On Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer invited on Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to tout federally mandated stickers that detail the fuel efficiency of new cars: "Another way to save money is to buy a fuel efficient car and today the federal government is unveiling new fuel economy labels that you soon will be seeing on all new cars."
Lauer asked LaHood, "$3.81, the average for a gallon of gas right now across the country. How much pressure on the administration to get that price down?" LaHood used the opportunity to cheer the new labels: "Gas prices are killing family budgets. The President gets it. This is part of the President's plan – these new labels – part of the President's plan to help people save money at the pump....The President gets it. This is part of our plan here."
William J. McGee, the consumer advocate on the Department of Transportation's Future of Aviation Advisory Committee wrote "Forcing the F.A.A. to Fly Blind" in The New York Times (April 9, 2011), where he laments Congress' cut in the FAA budget, saying, "A $4 billion cut will necessarily reduce the work force further. And it's hard to imagine this will not diminish safety." Mr. McGee suggests there will be shortcuts in aircraft maintenance.
Here are a few facts and then a question. Each Boeing 747 costs $317 million, its 777 goes for $284 million and its 737 sells for $80 million. Airbus' giant 555-plus passenger A380 sells for $375 million. Here's a true or false statement: If it weren't for the FAA, airline company CEOs would not take the necessary measures to ensure that their aircraft took off and landed safely.
Reuters slanted towards the critics of McDonald's in a Thursday report about a petition calling on the fast food giant to retire mascot Ronald McDonald and to give up its signature Happy Meal for kids. Correspondent Debra Sherman even went so far to spotlight how the CEO of a medical company which produces "cholesterol-lowering statins and...heart stents" sits on the board of McDonald's.
Sherman hinted at the tone from the outset with the lede of her article, "McDonald's stockholders reject obesity proposal," noting how "McDonald's Corp spurned calls to assess the impact of its food on childhood obesity, and said its trademark clown Ronald McDonald would be hawking Happy Meals to kids for years to come."
In the 10AM ET hour on NBC's Today on Monday, co-host Kathie Lee Gifford applauded the new HBO movie on the 2008 financial crisis, 'Too Big to Fail,' as "not a partisan film at all." However, after asserting that "It didn't take one side or the other," she touted the liberal moral of the story: "that greed is what got us there and lack of regulation."
Left-wing actor Ed Asner, who plays the role of billionaire Warren Buffet, came on to promote the film: "...this movie is practically a study course. You go back and learn each time that you watch it....you become involved and very informed..." He added that the "tragedy" of the crisis "has not been repaired yet." Gifford agreed: "No, it certainly hasn't. Everything's still in place for it to happen again."
The opening paragraph of Saturday morning's Associated Press report by Stephen Ohlemacher and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar on the state of Social Security and Medicare and an additional sentence from the third paragraph give away the fact that theirs will not be a missive that should be taken seriously (bold is mine):
The bad economy is worsening the already-shaky finances of Medicare and Social Security, draining the trust funds supporting them faster than expected and intensifying the need for Congress to shore up the massive benefit programs, the government said Friday.
... The Social Security trust funds are projected to be drained in 2036, one year earlier than the last estimate.
This post will concentrate on Social Security. By referring to the idea that its trust fund is being "drained," the pair are perpetuating the myth that the Social Security system has a stash of cash and investments just sitting there ready to be redeemed and distributed as benefits when needed. This of course is false. What follows are four fundamental truths about Social Security.
As if more proof were needed about the minimum wage's devastating effects, yet another study has reached the same conclusion. Last week, two labor economists, Professors William Even (Miami University of Ohio) and David Macpherson (Trinity University), released a study for the Washington, D.C.-based Employment Policies Institute titled "Unequal Harm: Racial Disparities in the Employment Consequences of Minimum Wage Increases."
During the peak of what has been dubbed the Great Recession, the unemployment rate for young adults (16 to 24 years of age) as a whole rose to above 27 percent. The unemployment rate for black young adults was almost 50 percent, but for young black males, it was 55 percent.
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman Monday wrote another in a series of factually dishonest pieces about budget deficits and what he likes to call 'the Great Recession."
In his "The Unwisdom of Elites," the unabashed liberal made numerous falsehoods and omissions to blame our current economic and budget woes exclusively on George W. Bush and "small groups of influential people":
Here's a non-rocket science question: If you expect a reduced harvest of wheat, corn, rice or any other commodity some time in the future, what would be the wise thing to do about your consumption today? I bet that the average person would answer: Consume less now so that more will be available in the future.
But how in the world can people be encouraged to consume less now? Enter the futures market, which consists of a worldwide group of millions upon millions of traders, often called speculators. Speculators, betting on a future shortage, buy up wheat, corn and rice today in the hopes of making money selling it for a higher price when the bad harvest hits. As speculators buy more and more wheat, corn and rice, they drive up today's prices. As today's price gets higher, people consume less, but more importantly, people do the intelligent thing without bureaucratic edicts. The vital role of the futures trader, or speculator, is to allocate goods over different time periods. And, it's not just wheat, corn and rice that must be allocated over time but all commodities including oil.
The federal government proposed sweeping new guidelines on Thursday that could push the food industry to overhaul how it advertises cereal, soda pop, snacks, restaurant meals and other foods to children.
Citing an epidemic of childhood obesity, regulators are taking aim at a range of tactics used to market foods high in sugar, fat or salt to children, including the use of cartoon characters like Toucan Sam, the brightly colored Froot Loops pitchman, who appears in television commercials and online games as well as on cereal boxes.
NPR's Ari Shapiro leaned towards supporters of the Obama administration's new "voluntary principles" to limit junk food ads to kids on Thursday's All Things Considered. Shapiro played three sound bites from backers, versus only one from a critic who blasted the proposal: "If the federal government decided to issue voluntary guidelines about what newsmen should say to avoid inflaming the public, I think you guys would be pretty upset."
Host Melissa Block did acknowledge opponents' concerns about the proposed guidelines in her introduction for the correspondent's report: "The Obama administration wants to limit the amount of advertising kids see for junk food. It's part of a broader push to improve child nutrition, and, as NPR's Ari Shapiro reports, it's part of what critics see as a growing nanny state."
In my book "Crimes Against Liberty," I described President Obama as dishonest, hyper-partisan, a bully, a narcissist and a hard-core left-wing ideologue. Anyone who thinks my description is exaggerated or too harsh didn't hear his Wednesday speech on the budget.
One might have expected that a newly elected president who had "inherited" such a disturbingly high deficit, a growing national debt, and a forecast of unfunded entitlements soon to explode because of baby boomer demographics alone would roll up his sleeves and tackle this deficit and debt problem.
Tea Party Congressman Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) had quite an illuminating discussion with Christiane Amanpour Sunday.
As the host of ABC's "This Week" pushed for higher taxes, Walsh correctly pointed out that Barack Obama's first 2012 budget proposed earlier in the year didn't address entitlement programs saying, "The President of the United States ought to be ashamed of himself, and I don't know why your profession hasn't gotten on him more" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
As debate rages across the country about whether it is reasonable to reduce federal spending in light of the fact that the federal government is spending more than eight times what it takes in, the same publications willing to defend that spending often simultaneously criticize spending by businesses that make a profit. One such story ran in publications nationwide this week, including the Chicago Tribune.
In a story blaringly entitled "Eight Outrageous Executive Perks" circulated by Tribune Media Services, author Kathy Kristoff laments the compensation packages offered by varied companies to their founders and/or CEOs.
For example, Qwest CEO Ed Mueller’s family was permitted use of the company jet, an expense totaling $281,182 for the year. Occidental Petroleum served as another example; the company's CEO moved from Texas to California to do his job. Texas has no state income tax; California had a 9% state income tax at the time. Occidental agreed to pay the tax for him.
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman was in his predictable defend Obama at all costs mode on Sunday's "This Week."
When former Bush administration official Torie Clarke said unemployment remains high because the private sector is concerned about future regulations, the Nobel Laureate scoffed, "All of this stuff about uncertainty is just a myth being made up to blame this on Obama" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich, in a column appearing at Business Insider, says that we're heading in the direction of a "double-dip" -- and though he doesn't follow it with the word "recession," it's obvious he's not talking about an ice-cream cone. It's also obvious that he's less than pleased with the media spin that things are really okay.
Along the way, Reich had to go back to the mid-1930s, the era of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's ongoing economic depression (at least as far as employment was concerned) to exemplify what a supposedly good recovery from an economic trauma looks. He was clearly desperate to avoid saying anything nice about the more historically relevant and objectively more impressive recovery and subsequent prosperity that occurred under Ronald Reagan. This is also true of the establishment press.
In a report for Thursday's CBS Early Show, contributor Taryn Winter Brill fretted over the impact of movie theater popcorn on Americans' waistlines: "Have you ever wondered how many calories you're actually consuming in that large popcorn with butter? You probably don't want to know. Pretty soon, though, you may not have a choice."
Moments later, nutritionist Katherine Brooking declared the popular concession treat to be "a calorie bomb waiting to explode." Brill then touted a government solution to the problem: "Hoping to defuse this high caloric catastrophe, the FDA is working on a provision in the health care law requiring chain establishments which serve food to list the calorie count of their menu items." She added that Brooking and others "applaud the move."
Former Clinton labor secretary Robert Reich wrote a truly nonsensical piece for the Huffington Post Tuesday ironically called "The Republicans' Big Lies About Jobs."
MSNBC's Chris Matthews must have loved this tripe and its sophomoric title for he invited the Berkeley professor on Wednesday's "Hardball" so that the pair could put on a clinic in liberal economic fantasy (video follows with partial transcript and oodles of commentary):
After two years of practicing unrepentant contempt for science, jobs, law and truth, why should Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's words mean anything anymore? While President Obama promotes offshore drilling overseas thousands of miles away in Brazil, Salazar now promises to revitalize America's oil and gas industry. It's like Jack "Dr. Death" Kevorkian promoting himself as a lifesaving CPR specialist.
This week, Salazar announced that the administration has just approved the first deepwater oil and gas exploration plan since last spring's BP/Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Mind you: This is not a granting of permits, but a green light for Shell Offshore to seek drilling permits for three new exploratory wells off the Louisiana coast. Shell first submitted and received approval for its original exploration plan in 1985 — 26 red tape-wrapped years ago.
"For the sake of a cleaner planet, should Americans wear dirtier clothes?"
So comically began a New York Times article on the front page of the Gray Lady's Science section Tuesday ironically titled "When Energy Efficiency Sullies the Environment" (photo courtesy Viktor Koen):
One doesn’t often see the New York Times reporting on laws and regulations that hurt business, so when you do you can assume there’s a liberal twist in the tale. From Bozeman, Mont., Denver bureau chief Kirk Johnson notified readers on the front of Sunday’s National section that “A Boon to the Economy Faces Repeal in Montana.” The “repeal” involves repealing the state’s six-year-old medical marijuana laws.
Questions about who really benefits from medical marijuana are now gripping Montana. In the Legislature, a resurgent Republican majority elected last fall is leading a drive to repeal the six-year-old voter-approved statute permitting the use of marijuana for medical purposes, which opponents argue is promoting recreational use and crime.
Johnson’s previous reporting has not shown much sympathy toward conservatives or business, but he managed to make a fine free-market argument when it came to a predominantly liberal/libertarian priority like medical marijuana:
The Post dismissed as unprincipled and slippery the manner with which pro-life state legislators had pushed through a law that would require the Old Dominion's abortion clinics to be regulated like hospitals:
Thursday, an odd warning emanated from the halls of the supposedly esteemed investment firm known as Goldman Sachs: If Uncle Sam spends $61 billion less during the second half of the current fiscal year, and ends the year with "only" $3.758 trillion in spending instead of the administration's anticipated $3.819 trillion, economic growth will be seriously harmed.
Yesterday, similar nonsense was put forth by Jeannine Aversa at the Associated Press in reaction to the government's report that economic growth during the fourth quarter was revised down to 2.8% from 3.2%, when experts (like the geniuses at Goldman) had expected the number to come in at 3.3%. The headlined whine: "State and local budget cuts are slowing US economy."
Something rather shocking happened on MSNBC Wednesday.
Not only was a compliment given to a Republican, but on the "Dylan Ratigan Show," it was said by a Washington Post columnist about a GOPer that is actually admired by conservatives (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Civility was in short supply yesterday on "The Dylan Ratigan Show," as the MSNBC anchor after which the show is named used words and phrases such as "moronic" and "dog's ass" to demagogue the GOP's proposal to trim the federal budget.
"How can you be serious about cutting spending when your spending proposals are truly a flea on a dog's ass?" howled Ratigan, who went on to demonize Republicans as "nasty" frauds who want to "get rid of all the food for poor people."
Ratigan's spurious logic that cutting federal subsidies for food stamps is akin to letting poor people starve to death on the streets is reminiscent of Alan Grayon's mischaracterization of the GOP health care plan, which the former Florida congressman said was to "die quickly."
Sam Kazman's "Drug Approvals and Deadly Delays" article in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (Winter 2010), tells a story about how the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's policies have led to the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans. Let's look at how it happens.
During the FDA's drug approval process, it confronts the possibility of two errors. If the FDA approves a drug that turns out to have unanticipated, dangerous side effects, people will suffer. Similarly, if the FDA denies or delays the marketing of a perfectly safe and beneficial drug, people will also suffer. Both errors cause medical harm.
Kazman argues that from a political point of view, there's a huge difference between the errors. People who are injured by incorrectly approved drugs will know that they are victims of FDA mistakes. Their suffering makes headlines. FDA officials face unfavorable publicity and perhaps congressional hearings.