaining. Most are turning their words into action.

Do I think the time for the Tea Party is over? No. I’ll be at a Tea Party event this week and why not? It’s inspiring to be with like minded folks and to hear the stories of triumph. We need that.

It doesn’t have to be either/or. The Tea Party brand is strong still and will be a catalyst for greater things to come.

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A Shortage Of Doctors: Ya Don’t Say… And The Other Unintended Consequences Of Obamacare

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

The Wall Street Journal shares this inevitable news:

The new federal health-care law has raised the stakes for hospitals and schools already scrambling to train more doctors.

Experts warn there won’t be enough doctors to treat the millions of people newly insured under the law. At current graduation and training rates, the nation could face a shortage of as many as 150,000 doctors in the next 15 years, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

That shortfall is predicted despite a push by teaching hospitals and medical schools to boost the number of U.S. doctors, which now totals about 954,000.

The greatest demand will be for primary-care physicians. These general practitioners, internists, family physicians and pediatricians will have a larger role under the new law, coordinating care for each patient.

The U.S. has 352,908 primary-care doctors now, and the college association estimates that 45,000 more will be needed by 2020. But the number of medical-school students entering family medicine fell more than a quarter between 2002 and 2007.

A shortage of primary-care and other physicians could mean more-limited access to health care and longer wait times for patients.

The whole point of health care reform was too feel better–not you, or your health–but liberal politicians.

It wasn’t to improve health care treatment.

It wasn’t to reduce costs.

It wasn’t even to get more people under care.

Wait, what? That’s right. More people will be insured, but patients will receive less care at more cost. It’s just logical. The new health care system creates a gatekeeper system that will eliminate individual choice and drive up costs. So, a person thinks something is wrong with his prostate–he goes directly to a proctologist. That saves 1. wait time 2. cost (no double doctor fees) and 3. diagnosis time.

But not now.

Oh no! Now, a patient must wait to get into an overburdened primary care physician, get a referral and then get into another physician. A patient will be dead by the time he gets diagnosed.

The inevitable response?

Cash-only doctors. Some doctors won’t accept this new insurance and work outside the system. So, people will pay into the health service, hate the waits and then, go pay cash for good care.

The rich will have good care while subsidizing everyone else. The middle class will be caught in a jam because the taxes will be so egregious they can’t afford anything, never mind a quick diagnosis. So they will be caught in government-mandated substandard care.

And the poor, who don’t pay into the system, will still misuse the system because they still won’t take care of themselves. And Medicare and Medicaid could have been expanded to help them as is.

But noooo. An overhaul had to happen. The government had to control health care.

If this diseased legislation doesn’t get revoked, America is going to go down the road of all disastrous socialized countries: chronic unemployment, disheartened and downwardly mobile middle class and an elite aristocracy for whom policy doesn’t matter.

In the liberal world that’s called utopia.

And by the way, a small board will decide what does and does not get covered under Obamacare. So, yes, death sentences will be handed down by the government. That too, is inevitable.