October 2, 2005

A Baseball First?

Filed under: General — Tom @ 6:50 pm

The Red Sox and the Yanks ended in a tie, which caused this (10th paragraph at link) to kick in:

If Boston and New York are tied and Cleveland can’t match them, the Yankees would win the East and the Red Sox the wild card because New York will have won the season series against Boston.

Something’s not right about that:

(more…)

Bias-Exposing Pictures: The Enemy Within

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias,News from Other Sites — Tom @ 5:43 pm

This isn’t about business per se, but it’s damned important.

You must see the full sequence of pictures to believe it, and for a full explanation. But here’s the Cliff’s Notes version:

CloseSF CloseSF

The person pictured at the left is a tiny part of the contingent pictured on the right being led by an obvious Communist sympathizer. The orange boxes were added by me so you will better appreciate what the San Francisco Chronicle left out of their report on the “peace” marches last weekend when you go to zombietime’s post.

The enemy within and their willing media accomplices can no longer be certain that they can hide the truth; they can only hope that watchful bloggers and others don’t catch them trying to hide it.

This time they were caught “red-handed.” (HTs to Patterico and numerous other blogs).

This makes the American people’s perceptions of liberal bias of the mainstream media that much easier to believe.

Zombie’s final three paragraphs describe the media distortion template, and why it’s no longer guaranteed to work:

But this simple analysis reveals the very subtle but insidious type of bias that occurs in the media all the time. The Chronicle did not print an inaccuracy, nor did it doctor a photograph to misrepresent the facts. Instead, the Chronicle committed the sin of omission: it told you the truth, but it didn’t tell you the whole truth.

Because the whole truth — that the girl was part of a group of naive teenagers recruited by Communist activists to wear terrorist-style bandannas and carry Palestinian flags and obscene placards — is disturbing, and doesn’t conform to the narrative that the Chronicle is trying to promote. By presenting the photo out of context, and only showing the one image that suits its purpose, the Chronicle is intentionally manipulating the reader’s impression of the rally, and the rally’s intent.

Such tactics — in the no-man’s-land between ethical and unethical — are commonplace in the media, and have been for decades. It is only now, with the advent of citizen journalism, that we can at last begin to see the whole story and realize that the public has been manipulated like this all along.

They got away with this time and time again during the Vietnam War. Memo to mainstream media guys and gals: We won’t be fooled again.

And, as to business, who is naive enough to think that “journalists” who will commit deliberate distortions of the type noted here will hesitate for even a moment to put “evil capitalists” in a bad light when given the smallest opportunity?

Bizzy’s Business Briefs: Good and Not-So-Good Economic News off the Wires

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:55 pm

Final GDP Growth for 2nd Quarter

After a first quarter of 3.8%, it came in at 3.3%, which is acceptable but not stunning.

This is not the kind of growth I would call overheated, which is why Don Luskin’s take on upcoming Fed rate hikes troubles me. He expects three more before Alan Greenspan retires on January 31, 2006. I don’t think any are needed, and that more than one would be unacceptable. Any “inflation” that is out there is in fuel only, and hasn’t spread around to the rest of the economy. Luskin points out that gold, which when rising has historically served as an inflation predictor, has been going up, but I sense that it will come back as soon as oil prices settle down to pre-hurricane levels, perhaps helped by cooler spending heads prevailing in Washington.

Jobless Claims Fall

This should mean that the worst of the hurricane employment dislocation is behind us.

Media Drives Consumer Sentiment and Confidence Down

That’s my interpretive headline combining this news and this news, and is consistent with my focus group post on September 20. With the Mainstream Media having just spent the previous week second-guessing itself about why they got it so wrong in exaggerating the Katrina death toll and the overall degree of the destruction, I suspect that more good news on top of the employment claims drop will bring confidence and sentiment back to pre-Katrina levels.

Midwest Activity Bounceback Bodes Well for Nation

Purchasing manager optimism, new orders and order backlong all went way up in September, indicating that “the storms’ impact was temporary, as the Fed and others had suggested…”

Consumer Spending Dips

You would expect that. I didn’t expect to read the following incoherent piece from AP that tries to make a doomsday scenario out of it:

Katrina Takes Toll, Consumer Spending Dips
Friday September 30, 10:28 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hurricane Katrina has knocked the economy for a loop, and whether it revives or slips into recession depends on whether nervous consumers are willing to spend more.

New figures on Friday showed the storm caused incomes to fall in August, reflecting $100 billion in losses by people who didn’t have adequate insurance to cover damage to homes, businesses and vehicles.

The Commerce report showed that spending was on the skids even before Katrina struck. Soaring gasoline prices caused consumers to reduce spending by the largest amount since the September 2001 terrorist attacks.

The 1 percent drop, after adjusting for inflation, reflected not only the pain at the gas pump but a cutback in spending on new cars after two big sales months due to attractive incentives from automakers.

The recession fear seems silly to me when previous-quarter growth was over 3%, and may even be over 3% in the third quarter despite the hurricanes. The article goes on to describe a probable two months of “grim statistics,” but I’m not even convinced we’ll see that. A recession is normally considered to be two straight quarters of negative growth, which we are nowhere near. All in all, very sloppy work by AP, in my opinion.

In This Case, Delegation is Definitely a Good Thing

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance — Tom @ 1:49 pm

I have done my share of ripping The New York Times, all richly deserved.

But, I don’t have the time, patience, or stomach for dragging corrections out of a publication whose columnists and writers won’t admit they’re wrong until their faces are rubbed in the truth for days; won’t document their corrections until shamed by their ombudsman, public editor, or whoever; and, when the corrections are finally found and noted in the general corrections, continue to run the original pieces containing the errors without accompanying corrections, thereby guaranteeing that future readers will continue to be misled by the original errors.

That is why I hereby continue to delegate that task of identifying, demanding, and following up on Times corrections to these intrepid bloggers (and others too numerous to mention), who have done and continue to do a marvelous job of riding herd on The Times (links are to each blogger’s latest Times-related entry; HT Instapundit):
- Don Luskin
- Michelle Malkin
- EU Rota
- Tim Worstall
- Mediacrity
- Decision ’08

When you read what they’ve had to go through to drag the truth out of The Times, you’ll see why, in this case, delegation is a good thing.
________________________

UPDATE: You can see here (HT Drudge) why trying to obtain and monitor corrections in The Times is so maddening:

NY Times Finally Runs Full Correction on Krugman Column, Announces New Policy

NEW YORK Just days after it ran an editors’ note–under pressure from outside and within–that sort of admitted it had erred in a blast at Fox News’ Gerald Rivera during the Katrina tragedy, The New York Times finally ran a full correction on Sunday, on its editorial page, for a miscue by columnist Paul Krugman, while announcing a new policy on noting errors on that page.

Krugman had three times previously admitted getting wrong part of his Aug. 19 column about media recounts of the 2000 Bush-Gore race, but critics kept claiming that he still hadn’t gotten it quite right. Editorial Page Editor Gail Collins wrote on Sunday that it had turned into a “correction run amok.”

After publishing his third correction on the Web, Krugman asked Collins, she wrote, “if he could refrain from revisiting the subject yet again in print. I agreed, feeling we had reached the point of cruelty to readers. But I was wrong. The correction should have run in the same newspaper where the original error and all its little offspring had appeared.”

NY State Medicaid Spending: Surely This Can’t Be (But It Is)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:33 am

The previous post on Elliot Spitzer and Medicaid fraud linked to this item; see middle of Page 2 at link), where it was noted that The State of New York:
- will spend $44.5 billion on Medicaid in fiscal 2005-2006.
- will serve 4 million Medicaid recipients.

That’s $11,000 per person, $22,000 per covered couple, $44,000 for a four-person family.

It seems to me that the state could buy every Medicaid recipient traditional health insurance, PLUS long-term care insurance for every recipient over 50, for less than half of what it spends now, even with no underwriting (i.e., no exclusions for “pre-existing conditions”). What am I missing?

There is a siren-flashing APB out for Porkopolis on this one.
_____________________

UPDATE: Porkopolis to the rescue (with details and documentation).

Read the whole post. He quotes from a Buckeye Institute article that gets to the bottom line: “If the state really wants to help working, uninsured people it should consider direct health-care vouchers or Medical Savings Accounts as the best ways to foster self-reliance and to control taxpayer costs.”

New York, Ohio, and other high-cost Medicaid states would actually be better off if they entirely funded health-care allowances for all Medicaid recipients and told them “Here. This is yours to spend ONLY on medical care. If you go over the allowance, we’ll cover you. But we’ll split the savings with you every year that you stay under.” Access to the money would only be permitted by approved medical providers, and the accounts could be easily monitored by state and federal auditors. Overall, I would characterize it as the voucher concept with a cost-saving twist.

I have some misgivings about this concept (because it seems unfair to those NOT on Medicaid, might discourage people on Medicaid from improving their lot in life, and at the extreme cause some greedy parents to neglect providing needed care for their kids), but it seems beyond dispute that it would save tens of billions of dollars nationwide, cut down tremendously on paperwork, and encourage Medicaid recipients to be stewards of their health-care dollars.

The other part of Medicaid is the long-term care piece, which could probably be solved by buying long-term care insurance on a group basis for all (unnamed) recipients. But that one probably requires more thought.

Comments and e-mails are welcome.

Elliot Spitzer Update: Misplaced Priorities Compromise Needed Medicaid Investigations

Filed under: Consumer Outrage,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:15 am

In a previous post about New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer’s apparent intent to retry former Bank of America Corp. broker Theodore Sihpol, who was acquitted on 29 of 33 counts brought against him (the jury hung at 11-1 to acquit on the other four counts), I criticized Mr. Spitzer thusly:

So, Sihpol was one vote away from acquittal on the four remaining counts — and Spitzer is going through with a new trial?

Any other prosecutor would cut his losses, let it go, and allow Sihpol to get on with his not-guilty life. Instead, we have an abuse of prosecutorial discretion, a disgraceful waste of New York State taxpayer dollars, and an inevitable diversion of legal resources away from other more meaningful cases.

It turns out that the “diversion of legal resources” I was concerned about has indeed occurred.

An OpinionJournal.com piece by Ken Langone on the weakness of Spitzer’s case against former New York Stock Exchange head Dick Grasso (“Boondoggle of a Case”) makes this interesting reference (bold is mine):

And while his office recently said it is low on funds to pursue Medicaid fraud, he is devoting multiple lawyers to this case–which will benefit the state not one nickel. Medicaid spending by the way costs this state more than a quarter of its budget, in excess of $40 billion.

On Spitzer’s watch, Medicaid fraud in New York has become a statewide embarrassment (last item on July 22 at link; bold is mine):

New York politicians are scrambling for cover after a scathing investigation by The New York Times concluded the state is doing little to stop fraudsters from plundering the state’s Medicaid health program. Billions of dollars are stolen each year from taxpayer-funded Medicaid, making New York Medicaid the most expensive in the nation. AG Eliot Spitzer, who oversees Medicaid fraud investigations, blamed the legislature for failing to pass his anti-fraud measures. Legislative leaders say they’ve already done a lot to curb fraud, and Gov. George Pataki has created a new post of inspector general to monitor anti-fraud programs. One case the Times highlighted was a dentist who filed claims for 991 procedures in a single day. (See UPDATE excerpt: The NY Times estimated a 40% loss due to waste and fraud–Ed.)

Obviously, I’m not the only one reading Mr. Spitzer’s gripe as “we don’t have enough money.”

Elliot Spitzer has plenty of money and resources. It’s just that he has consciously chosen NOT to devote them to Medicaid fraud. His total proposed budget for 2005-06 (which I believe was passed intact) was $12 million (6%) higher than 2004-05, but he only added a relative pittance ($731,000, barely covering inflation) to Medicare fraud pursuit:

NYAG

Source: Public Protection and General Government Budget (link to it
can be found here; actual document is a 112-page PDF)

But why worry about boring Medicaid fraud (a “mere” $2 billion problem; see middle of Page 2 at link) when you’re running for governor?

The skewed priorities show why Mr. Spitzer should resign, devote all of his energies to the office he covets, and let now-Governor Pataki appoint an Attorney General who will devote his or her energies to looking out for New York citizens, taxpayers, and crime victims, and who won’t be using the number of appearances on Page 1 of The New York Times as his or her measure of success.
_____________________

UPDATE: Here is better evidence that Spitzer and RINO Governor Pataki want “mo’ money” (i.e., higher taxes) to pay for Medicaid investigations (instead of reducing the $11 million line item in the graphic called “Special Revenue Funds,” which I suspect should be renamed “Elliot’s Excellent Business-Bashing Adventures”). And check out The New York Times’ estimate of the extent of Medicaid losses (in bold):

ALBANY, N.Y. The Republican Pataki administration and the office of Democratic Attorney General Eliot Spitzer agree that more staff are needed to combat Medicaid fraud and waste.
Pataki administration officials, meanwhile, criticized a July report by The New York Times that put them on the defensive during an Assembly hearing focusing on combatting Medicaid fraud and waste.

The newspaper concluded the Pataki administration’s Health Department and Spitzer’s Medicaid Fraud Unit failed to root out most fraud and abuse. The newspaper used records and experts to estimate that as much as 40 percent of the multibillion dollar program is lost each year.

Even though The Times is prone to having to making many errors requiring many corrections, I don’t know of any that have been required to their Medicaid report.

Positivity: Navy Seabees Assist Katrina-Damaged Private School

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:05 am

From The Navy Newsstand (reproduced in full):

(more…)