Patterico's Pontifications


Holiday Sales and Consumer Sentiment

Filed under: Economics — DRJ @ 9:29 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Consumer sales account for 2/3 of GDP so it’s an important indicator for the economy, and Christmas is the most important time of the year for retailers. According to the Purdue Retail Institute, holiday sales account for almost 40% of sales and up to 75% of profit.

November 2009 showed better-than-average sales in some areas — primarily cars and online sales — and we’ll soon known more about December retail sales. If consumer sentiment is any indication, it isn’t encouraging:

“From Rasmussen Reports today, results from two new polls on the economy and on Christmas… the first one:

Nine percent (9%) of adults rate the economy as good or excellent while 55% say it’s in poor shape. That’s one reason just 16% say they’ll be spending more on holiday gifts this season. Sixty-three percent (63%) say they’ll be spending less.

The second one:

While most Americans consider the holiday season joyous, not everyone is feeling the spirit this year.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 43% of Americans are having difficulty getting into the holiday spirit. Still, 50% are not having any problem getting into the spirit.”

It gets worse for liberals because, as discussed at the link, conservatives are twice as happy as liberals.


Megan McArdle on Making Laws

Filed under: Government,Health Care — DRJ @ 7:42 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Megan McArdle lists her problems with the process of ObamaCare/ReidCare and why it matters. First, the problems (I’m paraphrasing):

  • The ObamaCare legislation is messy because it was primarily written to meet CBO targets. The fact that the Democrats already intend to change it means it’s based on a process that is unlikely to produce good legislation; and
  • The ReidCare gimmick that prevents future Congresses from altering legislation is a bad and possibly unconstitutional process. This provision was highlighted by Senator DeMint, who says the ReidCare bill “declares on page 1020 that the Independent Medicare Advisory Board cannot be repealed by future Congresses.”
  • Second, McArdle explains why these problems matter:

    “Before my readers start accusing me of hypocrisy–I just complained that the process of changing the bill will be messy and likely to make it worse, and now I’m complaining that Reid is trying to prevent the bill from being changed–let me explain. These are two different problems. Legislation does sometimes need to be changed. Making it impossible to do so is not a good idea. But passing crappy legislation that has to be changed in order to function as you desire it is not a good idea.

    Think of it as building a bespoke suit. They usually do need to be altered after the first cut. But if your wife wants to order a dress, while you want a new blazer, you don’t order a dress on the assumption that you can later have it altered into a blazer. This is a particularly stupid idea if the same wife has to approve each of the individual alterations. You are not likely to end up with a serviceable blazer, or even a decent miniskirt.”

    I agree, especially with the idea that it’s a bad idea to pass “crappy legislation that has to be changed in order to function.” It’s one thing to believe government work is messy, like making sausage. It’s another thing entirely to say that whatever we make, we hope we can eventually turn it into sausage.

    — DRJ

    The Stimulus Chart

    Filed under: Economics,Obama,Politics — DRJ @ 5:11 pm

    [Guest post by DRJ]

    Just in time for New Year’s, geoff at Innocent Bystanders has “productivized” his famous Stimulus Chart:


    NOTE: I don’t have any financial interest in the linked website or in the sale of these products, but I like the chart.

    — DRJ

    President ‘Don’t Blame Me’

    Filed under: Health Care,Obama — DRJ @ 3:50 pm

    [Guest post by DRJ]

    President Obama is getting smacked by ABC News (Jake Tapper and the Fact Check Desk) and progressive groups for telling the Washington Post he didn’t campaign on the public option:

    — DRJ

    Guantanamo Closing Delayed

    Filed under: Terrorism,War — DRJ @ 3:41 pm

    [Guest post by DRJ]

    Fox News reports the Obama Administration is delaying its plan to close the Guantanamo detention center at least until 2011 “because of anticipated appropriation struggles in Congress, the need to change federal law and construction time to upgrade an Illinois facility to hold detainees.”

    — DRJ

    Senator Hot-Head

    Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 3:09 pm

    [Guest post by DRJ]

    Senator Al Franken’s sharp tongue and mocking manner is starting to come out … especially with GOP colleagues, their subordinates, and even everyday college students. Here’s the most recent example:

    “Franken has surprised some of his colleagues behind the scenes by getting into heated tangles with GOP staffers.

    One such exchange took place in Franken’s office during a recent meeting with Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and his aides.

    Franken invited Corker to his office to discuss an op-ed that Corker penned in a Tennessee newspaper opposing an amendment Franken offered to a defense bill. The measure gave the employees of defense contractors who suffer rape or sexual assault at the workplace the right to sue in court.

    The meeting quickly deteriorated when Franken began berating one of Corker’s aides, according to GOP aides familiar with the incident. Franken’s sally was so harsh that Corker told Franken to lay off his aide and direct the comments at him instead.

    Franken’s tough approach came as a surprise because Corker scheduled the meeting to mend fences after Franken confronted him about the op-ed during an angry exchange on the Senate floor.”

    There are other examples at the link, and Franken’s spokesperson responds. A college professor who is one of Franken’s Minnesota constituents sums it up:

    “There is a war within Al Franken,” said Lawrence Jacobs, a professor of political science at the University of Minnesota. “The Al Franken head tells him to steer away from the limelight and build his reputation. Then there is his heart, which is quite fiery.”

    Jacobs said Franken must be careful not to engage in too many political brawls, or it could “reinforce for independent voters what they feared about him, that he’s a hot-headed partisan.”

    I think Franken crossed that line long ago.

    — DRJ

    Senate Bill to Ban Future Earmarks Fails (Updated)

    Filed under: Government,Politics — DRJ @ 2:56 pm

    [Guest post by DRJ]

    Hot Air reports Senator DeMint’s amendment to ban vote-buying with earmarks fails, 53/46:

    “Interestingly, while most of the GOP’s amendments today — like the vote on whether the bill is constitutional — were knocked down along party lines, this one earned seven Democratic votes. The seven? Bayh, Feingold, McCaskill, Merkley, Warner, Webb … and Ben Nelson.

    Note also: The amendment would have applied only to future bills, not to this one, so no one was giving up anything by voting against it except the promise of pork to come.”

    Washington is addicted to pork. It needs an intervention.

    — DRJ

    UPDATE: Erick Erickson at RedState catches Ben Nelson voting against it before he voted for it. Erickson is right: Nelson is a tool.

    H/T jim2 with my thanks.

    Balloon Boy Parents Get Time

    Filed under: Crime — DRJ @ 2:51 pm

    [Guest post by DRJ]

    The balloon boy parents, Richard and Mayumi Heene of Fort Collins, Colorado, have received jail sentences, strict probation, and will have to make restitution for their hoax:

    “Richard Heene was sentenced to 90 days in jail, including 60 days of work release that will let him pursue his job as a construction contractor while serving his time. His wife, Mayumi, was sentenced to 20 days in jail.”

    Richard will begin his “begin a 30-day jail term on Jan. 11, delaying the start of the sentence for two weeks so he can spend the holidays with his family.” Thereafter, Mayumi can serve her 20 days as a flexible sentence — such as on 10 weekends — to accommodate her child-care responsibilities.

    The Heenes will also be required to make restitution which will be at least $42,000, the amount of the bill from the federal, state and local authorities.

    The Heenes are also forbidden from profiting from their hoax. I assume that means they can’t directly profit from the scam but I don’t see how the law can prevent them from capitalizing on their newfound notoriety. Unfortunately, it seems like there’s always someone willing to pay for that.

    — DRJ

    ObamaCare: Rep. Slaughter wants the Senate to start over (oh, sure)

    Filed under: General — Karl @ 1:25 pm

    [Posted by Karl]

    Strong words on ReidCare from the House Rules Chairwoman, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY):

    Supporters of the weak Senate bill say “just pass it — any bill is better than no bill.”

    I strongly disagree — a conference report is unlikely to sufficiently bridge the gap between these two very different bills.

    It’s time that we draw the line on this weak bill and ask the Senate to go back to the drawing board. The American people deserve at least that.

    There is little doubt that Slaughter sincerely wants to include a “public option” and to dump restrictions on abortion funding — though the House bill’s Stupak amendment is actually worse, from her point of view.  But she presumably knows the Senate is not about to start over. 

    After Blue Dogs started talking about voting for the Senate bill, there has been a pushback about House Dems not rolling over.  With the Democratic leadership looking at foregoing a traditional conference committee in favor of a ping-pong strategy for final passage of ObamaCare (or pong-ping, if further wrangling is required to secure House passage), House progressives are putting up a front to make sure they get some sort of concessions , however small, from the small circle drawing up a final bill.  The lingering friction may explain why the Obama administration is not betting on final passage before the State of the Union speech.


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