Romantic comedies and candlelight dinners are two common activities that couples like to engage in on Valentine’s Day, but Bill Talen is offering a rather, uhh, unique suggestion on February 14: un-marry your spouse for gay rights. USA Today reported that Talen is inviting all couples to participate in the “unMarriage event,” taking place in New York City, which apparently isn’t anything new.
Talen, who is also known as Rev. Billy, invites all to join in on this event on his website and writes, “Join hundreds of couples at the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park this Valentine’s Day for a mass ritual in support of all the rights of ALL people to marry whomever they wish.”
He continues to write, “Brides and Grooms will suspend their vows in a ritual officiated by Reverend Billy. Tragic and hopeful love songs will be sung. Participants will be issued an official unmarried certificate suitable for framing.” How romantic.
Press reports about the prediction by President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers that the economy would add an average of 95,000 jobs per month during calendar 2010 weren't exactly overflowing with praise, but were lacking in something one would have expected: historical context.
Philip Elliott's Associated Press report provided none. Sewell Chan's New York Times coverage at least pointed out that the promised level of job growth was "barely enough to keep up with the normal number of jobs the economy would have to create to meet the growth in the labor force and keep the unemployment rate steady."
But how would what the administration predicts compare to previous recoveries? As seen in the following chart based on more detailed information here, all based on data from the government's Bureau of Labor Statistics, a 95,000 per month performance in job growth following a breakout quarter after a recession wouldn't exactly be impressive:
Update: Rush cites this article to rip global warmist hypocrisy. On today's show, Rush Limbaugh cited NewsBusters and read from this article to demonstrate the global warmists' hypocrisy: "when there is less snow, they say it's because of global warming. When there is more snow, they say it's because of global warming. Now you cannot have it both ways." Rush played several clips of Dem senators in recent years attributing the lack of snow to global warming. Listen to Rush cite NewsBusters and blast the warmists here.
By now, we're all familiar with the global warmists' attempt to explain away the record-breaking mid-Atlantic blizzards. Take this, for example, from the New York Times [emphasis added]:
"government and academic studies had consistently predicted an increasing frequency of just these kinds of record-setting storms, because warmer air carries more moisture."
So more snow fell from Philly to DC because the temperatures were warmer than normal during the blizzards? That got me wondering: just what were the temperatures in DC on the snow days, and how do they compare to the norm? And guess what?
As described in a Wall Street Journal editorial today, those two organizations have caught the Obama administration playing with the federal budget numbers, specifically the "baseline." The editorial also makes two important points in its two final paragraphs (bolded by me):
... the White House is proposing to convert spending sold as a one-time economic boost into a permanent feature of future government growth. As both the Tax Policy Center and the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget have pointed out, supposedly temporary parts of the stimulus—expansions of the earned income tax credit, the child tax credit and Pell Grants for college students—have now found their way into the budget baseline.
True to the way Mr. Obama has honored his campaign pledge of transparency, this news was buried in a footnote on page 170 of the budget's Analytical Perspectives.
Hollywood actress Anne Hathaway has come a long way since her innocent breakout role in Disney’s “The Princess Diaries.” In a recent interview with British GQ, Hathaway stated that she and her family left the Catholic Church after her older brother announced that he was gay. USA Today, New York magazine and The Huffington Post used the public break as an opportunity to scold the Church.
Hathaway supposedly considered becoming a nun in childhood, so deep was her Catholic faith. But it wasn’t deep enough to get in the way when the “whole family converted to Episcoplianism.” USA Today reported Hathaway stating, “Why should I support an organization that has a limited view of my beloved brother?”
In stories currently carrying Friday afternoon and early Saturday time stamps, the Associated Press weighed in with supportive articles about Illinois Democrats who are desperately trying to convince Scott Lee Cohen (pictured at right; image is captured from his web site), who won the party's nomination for Lieutenant Governor, to step aside.
In the Friday afternoon's report ("Embattled Dem Ill. candidate won't step down"), AP reporter Karen Hawkins swallowed the line that "details had emerged" about Cohen's 2005 arrest on domestic battery charges, despite the fact that Cohen himself preemptively disclosed many of those details to Chicago Sun-Times reporter Mark Brown in March 2009 (link is to a cached copy of Brown's article that was posted at Cohen's campaign site). Brown apparently chose not to relay much of what Cohen revealed, but he clearly had a lot of it.
In an early Saturday item ("IL Gov. might want to run from his running mate"), the wire service's Deanna Bellandi owned up to the existence of the Sun-Times story and relayed the demands of several Illinois Democrats that Cohen withdraw.
Each reporter seemed to go out of her way to avoid mentioning the remaining candidates for the Republican Party's gubernatorial nomination, Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard, who are currently locked in a razor-thin, currently undecided race.
In a post late Thursday afternoon (at NewBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that the half of the teases (6 of 12) for the Associated Press's short videos in business stories at its web site were about Toyota, specifically its recent product quality issues and falling sales.
In that post, I noted a conflict of interest in the relationship between the U.S. government and Toyota, and wondered when someone in the press would bring the matter up:
To the extent the government is leaning hard on the company, somebody in the press should be questioning whether the motivations are purely related to safety or whether they also involve generating as much negative publicity as possible about the principal foreign-based competitor of government-controlled General Motors and Chrysler.
I didn't realize at the time that one wire service, AFP, actually had actually brought up the matter, complete with quite a provocative headline, Thursday morning.
When Apple CEO Steve Jobs put the New York Times at the center of the ceremonious unveiling of his company's iPad tablet device, the implication was clear: this is the future of the news--or at least Jobs wants us to think it is. He stands to gain not only financially but politically as Apple becomes a major gatekeeper for information.
The news media industry itself is divided on whether e-readers like the iPad and the Amazon Kindle can revitalize the news business. Newspaper sales are, after all, at historial lows. Over 90 newspapers failed last year.
While there are scores of competing theories for why newspapers (and books to a lesser extent) are seemingly on the decline, a prominent and plausible one seems to be that they have lost control of their content. Aggregators like Google News have provided news consumers with faster, more reliable sources for news. The proliferation of the blogosphere has loosened Old Media's grip on that news.
The declining (or is it dying?) newspaper industry has suffered another blow to its image as punctilious skeptic with the motto "If your mother says she loves you, check it out." It turns out a pile of American newspapers can’t manage to check out the most basic information about people who are flat-out using their pages to push political agendas.
A person with the name of "Ellie Light" has been successfully published with the same letter in at least 68 newspapers defending President Obama – defrauding the editors by using local addresses. Reports have "her" published in two papers overseas.
Who is "Ellie Light"? We know this much: "She" is a fraud.
Sometimes getting hung up on percentage increases causes one to miss what's going on with the actual numbers.
Such is the case in a January 26 front page story by USA Today's Richard Wolf. USAT's is the only recent original coverage I have found thus far relating to increases in the national welfare rolls during the recession. (An unbylined story at UPI merely reports on what USAT's Wolf wrote.)
USAT's Wolf let himself get distracted by double-digit caseload increases in certain states, but missed the big story: California, with roughly 12% of the country's population, was responsible for over half of the increase in both families and recipients receiving benefits. The reason the state's percentage increase was smaller than several others was because its caseload is already scandalously out of control.
Wolf also made a point of comparing the relatively small increase in the national welfare caseload to steep rises in the number of Americans receiving food stamp and unemployment insurance benefits.
Here are the first five and final paragraphs from Wolf, followed by a closer look at the numbers:
In a Page C1 column in Friday's Washington Post about the National Enquirer's plans to apply for a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the John Edwards-Rielle Hunter affair and love child, Howard Kurtz delivers a completely inexcusable pass to his fellow alleged journalists in the establishment media (bold is mine, internal link is in original):
When the Enquirer first reported in 2007 that Edwards had had an affair with Hunter, the former North Carolina senator dismissed the account as tabloid trash. The rest of the media, having no independent proof, steered clear of the story, even as Edwards, aided by his cancer-stricken wife Elizabeth, was mounting an aggressive campaign for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.
Howard's "no independent proof" statement is a howler on one of two possible levels. It's either false on its face (i.e., one or more establishment media reporters had the proof and suppressed it), or it reflects a complete and journalistically negligent lack of interest in a story about a man who, if things had broken differently, could conceivably have become his party's presidential nominee or even the country's chief executive. Either way, Kurtz is unforgivably easy on his fellow "professionals," especially because I have learned that one of his fellow "professionals" had plenty of clues that something was amiss even before the Enquirer's October 2007 story broke.
I heard Rush reading from a newspaper column during his first hour, but missed the first couple of paragraphs. So I didn't know its origin. Given what I was hearing, I thought that El Rushbo was surely reading the latest from Maureen Dowd at the New York Times.
Nope. It turns out that it was written by the Boston Globe's Brian McGrory (pictured at right; original is at this link). McGrory wants to tell us that the Bay Staters who voted for Scott Brown over Martha Coakley did so because of the self-importance thrust on them by the national media spotlight and not out of any real conviction.
But his bawdy treatment distracts from his intent, as you will see in the excerpts that follow, which in this case are no substitute for reading -- or actually enduring -- the whole thing:
Seduced by our new senator
I’m going to need some Advil and a cold compress, please. I’m the Massachusetts Electorate, and I have what is bar none the absolute worst hangover of my entire voting life.
Last week, in his "analysis" of Barack Obama's proposed "bank responsibility fee," the Associated Press's Jim Kuhnhenn got one important thing right and two others very wrong.
The part he got right was describing the proposed fee as a "tax." The first thing he got wrong was identifying the proposed move as a legitimate form of "populism." The second is his claim that the idea is "straight out of 'It's a Wonderful Life,'" the classic Christmas movie.
Here are Kuhnhenn's first five paragraphs:
It's not just about bad banking.
President Barack Obama's biting criticism of big banks frames the problem as a struggle between jobless, suffering Americans and banks making big profits and paying "obscene" bonuses.
It's populism straight out of Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life," and it aims to score political points in the midst of a weak economic recovery that is fueling public doubts about the president's own economic policies.
Despite being convicted of stealing gift cards intended for poor Baltimore residents and using them for her own personal shopping spree, outgoing Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon (D) will still be able to collect a mayoral pension after she resigns from office early next month.
Reported Baltimore Sun's Julie Scharper:
Dixon pleaded guilty last week to one count of perjury for failing to disclose on city ethics forms the gifts she received from a developer. As part of a plea deal, she will keep her $83,000 pension. She will receive probation before judgment for the perjury count and the embezzlement conviction. She also must donate $45,000 to charity and is banned from seeking city funds to pay her legal bills or working for the city or state during her probationary period.
This development, understandably, has quite a few Baltimoreans outraged, so Sun editors gave Scharper 25 paragraphs to report on incoming interim mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's pledge to look into the pension system and sew up loopholes that allow for convicts like Dixon to benefit from taxpayers in their retirement from public service.
Yet nowhere in Scharper's January 12 article was Dixon's Democratic Party affiliation mentioned, nor the fact that Council President Rawlings-Blake and the rest of the city council are likewise all Democrats.
On Thursday, the Congressional Budget Office issued its Monthly Budget Review for December 2009. It estimates that December's federal deficit will be $92 billion when the Treasury Department releases its Monthly Treasury Statement on Wednesday, and that the deficit for the first fiscal quarter will be "about $390 billion." The CBO director's related blog post is here. The establishment press has virtually ignored it.
Here is the initial result of a Google News search on "CBO deficit" (not in quotes) for articles relating to the Congressional Budget Office's Thursday estimate of the federal government's deficit for the first quarter of its fiscal year:
Clicking on the "all 10 new articles" reveals that there are really only four results, that three of them are at blogs, and that only one of the blog posts is from an establishment media site:
The one good thing you can say about Andrew Freedman's "Cold weather in a hot climate" entry at the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang blog (HT James Taranto at the Wall Street Journal's Best of the Web) is that he's at least not hiding his bias.
Boiling it down, Freedman believes that weather broadcasters should use the occasions of heat waves and serious storms as global warming teachable moments, yet become strict info relayers when it's extraordinarily cold. In doing so, he advocates a continuation of what Julie Seymour at the Media Research Center's Business & Media Institute has already observed:
The news media constantly misuse extreme weather examples to generate fear of global warming, but when record cold or record snow sets in journalists don’t mention the possibility of global cooling trends. While climatologists would say weather isn’t necessarily an indication of climate, it has been in the media, but only when the weather could be spun as part of global warming.
In a Friday news analysis piece that appeared in the paper's print edition today (teased at its web site as seen on the right), Jackie Calmes at the New York Times began with a pathetic headline, and opened with pity on our poor overwhelmed, stressed-out, stretched-in-all-directions President:
Obama Tries to Turn Focus to Jobs, if Other Events Allow
President Obama keeps trying to turn attention to “jobs, jobs, jobs,” as his chief of staff has put it. But he is finding that it can be hard to focus on any one issue when so many demand attention, often unexpectedly.
This is simply another variation on the "distracted" President theme I noted last year (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog). You know, if those terrorists and other messy realities wouldn't intervene, Barack Obama could do his job sooooo much better.
Calmes resumed the pity party in her seventh paragraph:
Toyota and Ford are on the verge of catching Government/General Motors in monthly U.S. vehicle sales. Based on the sales trends at the three companies, GM may lose its domestic kingpin status in just a few months.
I heard the December facts giving rise to the aforementioned tidbit on the radio Monday afternoon, and wondered whether the commentator came up with them on his own or if early wire reports had relayed them. If it's the latter, the relevant points seem to have disappeared from later wire service dispatches, including this one from the Associated Press's Tom Krisher and Dee-Ann Durbin. I think they need to be plucked from the ether and emphasized, especially given the boast by the GM's chairman that it will make a profit in 2010.
Nowhere in their 9-paragraph breaking news article filed at 3:44 p.m. EST today did Baltimore Sun reporters Liz F. Kay and Liz Bowie note Dixon is a Democrat, even though her party has a monopoly on the city's elected officials and has for decades.
Dixon, you may recall, was convicted in December for misappopriating gift cards donated to her office and intended for distribution to needy Baltimore residents. Instead, Dixon used some of the cards for a personal shopping spree. In effect, she was convicted of robbing from the poor to benefit herself.
In a report time-stamped January 2, the Associated Press's Philip Elliott relayed what was supposedly important news:
Obama cites apparent al-Qaida link in bomb plot
An al-Qaida affiliate in Yemen apparently ordered the Christmas Day plot against a U.S. airliner, training and arming the 23-year-old Nigerian man accused in the failed bombing, President Barack Obama said Saturday.
You don't say?
The story was on the front page of Sunday's Cincinnati Enquirer, and likely many other papers across the nation.
If you bother to read Joanna Weiss' column in today's Boston Globe, expect to get a sense of déjà . . . lu. Like untold polemics that have preceded it, "Hollywood’s burden on aging women" stamps its feet over the unequal treatment of aging in men and women.
You know: male stars are allowed to age gracefully, but women must struggle ever-harder to conform to a youthful stereotype of sex-appeal. Unfair!
The feminist response is to blame the culture, in this case embodied by Hollywood, for promoting shallow, sexist values. But the fault, dear Joanna, is not in our stars but in ourselves, or more precisely, our DNA.
UPDATE, Jan. 1, 2010:This post at BizzyBlog shows that the there was recognition of likely Al Qaeda involvement in two separate press reports based on sources in a position to know on Christmas evening. Thus, the administration's delay in acknowledging that reality was actually three full days.
In their initial December 26 report ("Passengers’ Quick Action Halted Attack") on the attempted terrorist attack on Flight 253, New York Times reporters Scott Shane and Eric Lipton told readers that the "episode .... riveted the attention of President Obama on vacation in Hawaii."
In an article later that day ("Officials Point to Suspect’s Claim of Qaeda Ties in Yemen"), Lipton and Eric Schmitt reported that:
.... officials said the suspect (Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab) told them he had obtained explosive chemicals and a syringe that were sewn into his underwear from a bomb expert in Yemen associated with Al Qaeda.
The authorities have not independently corroborated the Yemen connection .... But a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation said on Saturday that the suspect’s account was “plausible,” and that he saw “no reason to discount it.”
Any reasonable person would say that this second report establishes "reason to believe that there is some linkage" between the suspect and Al Qaeda, and that a "riveted" president would have known that there was "some linkage" by Saturday night. That's why the following opener to a Washington Post item by Anne E. Kornblut dated yesterday is especially hard to take:
On Thursday, the Treasury Department issued a press release, called "Update on Status of Support for Housing Programs." Its fourth paragraph reads as follows:
At the time the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) placed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into conservatorship in September 2008, Treasury established Preferred Stock Purchase Agreements (PSPAs) to ensure that each firm maintained a positive net worth. Treasury is now amending the PSPAs to allow the cap on Treasury's funding commitment under these agreements to increase as necessary to accommodate any cumulative reduction in net worth over the next three years. At the conclusion of the three year period, the remaining commitment will then be fully available to be drawn per the terms of the agreements.
Translation: No matter how badly things further deteriorate at these former government sponsored enterprises, both of which since last year in essence have become government-controlled enterprises, Uncle Sam (i.e., current and future generations of taxpayers) will cover their losses.
Here is how three different news outlets headlined this Treasury/Obama administration move:
On December 8, Susan Gustafson at MLive.com proclaimed that "GM's announcement of no more layoffs is good news after years of hemorrhaging jobs":
General Motors' announcement this morning that it plans no further layoffs in the immediate future is huge news for both the automaker and Michigan as a whole after years of steady erosion in the ranks of hourly and salaried workers.
.... the company doesn't expect the numbers of hourly workers on indefinite layoff to increase.
In its obituary on the passing of Nobel economics laureate Paul Samuelson, who died on December 13, Michael Weinstein at the New York Times lavished well-deserved praise on the winner of the 1970 Nobel Prize in Economics for building "one of the world’s great centers of graduate education in economics" at MIT, but erred seriously in recounting his most visible public policy role.
Also worth noting is how the Times headline at Samuelson's obit compares to those the paper accorded Milton Friedman and John Kenneth Galbraith upon their deaths. Friedman and Galbraith were also pioneering economists in their own right who passed away after living into their 90s during the final half of this decade:
Friedman (November 16, 2006) -- "Milton Friedman, Free Markets Theorist, Dies at 94."
Galbraith (April 30, 2006) -- "John Kenneth Galbraith, 97, Dies; Economist Held a Mirror to Society."
Of the three, only the free market capitalism-championing Friedman, who like Samuelson but unlike Galbraith was a Nobel-winningeconomist, was deemed undeserving of being identified as a member of his chosen profession in his Times obit's headline.
More seriously, Weinstein rewrites history to give Samuelson significant credit for the prosperity of the 1960s where very little is due.
Yesterday at NewsBusters, Geoffrey Dickens documented the furor of MSNBC's Chris Mathews over the results of an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll (PDF).
Specifically, Mathews was irked that the Tea Party Movement (TPM) was viewed quite a bit more favorably than the two major political parties by those polled (VP=Very Positive; SP=Somewhat Positive; N=Neutral; SN=Somewhat Negative; VN=Very Negative; DK=No Opinion):
Tea Party Movement: VP-20%; SP-21%; N-21%; SN-10%; VN-13%; DK-15%
Mathews dismissed the TPM's convincing advantage over the established parties, especially in higher strong positives and lower strong negatives, as being the result of a biased poll question working in the Tea Partiers' favor. I don't think so. In fact, I think the result occurred even though the question is loaded against the TPM.
Here is the full text of the Tea Party poll question (Question 14b, Page 11; bolds are mine):
Has anyone else noticed how chilling it has been during the past few days? Not chilly (though it's been that too). Chilling.
On Monday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declared, in the Associated Press's words, that "greenhouse gas emissions are a danger and must be regulated."
The AP, in the item just linked, and many other news outlets carried U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donahue's warning that regulations based on EPA's declaration could lead to "a top-down command-and-control regime that will choke off growth by adding new mandates to virtually every major construction and renovation project."
Two days later, in an item carried at FoxNews.com that says it was the result of contributions by Fox's Major Garrett and the AP, a White House official confirmed the legitimacy of Donahue's stated fear (bolds are mine):
Administration Warns of 'Command-and-Control' Regulation Over Emissions
Francis, an editor-at-large, published her article in Canada's national business newspaper, The Financial Post, the day after the much-hyped climate change conference kicked off in Copenhagen. She argued that "China, despite its dirty coal plants, is the world's leader in terms of fashioning policy to combat environmental degradation, thanks to its one-child-only edict."
"China has proven that birth restriction is smart policy," said Francis. "Its middle class grows, all its citizens have housing, health care, education and food, and the one out of five human beings who live there are not overpopulating the planet."
Francis wrote direly that there would be irreversible consequences unless "all countries drastically reduce their populations."
In their report on Ford's November sales results, the Associated Press's Tom Krisher and Dee-Ann Durbin seemed to downplay the company's pretty decent month, and definitely downplayed the company's better near-term prospects compared to its principal rivals. Additionally, despite the report's Wednesday time stamp, the pair didn't update the item's content to compare Ford's performance to its competitors.
The New York Times’s Jason DeParle and Robert Gebeloff published a long Saturday report on the Food Stamp program that went into print on Sunday.
This is the second of three posts on their coverage; the first went up earlier today at NewsBusters and BizzyBlog. It addressed the pair's seeming happiness with the massive increase in program participation, their apparent unhappiness that 15-16 million who could be getting Food Stamps aren't, and their sense of relief that the "stigma" attached to being on a form of government dole has significantly dissipated.
This post will deal with something that should have been right in front of the Times pair's faces: Even before considering loosened eligibility standards (the third post will deal with that), Food Stamp benefits (gross and net) have increased by much more than the rate of food inflation during the past couple of years, especially in the past year, during which the increase in net benefits has been a whopping 30%.
Here are a few article excerpts from the Times report that deal with benefit levels (the first excerpted paragraph originally appeared in between the two other sets of paragraphs presented):