September 18, 2014

AP Tries to Make Horrid Homebuilding Numbers Palatable

The Census Bureau reported earlier today that seasonally adjusted housing starts and homebuilding permits fell by 14.4 percent and 5.6 percent, respectively, in August. The detail wasn’t any better, as the two categories within each statistic — single-family and multiple-dwelling homes — also fell.

You can tell that the news wasn’t seen as good at the Associated Press, because Josh Boak’s related dispatch had already fallen to number nine in the list of the wire service’s top ten business stories by 3:30 p.m. The headline and content at Boak’s report tried to convince readers that apartment-building volatility was almost entirely to blame, and that things are all right in single-family homebuilding. As will be seen, nothing could be further from the truth.

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Deb Wasserman-Schultz Becomes Dems’ Fall Gal; Press Virtually Ignores Politico Story

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:58 pm

Though things could always change, and often do, it appears that the Democratic Party is on track to lose majority control of the U.S. Senate in the fall elections, and to make little if any kind of dent in the Republican Party’s majority in the House of Representatives.

Since the left never blames any of its own policies and positions for its woes, it must, Alinsky-style, find someone to demonize, even if it’s one of their own. That “Koch Brothers are the root of all evil” campaign has fallen flat, and the bogus “war on women” meme is wearing thin. Organizing For Action emails are now so desperate that they’ve taken to claiming that Republicas love polluted water; not even they can really believe that nonsense. So it all must be Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbe Wasserman Schultz’s fault, which explains the appearance of Edward-Isaac Dovere’s lengthy, leak-driven, nasty hit piece at the Politico on Wednesday.

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Liz Warren: ‘It’s Fair’ to Worry About Jews Doing What Nazis Did to Them

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has become a darling of the left for being an early promoter of the “you didn’t build that” meme President Obama used during the 2012 presidential campaign, and for generally espousing positions to the left of Hillary Clinton.

The press rushed to Warren’s defense in 2012 when compelling evidence that she had used her barely present Indian ancestry to “cheat on affirmative action” to advance her academic career went public. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that they have paid little attention to her recent outrageous attempt to establish her leftist bona fides as a harsh critic of Israel, seen in the video after the jump:

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September 17, 2014

AP Falsely Claims This Year’s Reported Poverty Drop is ‘First Since 2006′

As been its habit since Barack Obama took office in 2009, the Associated Press has, whenever possible, considered the impact of news developments on the President and his party as far more important than what’s actually happening in the lives of real people.

The latest example is the wire service’s coverage of Tuesday’s Census Bureau report on income, poverty and health insurance coverage in the U.S. Nothing — not even fundamental accuracy, as will be seen shortly — was more important to reporter Jesse J. Holland, the AP’s “Race and Ethnicity writer,” than telling readers that a half-point fall in the poverty rate from 15.0 percent to 14.5 percent, constituted “a bit of encouraging news about the nation’s economy as President Barack Obama and Congress gear up for midterm elections.” The fact that the Obama Era has brought us levels of poverty not seen in 20 years — this year’s figure matches 1994′s — apparently doesn’t matter.

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Will Media Report How Obama Now Sees America As Exceptional — Er, ‘Unique’?

President Obama cited American exceptionalism at least ten times in his speech at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa today.

Early in his administration, Obama went out of his way to downplay the nature of U.S. exceptionalism, claiming that it was really no different than how any other nation’s citizens saw their own country’s uniqueness. So his speechwriters knew better than to use that word. But Obama cited how America is “unique” (read: superior) six separate times, and told his audience — and the rest of the world — that “when the world needs help, it calls on America.” Time’s Zeke J. Miller is one of the first among many who are choosing to ignore this change in posture, choosing primarily to obsess over whether U.S. ground troops will be called upon to quash the ISIS/ISIL threat.

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Largely Ignored Yesterday, Code Pink Disrupters Got Front-Page Photo Coverage in 2002

Both Old Media and Old Medea were at it again yesterday.

Old Medea is Medea Benjamin, the head of Code Pink, who led the disruption of a Senate hearing on ISIS and was eventually hauled away. Old Media demonstrated its double standards by giving Ms. Benjamin’s temper tantrum little attention. That treatment sharply contrasts with that seen in September 2002, when, with a Republican in the White House, a similar petulant Code Pink display received front-page photo coverage in three major U.S. newspapers.

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September 16, 2014

MSNBC’s Trymaine Lee Laments Missouri’s ‘Rapid Rightward Shift’

On Saturday, Trymaine Lee at MSNBC.com, who fancies himself as an “expert” on “race, poverty, and guns,” was aghast at the current “current social and political mess” in Missouri.

He wasn’t talking about glass-strewn streets of Ferguson or Show-Me State Governor Jay Nixon’s feckless, irresponsible handling of that situation. No, the real problem is the state’s “rapid rightward shift.” A cursory review of Lee’s “logic” reveals that what has really happened is that Democrats have long since left the center.

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September 13, 2014

Politico Lead Story Asks If It’s ‘Time to Ditch the Star-Spangled Banner’

There is apparently no more important story or issue right now at the Politico than Ted Widmer’s question about our national anthem: “Is It Time to Ditch the Star-Spangled Banner?” It is currently the lead item at the web site, complete with a huge picture of the American flag. The “beheading by ISIL of a British aid worker” and Wisconsin’s court-granted ability to implement voter-ID in the fall elections are both apparently less important.

Widmer’s reasons to stop using the Star-Spangled Banner come down to the fact that Francis Scott Key was a slaveowner and that the song’s third verse refers to escaped American slaves who were fighting on the British side. He somehow forgets that the British didn’t outlaw slavery until 1833, 19 years after the 1814 Fort McHenry battle.

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September 12, 2014

Lowering the Bar

5.5 percent unemployment is now “full employment.” Horse manure.

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This column went up at PJ Media Tuesday evening Pacific Time and was teased here at BizzyBlog on Wednesday.

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When they can’t meet established performance standards, the left makes up excuses, lowers the standards, and, if necessary, revises history along the way.

In the economic realm, there’s hardly a better of example of this kind of deliberate responsibility avoidance than what has happened to the idea of “full employment.”

Full employment is supposed to occur when “all … who want to work and are allowed to work are able to find employment.”

The unemployment rate associated with full employment obviously can’t be zero, because there will always be people out of work who are voluntarily or involuntarily moving from one job to another.

What unemployment rate represents full employment? The architects of the Humphrey–Hawkins Full Employment Act of 1978 thought it should be 4 percent for Americans age 16 and over. That benchmark is what Richard Nixon used when presenting “full employment” budgets during much of his time in office. Yes, it was a gimmicky maneuver designed to make what were then seen as horrific deficits seem more palatable; but the rate did represent the predominant economic thinking at the time. While we’re in the neighborhood, I should note that the deficits incurred during the early 1970s, considered awful at the time, were chump change, even after accounting for inflation, compared to the $1 trillion-plus annual shortfalls seen during most of Barack Obama’s presidency.

Forty years later, communications have improved tremendously. Unfilled job listings are available within seconds at any number of web sites attempting to match employees with employers. Applicants send resumes online instead of through the mail. One would therefore expect that the full-employment unemployment rate would have fallen, or at the very least remained the same.

Thus, I was initially quite relieved on September 4 when I sat in on the ADP Employment Report conference call. Moody’s economist Mark Zandi, the report’s overseer, told his audience that he expects that the economy will continue to generate 200,000 or more private-sector jobs each month as far as the eye can see, and that this serendipitous consistency will bring the U.S. economy to full employment by the end of 2016.

He further clarified his prediction by optimistically forecasting that most of today’s workforce dropouts will get back into the game during that time, and that most of those who are currently working part-time but would prefer full-time jobs will find them. Those two assumptions were a bit hard to take, but it’s his conference call, and he can predict what he wants. (The next day’s employment report from the government, which showed only a 142,000 pickup in seasonally adjusted jobs, threw cold water on Zandi’s sunny optimism. He didn’t handle it well.)

But Zandi then noted that all of this would return us to full employment for the first time “in a decade.” That seemed odd.

This is where the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate stood from 2004 through 2007:

Unemployment2004to2007

Though the economy posted unemployment rates of 5 percent or lower for 31 consecutive months, including almost a year at or around 4.5 percent, it never got to what I had understood to be the commonly accepted definition of full employment for decades.

But Zandi said it did. So when the call opened up for questions, I asked him what he thought the unemployment rate would be at the end of 2016 when we hit full-employment nirvana.

I was stunned at the answer: 5.5 percent.

It gets worse.

When I asked him if this benchmark meant that we were somehow at more than full employment in 2006 and 2007, he said “yes,” contending that there was significant upward pressure on wages during that time. Does anyone remember that we had a seller’s market for labor throughout the U.S. in the mid-2000s? With rare exceptions in certain sections of the country, neither do I.

When I mentioned that his full-employment unemployment rate was quite a bit higher than I was used to seeing by about 1.5 percentage points, Zandi went further into the land of the absurd. He asserted that full employment was commonly regarded as 5 percent last decade — this 2007 article in the New York Times confirms that — but that the economic damage caused by the recession had upwardly moved that standard to 5.5 percent.

In other words, it’s Bush’s fault — apparently forever — that the rate is now a half-point higher. The economy fell, and it will never entirely get back up. You can’t make this garbage up. This permanent half-point upward move must have been discovered after the Obama administration was done promoting the idea that its 2009 stimulus package would lower the unemployment rate to 5 percent — by the middle of 2013. How convenient.

In a far more efficient communications environment, why did the accepted full-employment unemployment rate rise at all?

Part of the answer is that there are many people who believe that the increase never should have happened. That group, strangely enough, includes card-carrying liberals Jared Bernstein and Dean Baker. It also includes the folks at the American Institute for Full Employment. Its president, John Courtney, goes further. In an email, he specifically asserted his group’s belief that “full employment is below the 4%” Bernstein and Baker advocated in late 2013.

It’s hard to disagree with Mr. Courtney, given that a July 2014 table at the government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics showed six states with rates below 4 percent. Only one of them, North Dakota, where the unemployment rate was 2.8 percent and starting wages at Wal-Mart can be as high as $17 per hour, is seeing significant wage pressure. This strongly suggests that the real-world unemployment rate at full employment is about 3.5 percent.

What has really happened is that the left-dominated establishment economics community has lowered the bar for full employment to avoid having to discuss the welfare state’s pervasive work disincentives and their own Keynesian policies’ utter failure to satisfactorily revive the job market.

How pathetic.

September 11, 2014

More Polling the Press Will Ignore: Trust in Federal Govt. at All-Time Low

A new Gallup poll reports that Americans trust the federal government less than they ever have. Given that President Obama has increasingly insisted on acting on his own, it’s not unreasonable to infer that this result means, consistent with other polling the press has stubbornly ignored — documented in a new Media Research Center study — they also trust his leadership less than they ever have.

Gallup’s main headline dressed up the results up by focusing on only half of what it found: “Trust in Federal Gov’t on International Issues at New Low.” But the subheadline says, “Americans’ trust in government handling of domestic problems also at record low.” Okay, guys. What problems aren’t either domestic, international, or a combination of both? So trust in the federal government to handle any problems is at an all-time low. How tough is it to say that?

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Gingrich — and Reality — Also Humiliated Carney on CNN Wed. Night

As the midnight oil-burning Curtis Houck at NewsBusters noted last night, John McCain ripped into Jay Carney’s attempts to rewrite history Wednesday evening on CNN. Among other things, he reminded the former White House Press Secretary that “We had it (the Iraq War) won, thanks to the surge.” In other words, our military and Iraqi government had achieved victory. Barack Obama and his administration, perhaps until last night, have seemed indifferent at best and dismissive at worst at what has happened in Iraq since then.

After McCain got in his rips, it was Newt Gingrich’s turn. The former House Speaker, whose assertion, as will be seen later, is supported by contemporaneous reporting by Tim Arango at the New York Times, took apart Carney’s hypocrisy in whining about how a status of forces agreement with Iraq with the number of American troops our generals believed would be necessary to maintain the peace would have meant our presence there “in perpetuity”:

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September 10, 2014

Carney Gets Clock Cleaned in CNN Debut

Following President Obama’s speech tonight, former White House Press Secretary Jay Carney learned what it’s like when the people with whom you’re having a discussion aren’t lapdogs and stenographers.

In videos seen at Real Clear Politics (here and here), Senator John McCain reminded Carney that President Obama didn’t try hard enough to get the needed status of forces agreement to enable enough U.S. troops to make a difference to stay in Iraq. He also reminded Carney that WE HAD ALREADY WON THE WAR IN IRAQ by the time Obama took office.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich finished Carney off.

Carney had been whining that McCain wanted to keep troops in Iraq “in perpetuity.” Gingrich reminded Carney that the Obama administration, in claiming to have really wanted a status of forces agreement but that they had been thwarted by Iraqi intransigence, would have been doing the same thing — “in perpetuity” — if it had gotten what it allegedly wanted.

The truth is more likely that Obama wanted out of Iraq, and didn’t care how it got done — and if Iraq fell after that, he’d say it was inevitable anyway and the result of George W. Bush’s ill-advised decision to go to war in the first place. That’s the excuse he’ll try to trot out if Iraq really does ultimately fall to ISIS — which is why the reminder that WE WON THE WAR is so important.

Here’s McCain v. Carney:

Gingrich v. Carney:

Those exchanges are going to leave marks.

After Denials Ten Days Ago, DHS Admits ISIS Is Planning Border Infiltration

In quite remarkable testimony on the day before the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 Islamist terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, the Washington Free Beacon’s Adam Kredo reported today that “Francis Taylor, under secretary for intelligence and analysis at DHS, told senators during a hearing that ISIL supporters are known to be plotting ways to infiltrate the United States through the (nation’s southern) border.”

Predictably, Taylor’s statements are getting very little other press attention.

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6 of 8 N.J. Women Don’t Recognize Hillary; One Wonders If ‘Ben Ghazi’ Is Running

“Person on the street” interviews are among the more discouraging presentations one can find on news shows these days. All too often, we see low-information people who think they’re so smart show us how disturbingly ignorant they actually are.

That they are disheartening doesn’t mean they aren’t sometimes entertaining. Fox News’s Jesse Watters had one such segment on Monday. He interviewed eight women, several of them attractively endowed by their Creator, at the beach in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. Their intellectual prowess, however, was a bit lacking in certain instances, occasionally hilariously so, as Watters launched into questions about “powerful women” (HT to a frequent tipster; bolds are mine):

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Kirsten Powers Defends O’Reilly Against State Dept.’s Sexism Police

In recent days, the State Department has tried to paint Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly as a sexist monster because he characterized Jen Psaki as “out of her depth.” O’Reilly’s criticism has a great deal to do with how Ms. Psaki often appears to be, well, out of her depth. The other member of the non-dynamic duo then pounced. Marie Harf claimed that O’Reilly used “sexist, personally offensive language that I actually don’t think (he) would ever use about a man.”

O’Reilly recently defended himself quite well; that video is at the end of this post. On Tuesday, liberal Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers also weighed in. Her USA Today column asserted that O’Reilly “does not discriminate when it comes to expressing tough judgments,” and that Harf’s sexist accusation was “so irresponsible.” Excerpts follow the jump (links are in original; bolds are mine):

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