Government Agencies

By Tom Blumer | January 31, 2015 | 11:51 PM EST

At the recent meeting of the world's 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.

By Tom Blumer | January 31, 2015 | 9:54 AM EST

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 during the fourth quarter, 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.

By Tom Blumer | January 30, 2015 | 11:48 PM EST

Former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran, who alleges he was fired from his position solely because of his Christian beliefs, has filed a religious discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

That's not news at the Associated Press's national site, and it appears that the AP has not even carried a local story about Cochran's EEOC complaint — omissions that reek of a double standard.

By Tom Blumer | January 30, 2015 | 9:30 PM EST

Even Charles Babington at the Associated Press, for once not the completely beholden Administration's Press, seemed to be having a hard time buying what Democrats at a meeting in Philadelphia were selling. Unfortunately, he decided to let Joe Biden's direct contradiction of his party's congressional delegation's sunnyside-up stance on the economy go unreported.

In a video carried at the Weekly Standard, Biden said, "To state the obvious, the past six years have been really, really hard for this country, And they've been really tough for our party. Just ask [former DCCC chair] Steve [Israel]. They've been really tough for our party. And together we made some really, really tough decisions -- decisions that weren't at all popular, hard to explain." Despite how "really, really hard" it has all been, the party is attempting an "in your face" at those who want to claim that it has been that way because of the Obama administration's economic policies. Excerpts from Babington's AP report follow the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):

By Tom Blumer | January 28, 2015 | 11:52 PM EST

If someone fools you once, shame on them. If they fool you with the same trick a second time, shame on you. If they "fool" you a third time — well, you must be in on it.

That's my take on Bloomberg News's virtually euphoric reaction to yesterday's new-home sales release from the Census Bureau. The wire service's Shobhana Chandra celebrated how seasonally adjusted December sales were at "the highest level in more than six years." The problem is that the bureau reported the same development two other times in 2014, only to see each improvement disappear in subsequent revisions. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine):

By Tom Blumer | January 27, 2015 | 11:56 PM EST

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, has proposed spending $90 trillion — that's right, trillion — for such an enterprise. After the jump, readers will see how he wants to do it.

By Tom Blumer | January 27, 2015 | 10:02 PM EST

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.

By Tom Blumer | January 26, 2015 | 6:11 PM EST

This post follows up on Friday morning's entry (at BizzyBlog; at NewsBusters) showing that "Fewer Than 0.5% of Americans Live in Fully Recovered Counties." This is the kind of news which would be front and center with the nation's establishment press if such a report came out during a Republican or conservative presidential administration. With Team Obama in place, NACo's work has been virtually ignored.

Some commenters at the Friday post raised a potentially valid objection to the criteria used by the National Association of Counties to determine "full recovery." NACo's four bases were returns to pre-recession bests in number of jobs, the unemployment rate, GDP, and home prices. Objectors wanted to completely discount the group's work based on its inclusion of home prices, arguing that pre-bubble home prices were artificially high, and that a failure to return to those levels was not a valid indicator of economic malaise. If all three other metrics were impressive, they would have had a point. But they weren't. This post will look at the unemployment rate metric, because that will be the only one needed to show that they still don't have a point.

By Tom Blumer | January 26, 2015 | 11:28 AM EST

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.

By Tom Blumer | January 25, 2015 | 11:55 PM EST

As President Barack Obama and Governor Jerry Brown continue to extol the wonders of the alleged economic recovery of nation and the Golden State, respectively, stories of significant growth in homelessness continue to rain on their parades. The latest example comes on the heels of reports on Seattle's burgeoning problem and the city's apparent willingness to allow officially sanctioned outdoor encampments to serve as a "temporary" (yeah, sure) solution.

In a Saturday item in the Los Angeles Times about the expansion of "homeless camps" outside of what had been known as the LA's "skid row," Times reporter Gale Holland apparently learned not to repeat a revealing disclosure she made in a December Times report covering the situation in San Jose. Her coverage was remarkably vague, failing to provide specifics I believe she could have relayed with little effort, especially given that homelessness and poverty is her assigned beat. Excerpts follow the jump.

By Tom Blumer | January 23, 2015 | 4:46 PM EST

Someone looking at the annual "Union Members" report released this morning by the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics would logically conclude that 2014 was a year organized labor would rather forget.

While average nonagricultural wage and salary employment increased by over 2.32 million from 2013 to 2014, union membership only went up by 48,000, or about 2 percent of the nationwide increase. Additionally, the private sector's 41,000-person pickup in union membership was only 1.6 percent of its total 2.55 million increase. Yes, that means that public-sector union membership increased a bit while public-sector employment declined by 226,000. Of course, no such decidedly negative nuggets made their way into Labor Secretary Tom Perez's press release or Tom Raum's Associated Press report, excerpts of which follow the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):

By Tom Blumer | January 22, 2015 | 11:53 PM EST

A week ago, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, a Democrat, called homelessness in his city and the rest of King County a "full-blown crisis."

Based on the numbers presented in coverage of the area's situation, we can certainly add the Emerald City to the list of areas where homelessness has been on the rise. Odds are that many readers here didn't know that, because the national press hardly ever pays attention to homelessness when a Democrat occupies the White House. Now imagine the firestorm which would erupt if a Republican or conservative proposed the "solution," however allegedly temporary, Murray is advancing (bolds are mine):