I am indebted to Amity Shlaes for gently correcting a joke of mine that dates back to July 8, 1972. On that date in the New York Times, I joshed that President Calvin Coolidge "probably spent more time napping than any president in the nation's history" and therefore was a successful president. My joke was a play on an earlier joke by H. L. Mencken, and now Shlaes has corrected both of us. She has written a very impressive biography titled simply "Coolidge," wherein she never mentions Cal's naps but rather what made him the most successful president of the 1920s. He reversed the economic insolvency of President Woodrow Wilson, and set the economy on the road to growth, a road made rocky by Cal's successor, President Herbert Hoover, and rockier still by Hoover's successor, Franklin Roosevelt.
Though one would not know it today, Coolidge was the most successful president of the 1920s. Vice President Coolidge came to the presidency on the death of President Warren G. Harding in August 1923 and won the presidency outright in 1924 with 54 percent of the vote over the Democrat, John W. Davis, who had 28.8 percent of the vote, and the Progressive, Robert M. La Follette, who won just 16.6 percent of the vote. Moreover, Coolidge had won every race he ever contested from his first run for city councilman in 1898 to the governorship of Massachusetts in 1918, usually by astoundingly large margins. His combination of civility, effectiveness, standing by the law and, as president, tax cuts, budget balancing, and growth, was wildly popular with American voters, as was his singular asset, taciturnity.
Leave it to CBS News to push a liberal talking point as evidence of a national consensus on a highly contentious political issue. Such was the case on February 5, when CBS This Morning brought on former General Motors CEO Ed Whitacre to push to Obama administration’s decision to help bail out General Motors and Chrysler.
Speaking to Whitacre on Tuesday, co-host Charlie Rose introduced the segment by asserting that, “Everybody assumes this was money well spent by the U.S. government.” Whitacre, who was brought in by GM in 2009 while the federal government was partial owner, heaped praise on the decision to bail the automaker out:
No, I wouldn't. I think the government did exactly the right thing. I think it was the right thing for America, I wholeheartedly supported that. I think it worked really well. [See video after jump. MP3 audio here.]
Darn that economy. Why won't it behave? Doesn't it realize that Barack Obama has more important things to do than worry about its health and well-being?
That's the tone I get from a story headline at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, about how "ECONOMIC JITTERS COMPETE WITH OBAMA AGENDA." The poor guy; he has to pay attention to something he must have thought he could keep at bay with continued but consistent tepid job and economic growth. Trouble is, yesterday's report from the government indicated that the economy contracted at an annualized rate of 0.1% during the fourth quarter of last year. The underlying writeup by the AP's Jim Kuhnhenn also treats the economy as an annoying distraction or possibly even a threat to his gun contral and immigration de facto amnesty efforts (bolds are mine):
Economic activity in the U.S., turned negative in the fourth quarter of 2012 according to the Commerce Department, just one day after a huge drop in consumer confidence was announced.
This took the media entirely by surprise. It was the first time the economy went into negative territory since the recession ended. But this significant report was completely ignored by NBC “Nightly News,” carefully danced around on ABC “World News” and downplayed on CBS “Evening News” on Jan. 30. Print outlets also downplayed the news by claiming it was “not so bad.” [Video available below]
ABC and CNN contributor Donna Brazile - posing as one of Barack Obama's trusted defenders in the media like she always does! - got a much-needed education Sunday about the President's profligate spending.
Countering Brazile's propaganda on ABC's This Week, George Will said, "A dollar spent on A cannot be spent on B...This is our future. We're going to be an assisted living home with an Army. That's going to be the American government" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
A week ago, Associated Press reporters and their articles' headlines described the nation's job market in positive terms. An early a.m. report on Janaury carried this headline: "U.S. job market resilient despite budget fight." Later that same morning, just before the government's release of that day's employment report, there was this: "Jobs report expected to show underlying economic strength." Late that afternoon, reacting to the news that the economy had a December unemployment rate of 7.8 percent while adding 155,000 seasonally adjusted jobs, AP reporters Paul Wiseman and Christopher Rugaber described the performance as "matching the solid but unspectacular monthly pace of the past two years."
Reports from wire services other than the AP, which might as well stand for the Administration's Press, weren't as rosy. At Reuters ("Mediocre job growth points to slow grind for U.S. economy"), Jason Lange observed that December's hiring pace was "short of the levels needed to bring down a still lofty unemployment rate." Fair enough, but what the press continues to virtually ignore -- while obsessing over the same problem early last decade when the problem was nowhere near as severe -- is the plight of the long-term unemployed.
Here’s something I bet you thought you’d never see at the perilously liberal Huffington Post.
In a Dean Baker article published Tuesday with the astonishing title “There Is No Santa Claus and Bill Clinton Was Not an Economic Savior,” the second sentence read, “Just as little kids have to come to grips with the fact that there is no Santa Claus, it is necessary for millions of liberals, including many who think of themselves as highly knowledgeable about economic matters, to realize that President Clinton's policies sent the economy seriously off course.”
Back in the days when journalists practiced journalism, they would be on the alert for record-breaking news, whether positive or negative. These days, at least when it comes to the economy, it seems that they struggle to find positive records and ignore obvious negative ones right in front of their faces.
A case in point is today's Associated Press report on November's Monthly Treasury Statement. The government's report came in with a deficit of $172.1 billion, the highest November shortfall ever (the runner-up: last year's $137.3 billion). The AP's Christopher Rugaber either failed to recognize the reported amount as a record -- doubtful in my view given its size -- or didn't think its recordbreaking status was newsworthy. To be fair, unlike colleague Martin Crutsinger's typical monthly attempts, Rugaber got to almost all of the requisite monthly and year-to-date facts on receipts, spending, and the deficit itself, including comparisons to last year. Excerpts, including the all too familiar historical revisionism on how we got to where we are, follow the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
Tuesday's CBS This Morning played up the union-led protests against a proposed right-to-work law in Michigan. Elaine Quijano claimed "the protests here in Michigan...[will] likely only get bigger." Quijano added that "they're planning to return today in record numbers - protesters determined to defend one of the biggest union strongholds in the country."
The correspondent loaded her report with six soundbites from the anti-right-to-work protesters and their supporters, including President Obama. Quijano only played two from proponents of the Michigan bill, including "reluctant supporter" Governor Rick Snyder.
As Colonel Kurtz said at the end of Apocalypse Now: “the horror, the horror.” That sentiment encapsulated New York Times Republican David Brooks and syndicated columnist Mark Shields’ reactions to the rejection of the UN treaty on the rights of the disabled in the Senate last week. Brooks called it “embarrassment for the country” – while Shields called it “a profile in cowardice.” Regardless, it seems that both men forget that we have a similar bill called The Americans with Disabilities Act, which was passed under George H.W. Bush.
During the segment, which aired on December 7, NewsHour anchor Judy Woodruff decided to end her interview with Brooks and Shields on this point:
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich on Sunday gave Lawrence O'Donnell a much-needed education on the economic impact of the Bill Clinton tax hikes in the '90s.
As O'Donnell precipitated the exchange, he perfectly demonstrated why MSNBC commentators are far too liberally biased to be invited on NBC's Meet the Press (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Where’s my bacon, Obama? That's the attitude of Councilwoman JoAnn Watson, who said that in appreciation for Detroit having voted for the president, Obama should bail out the financially insolvent.
In fact, Watson says, “that’s what you do” when your friends help you out. Alas, the country sees the incompetence and the entitlement that has ruined Detroit. Just because you helped get the president re-elected, doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed loans to save your city. In fact, if such a list existed, I’d bet that most of California’s municipalities are probably in front of you, Ms. Watson.
During the December 4 edition of the PBS NewsHour, anchor Gwen Ifill decided to give a lofty eight minute and forty second interview to Obama cheerleader and Nobel laureate Paul Krugman so he can try to convince us that the fiscal cliff isn’t that big of a deal. Of course, in his estimation, Democratic proposals for higher taxes and higher spending were serious, while Republican alternatives to tackle the deficit were trivial. In fact, according to Krugman, “Obama is actually very serious in the real sense. It's just the notion he hasn't done anything on entitlement reform is totally unfair. He's done more than anyone has ever done before.”
And that’s why he needs $1.6 trillion dollars in tax hikes and $50 billion in additional stimulus spending to be "serious" about reining in deficit spending?!
Deck the halls! The Obamas were Christmas shopping on "Small Business Saturday," and spurring economic growth with their consumer spending. Economic activity that may come to an abrupt end if we take the plunge off the fiscal cliff.
CBSNews.com reporter Lindsey Boerma wrote on November 24 about the outing detailing how, “accompanied by his daughters Sasha and Malia, the president journeyed across the river to One More Page Books, which the White House described as an "independent, neighborhood bookstore." After consulting his Blackberry for an apparent holiday wish list, he purchased 15 children's books before even browsing the store.” But is President Obama really pro-small business?
This morning the Obama administration's "National Economic Council & Council of Economic Advisers" jointly released "The Middle-Class Tax Cuts' Impact on Consumer Spending & Retailers." Among the howlers in this non-economic political document: "Independent Economic Analysis Clearly Demonstrates Why We Need to Extend the 2001/2003/2010 Tax Cuts for the Middle-class." But not everyone else? Don't high income-earners spend money too?
The primary thrust of the administration's release is that, in regards to negotiations to avoid the "fiscal cliff," is the predictable class warfare clarion call, complete with kidnapping-related rhetoric: "There is no reason to hold the middle-class hostage while we debate tax cuts for the highest income earners." The word "hostage" appears three times in the first two pages of the document. The subtext, of course, is that the hostage-holders are the Republicans in Congress, particularly the House of Representatives. At the Politico, Byron Tau ignored this classless, tasteless partisan tack by supposed professionals:
Schlockumentary filmmaker Michael Moore had some straight talk for Barack Obama Monday.
In a letter to the President published at the perilously liberal Huffington Post, Moore advised Obama to "DRIVE THE RICH RIGHT OFF THEIR FISCAL CLIFF" while putting an end to "the s***ting on the poor."
Nuns on the Bus tour leader Sister Simone Campbell appeared on MSNBC's The Cycle on Thursday afternoon to discuss her ministry, which predictably led to her left-wing agenda becoming the focal point of the conversation. The only host to take issue with her talking points was token conservative S.E. Cupp, who was armed with facts and figures that the good sister could not rebut except by adamantly insisting they were "really wrong." That's when it started getting a little tense. [ video below, MP3 audio here ]
In what was a transparent attempt to scrutinize how conservative a black actress can really be, the ladies of The View invited Stacey Dash on the program to substitute for Elisabeth Hasselbeck. Immediately following her summary of what was to come, Whoopi Goldberg inquired how Dash was doing after the vicious attacks she had endured on Twitter for simply endorsing Mitt Romney.
Without resorting to the same animosity, the liberal hostesses were seemingly just as incredulous. Why would someone like her -- a black woman who works in Hollywood -- vote for anyone but Obama? They made it their mission to find out, pushing her to explain herself. Perhaps they were too busy to read the 3-page essay that she posted online before the election. [video below, MP3 audio here]
Well, there's one little bit of good news in Martin Crutsinger's final report on yesterday's release of the federal government's October Monthly Treasury Statement (I did a review of his initial take yesterday [at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog]). The good news is that Crutsinger, unlike in most months during the past several years I have reviewed such reports, actually identified the single-month amount of money the federal government spent in October, namely $304 billion. We'll see if he continues the practice of reporting single-month spending amounts in future months.
The rest of Crutsinger's coverage is typically pathetic and predictable. He failed to correctly define what the deficit really is for his readers, understated the impact on fiscal 2013 of any tax or spending decisions the President and Congress might agree on, ignored the likelihood that receipts in teh coming year are likely coming back to levels last seen in fiscal 2007 (meaning that virtually the entire problem facing the country has to do with spending, not collections), and engaged in the seemingly required exercise of blaming George W. Bush for running deficits (not disclosed as far smaller) and conducting wars Congress agreed to fight before Obama came into office. As I said, typically pathetic and predictable.
The media will never let a disaster – or a favorable (to them) election – go to waste. So the last month has been propitious for them. Combine Hurricane Sandy and the presidential election with the looming fiscal cliff, and the media have the perfect opportunity to push for a carbon tax.
The New York Times claimed that “economists of diverse viewpoints concur that if the international community entered into a sensible agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the economic benefits would greatly outweigh the costs.” On Nov. 9 The Washington Post declared that “compared to the fiscal cliff, even a carbon tax might look attractive.” And the next day, the Post continued by saying that a carbon tax would be the “best plan” that could address both global warming and the fiscal cliff.
CNBC’s Jim Cramer predicted a possible recession by Christmas if lawmakers didn’t step up and make some sort of deal in regards to the looming fiscal cliff. His prediction came during an Nov. 11 appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“We can gift wrap a recession by Christmas. We can set it right into place without some agreement,” Cramer told “Meet the Press” host David Gregory. He attributed that week’s stock market drop to that same lack of certainty.
Last Friday, in his first post-election remarks on PBS and NPR, New York Times columnist David Brooks downplayed his usual bash- conservatives narrative, and actually castigated liberals for wanting to go over the looming fiscal cliff. He said that liberals are more organized, they’ve won the election, and will get most of what they yearn for if we do go over the waterfall: increased revenue, tax hikes, and cuts to defense spending.
Strangely, his liberal colleagues, Mark Shields on PBS and E.J. Dionne on NPR, seemed to agree with this claim – undercutting the notion that this "cliff" is dangerous to both parties.
On the Nov. 5 edition of CNBCs “Squawk Box,” former CEO of GE Jack Welch guest hosted and did not shy away from his opinions of the current administration. Welch emphasized the great opportunity America has with natural gas and how some of Obama’s proposed green energy bills pose a great threat to the economy.
One of those big threats, according to Welch, is the Ozone regulations bill, which was pushed back to be enacted in early 2013. “Ozone is a trillion dollar bill to the U.S. economy,” Welch stated. “If they put the ozone restrictions in that they want and take them down to sixty parts per billion, take them down there, it’s a trillion dollar bill.”
On the Nov. 2 edition of CNBCs “Squawk on the Street,” former chief economic advisor to George W. Bush and Hoover Fellow Ed Lazear commented that today’s jobs report may not be as good as the Obama administration and media make it out to be. “You have to think about how much do you need to keep employment constant as a proportion of the population,” he stated.
The Associated Press, Bloomberg and Reuters all eagerly told readers today that the seasonally adjusted annualized level of single-family home sales in September of 389,000 was the highest in 2-1/2 years and really, really good news for the housing market, the economy as a whole, or both. What they all "somehow" failed to mention was the fact that sales are still far below where they were during the 12-month recession in 2008 and 2009 (defining "recession" properly), when the market was screeching to a halt after overbuilding driven by subprime lending frauds by design Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
The numbers reported by the Census Bureau since January of 2008, first expressed at seasonally adjusted annual rates, then as raw number of homes sold, follow the jump.
In their third Presidential debate analysis, the Jurassic Press Media last night and thus far this morning have failed utterly in their role as fact checker and record-corrector - at least when it comes to what President Barack Obama had to say.
As but one glaring example, there were the President’s absurd assertions regarding the auto bailout and China.