March 5, 2009

POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy Benchmarking Update; Rush PORs It On

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:10 pm

Another day, another 4% loss:

Stocks ended at 12-year lows, more than wiping out a one-day rally Wednesday. Investors wrestled with more disheartening economic data, new concerns about GM and ongoing uncertainty about the financial system. Short selling ahead of the government’s Friday employment report exacerbated the losses, slashing 281 points from the Dow Jones industrials and sending all the major indexes down more than 4 percent.

The updated POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy benchmarks, in most cases using June 1, 2008 as the best approximation of it start date, are as follows:

  • Unemployment — was 5.5% as of the May 2008 BLS report; now at 7.6%. A new report is coming out on Friday morning
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average — was at 12638, closed today at 6594, down 47.8%.
  • S&P 500 — was at 1400, closed yesterday at 683, down 51.2%.
  • NASDAQ — was at 2523, closed yesterday at 1300, down 48.5%.
  • GDP Growth/contraction — was 2.06% in the 12 months preceding July 1, 2008; has been an annualized -3.39% since (-0.5% in the third quarter of 2008, -6.2% preliminary estimate for the fourth, including negative compounding).
  • Inflation — was 4.2% in the 12 months ended May 31, 2008; prices have dropped about 2.5% in the eight reported months since then (through January), and are up about 1.1% in those seven months excluding food and energy.
  • Prime rate — was 5.0%, is now 3.25%.

Way to go, guys.

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UPDATE: Rush was on a roll today, with his usual unique insights (link will go behind subscriber wall in a week; additional paragraph breaks added by me) –

We have bailed out the UAW twice now in the automobile bailouts, and look what’s happening to Citibank. We have bailed Citibank out. Look at what’s happening to AIG. That’s where all of my insurance is, or much of it, AIG, and they are in huge trouble. We bailed them out. Starting last fall, starting before the election, we have bailed out a number of entities.

I want to ask you a serious question, all of you. Are any of them showing any signs of recovery? I don’t see any that are showing any signs of recovery. In fact, what I see is every entity that we have bailed out getting worse. General Motors, poor old General Motors, they’re now getting serious about bankruptcy here. I mean, they’ve had all these bailouts, they promised to do all this restructuring, and it isn’t mattering. It’s making matters worse.

Now, we’ve tried the political solution. We have tried the concept of fascism in a sense here with the government owning, operating, and advising the means of production in the case of the United Auto Workers, General Motors, Chrysler. When the hell are we going to try a business solution to these problems? Do you realize not one business solution has been proposed?

Obama filled in the details yesterday on the $75 billion mortgage bailout. Do you realize even people who took out second loans to build a swimming pool or whatever are going to get bailed out by people who are still struggling to pay their mortgages? It’s not just poor people, and it’s not just the usual crowd that was supposedly lured into a mortgage they couldn’t afford by predatory lenders who are going to be bailed out. It’s people with second mortgages in many instances.

So we bailed out the United Auto Workers, and they’re in trouble. We bailed out General Motors, we bailed out Chrysler. What do you think that everybody was bailing out? They’re bailing out employees here. So while General Motors and Chrysler are literally just fighting to stay alive, General Motors is making it plain here, they’re using words like, our ability to operate as an ongoing concern is seriously threatened.

….. if you have General Motors and Chrysler basically putting out the news that they are on their last legs, isn’t it time, ladies and gentlemen, that we look at the results here of the political solution to all of these problems? Go to any bank that has been bailed out that needed to be. Some didn’t need to be bailed out, but they were anyway, forced to take the money.

You can go to Citibank, you can go to Merrill Lynch, you can go to AIG, and you don’t find any of it working, do you? You don’t find any of it working and we’re five months into this. Remember what all this was called — “stimulus.” This was going to stimulate recovery. We’re going to repair the bridge over the Osage River in Missouri, first project from the stimulus package. I don’t see any economic uptick from that announcement and they’re going to do the work.

So we’ve bailed out the auto companies. In the process, we bailed out the United Auto Workers, a political solution. It has failed. General Motors probably going to have to go through a managed reorganization and a real bankruptcy court and have that great company come out a lean, mean car-making machine, one that Americans would eagerly support, especially if the board of directors came out on the other side fighting for their rights in a free-market economy, standing up to government regulations, standing up to taxes, cap and trade, and there’s an editorial in the Detroit News today, cap and trade will destroy, will kill Michigan with high taxes, cap and trade will kill Michigan. It will kill the automobile industry. It will kill what’s left of employment in Michigan.

At some point, folks, you have to start asking, “Why can’t the wizards of smart see this?” Well, that’s what I’m getting at, Snerdley. They do see it. But they don’t seem to care one whit about it.

The “they” Rush is referring to would include Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama (plus advisers), and Harry Reid, architects of our POR Economy. Engineering an Obama victory and maintaining a Democratic congressional majority in the November elections, regardless of what might happen to the US economy as a result of their statements, strategies, and actions, seemed to become paramount once Obama officially won the Democratic nomination in early June. Now that they are in charge, with unprecedented assistance from a lapdog media elite, they seem determined to cram through as much economy-wrecking legislation as they can before enough of the country wakes up to what they’re doing.

Paul Harvey Was ‘Equal Time’ During the Fairness Doctrine Era

PaulAndLynneHarveyNote: This item first appeared at Pajamas Media on Tuesday.

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For decades, he was America’s one-man end run around the dominant media.

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Paul Harvey’s death Saturday did not garner major headlines or sustained attention. Matt Drudge had the related story link off his page within about 12 hours of when the news broke.

At one level, it’s not at all surprising. The man was 90. Though he soldiered on, he was past his peak. His vocal cord problems in 2001 and his bout with pneumonia in 2008 had America mentally prepared for the inevitable.

But those who are unfamiliar with Paul Harvey need to learn about more than his tremendous career success. They need to understand and recognize his significance. Coming within hours of Rush Limbaugh’s stemwinder of a speech at CPAC in Washington, we should not forget that in his heyday Harvey was in many ways what Limbaugh has often called himself: Equal Time.

To appreciate what Harvey pulled off, recall just how limited the media marketplace was in the 1950s, 1960s, and much of the 1970s. Two things shaped that media landscape: outlet scarcity and the so-called Fairness Doctrine. Each served journalists’ generally left-leaning agenda well.

Being a purveyor of news required a printing press or a broadcast license. The New York Times and the Washington Post largely drove national and international news coverage for US consumption. The Associated Press and its very weak sister United Press Interational dominated original news gathering. Though many metro papers leaned conservative, they were largely at the mercy of the wire services, the Times, and the Post for non-local news. The Big Three networks’ evening newscasts were for all practical purposes the only TV game in town.

Left-leaning media bias was occasionally obvious, as with Joe McCarthy’s anti-Communist crusade, the Vietnam War, and Watergate, but it was usually subtle (much of that subtlety ended after Watergate). Establishment media’s day-to-day bias was primarily in story and fact selection, not the outright opinion-as-news barrage we now endure almost daily.

The so-called Fairness Doctrine, which dates back to 1949, was an almost perfect companion to outlet scarcity. The broadcast networks could slant their stories and retain their immunity from the Doctrine’s mandate that “broadcast networks devote time to contrasting views on issues of public importance” by saying “hey, we’re just objectively reporting the news” (uh-huh). The wires, the Times, and the Post were “of course” similarly untouchable. The conservative opinions of writers like Cal Thomas, Bill Buckley, and James Kilpatrick were relegated to local papers’ op-ed pages.

But Paul Harvey was there on the radio every day, with a larger audience as a percentage of the nation’s population than Limbaugh has ever had, disarming the Fairness Doctrine Police with his patented “Stand by for news!” greeting. And indeed it was the news, only a slightly different rendition. He often emphasized different facts, or brought out new ones that inevitably made you wonder, “Why haven’t I seen or heard that before?” And even if the story was the same, his tone gave you a good idea of what he thought of it, and of  the players in it.

Then there were his other stories.

Harvey’s frequent announcements of everyday Americans’ longtime wedding anniversaries reminded us that marriages, and love, do last. That included his own marriage; he called wife Lynne Harvey, a broadcasting pioneer in her own right, “Angel” so often that many thought it was her real name. His broadcast-wrapping jokes, often based on news stories, came from a time when we could still laugh at ourselves, were rooted in heartland values, were almost always genuinely funny, and were devoid of meanness.

His interspersed ads, which critics ignorantly claimed blurred the line between news and commercial content (what about verbally turning from “Page 1″ to “Page 2″ did these people not understand?), doubled as odes to American success, ingenuity, and even corporate nobility. Many of his ads included letters from listeners praising products he had recommended. Harvey’s satisfaction that he had helped a person improve his of her life, even in a small way, was genuine and unmistakable.

More than anyone on the air during that era, Paul Harvey was a profoundly grateful believer in America and free-enterprise capitalism in a world, a US media environment, and all too often a government, that thought the march of history was running against it. He didn’t buy it. He supported Joe McCarthy, whom history has thoroughly vindicated over academics’ closed eyes and ears. Of course, the mainstream media obituaries are emphasizing that he came to oppose the Vietnam War, while failing to report that he later regretted that opposition. Well, what human with any compassion wouldn’t have such regrets, given the results?

Tens of millions of Americans received their antidote to the dominant media narrative from Paul Harvey at a time when very few others were delivering it, or even could. If not for him, it’s likely that many of the millions now listening to Limbaugh, Hannity, and other talkers liberated by the Fairness Doctrine’s 1987 repeal would not have been on the AM dial to tune in.

Lucid Links (030509)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 8:47 am

Noteworthy Net-Worthies:

The latest three Carnivals of Ohio Politics are here (#157, compiled by The Boring Made Dull), here (#156, compiled by Ben Keeler of Keeler Political Report), and here (#155, compiled by Jill at Writes Like She Talks).

Jay Cost’s version of your truly’s “The Punk Presidency” — “The Immature White House.”

Proof of validity of previous item — Step 1, the overture: Obama ‘ready to drop shield plans for Russian help on Iran’ (also here in the New York Times); Step 2, the dismissal: “Medvedev rejects Obama missile defence deal”; Step 3 (HT Instapundit), the blowback, via Charles Krauthammer: “The Russians have dismissed it. We end up being humiliated. We look weak in front of the Iranians, and we have left the Poles and Czechs out to dry in return for nothing.” Looks like this Obama attempt at what his crew (incorrectly) accused George Bush of, namely shoot-from-the-hip diplomacy, is an epic fail.

A Detroit News editorial (HT Hot Air Headlines) — “Cap-and-trade plan will sink Michigan.” Ohioans should only want their football teams to lose, not their entire economy.

From Discovery News — “Global Warming on Hold?” It’s been globaloney all along.

From AP’s excuse-making machine: “Understaffed Geithner can’t keep up, critics say.” Michelle Malkin translates: “Wonderboy Treasury Secretary is in over his head.” My questions: Why aren’t the people who worked with Paulson in Treasury available? Do potentially qualified people not want to work with this guy? If not, why not?

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air — “If the first six weeks of the Barack Obama administration can be summed up in one sentence, it would be this: Obama fiddled with Rush Limbaugh while Wall Street burned.” Here’s the underlying Politico story about the administration’s six-month obsession with applying Rule #12 from Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” to Limbaugh (good job on putting up the list by Orange County CA’s Orange Juice Blog, which has been blogrolled).

From Mickey Kaus post on the “Kings of L.A.” — “L.A.’s fifteen City Council members make $178,000 per year, way more than in New York ($112K) or Chicago ($110K).” That’s also more than Congressmen (“the average lawmaker makes $169,300 a year”).

Kaus also gets a HT on this very, very quiet story about the Democratic primary results in the race to win Rahm Emanuel’s former IL-05 congressional seat in Northern Chicago and suburbs. But he missed the big point: Mike Quigley, the out-of-nowhere winner, who is almost assured of a general-election triumph, not only defeated union-favored candidates, he is also a de facto Tea Party sympathizer. He “fought the Old Guard on the (Cook) County Board and built an opposition bloc that voted down tax increases.” He is also not in good graces with Mayor Dictator for Life Daley. Apparently voters saw that as a good thing. Update, March 6: A noteworthy Quigley quote — ““After all we’ve been though in Illinois in the last six months, this is the first time voters had the chance to say: Enough is enough. We vote for change.”

GM Gets ‘Going Concern’ Warning from Auditors: Evidence That Buyers Have Shunned the Bailed-Out

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:16 am

GMsilverLogo0309Some $13.4 billion or so taxpayer dollars later (NOT counting whatever has gone to GMAC), I get this CNN headline e-mail:

GM files annual report, says: “There is substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern.”

From the initial AP story:

…. its auditors cited recurring losses from operations, stockholders’ deficit and an inability to generate enough cash to meet its obligations in raising substantial doubts about its ability to continue as a going concern.

Bailout approver Bush and bailout cheerleader Obama didn’t figure in the high probability, which the numbers show came to pass in both January and February, of refusal by enough potential customers to matter to buy from taxpayer bailed-out companies.

As I pointed out shortly after the original deal was done, not buying GM or Chrysler vehicles is “the only …. action the average person (opposed to bailouts) has available that is practical, and will be quickly understood by the powers that be.”

The bailout money thrown at GM and Chrysler has, as predicted, only made things worse. It must stop.

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UPDATE, 10:30 a.m.: CNN’s related story says nothing about how GM’s falloff from the comparable year-ago period has steadily deteriorated since receiving its bailout money. Instead, it limply notes:

GM said Thursday auto sales, which have plunged more than 40% in recent months, must rebound by next year if it is to survive.

Readers can make the call about whether “more than 40% in recent months” fully accurately characterizes this (see graphic at this link — also at Update 4 below):

  • December 2008 (last [mostly] pre-bailout month) — down 31.2%
  • January 2009 (first full bailout month) — down 48.9%
  • February 2009 (second full bailout month — down 53.1%

If you went into your boss and told him that sales were down more than 40% in recent months, and the numbers were really as they are for GM in the past two months, there would be one word to describe your situation once the boss learned the real numbers: Fired.

UPDATE 2: Welcome Instapunditeers!

UPDATE 3: I’ve done a post at NewsBusters on how the press is totally ignoring GM’s post-bailout sales dive.

UPDATE 4: Okay, so there’s no lack of clarity, here are the results for Dec. 2008, Jan. 2009, and Feb. 2009 for the “Big Six”:

USvehicleSalesFebJan09Dec08

Positivity: How a Miracle Saved Charles Tillman’s Daughter

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:08 am

From Chicago:

Sometimes, the game of football seems like life or death. But last year, the Tillman family learned about the pain and heartbreak of a real life-and-death struggle.

During training camp, Bears cornerback Charles Tillman was called off the field by coach Lovie Smith.

It was not good news.

Tillman’s three-month-old daughter, Tiana Rene, was being rushed to the hospital. Her heart was failing.

She was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, which enlarged her heart and kept it from beating properly. To the Tillmans, it was as if it happened overnight.

Hours led to days, which turned into weeks at her bedside at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago. She needed a heart transplant.

Rumors swirled as to why Charles was missing from camp. Was he being traded? Was he busted for drugs?

Then, as the Tillmans waited for a donor, the FDA did them a huge favor. They approved little Tiana as the first person in Illinois to receive a Berlin heart.

A Berlin heart is a small pump run by a laptop computer. It works by helping the right ventricle of the heart pump blood to the lungs, and the left ventricle to pump blood to the body.

The device is intended to be a bridge until recovery or, in this case, a transplant can be done.

“By her being on that Berlin Heart, it saved her life,” Tillman said. “It bought us more time.”

Finally, the news they had been waiting to hear arrived. A donor had been found.

Yet, despite this good fortune, it seemed as if fate was once again against the Tillmans.

The weather suddenly changed, and the private plane carrying the heart diverted. They only had a total of six hours to get the heart from its source to the hospital where little Tiana lay waiting.

But a police escort managed to get the heart to Children’s with about two hours to spare.

The transplant was a success!

Little Tiana celebrated her first birthday last week. The Tillmans are understandably grateful for the heart, though they do not know from where it came from, whether it had been a boy or a girl.

No matter, their little girl was healthy once again. Her life was saved. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.