Well, we've gone and done it. We're now at Ace.mu.nu
, our new home.
There are a couple of kinks over on the new site, including craptacular archives and a very boring commenting display, but there are helpful people over there and we should have that straightened out in a couple of days.
There won't be any further posts at this blogspot address, unless/until we blow out Mu.Nu's servers with our ginormous traffic.
We hope you'll follow us over!
We're also sending out emails to all of our linkers, begging them to change the address when they get the chance. But we can't find some of your addresses.
If you see this, please change over to the ace.mu.nu address, when you get the opportunity.
Surging Withholding-Tax Revenues Show Something Big is Brewing in Labor Market
Earlier came the good news that surging revenues would lower the deficit by perhaps $100 billion or more
But now comes even more
good news. It seems you can't have that kind of blockbuster growth in receipts unless, get this, a lot more people are working for more money than they used to.
This great article puts the surge in tax-revenues into perspective:
May 4 (Bloomberg) -- Budget analysts were expecting a windfall of tax refunds this year as cuts in marginal tax rates, retroactive to January 2003, caused an over-withholding of income.
In other words, the government was expecting to pay out a lot of money in refunds. She's not terribly clear, there. Or maybe we're just morons.
At any rate....
They were disappointed. What they got instead was a surge in withheld personal income tax payments in recent months, a sign that something is brewing in the labor market.
Individual withheld employment taxes account for about 40 percent of the federal government's total receipts. Because taxes are actual cash payments to the Treasury -- no surveys, no model- based forecasts, no statistical extrapolations -- they provide a kind of check and balance on what's going on in the labor market, which for most of us is the primary source of income.
The current perception that the labor market is weak and income growth lousy is being challenged by recent tax data, according to Chris Wiegand, an economist at Citigroup Global Markets.
"Given the tax cuts, the tax liability should have been down a lot,'' a result of bigger refunds and smaller final payments, Wiegand said.
"Were it not for the tax cut, April final payments would have been up about 15 to 20 percent from last year,'' said Lou Crandall, chief economist at Wrightson ICAP LLC in Jersey City, New Jersey.
In other words, people are making 15 to 20 percent more than they did last year-- huge.
That suggests "we're at the point where (budget) surprises start to run in the other direction. Deficit revisions tend to be massively directional.''
We likes the sound of that.
Regarding the announcement as to how much the Treasury would be borrowing this quarter:
The Treasury confirmed its improving fiscal position yesterday when it announced plans to borrow a net $38 billion in the April-to-June quarter, half the amount estimated three months ago.
Again, sounds pretty damn good to us.
But back to the implications for the labor market. In the last two months, "withheld receipts jumped 12.5 percent annualized,'' Wiegand said. "The message is, there is no way that you can see withheld income taxes rising unless there's a decisive turn in labor market conditions, including payrolls, hours and compensation.''
Hmmmm... It seems we have two problematic birds, unemployment and the deficit.
And yet we've only got this one stone: Explosive economic growth.
What to do, what to do...?
Wait-- we think we've got an idea! Stand back...! We don't quite know if this is gonna work...!
Paul Krugman: Now Only Interested in Iraq's Economy
Hat tip to Donald Luskin, who still bothers to read this buffoon on a regular basis.
As we predicted some time ago, American economist Paul Krugman is increasingly frantic to find topics to write about other than the American economy.
Check out Luskin's piece. Not only does Krugman blame the current violence on (what else?) tax cuts -- we must assume for the "Iraqi wealthiest one-percent" -- he apparently bases his entire premise on (what else?) a lie.
A bit down the page on his site you'll find a bit of discussion about Paul Krugman's favorite paranoid delusion, that America is about to become a dictatorship under the BushHitler.
All we can say is -- cool.
We've always wanted to cruise around the capital in busted-up jeeps with machine-guns mounted in the back, wearin' cool black bandanas, carryin' placards that read Viva El Jefe Maximo
. That always struck us sorta fun.
Kerry's Million-Dollar Wound: Not From Enemy Fire, Not Therefore Deserving of Purple Heart
At least that's what the doctor treating him remembers:
I have a very clear memory of an incident which occurred while I was the Medical Officer at Naval Support Facility, Cam Ranh Bay...
The story [Kerry] told was different from what his crewmen had to say about that night. According to Kerry, they had been engaged in a fire fight, receiving small arms fire from on shore. He said that his injury resulted from this enemy action.
Some of his crew confided that they did not receive any fire from shore, but that Kerry had fired a mortar round at close range to some rocks on shore. The crewman thought that the injury was caused by a fragment ricocheting from that mortar round when it struck the rocks.
That seemed to fit the injury which I treated....
It certainly did not look like a round from a rifle.
I simply removed the piece of metal by lifting it out of the skin with forceps. I doubt that it penetrated more than 3 or 4 mm. It did not require probing to find it, did not require any anesthesia to remove it, and did not require any sutures to close the wound.
The wound was covered with a bandaid.
You Babies Are All Gonna Be Wearin' Gold-Plated Diapers
Factory orders up, up, up. Big time, as the man says:
The Commerce Department said factory orders advanced 4.3 percent in March, the strongest rise in nearly two years, after gaining a revised 1.1 percent in February.
Wall Street had forecast orders to gain a more modest 2.3 percent in March and the surge, which came as the Fed signaled it was preparing to raise interest rates, points to an upward revision in first quarter gross domestic product.
Whoops. The media spun the 4.2% as "disappointing," and we cautioned that 1) it was vigorous growth by any standard, even the high bar for success set by the media in order to justify painting Bush's economic policies as a failure and 2) the number would likely be revised upwards, anyway.
The Fed, meantime,
left interest rates at historic lows and stated that the inevitable rate hikes would be "measured." That's not really within Bush's control, of course, but it does seem that his policies make Greenspan comfortable with holding rates low.
if this constant barrage of economic news gets boring. Yeah, you can get all this yourself on yahoo, of course. But there are three issues in this race -- terrorism/Iraq, the economy, and "everything else," and Bush wins on terrorism, is currently losing on the economy, and pushes on "everything else," which doesn't matter anyway, because we lied: There are only two
issues in this race, and "everything else" ain't one of them.
John Kerry can't win when he's trailing on both of the only two issues in the race.
Okay, Now We're Serious: We're Moving to Mu.Nu, Tomorrow
We've been delaying the actual move for too long, since we've been worried that our traffic would take a hit and all that jazz. Plus, we're still having a a little trouble getting everything on mu.nu to work they way we'd like.
But it's time to impose a deadline on ourselves, or else we're never going to move.
As of tomorrow, we'll be posting entirely on Mu.nu, and we'll start to close down the blogspot address. We'll just have a big link here directing any visitors to mu.nu.
If Blogspot goes down again, as it did yesterday, we'll just move right on over to our mu.nu address immediately, which is www.ace.mu.nu.
That site is more or less ready to go; the search function doesn't quite work yet, and we have to straighten out our archiving, but it's up and working as far as posting and commenting.
If you're linking us in your blogroll, you would be doing us a favor by switching over to the www.ace.mu.nu address. (Don't change any archived-post links.) We'll send out emails to all of our link-buddies, but, hey, if you want to spare us a stamp, go ahead and switch over now.
And still we don't have a really simple domain name to remember, like ace.com. Well, sorry about that. But www.ace.mu.nu is a lot shorter
Booming Economy Gooses Tax Revenues, Shaves Deficit
Cut the deficit in half over five years? How about we start off by cutting it 25% in one year?:
The U.S. budget deficit may narrow to $370 billion in fiscal 2004, halting a two-year increase, as a stronger economy boosts tax revenue, economists at Citigroup Global Markets Inc. said in a weekly report.
Citigroup's forecast is lower than the Congressional Budget Office's outlook for a $477 billion shortfall and the White House's $521 billion projection. The record of $374 billion was set in fiscal 2003. A year ago, Citigroup a year ago pegged the 2004 deficit at what would be record $500 billion.
"Stronger revenue trends, especially among household tax payments, are behind the bulk of the fiscal outlook's improvement," Citigroup economists in New York, led by Robert DiClemente, wrote in a report Friday. "This sharp upturn has sweeping implications for Treasury's financial position."
The budget deficit has already reached $299.5 billion halfway through this fiscal year. The shortfall for March widened to $72.7 billion, compared with $58.9 billion in March 2003. The U.S. had budget surpluses in from 1998 to 2001 before returning to deficits in 2002.
Big Hat Tip to David.
The Treasury will announce the amount it projects it will borrow this quarter at 3:00pm.
In related news, Paul Krugman is now claiming to have been a combat-veteran Army Ranger. Trust me on my economic projections,
he's telling all who will listen, I cut the ears off of Cong insurgents in Da Nang.
Evil Burglars Crept in Through the Window and Stole Our Cowbell...
But don't worry, we think we have more cowbell on the way.
ISM Manufacturing Employment Index Highest Since 1987
A tipster (not sure if we can name him; let's just call him Deep Stoat) sends us this news:
According to the latest survey from the Institute of Supply Management (ISM), economic activity in the manufacturing sector grew in April for the 11th consecutive month, while the overall economy grew for the 30th consecutive month.
The manufacturing economy grew in April for the 11th consecutive month. The overall manufacturing index for April registered 62.4 percent. A reading above 50 percent indicates that the manufacturing economy is generally expanding; below 50 percent indicates that it is generally contracting.
The ISM manufacturing employment index grew for the sixth consecutive month, following a 37-month trend of contraction. The index registered 57.8 percent in April compared to 57 percent in March, an increase of 0.8 percentage point. The last time the Employment Index registered higher than April's index was in December 1987, registering 59.1 percent. An Employment Index above 48 percent, over time, is generally consistent with an increase in the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data on manufacturing employment.
If all those words annoy you (as they do us, quite frankly), here's a nice little chart laying it all out:
We don't know econometrics, but we defintely grok red and green arrows.
The full release is here.
In related news, Paul Krugman has retreated further into a nightmarish dream-world of his own imagination. He has reportedly begun speaking largely in made-up cursewords from Battlestar: Galactica
, and will entitle his next NYT column Alan Greenspan is a Fracking Feldercarb.
Let's Keep This in Perspective, Eh?
Drudge. Only Drudge.
Was it wrong to "humiliate" Iraqi prisoners? Well, yes. Although, let's be honest, all
interrogations are at least somewhat coercive. If you're really against all threats and psychological torment, then you're really against interrogating enemy prisoners at all, and you should be honest enough to declare your support for a total ban on interrogations.
Did they recover fully from their "humiliation" within a half-hour? Yes.
Have the American soldiers in the photo above yet recovered from being executed? Not to our knowledge.
Was anyone vaginally and anally raped while comatose on a hospital bed
, like Jessica Lynch? Not that we've heard.
Give us a break.
Update: MyPetJawa accuses his brother of "war crimes."
Even Allah, Who is Great and Angry,
has difficulty getting too
worked up over these outrages.
More Thoughtful Update:
Rather than being so glib, let's state what we think more seriously.
First, we think that a lot of the "rage" here is actually over the photos of British
prisoner "abuse," photos that showed soldiers pissing on Iraqi prisoners. That's abuse-- if it happened. But there is some doubt about whether those pictures are genuine.
So let us all not start confusing these dubious abuse-photos with the actual ones.
Second, let's face it, almost everyone who supports fighting the terrorists supports rough-treatment and psychological pressure if done in a useful fashion, i.e., to extract important information from terrorist thugs.
What we seem to have here is a case of poorly-trained soldiers just humiliating soldiers for the hell of it. That's bad, and that's counter-productive.
But it seems to us that if you sign on for useful
humiliation, you can't really cry "Immoral Outrage!" when you see counter-productive, merely sadistic humiliation. You objection is not moral or philosophical; it's merely prudential. Your objection is that this was ineffectual
bad-treatment. Yes, yes, of course context and motives matter; and of course it's different killing an enemy soldier than shooting your wife. But still -- if you've got no problem with rough-treatment of Al Qaeda terrorists to extract information, you can't claim that you object here on moral grounds. What you object to is the stupidity of this particular bad-treatment.
And then there's the claim that "if we treat them badly, they will treat our boys badly." This is a silly claim, and we suppose that's why few on the right make it all. These bastards do not care how well we treat their prisoners; they execute and rape ours no matter what we do.
Does this make Arabs and Muslims angry?
Let us ask a question in return: What the hell doesn't
make Arabs and Muslims angry?
Look, this seems like merely sadistic humiliation not done for any higher purpose and that is of course a bad thing. It should be condemned, and the guilty parties punished.
But we can only repeat ourselves:
Let us. Get. A Grip. Here.
These bastards will go home with a sob-story about being stripped in front of kufr women. Most of the captives they take won't be going home at all.
Recently, lefty pro-war (i.e., he's just "on the other side") agitator Micah Wright
had the "courage" and "guts" to admit he'd perpetrated a "hoax" about being a combat-veteran Ranger in order to claim victim status when arguing against America's right to defend herself.
It is time to for us to follow Mr. Wright's example. We too have committed certain "hoaxes" in order to advance our positions.
First of all, it is not true, as we have long maintained, that we jumped the Snake River Canyon on a rocket-propelled "Sky-Cycle" in 1973.
This hoax began innocently enough. We were arguing with someone on-line about who had performed this stunt. Our opponent claimed it was Evil Kenevil: for some reason, we had it stuck in our heads that it was actually the actor Ken Berry of F-Troop.
So we told our opponent he was a "jackass" for saying it was Evil Kenevil.
Well, within thrity seconds, our opponent presented us with ten yahoo search-matches proving that Mr. Kenevil had performed the stunt. But we of course didn't want to simply lose
the argument, so we claimed "Yes, we knew of course that Evil Kenevil is credited
as making the jump, but you big dummy, we're talking about his stunt double
, the man who actually performed the stunt in Mr. Kenevil's famous red, white, and blue jumpsuit."
Our correspondent then told us that Mr. Kenevil didn't use a "stunt double," since stuntmen do not, in fact, themselves have stuntmen. At which point we said "Now
who's being naive?"
We then claimed we knew for a fact he had used a stunt double, since we ourselves were
that stunt double. You don't know what it's like soaring over the Snake Canyon at 200 mph
, we raged against our opponent. Until you've been there, in the "shit," flying over a canyon in a kinda-gay jumpsuit that looks like the outfit Captain America would wear if his secret identity were Harvey Firestein, you have no right to question us on this.
As you can see, perfectly innocent and understandable. We began our "hoax" because someone, quite plainly a fascist of some variety, called bullshit on us.
We apologize profusely on behalf of that fascist.
Next, somewhere along the way our friends kinda got the notion stuck in their heads that, as younger men, we had lost our virginity to Queen Noor of Jordan. We're not sure how they got this idea.
As near as we can tell, it may be because we said we did.
The facts are these. No young man ever likes to admit he is still a virgin, especially when his buddies are telling hero-stories. So we claimed we'd already "done it." Our friends disputed this, and wanted the woman's name. So we just said, "You guys wouldn't know her. She lives far away." But still they pressed us for details. So we said, "Okay, fine. If you must know, she is a foreign princess who earned her education at Princeton University and then married into the Hashemite Dynasty."
We figured that was vague enough to avoid getting pinned down. But then one of our friends said, "You mean Queen Noor of Jordan?" and we were forced to say, "Well, gentlemen never tell, of course. But yeah, we nailed her. She's got nipples the size of circus-peanuts."
Again, a perfectly innocent "hoax." We attribute the hoax to immaturity and peer pressure. In Amerikkka today, it's hard for thirty-two-year-old men to admit they're virgins.
We apologize for the uncouth peer pressure of our friends.
Finally, it is simply not true that our collective dicks are so big that movie-theaters have begun selling popcorn in the sizes Small, Medium, Large, and Our Dick. We really have no idea at all why we started saying this. It might have been because of some dispute we had with our Mother.
Furthermore, this isn't even our claim; it's actually Drew Carey's. And we suppose we should say right now that no, it isn't true that we were long-time "male companions" to Mr. Carey, or that we successfully sued him for $30 million in a palimony suit.
We think we might have just been high when we said that. Heroin is a cruel mistress.
Again, we apologize profusely for the media and fascists who are to blame for these hoaxes. We hope you admire our courage and guts for coming clean. And we promise that, from this point forward, we will be perfectly honest and candid with you, our dear readers.
Ace of Spades HQ
President and Founder of Apple Computer Corporation
1993 NHL Rookie of the Year
1990 Oscar-Winning Best Actress for Driving Miss Daisy
PS: We are a medical doctor working for a major UN relief agency in Niger. Please send us money so we can transfer $243 million in gold bullion out of the country.
...and he's blogged up a veritable storm, ranging from a post on Kerry's disturbing neediness in constantly casting himself as "victim" in every situation, to the top ten reasons for questioning your patriotism.
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