The week had a gusher of economic news, and most of it was favorable:
Thursday, 2nd Quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was revised sharply upward to 4.0% from July's initial estimate of 3.4%; the final GDP number for the second quarter comes out in late September.
The most comprehensive quarterly housing report issued, from the government's Office for Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO), showed that home prices nationwide increased ever so slightly during the 2nd quarter, and were 3.19% higher than a year earlier. That year-over-year result is greater than inflation during the same period.
The only really bad news I can think of at the moment: Consumer confidence took a hit in two different reports during the week (here and here).
Well of course consumer confidence was due for a hit. With the press, especially Time Magazine, working overtime to make the housing situation look like the crisis of the century, it's a wonder that anyone's getting out of bed to face the day.
Anyone who follows the MSM knows that Cuba is a virtual paradise. A land of free health care, universal literacy and low infant-mortality rates where, as Andrea Mitchell has explained to us, kids don't care about freedom and the only big problems are those caused by the U.S. Yes, Cuba is the sort of place no one would ever want to leave. Certainly not to go to live in the United States, where, as everyone knows thanks to Michael Moore's "Sicko," health care is so bad that 9-11 heroes are forced to seek help from Havana.
A government watchdog group filed an ethics complaint against Idaho Sen. Larry Craig Tuesday after Craig said he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges stemming from complaints of lewd conduct in a men's room. . .
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a complaint with the Senate ethics committee seeking an investigation into whether Craig violated Senate rules by engaging in disorderly conduct.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) may qualify to be described as a government watchdog group. What the Associated Press should have told its readers is that CREW is an extraordinarily partisan watchdog group.
According to its Web site, CREW has initiated lawsuits or lodged complaints against Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA), Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL), Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA), and House minority leader John Boehner (R-OH).
One of the ways reporters avoid putting someone on the radical left is by merely calling them "anti-war" or "pacifist" – or even "combative pacifist." From my vacation perch in Wisconsin Dells, I found on the front of the "Daybreak" section in Friday’s Wisconsin State Journal (out of Madison) an Associated Press obit of leftist poet Grace Paley. "Poet, pacifist Paley dies," was their headline. The appreciation by AP writer Hillel Italie began: "Poet and short story writer Grace Paley, a literary eminence and old-fashioned rebel who described herself as a ‘combative pacifist,’ has died. She was 84."
A few paragraphs in, it’s more clear that Paley’s parents were communists, and nearly everyone in her early milieu was, ahem, "anti-war." Italie added:
A family in Clovis, California, which is near Fresno, has sadly become the modern day version of the Ryans, real-life brothers depicted in Steven Spielberg's acclaimed film "Saving Private Ryan" wherein all but one died serving his country in World War II.
For the Hubbards, Nathan, the second of three brothers serving in Iraq, died Wednesday in a helicopter accident in the northern part of that embattled nation. This came two years, nine months, and eighteen days after the death of brother Jared there.
The sole surviving brother, Jason, the eldest, returned home Friday, and according to the Associated Press, may not be going back to Iraq:
Most Americans understand that unemployment declining is a good thing.
Yet, the folks at the Associated Press seem confused about this economic statistic as evidenced by an article published Saturday entitled "Help Wanted Ads Go Unanswered in West."
In fact, contrary to a media fixated on bashing corporations and business owners as greedy little devils, Matt Gouras' piece actually elicited sympathy for folks normally in the press' crosshairs while oddly downplaying the benefits tight labor markets typically bring employees (emphasis added throughout, h/t to an NB reader in Hawaii):
What a difference a headline makes. An alert tipster in Minnesota sent the Media Research Center a clip from the August 10 St. Paul Pioneer Press, which included this scary-sounding headline over a story about a Food and Drug Administration report: “Heartburn Drugs Subject of Federal Safety Inquiry.”
The story, distributed by the Los Angeles Times News Service, was about whether two commonly prescribed drugs, Nexium and Prilosec, might cause heart problems. Maybe, suggested writer Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar: “Federal regulators Thursday said they have opened a safety investigation of two popular heartburn drugs — Nexium, marketed as the ‘purple pill,’ and Prilosec, its older chemical cousin — after receiving clinical data that appeared to link them to serious heart problems.”
Socialist thinking can often pop up in the most unexpected places.
One of the “most powerful bond investors in America” is calling for a full-fledged government bailout of homeowners who are struggling to pay their mortgages. Pimco Chief Investment Officer and founder Bill Gross thinks the Fed and monetary policy need to step aside for direct government intervention by President George Bush.
“Write some checks, bail 'em out, prevent a destructive housing deflation that Ben Bernanke is unable to do," wrote Gross on his September blog, which appeared in an Associated Press story on August 23. “This rescue, which admittedly might bail out speculators who deserve much worse, would support millions of hard working Americans whose recent hours have become ones of frantic desperation.”
Arthur Bremer, the man who on May 15, 1972, attempted to assassinate then-Gov. George Wallace (D-Ala.), is scheduled to be released from a Maryland correctional facility later this fall, the Associated Press reports.
In 1963, during his first term as Alabama's chief executive, the Democratic governor famously declared: "I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever."
While Wallace recanted his segregationist views years later, in May of 1972 he still espoused racist rhetoric during his run for the Democratic presidential nomination.
The Associated Press's Melinda Deslatte covered the controversy over Democratic attack ads on GOP gubernatorial candidate Bobby Jindal yesterday:
A political ad from the Louisiana governor's race is drawing a storm of criticism for accusing Republican Rep. Bobby Jindal of calling Protestants "scandalous, depraved, selfish and heretical."
Democrats say the state party's 30-second TV spot - running in heavily Protestant central and north Louisiana - simply explains Jindal's beliefs with his own words, using portions of the Catholic congressman's religious writings through the 1990s, before he was an elected official.
Jindal, who is running for governor, said the ad distorts his writings.
Liberals around the country are smiling today at an Associated Press poll and story circulating on the web claiming that conservatives read less than liberals, none more so than former Colorado Democratic congresswoman Pat Schroeder who despite being president of the American Association of Publishers decided she felt like insulting half of her potential reading audience by dusting off an old liberal refrain:
"The Karl Roves of the world have built a generation that just wants a couple slogans: 'No, don't raise my taxes, no new taxes,' [...] It's pretty hard to write a book saying, 'No new taxes, no new taxes, no new taxes' on every page. [...] She said liberals tend to be policy wonks who "can't say anything in less than paragraphs. We really want the whole picture, want to peel the onion."
It's all too familiar and really kind of sad since this poll is hardly conclusive (more on that in a minute). For all their talk about being "regular people," the left sure loves calling their fellow citizens stupid and moronic. You'd think that after employing this method for so long—think Reagan-as-idiot-savant, rationalizing the radio failure of Mario Cuomo, Air America, etc.—that the left would realize their elitist and snobbish attitude and either drop it or drop the whole "party of the people" nonsense. After all, how can you be for the common man if you regard him as an ignorant dolt?
Steyn takes on the lunacy of sanctuary cities, media-report tiptoeing, and the apparently hopelessly-in-denial political elites:
..... there's been a succession of prominent stories with one common feature that the very same pundits, politicians and lobby groups have a curious reluctance to go anywhere near. In a New York Times report headlined "Sorrow And Anger As Newark Buries Slain Youth," the limpidly tasteful Times prose prioritized "sorrow" over "anger," and offered only the following reference to the perpetrators: "The authorities have said robbery appeared to be the motive. Three suspects – two 15-year-olds and a 28-year-old construction worker from Peru – have been arrested."
Some extraordinary statements concerning global warming have been made in the past couple of days by a key member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum that could signal the end of the Kyoto Protocol as we know it.
Of course, you likely didn't hear about this, for even though America is part of APEC, our media seemed thoroughly disinterested.
However, as this is indeed quite important news for folks on both sides of the anthropogenic global warming debate, the following was reported by the Associated Press via the International Herald Tribune Friday (emphasis added throughout, h/t Benny Peiser):
Today's Washington Post story about the latest legal filings in a securities case echoes the bias of liberal blogs and publications on the case.
The Post leads the story this way:
The Bush administration yesterday sided with accountants, bankers and lawyers seeking to avoid liability in corporate fraud cases, arguing that investors must show they lost money after relying on deceptions by third parties in order to proceed with private lawsuits.
"The Bush administration yesterday sided with U.S. manufacturers and their 14 million employees, arguing against a reinterpretation of securities law that could lead to an explosive rise in litigation."
As Congress debates ways to combat climate change, a leaked internal briefing to officials in Great Britain (PDF available here) showed members of that government backtracking on renewable energy targets set forth by the European Union and agreed upon by former Prime Minister Tony Blair.
As reported by England's Guardian Monday (emphasis added throughout, h/t Benny Peiser):
In contrast to the government's claims to be leading the world on climate change, officials within the former Department of Trade and Industry have admitted that under current policies Britain would miss the EU's 2020 target of 20% energy from renewables by a long way. And their suggestion that "statistical interpretations of the target" be used rather than new ways to reach it has infuriated environmentalists.
"Statistical interpretations" is a clever way of saying "cooking the books":
At OpinionJournal.com on Thursday ("Fair but Unbalanced -- How the media promote false pessimism about the economy"), Brian Wesbury, who has written several times on the disconnect between the strong economy and the public's perception of it (previous references here, here, here, here, and here), had another generally stellar column about what is nonetheless a relatively small piece of the problem.
Wesbury ascribes much of the disconnect to TV's need for "balance," when giving positive and negative views equal weight is often in reality unbalanced:
If one guest or expert is a "bull," then the other must be a "bear," to keep things fair. Or, if there is a single guest on air, the host often takes the other side of the issue in order to keep things balanced. Get some sparks between guests, a little argument here or there, and it's even better for the ratings. The bigger the audience, the better the show, that's the way the advertisers see it. It's basic supply and demand.
But this idea of presenting both sides of an issue, while entertaining, informative and seemingly balanced, may paradoxically create a warped perspective of the economy.
The Kids Are All Right Economic literacy test: High school seniors beat Congress.
Excerpts (bold is mine):
Since its founding in 1969, the NAEP has become something of an annual exercise in American educational masochism. Last year, only 54% of students met NAEP's "basic" standard--the equivalent of a passing grade--on the science test. The previous year tested history; a mere 47% passed. But when knowledge of economics was tested this year, well, let's just say the supply curve shifted. NAEP reported this week that 79% of twelfth graders passed this first-ever national economics test. Holy Hayek.
..... The depth of knowledge shown by ordinary seniors suggests that they have been able to absorb basic economic truths from their daily experiences. Now, if this wisdom can only survive four years of instruction by your average college faculty.
An interesting story on Fox News tells of a Boston man who was robbed while visiting Phoenix.
First, we must remember that Boston, being part of the People’s Republic of Massachusetts, does not allow people to carry concealed firearms for personal protection. Therefore, this man was not armed, unlike concealed carry licensees from the 40 shall-issue states.1 So this is partly a story about self-defense denied, and the consequences thereof. One can also note that the leaders of the State of Massachusetts, who believe that regular, law-abiding folk should not carry concealed firearms, will not endure any personal inconvenience or liability for this unfortunate incident.
On August 3, NewsBusters contributor Scott Whitlock noticed the network morning shows largely ignored Sen. Barack Obama's (D-Ill.) dovish blanket assertion that he would rule out the use of nuclear weapons in "any circumstances" in dealing with terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan. At the time, Sen. Hillary Clinton called the pronouncement unwise. But according to the Associated Press, it appears Clinton is contradicting a statement she made in April 2006 that aligns with Obama's stance.
On August 2, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) took the opportunity to disagree with Obama's dovish stance. As the Washington Post reported in the August 3 paper:
One needs to look no further than the Associated Press's story on the Scott Beauchamp saga to understand why the general public not following the news closely doesn't "get" just how biased and antagonistic towards the war, the military, and American soldiers Old Media outlets are.
In the case of Scott Beauchamp, now that their brethren at The New Republic (TNR) have been caught red-handed publishing made-up stories, John Milburn and Ellen Simon of the Associated Press appear to be doing everything they can to cover for them -- first, with a headline (probably determined elsewhere within AP) that fails to communicate anything resembling the essence of the story, and second, by struggling mightily in their reporting to make it appear that this is a "he said, she said" dispute, instead of a situation where Beauchamp and TNR have been thoroughly discredited.
Here's the headline:
Army denounces articles written by GI
Trouble is, Paragraphs 4 through 7 of the story make it clear that this is no mere denunciation -- it's a complete repudiation that the person the Army is supposedly only "denouncing" agrees with:
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (R) recently told an Illinois woman that while his grown sons have never served in the military, they are displaying their patriotism by campaigning heavily for their father's nomination for the presidency.
The Politico and USA Today have picked up on the item. USA Today's "On Politics" blog noted in an entry posted at 11:45 Eastern that:
The questioner, 41-year-old Rachel Griffiths of Milan, Ill., told Susan later that she is not a Republican and is in fact a member of a "Progressive Action for the Common Good."
Asked if she was satisfied by Romney's answer, Griffiths said:
As NewsBusters reported Sunday, Newsweek's current issue featured a cover story blasting anthropogenic global warming skeptics as "deniers," and pointing fingers at companies like ExxonMobil as participating in a coordinated misinformation campaign akin to the tobacco industry misleading citizens about the dangers of cigarette smoking.
Shortly after this new issue hit the stands, Al Gore told a forum in Singapore, "the deniers offered a bounty of $10,000 for each article disputing the consensus that people could crank out and get published somewhere."
This raises an interesting question: Is this a coordinated attack designed to incite anger in citizens that polls show are not as upset about this issue as the left and their media minions?
As reported by the Associated Press Tuesday (emphasis added):
In a move that might make some people scratch their heads, a loosely formed coalition of left-leaning bloggers are trying to band together to form a labor union they hope will help them receive health insurance, conduct collective bargaining or even set professional standards.
As Sean Penn gushed over despot Hugo Chavez Thursday, a former Miss Venezuela and previous co-star of the activist actor's was telling the Associated Press she hopes Penn "comes to his senses and he realizes that he's being used."
Movie lovers likely remember Maria Conchita Alonso as Robin Williams' girlfriend in "Moscow on the Hudson," and Arnold Schwarzenegger's in "The Running Man."
With that in mind, the Associated Press reported Thursday (emphasis added throughout):
If summer heat and drought were jeopardizing crops in the Midwest, would a climate change obsessed media be having a field day (pun intended) reporting the news whilst connecting it to manmade global warming?
24 hours a day, seven days a week, right? CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC would likely have correspondents in the cornfields giving daily updates about the gravity of the situation.
Yet, further south in Texas, there's a crop very important to Americans in tremendous danger that has gotten almost no attention.
Why? Because abnormally cold summer temperatures are threatening it, and that just doesn't fit the current media agenda. As reported by the Associated Press Friday (h/t NB reader Phillip A. Smith):
One of the Associated Press's earliest articles following Friday morning's release of the government's Employment Report, which showed July's unemployment ticking up 0.1% to 4.6% and new jobs increasing by 92,000, had this outrageous paragraph (backup link is here in case the article is revised or removed; bolds are mine):
Construction companies slashed 12,000 jobs in July. Manufacturers shed 2,000 and retailers cut a thousand. Some 28,000 government jobs were eliminated. In contrast, education and health care added 39,000. Leisure and hospitality expanded employment by 22,000. Professional and business services added 26,000 new positions.
Note that AP uses violent terminology to describe relatively modest decreases in employment caused by (apparently evil) private-sector employers, while it applies relatively bland verbs to much larger private-sector increases. Meanwhile, the description of the large reduction in government jobs slips into passive voice, with no perpetrator identified. Zheesh -- How obviously biased can you get?
More discussion, this week's winner, and a chart comparing Bush 43 and late Clinton-era economic performance are after the break.
Scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego published a paper in the journal Nature Thursday which put a huge hole in the manmade global warming theory espoused by soon-to-be-Dr. Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
As reported by the Associated Press (emphasis added):
Huge haze clouds over the Indian Ocean contribute as much to atmospheric warming in Asia as greenhouse gases and play a significant role in the melting of the Himalayan glaciers, according to a study published Thursday.
Researchers concluded that the pollution - mostly caused by the burning of wood and plant matter for cooking in India and other South Asian countries - enhanced heating of the atmosphere by around 50 percent and contributed to about half of the temperature increases blamed in recent decades for the glacial retreat.
Obviously, this puts quite a crimp in the currently in vogue global warming myth that CO2 emissions are solely responsible for glacial melt. Furthermore, JunkScience.com's Steven Milloy pointed out Thursday a conceivably less intuitive chink in the armor (emphasis added):
If the Ethics Bill just approved by Congress had passed this time last year, a media hell-bent on giving Democrats control of that governmental branch would have lambasted the legislation as an election year stunt by Republicans desperately trying to distance themselves from their own culture of corruption.
Yet, twelve months later, with Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nevada) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-California) at the helm, it seems a metaphysical certitude Katie, Charlie, and Brian will hail this bill's passage as a crowning achievement of Democrats that vowed to clean up Washington.
In fact, you can already see the self-congratulations in the Associated Press article written shortly after the votes were counted (emphasis added throughout):
Is it the pinnacle of an anti-American, socialist actor's career to be praised by an anti-American, socialist dictator?
If so, Sean Penn is on quite a high today -- which of course is nothing unusual -- as the so-called president of Venezuela -- the lovable Hugo Chavez -- had wonderful things to say about the actor made famous as a pot-smoking surfer in the teen movie "Fast Times at Ridgemont High."
As reported by the Associated Press (emphasis added throughout, h/t Dan Gainor):
A bridge in Minnesota tragically collapsed Wednesday killing an unknown number of innocent people. As reported by the Associated Press:
The eight-lane Interstate 35W bridge, a major Minneapolis artery, was in the midst of repairs when the bridge buckled during the evening rush hour Wednesday. Dozens of cars plummeted more than 60 feet into the Mississippi River, some falling on top one of another. A school bus sat at an angle on the concrete.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those involved including friends and relatives.
Sadly, as every disaster that has occurred since late January 2001 has been somehow blamed on the Bush administration - most notably Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and the recent tornados in Kansas - a question needs asking: