USA Today's Emily Bazar wrote a long article Wednesday ("Strict immigration law rattles Okla. businesses") on the early impact of Oklahoma's recently-passed immigration reform legislation, apparently now well-known as "1804," or "House Bill 1804, the Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act of 2007, arguably the nation's toughest state law targeting illegal immigrants," which became effective November 1.
Bazar's report is dominated by plenty of downbeat anecdotes and dire warnings to relay to her readers from employers and others. Here are a few:
..... workers at the sprawling Greenleaf Nursery were prepping for deadly frosts. They needed to ship plants, erect greenhouses and bunch trees together to protect them against the cold.
But in late October, about 40 employees disappeared from the 600-acre nursery about an hour's drive from Tulsa. "Some went to Texas, some went to Arkansas," nursery President Randy Davis says. "They just left."
Why did the workers, all immigrants, flee? "Those states don't have 1804," Davis says.
Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright has been in the public eye as of late out promoting her latest book and attacking the Bush administration on everything from global warming to globalization. So much so, that the Republican National Committee has fired back in kind.
"This is a purely practical point here, and I think there's a lot of work to be done" Albright said. "And I think the judgment is that this is one of the worst presidencies we've had and people will wonder what it is that the role of the vice president is."
"[W]ell, as you said the economy certainly is front and center," Bolton said. "And in fact in the latest survey of Bloomberg economists, economists putting the odds of developing a recession at about 40 percent. Jay Bryson - he's a global economist at Wachovia - he says we are skating on the edge of recession, but it's all going to come down to the consumer. Another economist that we spoke with said that consumers right now are really hanging on by their fingernails. And of course it's not really a surprise."
It took a couple of tries, but CNN "American Morning" co-anchor John Roberts got Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama to admit what people probably already knew - Obama wants to raise taxes.
Obama appeared in an interview with Roberts on the January 9 "American Morning" fresh off his second place finish in the New Hampshire Democratic primary. He told Roberts high taxes were in the best interest of the American economy.
"Well, I think that there's no doubt that letting the Bush tax cuts on the top 1 percent lapse would not have, I think, a significant impact on the economy, but would bolster our fiscal situation," Obama said. "We continue to run big deficits - our national debt has increased drastically. That is not good for our long-term economic security."
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) is proposing a new insurance surcharge to plug a budget gap that conservative critics are calling a tax. And objectively speaking, it really is a tax. But the L.A. Times was careful to avoid attributing the T-word to the idea.
Here's the teaser from the Times Web site's front page:
Gov. urges levy on insuranceBy Marc Lifsher and Evan HalperPlan calls for 1.25% assessment on all residential and commercial property policies to fund firefighting. Foes call it a tax.
Of course, as fellow NewsBuster and Business & Media Institute staff writer Jeff Poor notes, it's highly unprofessional and misleading for media outlets to gin up fears of recession this early (emphasis mine).:
Never underestimate the power of the media with a "doom and gloom" agenda - especially when it comes to such a renowned contest like the 18th annual American Dialect Society "Word of the Year" contest.
"‘Subprime' has been around with bankers for awhile, but now everyone is talking about ‘subprime,'" said Wayne Glowka, a spokesman for the group and a dean at Reinhardt College in Waleska, Ga. "It's affecting all kinds of people in all kinds of places."
"Business spending, concerns about business spending overall. I think Anne Mulcahy [CEO] at Xerox (NYSE:XRX) may have said something about business spending," Faber said. "I'm hearing business spending slowing. That's the concern - what happens to the stock market in a recession because we're heading into one it looks like."
A few months after cheering Martin O'Malley's successful push for tax hikes, the Washington Post's John Wagner is lamenting the Democratic governor may have to settle for a "modest" agenda in 2008 due to budget constraints.
Don't hold your breath for similar concern about everyday Marylanders and how they may have to settle for more modest spending thanks to tax hikes, particularly a boost in the sales tax to six percent from five percent.
I've said this before, but it merits saying again: We'll know that the news we're fed every day by the wire services, "newspapers of record," and TV networks is fair, accurate, and complete when those in search of the full picture no longer have to go to the editorials of the Wall Street Journal and Investors Business Daily to fill in Old Media's yawning information and coverage gaps.
Among the latest pieces evidence that we're not there yet -- Thursday's IBDeditorials.com opinion piece, which had this news from Britain's National Health Service (NHS):
The British have found a way to shorten those long, annoying waits for care and lower the rising costs of their universal access system. They'll let patients take care of themselves.
Fred Thompson today blasted the media for propagating a false rumor about his impending withdrawal, while reinforcing the role he has created for himself as the candidate in this race who does not suffer unwelcome questions gladly.
Back in Iowa, Thompson famously refused to respond to the debate moderator/school marm's demand for a hand-show on global warming. On this morning's Today, he declined to engage in horse-race speculation about his own prospects, then took the media to task for its propagation of that false rumor about his impending withdrawal. Weekend anchor Lester Holt interviewed the former Tennessee senator.
Toyota is listed second for a reason that would have been almost unthinkable three years ago (bolds are mine):
Ford Motor Co., in the midst of a restructuring, fell to No. 3 in U.S. auto sales last year, as Toyota Motor Corp. posted its 12th straight year of record U.S. sales and moved up to second place behind General Motors Corp.
Even though Ford held on to pickup leadership with its F-Series -- the nation's best-selling vehicle nameplate for 26 years and the best-selling truck for 31 years -- the company's Ford brand is no longer the nation's best-selling make(Note: Chevrolet now is -- Ed.).
A January 4 Associated Press story by Jeannine Aversa pointed to the job data as one of the "problems in the economy" that has "elevated fears about a recession." But even with all these "problems" - housing woes, the credit crunch, high oil prices, weak job numbers - the criteria of the economy being in a recession still haven't been close to being met.
CNBC's ticking time bomb Jim "Mad Money" Cramer lashed out at the Federal Reserve again on January 2 for not cutting interest rates. This time he suggesting the Fed was intentionally doling out punishment to reckless investors.
"I have to tell you that I look at this situation and I say to myself, ‘They [the Federal Reserve] want it. They want a recession.'" Cramer said on CNBC's January 2 "Squawk on the Street." "They're Puritans. They want to punish the people who were reckless in their eyes and the punishment has still not finished being metedout."
Cramer was called into a discussion about the Fed with CNBC's David Faber and "Squawk Box" co-host Joe Kernan.
"As 2008 begins, house prices are still skidding, bank losses are still mounting, oil is again flirting with $100 a barrel and consumers are buying less as prices rise," the editorial said. "To many, the wheels appear to be coming off the economy. To others, including President Bush and his aides, the economy is fundamentally sound and resilient."
Well, the New York Times certainly can't be accused of excessive free market idolization. Peter Goodman breaks off from his gloomy economic assessments to cheer for regulation in Sunday's Week in Review story "The Free Market: A False Idol After All?"
In Goodman's telling, there is no question mark, stating the argument against the free market in simplistic liberal terms, right down to echoing the Reagan-era pejorative of "trickle down economics."
Two years ago, Old Media, particularly the New York Times, and quite a few chronic sufferers of Bush Derangement Syndrome (but I repeat myself), attempted to hijack the Sago Mine tragedy in West Virginia before the wakes for the 12 dead miners were even held. They wanted to pin the catastrophe, totally without foundation, on the idea that the administration had created the conditions for the tragedy by starving the budget of the Mine Safety and Health Administration and by putting industry cronies who were deliberately lax in safety enforcement in charge.
The Times even tried to tie the tragedy to Hurricane Katrina, which had occurred a few months earlier.
The claims of negligence and pervasive deteriorating safety conditions were definitively debunked at these posts:
In short, yours truly and Bevan found that coal-mine deaths and injuries had been declining significantly during the previous four years; inspection hours had shown no indications of a safety letup; and the budget for MHSA had not been slashed.
So where is coal-mine safety, and mine safety in general, two years later?
That's because Californians relying on Old Media for their news about the Golden State's dire financial situation are being conditioned to believe that only a tax increase will solve the state's problems.
The latest offering in that regard is a Field poll covered at the San Jose Mercury News and the San Francisco Chronicle, headlined "Many voters think deficit fix will require higher taxes" and "Voters resigned to higher taxes to solve budget crisis," respectively. Those headlines conveniently obscure the fact that the margin of those believing that tax increases are necessary vs. those who think that the answer is totally in spending cuts is only 48%-43%.
The media does, and they have with Liberals devised the perfect way to do it. It is the "pay-as-you-go" Congressional budgeting rule -- Pay-Go. It requires every move that Congress makes be "budget neutral"; every new spending initiative must be paid for - no more deficit spending.
How could anyone, Conservatives especially, not be enraptured with such a concept?
According to MasterCard SpendingPulse, retail sales were up 3.6 percent during the holiday season - 2.4 percent excluding gas prices. But because it's not as big an increase as recent years have produced, the media reported it as bad news.
On NBC's "Nightly News," reporter Savannah Guthrie announced a "dramatic" 2.4 percent decrease in women's clothing sales. She didn't think the same percentage increase was "dramatic," however. Instead, she referred to the overall sales increase as "disappointing."
Other media labeled the figures "dismal," "small," "weak," "bleak" and "a clear sign that the economy is slowing down." Most made sure to point out, like "Good Morning America's" Ryan Owens, that the increase is "the smallest in four years."
Does the New York Times let bias creep into its post-Christmas reports on the shopping season just completed?
Smart-aleck answer: Is Maureen Dowd obsessed with Dick Cheney? (His name appears in 295 of her columns, all but four appearing during the last seven-plus years. That would be almost 40 Cheney inclusions per year, probably close to half the number of columns she has written during that time.)
After reviewing 17 years of those reports, the answer is a definitive "Yes."
For each year from 1991 through 2007, I went back to the Times's first or near-first post-Christmas report on the shopping season. I expected to find blue sky and sunshine during the Clinton years, and gloom as far as the eye can see during Bush 41 and Bush 43. While it wasn't quite that bad, the bias is there, and it's more obvious in recent years.
Business & Media Institute Director Dan Gainor appeared on the Fox Business Network December 21, 2007, to discuss the media's coverage of the economy. Full of Christmas spirit, Gainor had kind words for two mainstream reporters.
"Even in the mainstream media there are people who get it. Looking back this year one of the big stars whose improvement was surprising is CNN's Ali Velshi who delivers a much calmer look," Gainor said.
"It's nice to see somebody out there saying, ‘Oh, actually the markets aren't really doing that bad," he said, praising ABC's Bianna Golodryga. The "Good Morning America" reporter received high marks for balanced coverage of the stock market.
Politico is having some snarky fun, running a "populist pop quiz" challenging readers to guess whether it was John Edwards or Mike Huckabee who made the variety of class-warfare claims listed. You'll find a sampling of four of the questions below, but I'd encourage people to take the entire eight-question quiz and report back your scores. A cyber-statue of Karl Marx to the winner!
1. “No young person is more equal than another person because he has a higher IQ, or a higher net worth, or because he lives in a nicer home, or his clothes have a label of a designer that the other guy doesn’t have. That’s not what gives us equality.”
2. “There is unfortunately some disconnect between people who have never struggled and those for whom everyday life is a struggle.”
NewsBusters and affiliate The Business & Media Institute have been reporting for many months the continuous, bearish assessments of economic gloom and doom by America's press.
Of course, this all comes despite 24 straight quarters of Gross Domestic Product growth, 50 consecutive months of job gains, higher wages for virtually all Americans, and last month's consumer spending explosion.
Ignoring all this Sunday morning were panelists on "The Chris Matthews Show" who demonstrated such a deplorable lack of economic acumen that maybe they shouldn't be allowed to comment on such matters when cameras and microphones are on.
In 2005, 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 that year and in 2006, so I chose to track the same items this year to look for any noticeable change or trend.
As in previous years, it was pretty easy to predict the results. But the extent of the disparity might surprise you.
Here are results from the three sets of Google News searches I did during during this year's Christmas season, compared to the previous two years (the Dec. 22, 2007 searches were done at about 2 p.m.; previous 2007 posts are here and here; links to 2005's related posts are here, here, and here; 2006's are here, here, and here):
Between railroad tracks and beneath the roar of departing planes sits "tent city," a terminus for homeless people. It is not, as might be expected, in a blighted city center, but in the once-booming suburbia of Southern California.
The noisy, dusty camp sprang up in July with 20 residents and now numbers 200 people, including several children, growing as this region east of Los Angeles has been hit by the U.S. housing crisis.
The unraveling of the region known as the Inland Empire reads like a 21st century version of "The Grapes of Wrath," John Steinbeck's novel about families driven from their lands by the Great Depression.
Since the stock and credit market turbulence began in July, NewsBusters has been informing readers that media continually predict recessions that never happen.
On the sad flipside, bearishness in the press can become so pervasive that an economic downturn ends up being an unfortunate self-fulfilling prophecy.
NewsBusters affiliate the Business and Media Institute made this very point in a late-November article by Amy Menefee entitled "Talking Ourselves Into Recession."
This concern is shared by business leaders like Craig Hester, CEO of Hester Capital Management, who during an interview with CNBC's Erin Burnett and James Cramer Friday spoke an inconvenient truth about media's impact on the economy that folks in the press sadly don't recognize as they disseminate pessimistic after pessimistic predictions often leading to people unnecessarily losing their jobs - or worse: