November 25, 2008

What Time of Year Is It? (Year 4 Follow-up, Part 1)

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias — Tom @ 9:36 pm

As the Christmas shopping season went into full swing in 2005, I sensed that journalists in general have a strong preference for using the term “holiday shopping” instead of “Christmas shopping” when covering business and commerce, but that when it came to people losing their jobs, they preferred to describe layoffs as relating to “Christmas.”

My instincts have been proven correct, as you can see below from the results of three different sets of Google News searches in November and December in each of the last three years (links to last year’s related posts are here, here, and here; 2006′s are here, here, and here; 2005′s are here, here, and here):

XmasVholdidayRefs2005to2007

2005-2007 News stories have overwhelmingly preferred “holiday shopping” on the commerce side, but have used “Christmas” over twice as frequently in articles about layoffs.

I’ve decided to continue to track the same items this year to see if the trend continues or changes.

Based on the first set of Google News searches during this Christmas season (done tonight at roughly 9 PM ET), the early conclusion is “mostly, yes”:

XmasVholdidayRefs2008Round1

The continued upward creep in using “holiday shopping season” for commerce continues. Meanwhile, “Christmas” is still used with over two times as much frequency in stories about layoffs, in a year in which, thanks to the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy, there will probably be many more layoffs than in the past. The percentage usage for Christmas layoffs has dropped, and it will be interesting to see if that lower percentage holds.

But for now, what I concluded during the past three years is again proving to be true in 2008:

It seems beyond dispute that there is a strong bias against using the word “Christmas” to describe not only the shopping season, as noted above, but also events, parades, and festivals that happen during the Christmas season. There is, however, a bit of an exception — “Christmas” is a word that is much more acceptable to use when “Scrooge” employers are letting people go.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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UPDATE: Upon further review – It’s more troubling, if you focus on the second graphic containing Round 1 results, that the percentage component of “Christmas shopping season” has dropped by one-third (from 15.2% to 10.1%) in just three years. If that rate of decline continues, in six years it will go to zero.

UPDATE 2: For those new to the topic or who deny that some folks out there are waging a “War on Christmas,” see the topline review of this 2005 book for these examples:

  • In Illinois, state government workers were forbidden from saying the words “Merry Christmas” while at work.
  • In Rhode Island, local officials banned Christians from participating in a public project to decorate the lawn of City Hall.
  • A New Jersey school banned even instrumental versions of traditional Christmas carols.
  • Arizona school officials ruled it unconstitutional for a student to make any reference to the religious history of Christmas in a class project.

Yeah, it’s all in our imaginations (/sarc).

UPDATE 3: An example from this week, which also illustrates how quickly things have turned (bolds are mine) –

Christmas is just 30 days away, but Santa Claus won’t be stopping by Florida Gulf Coast University this holiday.

He’s not allowed on campus.

FGCU administration has banned all holiday decorations from common spaces on campus and canceled a popular greeting card design contest, which is being replaced by an ugly sweater competition. In Griffin Hall, the university’s giving tree for needy preschoolers has been transformed into a “giving garden.”

The moves boil down to political correctness.

….. In Bradshaw’s memo, he said the decision was not an “attempt to suppress expression of the holiday spirit.” Staffers will be permitted to display holiday decorations on their desks, but not on their office doors or in common spaces. Traditional workplace Christmas parties are not an issue at FGCU.

Good for reporter Dave Breitenstein for calling it PC when he sees it.

Now for evidence of how quickly the PC virus can cause institutional meltdown:

In 2001, then-President William Merwin lit the university’s official Christmas tree, a 22-foot Colorado blue spruce. Children from the college’s child care center and university choir performed traditional carols.

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Previous Posts:
- Dec. 22, 2007 — What Time of Year Is It? (Year 3 Follow-up, Part 3)
- Dec. 10, 2007 — What Time of Year Is It? (Year 3 Follow-up, Part 2)
- Nov. 28, 2007 — What Time of Year Is It? (Year 3 Follow-up, Part 1)
- Dec. 22, 2006 — What Time of Year Is It? (Year 2 Follow-up, Part 3)
- Dec. 9, 2006 — What Time of Year Is It? (Year 2 Follow-up, Part 2)
- Nov. 26, 2006 — What Time of Year Is It? (Year 2 Follow-up, Part 1)
- Nov. 11, 2006 — Will Christmas Be a Four-Letter Word This Year?
- Dec. 22, 2005 — When You Can Say What at This Time of Year (UPDATE 2)
- Dec. 7, 2005 — When You Can Say What at This Time of Year (UPDATE)
- Nov. 29, 2005 — What Time of Year Is It?
- Nov. 23, 2005 — When You Can Say What at This Time of Year

Third Quarter GDP Revised Down to an Annualized -0.5%

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:13 pm

The report from the government’s Bureau of Economic Analysis is here. The -0.5% annualized result is down from the initial reading of -0.3% a month ago.

If the third quarter remains negative, which is nearly a certainty, and the fourth quarter also comes in negative, which seems quite likely, the third quarter will have been the first official quarter of an honest-to-goodness, uncontrived, totally real recession made up of two negative-growth quarters in a row (unlike the one the Associated Press and other media outlets have rooted for and attempted to dream up during at least the five preceding years).

Not coincidentally, the second quarter of 2008 was also the first calendar quarter of the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy. As I noted in early July (“Welcome to the POR Economy: A Washington-Driven Recession or Downturn May Have Begun”), the POR Triumvirate set the foundation in June for recessionary conditions, and it’s been downhill ever since. You can’t say I didn’t call it.

The message to Nancy, “BOOHOO-OUCH” Barry, and Harry should be clear: You broke it. Now you get to try to fix it. But once (or if) it’s fixed, that won’t change the fact that three of you and your party broke it in the first place.

More elaboration is forthcoming in my latest Pajamas Media column, which should go up in the coming day, or two, or three.

Unbylined AP Report: Krugman ‘Opposed Bailout’

KrugmanThe Associated Press can’t even get it right in a three-paragraph item about a White House ceremonial event.

In a story Monday afternoon about President Bush’s meeting with two Nobel Prize-winning scientists and Nobel Economics winner Paul Krugman, the unbylined AP writer claimed that Krugman opposed the government’s financial bailout. Evidence abounds that this is not only not the case, but that Krugman wants the bailouts to be bigger, and to involve more direct government ownership.

Here are the first and third paragraphs from the story (link probably will not work after about a week):

Three 2008 Nobel laureates from the United States lined up with President George W. Bush on Monday for an Oval Office photograph to mark their achievements.

….. The third laureate at the White House was Paul Krugman of New York, who won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his work on international trade patterns. Krugman, a frequent critic of the Bush administration who opposed the recent $700 billion financial bailout, is a Princeton University professor and New York Times columnist.

Since Krugman’s supposed opposition may become folklore shortly, it’s best to take a cruise through Krugman’s blog posts to show that the claim is terribly outdated and currently flat-out wrong:

  • At Krugman’s NYT blog on September 20, he expressed “Doubts about the Rescue,” because nobody was saying “how Treasury might recapitalize firms that will be bankrupt even with the purchase facility, yet need to be kept in being.”
  • Later that day, Krugman, said “No Deal” — “Not unless Treasury explains, very clearly, why this is supposed to work, other than through having taxpayers pay premium prices for lousy assets.”
  • The very next day, September 21, Krugman wrote that “the plan does nothing to address the lack of capital unless the Treasury overpays for assets. And if that’s the real plan, Congress has every right to balk.” But at the same time, he wrote that “public intervention is needed.” He was already on board for a bailout; it was just a question of the form it would take.
  • On September 23, Krugman, to his credit, objected to Paulson’s attempt to avoid any kind of oversight.
  • On September 28, Krugman agreed with another writer, Brad DeLong, “that Swedish-style temporary nationalization is the right answer to a financial crisis; he’s right.” So he didn’t like the bailout as envisioned because it didn’t involve de facto government takeovers.
  • Here’s paydirt — On September 28, Krugman made his support, though a bit grudging, quite clear — “I don’t, in the end, have much more to say about the plan. It passes my test of no equity, no deal; that, plus the danger of financial panic if it doesn’t go through, makes it worth passing, though celebration is not in order.”

So the fact is, at crunch time, Krugman said “yes.”

As what I refer to as The Giant SUCKUP (Seemingly Unlimited Cash Kitty Under Paulson) has morphed from an asset-purchase program to a heavily coerced preferred equity investment program, subsequent posts by Krugman have, as you would expect, become more supportive. His objections lie in the fact that, so far, the government isn’t throwing more money at the problem — i.e., the de facto nationalization of the banking system isn’t happening fast enough:

  • On October 9, as it became clear that Paulson was moving to government equity investments, Krugman gave “A tentative cheer: Paulson may have been dragged kicking and screaming into doing the right thing to rescue the financial system.”
  • On October 25, Krugman supported a complaint that “despite the big-sounding numbers, financial institutions are losing capital faster than governments are putting it in.”
  • Yesterday (November 24), he said that among his objections to the Citigroup bailout, it is “quite possibly inadequate, so that Citi will be back for more.”

Why the AP writer of the Nobel article chose to characterize Krugman as opposing the bailout bill, when under open-ended provisions Treasury has been doing what Krugman prefers for about 45 days — supposedly just not enough of it — is a complete mystery. Was it sheer ignorance, or the need to show Krugman specifically disagreeing with Bush about something-anything to make sure it didn’t end positively, or something else?

I guess we’ll never know, but there’s no doubt that it’s wrong.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Couldn’t Help But Comment ….. (112508, Morning)

Before the Treasury Secretary decided to uses funds from The Great SUCKUP (Seemingly Unlimited Cash Kitty Under Paulson) to “rescue” Citigroup for the second time, the firm’s common shares were worth about $20.5 billion ($3.77 Friday closing price times 5.449 million shares).

Now the government has announced that it will inject yet another $20 billion into the bank in return for a preferred equity position, over and above the $25 billion it injected, also for preferred equity, after the infamous “gun to their heads” meeting in mid-October.

Uncle Sam will probably have much more say than shareholders in how the Citi will be run from here on out. If true, we will have witnessed a de facto nationalization.

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This won’t last, but it should — “On Wall Street, (former Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert) Rubin is facing questions about his role as director of Citigroup given the bank’s current woes.”

Trouble is, his cronies are in most key Obama economic team positions. Rubin will probably get a pass.

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It would have taken extraordinary courage for President Bush to stare down Hank Paulson and say “no” in September when the Treasury Secretary orchestrated his blackmail campaign to intimidate the executive and legislative branches into supporting the bailout with the made-up $700 billion price tag that turned into the pork-laden bailout bill with the $850 billion price tag. After all, the threat was that Bush would be seen in history as the guy who could have prevented a train wreck and didn’t — never mind that he had nothing to do with its imminence.

But I am coming to believe that Bush should have refused, and that history will ultimately show that his failure to do so was his biggest mistake. Just watch — The bailout that Bush acquiescenced to, and that Congress embraced, will allow all manner of ill-informed and hostile parties into economic and business deliberations who have no qualifications, nothing real to contribute, and no real right to even be there. The last thing those parties care about is economic growth.

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Just when you think CNN can’t sink any lower, it invents a “snub” of Bush by foreign leaders that wasn’t. Noel Sheppard at NewsBusters noted that the network’s Jeanne Moos did a whole segment debundking the myth, in effect taking the network’s Bush-Deranged Rick Sanchez to the broadcasting equivalent of the woodshed.

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Just when you think the press groupies can’t get any more blindered in their Obama worship, there’s this: The new first couple is “fabulously fit.”

Leaving aside discussion of how President-elect Barack Obama is objectively unfit to even be president (meaning that we must pray daily such fitness somehow miraculously arrives), I’ll merely point out that:

  • Jonathan Chait at the LA Times in 2005 thought that George W. Bush’s fitness was some kind of character flaw (“Bush has an obsession with exercise that borders on the creepy”).
  • Until recently, if we are to believe press reports that he has quit (Update: Maybe, maybe not), this supposedly “fabulously fit” guy has smoked, and more than a little:

ObamaSmoking.jpg