How to reach the vaccine holdouts

Grace Curley:

The Biden administration is desperate for some fresh ideas as they attempt to convince more Americans to take the COVID-19 vaccine. Between White House press secretary Jen Psaki, Dr Anthony Fauci and Dr Rochelle Walensky, we are constantly hearing about the White House’s latest creative ways to encourage people to get vaccinated.

The administration seems eager to push the notion that all of the vaccine holdouts are Trump supporters. Unfortunately for them, recent studies suggest otherwise. According to Forbes, polling analysis by Kaiser Family Foundation shows that ‘the “wait and see” group, by contrast, is more evenly divided politically — 39 percent are Democrats and 41 percent Republicans — and are slightly more likely to be black or Hispanic (22 percent black and 20 percent Hispanic, versus 5 percent and 11 percent in the “definitely not group”), though 72 percent are still between the ages of 18 and 49.’

Putting this pesky data aside, Jen Psaki proudly boasted about how the administration has run PSAs on The Deadliest Catch and works with NASCAR and Country Music TV. Somehow that fool-proof plan to reach out to the Neanderthals fell flat. Go figure.

Presty the DJ for Aug. 3

Today in 1963, two years and one day after the Beatles started as the house band for the Cavern Club in Liverpool, the Beatles performed there for the last time.

Three years later, the South African government banned Beatles records due to John Lennon’s infamous “bigger than Jesus” comment.

Five years later and one year removed from the Beatles, Paul McCartney formed Wings.

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for Aug. 3”

The next senator for the right half of Wisconsin

Julia Manchester:

Wisconsin Republicans are waiting anxiously for Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) to make a decision on whether he will run for reelection and are quietly considering backup plans in case he doesn’t run.

Johnson made national headlines last week when he told conservative commentator Lisa Boothe that he did not think he was the best candidate for 2022, leading many to ask whether this was foreshadowing a retirement.

“I believe that he, in his heart I’m not so sure he wants to run, but at the end of the day he doesn’t want to turn everything over to [Senate Majority Leader] Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.),” Wisconsin state Assembly Leader Robin Vos (R ) told The Hill. “He’s probably the strongest candidate that we have.”

Other Wisconsin Republicans point to Johnson’s popularity among the conservative base in the state and recent fundraising efforts as signs he is leaning toward running.

“I would recommend to everybody to not underestimate Ron Johnson,” Wisconsin-based GOP strategist Brandon Scholz told The Hill. “He is very much in tune with what he wants to do and when he wants to do it.”

Johnson raised $1.2 million in the second quarter of this year, outraising the growing group of Democratic Senate hopefuls in Wisconsin. Johnson had a cash-on-hand total of $1.7 million going into July after the latest Federal Election Commission filing.

Others remain skeptical that Johnson is leaning toward running, pointing to a lean staff. The Republican only has a finance director on the political side right now. Six years ago at this point, Johnson had a full staff, including a campaign manager and a communications team.

“If he’s genuinely thinking about pulling the trigger on the campaign, I’d expect him to start staffing up sooner than later,” said one Wisconsin-based Republican strategist.

Democrats are salivating over the chance to run against Johnson, who has given Democrats plenty of fodder for political attacks.

Wisconsin Rep. Gwen Moore (D) endorsed progressive candidate and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes (D) for the Senate race on Tuesday, calling Barnes “the best candidate to beat Ron Johnson.”

Johnson has come under scrutiny for a number of comments this year including saying the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol was “peaceful,” for dismissing climate change as bullshit at a GOP luncheon, and for organizing an event highlighting adverse reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine.

The senator more recently came under scrutiny for questioning the effectiveness of masks in stopping the spread of coronavirus amid new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Wisconsin Republicans have publicly brushed off the controversies.

“When somebody in office is getting beat up a lot, it’s probably because they’re doing something worthwhile because they’re getting a reaction from the other side,” said Stephanie Soucek, the chairwoman of the Door County Republican Party

But behind the scenes, Republicans worry that Johnson’s controversies could hurt him in the swing state.

“We all know how purple it has become at this point. That might help you in the primary,” said the GOP strategist. “You kind of have to almost tone down those culture war issues so that you’re positioned for that general election here.”

Other Republicans have brushed this off, arguing that any Senate race in Wisconsin will be a nail-biter for both sides.

“If somebody wants to say ‘oh well, Johnson’s in trouble, it’s going to be close,’ any statewide candidate in Wisconsin is going to be close and if close means trouble, then they’re all in trouble,” Scholz said.

Biden narrowly defeated Trump last year in Wisconsin by less than a percentage point. In 2016, Trump had become the first Republican presidential candidate to flip the state in decades. He also won by less than a percentage point.

In the 2018 midterm elections, Gov. Tony Evers (D) narrowly defeated then-Gov. Scott Walker (R ), also by less than a percentage point.

“We’re really at a point where our statewide races are going to be one-, two-point races,” Scholz added.Democrats increasingly see the state as a prime pick-up opportunity, and eight Democrats including Barnes have jumped into the race. Johnson would be the only incumbent Republican running in a state won by President Biden in 2020, and the nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates the race as a “toss-up.”Other Republican names have been floated as possible replacements, including Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), Marine veteran and former Senate candidate Kevin Nicholson, former Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) and former Senate candidate Eric Hovde.

Gallagher raised nearly $625,000 in the second quarter, fueling speculation that he was exploring a potential bid if Johnson does not run. Johnson is said to believe that Gallagher is the best candidate to replace him in such a scenario. But some Wisconsin Republicans have questioned Gallagher’s statewide appeal.

“He has limited appeal outside of his district and he doesn’t have a statewide network,” said a second Wisconsin GOP strategist.

Gallagher has become known for his interest in foreign policy, with a particular focus on China. He notably criticized Trump after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, writing in an op-ed that the former president “bears responsibility” for the attack and called the efforts to overturn Biden’s Electoral College victory “unconstitutional and dangerous.”

The congressman did not vote to impeach Trump, but his comments have led some Republicans to question what role the former president would play in Gallagher’s future campaigns.

“In this new primary world with Trump trying to weigh in and pick his people, the most difficult thing for a Gallagher is going to be what is Trump going to do?” said the same strategist. “The stuff that Gallagher came out with is going to put him in a hard spot.”

Johnson has become the de facto leader of the Wisconsin Republican delegation given the departures of Walker, former Speaker Paul Ryan and Reince Priebus, the former Republican National Committee chairman and chief of staff to Trump.

As a result, his departure would raise questions about the future of the GOP in Wisconsin.

For now, the party is anxiously awaiting Johnson’s decision.

“The only person who knows what Ron is going to do is Ron himself. If he does,” the first GOP strategist said.

 

Medianxiety

Robert E. Wright:

CNN and other alarmist mass media outlets have been implicated in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans but nobody seems to care, including those outlets themselves. Throughout the pandemic, CNN and certain other cable news networks deliberately induced panic in order to boost their ratings and the CDC recently revealed that anxiety is the second most important contributing factor to death from/with Covid. Mass media pundits may have been as deadly as Masses or mass meetings.

Anxiety, you see, suppresses the immune system, making panicked people more likely to contract and spread Covid and other infectious diseases and less able to fend off those nasties once infected. It stands to reason, then, that outlets that remain laser-focused on facts, like AIER, and that stressed moderate policies, like the Great Barrington Declaration, saved lives to the extent that, despite suffering sundry forms of censorship, they were able to calm anxieties.

First, CNN et al. It is by now notorious that its producers were caught on tape admitting that its infamous death ticker was a cynical ploy to boost ratings. Producer Charlies Chester told his fake Tinder date that “fear really drives numbers … which is why we constantly have the death toll on the side.” (The video is such a smoking gun that it is technically illegal in Massachusetts and other states that have effectively outlawed the Second Amendment.)

Chester admitted that constantly displaying the seemingly quickly increasing number was not to inform audiences but to get them to keep tuning in. Network president Jeff Zucker, Chester said, used a “red phone” to tell producers to ratchet up the number for ratings effect.

While it remains unclear why anyone would watch cable news for any reason, people did tune in, in large numbers, and many found themselves made more anxious by the spectacle they saw to the point that some semi-responsible mass media outlets, like the BBC, questioned whether remaining informed was worth the emotional costs of the nonstop Covid death cult coverage.

If people had known about the close link between anxiety and death, they most certainly would have turned off the boob tube and maybe the few news executives who still have souls would have toned down the death and despair angle too. Then president Edward Stringham knew nothing good could come of the constant hype and ordered TV coverage turned off in AIER offices during working hours.

Second, the CDC, the putative “science,” has established that anxiety was linked to Covid-19 infection and death. In a study released on 1 July and titled “Underlying Medical Conditions and Severe Illness Among 540,667 Adults Hospitalized with COVID-19, March 2020-March 2021,” a score of Ph.D. and M.D. researchers show that “the strongest risk factors for death were [1] obesity … [and 2] anxiety and fear-related disorders.”

Specifically, obese people were 30 percent more likely to die if they contracted Covid, while people suffering anxiety were 28 percent more likely to pass away. In other words, being anxious was almost as deadly as being fat.

The authors point out, however, that the exact causal connections between anxiety and death by/with Covid-19 remains unclear and “may include a reduced ability to prevent infection among patients with anxiety disorders, the immunomodulatory and/or cardiovascular effects of medications used to treat these disorders, or severe COVID-19 illness exacerbating anxiety disorders.”

In any event, sitting around watching CNN while stress eating was hardly a recipe for immune system health. And that points to one of the many bizarre aspects of the public health policies promulgated during the pandemic, the almost complete lack of calls for improving immune health, which can be greatly augmented through proper diet, exercise, and attitude. Instead, many lockdown policies served to limit exercise and many who tried to discuss vitamins found themselves attacked and censored.

In fact, as clinically nearly useless and environmentally harmful mask mandates begin to creep back into policy discourse, it is important to point out that individual measures, including losing weight and boosting natural immunities, is a much more effective way of “staying safe,” from all sorts of maladies, than top-down policies. Listen to your personal doctor, not Dr. Fow Chi, and for goodness sake read rational sources of news, or better yet listen to them while getting some exercise. And eat a lemon instead of watching one.

Presty the DJ for July 31

Today in 1964, a Rolling Stones concert in Ireland was stopped due to a riot, 12 minutes after the concert began.

Today in 1966, Alabamans burned Beatles products in protest of John Lennon’s remark that the Beatles were “bigger than Jesus.” The irony was that several years earlier, Lennon met Paul McCartney at a church dinner.

Other than my mother (who was a singer, but never recorded any records, unlike my father’s band, which released a couple of them), birthdays today include Kent Lavoie, better known as Lobo:

Bob Welch, who before his solo career was in Fleetwood Mac before they became big:

Karl Greene of Herman’s Hermits:

Hugh McDowell played cello for Electric Light Orchestra:

REM drummer Bill Berry:

Aaron Rodgers, unedited

In my day job I summarized the soap opera called As Aaron Rodgers Turns and the epic traveshamockery over what he wants to do, what he’s feeling, etc., by saying that doesn’t include the words “Rodgers said” (that’s what we call “attribution”) should not be believed.

So when he showed up for training camp, this is what Rodgers said:

All the “fans” who claim that Rodgers is a diva and needs to just shut up and play especially need to watch this.

An accurate look at the economy

Tyler Durden has a look at the economic report you didn’t read from the mainstream national media this morning:

Today’s first estimate of Q1 GDP growth is expected to show the US economy growing at a whopping 8.5% rate as government aid and vaccinations fuelled spending. The problem, as discussed recently, is that it’s all downhill from here with Goldman recently slashing its GDP outlook and expecting growth to slide to a muted trendlike 1.5%-2.0% by the end of 2022. Of course, as Bloomberg’s Laura Cooper notes, slowing momentum from an exceptionally strong level doesn’t mean a stalled recovery with the Atlanta Fed’s nowcast still pointing to still-robust activity in July. High-frequency gauges suggest consumer spending remains strong. And solid job gains can extend as workers return to the workforce, with the labor market outlook “very strong”, according to Powell. Of course, risks remain given stumbles towards herd immunity with only half of the country fully vaccinated. And hesitancy is becoming a more prominent risk. But while the variant spread alongside rising infection rates can slow the recovery, it’s unlikely to derail it – even if more data surprises are in store.

And while few would really care about GDP as a result, the BEA managed to shocked market watchers when it reported that in Q2 GDP rose just 6.5% SAAR, a huge miss to the expected 8.5%, and just barely higher than Q1’s 6.4% annualized rate. The print was such a surprise many were wondering if someone at the BEA had a fat finger accident.

What was behind the huge miss: the main cause was an unexpected drop in inventories, which subtracted 1.13% from the bottom line GDP print. This number was expected to be positive (more below). Another reason is that the GDP Price Index (deflator) rose 6% annualized, vs 5.4% forecast. This subtracted a further 0.6% from the annualized GDP print.

Digging through the numbers, the second-quarter increase in real GDP reflected increases in consumer spending, business investment, exports, and state and local government spending that were partly offset by decreases in inventory investment, housing investment, and federal government spending. Imports, a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.

  • The increase in consumer spending reflected increases in services (led by food services and accommodations) and goods (led by other nondurable goods, notably pharmaceutical products).
  • The increase in business investment reflected increases in equipment (led by transportation equipment) and intellectual property products (led by research and development).
  • The increase in exports reflected an increase in goods (led by non-automotive capital goods) and services (led by travel).
  • The decrease in inventory investment was led by a decrease in retail inventories.
  • The decrease in federal government spending primarily reflected a decrease in nondefense spending on intermediate goods and services.In the second quarter, nondefense services decreased as the processing and administration of Paycheck Protection Program(PPP)loan applications by banks on behalf of the federal government declined.

A look at the numbers reveals the following:

  • Real Personal Consumption came in at 7.78%, higher than the 7.74% in Q1. On an annualized basis it came in at 11.8%, far above the 10.5% expected and above the 11.4% in Q1. In other words, consumer were not the reason for the big miss in Q2. Final sales to private domestic purchasers q/q rose 9.9% in 2Q after rising 11.8% prior quarter
  • Fixed Investment contributed just 0.57% to the bottom line GDP print, a big drop from the 2.25% in Q1. Nonresidential fixed investment, or spending on equipment, structures and intellectual property rose 8% in 2Q after rising 12.9% prior quarter
  • A big surprise was in the change in Private Inventories, which shrank -1.13% on expectations of an increase. It followed last quarter’s 2.62% inventory destocking, and suggests that there will be a lot of pent up inventory rebuilding growth in the quarters ahead.
  • Trade, or net exports (exports less imports) subtracted another -0.45% from the headline GDP print, as exports turned positive 0.64% reversing Q1’s -0.30% drop. But it was continued imports – a GDP detractor – which subtracted -1.09% from the headline number.
  • Finally, government consumption subtracted another -0.27% from the headline print, a big drop from the 0.77% boost earlier. …

Elsewhere, the BEA reported that real disposable personal income (DPI) — personal income adjusted for taxes and inflation— decreased 30.6% in the second quarter after increasing 57.6percent (revised) in the first quarter. A more updated number will be revealed tomorrow when we will get the personal income and spending data for June.

According to the BEA, the Q2 drop in current-dollar DPI primarily reflected a decrease in government social benefits related to pandemic relief programs, notably direct economic impact payments to households established by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act and the American Rescue Plan Act. Personal saving as a percent of DPI was 10.9 percent in the second quarter, compared with 20.8 percent (revised) in the first quarter.

But perhaps most important was the inflation/PCE data in the report, which revealed that the GDP price index rose 6% in 2Q after rising 4.3% prior quarter, and well above the 5.4% expected, while core PCE q/q rose 6.1% in 2Q after rising 2.7% in the prior quarter, in line with expectations.

The BEA added that prices of goods and services purchased by U.S.residents increased 5.7% in the second quarter after increasing 3.9%. Energy prices increased 20.6% in the second quarter while food prices increased 2.0% •Excluding food and energy, prices increased 5.5% in the second quarter after increasing 3.2% in the first quarter.

Overall, this was a surprisingly poor GDP pring, but it had two silver linings: personal consumption was far stronger than expected as households continued to drain those $2.5 trillion in excess savings; second the drop in inventory means that in the current and future quarters, retailers will have to restock inventories which will of course boost GDP, in other words, today’s GDP shortfall will translate into stronger GDP contributions in future quarters.

Tim Nerenz adds:

This was not supposed to happen. Two massive stimulus bills, rapid drops in Covid, rapid increase in vaccination, reopening of businesses and schools, and a general euphoria brought about by the change in administration.

While the experts were surprised, ordinary folks are not. We see the higher prices, restricted hours of operation, empty storefronts and commercial office spaces, unfilled jobs, shortages of all sorts of things from disrupted supply chains. 13 million remain jobless 15 months after the 2020 lockdown crash.

Surveyed confidence in the direction of the economy has fallen steadily in recent weeks from 60% to 40%, and the President’s approval rating – rightly or wrongly – has fallen accordingly.

I recently read an interesting old article defending Say’s Law (the law of markets) which proposed that there is no “cause” for poverty – it is the default setting and natural state of idleness. It is prosperity that can and must be “caused”; and it is caused by the the production and exchange of valuable goods and services.

That is why the growth of “P” in GDP is so important; it is a measure of our prosperity and living standards.

“Lockdowns” can be better described as forced idleness to understand their impact on prosperity and poverty. Unlike partisan political matters which benefit one faction to the detriment of another, economic prosperity policies cut across party and ideological affiliations.

Economics is not red or blue; it is either sound or unsound, and markets – not politicians – pass judgment on particular theories and policy prescriptions. We are all economic actors in our market economy; we are the P in real GDP.

My favorite economist joke: economists and meteorologists both use complex mathematical pattern models to predict future events. The difference is that meteorologists have not yet fooled themselves into believing they can make it rain.

If economic growth is 6.5 percent but inflation is 6 percent, then real economic growth is only 0.5 percent. That’s Barack Obama levels of “recovery.”

 

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