Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Last Call For Downward Revision Collisions

The beginning of the year was not just bad for the United States economy: It was, on paper at least, the worst quarter since the last recession ended five years ago. 
The Commerce Department revised its estimates of first-quarter gross domestic product Wednesday to show that the economy contracted at a 2.9 percent annual rate. A combination of shrinking business inventories, terrible winter weather and a surprise contraction in health care spending drove the first-quarter decline, which is the worst since the first quarter of 2009, when the economy shrank at a 5.4 percent rate. 

So what about the very real possibility that we're back in a recession thanks to these factors, and oh yeah, Republicans blocking any and every possible plan to help the economy along for the last five years?

What makes the sharply negative number all the more stunning is that it didn’t feel like an economic contraction at all in the first quarter. Employers kept adding jobs. Many measures of business activity and consumer confidence were stable. And forecasters are expecting a healthy pop of growth in the second quarter, which ends next week. 
But the economy was hit by an unlikely combination of negative forces that conspired to turn what seemed set to be another quarter of so-so growth into a considerably more gloomy experience.

Ironically the reduced spending in health care by the Affordable Care Act contributed to these numbers.  A 1% GDP increase in the healthcare sector turned into a 0.16% contraction instead, a huge chunk of the latest downward adjustment.

But there are reasons not to freak out, thankfully.

Economists described the number as "horrid" and "dreadful," but then shrugged it off. So did investors. In fact, stocks rose.

"Despite the awful start to the year, the U.S. economy is nowhere close to recession," said Sal Guatieri, senior economist for BMO Capital Markets.

Something to keep in mind.  It looks bad on paper, but it's not the end of the world, or the beginning of another recession.

GOP Islamic Outreach Continues

Republicans are apparently trying to expand their voter base to non-Christian religions like Islam.  And by "apparently trying to expand" I mean "denouncing Islam as a terrorist philosophy and not a religion, therefore it doesn't qualify for protections under the First Amendment."

Jody Hice, a Republican candidate for a U.S. House seat from Georgia, does not believe that Islam is truly a religion and doesn't think it should be protected under the First Amendment.

In his book published in 2012, "It's Now Or Never," Hice made some anti-Islamic statements, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Although Islam has a religious component, it is much more than a simple religious ideology,” he wrote. “It is a complete geo-political structure and, as such, does not deserve First Amendment protection.”

Hice is running in GA-10 for Paul Broun's old seat (as Broun is now running for Senate to replace Saxby Chambliss) and will be in a runoff primary on July 22.  Paul Broun is basically nuts, but Hice makes him look sane by comparison.

"Most people think Islam is a religion, It’s not. It’s a totalitarian way of life with a religious component. But it’s much larger. It’s a geo-political system that has governmental, financial, military, legal and religious components. And it’s a totalitarian system that encompasses every aspect of life and it should not be protected [under U.S. law]," he said.

"This is not a tolerant, peaceful religion even though some Muslims are peaceful. Radical Muslims believe that Sharia is required by God and must be imposed worldwide. It’s a movement to take over the world by force. A global caliphate is the objective," Hice continued.

So odds a pretty good that Georgia will send a bonkers right-wing nut job with his own radio show to Congress who is a full-on avowed bigot.  And because people in Broun's district are apparently also bigots, they'll gladly choose to be represented by him.  In fact, openly being an Islamophobic conspiracy theory spouting jackass makes it more likely in 2014 that Jody Hice will be elected to Congress.

Because America.

McDaniel's Last Stand

As I said earlier today, Mississippi GOP Sen. Thad Cochran barely survived his primary runoff against Tea Party challenger, Republican state Sen. Chris McDaniel.  Only one problem:  McDaniel refuses to concede and his Tea Party allies are looking to see what legal recourse they have in order to challenge the validity of the runoff.

The lawyer leading the tea party effort to ensure there is no improper voting in the race for U.S. Senate in Mississippi said he would review reports of poll watchers before announcing the next steps in support of state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-MS), who was narrowly defeated in the runoff election Tuesday night by Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS).

"After I read the hundreds of pages of observer reports, I will have more information for you," the attorney, J. Christian Adams, said when asked whether they would challenge election results, according to MSNBC.

The real problem is the state's ridiculous primary laws, which state that while Mississippi has open primaries, you can't vote in a party primary runoff unless you "plan to support the party in the general election."  How the state has any power to enforce this law involving mind-reading and time travel, I have no clue.  That's what lawyers are for, apparently.

Earlier on Tuesday McDaniel refused to concede after various news outlets called the race for Cochran. Instead he suggested that his campaign would take new steps to fight the election results.

"Now it's our job to make sure that sanctity of the vote is upheld. Before this race ends we have to be absolutely certain that the Republican primary was won by Republican voters," McDaniel said.

All I do know is that it's looking like the Tea Party is going to bitch and whine about losing until someone does something about it.  Mississippi has no party registration, you see.  Will these clowns try to push this to the Supreme Court or something?  Who knows?

But let's waste some taxpayer money while we're at it, says the party of small government.


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