December 22, 2011

WaPo’s Gowen Hits Hard at Kansas Governor Brownback’s First Year in Charge

In her profile of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback on Wednesday, the Washington Post’s Annie Gowen went through the predictable leftist checklist of things that should supposedly cause the rest of America not to like him. A state taken over by “tea party fervor”? Check. “Slashed” funding for “schools, social services and the arts”? Check. Imply that his predecessor, radical proabort and ObamaCare implementer Kathleen Sebelius, is a “moderate,” and that he is somehow breaking a tradition of moderation? Check. Finding an old-line Republican who thinks he’s going too far? Check. Oh, and mentioning that the eeeeeevil Koch brothers, who like the guy and have given him money (that might have something to do with the fact that Koch is headquartered in Wichita)? Check.

Here are excerpts from Gowen’s report (HT Norma at Collecting My Thoughts, whose reaction is “Something good is happening in Kansas”; bolds are mine):

In Kansas, Gov. Sam Brownback puts tea party tenets into action with sharp cuts

If you want to know what a Tea Party America might look like, there is no place like Kansas.

In the past year, three state agencies have been abolished and 2,050 jobs have been cut. Funding for schools, social services and the arts have been slashed. The new Republican governor rejected a $31.5 million federal grant for a new health-insurance exchange because he opposes President Obama’s health-care law. And that’s just the small stuff.

… in Kansas, as nowhere else in the country, tea party fervor is reshaping government. The same political forces of the Republican Party driving the confrontation over taxes and spending in Washington are now completely in charge in Kansas.

The GOP now controls the state’s House of Representatives with the biggest majority in half a century. Emboldened by this power shift, Brownback — the state’s former two-term U.S. senator — has embarked on his overhaul at a breathtaking pace.

… The governor has said his main concerns are creating jobs, cutting taxes and bringing new businesses to the state, which has been losing population to domestic migration over the past decade and ranks near the bottom in private-sector job creation.

at the state level, Kansans have routinely elected moderate Republican governors. More recently, the state elected Democrat Kathleen Sebelius, now President Obama’s secretary of health and human services.

… “For 40 years, we had this moderate Republican-Democratic coalition running the state, and suddenly it’s pretty much gone,” said Burdett Loomis, a political science professor at the University of Kansas.

… The Kansas Policy Institute, where Brownback delivered his recent speech to warm applause, is funded by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch.

The Kochs “have been handed the keys to the governor’s office,” said state Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, a Democrat.

“I think a lot of people don’t realize the role government plays in their lives until it’s gone,” (said Bill Kassebaum, a Republican former state representative and son of former U.S. senator Nancy Landon Kassebaum). “They may not be happy with what’s left.”

Gowen also treats Brownback’s personal faith-driven efforts to reduce abortions and strengthen marriage as something out of order and unusual, but of course says not a word about how Sebelius went to extraordinary lengths to defend even practitioners of late-term abortions when she was governor.

Even the writer of the article’s picture caption tried to get in on the act, but the best that person could come up with as a criticism was: “Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas is a career politician.” Brownback spent several years as an attorney before he began his career in politics as the Sunflower State’s Agriculture Secretary. When is the last time the WaPo or any other establishment press outlet called New York Senator Chuck Schumer, who really has never done anything except hold political office, a “career politician” in a supposedly straight news piece?

Make no mistake what Gowen is up to. She is laying down a marker for future reference by the rest of the press so they can drum up a “far-right extremist” theme for Brownback should he ever try to return to national politics or even run for President.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Searching for Christmas: Year 7, Round 3

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance — Tom @ 5:37 pm

This is the third of three searches done this year. The other two were just before Thanksgiving and on December 8.

As was the case with those two searches, I’m just doing the Google News searches quickly today, given other commitments.

For those who are relatively new and need background, go here to last year’s post on the first set of searches on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Basically, the idea is to demonstrate the press’s preference for using the word “holiday” over “Christmas” in describing the shopping season, while using the word “Christmas” with greater frequency in connection with layoffs, and to see how things might be changing over time.

Here goes this year’s third pass:

As was the case in this year’s first pass, that seems like an extraordinarily low percentage for the “Christmas” component.

Now on to the second set of searches:

  • Christmas layoffs (not in quotes, also excluding the word “challenger” to ensure that about 30 items relating to the mass layoffs report issued by Challenger & Christmas were exluded) — 372, or 25.9%
  • Holiday layoffs (not in quotes) — 729, or 50.8%
  • Holidays layoffs (not in quotes) — 335, or 23.3%

I’ll put up a post about this year’s results tonight or tomorrow after Christmas Day.

What’s Missing From This Email?

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:00 pm

I received the following from the Obama campaign early this afternoon:

ObamaSignTheCardEmail122211

It’s missing something very important — at least something people expecting a modicum of politeness and civility would expect. I think many readers will figure it out pretty quickly, but I’ll create a little suspense around it and wait until after the jump to reveal it.

For those engaging in snark, the really big omission is not “a competent president” (though true) or “a First Lady content to let us eat what we want” (ditto). And it’s not “children who attend public schools because their parents practice what they preach” (again, true).

Additionally, the email is of course devoid of anything that might relate to a religious or other holiday, lest anyone get their precious little feeeeeeeewings hurt. But even that isn’t the most important omission.

No, what’s lacking is even more fundamental — something our mothers told us to do whenever we make a request:
(more…)

Latest PJ Media Column (‘Super Dupers Ignore the ‘Tea Party Budget’ — and Reality’)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:05 am

It’s here.

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

The column runs down last month’s Supercommittee fiasco, which is a bit dated at this point, but also introduces readers to the FreedomWorks “Tea Party Budget,” which is as badly needed now as it was when the Supercommittee and the rest of Congress stonewalled them and prevented a hearing about their plan.

Gross Domestic Product Growth (3Q11), December Revision: An Annualized 1.8%, Down From 2.0% (Update: Private Sector GDP STILL Smaller Than Before Recession Began)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:24 am

ReaganVsObamaThru9Qtrs122211(Carried forward from original post time just before the report’s release. An updated comparison of the Reagan-era recovery compared to the current “recovery” is at right. Also, see Updates below)

_________________________

The original estimate for third-quarter 2011 growth in Gross Domestic Product was an annualized 2.5%.

That was revised downward to 2.0% in November.

So what will happen today?

Predictions are for no change (here and here).

The report will be here at 8:30 a.m.

HERE IT IS — Down she goes, yet again (full release here):

Real gross domestic product — the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States — increased at an annual rate of 1.8 percent in the third quarter of 2011 (that is, from the second quarter to the third quarter), according to the “third” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the second quarter, real GDP increased 1.3 percent.

… The increase in real GDP in the third quarter primarily reflected positive contributions from nonresidential fixed investment, personal consumption expenditures (PCE), exports, and federal government spending that were partly offset by negative contributions from private inventory investment and state and local government spending. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.

The acceleration in real GDP in the third quarter primarily reflected accelerations in PCE, in nonresidential fixed investment, and in exports, and a smaller decrease in state and local government spending that were partly offset by a larger decrease in private inventory investment.

Expect media reporting to be dominated by the following: “Yeah, but the fourth quarter will be 3% or more. It really, really will be. Please believe us.”

__________________________________

UPDATE: Growth during the first three quarter of 2011 has averaged less than 1.2%. Pathetic — and for those who remain unemployed, underemployed, and on the sidelines in withdrawal, tragic.

UPDATE 2: The private sector is STILL smaller than it was at the end of 2007, the quarter-end just after when the National Bureau of Economic Research says the recession began. It’s also now smaller than it was during the second quarter of 2008, when the recession as normal people define it began. The economy as a whole is just barely larger by either definition. Here’s the related info (in billions of 2005 chained dollars):

GDPprivateAndPublicTo3Q11at122211

Thus, nine quarters after the recession’s end (regardless of when you think it began), it is still quite fair for those in the private sector to ask: “Rebound? What Rebound?

Unemployment Claims: 364K SA, 418K NSA, Picture Improving

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:57 am

From the Department of Labor:

SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

In the week ending December 17, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 364,000, a decrease of 4,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 368,000. The 4-week moving average was 380,250, a decrease of 8,000 from the previous week’s revised average of 388,250. …

UNADJUSTED DATA

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 418,466 in the week ending December 17, a decrease of 17,256 from the previous week. There were 495,548 initial claims in the comparable week in 2010.

Today’s figure is the lowest since April 2008.

Business Insider’s email predicted 380K. AP had 375K.

After it’s revised this week will more than likely end up being the same as last week. But it will represent two genuinely improved weeks compared to the mostly dismal news of the past nine months, the last time hopes that there might be a somewhat permanent improvement were dashed.

Keep in mind that, as Ed Morrissey pointed out last week at Hot Air, “covered employment” is about 6% lower than it was in late 2008 (126.2 million now vs. 133.9 million then). All things being equal, that should keep the benchmark for genuine, sustained improvement at about 350K instead of the 375K the press has generally been touting for some time.

Let’s hope the number keeps coming down, but never forget this context: It’s taken the Obama economy 3-1/2 years to get to where most recoveries were after two or three quarters — if the current trend continues.

__________________________________________

UPDATE: Captain Ed believes that the genuine improvement threshold number should be “325K or lower.”

UPDATE 2: Zero Hedge’s reax“In other news, the BLS reports that US businesses have increasingly less temporary workers left to fire …”

Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (122211)

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

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

__________________________________________

Mark at Weapons of Mass Discussion, pointing to a Rasmussen poll showing that 70% favor it, notes out how out of touch Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted is on the issue of requiring voter identification at the polls. Husted asserted during the 2010 GOP primary campaign that he was a big fan of the voter ID requirement, but changed his mind (or revealed his true state of mind all along) only a year later once safely in office. Update for emphasis: And yes, as Mark noted, this puts Husted in the same camp as Eric Holder.

Properly characterized at Drudge (“Obama calls Boehner, Reid amid tax cut standoff”) — “Obama phones it in.”

You can’t make this stuff up“(Ron) Paul in January: Say, that Bradley Manning is a patriotic, heroic kind of guy, isn’t he?”

Shelia Jackson Lee“Rep. Jackson Lee: Obama Should Extend Payroll Tax Cut, Jobless Benefits By Executive Order.” Really, why bother with representative government? It’s such a hassle.

More maturity from the Executive Branch“Want Answers About Fast and Furious? You’re a Racist.”

Positivity: School creates action figures of saints for kids

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:00 am

From Denver:

Dec 19, 2011 / 05:26 pm

St. Michael the Archangel is the model for a saint-based action figure, part of a new “Action Saints” series from the Denver-based Kolbe Film School. The series is intended to engage children in their faith and help them get acquainted with the saints.

The poseable, four-inch-tall figures “provide children the ability to put the heroes of our faith in action,” Kolbe Film School said.

“St. Michael leads the holy angels, saints, and the Church militant over the evil powers against the Church today — a true hero for our times.”

The figures’ creators said that figures of saints tend to be “dangerous and breakable ceramic, metal and glass statues,” not something that children can play with. They contended that these statues convey to children the message “Do not touch!”

The creators saw the need for child-friendly figures after hearing parents’ stories about their son who loves to play with a St. Michael statuette, even though he has broken off its wings and punctured himself with its spear. …

Go here for the rest of the story, and the web site which carries the action figures.