NBC’s Brian Williams quickly breezed through news of a court ruling in Mississippi pertaining to Hurricane Katrina insurance claims. But unlike coverage of the case in the Associated Press and The New York Times, the “Nightly News” anchor cast the ruling only as a victory for storm damage victims, without looking at how it could harm the insurance industry or gum up courts by encouraging lawsuits.
Williams told viewers of the January 11 program about “A big legal victory today for a Biloxi, Miss., couple who sued State Farm Insurance for refusing to pay” their Hurricane Katrina damage claim. The ruling could prove helpful to “hundreds of other victims in that region” who could “benefit as a result,” the anchor insisted. All told, Norman and Genevieve Broussard walked out of court with nearly $3 million, Williams added.
The deficit through the first three months of the current fiscal year is almost $39 billion, or 32.7%, lower than last year's comparable figure. Receipts are up a bit over 8%, as the supply-side tax cuts continue their "magic." The real surprise is that outlays have barely budged, actually going up at a rate that is substantially lower than inflation (Psst -- Don't tell Congress that). Will the media notice?
Fishing around in the now widely-known Samoan exception to the recently passed Minimum Wage bill (where tuna industry workers there are apparently being paid $3.26 an hour), Andy's Angle cast a wide net and hauled in the following:
The interesting thing, however, is that the largest employer in American Samoa is Del Monte Foods' StarKist Tuna, home to over 75% of the island's workforce. Del Monte Foods, as it turns out, is headquartered in the District of the new Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Smelling a whiff of impropriety, House Republicans have thrown up some serious questions about the exemption and who inserted it into the bill.
NewsBusters points out that few in the Mainstream Media will cover this story given their breathless love for the new Speaker. FoxNews has picked up the story, questioning the potential influence Del Monte may have as a major player in the Speaker's District. Doing my own research, however, I've discovered that the impropriety is much deeper. Speaker Pelosi's husband Paul, it turns out, owns something to the order of $17 million in Del Monte stock!
(Editor's Note -- The previous sentence is noted in Wikipedia and has not otherwise been verified.
Commenter #3 at the related BizzyBlog post, claiming to be Tom Elliott of FunkyPundit, says he was told that no one holds more than $14 mil worth of DLM stock [except Heinz]. BizzyBlog Commenter #4 Kevin says that this item was entered into Wiki at 3:04 PM Jan. 12 [GMT, it is believed]; that link is here. The link claiming $17 mil in Del Monte ownership by Paul Pelosi goes to Nancy Pelosi's Wiki page. The Del Monte ownership interest is not claimed at that page. Thus, there is reason to believe that the claim of such ownership interest on the part of Paul Pelosi is suspect.)
I wonder if he stands to benefit should StarKist avoid an additional $2 hike in hourly wages... (actually, for the Samoans, it would be a $3.99 hike from $3.26 to $7.25 -- Ed.)
John Kerry's notorious "stuck in Iraq" statement, echoed by actor Matt Damon, suggesting that the United States military is a last resort for those without the education or finances to pursue other options, has been roundly refuted by Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Bill Carr. Among other areas, Carr has responsibility for recruiting and retenton. Secretary Carr appeared on yesterday's edition of my "rightANGLE" TV show. In addition to commenting on a wide range of recruitment-related topics, Sec. Carr had this to say about the Kerry-Damon remarks:
"Two-thirds of those entering the military are drawn from the top half, so we have a clearly disproportionate, strongly educated, high-aptitude military. With regard to financial status of the parents, that's also misrepresented. The only group that is underrepresented in the military are the poorest. If you look at the zip
Over at The Corner, Kathryn Jean Lopez reported GOP Reps. Eric Cantor and Patrick McHenry have found there's a loophole in the new minimum-wage increase: no hike for American Samoa. Why? Star-Kist Tuna is a major employer there, with its headquarters in Speaker Nancy Pelosi's district.
Will the media notice? FNC did. But so far, the rest of the political media have treated the minimum-wage as about as controversial as a post-office naming bill. But in 2005, we reported the media's Tom DeLay bashers had a fit about DeLay's Abramoff-lobbied coziness with low wages on the Northern Mariana Islands in the Pacific. PBS's Bill Moyers show "Now" (handed off to the suitably smarmy David Brancaccio) devoted a show to how DeLay was supporting "virtual slavery" in the Pacific. The slavery charge came not only from Brancaccio, but from liberal Rep. George Miller -- Pelosi's across-the-bay neighbor. Where's the media asking: what about the children of Samoa? Will PBS and George Miller throw a fit about the "virtual slavery" left untouched in Tuna Land?
Associated Press reporter Martin Crutsinger reported this morning that retail sales in December came in better than expected:
Retail sales rose in December at the strongest pace in five months, indicating that the all-important holiday shopping season turned out better than original reports indicated.
The Commerce Department said Friday that retail sales increased 0.9 percent last month, the strongest showing since a 1.4 percent increase in July.
The increase was better than the 0.7 percent advance that economists had forecast and provided evidence that consumer spending was ending the year on a firmer footing than initially thought.
The government report presented a firmer tone to spending than initial reports from the nation's big chain retail stores. They complained that holiday sales had fallen below expectations as mild winter weather depressed sales of winter clothing.
Crutsinger then downplayed the year's strong retail results, and used it as an opportunity to get in a few licks about how supposedly tough the economy of 2006 was:
For all of 2006, retail sales rose by 6 percent, a solid showing but down from a 6.9 percent increase in 2005.
That slowdown reflected the fact that consumer spending, after a sizzling start to the year, slowed in the spring and remained at lower levels for the rest of the year as Americans were battered by soaring gasoline prices, rising interest rates and a cooling housing market.
Mr. Crutsinger portrayal of the full-year result as a "slowdown," which formed the linchpin of the rest of that sentence's negativity, overlooked one "minor" detail: Reported retail sales figures include inflation.
It is very rare that a conservative agrees with anything published by Newsweek. Yet, Robert J. Samuelson wrote an article Wednesday that will likely shock most NewsBusters readers (emphasis mine throughout):
As someone born in late 1945, I say this to the 76 million or so subsequent baby boomers and particularly to Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, our generation's leading politicians: shame on us. We are trying to rob our children and grandchildren, putting the country's future at risk in the process. On one of the great issues of our time, the social and economic costs of our retirement, we have adopted a policy of selfish silence.
Shocking, yes? Think this might go counter to most Newsweek subscribers’ beliefs? Well, sit back and enjoy, ladies and gentlemen, for Robert was just getting warmed up:
Chances are if you hate what you make at your job, you either ask the boss for a raise or seek a job that pays more. Chances are you don't wait 10 years for your pay to increase. But ABC's Charles Gibson apparently thinks millions of Americans are mired in a decade-long drought of minimum wage pay.
"After years of waiting, millions of Americans have reason tonight to plan on a pay raise. The House overwhelmingly voted late today to raise the minimum wage in stages from $5.15 an hour to $7.25," Gibson informed viewers as he introduced a story by reporter Dean Reynolds on the January 10 program.
Only thing is, it's just not true. I explain why here.
It also appears CNN's Miles O'Brien got his econ degree from the Charlie Gibson Correspondence School of Economics.
An unbylined report on unemployment claims by the Associated Press is a classic of the genre (bold is mine):
The Labor Department reported Thursday that applications for jobless claims dropped by 26,000 to 299,000 last week on a seasonally adjusted basis. It marked the first time jobless claims have fallen below 300,000 since the week of July 22.
The improvement was much better than the decline of 9,000 that analysts had been expecting and provided further evidence that the slowing U.S. economy has not begun to seriously affect the labor market outside of specific industries such as housing and auto manufacturing.
SLOWING? Did AP ever consider that maybe claims are dropping because the economy may NOT be slowing?
It's not like there is a lack of evidence of continued and probably accelerating growth:
In its rush to anger viewers about private company “ownership” of public roads, the January 9 “Lou Dobbs Tonight” presented only one proponent of privatized toll roads, and then misrepresented his position on the issue, cutting out his defense of private investment.
Anchor Lou Dobbs sounded the alarm about federal highways “now being sold to the highest bidder” as he introduced a story by Lisa Sylvester. Sylvester began by suggesting that “Wall Street is paving the road to highway privatization” and that far from being sound policy, “states are eyeing privatization as a quick fix.”
Sylvester, who earned her master’s degree from the distinguished Medill School of Journalism, then aired a clip of the Reason Foundation’s Robert Poole. The sound bite featured the transportation policy expert observing that while “people are frustrated” with congested roads and that “nobody really wants to raise gas taxes.”
Those sound bite selections left viewers with the impression that Poole favors more taxes and government spending on highways, which is far from true. Yet when asked by the Business & Media Institute (BMI) about his reaction to Sylvester’s presentation, Poole assured BMI that he “addressed all their concerns in the material we taped.”
“I was afraid they would selectively use what I said,” Poole lamented in an e-mail, adding he’d “debated whether even to be interviewed” given the show’s previous biased presentation on transportation.
In an article Wednesday about organized labor's legislative goals for the 110th Congress, USA Today's Sue Kirchoff mischaracterizes a law that would move the union organizing process away from secret-ballot elections, and makes it sound like an improvement in representative government (bold is mine):
The AFL-CIO ..... is looking ahead to a second bill that sponsors call the "Employee Free Choice Act."
The bill would make it easier for unions to gain representation through an open process in which workers sign cards, in addition to secret ballot elections. Currently, the National Labor Relations Board oversees a secret ballot after a union or employer meets requirements to seek one. An employer can also recognize a union if a majority of workers sign authorizing cards.
You know the one thing I think I'd enjoy less than watching a complete stranger's vacation slide show? Subsidizing it with my tax money. But ABC's Bill Redeker (see full story here) failed to raise just how much taxpayers foot the bill for rail enthusiasts who ride Amtrak for a scenic view of the American West, even as he waxed nostalgic for the pre-Amtrak days of the luxurious long-distance train ride.
Today of course rail travel is dwarfed by more competitive, efficient, and convenient air travel while Amtrak all but monopolizes the nation's passenger rail.
But, perish the thought of actually making some cuts in the Amtrak budget:
Splicing his report with dining car scenes from “Silver Streak” and “North by Northwest,” Redeker complained that Amtrak had to skimp on china, stemware and tablecloths to meet budget cutbacks on its California Zephyr rail line.
The detritus of Nancy Pelosi's imperial celebrations have barely been cleared, and already at least one member of the liberal punditry, Robert Kuttner, is demanding that the new Dem majority do more of what Dems do best: tax and spend.
It's as if one of the Smithsonian's dinosaurs, taxasaurus democratae, patiently gathering dust all these last dozen years, had suddenly roared to life, broken from its exhibit, and began slouching toward Capitol Hill to be reborn. To mix a metaphor and a poem.
Annotated excerpts from Kuttner's impassioned plea, Get Serious Democrats, from this morning's Boston Globe:
I know, you thought things must be pretty darn good for the economy when you were spending an hour circling mall parking lots for a space so you could plunk down about 900 bucks on everything from a Nintendo Wii to a Tickle Me Elmo T.M.X.
Well, Katie Couric wants you to know that the 2006 Christmas shopping season was just "ho ho hum."
Today's announcement there were 167,000 net new jobs in December (196,000 counting revisions to prior months), and that the unemployment rate held steady at 4.5%, made me wonder how job growth during the Bush prosperity compares to job growth during comparable periods in the 1990s.
And my colleague Julia Seymour has the proof right here.
As the new majority of Democrats takes over the House of Representatives January 4, they have big plans – plans the media have supported.
Journalists have called arguments against a minimum wage hike “a lot of bull” and even came out in blatant endorsement of socialized medicine.
"The only answer is going to be, eventually, some kind of national, universal coverage. A guaranteed system that everybody regardless of income will have at least basic health care," said ABC medical correspondent Dr. Timothy Johnson on the Oct. 16, 2006, "Good Morning America."
Liberal activists and Democratic spokesmen are quick to argue that the minimum wage is too low and unfair. But on the January 2 “American Morning,” that argument came from a CNN business reporter.
While CNN’s Ali Velshi did note that “a lot of small businesses oppose” the new Democratic majority’s proposed wage hike, he insisted “the bottom line is it’s simply not fair that there has been a federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour” or “about $900 a week.”
His math was way off – $5.15 an hour comes to $206 per week. Velshi probably meant that a minimum wage earner would pull down close to $900 a month, given a 40-hour work week. Pay at $900 a week translates to $46,800 a year, a few hundred dollars more than the U.S. median income in 2005. Of course if pay “fairness” could be legislated by Congress as Velshi advocated, that would be a minor detail.
New homes sales: Back from the dead? New home sales rise more than expected and prices post gains despite continued rise in completed new homes on the market. December 27 2006: 11:11 AM EST
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- New home sales and prices both showed surprising strength in November, according to a government report Wednesday.
New homes sold at an annual pace of 1.05 million, up from the revised annual rate of 1.01 million in October. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had forecast that home sales would rebound to a 1.02 million pace.
Evening network broadcasts on the day after Christmas whined that a 6.5-percent increase in holiday spending for 2006 simply wasn’t enough. Ironically, only a month earlier CBS complained that Americans weren’t saving enough money. My colleague Julia Seymour wrote about the “humbug” attitudes of ABC, NBC and CBS here.
“Stores need more than returnees to turn this so-so Christmas shopping season into one to celebrate,” said Bill Whitaker during the CBS “Evening News.” Later Whitaker added that “in December the sizzle fizzled.”
But on Black Friday, CBS was singing a different Christmas tune:
Despite all the proof, Paul Krugman and most of Old Media will probably never let go of the "stagnant wages" meme to describe the Bush 43 prosperity. Their failure to acknowledge the obvious becomes clearer with nearly each passing day.
Tuesday's OpinionJournal.com feature editorial (may require free e-mail registration) doesn't merely show that the favorite meme of Krugman and his economic brothers and sisters is a folk tale. It also reveals a completely unreported item about this prosperity compared to the 1990s that even yours truly was not prepared for -- a truth (in the third excerpted paragraph) that needs to be trotted out on a weekly basis for about the next year -- or ten (bolds are mine):
I considered making Paul Krugman's column, "Helping the Poor, the British Way", my subject of this Christmas Day. I even had a snappy headline sussed out: "Let It Snow Socialism". But when it comes to using the message of the day to berate the United States, Krugman can't hold a Christmas candle to James Carroll of the Boston Globe.
Krugman took a glancing shot: "It’s the season for charitable giving. And far too many Americans, particularly children, need that charity."
Penny-ante pessimism, Paul in contrast with James Carroll's jeremiad. In his column, Carroll - a former Roman Catholic priest who has written about his bitter conflict with his military-officer father - condemns the United States in explicitly religious terms:
"The birth of Jesus is the reversal of the imperial order. . . Empire lives in the United States of America, and, despite assumptions of many Christian Americans, Christmas still rebukes the empire."
A rather extraordinary conclusion was reached by members of the panel on Sunday’s “The Chris Matthews Show” – the economy is strong. What makes this so earth shattering? Well, because the host prior to the elections – which, by the way, were only about seven weeks ago – regularly talked about how badly the economy was doing, and didn’t challenge those espousing similarly bearish viewpoints.
Yet, now that the elections are over, it’s okay for Democrat pols like Matthews to admit that which was clearly verboten prior to November 7. And, in this instance, not only did the host speak bullishly for a change, so did Dan Rather and Norah O’Donnell.
Matthews opened the show asking his guests what the best news for President Bush was in 2006. Rather amazingly answered: “The Dow and the economy. I’m not saying it will last, but the longer it lasts, the better it is for him, and I think it was the highlight of the year.”
The Dow and the economy were the highlight of the year? Really? Wouldn’t it have been nice if you folks recognized this before Election Day? Yet, Rather wasn’t the only one having such an astounding epiphany, as Norah O’Donnell agreed:
Last year, I sensed that journalists in general prefer to call this time of the year in commerce that of "holiday shopping" instead of "Christmas shopping," but that when it came to people losing their jobs, they preferred to describe layoffs as relating to "Christmas."
My instincts were proven correct, as you can see below from the results of three different sets of Google News searches in November and December (links to last year's related posts are here, here, and here):
I've decided to track the same items this year to see if there is any noticeable change or trend.
Here are all three sets of Google News searches during this Christmas season, compared to last year (the Dec. 22, 2006 searches were done at about noon; the posts on the previous two searches are here and here):
The Boston Globe can't put two and two together on immigration. Just last week it wrung its editorial hands over the fact that illegal immigrants are taking jobs away from. But naturally it didn't make the logical connection and call for a crackdown on illegal immigration. Then today, the paper lends its pages to a union official who, when it comes to illegals, sees only employers, with nary an illegal immigrant to be found.
It goes without saying that if you're the Commander-in-Chief, among the first people whose criticism you'd want to take into account would be . . . Hollywood movie stars. At least, that would seem to be Chris Matthews's opinion.
When Santa came to Wall Street this year, the media cried and pouted.
With the Dow Jones Industrial Average at an all-time high and commodities markets experiencing one of their best years in decades, Wall Street firms were feeling especially merry this year. The media responded as if they had seen Jacob Marley’s ghost.
NBC’s John Seigenthaler gloomily downplayed Wall Streeters’ good fortunes by stating:
I know there's only so much space, but today's subscription-only editorial in the Wall Street Journal missed a BIG chance to tell people something that the formerly Mainstream Media never gets around to telling people -- Social Security, contrary to popular belief, is a "progressive" tax system in its own right. Though the payroll tax taken in isolation is "regressive" because it is not assessed above a certain income level (at annual earnings above roughly $90,000), the fact that the more you make, the less you get in retirement benefits (compared to what you earned while you were working) more than offsets any nominal "regressiveness."
You doubt? Though the below from my classroom presentations changes every year, and still needs to be updated for the benefit increase announced in November, it makes the point (Warning: Mood-swing alert for upper-middle and greater income earners -- Ed.):
Maybe our liberal friends are onto something. They keep saying the rich should pay more taxes, and it turns out the rich already are! That's one of the valuable lessons from the IRS's annual study of income tax data, just released for 2004.
Americans who earned more than $1 million in adjusted gross income paid $178 billion, or an average of $740,000 per filer, in income taxes in 2004. That's up about one-third from 2002, the year before the Bush tax cuts in marginal income-tax and dividend and capital gains rates. The wealthiest 1% of tax filers paid a remarkable 35% of all individual income-tax payments that year.
I love the following analogy, but WSJ could have gone further with it:
Nigerian terrorists got free ink in the Baltimore Sun while the company that employs their victims, Shell Oil, got nothing, not even an acknowledgement from the Sun's reporter that the group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).
One country’s terrorist menace is one Baltimore Sun reporter’s insurgency.
In his December 18 article, “Paying the price for resistance,” Sun foreign reporter Scott Calvert gave readers a snapshot of a “violent insurgency that has forced a 20 percent to 25 percent cut” in Nigerian oil exports.
On Saturday's NBC Nightly News, while filing a story on the "mind-boggling" bonuses going to those who are "striking it rich" on Wall Street, correspondent Mike Taibbi downplayed the strength of the current economy in comparison to the "Clinton years," and also pointed out the "struggle" of "working Americans." While Taibbi argued that his reference to the "Clinton years" was a "chronological, not political distinction," he praised that period for "lifting more boats" while finding fault in the present. Taibbi: "But to many, today's version of the haves and have-nots feels different. In the boom of the Clinton years -- and I'm talking a chronological, not a political distinction -- the rising tide of that bull market truly did lift all boats, or at least a whole lot more of them." (Transcript follows)