August 28, 2007

Couldn’t Help But Notice (082807)

Last week the Congressional Budget Office’s forecasters said what Brian Wesbury (related link has been removed) and BizzyBlog (near the end of this post) have been saying for a while:

The deficit for the budget year that ends Sept. 30 will be about $158 billion, or $90 billion less than the deficit recorded for 2006, the nonpartisan agency reported.

….. Higher-than-expected tax revenues are the main reason for the improved numbers, the office said.

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James Lewis, at American Thinker, on last week’s Rove resignation reax, and much more, including a related history lesson:

Rove was quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying, “I’m not going to stay or leave based on whether it pleases the mob.”

Not just one, but two separate Washington Post staffers split the peaceful summer night with howls of outrage. Eugene Robinson and Monica Hesse tore at Mr. Rove’s flesh in two WaPo columns, just for using that little word, “mob.”

Their united outrage proved his point: They are a mob. Funny, because the Media Mob commonly describes itself in just those terms: as “sharks” looking for “blood in the water” to start a “feeding frenzy.” “What bleeds, leads.” Sounds like a classic lynch mob, doesn’t it? But the victims aren’t supposed to answer back. They must hemorrhage silently, while the drooling newshounds bay at the moon to celebrate yet another kill. Well, Mr. Rove didn’t play along this time.

In 1991, Supreme Court Justice-to-be Clarence Thomas struck back with the words “high-tech lynching” to describe the smears hurled at him by the liberal media to kill his chances at the Senate Judiciary Committee. For a few days the white Media Mob froze in its tracks. Perhaps at that magic moment it recognized itself as a mob in a Black man’s eyes. Because Justice Thomas was born in the Jim Crow South, and he knew exactly what he was talking about when it came to lynch mobs. Clarence Thomas’ nomination passed the Committee within days of his verbal counter-attack. Then the Media Mob just fell back into its old ways.

The Big Media are a mob. That should be Politics 101. They are a tiny, unchecked power elite, locked into life-long careers in the remnant of a crumbling monopoly over America’s national conversation.

Interesting. When I saw the quote, I thought “the mob” was the left-wing blog fringe, not Old Media. Maybe they’re one and the same now.

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Ohio not-secret ballotThis is very weak.

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Aw geez, not this stuff again:

Sarkozy still popular after 100 days as French economic woes loom
PARIS, Aug 22, 2007 (AFP) – French President Nicolas Sarkozy completes his first 100 days in office on Thursday still riding high in opinion polls despite disappointing figures on the economic front as he prepares to rev up reforms.

Earth to AFP: The French people are smart enough to know that Sarkozy’s budget and economy responsibility hasn’t started yet. So are you. Stop posturing.

Updates: David Cay Johnston’s New York Times ‘Income Growth’ Story (082807)

Income Schmincome: If you go to Randall Hoven’s American Thinker post that I discuss in the item following this one, you will see that he used the correct term found in the underlying IRS spreadsheets — “Adjusted Gross Income Less Deficit.” Those spreadsheets are the foundation for New York Times reporter David Cay Johnston’s August 21 report on ‘income growth.’

Hoven recognizes that “Adjusted Gross Income Less Deficit” is not the same as “Adjusted Gross Income.” I assume Johnston does, yet he managed not to include the correct term even once in his 800-word article.

Beyond that, he only used “adjusted gross income” once in the third paragraph, while using “income” or incomes,” by my count, at least 17 other times (not including the occasions where he properly described “investment income” and “income tax” in proper context).

Now listen up: Even aside from using a technically incorrect term, there’s little doubt that Johnston’s lead sentence, which begins with “Americans earned a smaller average income,” along with his use of “income” and “incomes” five separate times in the first three paragraphs of his report before introducing the term “adjusted gross income,” causes the average reader to think that the report is about “gross income” — what most people understand as gross pay (“earnings” or “wages” on many pay stubs). Among many other things, “gross pay” is before any 401(k), pretax IRA, and other pretax retirement plan contributions, and before pre-tax medical premium deductions. “Gross pay” is a far, far cry from “adjusted gross income,” with or without the “less deficit.”

Additionally, Johnston does not describe the $55,000-plus average annual amounts from 2000 and 2005, the ones that form the basis for the story’s headline (“2005 Incomes, on Average, Still Below 2000 Peak”) as “adjusted gross income.” In fact, those numbers are called “average income” in the report’s second paragraph, before readers ever see the term “adjusted gross income” employed. People who read Johnston’s third paragraph, where he finally uses the term “adjusted gross income” to report total AGI of all taxpayers ($7.43 trillion), might come to understand that the entire article is about “adjusted gross income.” But having been conditioned with “earned” in the first sentence and “income” or “incomes” five times previous to the first appearance of “adjusted gross income,” there’s a fairly good chance that they will not, seeing the $7.43 trillion as an aside (telling themselves “he used ‘income’ up to this point, and just invoked ‘adjusted gross income’ — so this $7.43 trillion must be something different from what he’s been talking about thus far.”). Readers who don’t get past the second paragraph won’t have a clue that the article is about AGI unless they are in that very small group of people with specific knowledge of nationwide average gross incomes and AGIs.

The failure to clearly convey the basis of average annual “income” used in Johnston’s report is a serious enough communication breach that I’m going to name it Error #7, adding it to the list of the six previously identified on Sunday morning. This breach clearly goes way beyond the failure to invoke “Adjusted Gross Income Less Deficit” instead of “Adjusted Gross Income,” which was flagged as Error #4 on Sunday.

Oh, in case you’re wondering, I have plenty of other errors in Johnston’s report that I could catalog. They are on reserve in case I feel the need to call on them and have the time.

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Following the Progression: Randall Hove at American Thinker went into a separate criticism of Johnston, the. Hoven looked at average rates of tax paid on “Adjusted Gross Income Less Deficit” in various income ranges, found that the tax system is indeed “progressive” until you get to the the tippy-tippy top $5 million-plus and $10 million-plus categories, and added a bit of needed perspective:

If anyone should be complaining, it should those making between $1 million and $2 million complaining about those making more than $10 million. I’ll let that 0.2% of all tax filers fight that out among themselves.

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Shameless Plug 1: Tom Finnigan at Heritage Foundation’s Policy Weblog noted yours truly’s post, and also questioned the use of AGI as the basis for comparing incomes.

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Shameless Plug 2, with qualification: The Boston Herald had a brief editorial on the NY Times story that included a reference to yours truly’s post. I e-mailed the Herald and informed them that, as briefly described here (in the “10 PM, August 25″ paragraph) and incorporated into the original August 21 post, the original $170 Earned Income Tax Credit effect is best seen as a $132 effect caused by the EITC and other available credits. The rest of the editorial is just fine.

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Cricket-Chirp Report: Up to and including Saturday evening, Mr. Johnston sent me five e-mails relevant to the matter at hand. In one of them, he characterized as “egregious” my $170-per-filer error (which, because of offsets, has since been reduced to $38 per filer), along with my incorrect recall as to what tax credit was liberalized when.

I know full well that at my “Top Six Errors” post on Sunday morning, I put down the ground rule that Mr. Johnston couldn’t post a comment at BizzyBlog until he could refute all six errors. Perhaps that was intemperate and snippy, but forgive me for taking umbrage to Johnston’s e-mail dare (spelling error corrected) to:

Show some integrity and forthrightly tell your readers the truth: that your numbers and facts were wrong (not to mention utterly irrelevant to my report).

Six, and now seven, quite relevant errors later, I have indeed told my readers the truth, thank you very much.

Regardless, early Sunday afternoon, I noted at the post that the e-mail box remains open for cherry-picking if Mr. Johnston to attempt refute his (and his paper’s) errors one by one.

I have not received an e-mail from Mr. Johnston since Saturday evening. If he wants to call the game trailing 7-2, that’s fine by me, and quite understandable (this assumes that all errors are created equal, which they are not; collectively, Johnston’s are humdingers that undermine and refute his entire report). If he wants to get credit for the his paper’s correction of $7.43 billion to $7.43 trillion (even though it should have been rounded to $7.42 trillion), then I get credit for my “I was wrong; I am sorry” statements on my errors. Fine — Now Johnston’s trailing 6-to-zip.

Anyway, given the batters I have in reserve, I’m afraid we’d have to invoke the “mercy” rule should we continue.

Positivity: Boy Honored for Heroic Rescue

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:54 am

From Baltimore County, Maryland:

He saved young neighbor from drowning; ‘He was our guardian angel’
8:54 PM EDT, August 24, 2007

When his neighbors spotted him in the pool without his life jacket and without his parents, 2-year-old Max Woods was thrashing in the water and headed toward the deep end.

Pamela Boyle dropped a bowl she had been holding, and started screaming, “Oh my God. Go get him.”

Patrick Boyle hopped over the fence, rushed through the gate to his neighbor’s pool and jumped in with his clothes on to grab the toddler — just in time.

The rescue earned Patrick a hero pin Friday from Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr. The quick thinking and bravery would be extraordinary in anyone, Smith noted.

But the thing about Patrick is that he’s 10 years old.

“There aren’t words,” said a still-emotional Jennifer Woods, mother of Max, during the ceremony Friday in Towson. “He was our guardian angel.”

Patrick wasn’t supposed to be swimming that June day because he had an ear infection. But he was outside his Parkville home, with his 9-year-old brother, Shawn, and 7-year-old sister, Mikayla, who were swimming in their above-ground pool, which gives them a view of the neighbor’s in-ground pool.

Shawn first noticed Max in the pool, without his parents, and began yelling to his mom, Pamela Boyle. But Patrick had hopped the fence by the time she got out of the house, screaming, “Get Maxie.”

Go here for the rest of the story.