May 29, 2017

Monday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (052917)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:00 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.


Positivity: The History of Memorial Day

Filed under: Positivity,Taxes & Government,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 12:01 am

From (more background is at this link at

It was 1866 and the United States was recovering from the long and bloody Civil War between the North and the South. Surviving soldiers came home, some with missing limbs, and all with stories to tell. Henry Welles, a drugstore owner in Waterloo, New York, heard the stories and had an idea. He suggested that all the shops in town close for one day to honor the soldiers who were killed in the Civil War and were buried in the Waterloo cemetery. On the morning of May 5, the townspeople placed flowers, wreaths and crosses on the graves of the Northern soldiers in the cemetery. At about the same time, Retired Major General Jonathan A. Logan planned another ceremony, this time for the soldiers who survived the war. He led the veterans through town to the cemetery to decorate their comrades’ graves with flags. It was not a happy celebration, but a memorial. The townspeople called it Decoration Day.

In Retired Major General Logan’s proclamation of Memorial Day, he declared:

“The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country and during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.”

The two ceremonies were joined in 1868, and northern states commemorated the day on May 30. The southern states commemorated their war dead on different days. Children read poems and sang civil war songs and veterans came to school wearing their medals and uniforms to tell students about the Civil War. Then the veterans marched through their home towns followed by the townspeople to the cemetery. They decorated graves and took photographs of soldiers next to American flags. Rifles were shot in the air as a salute to the northern soldiers who had given their lives to keep the United States together.

In 1882, the name was changed to Memorial Day and soldiers who had died in previous wars were honored as well. In the northern United States, it was designated a public holiday. In 1971, along with other holidays, President Richard Nixon declared Memorial Day a federal holiday on the last Monday in May.

Cities all around the United States hold their own ceremonies on the last Monday in May to pay respect to the men and women who have died in wars or in the service of their country. …

Read additional history at the link.

May 28, 2017

NY Times Can’t Figure Out ‘What Led Salman Abedi to Bomb the Manchester Arena’

In an attempt to build up its already “We’ll never really know why they did it” file relating to Islamist radicals who have taken innocent lives, three reporters at the New York Times composed a 1,900-word report Saturday evening (Sunday front-page print edition) about Manchester bomber Salman Abedi’s family background. The reporters provided very little hard information about Abedi’s motivations, despite the fact that readers who saw the paper’s tweet (HT Twitchy) which promoted the article were led to expect it: “What led Salman Abedi to bomb the Manchester arena?” But they did push hard the news that Abedi called his mom before he carried the attack.



RIP, Jim Bunning

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 2:24 pm

From Yahoo Sports (videos at link), on a marvelous man who, in addition to the achievements described below, raised a remarkable family:

Jim Bunning, Hall of Fame pitcher and former U.S. Senator, dead at 85

Hall of Fame pitcher and former U.S. senator Jim Bunning has died, the Associated Press reported on Saturday.

He was 85 years old.

According to Bunning’s family, he died shortly before midnight Friday. He had been in poor health since suffering a stroke in October.

Bunning made his name in baseball, carving out a career that was second to none. He played in the major leagues from 1955 to 1971, splitting his career mostly between Detroit and Philadelphia. He also had brief stints with the Pirates and Dodgers.

During his career, Bunning was no stranger to making history. With the Phillies, he pitched a perfect game against the Mets at Shea Stadium on June 21, 1964. At the time, it was only the fifth perfect game in MLB since the beginning of the 20th century, and the very first in the National League.

Bunning finished his career with 224 wins, seven All-Star selections, and one runner up finish in the Cy Young award balloting. He also pitched a no-hitter for the Tigers on July 20, 1958.

Bunning was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996 after being elected by the Veteran’s Committee. He’s also a member of the Phillies Walk of Fame and had his No. 14 retired by Philadelphia in 2001.

… After his playing days were over, Bunning pursued politics, serving his home state of Kentucky for two decades.

In 1986, Bunning was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Kentucky’s 4th congressional district, and served in the House from 1987 to 1999. He also served two terms as a U.S. Senator from 1999-2010.

Jim Bunning lived a remarkable life. He managed to earn the respect of his peers in two fields that are difficult to navigate. That says a lot about the man and his passion and dedication to the things he held most important.


Sunday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (052817)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:00 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.

May 27, 2017

Attn. Fact Checkers: Hillary Claims She Beat Trump, Nixon Was Impeached

The Associated Press, Politifact, CNN, Snopes and all of the other “fact-checkers” should be busy this weekend and well into next week vetting the howlers contained in Rebecca Traister’s New York Magazine Friday afternoon interview of a politician who has been in the public eye for decades. But it’s a virtual lock that they won’t bother, because the person Traister interviewed was Hillary Clinton.



Saturday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (052717)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:00 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.

May 26, 2017

Media Ignored Rosy Obama-Era Growth Assumptions, But Now Attack Trump’s 3 Percent Target

One of the more absurd spectacles in the press’s coverage of the economy is this week’s attack on the Trump White House’s long-term economic growth assumptions in this week’s budget release. The same reporters, pundits and outlets now ridiculing the Trump administration’s belief that the economy can consistently grow by 3 percent each year beginning four years from now were stone silent when the Obama administration, whose alums have joined the current negative chorus, used far higher growth assumptions — and miserably failed to achieve them.



AP, As Another Dem Loses: Montana House Race Was ‘Not So Much’ a ‘Trump Test’

Longtime media bias observers know that if a Democrat wins a single special election race for national office during a Republican presidential administration, the press will say it’s evidence that the nation’s voters have changed their minds about which party should occupy the White House. If the Democrat loses … well, in the pre-Internet era, the national press would pretend that the race never happened. These days, they instead have to come up with excuses, which are usually pathetic. The Associated Press engaged in such an exercise Friday morning after Republican Greg Gianforte defeated Democrat Rob Quist for Montana’s single US House seat.



1Q17 Gross Domestic Product, Second Estimate (052617): An Annualized 1.2 Percent, Revised Up from 0.7 Percent

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:29 am


The report will be here at 8:30.

HERE IT IS (full text release with all tables) — Surprise, surprise (not really; readers of my post a month ago may recall that I saw this coming):

Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 1.2 percent in the first quarter of 2017 (table 1), according to the “second” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the fourth quarter, real GDP increased 2.1 percent.

The GDP estimate released today is based on more complete source data than were available for the “advance” estimate issued last month. In the advance estimate, the increase in real GDP was 0.7 percent. With this second estimate for the first quarter, the general picture of economic growth remains the same; increases in nonresidential fixed investment and in personal consumption expenditures (PCE) were larger and the decrease in state and local government spending was smaller than previously estimated. These revisions were partly offset by a larger decrease in private inventory investment.

Real gross domestic income (GDI) increased 0.9 percent in the first quarter, in contrast to a decrease of 1.4 percent (revised) in the fourth. The average of real GDP and real GDI, a supplemental measure of U.S. economic activity that equally weights GDP and GDI, increased 1.0 percent in the first quarter, compared with an increase of 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter.

… The increase in real GDP in the first quarter reflected positive contributions from nonresidential fixed investment, exports, residential fixed investment, and PCE that were partly offset by negative contributions from private inventory investment, federal government spending, and state and local government spending. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.

The deceleration in real GDP in the first quarter primarily reflected a downturn in private inventory investment and a deceleration in PCE that were partly offset by an upturn in exports and an acceleration in nonresidential fixed investment.

Current-dollar GDP increased 3.4 percent, or $158.2 billion, in the first quarter to a level of $19,027.6 billion. In the fourth quarter, current-dollar GDP increased 4.2 percent, or $194.1 billion.

The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 2.6 percent in the first quarter, compared with an increase of 2.0 percent in the fourth quarter (table 4). The PCE price index increased 2.4 percent, compared with an increase of 2.0 percent. Excluding food and energy prices, the PCE price index increased 2.1 percent, compared with an increase of 1.3 percent.

A month ago, I said that “I’d guess that future revisions are going to take this number up.” The “this number” reference was to personal consumption expenditures, which increased from contributing .23 points to GDP originally to 0.44 points in today’s release, accounting for about 40 percent of the 0.5-point upward revision.

The updated contributions to GDP table will appear shortly.

UPDATE: Here it is —


The notables (to me) are highlighted.

I believe the revisions with the services element of personal consumption are to things that represent recognizable standard of living improvements, as opposed to health care (and health insurance within “other services,” which for the most part don’t).

Also, the fixed investment uptick is good news for future productivity and GDP improvements.


Friday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (052617)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:00 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.


Positivity: How a nun’s home is helping girls freed from sex trafficking

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:55 am

From Baton Rouge, Louisiana:

May 26, 2017 / 03:33 am

The numbers are staggering. Each year in the U.S. alone, some 300,000 minors are victims of sex trafficking.

In Louisiana, state estimates indicate that about 40 percent of juvenile victims are being trafficked by their primary care giver: a mother, father, foster parent, uncle, a mother’s boyfriend.

Father Jeff Bayhi has heard unspeakable stories of sex trafficking victims over the years.

That’s why the pastor of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Zachary, La. has worked to open Metanoia Home, a Baton Rouge-area shelter for sixteen women under age 21.

Caring for the victims are four Hospitaler Sisters of Mercy from India, Nigeria, the Philippines and Madagascar.

“They’re not there as social workers or therapists,” but as mother figures, Fr Bayhi said. “They’re going to be there, and be a safe place for these children to be. To be loved, to be nurtured, to be made felt special again in the sight of God.”

The project is modeled after the initiatives of Sister Eugenia Bonetti. The Milan-based Consolata Missionary sister heads the Slaves No More association. She has trained responders to help trafficking victims. Her former students work around the world.

“We have worked with her a great deal,” Fr. Bayhi said of Sr. Bonetti. “She has been here and addressed our legislature. She’s our model.”

Given the grim reality of human trafficking, thousands more people are needed to follow that model. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

May 25, 2017

WashPost’s Wemple Defends Sneaky Tactics of AP, Freelancer at NH GOP Event

On Tuesday, Randy Hall at NewsBusters covered how “the Associated Press hired a ‘freelancer’ — who turned out to be ‘a hardcore left-wing activist’ — to attend a ‘closed press’ fund-raiser for the GOP in New Hampshire.” In other words, the wire service sent Melanie Plenda to the event for the express purpose of crashing it, despite the NHGOP’s clear instructions. It turns out that the Washington Post’s Erik Wemple, in covering the fallout from Plenda’s sneaky, sloppy work, is perfectly fine with that.



Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (052517)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:00 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.


Positivity: Pence to Notre Dame graduates — Bring values into the workplace

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 5:55 am

From South Bend, Indiana:

May 22, 2017 / 02:08 pm

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence challenged University of Notre Dame graduates on Saturday to promote human dignity and the sanctity of life in the workplace.

“I urge you, as the rising generation – carry the ideals and the values that you’ve learned at Notre Dame into your lives and your careers,” Pence told the graduates, praising the university for its rich traditions of defending human life and religious liberty in the face of persecution.

The vice president delivered the commencement address at the University of Notre Dame on March 20. He called on the graduates to “be exceptional from this day forth.”

Pence commended the university’s defense of religious liberty, noting that it was among the plaintiffs in lawsuits against the Obama administration’s contraception mandate.

“Just as Notre Dame has stood strong to protect its religious liberty, I’m proud that this President just took steps to ensure that this university and the Little Sisters of the Poor could not be forced to violate their consciences to fully participate in American civic life,” Pence said in reference to the lawsuits.

“I’m so proud that the University of Notre Dame has stood without apology for the sanctity of human life,” he continued, pointing to the university’s efforts to uphold human dignity, through its educational initiatives, social commitment and focus on ethics and culture. ..

Go here for the rest of the story.