March 8, 2012

Rush Rips AP’s Rugaber for ‘Intentionally Misleading’ in Report on Unemployment Claims

APheartsObamaEarlier today (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted the press’s ridiculously forgiving coverage of today’s reported increase in unemployment claims while concentrating primarily on RTT News’s absurd assertion that the unemployment rate should continue to come down as long as weekly claims stay below 400,000. Three years ago, Christopher Rugaber’s threshold at the Associated Press, also known to yours truly as the Administration’s Press, was 325,000. He has since raised it (including in today’s report) to 375,000.

Rush Limbaugh essentially expanded on wire service’s knee-jerk defense of mediocre-to-bad economic news, taking particular umbrage at the thoroughly misleading headline at Rugaber’s report, as well as his first paragraph, which I will relay first before posting part of Rush’s reaction:

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Not-Romney Update: One-on-one vs. Ron Paul in VA, He Couldn’t Break 60%

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:47 pm

From a Weekly Standard email authored by Jonathan Last:

The Virginia result might even be more eye-popping than Ohio. Romney was heads-up against Ron Paul in a purple, mid-Atlantic state. And he couldn’t even get to 60 percent of the vote. That Paul was able to pull 40 percent of voters in a meaningless contest suggests that there is a segment of voters eager to go out of their way to vote against Mitt Romney. That’s not the sign of a great candidate.

A bit of slice-and-dice:

  • Ron Paul — yes, Ron Paulwon nine counties (Buckingham, Charles City, Craig, Floyd, Montgomery, Patrick, Pulaski, Surry, and Warren) and eight cities, which appear to be reported separately from counties (Charlottesville, Covington, Lynchburg (!), Manassas Park, Norfolk, Norton, and Portsmouth).
  • Paul even got 35% in the RINOland of Fairfax County in Suburban DC.

The turnout was small, but the anti-Romney revulsion is great.

Paraphrasing a comment I made elsewhere yesterday: “You can rest assured that the vast majority of those who are not voting for Romney can barely tolerate the thought of him winning the GOP nomination.”

With Santorum and Gingrich not on the ballot (yes, largely but not entirely through their own fault), Virginia’s results proved that contention beyond reasonable doubt. Even with half the electorate available (100% less Romney’s “typical” 40% less Paul’s typical 10%), Romney only increased his result by less than 20 points, or 40% (20/50) of the voters who were serendipitously available to him. The other over 60% (30/50) said “no way.” I daresay most of those who got Romney from his normal 40% to almost 60% felt like they had to wear a hazmat suit while casting their ballots.

More Grading on the Curve: At RTT, Acceptable Weekly Unemployment Claims Threshold Is Now Any Reading Below 400,000

The Department of Labor reported today that initial claims for unemployment benefits increased to 362,000 from an upwardly revised (as usual) 354,000 the previous week. Expectations were for a reading of 351,000 (Business Insider's email) or 352,000 (Bloomberg).

Over at the Associated Press, also known as the Administration's Press, the headlined reaction in its 9:17 a.m. report was: "Applications Hover Near Low Levels." As usual, it took a New Media source, in this case Zero Hedge, to point out something potentially troubling in the news, namely that "this is the first time we have seen three consecutive weeks of rises since August 2010." True, the rises have been modest, but next week will almost certainly see an upward revision to this week (the case for 51 of the past 52 weeks, averaging almost 4,000 and with no decreases). Modest or not, they run counter to presumptive press claims that the job market is "healing" (Reuters) and "improving" (Bloomberg). The howler of the day came from RTT News, which "offers custom news and information solutions" for which subscribers apparently pay at least $250 a month:

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Initial Unemployment Claims: 362K SA, Up 8K from Previous Week

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:06 am

From the Department of Labor:

SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

In the week ending March 3, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 362,000, an increase of 8,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 354,000. The 4-week moving average was 355,000, an increase of 250 from the previous week’s revised average of 354,750.

… UNADJUSTED DATA

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 365,754 in the week ending March 3, an increase of 31,513 from the previous week. There were 407,299 initial claims in the comparable week in 2011.

Seasonal factors were consistent from the same week last year to this year.

Business Insider’s email predicted 351,000. Oops.

So is today’s increase a pause on the way to lower figures, a demonstration that we’re at a new unacceptable normal of 350-360K per week, or an early sign of things getting worse again? Of course we can’t know, but Zero Hedge points out that “this is the first time we have seen three consecutive weeks of rises since August 2010.” Stay tuned.

Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (030812)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 8:15 am

Rules are here. Possible comment fodder may follow later. Other topics are also fair game.

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Positivity: Vatican astronomer — Science one of the best ways to know God

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 8:00 am

From Denver:

Mar 8, 2012 / 04:14 am

The astronomer for the Vatican Observatory, Brother Guy Consolmagno, S.J., says that his study of the universe through science has helped him better understand the person of Christ.

Despite people often having the “crazy idea” that science and religion conflict, science is “really one of our best principles for getting to know God,” he told CNA.

Br. Consolmagno – who also serves as the Vatican’s curator of meteorites – spoke on March 3 at the Living the Catholic Faith Conference in the Archdiocese of Denver, Colo.

During his talk, titled “The Word Became Flesh,” the planetary scientist explained that modern atheists tend to understand God as being merely a force that “fills the gaps” in our understanding of the universe.

“To use God to fill the gaps in our knowledge is theologically treacherous,” Br. Consolmagno said, because it minimizes God to just another force inside the universe rather than recognizing him as the source of creation.

Those who believe in God should not be afraid of science, but should see it as a an opportunity that God gave humanity to get to know him better.

Br. Consolmagno said that he believes in God, “not because he is at the end of some logical chain of calculations” but because he “experienced what physics and logic can show me but cannot explain: beauty and reason and love.”

The primary difference between him and atheistic scientist Stephen Hawking is that he recognizes that God is not another part of the universe that explains the inexplicable, but rather “Logos” and “Reason itself.”

He spoke of the faith needed to embrace Christianity and said that although other world religions and philosophies can give us a rational view of the universe, “only the Gospel could tell us that Reason itself became flesh and dwelt among us” in the form of Jesus Christ. …

Go here for the rest of the story.