January 15, 2010

Worst. ‘Recovery.’ Ever. Two Fed Charts Old Media Probably Won’t Like — Or Use

MinneapolisFed

The Federal Reserve of Minneapolis has posted a series of charts (HT Ed Morrissey at Hot Air) comparing the current recession — as defined by the National Bureau of Economic Research, not as normal people define it, a point I’ll get to later in this post — to previous recessions dating back to the end of World War II.

The charts definitely show how utterly wrong reporters like the Associated Press’s Jeannine Aversa are when they claim that there has been anything resembling a “rebound” since the economy hit bottom from a growth standpoint in the second quarter of 2009 (the economy has yet to see an employment bottom). They also explain why AP reporter Martin Crutsinger seems to have tired of trying to put a “getting better” face on things in the past couple of days (as seen here and here at NewsBusters; here and here at BizzyBlog).

Here, after screen captures by Morrissey are the two mind-numbing creations in question, the first showing changes in output (GDP) and the second showing changes in employment:

recessions-output

recessions-jobs

Together, they could be shown in a continuous loop and named “Nightmare on Main Street.”

Now imagine if instead of using the NBER’s subjective determination of when this recession began, the chart above had been done using the normally understood definition of two consecutive quarters of economic contraction. In that case, you would shift the “2007″ line (renamed 2008, because the recession as normally defined began in that year’s third quarter) over by two quarters and six months, respectively. The results would arguably be even uglier.

Morrissey’s capsule summary:

The economic policies of the Obama administration have lengthened the recession and delayed what would be the normal recovery process, mainly by signaling to investors and businesses that costs will go up in taxes and energy prices, as well as burdensome mandates on health insurance. As a result, people are not investing their money into job-creating risk but are sheltering their cash instead.

The Obama administration’s “Uncertainty Economy” continues to wreak absolute havoc. Given what the first stimulus hasn’t accomplished, any serious attempt at a second stimulus that based on history going back to the 1930s would be just as ineffective will have to call into question whether our government really wants the economy to recover.

In the meantime, I hope the folks at the Minneapolis Fed aren’t waiting by the phone for calls from establishment media journalists requesting explanations and clarifications. They’ll be pretty lonely if they are.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Murder, Schmurder: KY Census Worker Planned Suicide, per AP, Yet Story Calling It Murder Remains Uncorrected

census_bureau_seal

Today, Roger Alford and Bruce Schreiner of the Associated Press, reporting from Frankfort, KY, are giving leftist bloggers, columnists, journalists who assumed or gave the impression of assuming that the death of Census worker Bill Sparkman was some kind of right-wing hit job another chance to come clean with an unconditional “I was wrong, I amy sorry.” The list of those needing to post apologies and corrections includes the AP itself.

You see, not only is it crystal clear that Sparkman (may he rest in peace) indeed killed himself, Alford and Schreiner tell us that he told a friend of his plans:

Jan 15, 6:09 PM EST

Police: Ky. census worker had told of suicide plan

An eastern Kentucky census worker found naked, bound and hanging from a tree had told a friend he intended to kill himself and that he had chosen the time, place and method to do it, police records show.

Those records about the death of Bill Sparkman were released Friday to The Associated Press by the Kentucky State Police.

Sparkman, 51, was found strangled with a rope around his neck near a rural cemetery in September with the word “fed” scrawled on his chest. It triggered a state and federal investigation that ultimately determined he had committed suicide.

The records show that Sparkman’s friend, Lowell Adams, who had worked for Sparkman as a part-time security guard since 2007, told investigators that the federal employee wanted his suicide to look like a murder.

Adams said Sparkman told him that he had even practiced self-asphyxiation and had been able to cause himself to black out before he staged his death.

Sparkman’s body was found Sept. 12 near Hoskins Cemetery in a heavily wooded area of the Daniel Boone National Forest. Investigators said Sparkman’s wrists were bound so loosely that he could have done the taping himself. He was touching the ground almost to his knees. To survive, “all Mr. Sparkman had to do at any time was stand up,” Capt. Lisa Rudzinksi of the Kentucky State Police said.

Adams, who passed a polygraph test on his statements, told authorities Sparkman paid him $7.50 per hour in cash to travel with him in the remote areas when he canvassed door to door for the census.

“In reality Bill spoke with me several times about killing himself and, on the Saturday before his death he told me he was going to kill himself on the next Wednesday,” Adams said in a written statement included in more than 200 pages of investigative records.

The fact that there were many suicide indicators from the very beginning didn’t stop a number of leftist commentators and reporters from prematurely calling Sparkman’s death a murder with an implication of right-wing extremist involvement, including …. a story from the AP that is still positioned comfortably at CBS.com without any indication whatsoever that it is need of correction. The wire service even used the “T-Word” in describing Sparkman’s death:

Terror in Kentucky: Census Worker’s Murder

It was a bizarre and gruesome discovery in a remote section of eastern Kentucky: Bill Sparkman, a 51-year-old teacher and part-time worker for the United States Census, was found two weeks ago hanging from a tree with the word “Fed” scrawled on his chest in felt tip pen.

A man who said he was among those who found the body told tells the Associated Press that Sparkman was naked, bound at the hands and feet with duct tape and gagged – details that have not yet been confirmed by authorities.

Jerry Weaver of Ohio told the Associated Press he was visiting a cemetery in rural Kentucky with family members on Sept. 12 when he, his wife and daughter saw the body.

“The only thing he had on was a pair of socks,” Weaver said. “And they had duct-taped his hands, his wrists. He had duct tape over his eyes, and they gagged him with a red rag or something.

“He was murdered,” Weaver said. “There’s no doubt.”

Oops.

AP isn’t alone in still having plentiful egg on its face.

In late November, faux conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan refused to back down or revise a post entitled “No Suicide” that began by claiming that “That’s (i.e., that it wasn’t a suicide — Ed.) the one thing we know for certain now in the case of the Kentucky lynching.” Despite the obviousness of that opening, Sullivan, in a worse than pathetic response to Michelle Malkin’s call for a retraction, cited wiggly words he wrote later in the post to “prove” that he hadn’t really concluded that Sparkman’s death was a murder.

Sullivan wrapped his desultory defense by writing that “Malkin is a journalist in the sense that I am ‘far-left.’” Well Andrew, on this one you are far left and thus far have chosen to stay there, making Michelle one heck of a journalist by your own logic. Exactly what about your “No Suicide” title did we fail to understand? Today’s AP report gives you a second chance to man up; I would suggest that you take it, but you’re at least six years removed from listening to reason.

Maybe Sullivan and other lefties will resist pouncing on the next unclear situation that seems to favor their narrative until more facts are in, but I somehow doubt it.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Big Journalism Post: ‘Flight 253, and Surveilling Old Media’s Sausage Makers’

BigJournalismLogoI am pleased to report that Andrew Breitbart’s Big Journalism site put up the titled post, located here, a couple of hours ago (they’re on Pacific Time).

Intense thanks to:

  • Andrew, for listening to the general idea of my proposal.
  • Michael Walsh for getting with me so quickly, considering the idea, and promptly reviewing and editing what I hope will be one of many future posts.
  • BizzyBlog’s own Rose, who kept the site from going bare while I was thinking up and working through the post.

Stop the Presses II: AP’s Crutsinger Puts Up Another Decent Econ Report

APlogo0409Okay, who administered the truth serum to the Associated Press’s Martin Crutsinger? And will the person who did this kindly inform us when it will wear off?

On Thursday, for the second day in a row following a mostly fact-based report the previous day on Uncle Sam’s horrid fiscal situation, Crutsinger ran down a troubling economic report. This time it was December’s disappointing retail sales results. The AP writer even took readers on a walk through the historical archives to let them know just how bad December and all of 2009 really were. Pinch me to make sure I’m not dreaming.

Here are key paragraphs from the report:

December retail sales drop 0.3 percent

Retail sales fell in December as demand for autos, clothing and appliances all slipped, a disappointing finish to a year in which sales had the largest drop on record.

The weakness in consumer demand highlighted the formidable hurdles facing the economy as it struggles to recover from the deepest recession in seven decades.

The Commerce Department said Thursday that retail sales declined 0.3 percent in December compared with November, much weaker than the 0.5 percent rise that economists had been expecting. Excluding autos, sales dropped by 0.2 percent, also weaker than the 0.3 percent rise analyst had forecast.

For the year, sales fell 6.2 percent, the biggest decline on records that go back to 1992. The only other year that annual sales fell was in 2008, when they slipped by 0.5 percent.

The December drop in sales was a surprise given that the nation’s big retailers had reported better-than-expected results last week, reflecting a surge of last-minute holiday shopping. But even with the rebound reported by the nation’s biggest chains, these retailers suffered their worst annual performance in more than four decades in 2008, according to data from the International Council of Shopping Centers.

The 6.2 percent fall in the government’s retail sales figure is only the second decline on records that go back to 1992. In all other years, even during previous recessions, retail sales, which are not adjusted for inflation, have managed to increase.

Sales at specialty clothing stores fell by 0.6 percent while sales at general merchandise stores, a category that includes big retailers such as Wal-Mart, were down by 0.8 percent while sales at department stores were flat.

Sales at electronics and appliance stores dropped by 2.6 percent and sales at hardware stores dropped by 0.4 percent.

The weakness over the year reflected the battering that consumers have taken from the worst recession since the Great Depression, a downturn that has cost 7.2 million jobs and left households trying to rebuild savings depleted by losses on Wall Street and a crash in housing prices.

Once again, Crutsinger parted company with AP colleague Jeannine “Rebounding Economy” Aversa as he describes an economy that “struggles to recover.”

So why did the big stores mostly report modest increases while overall retail sales fell? I’m afraid the answer may be that smaller retailers still brave enough to keep the doors open got hammered. It should also not be forgotten that the “Uncertainty Economy” Barack Obama and Congress have created is working to inhibit those who might start up new retail operations that would replace the failed ones.

Maybe the AP’s newsroom has run out of lipstick to put on the economic pig. Whatever is going on, Obama administration apparatchiks and apologists cannot be pleased that Martin Crutsinger for the moment appears to have put a halt to the window-dressing.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

A Scott Brown Blowout? (UPDATE: A Bank Tax Reax?)

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:16 am

Hey, this is Massachusetts we’re talking about. I don’t think so.

But Roger Simon at Pajamas Media reports on a PJM poll that raises the possibility (internal link was in original):

A new poll taken Thursday evening for Pajamas Media by CrossTarget – an Alexandria VA survey research firm – shows Scott Brown, a Republican, leading Martha Coakley, a Democrat, by 15.4% in Tuesday’s special election for the open Massachusetts US Senate seat. The poll of 946 likely voters was conducted by telephone using interactive voice technology (IVR) and has a margin of error of +/- 3.19%.

This is the first poll to show Brown surging to such an extent. A poll from the Suffolk University Political Research Center – published Thursday morning by the Boston Herald, but taken earlier – had Brown moving ahead by 4%.

Unlike others who report on polls, Simon tells us how CrossTarget did theirs, up to and including the script.

We’ll see on Tuesday night, of course, but at a minimum, this offsets the Boston Globe’s poll short time ago showing Coakley up by 15.

And if Simon’s poll ends up resembling the actual result? It will be a major credibility blow to the Globe and its pollster, as well as others who generated similar pre-election results. Their only excuse, which mostly seems lame to me, would be massive last-minute movement to Brown.

________________________________________________

UPDATE: On the other hand, in a state that’s pretty strong in financial services, it’s at least possible that the punitive tax proposal (White House, cough-cough, “Fact Sheet” is here) targeting that industry coming directly from a bitter, spiteful, vindictive president displaying his true aggressively authoritarian, demagogic colors could be seriously swinging the momentum Brown’s way in the final days.

My reax to part of Obama’s screed against the banks yesterday was that I haven’t heard him this enthusiastic about anything since he made fun of Joe the Plumber on the campaign trail a couple of weeks before the 2008 Presidential election. He seems to barely tolerate many aspects of his job, but it seems that any opportunity to engage in anti-capitalistic faux-populist elitism gets him jazzed:

UPDATE 2: Post title of the day — “Coakley Putting Out Bids For Dead Girl, Live Boy.” I don’t think Confederate Yankee’s confidence is justified, but he’s definitely having fun.

Latest Pajamas Media Column (‘The Ghosts Haunting America’s Factories and Offices’) Is Up

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:46 am

ObamaPelosiReidKasichJebBush0110It’s here.

The subheadline:

Jeb Bush revived Florida. People like Ohio’s John Kasich can do the same, but only if Washington’s ghosts are tamed.

It will go up at BizzyBlog on Sunday morning (link won’t work until then) after the blackout expires.

Positivity: Seattle couple in Haiti suddenly become medical workers

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:40 am

From Petionville, Haiti:

Jesse Hagopian and his wife, Sarah Wilhelm, of Seattle, were in Haiti when the earthquake hit. Suddenly, they found themselves administering first aid to victims.

Jesse Hagopian is an unemployed Seattle teacher with no experience in mending broken bones. That all changed Tuesday evening as he ripped up bed sheets and placed splints on the fractured bones of the earthquake victims in Haiti who found their way to the Villa Creole in the Petionville suburb outside of Port-au-Prince.

Hagopian worked under the direction of an American medic whom he knew only as “J.H.” After the earthquake, J.H. took the lead in the emergency first-aid effort in the hotel’s circular front drive.

“People started coming with a broken leg, a broken arm,” Hagopian said in a Thursday telephone interview with The Seattle Times. “Then the floodgates started to open, and we had truckloads of people show up. I had to do a whole lot of procedures, and the injuries started getting worse.”

Hagopian, 31, had arrived in Haiti on Sunday along with his wife, Sarah Wilhelm, a public-health educator at the University of Washington who was going to spend 10 days working on an AIDS curriculum. Hagopian was laid off last year from his Madison Middle School teaching job. His main task while in Haiti was to take care of their 1-year-old son, Miles.

They survived the initial quake by taking cover under a hotel door frame. After the violent shaking ended, they went outside. Though part of the hotel collapsed, Hagopian said, all the guests appeared to have escaped without injury, including J.H., who soon drafted the couple to help care for the wounded, while Miles somehow was able to sleep nearby through most of the long, difficult night.

Hagopian said that J.H. “beyond a doubt” was a hero as he created the makeshift clinic without medical supplies. In addition to the broken bones, people had serious head injuries, chunks of flesh missing or gouged eyes. ….

Go here for the rest of the story.