First Quarter GDP Is a Harsh Reality Check + More – Daily Digest

Posted on Thu 04/30/2015 by

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“Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.” —Benjamin Franklin, Letter to the Abbes Chalut and Arnoux, 1787

TOP RIGHT HOOKS

First Quarter GDP Is a Harsh Reality Check

Other than the first quarter, last year was a better year for the economy. After contracting 2.1% to start off 2014, GDP jumped to 4.6% in the second quarter and 5% in the third quarter before slipping to 2.2% to round out the year. So, how’s 2015 looking so far? Well, chilly — literally, according to Democrats. The Commerce Department released initial numbers for the first quarter of 2015, and, at a sluggish 0.2%, GDP once again tempered America’s level of economic enthusiasm. And the “worse-than-expected” downtrend is inevitably being blamed on winter weather woes. Jason Furman, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, said this latest estimate “was likely affected by notably harsh winter weather” — interesting considering we’re supposedly coming off the warmest year on record and had a record warm start to 2015. It’s also the same recycled excuse they used last year.

Moreover, as Nick Timiraos of The Wall Street Journal reminds us, revisions knocked last year’s initial first quarter growth down by a staggering two percentage points — from 0.1% to -2.1%. Is a repeat in the offing? Yesterday’s report continues a familiar trend under the Obama recovery — a roller coaster ride that features some signs of life along with harsh reality checks. Stability and sustainability are still lacking in the economy, which will continue through at least 2017.

Bernie Sanders Challenges Clinton for Democrat Nomination

At least the Democrat presidential primary got interesting. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the politician who described himself as a “democratic socialist” and who was described by the New York Times as an adherent to “that old-time religion” of populism, announced he is campaigning to win the Democrat Party’s nomination as its presidential candidate. The politician that was once too far to the Left for the Democrat Party told the Associated Press, “People should not underestimate me. I’ve run outside of the two-party system, defeating Democrats and Republicans, taking on big-money candidates and, you know, I think the message that has resonated in Vermont is a message that can resonate all over this country.” Right out of the gate, Sanders challenged Hillary Clinton’s succession to the throne by bringing the progressive rhetoric that splits rich versus poor and capitalizes on income inequality. “What we have seen is that while the average person is working longer hours for lower wages,” Sanders said, “we have seen a huge increase in income and wealth inequality, which is now reaching obscene levels.” Between the two candidates, Clinton still seems the greater threat. Sanders appears more harmless than calculating, and a Sanders nomination will pull the Democrat Party further from middle America.

Did Freddie Gray Try to Injure Himself in the Police Van?

If true, the death of Freddie Gray may not have anything to do with police brutality and more to do with an irrational man bent on self-harm. This in from The Washington Post: “A prisoner sharing a police transport van with Freddie Gray told investigators that he could hear Gray ‘banging against the walls’ of the vehicle and believed that he ‘was intentionally trying to injure himself,’ according to a police document obtained by The Washington Post.” This story has the ring of truthiness about it, but is it really? Jazz Shaw writes at Hot Air that the prisoner could be an unreliable witness — similar to the witnesses that said Michael Brown had his hands up. Furthermore, Investigative Reporter at Baltimore’s NBC affiliate TV station Jayne Miller said the Post’s account contradicts what the Baltimore Police Commissioner said a week ago. At the time, he said the prisoner described Gray as “mostly quiet.” The timeline is still being reconstructed. When we do get the complete and truthful story, what will happen if the rioters, who already destroyed much of Baltimore, do not get the conclusion for which they demanded?

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FEATURED RIGHT ANALYSIS

No, Riots Are Not a ‘Legitimate Political Strategy’

By Allyne Caan

Rioters and police clash in Ferguson during August’s unrest

Reading the liberal media, you’d think the Baltimore rioters are the reincarnation of Lexington and Concord’s minutemen, bravely facing tyrants to defend their freedom. Well, Paul Revere might disagree. Somehow, ruining businesses and running off with condoms doesn’t quite equate to Patrick Henry’s speech “Give me Liberty or give me death.”

But the Left wants America to think it does.

A particularly absurd Salon headline this week reads, “Baltimore’s violent protesters are right: Smashing police cars is a legitimate political strategy.” The author’s argument is that non-violence is “a tactic, not a philosophy” and that black communities are struggling against “premeditated economic exploitation.” Riots are simply “reasonable responses to generations of extreme state violence, and logical decisions about what kind of actions yield the desired political results.”

According to Fordham University sociology professor Heather Gautney, “Riots like the ones we are seeing in Baltimore … should be viewed as rational responses to injustice. Riots highlight the injustice and violence that’s prevalent in impoverished neighborhoods in this country.”

And BuzzFeed’s Adam Serwer writes, “Violence — as harmful and self-destructive as it is — sometimes works.” Serwer claims that, for 80 years, the “recipe for urban riots” has been largely the same: “(a)n impoverished and politically disempowered black population refused full American citizenship, a heavy-handed and overwhelmingly white police force, a generous amount of neglect, and frequently, the loss of black life at the hands of the police.”

But is portraying lawless violence as a justified and effective quest for justice accurate?

A closer look at the facts says, “No.”

For starters, as Acton Institute Senior Editor Joe Carter points out, far from empowering black communities, urban riots leave lingering damage. In 2004, The National Bureau of Economic Research published research on riots that took place in the 1960s and 1970s, and Carter notes the research found not only a decline in the median black family income in riot-impacted cities but also declines in male employment rates and in the median value of black-owned property.

And as for “premeditated economic exploitation” and political disempowerment justifying violence, Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson notes that even during the era of Jim Crow laws, when institutionalized racism was both legal and praised, black crime was “relatively low” — no riots as a “legitimate political strategy ” then. And since Johnson’s infamous War on Poverty was launched, Peterson adds, there has been a “massive wealth transfer to black Americans in the form of welfare and other handouts.” Certainly, a case can be made for economic exploitation, but the indictment would be against those intent on keeping black voters dependent on the government for handouts.

Is violence, then, justified, or is it simply being used as an escape from tackling problems with resolution — not simply retribution — in mind? Just as profanity is often the discourse of those unwilling to develop a compelling vocabulary, so violence is often the discourse of those unwilling to develop compelling arguments.

And there is inarguably a need for compelling arguments. While America has made exceptional strides toward Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s goal of judging others based not on the color of their skin but on the content of their character, racism has sadly not yet breathed its last in America.

Yet, even amid racism, King himself held firmly his belief “that a riot merely intensifies the fears of the white community while relieving the guilt.” He continued, “I’ve been searching for a long time for an alternative to riots on one hand and timid supplication for justice on the other and I think that alternative is found in militant massive non-violence.”

When the colonists took up arms and declared independence from Great Britain, they had for 10 years prior sought reconciliation with the Crown and resorted to arms only when their repeated attempts at peace were disregarded. And in the Declaration of Independence, they set forth clearly their justifications for rejecting injustice.

In presenting a dignified argument against racism, Dr. King did the same. And in so doing, he made incredible strides forward for black Americans.

Tragically, the violence of lawless rioters is doing nothing to continue Dr. King’s work and much to undercut it.

Far from elevating violence to a level of rational discourse, endorsing riots as legitimate political strategy diminishes the quality of discourse and demeans the ability of Americans — black and white — to confront injustice not with stones and arson but with truth, which alone has the power to bring justice.

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BEST OF RIGHT OPINION

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OPINION IN BRIEF

Cal Thomas: “The problem for traditionalists — especially those who believe scripture is the sole authority in such matters — is that in an increasingly secular society where younger people are less attuned to appeals about an Authority higher than themselves, how can they be persuaded that same-sex marriage is a bridge too far? After all, don’t they ‘know’ gay people, whom they regard as wonderful and kind? That ‘standard’ becomes subjective and when it reaches the level of personal feelings it becomes a shifting boundary that is drawn in invisible ink rather than set in stone. Only two years ago, in the case of ‘U.S. v. Windsor,’ which argued whether the IRS could give federal tax benefits to all legally married homosexuals, regardless of state law, Justice Kennedy warned it was wrong for courts to ‘put a thumb on the scales and influence a state’s decision as to shape its own marriage laws.’ And now this court could do precisely that. … If people worship pleasure and material things, they are more likely to get leaders who give them what they want instead of what they need to hold society together. If we erase the boundaries that have guided humanity for generations, we weaken our society.”

SHORT CUTS

Upright: “Baltimore is not America’s problem or shame. That failed city is solely and completely a Democrat problem. Like many failed cities, Detroit comes to mind, and every city besieged recently by rioting, Democrats and their union pals have had carte blanche to inflict their ideas and policies on Baltimore since 1967, the last time there was a Republican Mayor. … Poverty has nothing to do with it. This madness and chaos and anarchy is a Democrat-driven culture that starts at the top with a racially divisive White House heartbreakingly effective at ginning up hate and violence.” —Breitbart’s John Nolte

Race bait: “You don’t have to look too far from this magnificent hall to find children still living in poverty or trapped in failing schools. Families who work hard but can’t afford the rising prices in their neighborhood. Mothers and fathers who fear for their sons’ safety when they go off to school — or just to go buy a pack of Skittles.” —Hillary Clinton at Columbia University, referring to Trayvon Martin (For the record, the shooter, “white Hispanic” George Zimmerman, was acquitted. But he’s still guilty in Clinton’s eyes.)

Dezinformatsia: “All Baltimore City public schools were closed on Tuesday in response to violent protests breaking out across the city in response to Freddie Gray’s death. About 84 percent of students in city’s public schools receive free or reduced-price lunches, according to the school district’s website. The closings mean that these students were unable to access these lunches, and churches and community centers have been scrambling to fill the gap. That’s why it was so shocking to hear that Whole Foods and Five Guys had taken the initiative to provide free food for National Guard soldiers instead of for thousands of high-need children.” —Salon’s Joanna Rothkopf (The Leftmedia will do anything to slander our troops.)

Non Compos Mentis: “The [GOP budget] is no more balanced than the earthquakes they’ve had in Nepal.” —Harry Reid (“[W]e probably shouldn’t be shocked that Reid would use the Nepal earthquake to score some quick points. He’s leaving; why should he care.” —Hot Air’s Matt Vespa)

Late-night humor: “Hillary Clinton has temporarily changed her campaign logo to rainbow colors in support of marriage equality. Of course, her idea of marriage equality is both of you should get to be president.” —Seth Meyers

Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis!
Managing Editor Nate Jackson

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