Tuesday musings

| September 29, 2009

ITEM: The media, after its years-long fight to be able to photograph the coffins of American servicemen and -women coming home, has now suddenly lost interest:

In April of this year, the Obama administration lifted the press ban, which had been in place since the Persian Gulf War in 1991. Media outlets rushed to cover the first arrival of a fallen U.S. serviceman, and many photographers came back for the second arrival, and then the third.

But after that, the impassioned advocates of showing the true human cost of war grew tired of the story. Fewer and fewer photographers showed up. “It’s really fallen off,” says Lt. Joe Winter, spokesman for the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations Center at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, where all war dead are received. “The flurry of interest has subsided.”

Not as much outrage because it’s now President Obama’s war? Or just a discovery that most Americans wish privacy for our fallen, honored dead?

ITEM: On the other hand, President Obama is losing WaPo liberal columnist Richard Cohen:

The trouble with Obama is that he gets into the moment and means what he says for that moment only. He meant what he said when he called Afghanistan a “war of necessity” — and now is not necessarily so sure. He meant what he said about the public option in his health-care plan — and then again maybe not. He would not prosecute CIA agents for getting rough with detainees — and then again maybe he would.

Most tellingly, he gave Congress an August deadline for passage of health-care legislation — “Now, if there are no deadlines, nothing gets done in this town . . . ” — and then let it pass. It seemed not to occur to Obama that a deadline comes with a consequence — meet it or else.

Obama lost credibility with his deadline-that-never-was, and now he threatens to lose some more with his posturing toward Iran. He has gotten into a demeaning dialogue with Ahmadinejad, an accomplished liar. (The next day, the Iranian used a news conference to counter Obama and, days later, Iran tested some intermediate-range missiles.) Obama is our version of a Supreme Leader, not given to making idle threats, setting idle deadlines, reversing course on momentous issues, creating a TV crisis where none existed or, unbelievably, pitching Chicago for the 2016 Olympics. Obama’s the president. Time he understood that.

Ouuuch.

ITEM: Remember the item yesterday about dairy farmers in Colorado (and elsewhere) selling off their herds due to the low price of milk? Well, it turns out that part of the problem is that dairy cow breeders can now guarantee a higher percentage of female (vs. male) calves when performing artificial insemination:

HANFORD, Calif. — Three years ago, a technological breakthrough gave dairy farmers the chance to bend a basic rule of nature: no longer would their cows have to give birth to equal numbers of female and male offspring. Instead, using a high-technology method to sort the sperm of dairy bulls, they could produce mostly female calves to be raised into profitable milk producers.

Now the first cows bred with that technology, tens of thousands of them, are entering milking herds across the country — and the timing could hardly be worse.

The dairy industry is in crisis, with prices so low that farmers are selling their milk below production cost. The industry is struggling to cut output. And yet the wave of excess cows is about to start dumping milk into a market that does not need it.

Again, it strikes me that someone’s trying to ignore basic economic principles here. If dairy farmers have too many dairy cows, then they’ll stop buying them, and those who are breeding dairy cows will stop producing them. On top of that, the actual impact here appears to be low at present:

Desperate to drive up prices by stemming the gusher of unwanted milk, a dairy industry group, the National Milk Producers Federation, has been paying farmers to send herds to slaughter. Since January the program has culled about 230,000 cows nationwide.

But the sorting technique, known as sexed semen, is expected to put 63,000 extra heifers into milk production this year, compared with the number that would be available if only conventional semen had been used, researchers estimate.

That number will jump to 161,000 next year, and farmers fear it could double again in 2011. While that is a fraction of the 9.2 million milk cows nationwide, the extra cows this year and next could roughly equal those removed from production by the industry’s culling program.

Again, I have to ask: if dairy farmers are currently slaughtering cows to reduce milk production, who’s buying these extra heifers?

ITEM: I’ve never bought the liberal trope of the elderly poor eating dog food because they can’t afford regular food. Nevertheless, I’m sure this article will likely be pointed to as somehow supporting this concept:

Despite rising unemployment, credit-card debt and thinning discretionary spending, American pet owners remain loyal customers of an industry that is enjoying consistent growth.

The pet-food industry is fueled by consumers who won’t back away from spending on food and necessities for their animals, though they’re likely to pare down the family vacation.

The strong spending comes amid price increases in nearly every pet-food category, the result of rising costs of fuel, ingredients and transportation for manufacturers.

Dogs and cats, though, still feel the pinch in other ways, owners said. Fewer treats, new toys or accessories such as collars and leashes, even fewer trips to the groomer are all part of the cost.

Those who think that the poor buy dog food have clearly never priced (nor tasted) dog food. There are plenty of human foods that are cheaper and tastier than dog food. And almost anything’s better than cat food.

ITEM: Idiotic headline of the day: “Consumer confidence unexpectedly falls in September“. Unexpectedly? Unexpectedly? Let’s see: we’re facing high unemployment, record deficits for years to come, certain tax increases, a feckless Congress and a clueless Administration who are trying to pass health care “reform” that a majority of Americans don’t want, and a string of disastrous economic “bailouts” and gimmicks. The only reason why there’s any confidence at all is because Americans are by nature optimistic.  It remains to be seen if that optimism can survive the current Democratic onslaught.

[UPDATED 1145 MDT] Here’s a diagram from Gay Patriot that shows just why consumer confidence might be falling:

I’m just glad that I’ve got active clients and invoices in the pipeline.  ..bruce w..

http://www3.signonsandiego.com/stories/2009/sep/29/us-economy-092909/?business&zIndex=174037
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Category: Economics, Journalism, Obama Administration, US Politics

About the Author ()

Webster is Principal and Founder at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at bwebster@bfwa.com, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.

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