November 28, 2011

AP’s Kravitz Creates False ‘Hope,’ Commits Flat-Out Falsehood in Oct. New-Home Sales Report

APabsolutelyPathetic0109This morning, the Census Bureau told us that 25,000 new homes were sold in October, which, after seasonal adjustment, works out to an annual rate of 307,000. This was up from a seasonally adjusted and downwardly revised (from 313,000) 303,000 in September. According to the first sentence of Derek Kravitz’s related report at the Associated Press, this constitutes a “hopeful sign,” even though October’s number could easily be revised downward, as September’s was.

Kravitz went further downhill in his fifth paragraph, descending into flat-out, undeniable falsehood (bold is mine):

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AP Reporter’s Item on Israel Reads Like a Leftist Political Stump Speech

In an item at the Associated Press datelined early Monday morning not labeled as “analysis” or otherwise characterized as the reporter’s point of view, the wire service’s Amy Teibel went on the attack against current developments in Israeli politics and society in extraordinarily harsh terms, to the point where her report could easily have been mistaken for a leftist’s political stump speech.

Teibel’s screed began with the headline (“A battle is raging for the soul of Israeli society”), and went downhill from there (what are in my view deliberately loaded words are in bold):

On billboards, on buses and in the halls of parliament, a battle is raging over the nature of Israel, raising ever more urgent questions over its future as a democracy.

Radicalized religious activists and conservative lawmakers see themselves as bulwarks against assaults on faith and country by rivals within multifaceted Israel and by the outside world.

Although the nationalist right includes many nonreligious Israelis and the religious camp is not exclusively nationalist, the overlap is strong, they are considered natural political allies, and they share a simmering historic grievance: a sense that Israel’s cosmopolitan elites – the courts, the media, even the army – should be brought into line with a more conservative populace.

Arrayed against them are secular Israelis, many of them liberal and European-descended – the group that established the country, long dominated its affairs, and has seen its majority dwindle.

They are horrified at the assault on what they consider a critical yet brittle achievement: Surrounded by dictatorships and theocracies, Israel is a place of pugnacious reporters and freewheeling human rights groups, a land where gay pride marches are commonplace and where it goes without saying that the Supreme Court can be led by a woman and include a prominent Arab.

Conservative Israelis are trying to force change as never before.

Towards the end of her 1,350-word writeup, Teibel gives readers the impression that the country is descending into a virtual Jewish version of sharia law, at least pertaining to the treatment of women:

In strictly religious neighborhoods, some women have taken to cloaking themselves head to toe, like fundamentalist women in the Islamic world, to comply with rabbis’ increasingly impassioned exhortations to dress modestly. The Jerusalem municipality has stepped in on another matter, saying it will not allow several ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods to carry out a plan to have segregated polling stations for community council elections.

… Last month, the Supreme Court stopped one Jerusalem neighborhood from designating heavily traveled areas off-limits to women during a holiday crush. The court also stepped in late last year to halt gender segregation on more than 80 bus lines.

While segregation has diminished sharply since that ruling, it was largely men in front and women in the back one recent morning on a line that runs through ultra-Orthodox Jewish enclaves in Jerusalem. The driver said that when women dare sit up front, male passengers sometimes still try to browbeat them into moving to the back.

My reaction to this was mixed, as on the one hand I know that there are Jewish enclaves in New York City visited often by Democratic politicians which practice a certain degree of gender segregation that as far as I can tell is voluntary, to which pols trolling for votes virtually never object, and which has even included actual political speeches. On the other hand, if everything Teibel describes in her final six paragraphs (some of which was not excerpted) is accurate, there may be cause for concern about where things are really heading in Israel.

So I consulted with someone in a position to render an informed comment, namely Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs, whom I thank for her prompt response. That response, in her inimitable and admirably frank style, read in part as follows:

There is no compulsion in Jewish law. It’s voluntary. Sharia is all compulsion. They are trying to equate the two. They are trying to paint all religions (or religious law) as oppressive and brutal as the sharia. There are no honor killings, clitorectomies, dehumanization, etc., of women (in Jewish law). Women are not chattel under Jewish law.

Great points as usual, Pamela.

Teibel did not get a comment from anyone concerning the gender segregation issue, which means that yours truly has done more she did in this regard.

Perhaps more disturbing than Teibel’s intensely slanted tirade is the URL of her report at the AP’s main site, which reads as follows:

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/M/ML_ISRAEL_THE_REMAKING_OF_ISRAEL?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

The article’s web address indicates that the wire service may be planning to do more reports on “the remaking of Israel.” Gosh, this wouldn’t have anything to do with the devolution of the so-called Arab Spring and the clear increase in anti-Israel hostility in the affected states and the related need to create “justifications” for attempts to marginalize the Jewish state, would it? (/sarc)

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Housing Update: Still Contracting After All These Years

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:15 pm

Even though much of the data came out last week, I saved this post for the Census Bureau’s New Residential Sales report which came out this morning.

Last week, the bureau’s construction release and its various reports told us that:

  • October building permits came in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 653,000 . Over 30% (202K) were for dwellings of five or more units, a percentage which has been pretty consistent during the past six months. An eyeball review indicates that this is a level generally last seen in mid- to late-2008, which single-family builders were slamming on the brakes. The POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy appears to be pushing lots of people into apartments. Not seasonally adjusted, the 51,200 permits actually issued was the best number in three years, but still 20% below 2008.
  • Reported seasonally adjusted annual housing starts were 628,000. The raw number of October starts of 54,000 was well above 2009 and 2010, but well below 2008.
  • Seasonally adjusted units completed (annual rate) of 584,000 were 6% lower than September. The raw number of completions of 52,700 was the worst October since recordkeeping began in 1968. For context, the lowest number of completions reported in any month between 1968 and 2008 was 72,500 in February 1991.
  • Seasonally adjusted units under construction were 419,000. The single-family element of that number (236,000) is the lowest ever on records going back to 1971. This is in a nation of well over 100 million households. The raw number of total units under construction was 428,200 (243,000 single-family).

The final two items indicate that the industry is still contracting. The relatively small pickups in starts and permits may indicate that builders are stockpiling permits and property for what they hope are better times down the road.

Today’s New Residential Sales report was also quite unimpressive:

Sales of new single-family houses in October 2011 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 307,000, according to estimates released jointly today by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This is 1.3 percent (±19.7%)* above the revised September rate of 303,000 and is 8.9 percent (±17.2%)* above the October 2010 estimate of 282,000.

The median sales price of new houses sold in October 2011 was $212,300; the average sales price was $242,300. The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of October was 162,000. This represents a supply of 6.3 months at the current sales rate.

September’s downward adjustment was from an annualized 313,000 to the 303,000 mentioned above. Year-to-date sales are down 7.5% from a year ago (259,000 vs. 280,000). There is no reasonable doubt that the final sales figure for 2011 will be lower than 2010.

Here’s what trailing 12-month new-home sales look like since the end of 2008:

12mosTrailingNewHomeSales2008toOct11

Taken as a whole, the industry’s single-family sector is still contracting, and operating at levels lower than any time since World War II.

The coverage at the Associated Press was even worse than normal. I’ll get to that later.

Pethokoukis: ‘No, the rich didn’t steal all the money’

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:55 pm

Former Reuters and US News columnist James Pethokoukis, who now plies his trade at the American Enterprise Institute’s Enterprise Blog, has been hitting it out of the park for the last couple of months dispelling the Occupy movement-driven myth of decades-long growing income inequality.

Here’s the truth — “median income and consumption both rose by more than 50 percent in real terms between 1980 and 2009″:

IncomeAndConsumption1980to2009

Pethoukoukis’s comment: “Income inequality may have increased in recent decades, but a stagnating middle class has not been the result. And the 1 percent didn’t steal all the money.”

My addition: If anything the decline seen in the last two years graphed, driven by the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy since May or June of 2008, are making inequality worse. If anybody deserves demonization, it’s those whose economic policies have fed and continue to feed those declines.

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UPDATE: There’s a very important fundamental truth hiding in plain sight in the graph above, namely that consumption ticked steadily upward for over 35 years despite temporary periods of flatness in pre-tax and after-tax income plus non-cash benefits.

Then along came the POR Economy. Not only is the economic environment it has created simply awful, it has cleared sucked the optimism out of consumers. Best evidence: The orange line moved up in 2009, but consumption went down — the only decline in the entire graph. It’s hard to see how one nominally very good Black Friday, whose improvement may have been driven as much by the extra hours stores were open than by improved consumer outlooks or pocketbook conditions, changes that.

UPDATE 2, 4:25 p.m.: Also note that the orange-up, green-down direction of 2009 in the graph above directly contradicts the claim that government stimulus has any kind of meaningful multiplier effect.

Modern Obamavilles …

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:25 pm

… mostly created since 2009, are mobile (“Hard Times Generation: Families living in cars”).

CBS is at least two years late to the story.

Meanwhile, “Obama Keeps Turning His Back on Jobs.”

If Democrats and the left had brains, they’d realize that it’s their policies which have created current conditions.

If they had a conscience, they would change course. They won’t, because they don’t.

They must be driven from office at every level.

Latest PJ Media Column (‘Cincinnati’s Thanksgiving Day ‘Occupation”) Is Up

It’s here.

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

Go to PJM to read about “an occupation which accomplished something — as it does every year.”

Monday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (112811)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 7:15 am

Rules are here. Possible comment fodder follows. Other topics are also fair game.

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A quick overview of “Climategate 2.0,” which has confirmed the worst of the original Climategate and more, from the UK Daily Mail:

Climategate scientists DID collude with government officials to hide research that didn’t fit their apocalyptic global warming
- 5,000 leaked emails reveal scientists deleted evidence that cast doubt on claims climate change was man-made
- Experts were under orders from US and UK officials to come up with a ‘strong message’
- Critics claim: ‘The stink of intellectual corruption is overpowering’

James Delingpole has more at the Wall Street Journal — “They show that major scientists who inform the IPCC can’t be trusted to stick to the science and avoid political activism. This, in turn, has very worrying implications for the major international policy decisions adopted on the basis of their research.” There shouldn’t be ANY international policy decisions adopted on the basis of their research, let alone major ones.

Christopher Booker bottom-lines it at the UK Telegraph (HT to the Global Warming Policy Foundation’s daily email) — “The scare over man-made global warming is not only the scientific scandal of our generation, but a suicidal flight from reality.” American policymakers are still engaged in that suicidal flight.

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The headline for this item should be “Death Row Inmate Smarter Than Governor” — “(Two-time murderer Gary Haugen,) who was scheduled to be executed next month is now slamming (Oregon) Gov. John Kitzhaber for giving him a reprieve, saying the governor didn’t have the guts to carry out the execution.”

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Tim Tebow is 5-1 as a starting Denver Broncos quarterback. I can’t explain it, but I’m lovin’ it.

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From Syracuse: “ESPN reporter explains why Fine tape wasn’t released in 2002.” I don’t like the “explanation” one bit. Just as Joe Paterno had a duty to do more than he did at Penn State, ESPN had a responsibility to do something. And I really despise the claim in a separate item that an ESPN reporter is an “average person” with no obligation to do anything beyond the average citizen. Because they did nothing, now-fired Syracuse assistant coach Bernie Fine was able to engage in child abuse for another nine years. That’s unacceptable.

Update, 1:30 p.m.: I see that Rush Limbaugh (“ESPN Sat on Molestation Tape Since 2002″) is also quite critical of ESPN — “… see how fast ESPN would have put out that tape if this Bernie Fine guy had said something questioning the media hype around Donovan McNabb. See how fast ESPN would have put that out if it was a young girl that was molested.”

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Brian at Repeal the 17th has raised alarms about S.1867, the National Defense Authorization Act (full act here; large PDF). It deserves scrutiny for at least the following reason: “The bill was drafted in secret by Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) and passed in a closed-door committee meeting, without even a single hearing.”

If it’s not the threat to basic freedoms opponents believe it is, politicians need to show us why it’s not — make that PROVE that it’s not — way before it gets to a final vote.

Occupy Update (112811)

Filed under: Activism,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:06 am

No shortage of material, that’s for sure, related to the Obama-endorsed (proof hereherehere, and hereOccupy movement.

This will have to keep going for a couple of days to capture items which I believe readers should know and which I want to retain for future reference.

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Protester child abuse, a 50-year tradition: As seen in a USA Today item which attempts to glorify the marvelous diversity of the movement (based on an online survey!?), there’s this from “Barbara Schlachet, 75, a psychoanalyst from New York’s Greenwich Village” — “She brought her own children to anti-Vietnam War rallies. ‘They got tear-gassed in their strollers,’ she says with a touch of pride.”

Related, at the Media Research Center: “Boston Globe Reporter Drags 11-Year-Old Daughter to Occupy Boston.”

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I thought they said they wanted jobs? From Philadelphia, where a grand crowd of 50(!) is holding out: “Mayor Michael Nutter had set a deadline of 5 p.m. Sunday for the protesters to leave. On Friday, he gave them 48 hours to remove their tents so the city could begin a $50 million, 27-month park renovation that Nutter says will create 1,000 jobs.”

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I don’t see a lot of what the AP in a separate report described as “distance” from the Occupy movement on the part of at least one Democrat in this item from Los Angeles:

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa gave a lengthy tribute to Occupy LA protesters on Friday before telling them they must leave their encampment on the lawn of City Hall by 12:01 a.m. Monday, citing public health and safety concerns.

Villaraigosa, who has expressed sympathy for the protest’s aims from its beginning seven weeks ago, announced the ouster at an afternoon news conference with police Chief Charlie Beck. He said the movement that has spread in two months from New York to numerous other U.S. cities has “awakened the country’s conscience” — but also trampled grass at City Hall that must be restored.

“The movement is at a crossroads,” the mayor said. “It is time for Occupy LA to move from holding a particular patch of park land to spreading the message of economic justice and signing more people up for the push to restore the balance to American society.”

That would be the hopelessly corrupt Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

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Irony alert, from Sacramento — Astute readers will have no problem detecting it, while I’ve bolded the first couple of phrases to give others a hint:

Michele Waldinger, 57, a retired attorney who used to work for the U.S. Small Business Administration, said she joined the group to lend her voice to the Occupy effort to restore a social safety net and get corporate influence out of American politics.

“I support the movement, I support getting money out of politics and I support having people shop locally,” she said.

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On Friday, George Mason economics prof, occasional Rush Limbaugh guest host, and columnist Walter E. Williams had a great column (well, they all are), which was carried at NewsBusters:

What the ‘Occupiers’ Don’t Get Is How the Wealthy Enrich Us All

Thomas Edison invented the incandescent bulb, the phonograph, the DC motor and other items in everyday use and became wealthy by doing so. Thomas Watson founded IBM and became rich through his company’s contribution to the computation revolution. Lloyd Conover, while in the employ of Pfizer, created the antibiotic tetracycline. Though Edison, Watson, Conover and Pfizer became wealthy, whatever wealth they received pales in comparison with the extraordinary benefits received by ordinary people.

In a free society, for the most part, people with high incomes have demonstrated extraordinary ability to produce valuable services for — and therefore please — their fellow man. People voluntarily took money out of their pockets to purchase the products of Gates, Pfizer or IBM. High incomes reflect the democracy of the marketplace.

Read the whole thing.

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The latest Maxine WatersThat’s Life, It Happens” counts:

Don’t Know What’s More Disturbing About This Video …

Filed under: Activism,Economy — Tom @ 6:30 am

… The choices are:

  • The idea that protesters believe that “occupying” and disrupting a Wal-Mart store on Black Friday does anything to advance their cause.
  • The mindless repetition of the protest leader’s chants by the sheep who follow him.

I can’t imagine grown independent “adults” doing the latter, but we’re seeing it all around the country. Think for yourselves, people.

Watch:

“Labor Union Report” at RedState notes that ten Occupy OKC protesters had the privilege of “occupying” handcuffs and were arrested for their actions.

Positivity: Mother’s delight for miracle twins

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:56 am

From Dublin, Ireland:

Thursday November 17 2011

A MOTHER has told how her miracle twins defied the odds to survive after being born more than three months early.

Aisling Byrne only knew she was carrying twins after she had her first scan four and a half months into her pregnancy. Just six weeks later, the two boys arrived without a sound.

“There was no crying when they were born, nothing. We weren’t allowed to hold them, they had to be rushed to intensive care,” she recalled.

She and her partner Keith Corbally have come a long way since that rollercoaster day in June 2010 and are now busy trying to keep up with their 17-month-olds, Ben and Sam, as they crawl and climb their way about their north Dublin home.

Their story comes as the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street in Dublin today launches a new book for parents of babies in neonatal care.

Children now have better chances of surviving than ever before. Previously babies born weighing 2lb 8oz had a 90pc chance of dying — now, they have a 90pc chance of survival.

When they were born, Ben weighed 2lb 6oz, while his little brother Sam was 2oz lighter.

Aisling and Keith were eventually able to take them from the incubator for periods of ‘kangaroo care’ where they held them on their chests under their clothes for skin-to-skin contact.

Go here for the rest of the story.