Lies, damned lies, and statistics

The left have been trying to tell us just what a great, great! job President Obama has been doing, and how underappreciated he is. One of their claims is that he’s pretty much whipped unemployment, with the official unemployment rate being down to 5.8%. From CNN Money:

The New American Dream
Exclusive: America’s part-time economy
By Patrick Gillespie @CNNMoney November 21, 2014: 6:52 AM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney): The West Coast isn’t a dreamy place for many workers. Millions of Americans are languishing there in part-time jobs with no other options.

In California alone, 1.2 million people are “underemployed.” That equals the entire population of San Francisco and Oakland.

Part-time workers are far more likely to live in poverty. They are paid less than other workers and often don’t receive benefits. It’s a bad sign when states have a high percentage of part-time employees in the labor force, especially those working part-time involuntarily because they can’t get a full-time job.

The worst state: In California, the nation’s largest state economy, 7.1% of the workforce consists of involuntary part-time workers. That’s well above the national average of 4.7% in October.

To look at it another way, California has over half a million more underemployed workers now than in 2007. That’s greater than the population of Sacramento.

Part-time work always increases in a recession, but the alarming sign is that it hasn’t gone down much during America’s recovery.

Eight states, including New York and New Jersey, still have double the number of involuntary part-time jobs since the recession began, according to the Labor Department. And involuntary part-time jobs are actually increasing in places like Florida and Texas.

More at the link.

I’m certain, certain! that the requirement of the wholly misnamed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that says businesses employing fifty or more people must provide health insurance for full-time employees, with full-time being defined as thirty or more hours per week, has nothing to do with the increase in part-time employment, and inability of so many part-timers to gain full-time employment.

U-6 Unemployment Rate.  Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Click to enlarge.

U-6 Unemployment Rate. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. Click to enlarge.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics defines the U-6 unemployment rate as “Total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force,” and “Persons marginally attached to the labor force are those who currently are neither working nor looking for work but indicate that they want and are available for a job and have looked for work sometime in the past 12 months. Discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally attached, have given a job-market related reason for not currently looking for work. Persons employed part time for economic reasons are those who want and are available for full-time work but have had to settle for a part-time schedule.”

The recession started after December of 2007 — statistically speaking — and was over at the end of June of 2009. Today, 21 full quarters, 5¼ years after the recession statistically ended, the U-6 unemployment rate is 11.5%, 3.1 percentage points higher than November of 2007, and 2.7 percentage points higher than December of 2007. People have been finding jobs, but they haven’t been finding good jobs, haven’t been finding the work that they really need.

Perhaps this is why The Washington Post reported a poll indicating that 72% of Americans believe that we are still in a recession! The numbers say that we aren’t, but the people can still feel it in their bones. The left can cite an official statistic, but it still falls under the category of lies.

The Double Standard

The rape allegations against comedian Bill Cosby have been all over the news recently, and Mr Cosby has already had shows pulled. The claims are decades old, and beyond any possibility of proof, or disproof, but liberal sites like Think Progress are full of stories which don’t question the allegations. The Lost Kos was no different, and it’s not surprise at all that Amanda Marcotte would be assuming that he is guilty. Even some commenters on a site as sane as Patterico’s Pontifications believe he is probably guilty. Well, guilty or not, his reputation is trashed, ruined, by allegations which can never be proved.

But, I’ll bet that we hear nothing but defenses from the left concerning this story:

Portland gay rights leader arrested in sex case
Terrence Bean, 66, on the ground floor of the Human Rights Campaign
By KOIN 6 News Staff | Published: November 19, 2014, 2:09 pm Updated: November 20, 2014, 5:55 am

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — A founder of the country’s leading gay rights organization was arrested Wednesday on charges related to an incident with a 15-year-old boy last year.

Portland LGBT activist Terry Bean, 66, poses with U.S. President Barrack Obama. (Flickr/ Terry Bean)

The Portland Police Bureau’s Sex Crimes Unit took Terrence Bean into custody at his home in Southwest Portland following a Lane County Grand Jury indictment.

Bean, 66, was on the ground floor of the Human Rights Campaign, according to terrybeanpolitics.com, and is listed as an HRC board member and Portland’s sole representation in the group’s leadership on hrc.org.

Bean’s lawyer, Kristen Winemiller, said in a statement Wednesday that it is Bean who has been victimized, and “look[s] forward to the opportunity to clear his name.”

“Over the course of several months in 2013-2014 Terry was the victim of an extortion ring led by several men known to law enforcement,” Winemiller said.

Winemiller said the arrest is connected to an ongoing investigation of a case Bean fully cooperated with. Still, sources familiar with the investigation told KOIN 6 News they believe there may be more victims in the case, part of an overarching investigation, and others may face charges.

“No allegations against Terry Bean should be taken at face value,” Winemiller said.

Amid the allegations, dozens of supporters took to social media defending Bean, including celebrated LGBT advocate and benefactor Bill Dickey.

More at the original. But remember the differences: there are allegations that Mr Cosby raped several women, years and years ago, while a Grand Jury in Lane County, in very liberal Oregon, looked at the evidence and actually indicted Mr Bean. He is facing real criminal charges, with real witnesses and real evidence.

My guess is that we’ll hear nothing but crickets chirping from the left over this one.

What would happen in a private business that operated like this?

From MSN Money:

Medicare Doles Out $45B in Improper Payments
The Fiscal Times | Brianna Ehley | November 20, 2014

It’s not news that the federal government has a serious issue with improper payments. During each of the last five years, agencies have doled out more than $100 billion in erroneous payments from various major benefit programs. Even knowing this, the problem only seems to be getting worse.

The latest program to be flagged by federal auditors is Medicare’s Fee for Service –which has seen a steady uptick of improper payments over the last five years.

This year, the program’s error rate jumped to 12.7 percent, from 10.1 percent last year, according to a new report from the Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General.

The auditors said that this year alone, Medicare’s Fee for Service program made about $45 billion in improper payments. That’s up significantly from $28.8 billion in 2011, when the error rate was 8.6 percent.

More at the link.

Not only has the problem been bad, for years — well before President Obama took office — but it’s now getting worse.

Supposedly, the feds are getting better are recouping some of the losses, about 88%, which is up from 79% in 2012, but recovery involves costs of its own. The simple and obvious question is: what would happen in a private corporation when the Chief Executive Officer discovered that so much was being paid out by mistake?

And the answer is simple and obvious, too: heads would roll! The company officials responsible for such payments would have been shown the door, and it’s quite possible that the whole department would be fired, and new people brought in to fix the problem, and fix it fast.

Too bad we can’t seem to do that in the federal government! One thing that the Republicans could do is to make it easier to dismiss civil servants who aren’t doing their jobs; there should be a real penalty for failure.

Beyond that, the government is still only paying what it is being billed, and the answer to that problem is to hold people and businesses filing inappropriate bills accountable. It could be argued that some of these are simple mistakes, and simple mistakes can be corrected without penalties . . . once. Subsequent inappropriate billing attempts should bring harsh scrutiny, including the real possibility of criminal charges.

In advance of the President’s speech

From The New York Times, via Donald Douglas:

Deportation Reprieve May Exclude Parents of Young Immigrants
By Julia Preston | November  19, 2014

WASHINGTON — Every time Berzabeth Valdez heads out to work from her mobile home on the outskirts of Houston, it crosses her mind that she might not come back.

Ms. Valdez, 48, is a Mexican immigrant who has been living in Texas for 11 years without legal papers, and so without a driver’s license. For her commute to her job as a restaurant manager, she keeps her taillights in working order and never speeds.

“We are terrified of the police,” Ms. Valdez said. “One traffic ticket could end in deportation. I could lose my whole life, everything I have gained for my family.”

One of Ms. Valdez’s daughters grew tired of living with those fears and joined an organization of young undocumented immigrants. The youths, who call themselves Dreamers, won protection from deportation from President Obama in 2012 and continued to press him to extend those measures to others in the country illegally.

More at the link. But let’s skip way down, to two more short paragraphs:

In October, Ms. Valdez recalled, her car was rammed in a rear fender while she was stopped at a red light. An apologetic American driver explained that she was wearing a new pair of high heels and had been unable to press the brake in time.

“Let’s just forget about it,” Ms. Valdez said, eyeing her crumpled fender, and she left to avoid calling the police…

This tells us a lot. Not only does Mrs Valdez not have a driver’s license, it has to be asked how she could have automobile insurance; if you don’t have a license, it is illegal for you to drive a car, and therefore any accident into which she gets is automatically her fault, since she shouldn’t have been on the road in the first place. Maybe a bumper thumper can be ignored, but what if she has an accident and someone’s car gets badly damaged, or someone is injured?

And there are other problems: if Mrs Valdez isn’t an American citizen or legal immigrant, how can she have a legitimate Social Security number and be paying her taxes? Is she being paid in cash, under the table? If so, it would seem to me that there’s a restaurant in the Houston area that is breaking the law. I am pleased that she is at least working, rather than being a welfare leech, but restaurant manager isn’t exactly the kind of job we think about when we consider the list of “jobs Americans won’t do.”

We have to realize something: when an illegal immigrant is living in the United States, the immigration laws aren’t the only laws being broken, and it’s unlikely that only the immigrants are the ones breaking the laws.

Well, I’ve got the answer!

A tweet from Donna Brazile:

The lovely Miss Brazile was the campaign manager for Al Gore in 2000, and is currently Vice Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee; she is not a stupid1 or uneducated woman. When Jonathan Gruber was helping to set up the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in such away as to deceive people about the costs, when he and the entire Obama Administration believed that the American people would swallow it because they thought us stupid, conservatives said, forthrightly and plainly, that there was no way to add thirty or forty million people who couldn’t previously afford health insurance to the insurance rolls, end the cost-cutting measures which insurance companies had in place concerning non-coverage of pre-existing conditions, and maintain the same quality and access for health care to which the American people are accustomed, and not greatly increase the costs.

Well, now Miss Brazile, who is less than a month short of her 55th birthday, gets to pay more money for her health insurance so that she can have that mandated contraception coverage! Maybe Miss Brazile needs her insurance provider to explain the increase in her premium costs to her, but we already know the answer.

Miss Brazile, we told you so! It’s small consolation that conservatives get to gloat about the fact that we were right all along about Obaminablecare, but I’ll take whatever consolation I can get.

  1. Well, maybe she is.

Why can’t Congress meet via Skype?

Representative Tammy Duckworth (D-IL-08)

OK, I don’t have much respect for Representative Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) for this action, but she did serve our country with the United States Army, in combat as a helicopter pilot, in Iraq, and I honor her for that. Her fellow Democrats? Not so much:

Tammy Duckworth refused proxy vote in Dem caucus
Posted @ 8:01 AM on November 14, 2014 by Jazz Shaw

I suppose part of the not-breaking news here is that Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (D – Illinois 8th) is pregnant. She is expecting in the near future, and her doctor has advised her not to travel in the final weeks of her pregnancy. Unfortunately, that meant that she would miss some key Democrat caucus votes as they settle on their new leadership for the next term. In order to get around this problem, she asked to be allowed to vote by proxy. As National Journal notes with great umbrage, the answer was no.

Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, who is expecting a baby in December, is being denied a request to vote by proxy in the House Democratic Caucus leadership and committee member elections next week—even though her doctor advises she can’t travel to Washington in the late stages of her pregnancy.

The Iraq War veteran, who lost both legs when her helicopter was shot down in 2004, made the request in a letter to fellow Democrats. Her letter was read during a closed-door Democratic Caucus meeting on Thursday. But objections were raised, and the request was denied, with opponents including Democratic Steering and Police Committee cochair Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Some are immediately suspicious about the motives for denying this request, particularly with all the maneuvering going on as key positions change hands. National Journal goes above and beyond the call – as other already have – to point out that she’s an injured Iraq veteran. Andshe’s a woman. And she’s going to have a baby. If there were any way possible to somehow blame the operations of the House Democratic Caucus on the Republicans we would have already seen more than a thousand claims regarding the War on Women.

More at the link. Now, try to imagine all of the #WarOnWomen screeches from the left had Mrs Duckworth been a Republican congresswoman!

Remember what this is: it is not an official congressional vote, but simply a vote in the Democratic Caucus, which can set its own rules without the consent of those wicked ol’ Republicans. And points were made about other congressmen then wanting waivers for proxy votes, for less serious reasons. I suppose that Nancy Pelosi is telling us, as only she can, that she’s just as stupid as public administrators who set forth without exception, zero tolerance policies, because they are deathly afraid that someone, somewhere, will call them to account for exercising judgement on something. And, in the case of the lovely Mrs Pelosi, I can see why her judgement should never be trusted!

But this case points out something I see as a larger issue: why must our senators and representatives spend so much time in Washington in the first place? Other than the Constitutional requirement that the Congress must assemble at least once per year, the power of each House to set its own rules for proceeding, there is nothing which would prohibit the Congress from conducting some of its business via Skype, or some other video conferencing format.

If we had a Congress which did significant business, including voting in committee and on the floor, via video conferencing, they could spend that much more time actually in their districts. Right now, only the few congressmen and senators who represent districts within reasonable commuting distance from the District of Columbia — meaning: parts of Maryland, Virginia and, as Joe Biden famously demonstrated, Delaware, — have the luxury of not maintaining separate lives in the District. Heck, part of Senator Mary Landrieu’s (D-LA) problem is that she has no real residence in the Bayou State, claiming her parents’ home as her Louisiana residence, while listing her real residence as a $2.5 million mansion on Capitol Hill. If the Congress would allow some form of long-distance meeting, our senators and representatives could be closer, physically closer, to the people they have been elected to represent, and I can see that only as a good thing.

We already have a form of this in the Presidency. Camp David has long been set up so that Presidents can take a break from the White House, and still be “on duty” there. Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and the younger George Bush all conducted business from their own homes in California and Texas. The office of the President is, in effect, wherever the President happens to be, but even in the 1960s there was sufficient technology to allow that to work. The problem is different when it comes to a body of many members, but the technology now exists, and many corporations conduct some of their business in this manner.

There are only good things which could result from this:

  • Congressmen wouldn’t have to be separated from their families as often. Wouldn’t it be better for our senators and representatives to be living with their spouses and children, to maintain more normal family lives?
  • Lobbyists would have less access to congressmen; the crowd of lobbyists who can blend in in Washington DC would stand out like a sore thumb in the Somerset, Kentucky home of Representative Hal Rogers (R-KY 5th District)
  • Congressmen would be closer to the people who elected them, enabling their constituents to see and talk to their representatives more easily.
  • Congressmen might have to spend less of their own money on second residences in Washington, putting less financial pressure on them when unsavory characters ty to bribe them.
  • Congressmen would be more separated from their party leadership, increasing their independence from the leadership.
  • Congressmen would not be so separated from the way their constituents live. Spending too much time in Washington means not living in the same conditions as constituents in Hedrick, Iowa or Elko, Nevada. There is a lot of difference between life in Lexington and Ravenna, but at least Representative Andy Barr (R-KY 6th District), who lives in Lexington but represents both, would be a lot closer.

There’s just no downside to this idea. And with the approval ratings of Congress somewhere in the septic tank, they might have a chance to give the public more confidence in them. Why not try it?

LTC Duckworth’s Awards Purple Heart BAR.svg Purple Heart
Meritorious Service ribbon.svg Meritorious Service Medal
RibbonAirMedal.PNG Air Medal
Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg Army Commendation Medal with Oak leaf cluster
Army Reserve Achievement ribbon.svg Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal with four Oak leaf clusters
Combat Action Badge.svg Combat Action Badge
Senior Army Aviator.jpg Senior Army Aviator Badge

Rule 5 Blogging: Sea Duty

It’s the weekend and time, once again, for THE FIRST STREET JOURNAL’S version of Rule 5 Blogging. Robert Stacey Stacy McCain described Rule 5 as posting photos of pretty women somewhat déshabillé, but, on this site, our Rule 5 Blogging doesn’t put up pictures of Alyssa Milano in her summer clothes, but women, in full military gear, serving their countries in the armed forces. The terribly sexist authors on this site celebrate strong women, women who can take care of themselves and take care of others, women who have been willing to put their lives on the line in some not-so-friendly places, women who truly do have the “We can do it!” attitude. This week, American sailors, at sea! Click any photo to enlarge.

ARABIAN GULF (July 10, 2013) Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment) 2nd Class Kimberly O’Donnell, from Silverdale, Wash., operates advanced recovery controls at arresting gear engine four aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68). The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts and support missions for Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan R. McDonald/Released)

Continue reading ‘Rule 5 Blogging: Sea Duty’ »

From Around the Blogroll

People seem puzzled that, other than Fox, the mainstream media, other than Fox, are barely, if at all, mentioning the Gruber story, but really, it’s simple: to them, the story that the Obama Administration had nothing but contempt for the intelligence of the American people, and of voters, is not news, not news in the slightest. Given that the voters actually elected Barack Hussein Obama to be President of the United States, and then, after witnessing his job performance for the first term, re-elected him, it’s difficult to disagree with the assessment that the voters are stupid. The 2014 election had decent results only because the less intelligent people stayed home.

The most Pyrrhic of victories

Our good friend Jason Scott of the Delaware Liberal is just aghast that Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) has stated that he will support the Senate bill by hopefully-outgoing Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) to get the Keystone XL pipeline project approved. Stan Merriman added this comment:

This support by Carper is an outrage. As a recent transplant here from Houston, we were painfully close to Cancer Alley where the refineries are that will process that sludge. This is harmful to the already harmed Houston environment, harmful to the landowners along the pipeline’s east Texas route and an environmental disaster. I’ve written Sen. Carper on this, not expecting he’ll reverse his support but I owe it to my Houston friends to try.

Mr Merriman posted another article stating that President Obama’s deal on carbon emissions with China is a BFD, which I assume stands for big f(ornicating) deal, and that opposition to it constitutes treason, so I feel that it’s somewhat safe to say that he is pretty intense on this subject. :)

It is my guess, at this point, that the Keystone XL pipeline will not be built. Even if approved, the left can be counted upon to file lawsuit after lawsuit after lawsuit to try to stop it, most certainly delaying it for years upon years. I believe that the left have already won on this issue. And what have they won? Nothing, nothing at all, other than to prevent the pipeline construction jobs from being created, because the oil that Keystone was supposed to pump to Gulf Coast refineries is still going to be used! From The Wall Street Journal:

U.S. Refiners Don’t Care if Keystone Gets Built
Railroads and Rival Pipeline Firms Are Making the Keystone Pipeline Less Necessary.
By Ben Lefebvre | Updated Sept. 5, 2013 5:28 p.m. ET

U.S. companies that refine oil increasingly doubt that the controversial Keystone XL pipeline expansion will ever be built, and now they don’t particularly care.

Railroads are carrying soaring amounts of crude from Canada down to refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast, reducing the need for the TransCanada Corp. project, which is still awaiting approval from the U.S. government after two years of delays.

Meanwhile, a rival pipeline company, Enbridge Inc., is expanding existing pipes to carry Canadian crude south—and it doesn’t need federal permission because it’s using existing pipeline rights of way. In addition, so much oil is sloshing around the U.S. from its own wells that refiners don’t need lots more heavy crude from the north to keep busy.

Much more at the original. But we have previously noted another Journal article on the expanded use of railroads to ship crude oil. The oil is still getting shipped, the oil is still getting refined, and the oil is still getting used. Delaying and (probably) stopping the Keystone XL pipeline has not stopped any of that, because, the protests of the left notwithstanding, the country needs to use petroleum to power our modern civilization.

As for the Keystone pipeline construction jobs that won’t be created? Well, they’re probably a net wash, if not actually fewer jobs lost than were created when new rail terminals for handling the increased crude oil flow were started, and there are probably more jobs with the railroads for handling the increased rail traffic, and more jobs created as new oil tanker cars have to be built.

Of course, rail transportation requires more handling, and involves more workers, along with the diesel fuel to power the locomotives which pull the oil trains, and that means greater costs involved for transporting the oil, costs which are passed down to the end consumer, which means that the good, hard-working people that our friends at the Delaware Liberal tell us they support have to spend more for the fuel they use, making them poorer in real terms. The left tell us that they want to increase the minimum wage, but they continually support policies which eat away at people’s wages, policies which make them poorer. We’ve said it many times before: if liberals actually understood economics, they wouldn’t be liberals anymore.

Of course, while rail transportation is very safe, accidents do happen, and people get killed. Pipelines can also leak or break, but they have normally not involved anyone being killed. Pipelines are generally safer, and can be made safer still, but nothing is completely risk-free.

So, the left have wasted all of this time and effort to stop the dreaded Keystone XL pipeline, and have probably succeeded, but the oil they wanted to stop will still be used, and the oil that they wanted to stop will still be moved, albeit less safely, and the oil that they wanted to stop will still be needed, and bought, by consumers, though more expensively. I wonder: how Pyrrhic do they like their victories?