April 24, 2015

Rush Limbaugh Wonders How CNN and MSNBC Can Still Be on the Air; Here’s How

Rush Limbaugh posted an interesting pair of questions at his web site yesterday: “How can CNN still be on the air with no audience? How can MSNBC have been on the air with no audience? In the old days, they’re gone, kaput. Something else is tried. But they stay. And they double down on what they’re doing that’s losing audience.”

A large part of the answer, as I noted on March 30, is that those two networks apparently have suffered very little financially as they have lost audience. That’s because, as is apparently the case with most of the major cable channels, their primary source of revenue comes from “subscriptions,” also referred to as “carriage fees” or “license fee revenues.” In plain English, cable channels get paid a great deal of money even if nobody watches them, and don’t benefit as much as would be expected when their audience grows.

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April 20, 2015

Minneapolis Star Tribune Reporter Bemoans ‘Youth Exodus,’ Doesn’t Mention Taxes

Minneapolis Star Tribune reporter Jackie Crosby’s writeup on how “Minnesota has been losing residents to other states” since 2002, and that it’s especially troubling because “young adults are leaving in the greatest numbers,” contained an enormous blind spot.

The Gopher State, aka the Land of 10,000 Lakes, is also sardonically known as the Land of 10,000 Taxes by many residents, and with good reason. Yet the only time the word “tax” appeared was in a sentence discussing the need for “robust tax rolls.”

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April 15, 2015

The Potemkin Economy

The press has hidden it for months.

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This column went up at PJ Media and was teased here at BizzyBlog Sunday evening.

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The disappointing March employment report the government released on April 3 finally forced the business press to ‘fess up to the truth, best summed up in words found at the Associated Press“For months, the U.S. economy’s strength has been flagging.”

That admission takes “too little, too late” to a whole new level.

During the past several months, business scribes and broadcasters have largely pretended that all is well, constructing and maintaining a Potemkin-like facade of a prosperous economy, even as the vast majority of hard-number economic indicators turned in performances ranging from middling to awful. To prop their false image up, they concentrated most of the commerce-related news they delivered to low-information voters and low-awareness news consumers on the job market, the economy’s one supposedly strong area, and positive consumer and corporate sentiment surveys.

After the strong economic growth seen during the second and third quarters of last year, the AP, aka the Administration’s Press, has been especially odious in insisting that the economy is still really “robust,” while coming just inches short of declaring that President Barack Obama’s economic critics should be cowering in the corner in shame. Until Friday, the shouting only got louder as the underlying data deteriorated further.

On February 20, the wire service’s Jim Kuhnhenn admired how Obama was “taunting Republicans” over the economy. Devoid of any sense of historical irony, Kuhnhenn described an “economic recovery showing signs of taking hold” — over 5-1/2 years after the recession officially ended.

When Kuhnhenn wrote his love letter, we had already seen:

  • Seasonally adjusted annualized fourth-quarter growth of 2.6 percent, barely half that reported in the previous quarter. That figure was revised down to a mediocre 2.2 percent just a week later. Given the next several items which follow, that revised figure still seems high.
  • Steep November and December declines in durable goods orders totaling over 5 percent.
  • Sharp consecutive drops in December and January retail sales.
  • A microscopic two-month advance of less than 0.2 percent in November and December construction spending.
  • December slippages in both real and current-dollar personal consumption expenditures.

Not to be outdone, five weeks later, the AP’s Martin Crutsinger composed a veritable hosanna of dishonest praise directed at Dear Leader’s economy, which he described as “sluggish,” but “one of the most durable since World War II.”

Crutsinger removed all doubt over whether he was bearing false witness when he wrote the following:

The current expansion will mark its sixth anniversary in June, meaning it will have already lasted 14 months longer than the average expansion since the end of World War II.

In referring to “months,” Crutsinger pretended that the economy has continuously expanded since the recession’s end. It hasn’t:

GDPquarterlies1Q09to4Q14

The previous expansions to which the AP writer referred were legitimate, because they were uninterrupted. By contrast, as seen above, the economy has contracted twice since the recession’s end. Its current winning streak is only three quarters. Therefore, despite what Crutsinger wrote, there will be no six-year anniversary to “mark” in June — and he has once again demonstrated why the National Review’s Kevin Williamson was correct in calling him the nation’s “Worst Economics Writer” two years ago.

Until that March employment report, the economy had indeed added an impressive-sounding seasonally adjusted 200,000 or more payroll jobs per month for 12 months. Though it’s a nice round number and the best such streak in 15 years, it’s still not particularly strong in historical context. More importantly, it remains far from what’s required to get discouraged and disengaged Americans on the sidelines who want to work back to work, or searching for more financially rewarding work.

As seen below, the post-recession Reagan economy of the 1980s, during which the Gipper did all of the things which Obama and his Keynesian cadre insist “don’t work,” after adjusting for the size of the workforce, more than doubled the job-creating performance seen during the Obama post-recession era:

ReaganVsObamaGraphicsThru69mos

By the time Crutsinger produced his false, fawning crud, there had been further weakening in durable goods orders and shipments, all factory orders and shipmentsconstruction spending, and retail sales. All of this has caused economists to write down their estimates of first-quarter growth to as low as the annualized 0.1 percent seen at the Atlanta Branch of the Federal Reserve as of late last week. Even the incurable optimists at Moody’s were only expecting 1.1 percent on April 3.

The March employment news was so bad that the Potemkin curtain had to be lifted. Instead of the 250,000 payroll jobs “experts” predicted — one particularly well-known analyst actually thought we would see almost 300,000, and that it would mark the beginning of several “even faster gains … in the spring”  — the government’s jobs report showed only 126,000 payroll jobs added in March accompanied by 69,000 in combined reductions to January and February. Far more damning, despite the nominally low unemployment rate of 5.5 percent, the job market’s malaise indicators got worse. The civilian workforce actually shrunk, and the labor force participation rate sank back to a 37-year low.

The cumulative effect of monthly declines have brought some year-over-year comparisons into negative territory, particularly in durable goods and total factory orders. Logically, this would seem to dictate that the producing side of the economy has given up all of the gains seen last spring and summer and reverted back to where it was last winter — or worse.

If that’s really true, first-quarter GDP, absent a strong surge in consumer spending which no one expects, seems destined to come in with a minus sign.

The only thing which seems more certain is that Marty Crutsinger and the other propagandists at the Associated Press will continue to pretend that we’re in the midst of a six-year expansion.

April 13, 2015

Why Everyone, But Especially Ohioans, Should Read an Important Post at Zero Hedge

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:00 am

Link: “Why This Retail Earnings Season Is Different”

The reason everyone should read: It’s about where retail seems to be headed. It’s not pretty.

The special reason why Ohioans should read: The author concentrates on conditions in Columbus. Yours truly has noted on several occasions that Metro Columbus has “somehow” managed to prosper fabulously compared to the rest of the state since John Kasich became the Buckeye State’s governor (and yes, that trend has continued).

If Columbus is as bad as portrayed, or even half as bad as portrayed, imagine the condition the rest of the state’s — and most of the rest of the nation’s — retail sector finds itself.

The money quote:

To paraphrase one of retailing’s most vociferous watchdogs Howard Davidowitz when explaining the current state of retailing and malls: “What’s going on is the customers don’t have the f***ing money. That’s it. This isn’t rocket science.”

He’s absolutely dead on. And, it would appear now with QE (as of this writing) still in the tail lights, along with the possibility (however so slight) that interest rates may rise, so too are the retailers themselves even more “empty pocketed” than their ailing consumers.

Perhaps consumers can yet save the day. But to do so, it would appear that all but the wealthy will have to go deeper into debt, only deferring the inevitable reckoning and making it worse when it strikes.

April 12, 2015

Latest PJ Media Column (‘The Potemkin Economy’) Is Up

It’s here.

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

CNN Hypes Gwyneth Paltrow’s ‘Food Stamp Challenge’ Participation — And Its Bogus Benchmark

On Saturday, CNN hyped actress and self-appointed “lifestyle guru” Gwyneth Paltrow’s participation in the “Food Stamp Challenge.” This is the fundamentally dishonest campaign which has been working for at least eight years to convince Americans that benefits provided under the federal government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are inadequate.

As usual, Paltrow has taken up the challenge to get by for a week on a drastically understated amount which does not reflect the program’s real provisions. As has almost always been the case with journalists covering politicians, celebrities and others who have taken up the “challenge,” CNN’s Jareen Imam didn’t question the correctness of the weekly amount involved:

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April 4, 2015

Richmond, Va. Hack Reports Memories Pizza’s GoFundMe Effort For ‘Fraud’ — ‘Just in Case’ (Updated)

UPDATE, April 6: An email sent by “Virginia Commonwealth University News” insists, despite the November 2014 tweet originally found at the link about Bryan’s “GoFundMe” effort, that Alix Bryan “has not been employed by Virginia Commonwealth University.” Accordingly, the text in this post’s final sentence now refers to Bryan’s claim in her WTVR bio and at her LinkedIn profile to have received a “Master’s in Multimedia Journalism from Virginia Commonwealth University.”

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Opening up a new frontier in the left’s ongoing effort to intimidate opponents into silence, a Virginia TV reporter tweeted on Wednesday that “I have reported the GoFundMe for Memories Pizza for fraud. Just in case.” In doing so, social media reporter Alix Bryan of CBS affiliate WTVR-TV in Richmond, Virginia, effectively admitted that she had no factual basis upon which to file such a report — but did so anyway.

To the surprise of very few, after she was publicly criticized for this disgraceful behavior, Bryan went to a wide variety of failed defenses before she ended up very inadequately “apologizing.”

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April 2, 2015

At Memories Pizza, New Threats Arise; Press’s Determination to Ignore Them Continues (See Update)

Update, April 3: The Indiana man who claims to have been hacked now admits that he wasn’t, but says he was “joking” about robbing Memories Pizza, and is threatening to sue those who exposed his (ahem) public comments.

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Those of us following the Memories Pizza story won’t have trouble remembering it as the years go by, thanks only partially to the Walkerton, Indiana store’s fairly unusual name for a pizzeria.

What will also easy to recall are the “memories” of the unhinged and threatening leftist behavior that accompanied its owner’s simple statement that, if the request ever arose, they would have to turn down catering a same-sex “marriage” because participating in or supporting such a ceremony violates their firm Christian religious beliefs — and the press’s attempts to cover up what their journalistic malfeasance unleashed.

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Selective: AP Cribs Paper’s Report on Memories Pizza — Except For GoFundMe Effort

A short unbylined Associated Press report at its national site on the situation at Memories Pizza in Walkerton, Indiana this afternoon made sure to mention that the pizzeria “won’t cater gay weddings” (in the headline).

It also misstated the owner’s statement to a South Bend TV station, claiming, using its own words, that she “said the state’s new religious objections law backs their right to deny catering to a same-sex wedding.” (Sorry, the statement that they wouldn’t cater a same wedding was independent of any legal opinion.) The report also forced readers to infer that the store has never been asked to cater in such circumstances. Finally, as of late this afternoon, the South Bend Tribune article to which the AP linked, which was about how the town’s cops have increased their patrols in the area in the wake of online and other threats, mentioned “an online fundraising site established to support Memories Pizza.” Of course, the AP didn’t.

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April 1, 2015

Positivity: ‘So God made a farmer’

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Positivity,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:00 am

I missed this when it first appeared two years ago.

If you did too, don’t miss it now:

This commercial goes a long way towards explaining why the company advertised has prospered and taken market share since its emergence from bankruptcy despite foreign ownership, while its larger domestically-owned counterpart in engineered bankruptcy has lost share.

March 30, 2015

CNN’s Dana Bash Goes After Ted Cruz For His … Lack of Experience!

On Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, Dana Bash, while interviewing Texas Senator and GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz, attempted to compare his alleged lack of experience to that of Barack Obama when he declared his candidacy in 2007.

It did not go well for her. It’s a mystery why Bash might have thought that Cruz wouldn’t have an answer for her faux concerns, but he did, and he hit her pitches out of the park. Video and a transcript follow the jump.

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Mystery Solved: Why MSNBC and CNN Aren’t Suffering Financially

Maybe the left needs to rethink their oft-present and deep-seated hatred of all things associated with Comcast, other cable companies, and the satellite TV providers. It turns out that those “evil” entities have done quite a bit to cushion left-leaning CNN and MSNBC from what would otherwise be a harsh financial reality.

The Associated Press’s David Bauder, in an item which somehow was deemed to be deserving of “Big Story” status, essentially acknowledged that in his Sunday afternoon review of the cratering and chaotic situation at MSNBC when he gave an overview of how the cable news channels’ revenues shake out.

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March 21, 2015

Starbucks and USA Today Claim Their ‘Race Together’ Intentions ‘Are Pure,’ But Results Aren’t

The Associated Press’s most recent story on the controversial Starbucks USA Today “Race Together” campaign came out Wednesday evening.

In that story, AP Food Industry Writer Candice Choi quoted Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz at his company’s annual shareholders’ meeting predicting that “Some in the media will criticize Starbucks for having a political agenda,” but that “Our intentions are pure.” Perhaps they are, but I suspect that certain materials company and USA Today have produced in connection with the campaign won’t pass any readers’ “pure intentions” test. Take USA Today’s “How Much of What You Know About Race Is True?” test. Full contents follow the jump.

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USA Today Is All-in Partner in Starbucks’ ‘Race Together’ Campaign

Coffee retailing giant Starbucks is getting an earful of outrage and ridicule over its “Race Together” campaign. Its intent, according to chain CEO Howard Schultz, in a joint interview with USA Today’s Larry Kramer, is to do something about what he claims is “the divisive role unconscious bias plays in our society and the role empathy can play to bridge those divides.”

USAT’s Kramer claims that its interest arose because, “while covering those dramatic news stories in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City, among others, we committed to telling the story of the changing face of America.” In other words, the outside-funded “activist groups” behind the protests and violence tied to the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner in those two cities have succeeded in brainwashing two large and influential institutions, including a media behemoth which is supposedly pledged to objectivity and fairness in its journalistic endeavors, into what may be the largest, most visible and most embarrassing exercise in white guilt ever undertaken.

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March 10, 2015

WashPost’s Schwarz: For Millions, ‘Fox News IS the Mainstream Media’

Late Monday morning, reacting to a news Quinnipiac University poll about network trustworthiness, the Washington Post’s Hunter Schwarz, at the paper’s “The Fix” blog, pointed to Fox News’s dominance and declared: “For millions of Americans, Fox News is the mainstream media.”

Perhaps more surprising than Fox’s dominance, but clearly supporting the statement Schwarz made, is the collective poor showing turned in by the Big 3 broadcast networks, whose combined most-trusted percentages came in just below Fox’s.

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