May 11, 2011

IBD Calls Out ‘Media Malpractice’ in Mississippi Flooding Coverage

Just barely a year after it derided the establishment media’s obsession over oil-affected birds in the Gulf of Mexico while virtually ignoring the loss human life in awful floods in Tennessee (noted at the time at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), Investors Business Daily’s editorialists are calling out the press for oversaturating us with Obama-OBL victory lap coverage at the expense of informing the nation about the severity of this year’s horrible Mississippi River flooding.

IBD makes great points in the following excerpts (bolds are mine):

In a record year for natural disasters, the Mississippi’s worst flooding since 1927 may be the year’s most consequential. It ought to lead the news. But the Beltway media-political complex is more interested in press games.

… to be fair, it’s not because the local press in affected areas haven’t done decent reporting.

The problem lies in Washington. The White House has made no declarations, showed no leadership, and done all it can to keep the issue off the front page.

It has quietly declared disaster areas in parts of Louisiana, Tennessee, Missouri, Kentucky, but not even issued a statement of support for the 4,000 families in this storied region of American literary and musical traditions who have lost their homes.

Nor, apparently, did Obama even look out his Air Force One window to see the devastation below as he flew to Texas to raise campaign funds.

Instead, we see the old Washington power game played out between White House operatives and the press: the steady drip, drip, drip of little details about the SEAL raid on Osama bin Laden.

This keeps that Obama-centered story on the front page — and the biggest flooding in a century, off.

… The flooding provides the White House with no political advantage. If anything, it shows that despite $787 billion in federal stimulus, the U.S. flood control system remains archaic. During Hurricane Katrina, that was a big issue. During this Mississippi crisis, it’s not.

… a flood of this magnitude ought to be an occasion for White House leadership, because most certainly the last one was: “The 1927 event flooded almost 1% of the entire United States and absolutely riveted the nation’s attention, probably even more so than (Hurricane) Katrina,” said John M. Barry, author of “Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood And How It Changed America” in an interview with NPR.

For some reason, this one doesn’t.

Other portions of the IBD editorial point to potentially serious economic impacts resulting from the floods, including threats to two oil refineries, just in time for summer driving season. That’s when the press will take notice of the disaster — when they’re looking for ready-made reasons why the price of gas has reached record levels, and why the economy continues to seriously underperform both current expectations and the Reagan post-recession boom years.

I should also note that Democratic Party icon Franklin Delano Roosevelt took the time in 1937 to fly over the devastated Ohio River valley during its unprecedented flooding, in an era when such excursions were much more logistically difficult. According to the liner notes for “The Thousand Year Flood,” he also “dispatched thousands of relief workers.” Yesterday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters, when asked if there were “any plans for the President to take a closer look at the impact of the flooding,” that he didn’t “have any scheduling updates.”

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Poll-Cooking With AP: Obama Approval at 60% — With 46-29 Dem-GOP Split

CookingWithAP1109The chefs in the kitchens at AP-GfK, a joint effort of the Associated Press and GfK Roper Public Affairs & Corporate Communications, have been working overtime cooking up a scrumptious dish for fans of Barack Obama and the Democratic Party.

After tasting the output this morning, the AP’s Liz Sidoti and Jennifer Agiesta could hardly contain their glee (also saved here for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes):

President Barack Obama’s approval rating has hit its highest point in two years – 60 percent – and more than half of Americans now say he deserves to be re-elected, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll taken after U.S. forces killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

In March, the same poll had the president’s approval rating at 53%. The graphic on the right below, obtained from the the poll’s “topline” at AP-GfK’s web site, reveal that the AP pair enjoy feasting on empty calories:

GfKpollSamplesJanMarMay2011The graphic demonstrates that even March’s 53% Obama approval rating was cooked, as its Democrat-Republican-Independent mix of 45-33-4 is wildly at odds with more comprehensive polls, like this one from January at Gallup showing a 45-44 Democrat-Republican split.

In May, AP-GfK doubled down on the filler. The 46% Democrat, 29% Republican, and 4% independent sample makeup alone is responsible for at least five points of the 7% “bounce” from March. The increase from 17% in March to 20% in May in the “Don’t Know” component, a group which would seem to be more likely impressed by the most recent news reports they may have seen or heard than others, could explain the other two points. If so, May’s cooked poll, adjusted for the change in recipe ingredients, would show no bounce.

The latest poll’s sample is so laughably distorted that Sidoti and Agiesta should be ashamed of themselves as journalists for taking its results seriously. Instead, they’ve reacted like over-candied kids. Their report, to coin a phrase, spikes the football, and even tries to create a sense of further momentum:

In worrisome signs for Republicans, the president’s standing improved not just on foreign policy but also on the economy, and independent Americans – a key voting bloc in the November 2012 presidential election – caused the overall uptick in support by sliding back to Obama after fleeing for much of the past two years.

Comfortable majorities of the public now call Obama a strong leader who will keep America safe. Nearly three-fourths – 73 percent – also now say they are confident that Obama can effectively handle terrorist threats. And he improved his standing on Afghanistan, Iraq and the United States’ relationships with other countries.

… Overall, Obama’s approval rating is up slightly from 53 percent in March and a 47 percent low point following last fall’s midterm congressional elections, in which Republicans won control of the House and gained seats in the Senate. It was 64 percent in May 2009, just months after he was sworn into office.

Also, 53 percent now say he deserves to be re-elected; 43 percent say he should be fired, making it the first time in an AP-GfK poll that more people say he should get a second term than not.

It seems likely that a party-ID makeup in the neighborhood of January’s, which is still a bit distorted compared to Gallup’s 45-44 split, would have returned a May presidential approval result of about 50%.

The sad thing is that the AP surely knows that folks like yours truly and others will see through the poll’s outrageous distortion. It seems pretty obvious that they don’t care. What’s appears to be far more important to the self-described Essential Global News Network is convincing the relatively less-informed who will see or hear the fantabulous 60% headline and won’t look any further that the President is hugely popular, that his popularity is growing, and that they might as well get used to having Barack Obama in charge until January 20, 2017 — while of course betting that most readers and viewers will never see the dirty work done in the kitchen that brought about the phony results.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

______________________________________________

BizzyBlog Update: Lots of others have pounced on the disgraceful AP-GfK poll, including Jim Geraghty at National Review, Captain Ed at Hot Air, and el Rushbo, with this take (link will become unavailable in a week –

Folks, get this and put it in perspective for you. Some of the other polling data that is out there. Rasmussen Reports the Obama approval index at Rasmussen is minus 12. His “strongly approve” number is 25% at Rasmussen; his “strongly disapprove” number is 37%. The overall, total approval for Obama at Rasmussen is 48%. Gallup is about the same. The Wall Street Journal is about the same. AP is a nightmare.

So of course George Stephanopoulos cited only the AP poll this morning.

As He Issues Layoff Notices, AP Gives Conn. Governor Malloy Kid-Glove Treatment

(Originally posted in the very early morning; carried to the top or close to the top for visibility.)

______________________________________

Connecticut Governor Daniel Malloy has called himself the “anti-Christie” because of his willingness to raise taxes to help balance the Nutmeg State’s budget. By contrast, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the object of Malloy’s scorn, recently ruled out tax increases, as he has been doing ever since he became governor in 2010.

Malloy’s recently passed taxes amounting to an estimated $1.4 billion annually include property tax hikes which according to a recent Wall Street Journal editorial (quoted at link’s third item) amount to “$500 a year for the average homeowner.”

But Malloy still needs to balance the budget by extracting significant cost savings from the state’s recalcitrant employee unions, and guess what? Just like Wisconsin’s Republican Governor Scott Walker, he’s staring at the need to resort to layoffs if he can’t reduce employment costs. But unlike the Associated Press’s militant reporters in Wisconsin, the AP’s Susan Haigh in Hartford is letting Malloy off relatively easy, as seen in these excerpts from her Tuesday evening report:

Conn. gov issues layoff notices amid labor talks

Connecticut’s Democratic governor increased the pressure Tuesday on state employee unions to agree to $2 billion in concessions and other savings over two years and began issuing the first of more than 4,700 layoff notices to workers.

… “The governor is very sensitive to the fact that there are people who are being impacted by these decisions. He understands the angst they feel, that some people are angry, some people are nervous. (He) didn’t want it to come to this. (He) still hopes there can be a deal that will make all of this go away, but has to do certain things to prepare for a scenario in which there is no deal,” Occhiogrosso said.

… Leo Canty, second vice president of the American Federation of Teachers, said Malloy’s so-called “Plan B,” an alternative budget being considered in case there is no deal before the fiscal year ends on June 30, basically shuts down the vocational technical high school system.

Malloy had delayed issuing the notices Friday to give both sides more time to talk. But Occhiogrosso said the new governor, who received strong support from union members in last year’s campaign, decided to begin issuing layoffs on Tuesday because not enough progress had been made to warrant further delay.

In the meantime, talks were expected to continue, but on a “day-by-day basis,” according to Matt O’Connor, spokesman for the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition, the group that represents 15 state employee unions in the closed-door talks.

… Both sides have been tight-lipped about any specifics from the talks, but Malloy referred to trying to bring state workers’ benefits – wages, healthcare and pension benefits – “more in line with those enjoyed by their counterparts in the private sector and in the federal workforce.”

He said the union leaders have not offered enough so far.

“I simply refuse to dig us into a deeper hole,” said Malloy, referring to Connecticut’s various fiscal problems, including large, unfunded pension liabilities for state employees.

“In line” with “the private sector”? Gosh, Malloy is sounding a lot like Chris Christie and Scott Walker these days. In fact, in trying to address wages in addition to health care, pension, and other benefits, he’s arguably going further than Walker did during the Badger State’s two-month stand-off, which featured daily pro-labor demonstration in the state’s Capitol and Democratic legislators who fled the state for several weeks in a failed attempt to keep Walker’s initiatives from passing. Of course, Walker’s legislation significantly curtailed the scope of collective bargaining discussions in Wisconsin, but as I recall it he never threatened to cut employees’ current gross pay.

If Malloy were a Republican instead of a Democrat trying to force concessions, I dare say that Susan Haigh would not have demonstrated anywhere near the restraint she showed in her coverage of what may shortly turn into a Nutmeg powder keg. AP reporters Scott Bauer and Todd Richmond in Wisconsin surely didn’t.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Walter Williams on New Minimum Wage Study: Black Males Hit Hardest

Filed under: Economy,Positivity,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:30 am

Professor “Black by Popular Demand” comments on a new study documenting minimum wage laws’ disproportionate impact on minorities:

Their study demonstrates that increases in the minimum wage at both the state and federal level are partially to blame for the crisis in employment for minority young adults.

Their study focuses on 16-to-24-year-old male high school dropouts, understandably a relatively inexperienced group of labor market participants.

… Among the white males, the authors find that “each 10% increase in a state or federal minimum wage has decreased employment by 2.5%; for Hispanic males, the figure is 1.2%.

“But among black males in this group, each 10% increase in the minimum wage decreased employment by 6.5%.”

Racers (those who believe that race and racism explain almost everything, when they explain almost nothing) would of course contend that racism is the primary factor in this. As usual, they’re wrong. Williams elaborates:

Why do young black males suffer unequal harm from minimum wage increases? Even and Macpherson say that they’re more likely to be employed in low-skilled jobs in eating and drinking establishments.

These are businesses with narrow profit margins and are more adversely affected by increases in minimum wage increases.

… The best way to sabotage chances for upward mobility of a youngster from a single-parent household, who resides in a violent slum and has attended poor-quality schools is to make it unprofitable for any employer to hire him.

The way to accomplish that is to mandate an employer to pay such a person a wage that exceeds his skill level.

… Minimum wage laws have massive political support, including that of black politicians. That means that many young black males will remain a part of America’s permanent underclass with crime, drugs and prison as their future.

Meanwhile, these same politicians continue to portrary themselves as the heroes of the underclass, when they really are doing is working to keep the underclass right where they are.

The press release accompanying the underlying study at the Employment Policy Institute says it best:

Minimum wage increases remain politically popular, which means they’ll continue to be debated at the state and federal level for years to come. But the debate on the employment consequences of the minimum wage has been settled conclusively, and this research proves that those consequences are felt most by young black males.

Positivity: Notre Dame drops charges against pro-life protesters

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 5:58 am

From South Bend, Indiana:

May 7, 2011 / 06:04 pm

An Indiana prosecutor has dropped charges against almost all of the “ND88” pro-life demonstrators arrested for protesting President Barack Obama’s 2009 commencement appearance at the University of Notre Dame.

St. Joseph County prosecutor Michael Dvorak dropped the criminal trespass charges as part of an agreement between the Chicago-based Thomas More Society and the university.

“This is a big step forward and a victory for the pro-life cause,” said Tom Brejcha, Thomas More Society president and chief counsel.

Though the long controversy had generated bitter feelings, each side emphasized the need to reconcile.

Notre Dame president Fr. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. said he was “sincerely pleased” that the charges have been dismissed.

“From the start, everyone involved in this difficult matter has been in complete accord on the sanctity of human life, and we all remain committed to continuing our work to support life from conception to natural death,” he said.

Brejcha voiced appreciation for the steps Notre Dame has taken to mark the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision on abortion. He noted Fr. Jenkins’ participation in the March for Life in Washington, D.C. in 2010 and 2011.

“Those who share pro-life convictions may differ on tactics and approaches, but they best serve their sacred cause when they work together to secure the common good for all human beings, born and unborn alike, rather than carrying on as courtroom antagonists,” Brejcha said.

The Thomas More Society said both parties remain in “profound disagreement” over the commencement but they have decided to “put their differences behind them” and affirm their agreement on pro-life issues.

Both parties have pledged “not to rehash the events of the past” but to recognize each other’s pro-life efforts and to work together to maximize their impact on the “contentious” debate over abortion.

At the time of the protests, opponents of President Obama’s commencement speech and honorary degree cited his support for abortion and the Catholic bishops’ instructions against honoring political leaders who support abortion.

Many were arrested on campus at the time of the commencement. The 94 arrestees included Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry and Obama’s Illinois U.S. Senate race opponent Alan Keyes.

Demonstrators engaged in prayer and held pro-life signs. Their defenders said Notre Dame engaged in discriminatory treatment by allowing demonstrators supportive of Obama on campus. They also said that participants in past unauthorized protests, including pro-homosexual rights and anti-ROTC demonstrations, were not treated as harshly.

The Sycamore Trust, a Notre Dame alumni group dedicated to supporting the university’s Catholic identity, said it would have been “far better” had the university dropped the case two years ago.

Go here for the rest of the story.