In the midst of declaring the present economic troubles as comparable to the Great Depression, NBC's Today interviewed both John McCain and Joe Biden on Tuesday morning. Matt Lauer pressed against McCain's recent line that the economic fundamentals are strong: "But fundamentally speaking, isn't there something wrong with the fundamentals, right now, that's causing these nightmares that we're seeing?" Meredith Vieira asked Biden a tax question from the right: "You and Senator Obama are calling for tax increases on the wealthy and there are many economists who say that, that would hurt the economy even more." Biden objected as if the world never met a free-market economist: "I don't know any economist who is saying that." Vieira also asked why the Democrats aren't much further ahead with this gloomy economic outlook.
After the show's introductory sequence, Lauer declared himself the paperboy for a moment, relaying the New York newspaper headlines including: "The Daily News likes shorter and snappier. They simply say: ‘Shock Market.' They're calling this the biggest shakeup in financial markets since The Great Depression." Did they already forget "Black Monday" from October 1987?
On Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith interviewed John McCain about the recent collapse of Wall Street investment banks: " I want to make sure I have this straight now. Yesterday, on the campaign trail, you reiterated that you believe the fundamentals of the economy are strong. At the same time, we understand your campaign is issuing an ad that says the economy is in crisis. Which is it?" After McCain explained that he was referring to American workers, and that there is a crisis, Smith asked: "And the answer for which is what? Because throughout your campaign, you have said you are anti-regulation. Would not oversight have helped avert this crisis?"
Later, Smith asked: "Let me ask you this. Earlier this year on the campaign trail, you said -- or you admitted that you didn't know a lot about the economy. Why should voters trust you in these perilous times with the economy of the United States?" McCain responded: "You know, that's one of the interesting things about having long conversations. The point is, I was chairman of the Commerce Committee. Every part of America's economy, I oversighted. I have a long record, certainly far more extensive of being involved in our economy than Senator Obama does. I understand the economy. I know the issues-" At that point Smith interrupted: "Well, if that's the case, wouldn't you bear more responsibility for some of the crisis we're in then?"
New York Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff's "Reflections: New Orleans and China" showed that he shared the same affliction as Times foreign affairs columnist Tom Friedman -- gauging the success of the strong central power of Communist China by looking at its shining and efficient surface, without questioning its effect on the nation's unseen citizenry. For good measure, he even held Ronald Reagan responsible for both the devastation from Hurricane Katrina and last year's deadly Minneapolis bridge collapse.
For Americans watching events unfold on television late last month, the arduous evacuation of New Orleans and the grandeur of the Olympic Games couldn't have made for a starker contrast.
However one feels about its other policies, the Chinese government is clearly not afraid to invest in the future of its cities. The array of architecture it created for the Beijing Olympics was only part of a mosaic of roads, bridges, tunnels, canals, subway lines and other projects that have transformed a medieval city of wood and brick into a modern metropolis overnight.
On MSNBC's "Morning Joe" September 8, Jim Cramer took a shot at owner of The Wall Street Journal, Rupert Murdoch, in the midst of talking about the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac takeover:
I read The Wall Street Journal, sorry, The Fox Street Journal. When is Murdoch going to put his positive right wing implant on left wing journalists? ... When is Murdoch going to broom the Spartacus workers union?
As for Fannie and Freddie, Cramer told the hosts of the September 8 broadcast that "We had a laissez-faire attitude. Now we are going to have the greatest bureaucracy in history created by Republicans. I'm an agent of change," Cramer said sarcastically.
Later in the segment, Cramer joked that the Democratic Party were "Bolsheviks" quipping, "There. How's that for biased media?"
On Sunday’s Face the Nation on CBS, host Bob Schieffer interviewed Republican presidential candidate John McCain and wondered why Americans weren’t sacrificing more during a time of war: "But we have one half of one percent of the American people who are making all of the sacrifice in this war. If the rest of us didn't watch television or looked at the newspaper, we might not know there's a war going on. Our taxes didn't go up, there's no rationing. If you didn't look for it, you wouldn't know the war was going on. Shouldn't there be some way, in a democracy, that we share this burden?"
Earlier in the interview, Schieffer asked McCain about the Republican convention and the delegates represented:
Mercantilism [emphasis added]: An economic doctrine that flourished in Europe from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. Mercantilists held that a nation's wealth consisted primarily in the amount of gold and silver in its treasury. Accordingly, mercantilist governments imposed extensive restrictions on their economies to ensure a surplus of exports over imports. In the eighteenth century, mercantilism was challenged by the doctrine of laissez-faire.
When Barack Obama talks—and talks—about the future, does he really mean "back to the future"? You have to wonder after reading the column by one of his economic advisors in today's LA Times. In Renewing America's 'contract with the middle class, Leo Hindery Jr. explicitly calls for a return to mercantilism, the discredited theory of economics popular during the 17th and 18th centuries. Hindery [emphasis added]:
It is imperative -- way past time, in fact -- for America to be as mercantilist as are our trading partners.
Anecdotal evidence is pretty much useless in science, a discipline steeped in empirical data. But that's no matter to the Associated Press or the Washington Post, which published an August 31 AP article about how "Scientists See Fewer Fireflies." The subheading quickly qualified that the "[e]vidence is anecdotal, but experts fault sprawl, pollution."
Of course some of the quoted experts in Casey's article aren't really experts, they're amateur scientists at best, with sprawl and pollution serving as coded language for faulting capitalism for allegedly raping the environment.
AP writer Michael Casey waited until the fifth paragraph of his Thailand-bylined article to confess that "[t]he evidence is entirely anecdotal but anecdotes abound" about a mass worldwide holocaust of the flying luminous bugs.
This after quoting one Preecha Jiabyu, a tour guide on Thailand's Mae Klong River, who dropped an unsubstantiated statistic for readers. "The firefly populations have dropped 70 percent in the past three years," insisted Preecha, whose entomological credentials Casey failed to establish for readers.
"Good Morning America" criticized fees charged to customers who return rental cars without a full tank of gas - part of a standard car rental agreement.
"The only thing more expensive than gassing up your car these days is not gassing up your rental car," reporter Elisabeth Leamy explained to viewers on August 29. She said companies across the nation charge as much as $8 per gallon for cars returned unfilled.
Sometimes the qualities that make a strong candidate in one pool make them a weak candidate in another pool.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney would hurt Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain as a running mate because of "vulnerability" stemming from his successful businesses and support for free trade, according to a reporter for The Washington Post.
"On the whole subject of trade deals and free trade agreements is that a vulnerability, a potential vulnerability on the side of Mitt Romney?" Andrea Mitchell asked Post reporter Chris Cillizza on the August 28 broadcast of "MSNBC Live".
"It absolutely is," said Cillizza, who writes "The Fix" blog at WashingtonPost.com. "And that's a calculation I think the McCain campaign has to make. Yes, Mitt Romney has great business bona fides. Built a business, he used that line many times in the primary: ‘I know why jobs come and I know why they go.'"
"The other side of that, however, is he worked for a company called Bingham Capital that occasionally engaged in leverage buyouts, that means shipping jobs overseas. That's not the kind of thing that's going to go over well in these rust belt states where McCain needs to perform well, most notably Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania," Cillizza said.
Thursday's edition of CNN's "American Morning" featured a "fact checking" segment on the claims former President Bill Clinton made about his accomplishments as president during his speech to the Democratic National Convention. The segment wasn't much of a "fact check" as CNN Business Correspondent Christine Romans mostly reminisced about the "glory days" of the '90's. But what she did find was that the worst part of Clinton's presidency was one of his more conservative actions: "He also signed into law a historic deregulation of the financial system,dismantling laws from the Great Depression that many say would have protected us against the current mortgage crisis."
Other problems the correspondent found with Clinton's presidency include: "the go-go days of the '90s also gave us the dotcom boom. And when that went bust, Allan Greenspan and the Federal Reserve lowered the interest rates to ease the pain. Dropping them so low, many now see the roots of the current housing mess way back in the dotcom boom. Plus, the '90s gave us this obsession with record home ownership with Clinton as a principal cheerleader."
Partly because this story doesn't fit preconceived liberal storylines and partly because the Democratic Convention is taking up all the oxygen in the mainstream media, you can expect this story to remain buried in your newspaper and be given little if any attention on cable news networks.
From page 17 of today's Financial Times, "US drillers to get $1bn court award" comes news of how federal government red tape often holds up oil companies for drilling on leases they've already sunk billions of dollars into (emphasis mine):
A US federal appeals court ruled yesterday that 11 oil and gas companies should receive more than $1bn awarded to them in 2006 after the government effectively changed the terms of leases to drill off the California coast.
The US Court of Appeals was upholding a 2006 ruling that the government had breached the leases when changes in federal law materially interfered with the companies' efforts to develop the oil and gas reserves off California.
The case points to the difficulties US oil and gas companies have developing oil and gas resources in the US.
So if a government program has been failing for decades, should you A) Privatize it, B) Get rid of it altogether, or C) Throw millions of dollars at it and hope that Americas somehow feel compelled to reenact scenes from "Some Like it Hot."
The answer is C if you were watching CNN this morning.
"American Morning" pointed out that high gas prices were the reason ridership on Amtrak was up 14 percent and then pushed for more funding for the government-sponsored program through a recent Senate proposal.
"The problem for Amtrak of course though is that they haven't had a single new passenger car since 1990," said personal finance editor Gerri Willis on the August 21 broadcast. "Their cars, even the locomotives are old and aging; they're asking Congress for help. Dick Durbin has introduced legislation into the Senate to try and do something about that. Interestingly he says that Thanksgiving is going to be a wake up call for Americans as we all try to go visit relatives for the holidays."
"What they need is new track, because every Sunday it's like this all the way up," said co-host John Roberts simulating a bumpy train ride with his anchor chair.
Chris Matthews: Back With an Obamania Vengeance . . .
If Barack Obama makes it to the White House, perhaps he should appoint Chris Matthews Commissar of Gosplan, the Commission charged with developing the economy's Five Year Plans. The Hardball host, back from vacation, displayed the enthusiasm of a dutiful apparatchik in praising an Obama ad that in turn amounted to a pitch for central planning.
During the "ad wars" segment on this evening's Hardball, Matthews first played a McCain ad that hit Obama over his plans to raise taxes and his lack of readiness to lead. After Andrea Mitchell suggested that the ad is "the wrong tone for the [NBC] Olympics," during which it's playing, Matthews wondered whether McCain is "the Grinch that stole the Olympics," and suggested a "taste test," comparing Obama's ad. Here's the ad's text:
VOICEOVER: The hands that built this nation can build a new economy. The hands that harvest crops can also harvest the wind [images of electricity-generating wind turbines.] The hands that install roofs can also install solar panels. The hands that build today's cars can also build the next generation of fuel-efficient vehicles. Barack Obama: a new vision for our economy. Fast-track alternative fuels. Create five million jobs developing home-grown energy technologies. Because America's future is in our hands.
In a bizarre rant against President Bush at the end of Sunday’s "Face the Nation," CBS host Bob Schieffer made an odd analogy between the president and the fairy tale villain in reaction to the Bush Administration’s opposition to providing the Food and Drug Administration with more regulatory power over the tobacco industry: "The administration, incredibly, in my opinion, opposes it for a reason that would make the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland proud."
Schieffer began his commentary by declaring: "I'm delighted the House will vote this week on legislation that for the first time will give the Food and Drug Administration real power to regulate tobacco products. I hope it passes." He then decried the Bush Administration’s reason for opposing the measure:
Their reason: That the FDA already has such a huge job monitoring food safety, that it just doesn't have the resources to take on the additional job of regulating tobacco. If it did, the administration argues, regulating food and drugs might suffer. I couldn't be more serious. That really is their main reason. By that logic, we shouldn't have asked the military or our intelligence agencies to get involved in fighting terrorism after 9/11. For sure, they already had plenty to do before Osama Bin Laden came along.
Considering how long it has taken for the FDA to find the source of a recent nationwide salmonella outbreak, it seems the administration’s concerns are well-grounded.
Breaking ABC news: things get hot in the sun. "Good Morning America's" Elisabeth Leamy reported on July 24 that playground equipment gets so hot in the sun, it could harm your children.
ABC's Diane Sawyer grabbed the attention of parents saying, "Well as the temperatures rise for the summer, we decided to go out and test some of the equipment in playgrounds. It's a safety alert for all parents out there because some of it is truly scalding."
That enlightening news was followed by Leamy's suggestion of government regulations of playground equipment. "Diane, this is one of those stories that pits people who want the government to do more to make the playground safe against people who say parents should know better," said Leamy.
Don't blame Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., member of two influential banking committees - the Senate Finance Committee and the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs - for IndyMac's collapse, says CNBC's Erin Burnett.
Burnett, host of CNBC "Street Signs," disagreed with a claim by MSNBC "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough that a letter to regulators from Schumer caused a run on the beleaguered bank IndyMac, which eventually led to its failure and takeover by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
"I don't think Chuck Schumer caused a run on the bank," Burnett said on MSNBC's July 24 "Morning Joe." "This is the new world of banking. Companies, banks come out and they say, and they say, ‘Oh my gosh - our stock's down 20 percent. It's being manipulated. Please come in and help us government. Oh my gosh, there's a run on our bank - let's blame it on a senator.'"
The Biz Flog, the video blog over at the Business and Media Institute, takes at look at the effect the high cost of oil has had on the airline industry, and the effect that has had on passengers seeing higher ticket prices and fees.
Instead of focusing on and explaining the real causes of higher ticket prices, the media have accused the airline industry of trying to “nickel-and-dime” passengers.
On “MSNBC Live” July 9 host Tamron Hall gave a report on the quality of commercial airline travel, calling price increases “nickel-and-dime fees.”
“Passengers think they’re getting nickel-and-dimed,” host of the Today show, Matt Lauer said July 9 on the morning program. “All the things that were free on planes are now costing us.”
Washington Post's Marc Fisher devoted his July 22 column, "Law Reinforces Montgomery as a Nanny State" to pooh-poohing a recently-passed bill by the affluent, liberal Maryland county that borders the District of Columbia on its northwest side. Fisher leveled a charge that free-market advocates and conservative Marylanders would cheer regarding the new ordinance mandating that employers of nannies provide a written contract.
"This is a classic MoCo decision to make law as a political statement rather than as a remedy to a burning social need," Fisher complained, noting that "conditions for domestic workers in Montgomery are considerably better than in many other places."
What's more, if nannies don't like their work environment, "the proper remedy" would be "to quit and find other work," Fisher argued.
Sounds pretty conservative for a WaPo columnist, so what's the catch? Well, one of Fisher's qualms with the law's development was how it might make Montgomery County seem hostile to illegal immigrants:
Today on Neil Cavuto, Monica Showalter of Investor's Business Daily was on, speaking about their editorial on Nanny Pelosi called "Feckless to Reckless." It's about Nancy Pelosi's recent reckless call to drain the strategic oil reserves in an attempt to answer our problems and pains at the gas pumps, short term. Needless to say, IBD was not impressed; in fact, the article calls for her resignation. You can read about it and watch the video interview at MsUnderestimated's site here.
As Congress takes new aim at speculators for the high price of gasoline, some media reports seem to be following suit. But as The Biz Flog explains this week, there is considerable debate over whether speculators should be blamed for the high cost of oil.
June 23, the same day Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee condemned oil speculators, the "CBS Evening News" and ABC's "World News" blamed oil speculation for a large chunk of the spike in prices.
"There's no doubt speculation plays a role in the skyrocketing price, but how much?" ABC correspondent Ryan Owens said June 23. "Experts say if it were just simple supply and demand a barrel would cost $75. Today it closed north of $135."
Scott Horsley explained oil speculation on June 29 for National Public Radio's "All Things Considered," where he pointed out that there have always been financial players in the oil market and there is still a debate over what influence they really have.
A proposal in California to require emissions-rating stickers on new cars is another example of "government overreach," according to Business & Media Institute Vice President Dan Gainor.
Gainor told "America's Election HQ" host E.D. Hill on Fox News Channel July 7 that California's decision could affect other parts of the country because of its influence on environmental policies.
"California already affects the nation," he said. "At least 12 states copy their environmental regulations. California has the highest [gas] taxes at 75 cents a gallon and the second-highest overall cost of gas," Gainor noted.
Once again, it appears media and Democrats are on the wrong side of public opinion, as a new poll released Tuesday shows Americans more interested in expanding oil drilling to solve the current energy crisis than additional conservation measures.
In fact, "[a]n increasing proportion also says that developing new sources of energy - rather than protecting the environment - is the more important national priority."
I kid you not.
Grab some popcorn, supply-siders, for this survey by the Pew Research Center is guaranteed to put a smile on your face (emphasis added throughout, chart above courtesy Pew):
Today's Web poll on Time.com asks "Should gas and heating oil be rationed until prices come down?"
It's a non-scientific Web poll of course, so in some sense it's just mindless, fluffy filler. But on the other hand, including this only serves to further the MSM's fear-mongering about the economy while banging its left-wing drum beat about oil and gas prices.
Since taking that second screencap earlier today, more votes have been cast by readers, with the numbers shifting slightly in favor of gas rationing to 39 percent of respondents.
Yesterday's edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight included a report from Kitty Pilgrim on product recalls from China and the administration's efforts to reduce importation of unsafe products. "Bush administration officials are going through the charade of tougher enforcement with few results," according to correspondent Pilgrim. Using the term "charade" prepared viewers for where this segment was going:
KITTY PILGRIM, reporter: HHS Secretary Leavitt says he is optimistic the Chinese government will approve the opening of three FDA offices in China some time soon. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says if recalls continue at the current rate, it will be a 70 percent increase over last year. Lou?
According to the American Fire Safety Council (AFSC), flame-retardant chemicals save a lot of lives. But you would never know that from watching the May 19 "CBS Evening News" because correspondent Wyatt Andrews hyped the danger of such chemicals.
Andrews report featured a liberal politician who wants to ban the chemicals in Maine, and has made it one of her pet causes.
"You know, it makes me angry that I could have a child in the next couple years who would be impacted by these chemicals in my body," Democratic Maine State Rep. Hannah Pingree said on CBS May 19. Pingree is also the House majority leader in the Maine legislature according to "Evening News."
In a rare case of balance, Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show" highlighted both sides in the debate over declaring the polar bear an endangered species due to global warming as correspondent Daniel Sieberg declared: "They're at the top of the food chain at the top of the world, but their future is at the center of a political tug-of-war over drilling for oil versus protecting their habitat."
Sieberg began his report with a dire prediction: "There are an estimated 20,000 - 25,000 polar bears in the Arctic region, but environmentalists warn that rising temperatures and disappearing sea ice will cause a 30 percent decline in their population over the next 50 years." He also played clips of liberal California Senator Barbara Boxer and John Kostyack from the National Wildlife Federation.
However, Sieberg also provided perspective from the Heritage Foundation:
"Of course, real life never matches up exactly with the theory's assumptions. But they represent, economists say, a useful way of making sense of a complex world," Lynch wrote.
"To Soros, the conventional approach is rubbish. Instead of a world of near-identical actors, coolly assessing their economic interests and acting with clear-eyed precision, he sees a world (and markets) governed by passion, bias and self-reinforcing errors," Lynch wrote. "Because fallible human beings are both involved in, and trying to make sense of, this world, they inevitably make mistakes. Those mistakes then feed on themselves in ‘reflexive' ways that, when taken to extremes, result in situations such as the now-deflating U.S. housing bubble."
What part of "free" in "free-market" does the Associated Press not understand?
The news wire's Glen Johnson is reporting today that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) plans on unveiling a plan to combat global climate change "while adhering to free-market principles."
McCain's major solution is to implement a cap-and-trade program on carbon-fuel emissions, like a similar program in the Clean Air Act that was used to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions that triggered acid rain.
Industries would be given emission targets, and those coming in under their limit could sell their surplus polluting capacity to companies unable to meet their target.
A cap-and-trade programs would certainly be a market, but it would be an artificial one imposed on manufacturers by government fiat. The key word in free-market being of course, free.
It would be correct to call a voluntary cap-and-trade program created by industry groups outside the pressure of government regulation a "free-market" solution, but the component of force by government here only puts an Adam Smith happy face on a Karl Marx mandate.
How do you get a better air safety record? Try not crashing first.
The New York Times reported that outside the United States the Federal Aviation Administration is considered a "role model" and "first-rate regulator," because it has the lowest accident rate in the world. The Times' viewed regulation rather than market based innovation as the solution to accident rates in foreign countries.
In Latin America, "accidents number one for every 600,000 flights" and "Africa is the least safe region in the world for air travel, with one accident for every 244,000 flights," said the Times.
One source, Giovanni Bisignani, secretary general of the International Air Transport Association, lamented the "the lack of a common regulatory framework" and failure to live up to standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization, a United Nations specialized agency.
But the success of accident records in the United States doesn't lie solely in regulation. Safety looks good to consumers too.