February 27, 2015

AP Report on Wisconsin Right to Work Move Presents Union Side Only

A couple of thousand protesters have showed up to rail against the Wisconsin Legislature’s move to pass right to work legislation this week.

That number is far smaller than what was seen four years ago, when Badger State Governor Scott Walker championed Act 10, a budget repair bill which limited — but please note, contrary to frequent press assertions, did not eliminate — most public-sector unions’ collective bargaining rights. Todd Richmond’s Wednesday evening coverage of the situation in Madison at the Associated Press got plenty of perspectives from union members and others upset with the legislature’s latest move, but predictably failed to get any insights from right to work supporters or those skeptical of protesters’ positions. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds and numbereed tags are mine):

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February 22, 2015

The Economy’s Worst 8-Year Run in 62 Years

With two more rough years on the horizon.

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This column went up at PJ Media Friday evening and was teased here at BizzyBlog on Saturday.

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A couple of publications have noted that 2014 was the ninth consecutive year during which the U.S. economy grew by less than 3 percent.

They’re being too kind. Last year was the eighth year in a row of sub-2.5 percent growth, following four straight years (2003-2006) of higher growth.

It’s hardly a coincidence that the first year of that awful 2007-2014 streak just so happens to have been the same year that the Democratic Party took legislative control in Washington.

The nation’s political and media elites were quite pleased with themselves when the November 2006 elections brought about that result, largely because their daily hostility to all things Republican and/or conservative contributed mightily to it. They were absolutely ecstatic when Barack Obama, Mr. Perfectly Creased Pants, won the November 2008 presidential election and took office in January 2009.

As will be seen shortly, the former event marked the beginning of the U.S. economy’s worst eight-year stretch since 1945-1952. Obama’s presence in the Oval Office until January 2017 virtually ensures that we’ll have at least two more years of the policies which brought on that miserable result.

Raising the minimum wage was a key agenda item for new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority leader Harry Reid after their party took over Congress in 2007. The resulting effects on overall employment have been gruesome, to the point where the people who arbitrarily determine such things have absurdly decided, in the interest of covering their tracks, that the 4.5 percent unemployment rate seen during the middle of the past decade is no longer achievable, and that “full employment” is really a rate of 5.5 percent.

The higher minimum federal wage, and the even higher hourly minimums seen in many states and cities, have been especially disastrous for the very people supposedly targeted for help. Since the end of 2006, the seasonally adjusted black teen unemployment rate has risen by 5.5 points to 29.7 percent; that rate got perilously close to 50 percent during the recession. The only reason that the number of unemployed black teens is barely higher now than it was eight years ago is that far fewer of them are even bothering to look for work, and therefore aren’t considered part of that statistic. The average black teen labor force participation rate during 2014 of 27.2 percent was 6.8 points lower than that seen eight years earlier; the 2014 average employment-population ratio of 18.2 percent was 5.9 points lower.

Not satisfied with the number of job prospects they have already ruined for those who most need their first gainful employment opportunity, President Obama continues to push for a minimum-wage increase to $10.10 per hour, while leftist fever-swamp cities like Seattle are heading towards hourly rates as high as $15. More unemployment and more of the harmful effects of idleness await.

Congressional actions hostile to the economy during 2007 and 2008, poorly resisted by President George W. Bush and the Republican congressional minority, were bad enough. After Obama sewed up the Democratic presidential nomination in the spring of 2008, he and his party worsened matters. Their hostility towards developing energy resources and their intent to impose tax and regulatory overkill if elected became readily apparent, sending the economy into a far bigger swoon than the housing bubble alone would have caused. Thus was born the Pelosi-Obama-Reid (POR) economy.

When I first recognized the rapidly deteriorating situation, I asked:

In this business climate, are you going to hire more people? Replace employees when they leave? Expand your business?

As anyone could have predicted, the answers were “No,” “No,” and “Heck no.”

During the presidential transition, Obama let his community organizer mask slip on a few key occasions, inflicting further serious damage. One such incident occurred when he supported union workers illegally occupying a bankrupt company’s plant by telling reporters: “They’re absolutely right.” I wrote at the time that Obama’s statement of solidarity “set off alarms in the offices of entrepreneurs, businesspeople, and investors everywhere.” In the first full month after the sit-in, the economy shed more jobs than in any other month since such records have been kept.

Two years of Democratic control of Congress followed by six years of Obamanomics have given us the worst economic performance in 62 years:

8yearGDPgrowthPostWW2to2014

The 1952 result contains four difficult years of transition to peacetime following World War II; two minimum wage increases during that period may also have held the economy back. After that, the economy stayed generally healthy over long-term periods for over 50 years, until 2006. Even someone not conversant with economic policy can recognize that something has gone terribly wrong since then.

The already awful 9.99 percent result for 2007-2014 seems destined to drop a bit further. The latest estimates for fourth-quarter economic growth are coming in at an annualized 1.7 percent to 2.0 percent, far lower than the 2.6 percent the government reported in late January.

They are dozens of contributors to the current malaise, but three of them capsulize the horrid situation:

  • The Obama administration has spent six years passive-aggressively dithering over approving the 1,200-mile Keystone Pipeline — even though the nation currently has 2.6 million miles of oil and gas pipelines in place functioning virtually without incident.
  • Operators of certain legal but politically incorrect businesses have seen their banking relationships terminated by financial institutions intimidated into their decisions by the government’s Operation Choke Point. This is a development which one observer correctly noted should be “terrifying to business owners in every industry.”
  • The administration has been operating a “shadow immigration system,” which during the past six years has issued 5.5 million work permits to non-citizens. No wonder legal U.S. citizens aren’t impressed by the government’s reported job-growth numbers.

Thus, agenda-driven regulators are deliberately holding up economic progress and bullying existing businesses, while illegal competition undercuts citizens who want jobs. It’s utterly amazing that the U.S. economy is growing at all. Given a recent report that “fewer native-born Americans are working today than were at the end of 2007,” perhaps the “U.S. citizen economy” really hasn’t.

Madnesses such as those just described, and so many others, will continue as long as Congress is unwilling to fully exercise its power of the purse. Unless we see a miraculous change in outlook, that’s not going to happen.

Prepare for two more very rough years.

Lenovo’s Consumer Betrayal: A National Security Betrayal Too?

Via Zero Hedge, covered in several other places:

Lenovo Group, the largest computer manufacturer in the world, has made a rather stunning admission that they have been pre-installing tracking software on their PCs.

The tracking software is made by a company called Superfish, which apparently paid some “very minor compensation” to Lenovo for putting the software on people’s computers.

The Superfish program is a total disaster.

It has image recognition algorithms which essentially monitor what a user is looking at… then suggests relevant ads based on what it thinks you might like.

This is not only REALLY high up on the creepy scale, it also completely destroys Internet security.

the tracking software basically fools a web browser into believing that a connection is secure when it’s not… all for the purpose of pushing more ads in your face.

This scheme is so powerful that even if users uninstall the Superfish software, the security breach still remains.

This is so flagrant I have to imagine that even the NSA is shocked.

After its initial approach of being completely unapologetic and dismissal, Lenovo is now groveling for forgiveness.

Sadly, I think there’s reason to doubt that it’s only about ads.

Yes, Lenovo is majority publicly-held. But it’s also a China-based company. It’s not unreasonable to expect that it would be receptive to “requests” for “cooperation” from the Chinese government run by the Peoples Army to engage in security-related mischief that goes well beyond ad placement.

One clue that there may be a lot more to this than meets the eye is the defiant “initial approach” noted in the final excerpted paragraph.

February 11, 2015

Another Month, Another Selective AP Federal Deficit Report

The federal government today reported a $17.5 billion budget deficit for January. That brings this fiscal year’s shortfall through four months to $194.2 billion, up from $182.8 billion during the same period last year.

As usual, the Associated Press’s coverage, this time delivered by Martin Crutsinger, named the nation’s “Worst Economic Writer” by National Review’s Kevin Williamson two years ago, gave an incomplete historical explanation for the $1 trillion-plus annual deficits incurred from fiscal 2009 through 2012, and “somehow” forgot that President Barack Obama, who is demanding higher taxes in the budget he recently submitted, already got a significant tax increase on higher incomes just two years ago. Excerpts follow the job:

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February 10, 2015

New York Mag: NBC Has a ‘Dossier of Williams’ Apparent Lies’

In his story on Brian Williams at 10:55 p.m. ET this evening, Gabriel Sherman at New York Magazine reported that the now-suspended anchor and his agent "were presented with a dossier of Williams' apparent lies," and that "Williams himself was only slowly grasping the depths of the mess he'd created."

That begs the obvious question of whether the public will ever get to know what's in that "dossier," and what impact its contents may have had on the substance of NBC's news reports during the past dozen (if not more) years. Excerpts from Sherman's report follow the jump (links are in original; bolds are mine):

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‘Elitist’ Fail: Profane ‘Girls’ Episode Insults Iowa, Fails Geography

John Hinderaker at Powerline is certainly correct when he notes that the media elites love “Girls,” the HBO show starring sister-abusing, rapist-misidentifying Lena Dunham.

Critics rave about how great the show and its main characters are, frequently employing complimentary adjectives descriptive of or synonymous with “smart.” Hinderaker was brave enough to peruse the script of the show’s Season 4 episode which aired on Sunday. What he found instead fit the categories of “insulting” and “stunningly ignorant”:

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February 4, 2015

Gallup Polling CEO Blasts Press’s Complacency in Covering Unemployment and Underemployment

Yesterday, in a column at his organization's web site, the head of the nation's leading polling organization called the government's official unemployment rate, currently at 5.6 percent, a "big lie."

Rest assured that if Gallup Chairman and CEO Jim Clifton had written this column during a Republican or conservative administration, his words would have been picked up by the Associated Press and the New York Times, and would have echoed across the Big Three networks' nightly newscasts. Instead, because relatively good-looking government data is sacrosanct during a Democratic administration, an expansive Google News search at 1:15 p.m. ET on "Gallup unemployment lie" (not in quotes, showing similar items and duplicates) returned only 26 items. Almost all of them are from center-right blogs and outlets. One exception is an item at Fortune.com which accuses Clifton of indulging in a "vast" "conspiracy theory."

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February 3, 2015

AP on Potential GDP Revisions: Heads They Report, Tails They Ignore

On Friday, the government reported that the nation’s economy, as measured in its real gross domestic product, grew at an annual rate of 2.6 percent during last year’s final quarter, sharply trailing analysts’ consensus predictions ranging from 3.0 percent to 3.6 percent.

As is the case after the first version of every GDP report, economy watchers have been trying to estimate the effect other subsequently released fourth quarter-related government and other data might have on GDP revisions to be reported in late February and late March. Predictably, the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press, seems to have decided that it will tell its readers about the ones which seem to point to upward revisions, and that it will ignore those which go in the opposite direction.

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January 31, 2015

Time 2013 and WSJ 2015: ‘Car of the Future’ Will Still Use the Internal Combustion Engine; Al Gore Hardest Hit

At the recent meeting of the world elites in Davos, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and former Mexican President Felipe Calderon circulated a proposal to ban cars in all major cities in the world by dense-packing their layouts. The cost, as I noted on Monday: a mere $90 trillion (that’s right, trillion). It’s telling in a foreboding sense that the pair’s idea wasn’t laughed off the continent.

Enviro-nutty ideas such as these trace their origin to Gore’s 1992 book, “Earth in the Balance,” in which Gore called the internal combustion engine “the mankind’s greatest enemy.” In reality, it is arguably the greatest enabler of human progress in the world’s history. So readers should take some delight in articles appearing two years apart — one at Time.com, and another at the Wall Street Journal, where the authors predict that the odds seem to be in favor of the evil internal combustion engine continuing to outshine the enviros’ favored alternatives for at least the next couple of decades. Gore and his media enablers surely wail and gnash their teeth when such inconvenient items rear their scientific heads.

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Geez, Take a Walk: Politico Labor Reporter Wants to Unionize It Because Being 28 Is Hard

The world’s smallest violin this week goes to Politico labor reporter Mike Elk.

Elk, who has bragged about unionizing workplaces where he has previously toiled, is working on doing the same thing at the alleged news site, which is really a Democratic Party stenography machine posing as one. His major complaint, seen in an item by Erik Wemple at his Washington Post blog, follows the jump (bolds are mine):

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AP, WSJ Reactions to Friday’s GDP Report Vary Sharply

Yesterday’s government report on the economy’s growth, which told us that the nation’s gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 2.6 percent sharply underachieved analysts’ expectations of an annualized 3.0 percent to 3.6 percent. The stock market clearly reacted negatively to the downside surprise. Bloomberg’s take at the end of the day: “U.S. stocks fell Friday, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index to its biggest monthly decline in a year, as weaker-than-forecast economic growth overshadowed a rally in energy shares sparked by a surge in the price of crude.”

That didn’t stop Martin Crutsinger and Josh Boak at the Associated Press from celebrating the result in late-morning and overnight reports, respectively. Meanwhile, Josh Mitchell at the Wall Street Journal delivered a more sanguine take on the situation.

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January 27, 2015

Al Gore, Felipe Calderon Want to Spend $90 Trillion to Save the Earth

Ever since the publication “Earth in the Balance” in 1992, we’ve seen the press minimize the public’s exposure to the more outrageous ideas and quotes emanating from former Vice President Al Gore.

Concerning that original book, Gore’s statement that “The internal combustion engine is the greatest enemy of mankind” and his contention that it could and be eliminated in 25 years are hardly known by anyone besides his fevered supporters and attentive opponents. Apparently wishing to rush his timetable for taking everyone out of their cars, Gore, in an idea barely noticed even in the business press, proposed spending $90 trillion — that’s right, trillion — for such an enterprise. After the jump, readers will see how he wants to do it.
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Virtually Unreported: Unionized Percentage of Workforce Is at an Over 100-Year Low

On Friday, Melissa Quinn at the Daily Signal, after the release of the government’s “Union Members — 2014″ report, uniquely observed that the unionized percentage of the public- and private sector nonagricultural wage and salary U.S. workforce had reached “its lowest rate in 100 years.” From what I can tell in web and news searches, despite the fact that virtually any 100-year record is ordinarily considered newsworthy, no major establishment press outlet has reported what Quinn found.

The report from Uncle Sam’s Bureau of Labor Statisics claims that 1983 is “the first year for which comparable union data are available.” Perhaps, but there is data available going back much further, and it has been used occasionally in previous media reports. That data also indicates that private-sector union membership is at its lowest point since the turn of the century — from the 19th to the 20th century, that is.

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January 26, 2015

Politico Mag Uses Undisclosed Dem Donor to ‘Hit’ Obama For Middle-Class Suffering

It would seem that the conversation at Politico went something like this: “Hey, we need to hit the Obama administration for the havoc its policies have wreaked on the middle class. But we can’t go after them too hard, because that might burn some bridges, and we’ll lose our stenographer — er, journalistic — access. So we need to use someone sympathetic to Democrats who will know how not to go over the line.”

They chose contributing editor Zachary Karabell, who during most of his writeup did a presentable job of being not too critical while posing as an objective observer — that is, until his final four paragraphs.

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January 23, 2015

Pass the Smelling Salts: AP Uses the Term ‘Radical Left’

In a report on the upcoming Greek elections, an unbylined Friday afternoon Associated Press report dusted off words seldom seen in their dispatches, using the term “radical left” twice and the word “radical” separately once for good measure.

The almost never seen terms — virtually invisible in decades of descriptions of longtime radical leftists like Fidel Castro, the late Hugo Chavez or lefty legends like the late Che Guevera — appeared in describing the party and policies of Greece’s Syriza party and its leader, Alexis Tsipras. Syriza and Tsipras appear to have winning momentum going into Sunday’s balloting. Excerpts follow the jump:

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