Jesse Jackson, the civil rights leader, has moved on from the health care debate and found a new oppressed, downtrodden minority: student loan recipients. And naturally, the Huffington Post was happy to afford "the Reverend" a platform for his activism.
"A plan to earn debt forgiveness retroactively must be instituted at once as an acknowledgment that an entire generation is mired in tens of thousands of dollars in student debt," Jackson wrote. "Not every one of them will be able to write a blockbuster memoir to pay off student loans."
Although the federal government's latest takeover in student loans by "cutting out the middleman" pleased Jackson, he called on the Obama administration to take more drastic steps in today's "Second Great Depression."
"Students need more than good intentions," Jackson said. "They need a guarantee that the savings realized by cutting out the banks and Sallie Mae go mostly to them. There are lots of hands out for the income that direct student lending will generate. Some of it will go to subsidize universal access to health care. But most of it should go to students themselves," Jackson opined.
Good Morning America's Bill Weir and Reuters editor Chrystia Freeland on Saturday gushed over Obama administration talking points on the new unemployment numbers. After Weir talked about a White House-created graphic showing job losses slowing, Freeland unselfconsciously rhapsodized, "Well, I was going to say, what I think that first tells you is that [presidential adviser David] Axelrod is a really smart guy, because that is a beautiful graphic."
Continuing to tout how useful the show was being to the Obama administration, she added, "And I'm sure he's really, really happy to see it on TV." Perhaps wanting to spread the credit around, Weir complimented, "Might be [Obama adviser] David Plouffe who came up with that one, too."
Freeland couldn't get over the cleverness of this graphic, which featured the Obama logo, enthusing, "Okay! Okay. Both of you guys, well done." Now, it's one thing to repeat Democratic talking points, but to tout the brilliance of said talking points is quite another.
Democratic congressional efforts to steer the economy not working as advertised. The $787-billion stimulus passed back in early 2009 failed to curb unemployment as promised, and there are other risks of putting a blind trust in government to solve the nation's economic woes.
And to give credit where credit is due, CNN's Christine Romans is pointing these risks out. On the April 5 broadcast of "CNN Newsroom" hosted by Ali Velshi, Romans was asked about the politics of extending unemployment benefits, which were held up through the Easter recess by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. According to Romans, there is a tug-of-war going on in the Senate.
"The Senate Democrats say they are going to plug ahead and plow forward," Romans said. "The issue here is the same issue as last month basically. You have some Republicans - one in particular, Sen. Tom Coburn from Oklahoma - saying, ‘Look, we've got to be able to pay for this. Let's pay for it. Let's do it. It's the right thing to do to help people. Let's find a way to pay for it.' And you have Democrats who are saying, ‘No, this is emergency spending. This is an emergency. The jobless situation is an emergency. Let's just do it right now quickly without finding another way to pay for it.'"
Jason Mattera, author of "Obama Zombies" and newly appointed editor of Human Events, said "members in the media treat leftist politicians as though they are at a Jonas Brothers concert." He also had rather choice words for young Obama supporters stuck in a "brainless slumber" on Fox Business Channel's April 2 broadcast of "Imus in the Morning."
"Somebody about your age - mouthpiece of Franken - is trying to dissuade you from continuing that," host Don Imus noted upon viewing his guest's recent confrontation with Sen. Al Franken.
"Yea, he had his hands all over me like Eric Massa," Mattera joked.
And - in usual politically-correct fashion - he went on to address the devastating consequences that journalists and media bias has on the young generation.
"I just think that we know that members of the lame-stream media aren't gonna grill politicians," Mattera said. "Al Franken, Senator Smalley had no idea what was in the bill - and I'm not gonna sit down and play patty cake with the dude...So I mean I gotta go and confront the dude because we know members in the media treat leftist politicians as though they are at a Jonas Brothers concert. They're just fawning licking the heels of their favorite teen idol."
Is it possible to be so wrapped up in a media culture that one could minimize a sacred religious holiday in a shoddy attempt to write a clever headline? Mediaite's Tommy Christopher and his editors seemed to have pulled this feat off.
Christopher, who has had a much-publicized run-in with Andrew Breitbart, has a new hero, former American Enterprise Institute scholar David Frum. Christopher elevated Frum to messianic status in a Good Friday April 2 post headlined "Did David Frum ‘Die' For GOP's Sins?" specifically praising the former AEI scholar for his appearance on Comedy Central's April 1 "The Colbert Report."
Green jobs to save the American economy? If you have listened to the various politicos on the left end of the spectrum, especially before and after the passage of the $787-billion stimulus package earlier, you would think that is the cure-all.
But so far it isn't working and there are other fundamental problems that lie ahead according to some energy market analysts, like much higher oil prices - despite the pledge by President Barack Obama to open up 160 million acres for future oil exploration and drilling. To avoid the price of $100-plus oil, CNBC's CME Group floor reporter suggested expediting the process, as was the case with ObamaCare and TARP.
"I think what you're hitting on is so important because the President of course talking about some of these jobs, but also talking about drilling," Santelli said on CNBC's April 1 broadcast of "Closing Bell." "You know, if the government was able to put forth health care and the government was able to do bailouts and TARP and stretch the rules, if they wanted to get jobs now and avoid the $100-plus oil you know that's coming they could drill quickly if they wanted to. And this is something that needs to be discussed, don't you think?"
The Obama administration is trying out a second big-government remedy for people facing foreclosure, but NBC's "Today" failed to mention criticism of the initial program or provide any free-market solutions.
The White House has now tapped $14 billion in TARP funds to expand the administration's existing mortgage assistance program.
Matt Lauer introduced the "Today" show March 29 discussion of the program saying: "New help for millions of homeowners who are facing foreclosure. The Obama administration is rolling out new incentives to the federal mortgage relief program - so what's different this time?"
"If you're unemployed, this is going to give you an ability to have your monthly payments lowered for three months, maybe even six months," CNBC's Sharon Epperson told Lauer, before noting the requirements and assistance for those "underwater."
With March unemployment data to be released April 2, some are anticipating what potentially lower jobless numbers will all mean for the financial markets and the economy as a whole. However, that data will come with the caveat that it will be misleading because it will include temporary jobs driven by hiring for the 2010 census.
On CNBC's March 29 "Squawk Box," CME floor reporter Rick Santelli was asked how to interpret the expected improvement. He warned it isn't the kind of job creation that is good for a sustained economic recovery.
"You know, I think it's fascinating," Santelli said. "Most experts would agree, the kind of job creation we're going to see is welcome but it isn't the kind we need in the big picture. But having said that, yes, I think that the markets will act in a way that will show a robustness if the number comes in a couple of hundred thousand and I think it's kind of silly."
Conventional wisdom on the right and left has been that President Obama and the Democrats will pay a heavy price in the November mid-term elections for passing the deeply unpopular health care reform bill. But Fox Business Network's Charlie Gasparino isn't so sure.
Gasparino appeared on the network's "Imus in the Morning" on March 25. "They can all get even in November then," Imus said of conservatives and Republicans. But Gasparino pointed out the indispensable weapon liberals have their side: the "cheerleading" news media.
"You know, listen - there's not a lot of good reporting on this stuff, and that's the scary thing," Gasparino said. "Someone should Google or do a LexisNexis on how many times the media positively portrays the savings of this - $138 billion over ten years. To me? This sounds like Enron to me - you really have to believe in a lot of assumptions, and the chicanery of the White House."
Furthermore, Gasparino said even if the numbers were true? In no way, shape, or form did $13 billion in annual savings justify "blowing up" the entire economy:
The network evening news programs on ABC, CBS and NBC have also mentioned those "tax breaks" for small businesses in at least four stories in the past month.
ABC's Diane Sawyer told viewers March 19 that "the day he signs this bill, small businesses will get tax credits to spur more coverage of more employees." She didn't mention any of the tax increases on individuals or businesses.
Yesterday, Jim Taranto at the Wall Street Journal's indispensable Best of the Web took note of a report by the Washington Post's V. Dion Hayes about the state of the employment market in DC, Maryland, and Virginia, and summarized its findings thusly:
So what looks to the Post like good news that looks like bad news is actually bad news that looks like good news.
Even that assessment turns out to have been overly charitable. Hayes, like most of the press, betrayed that he doesn't understand the crucial difference between raw and seasonally adjusted data by mixing the concepts (perhaps without even realizing it), failed to look at data from previous years, and ended up producing an incoherent report with no supportable conclusions.
The following table identifies all relevant changes in the three employment markets between December and January (sources -- Bureau of Labor Statistics state and selected areas tables 3, 4, 5, and 6 for January):
On Tuesday's Newsroom, CNN's Tony Harris applied liberal thinking on race to the unemployment rate, speculating if the debate over jobs would change if whites were out of work like minorities were: "I wonder what the discussion about jobs in this country would be like if the rate of white unemployment in this country was, say 15, 16 percent, as it is for African-Americans."
Harris brought up the race issue during a segment with Don Peck of The Atlantic 42 minutes into the 11 am Eastern hour. Peck recently wrote an article for the publication on "how a new jobless era will transform America." Besides bringing up the unemployment rate of blacks, the CNN anchor also cited the 12-13 percent unemployment rate of Hispanics, and then quoted from Peck's article: "Make the point here- expand on the comment, 'It will leave an indelible comment on many blue-collar white men and on white culture.' What do you mean by that?"
A report released Monday says that California's new global warming law will increase unemployment in the Golden State.
The announcement was in stark contrast to continual claims by the Left and their media minions that proposed cap and trade legislation at the federal level will result in an explosion in green jobs.
As reported by the Los Angeles Times Wednesday, the nation's most populated state, which is the first to impose laws concerning carbon dioxide emissions, might see a net reduction in employment as a result:
Rush mentioned this on the air as his show opened.
It comes from the Associated Press, in a later paragraph of an Obama cheerleading item ("Obama pitches health plan in spirited appearance"; AP picture at right is from that story) by Julie Pace and David Espo.
The paragraph in question opens by giving readers the impression that either Pace, Espo, or another AP person has actually seen language in whatever iteration of ObamaCare happens to be floating around House chambers these days. But then it backs down and says it's only "described by a Democratic aide," meaning that the wire service is willingly serving as a trial-balloon enabler:
In a new change sought by House Democrats, the fix-it bill would require businesses to count part-time workers when calculating penalties for failing to provide health coverage for employees. Smaller businesses would be exempt. The Senate bill would count only full-time workers in applying the penalties, but under the change, described by a Democratic aide, two part-time workers would count as one full-time worker. Businesses say that's unduly burdensome, but Democrats contend it would prevent businesses from avoiding penalties by hiring more workers part-time.
The economics of personality? The concept defies logic not to mention the laws of finance and accounting, but according to Newsweek's Eleanor Clift it wasn't the combination of President Ronald Reagan's attack on inflation and his low tax rates on individuals and businesses - but his personality that rescued the economy from the malaise of the early 1980s.
"There's some revisionist thinking going here," Clift said. "Reaganomics did not work, certainly not the first two years. When the midterm elections were held during Reagan's tenure, unemployment was at 10.8 percent."
It's bad enough that the Obama administration ("Obama administration encouraged by steady unemployment rate") and Harry Reid (see video snippet at link) both tried to pretend that February's Employment Situation Report issued by Uncle Sam's Bureau of Labor Statistics, which showed that the official unemployment rate was the same as January's 9.7% and that 36,000 seasonally adjusted jobs had been lost, was somehow a reason to be upbeat.
As many have pointed out for months, the expanded version of the unemployment rate has been well above 15% for quite a long time, and it at least occasionally gets referenced in media reports and political pronouncements.
But on the jobs added/lost front, what the press, pundits, and even opposition politicians are continuing to ignore is the key information that leads to the "seasonally adjusted" figure on which everyone seems to fixate -- to the point where it's not unreasonable to believe that almost everyone in America believes that 36,000 jobs lost is what really occurred during the month.
It isn't. Acknowledging that, and seeing what really did happen, is key to understanding that February's result really reflected a significant deterioration in the employment situation, not an improvement.
Perhaps President Barack Obama might have preferred New York Times columnist Tom Friedman to reserve these comments for their golf outings together, but has Friedman recognized this path toward a larger government is unsustainable?
On MSNBC's March 5 "Morning Joe," host Joe Scarborough recounted his childhood in the early 1970s and the poor economy. He explained there was a different focus - that his family was hoping for the economy to turn around and could have cared less about the other issues of the day - Vietnam, Watergate, etc. It was all about the economy.
"You know Tom Friedman, I remember in the early '70s, my dad worked for Lockheed, got laid off and he was without a job for 18 months," Scarborough said. "This is in the middle of Watergate was blowing up on TV and in the middle of Vietnam, as it was grinding to a very bloody, messy ending. And my family, we just cared about one thing. When we watched Walter Cronkite at night, we wanted to know if the economy was turning around. And we didn't understand what was going on in the college campuses."
Over the last three days, ABC's World News devoted almost six times as much coverage to Senator Jim Bunning and his temporary hold-up of an unemployment bill as the program did for the ongoing revelations that Democratic Charlie Rangel violated House ethics with his trips to the Caribbean.
World News investigated and followed the Republican for four minutes and 38 seconds over two days. In comparison, the program could only manage a scant 48 seconds of coverage for Rangel. (Anchor Diane Sawyer on Wednesday finally asked George Stephanopoulos about the news that Rangel was stepping down from his powerful Ways and Means committee.)
The difference here is that Rangel's story was an actual scandal and ABC only treated Bunning's actions, which amounted to not giving unanimous consent to a $10 billion spending bill, as a scandal.
ABC on Wednesday continued to berate Senator Jim Bunning for daring to hold up a $10 billion spending bill, despite the fact that the Kentucky Republican has since allowed the unemployment legislation to pass. Reporter Jonathan Karl piled on, "Even after the deal was struck, Democrats lashed out at Bunning for causing such a mess."
Karl replayed video of him harassing Bunning on Capitol Hill and forcing his way into a Senators-only elevator. Yet, Karl spun, "...Unemployment benefits can now be extended, but only after Senator Jim Bunning tied the Senate up in knots for a week, snapping at reporters." As the video shows, Karl seemed be doing much of the "snapping."
Some faulty memes get repeated so often they get burned in the media's collective memory as fact, even though they are myth. Perhaps the most notable example of that in 2009 was the myth that the New York 23rd congressional district had been solidly Republican since the Civil War until Doug Hoffman's third-party challenge of the liberal Republican Dede Scozzafava ensured a Democrat's victory in a special election. We've a lot of 2010 left to go, but perhaps history will record the greatest political myth of this year as Jim Bunning's "filibuster" that was anything but.
This isnot a filibuster, which is a specific procedure in which Senators force debate to continue indefinitely as a means to block a final vote, denying “cloture” to the majority party. Alternatively, and now somewhat archaically, it also describes an effort by one Senator to just continue talking to stall action. Bunning is using another mechanism altogether, one that won’t block a final vote, although it will delay it:
"Campbell Brown . . . the only non-partisan cable news anchor at 8 pm." -- CNN description of Campbell Brown
"Non-partisan": right. The hit that Brown, with help from reporter Dana Bash, put on Jim Bunning this evening was worthy of that hyper-partisan guy over at MSNBC in the 8 PM ET slot.
Bash first narrated a classic of the liberal media genre: an anecdotal story of someone allegedly hurt by hard-hearted Republican policies. Bash claimed that "in the real world," Bunning's position is having a "devastating effect" on people like single mother Madonna Alvarez.
For the second straight night, ABC's World News scolded Senator Jim Bunning for daring to block a $10 billion spending bill until it is offset by cuts elsewhere, parading out victims as Diane Sawyer and Jonathan Karl painted him as a nuisance “even fellow Republicans” – that would be a liberal one – oppose. (After the EST broadcast, news broke that Bunning has agreed to some sort of deal.)
Sawyer thundered in teasing her top story: “Tonight on World News, the 'Politics of No.' For the second straight day, one Senator stymies Congress, unemployed Americans struggle and we track that Senator down again.” Sawyer led:
Good evening. Even his fellow Republicans have asked him to stop, but Republican Senator Jim Bunning still has Congress under blockade. For another day, he's kept thousands of unemployed workers from getting their benefits and forced some highway construction projects to stop.
Karl treated the Senator as a child (“Jim Bunning was at it again today”) before he showcased an “unemployed microbiologist in Texas” who, Karl ludicrously relayed -- just two weekdays after unemployment benefits were stopped -- “says no unemployment check will mean she will have to move out of her house” while “Bret Ingersoll of Denver is an unemployed forklift operator, who has already lost his apartment.” So, “today even fellow Republicans were asking Senator Bunning to relent.” That would be Maine's Susan Collins.
President Obama continuously tries to portray himself as a friend to the little-man, middle class and small business. Hence his attacks on "fat cats" who "just don't get it," while labeling the extravagant bonuses as "obscene," and "the height of irresponsibility."
Meanwhile, members of his administration, in defending a sweeping small-business aid program Obama announced in his State of the Union, give reason to wonder if they really understand how to help small business.
Among the administration's proposals for small businesses are a $5,000 tax credit to hire new workers, elimination of capital gains taxes, and new incentives to invest in plants and equipment. At the same time, however, the administration plans to raise taxes on "the wealthiest Americans."
Just days after Rick Sanchez and his producer asked for "hardship stories" online, CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 program on Tuesday looked for people who have lost their unemployment benefits due to Republican Senator Jim Bunning's opposition to a $10 billion emergency measure which would have extended benefits.
The unsigned entry on the AC360 blog, which was posted on Tuesday afternoon, first recapped how Democrats attacked Bunning for blocking the unanimous consent of the measure. In the last sentence of the entry, the unnamed author asked readers of CNN.com to reply for their sob stories:
A retiring Senator not facing re-election stood up last week for principle, insisting new federal spending be covered by a matching reduction elsewhere, but instead of hailing Senator Jim Bunning as a “maverick” making sure the ruling party adheres to its promise new spending will be “paid for,” television network journalists on Monday night painted him as an ogre, focusing on the presumed victims of delayed spending.
Teasing World News, ABC anchor Diane Sawyer stressed how he’s “denying” people unemployment benefits so ABC decided to “confront” him: “One man's stand. A single Senator stops the whole Congress, denying thousands of people unemployment benefits. We confront him to ask why.” Sawyer framed the story around how Bunning is blocking “life support for the unemployed.”
Reporter Jon Karl concentrated on victims as he played video of himself confronting Bunning by an elevator: “We wanted to ask the Senator why he is blocking a vote that would extend unemployment benefits to more than 340,000 Americas, including Brenda Wood, a teacher in Austin, Texas who has been out of work for two years.” That’s not all: “Bunning is also blocking money for highway construction. So across the country today, 41 construction projects ground to a halt, thousands of workers furloughed without pay.”
Quite a contrast in how ABC’s Elizabeth Vargas, taking her turn hosting This Week, approached House Speaker Nancy Pelosi versus Republican Senator Lamar Alexander, all before agreeing with Sam Donaldson when he urged President Obama to become “ruthless” to pass his health care reform bill since that’s what FDR and Truman “would have done.” She affirmed: “That's a good point.”
With Pelosi, she forwarded process questions about whether the Speaker has the votes to pass the health bill and whether it would have been “more helpful for you” if Obama had put up his proposal earlier, pressed the Speaker from the left on the size of the “jobs” bill and empathized with her struggles: “Are you frustrated so many bills have been stalled in the Senate? Almost 300 bills passed by the House that are sitting, languishing in the Senate?” Not to mention cuing her up: “How would you rate yourself in the past year?”
But with Alexander, the 20/20 anchor did not wonder if he’s “frustrated” by Obama’s intransigence as she challenged him to help pass the Democratic health bill, raised presumed Republican hypocrisy and rued the inability of Congress to pass “sweeping” legislation to provide “the changes we need in the country.” She demanded to know if Republicans will “play ball,” pressing: “Why not take what you consider to be an imperfect bill and at least attach some proposals that you support?” Raising GOP opposition to passing the health bill via “reconciliation” in the Senate, Vargas asked: “Why are you so opposed to this given the fact that Republicans have used reconciliation more often than the Democrats in the past?”
Earlier this afternoon, NB's Tim Graham noted how NPR's Robert Siegel and Pew Research pollster Andrew Kohut spoke approvingly of "Millennials" as being "less 'militaristic' and less religious" than their elders.
At end of his post, Graham noted that Siegel and Kohut "somehow" forgot to discuss the key political finding in the poll, namely that the demographic's 32-point favoritism towards Democrats (62% to 30%) has declined by more than half (to 54% to 40%) in just one year of living in Obamaland. Shoot, if that trend continues for another nine months, it will be almost all even by Election Day in November.
It's been almost three weeks since Sarah Palin addressed the Tea Party convention. More than two weeks since Andrea Mitchell did her taunting little imitation of Palin's hand notes. But there was Norah O'Donnell today, still milking the moment to mock Palin.
O'Donnell worked her hand-note reference into a discussion on today's Morning Joe of Scott Brown's vote for the "jobs bill."
Later, on a different subject, after criticizing socialism, Norah wryly observed "I sound like I'm on another network." See Bonus Coverage, below.
On the Monday, February 22, World News on ABC, host Diane Sawyer seemed to rejoice in the "bipartisanship" of newly elected Republican Senator Scott Brown’s willingness to vote with Democrats on a "job creation bill," as she passed on the "fresh sign" of bipartisanship, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s expression of hope that it is the "beginning of a new day" in the Senate. After correspondent Jake Tapper concluded a report on the ongoing debate over health care reform by noting the unlikelihood that President Obama and Republicans will reach an agreement, Sawyer read the short item on Senator Brown's vote. Sawyer: