This was first reported at FreeRepublic on Sunday, September 9 at 6:55 PM Pacific Time (3:55 PM Eastern), with follow-up posts here, here, and here.
The incident took place on or some time prior to Friday, September 7. The original Freeper report, with plentiful pictures, states that:
..... It looks like the person who did this walked along The Wall with some type of container, perhaps hidden at their side so that they could squirt the oily substance without being caught in the act.
..... It is unknown who did this to The Wall, and apparently the US Park Police did not know about this damage until today; though the Park Service employees knew about it.
Back in April, social service spending advocates in Oregon orchestrated the "Food Stamp Challenge," claiming that the average program recipient's benefits of $21 per week were woefully inadequate. Those who took the Food Stamp Challenge attempted to show just how unacceptable this average benefit was by buying $21 worth of food and trying to survive on it for seven days.
The entire premise of the Challenge was bogus from the very beginning, as syndicated columnist Mona Charen and yours truly demonstrated. This table, based on information readily available at the Department of Agriculture, shows what the real benefit levels are, before taking into account any resources (income, etc.) a person or family would be expected to have, based on their actual circumstances, to pay for food themselves (i.e., the average benefit is $21 per person week, AFTER taking those resources into account):
CHICAGO (Dow Jones) -- Shares of New York Times Co. hit a new 52-week low Wednesday after the company reported a steep advertising revenue decline in August at the unit that includes its flagship newspaper and the Boston Globe.
Revenue at the publisher's News Media Group dropped 4.6% from the same month a year ago, to $121.5 million. Classified revenue, traditionally considered the most vital component of newspaper advertising, plunged 20% on weakness in real estate, help-wanted and automotive ads.
The deadline for talks between the United Auto Workers and the Formerly Big Three automakers (General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler) theoretically looms on September 14.
No one has more at stake in a sweetheart deal than Ford, for reasons almost entirely of its own making.
Oh, the Dearborn-based company has the same daunting challenges as its other brethren at the bargaining table: a too-high cost structure, expensive retiree health-care costs, and a product line in need of serious work. That much is known.
What isn't as well-known, and rarely understood, is that Ford has embarked on a seven-year journey of uber-Politicial Correctness that now threatens to gut its core US vehicle business.
Bloggers have caught a politician saying one thing in a speech, while carrying a very different rendering of a critical passage at a supposed "transcript" of that speech.
The difference is significant.
The transcript whitewashes a slander on the performance of US troops in Iraq delivered by a United States senator.
Specifically, New York's Charles Schumer gave a made a speech on the floor of the Senate last week ascribing the turnaround in the Anbar province in Iraq to the locals, and discrediting the notion that American troops could have had anything to do with it.
Here is the relevant portion of Armchair General Schumer's speech you will hear at the YouTube video:
And let me be clear. The violence in Anbar has gone down in spite of the Surge, not because of the Surge.
The inability of American soldiers to protect these tribes from Al Qaeda said to these tribes, "We have to fight Al Qaeda ourselves."
However, that section of the "transcript" of Schumer's speech posted at his Senate web site (a backup screen cap, in case the transcript gets revised at a future date, is here) reads thusly:
Almost everybody within earshot of a broadcasting device yesterday knows that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported a net loss of 4,000 jobs in the economy in August. Unemployment rate, at 4.6%, was unchanged.
Reporting, and misreporting, by the New York Times and Associated Press set Old Media's template for the story. Some reports, including this one by Vikas Bajaj at the Times, laid the entire onus of the loss on private companies:
Companies reduced their payrolls by 4,000 jobs in August, a sudden turnaround from the net increase of 68,000 jobs in July.
Frustration with CENTCOM's and the military's ability and willingness to get its message out abounded late last year.
Although I'll allow that many things get past me, I have noticed bare improvements at best out of CENTCOM since then.
One blogger in Ohio has now done something about it.
Fortunately, heroic (that IS the right word) onsite milbloggers and others on the ground in Iraq have picked up much of the slack in the meantime. I would attempt to enumerate them here, but I'm sure I'll miss many who don't deserve to be overlooked. Collectively, I believe that they have conferred a degree of balance in the war-related news in two ways.
In its Labor Day report entitled "GDP Growth Not Reaching Paychecks," CNN/Money began with this multi-faceted howler (bolds are mine):
The economic expansion that began six years ago has failed to benefit most workers, according to a report from the nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute, released Monday.
Productivity growth, although slower of late, has been strong since 2000. After a sluggish start in the period, employment has picked up, although at a slower pace than in past recoveries. Yet, that growth hasn't transferred to workers' paychecks, particularly for workers at the lower and middle end of the pay scale, the report found.
After rising quickly in the second half of the 1990s, most workers' (sic) real wages have been stagnant in the 2000s, especially since 2003.
In a subscription-only editorial yesterday, Wall Street Journal Editorial Board member Stephen Moore notes that many countries in the rest of the world, including a few you'd never expect, are adopting the tax-cutting policies of Ronald Reagan, to their benefit:
Earlier this year the cover of Time Magazine depicted Ronald Reagan with a tear running down his cheek -- the message being that the political class has abandoned the Reagan legacy.....
Ironically, the Reagan economic philosophy of lower taxes, less regulation and free trade has never been more in vogue abroad -- so much so that it has become the global economic operating system.
The week had a gusher of economic news, and most of it was favorable:
Thursday, 2nd Quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was revised sharply upward to 4.0% from July's initial estimate of 3.4%; the final GDP number for the second quarter comes out in late September.
The most comprehensive quarterly housing report issued, from the government's Office for Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO), showed that home prices nationwide increased ever so slightly during the 2nd quarter, and were 3.19% higher than a year earlier. That year-over-year result is greater than inflation during the same period.
The only really bad news I can think of at the moment: Consumer confidence took a hit in two different reports during the week (here and here).
Well of course consumer confidence was due for a hit. With the press, especially Time Magazine, working overtime to make the housing situation look like the crisis of the century, it's a wonder that anyone's getting out of bed to face the day.
The Associated Press's Melinda Deslatte covered the controversy over Democratic attack ads on GOP gubernatorial candidate Bobby Jindal yesterday:
A political ad from the Louisiana governor's race is drawing a storm of criticism for accusing Republican Rep. Bobby Jindal of calling Protestants "scandalous, depraved, selfish and heretical."
Democrats say the state party's 30-second TV spot - running in heavily Protestant central and north Louisiana - simply explains Jindal's beliefs with his own words, using portions of the Catholic congressman's religious writings through the 1990s, before he was an elected official.
Jindal, who is running for governor, said the ad distorts his writings.
Even as one of them heatedly denies that she advocates "socialized medicine," it is a fact that each major US presidential candidate on the Democratic side favors some form of nationalized health care. Additionally, while governor of Massachusetts, Republican candidate Mitt Romney was firmly behind health-care legislation that, as commentator John Stossel noted back in May, the Wall Street Journal described as "a death warrant for small business in the Bay State."
Given its potential as a top-tier 2008 presidential campaign issue, you would think that there would be Old Media interest in how nationalized health care is working out in other countries.
But if there was, you would have surely heard about this news a week ago without having to go to British newspapers to learn of it:
Drug companies and campaigners yesterday lost a high court appeal for people in the earliest stages of Alzheimer's to be prescribed on the NHS a £2.50-a-day drug (about $5/day in $US -- Ed.) which is said to provide relief from the symptoms and respite for families.
Steyn takes on the lunacy of sanctuary cities, media-report tiptoeing, and the apparently hopelessly-in-denial political elites:
..... there's been a succession of prominent stories with one common feature that the very same pundits, politicians and lobby groups have a curious reluctance to go anywhere near. In a New York Times report headlined "Sorrow And Anger As Newark Buries Slain Youth," the limpidly tasteful Times prose prioritized "sorrow" over "anger," and offered only the following reference to the perpetrators: "The authorities have said robbery appeared to be the motive. Three suspects – two 15-year-olds and a 28-year-old construction worker from Peru – have been arrested."
The powerful "manufacturing is in decline" meme won't go away soon, but it should.
It apparently isn't enough that the Institute for Supply Management's Manufacturing Index has read "expansion" in 48 of the past 50 months. It has become an article of faith among reporters and opportunistic politicians that American manufacturing has been, and continues to be, in a long-term decline.
The fact is that government reports also show the exact opposite. Why apparently no one, including the sector's supporters, has done, or at least published, the simple math involved to debunk the myth of "deindustrialization" is indeed a mystery.
There has been support by anecdote. For example, on August 6, Joel Kotkin, a presidential fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University, wrote an op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal ("The Myth of Deindustrialization"; link requires subscription). His column led as follows:
At OpinionJournal.com on Thursday ("Fair but Unbalanced -- How the media promote false pessimism about the economy"), Brian Wesbury, who has written several times on the disconnect between the strong economy and the public's perception of it (previous references here, here, here, here, and here), had another generally stellar column about what is nonetheless a relatively small piece of the problem.
Wesbury ascribes much of the disconnect to TV's need for "balance," when giving positive and negative views equal weight is often in reality unbalanced:
If one guest or expert is a "bull," then the other must be a "bear," to keep things fair. Or, if there is a single guest on air, the host often takes the other side of the issue in order to keep things balanced. Get some sparks between guests, a little argument here or there, and it's even better for the ratings. The bigger the audience, the better the show, that's the way the advertisers see it. It's basic supply and demand.
But this idea of presenting both sides of an issue, while entertaining, informative and seemingly balanced, may paradoxically create a warped perspective of the economy.
The Kids Are All Right Economic literacy test: High school seniors beat Congress.
Excerpts (bold is mine):
Since its founding in 1969, the NAEP has become something of an annual exercise in American educational masochism. Last year, only 54% of students met NAEP's "basic" standard--the equivalent of a passing grade--on the science test. The previous year tested history; a mere 47% passed. But when knowledge of economics was tested this year, well, let's just say the supply curve shifted. NAEP reported this week that 79% of twelfth graders passed this first-ever national economics test. Holy Hayek.
..... The depth of knowledge shown by ordinary seniors suggests that they have been able to absorb basic economic truths from their daily experiences. Now, if this wisdom can only survive four years of instruction by your average college faculty.
One needs to look no further than the Associated Press's story on the Scott Beauchamp saga to understand why the general public not following the news closely doesn't "get" just how biased and antagonistic towards the war, the military, and American soldiers Old Media outlets are.
In the case of Scott Beauchamp, now that their brethren at The New Republic (TNR) have been caught red-handed publishing made-up stories, John Milburn and Ellen Simon of the Associated Press appear to be doing everything they can to cover for them -- first, with a headline (probably determined elsewhere within AP) that fails to communicate anything resembling the essence of the story, and second, by struggling mightily in their reporting to make it appear that this is a "he said, she said" dispute, instead of a situation where Beauchamp and TNR have been thoroughly discredited.
Here's the headline:
Army denounces articles written by GI
Trouble is, Paragraphs 4 through 7 of the story make it clear that this is no mere denunciation -- it's a complete repudiation that the person the Army is supposedly only "denouncing" agrees with:
Imagine if a leading light of the right side of the blogosphere had the SEC come down on him like it just did on Jerome "Pump and Dump" Armstrong of MyDD and "Crashing the Gates" co-authorship fame (excerpt is from SEC announcement; HT Drudge, whose story refers to a New York Times blog story that is now behind the TimeSelect firewall):
August 7, 2007
On July 26, 2007, the Honorable John D. Holschuh, U. S. District Judge for the Southern District of Ohio, entered a Final Judgment as to defendant Jerome B. Armstrong ("Armstrong").
..... The Commission's Complaint, filed on April 14, 2003, alleged that beginning on March 6, 2000, Armstrong touted the stock of BluePoint Linux Software Corporation ("BluePoint") by posting unsubstantiated, favorable buy recommendations on the Raging Bull internet site. Armstrong posted over eighty such recommendations during the first three weeks that the stock of BluePoint was publicly traded. According to the Complaint, Armstrong praised BluePoint's investment value and encouraged investors who were experiencing trouble having their orders filled to keep trying. The Complaint further alleged that the promoters of BluePoint were secretly transferring stock in three other companies to Armstrong at prices below the then current market for those three stocks and that Armstrong made at least $20,000 by selling the shares he received from the promoters of BluePoint. The Complaint alleges that Armstrong did not disclose in his internet postings that he was being compensated for making the postings.
How easy it is to forget that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad almost was Time's Man of the Year. The Holocaust-denying Iranian despot was even, for a brief while, described as "Champion of the Dispossessed" and "Global Everyman" on its web site:
The New York Times is poised to stop charging readers for online access to its Op-Ed columnists and other content, The Post has learned.
..... The number of Web-only subscribers who pay $7.95 a month or $49.95 a year fell to just over 221,000 in June, down from more than 224,000 in April.
Not that it was a particularly insightful prediction, but yours truly wrote the following in November 2005 (first item at link), when the Times announced it had reached 135,000 online TimeSelect subscribers (current print subscribers get TimeSelect access free of charge):
The lesson from this post isn't bias as much as it is making sure not to get taken in by Old Media overreactions.
Jim Cramer of CNBC's "Mad Money" went mad on Friday, declaring Armageddon in this video rant on Friday (watch the whole thing to see just how out-of-control he was; his declaration is at 1:40 in the vid -- "in the fixed-income markets, we have Armageddon.").
The first trading day after Cramer's declaration of Aramageddon went thusly (from a CNN e-mail after the markets' 4PM close):
In a move that might make some people scratch their heads, a loosely formed coalition of left-leaning bloggers are trying to band together to form a labor union they hope will help them receive health insurance, conduct collective bargaining or even set professional standards.
Once again, something important breaks into Old Media, in this case the Orange County Register, only because a "mere" columnist decides it is:
Who funds the mosques and Islamic centers that in the past 30 years have set up shop on just about every Main Street around the planet?
For the answer, let us turn to a fascinating book called "Alms for Jihad: Charity And Terrorism in the Islamic World," by J. Millard Burr, a former USAID relief coordinator, and the scholar Robert O Collins.
..... Unfortunately, (at Amazon) if you then try to buy "Alms for Jihad," you discover that the book is "Currently unavailable. We don't know when or if this item will be back in stock." Hang on, it was only published last year. At Amazon, items are either shipped within 24 hours or, if a little more specialized, within four to six weeks, but not many books from 2006 are entirely unavailable with no restock in sight.
As of the time of this post, the hardback version of the book is not even listed at Amazon. While the eBook can be "purchased," there is nothing available to download after purchase (Grrr).
Put on a sweater, because you'll feel a chill as Steyn explains why (bold is mine):
The high-tech giants of search are attempting to position themselves as successors (or is it heirs?) to Old Media.
Hold the pompoms.
Given the political proclivities and selective indifference to human rights on the part of many of those who run the search giants, it behooves bias-watchers to pay close attention to what these companies are up to, and how they play the news they carry. It appears that The Who's 1970s warning ("Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss") about the results of most "revolutions" applies.
You doubt? Take a look at the disgraceful treatment blogger and syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin received at the hands of Google News in a supposedly "objective, informative" early 2006 report. The sneering condescension is palpable.
One of the Associated Press's earliest articles following Friday morning's release of the government's Employment Report, which showed July's unemployment ticking up 0.1% to 4.6% and new jobs increasing by 92,000, had this outrageous paragraph (backup link is here in case the article is revised or removed; bolds are mine):
Construction companies slashed 12,000 jobs in July. Manufacturers shed 2,000 and retailers cut a thousand. Some 28,000 government jobs were eliminated. In contrast, education and health care added 39,000. Leisure and hospitality expanded employment by 22,000. Professional and business services added 26,000 new positions.
Note that AP uses violent terminology to describe relatively modest decreases in employment caused by (apparently evil) private-sector employers, while it applies relatively bland verbs to much larger private-sector increases. Meanwhile, the description of the large reduction in government jobs slips into passive voice, with no perpetrator identified. Zheesh -- How obviously biased can you get?
More discussion, this week's winner, and a chart comparing Bush 43 and late Clinton-era economic performance are after the break.
Consumer confidence hit a six-year high in July, a widely watched gauge of sentiment showed on Tuesday, as Americans shrugged off falling home prices to focus on a healthy jobs market, instead.
The New York-based Conference Board said that its Consumer Confidence Index, rebounded to 112.6, its highest level since August 2001 when it recorded a 114.0 reading. That compared to a revised 105.3 in June. The July 24 cutoff for the preliminary survey of 5,000 U.S. households was before last week's stock market tumble, however.
It has to. A six-year high is bad enough; we surely can't afford to let the index get to an 8-year high, or someone might get the mistaken idea that the current economy is as good as or (heaven forbid) even better than the Golden Age of the 1990s (even though by a couple of respected measures it is).
As noted here at NB yesterday, Kansas Congresswoman Nancy Boyda walked out of a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Friday after hearing General Jack Keane testify about the potential impact of a bill meant to micromanage troop deployment. Keane also testified about progress being made in the counteroffensive that has come to be known as "the surge."
Boyda walked out because the objections to that bill, and the descriptions of an improving situation in Iraq, were apparently too much to bear. She said as much when she returned. Boyda and the fly in her pocket (based on her several references to "we") went into full-rant mode (painfully long and slow-loading audio is here; scroll down to July 27's entry and click on "Audio Transcript"; Boyda's tantrum is about 60% of the way through it; also note that at least a half-dozen hecklers and demonstrators had to be removed during the hearing):
"..... As many of us, there was only so much that you could take until we, in fact, had to leave the room for a while, and so I think I am back and maybe can articulate some things that after so much of the frustration of having to listen to what we listened to."
"But let me just first say that the description of Iraq as if some way or another that it's a place that I might take the family for a vacation, things are going so well, those kinds of comments will in fact show up in the media and further divide this country instead of saying here’s the reality of the problem and people, we have to come together and deal with the reality of this issue."