It's time to wave the white flag and surrender to "post-partisan" unity.
Yes, it's time for conservatives to abandon core principles and just allow the Pelosi/Reid/Obama pork-a-palooza, also known as the stimulus or the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009, to pass into law. At least that's what one Newsweek columnist would have conservatives do.
Now is not the time for political bickering in this "post-partisan" era, said Newsweek columnist Michael Hirsh in a Web exclusive piece for Newsweek dated Feb. 4. Hirsh reflected on how Obama has lost grip on the "agenda in Washington," and complained how the debate on the stimulus has proceeded, "nitpicking over efficiency" instead of debating the size.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) participated in a blogger conference call Monday to discuss President Obama's stimulus package and its prospects for passage in the Senate.
NewsBusters associate editor Noel Sheppard participated in this discussion, and had an interesting exchange with the Senator concerning current tax receipt projections by the White House and what they suggest about the economy.
Don't like the notion of Wall Street employees receiving bonuses? Shoot the messenger - as Adam Green at The Huffington Post has done.
In a Feb. 2 post on The Huffington Post, Green said it was bad form for CNBC "Street Signs" host Erin Burnett to even think about considering the other side of the anti-Wall Street bonus argument, since some Wall Street banks received TARP funds, courtesy of the taxpayer.
"There are, though - well, how should we say this - the taxpayer money is not being used to pay the bonuses," Burnett explained on NBC's Feb. 1 "Meet the Press." "I think people could understand if you work for a company - right? If the three of us worked for a company, your guests, and I lost $10 billion but Steve [Forbes] over there, he made a billion dollars. So overall the company actually loses money, but Steve went and did his very darndest for that company and he made money. So should he be paid for his work? That's essentially what we're talking about here."
ABC's "World News Sunday" found a new twist on the obesity crisis Feb. 1. Apparently, recession can "lead to a spike in obesity."
Anchor Dan Harris introduced the "counterintuitive" report saying, "Americans are cutting back on food spending which could actually lead to a spike in obesity." Why? Because "eating healthy can cost more," ABC's Stephanie Sy reported.
Sy worried about "cheap treats" "that many public health experts fear may cause obesity rates to rise in the recession."
Interviewing shoppers in Aldi, a discount food chain, Sy said "most folks are stocking up on processed foods high in fat and sugar." Acting as the food police, Sy teased one customer about cinnamon Danishes in his cart saying, "What are these about? Very high in fat, very high in sugar."
But like many other media reports about obesity, Sy did not present the argument that ultimately every person is responsible for his or her own food choices.
With all the populist sentiment generated from the economic slowdown by politicians, CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer is seeing eerie similarities with the comments of President Barack Obama and the words of a communist revolutionary.
Cramer, appearing on MSNBC's Feb. 2 "Morning Joe," drew comparisons between remarks between the first head of the Soviet Union, Vladimir Lenin, and Obama. Obama criticized Wall Street's moneymaking on Jan. 30, when he said there would be a time "for them to make profits, and there will be time for them to get bonuses. Now's not that time. And that's a message that I intend to send directly to them."
Cramer said that was similar to Lenin's writings. "Let me tell you something, we heard Lenin," Cramer said. "There was a little snippet last week that was, ‘Now is not the time for profits.' Look - in Lenin's book, ‘What Is to Be Done?' is simple text of what I always though was for the communists, it was remarkable to hear very similar language from ‘What Is to Be Done?' which is we have no place for profits."
Reporter Jason DeParle garnered Monday's lead story slot in the New York Times with an investigation into how the U.S. welfare system, which went through enormous changes in 1996 after President Clinton signed a bill replacing cash entitlement with work requirements and time limits, is functioning state by state during tough economic times ("Welfare Aid Failing to Grow as Economy Lags)."
But DeParle might not be the most objective teller of this particular tale -- his reporting has always been opposed to the welfare reform bill pushed by the GOP and signed by Clinton. At the time, he called it "a bill that begrudges poor infants their Pampers" and warned of more homelessness, drug use, prostitution, and abortions, none of which came to pass.
DeParle doesn't acknowledge that in his story, which began:
Despite soaring unemployment and the worst economic crisis in decades, 18 states cut their welfare rolls last year, and nationally the number of people receiving cash assistance remained at or near the lowest in more than 40 years.
The trends, based on an analysis of new state data collected by The New York Times, raise questions about how well a revamped welfare system with great state discretion is responding to growing hardships.
Several years ago, the Media Research Center joined with then-Cato economist Stephen Moore (now with the Wall Street Journal) on a book “Dollars and Nonsense” debunking the news media’s top ten economic myths. First on the list was the canard that government spending and deficits stimulate the economy, a premise demolished in an essay written by the Nobel-prize winning economist Milton Friedman.
But as President Obama and the Democrats push a big government spending package that promises to “stimulate” the economy, journalists are once again accepting the idea that such spending can really cause the economy to grow. “How soon will jobs show up? And what kind of jobs?” ABC’s Diane Sawyer eagerly asked White House press secretary Robert Gibbs on Thursday’s Good Morning America.
NBC reporter John Yang also presupposed that the spending plan would boost economic growth. “The recession Mr. Obama inherited is deepening,”Yang intoned on the January 24 Nightly News. “And as the urgency for the stimulus package grows, the president promised the money would be spent carefully.”
As Milton Friedman pointed out, the government can only get the dollars it spends in one of three ways: taxing, borrowing, or creating new money. Taxing and borrowing take from the economy, essentially canceling out the effects of the spending or worse. Creating new money amounts to monetary stimulus, which could boost economic activity whether the new money is spent by government or by the private sector.
CNN's Campbell Brown isn't happy with what Rush Limbaugh said about her colleague Ali Velshi Friday, and has invited the conservative radio host to debate him on her program.
As some background, Velshi was on Brown's "No Bias, No Bull" show Thursday and claimed: "This is not the economy that Ronald Reagan ever saw or anybody with the last name Bush ever saw, or Clinton. We have not seen anything like this in our lifetime."
After the fourth quarter Gross Domestic Product numbers were released Friday showing a much lower-than-expected decline, Limbaugh took issue with what Velshi said the night before:
Mr. Velshi, you are incompetent. You are a disservice to your business, except you fit right in at CNN. Disinformation, character assaults. This economy is nowhere near as bad as it was in 1982.
Brown took issue with this Friday evening (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript, file photo):
Allison cited a "religious belief in affordable housing" that led the government to institute the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 (CRA) and later, during the Clinton years, to a huge expansion of Fannie and Freddie.
"In my opinion, I'm certain without Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae we could not have had the magnitude of misinvestment - we'd a had misinvestment but nothing like what we've had today," Allison said.
Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh wrote an op-ed in Thursday's Wall Street Journal wherein he offered a bipartisan stimulus plan to get the economy going.
As not one Republican voted for President Obama's economic package in the House Wednesday despite his campaign promises to usher in a new era of bipartisanship, given the media's focus on Limbaugh of late one would expect his now-published plan to get oodles of press attention.
Will it, and if it does will Obama-loving media members seriously consider the details or quickly dismiss it because of its origin?
As you ponder, here are some of Limbaugh's suggestions:
Wednesday’s Good Morning America led into an interview with House Republican Leader John Boehner about the massive Democratic “stimulus” package with a deluge of horror stories about the awful economy: an elderly man who froze to death after failing to pay his power bills; a new report declaring the need for $2 trillion in new infrastructure spending; and an unemployed man who killed his family and himself.
“You know this situation -- you don't need me to tell you about it, we hear about job losses being reported every day,” news anchor Chris Cuomo told viewers, “so the pressure is on lawmakers” to “get past the age-old battle over tax cuts versus spending” and pass the massive spending bill. Making it perfectly obvious which side he’s on, Cuomo declared “a promising signal for all of us” that Boehner seemed to come out of a meeting with President Obama “looking to make a deal.”
But the economic horror stories that ABC pushed prior to showing the interview with Boehner (taped Tuesday afternoon) all contain significant omissions. The “unregulated” power company being blamed for the elderly man’s death is owned by the local government, not some greedy capitalist utility. The new report arguing for massive spending on roads and bridges was released two months early to influence the stimulus vote. And the man who tragically killed his family did not lose his job because of cost-cutting or anything related to the economy, but after being investigated for possible fraud.
Kyra Phillips of ‘Newsroom’ and Christine Romans discuss ‘discouraging’ lack of women in Obama’s cabinet, job package that ‘favors’ men.
Liberal feminists claim that President Obama’s administration will not have enough female representation and that the job creation part of his stimulus plan will favor men.
But on CNN’s Newsroom, lack of the feminist perspective certainly wasn’t an issue Jan. 23. In fact, it was the only voice viewers heard.
Newsroom host Kyra Phillips introduced Christine Romans’ estrogen-dominated segment which included feminists complaining about Obama. Romans mentioned that six cabinet positions out of 21 have gone to women, yet liberal feminist groups like National Organization for Women (NOW) and The New Agenda were “disappointed.”
The Associated Press's 1:12 p.m. coverage (saved here, as the dynamic link changed during the drafting of this post) of the Senate Finance Committee's hearing on Barack Obama's nomination of Timothy Giethner as Treasury Secretary has plenty of discussion of Geithner's tax "mistakes" (the picture, but not its heading, is from a November 21 New York Times article).
But as has been the case with every AP report I've seen, there is no mention of the fact that the International Monetary Fund, Geithner's 2001-2004 employer, partially reimbursed him for his Social Security and Medicare "self-employment tax" liabilities.
Here are the first eight paragraphs of AP Economics Writer Martin Crutsinger's report:
At a time when the United States is fighting two wars and faces a severe recession and huge budget deficits, the inauguration of Barack Obama as the nation's 44th president is estimated to cost $45 million. Bush's 2004 inauguration cost roughly $40 million. But though the figures are similar, there's been a major shift in the tone of coverage at the New York Times.
While the Times spent much of January 2005 making clear its disapproval of Bush extravagantly celebrating his inauguration during wartime, that concerned tone is conspicuously absent from the Times in January 2009, although the country is not only still at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also in danger of a deep recession. The difference? Perhaps because this time, it's the Times's favored candidate who is readying to assume the highest office.
A January 11, 2005 editorial on Bush's second inauguration, "Victor's Spoils," sniffed:
At the rate President Bush's supporters are giving money, his second inauguration threatens to stand out in the history books like the common folks' muddy boot prints on the White House furniture at Andrew Jackson's gala. The $40 million record for inaugural partying set four years ago for Mr. Bush is expected to be shattered this month....Ordinary citizens might have hoped that the overriding issue in Washington -- the perilous Iraq war, with its drain on the nation's blood and treasure -- would dictate restraint. But plans for the four-day extravaganza roll forward with nine celebratory balls being underwritten by the usual corporate and fat-cat supplicants in the political power mill. There's nothing new in Washington's triumphalist celebrations, festooned with price tags for access, but war usually mutes the singing and dancing. Not this year.
Business & Media Institute's Dan Gainor appeared on "Fox & Friends," Jan. 12 to discuss why, with trillions of dollars, millions of jobs, and the future of our economic system on the line, the mainstream media won't ask Obama tough questions on his stimulus plan.
Given the media favoritism for Barack Obama during the campaign, Gainor said, "So, it's no surprise that they're not asking him tough questions [about the stimulus package]."
"Fox & Friends" co-host Steve Doocy specifically asked Gainor about Obama's expanding promise to create 4 million new jobs.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which first rolled off the presses in 1863 and has been the state's longest-publishing newspaper, is up for sale.
The newspaper's staff was called into a closed meeting today by Publisher Roger Oglesby. Present at the meeting was Hearst Newspaper President Steve Swartz, who told the newsroom that Hearst Corp. is starting a 60-day process to find a buyer.
If a buyer is not found, Swartz said, possible options include creating an all-digital operation with a greatly reduced staff, or closing its operations entirely.
In no case will Hearst continue to publish the P-I in printed form, Swartz said.
Considering how green Seattle is, would it be such a loss to have one less tree-killing enterprise around?
Maybe Rachel Maddow watched one too many clips of Bill Clinton during the '92 campaign claiming George H.W. had "driven the economy into a ditch" and that things were as bad as they'd been since the Depression. In the course of trying to lower expectations for Obama to the max on her show tonight, and tracing the history of the economies previous presidents inherited, Maddow claimed that "Clinton took the oath during an economic downturn."
Uh, no. He took office in the midst of an economy that was growing at a fast pace. Don't take my word for it. "Fast pace" was the way economic growth was characterized at the time by the . . . New York Times.
Here is some much-needed sanity from Business & Media Institute commentator Dan Kennedy: The first sprouts of the new American economy are already breaking through the snow.
Some associates and I have recently invested capital in forming a new bank. I’m not allowed to give out its name or location here, in this column, as commercial promotion is forbidden thanks to the non-profit status of the publisher – an annoying little oddity, given that I’m writing in defense of capitalism.
But, to the point. A Business Week article from Dec. 22 was headlined "This May Be the Ideal Time to Start A Bank." We agree, or they agree with us. Specific to banking, a start-up with no toxic assets and sufficient capital can borrow cheaply, and can be well-positioned to be acquired at a nifty gain when the recession dissipates and recovery takes over. That’s our strategy and we’re stickin’ to it.
On Sunday’s Face the Nation on CBS, fill-in host Chip Reid discussed the economic crisis with left-wing economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, wondering: "I know you've been arguing for a more progressive government for a long time and obviously at difficult times like this, I don't want to suggest that a recession is a good thing. But if looking back at this five years, or some number of years, from now, can you envision a country that is better off because of how it responded to this recession?"
In response, Krugman explained: "Well, if you believe, as I do, that we need a stronger social safety net, that we need universal healthcare, then the revelation of just how vulnerable we are when things go wrong is going to help." Krugman went on to praise the New Deal: "We came out of the New Deal, we came out of the 1930s, as a better country, a middle class country, where we had been in the Gilded Age. We came out as a country that took better care of its citizens."
Common sense says that the chart's results after adjusting for inflation are more important (identified as "Chained  dollars") than those in current dollars. Consmers' disposable income went up 1.0% in real (after-inflation) terms in November after a 0.7% increase in October.
It took a month for real consumer spending ("Personal consumption expenditures") to catch up to the increased disposable income, but it did so in a big way in November. The 0.6% real increase is the highest in over three years. Both improvements are objectively good news, and are largely due to sharply declining gas prices.
This is pretty fundamental Econ 101 stuff, isn't it? As you can see from the headlines and the treatment of the real spending increase that follow, the business press mostly flunked, and badly:
The roundtable on Monday night's Special Report with Brit Hume on FNC was not kind to the New York Times's hit piece on Sunday's front page that blamed President Bush and only Bush for the mortgage meltdown, ignoring the Democrats in Congress who protected the irresponsible push for more "affordable housing" by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (as Times Watch noted yesterday).
Nina Easton, Washington bureau chief of Fortune magazine, pronounced herself "flabbergasted when I read this story, flabbergasted....You cannot write a story about affordable housing policies and blame it on George Bush instead of the Democrats. I mean, it’s just, it’s outrageous."
From the Monday night Special Report with Brit Hume:
Christmastime is the time of giving. So we can thank Bernie Madoff for giving Americans some special gifts this holiday season.
Yes, I said thank him. OK, maybe not a lot. But the one-time financial wizard's downfall is a morality tale that provides so many lessons it's almost impossible to know where to start.
If you've been living under a rock, the former chairman of the Nasdaq has been charged with securities fraud. Not just ordinary securities fraud, either. Reportedly, Madoff's sons turned in their father, and who could blame them. He had allegedly confessed to them "that his investment business was a giant Ponzi scheme' that cost clients $50 billion, a lawyer for the brothers" told Bloomberg.
And what was this heinous, catastrophic philosophy that caused all our nation's problems? "Americans do best when they own their own home."
Oh the humanity.
Sadly, much as the Times and its liberal colleagues conveniently forgot and/or ignored all American history prior to March 2003 in order to blame the nation's problems on Bush and the invasion of Iraq, the authors of this disgrace omitted and/or skirted over virtually all the relevant pieces of legislation and issues that led to our current financial crisis -- as well as articles on the subject published by their very paper!!! -- instead focusing readers' attention on the following (emphasis added throughout, photo courtesy NYT):
On CBS’s Sunday Morning, correspondent Chip Reid compared Obama’s economic plan to that of Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal: "During the Great Depression, Franklin Delano Roosevelt started the Works Progress Administration, the WPA. It would put 8.5 million to work...Now a new American president-elect is vowing to put the country back to work. This Sunday Morning, we'll take a look back at the WPA. And the lessons it may hold for him and for the nation." Reid later played a clip of Obama addressing the economic crisis and then observed: "In 1933, another new president faced a collapsing economy and rallied the nation with similar words...75 years ago, Franklin Delano Roosevelt began the New Deal."
In a segment that was a glowing tribute to FDR and the New Deal, Reid described Obama’s economic plan as a triumphant return of big government: "And now, President- elect Obama is talking about his own jobs program, that could cost half a trillion dollars. Economic analyst Jeff Madrick believes Mr. Obama is also sending a very clear message." Madrick observed: "Well, I think the government is back and we're all the better for it. In fact, the government's been away at least since Ronald Reagan." Reid touted Madrick’s latest book: "Madrick recently published 'The Case for Big Government.' He says today, as in the Depression, only government action can stop an economic dive to an unknown bottom." Reid did wonder: "So who's going to pay for big government?" Madrick replied: "I think down the road higher taxes, even on the middle class -- and I know this is anathema right now -- will be necessary to pay for the social programs we need."
CBS's "The Early Show" included a statement in its Dec. 18 report on the Big 3 bailout from "auto industry analyst," Dan McGinn. Letting the massive car companies fail "would be like 10 Katrinas hitting America at the same time," McGinn asserted. "The American public understands that."
What the report didn't say is that McGinn is also an adviser to General Motors. Furthermore, TMG Strategies the public relations firm McGinn heads, lists GM as a client. McGinn has been making the case for an auto bailout in many news stories and issuing some compelling statements on behalf of his client.
On MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews," McGinn was labeled as an "auto industry consultant," Dec. 4. There was no mention of his link to GM.
No, it's a not a story from the Onion. It's AFP reporting on the actions of Associated Press photographers and journalists:
US news agency staff stage 'byline strike'
Journalists and photographers at the US news agency the Associated Press (AP) are withholding their bylines to protest management's stance in contract talks, their union said.
"Staffers recognize the tough times, but they also understand that quality journalism at AP means attracting and retaining the best employees," Tony Winton, president of the News Media Guild, said in a statement on Tuesday.
The Guild said AP reporters and photographers were withholding bylines and personal equipment "in protest over the news agency's proposals that would threaten job security, dramatically raise medical costs, and freeze wages."
Last week the Business & Media Institute released its annual Top 10 list of the worst economic myths the media spread in 2008. The list was broad, ranging from “killer tomatoes,” to the collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to the death of capitalism.
But it was myth number 2 “Welcome to 1929: Great Depression II” that touched a nerve with Cliff Mason, senior writer for Mad Money, because of its criticism of CNBC’s Jim Cramer. By the way, Mason is also Cramer’s nephew according to the disclosure at the end of his bio.
Superhero economist and top-notch investor John Maynard Keynes famously told one of his critics, "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"
On Mad Money we happen to share that same philosophy. And unfortunately, it's still something of a radical position.
On Thursday, the Business and Media Institute released its list of "The Media's Top 10 Worst Economic Myths of 2008." Jim is mentioned in three of them, but it's myth number 2, "the news media drew hundreds of parallels to the Depression, despite economic data that is not even close," that reminded me of that Keynes quotation.
The first two paragraphs of a recent Salon Magazine piece by Michael Lind on Obama's plans for America's future are striking for the utter lack of any relationship whatsoever between them. The lack of cognitive dissonance between them is amazing but easily proves that liberals don't have the first idea what an economy is.
This Salon piece is proof once again of the stark difference between reality and the liberal mindset of slavish reliance on the concept of a Keynesian style of big government. If we could spend our way out of economic hard times, as Lind praises Obama for advocating, then why are we now having such hard times? The government already spends far, far more than it takes in, yet here we are talking about recession, even depression. If all we had to do was initiate wild spending projects to solve our problems, then we simply would not be in hard times. Yet, here is Salon and Lind praising Obama for announcing absurd, pork laden spending projects as if that will solve everything. It didn't work for the U.S.S.R. and it won't work for us (and, no, it didn't work for us in the past either. Look at FDR's utter failure to fix the Great Depression. We only came out of that when WWII came along).