May 26, 2012

Latest PJ Media Column (‘Nuts to Nutting: Under Obama, Real Spending Has Exploded’) Is Up

It’s here.

It will go up here at BizzyBlog on Tuesday (link won’t work until then) after the Memorial Day holiday.

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For a “fact check” which fails woefully short on facts concerning Nutting’s nuttiness, visit Andrew Taylor’s related report at the Associated Press.

At NJ.com, Hackery Abounds in Coverage of Mayor’s Downfall: Political, Computer, and Most of All Journalistic

Yesterday, West New York, New Jersey Mayor Felix Roque and his son were arrested and charged with “gaining unauthorized access to computers, conspiracy and causing damage to protected computers” — offenses which carry potential sentences of over 10 years.

At NJ.com, home of the Star-Ledger (print circulation now less than 200,000), one finds that the there is an even greater example of hackery than that involving political hacks allegedly perpetrating computer hacks. That would be hackery of the journalistic persuasion. In his coverage of the Roques’ arrests, the Star-Ledger’s Ted Sherman waited 19 paragraphs to directly tag Roque as a Democrat. Meanwhile, Sherman noted the mayor’s support of Republican Governor Chris Christie — twice (Paragraphs 5 and 20) — and his short-lived endorsement of Joseph Kyrillos, the Republican challenging incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Robert Menendez. As will be seen, Sherman’s shameful show of bias caps several months of disgraceful NJ.com coverage of Roque. First, excerpts from Sherman’s coverage of the arrests, complete with shaky grammar (bolds are mine):

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Another Week That Reeked at ‘The Administration’s Press’

“Home construction is near a three-year high,” according to AP. So is the chocolate ration in Oceania.

(Plus, a growing case of “thin-skin syndrome.”)

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Note: This column went up at PJ Media and was teased here at BizzyBlog on Thursday.

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In the space of seven days, to name just three of the more obvious offenses, alleged journalists at the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Presstold us that “Home construction is near a three-year high,” when it’s nowhere near there; seemed astonished that presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney didn’t serve up any “red-meat conservative policy” in a college graduation address; and wondered whether John Boehner and congressional Republicans are “deliberately stalling the economic recovery to hurt President Barack Obama’s re-election chances.” Oh, and it would appear that the folks at AP are coming down with a developing case of what I would describe as “thin-skin syndrome.”

The “home construction” howler of May 16 came about because AP economics reporter Chris Rugaber, perhaps with help from a colleague who has made the same mistake, seems to believe that “housing starts” and “home construction” are synonymous.

That’s wrong on two levels. First, “residential housing” includes single and multifamily units; “homes” is usually reserved to describe “single family homes.” Second, the housing starts statistic, while useful as an indication of where the industry might be headed in the coming months, is arguably the least important of the three items one must consider to get a handle on the current level of “home construction” for comparative purposes. The other two, as seen in the Census Bureau’s definition of “new residential construction,” are “total units under construction” and “units completed.”

So how does the current level of “home construction” as properly defined square with Rugaber’s claim that it’s “near a three-year high”? It doesn’t — at all:

  • Single-family starts are indeed higher than they were three years ago. But whether you look at the seasonally adjusted figures or the raw (i.e., not seasonally adjusted) data, they haven’t even hit two-year highs in the past three months –

    SingleFamilyStartsJanToApril2008to2012

  • The number of single-family units under construction has been scraping along at or barely above its seasonally adjusted all-time low in over 40 years of related recordkeeping for about a year. That didn’t change in April, and the number of units on which builders are working is 25% lower than it was three years ago –

    SingleFamilyUnderConstJanToApril2008to2012

  • The number of single-family homes completed during the first four months of this year was also well below levels seen both two and three years ago –

    SingleFamilyCompletionsJanToApril2008to2012

To paraphrase Munchkinland’s coroner in The Wizard of Oz, Rugaber’s statement that “Home construction is near a three-year high” is not only merely false, it’s really most sincerely false. If the AP reporter is unhappy with this inarguable contention, my response is: “Too bad, so sad, Chris.”

Longtime readers know that there is no love lost between yours truly and Mitt Romney, but any fair observer should give him high marks for the content of his address to Liberty University graduates on May 12. Of course it wasn’t the job of AP reporters Kasie Hunt and Rachel Zoll to do that, but they could at least have recognized that a commencement speech isn’t the time or place for the “red-meat conservative policy speech” they apparently anticipated.

Since we’re dealing with a condescending animal-equivalent reference, when was the last time a report from AP or anywhere else in the establishment press characterized an oration by even the most radical leftist as a “red-meat liberal policy speech”? Searches on that phrase at Google Web, Google News, and the Google News Archive returned no examples showing that it has ever occurred.

Hunt and Zoll could easily have lightened up on their disappointment and found room for an important point which Romney said he gleaned from the left-leaning Brookings Institution about how relationship and education choices affect one’s life prospects:

For those who graduate from high school, get a full-time job, and marry before they have their first child, the probability that they will be poor is 2%. But, if those things are absent, 76% will be poor.

But they didn’t. Readers can be excused for believing that because doing so might have cast Barack Obama’s reelection challenger in a positive light, the AP pair passed.

Charles Babington’s May 19 dispatch on John Boehner’s debt-ceiling negotiating position (“Is GOP trying to sabotage economy to hurt Obama?”) was especially risible, and not only because the AP has as far as I know never asked an equivalent question about Democrats who really did spend almost all of George W. Bush’s two terms, with a great deal of media assistance, attempting to talk down the economy. The closest the wire service ever got during the Bush 43 era at most amounted to a few “Republicans accuse Democrats” items. That’s far different from what Babington and his headline writer did in pretending to pose a legitimate question.

John Hinderaker at Powerline showed how Babington’s work, properly seen, was in effect an abuse of his power and an abdication of journalistic responsibility:

The headline appeared on the main Yahoo page, which is far more heavily trafficked than any newspaper, and was picked up, based on a Google News search, by several hundred newspapers. The article doesn’t conclude that Republicans are deliberately hurting the economy, of course. That wasn’t the idea: the idea was to attribute plausibility to what is in fact a laughable suggestion.

Whether or not that was the idea, it certainly was the result.

Babington never bothered to ask how the sabotage argument can be valid if, as is the case, the deep-red states Obama lost in the 2008 presidential election have on the whole been economically outperforming those he won by a significant margin. Babington’s report wasn’t about journalism; it instead came off an exercise in propaganda.

In a sign that someone is getting touchy, an AP media relations official on Sunday alleged in a comment at my home blog that I “ascribe(d) motives” that were “ridiculous” to his wire service when I questioned the unusual presence of two identically worded but differently headlined stories about recent evidence released in the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman case at the AP’s national site (both were still there when I prepared this column).

What I really wrote is that the continued and very unusual presence of the story’s duplicate and slightly older version with an inaccurate headline (“Cache of evidence in shooting, still huge gaps”) “is pretty convenient for those who desperately want to keep portraying Trayvon Martin as an innocent, harmless victim while continuing to fan racial animosities.” That’s because it is. Ordinarily, older AP reports go away and largely disappear in syndication when a story’s headline or content is revised. This didn’t happen with the “huge gaps” version of the Martin-Zimmerman story. Rather than explain how this could have occurred, the AP official went after me for merely documenting the problem. Of course, I pushed back.

I can’t prove what motives the folks at AP have as they go about their daily tasks. But I can show, and in fact just have shown, that they all too often engage in sloppy, misleading reporting on the economy, and that they have a double standard (whether conscious or not — and does it really matter?) in how they cover political candidates and partisan disputes depending on the political party involved. It also seems that their case of “thin-skin syndrome” has grown as the reelection prospects of the guy over whom their outgoing chairman obsequiously fawned in April seem to be deteriorating.

It’s going to be a long election season for those of us who monitor the output of the Administration’s Press.

Saturday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (052612)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 8:00 am

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

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Positivity: In 2012, more Americans identify as pro-life

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 7:55 am

From Princeton, New Jersey:

May 24, 2012 / 12:07 am

The number of pro-life Americans is near an all-time high, while those who self-identify as pro-choice are at a record low, according to a new Gallup survey.

Results from a poll taken in early May show that 50 percent of Americans say they are “pro-life,” an increase of five percent since a 2009 survey.

Forty-one percent, however, identify as pro-choice – down eight points since 2009.

The change is even more dramatic since 1995, when 56 percent of Americans told Gallup they were pro-choice while only 33 percent said they were pro-life.

In 2012, Republicans tend to be the most pro-life, with 72 percent identifying as such. About 34 percent of Democrats are pro-life, as are 47 percent of independents. Fifty-eight percent of Democrats say they are pro-choice, as do 22 percent of Republicans and 41 percent of independents.

Dr. Charmaine Yoest, president and CEO of Americans United for Life, said that the results are “the tip of the iceberg.”

“In fact, a growing number of Americans are uneasy with the unfettered, under-regulated and unsavory abortion industry as it exists today,” she said May 23. …

Go here for the rest of the story.