Common sense says that the chart's results after adjusting for inflation are more important (identified as "Chained  dollars") than those in current dollars. Consmers' disposable income went up 1.0% in real (after-inflation) terms in November after a 0.7% increase in October.
It took a month for real consumer spending ("Personal consumption expenditures") to catch up to the increased disposable income, but it did so in a big way in November. The 0.6% real increase is the highest in over three years. Both improvements are objectively good news, and are largely due to sharply declining gas prices.
This is pretty fundamental Econ 101 stuff, isn't it? As you can see from the headlines and the treatment of the real spending increase that follow, the business press mostly flunked, and badly:
You would think from reading yesterday afternoon's report by the Associated Press's Tom Murphy that companies like Toyota, Nissan, and Honda are not that far from finding themselves in the situations US taxpayer bailout recipients General Motors and Chrysler are in.
Murphy tries mightily to make the foreign-owned companies' situations look serious, at one point even putting out the howler that they are "not quite" as bad off as Detroit's Big Three.
You've got to be kidding me.
Murphy's "Meltdown 101: Foreign automakers struggle too" apparently just arrived from the School of Hard Laughs. It is mostly written in a Q&A format. Here are some excerpts (bolds are mine):
It's almost as if the Associated Press's Ian James and the wire service's headline writers think that Hugo Chavez's latest announcement that he plans to expropriate a huge, city block-sized, nearly complete shopping mall is sort of cute and quirky. James even gave it a "clever" name: drive-by socialism.
My post at NewsBusters yesterday noted that James's initial report Sunday evening was short on many details. Today, James filled many of the holes but leaned strongly towards sympathy with the Venezuelan strongman's decision, even avoiding use of the word "expropriating" until the third paragraph. The AP's whitewashing headline seems to be designed to cause readers to yawn and move on to something else.
What seems to have occurred is that poor Mr. Chavez got stuck in traffic and didn't like it. That's all it takes in Venezuela for a project that has surely been years in the making to vanish -- unless Mr. Impulsive changes his mind. Here are excerpts from James's report:
Chavez orders halt to construction of Caracas mall
President Hugo Chavez says he was heading through downtown Caracas when he was shocked by the sight of a huge, nearly finished shopping mall amid the high-rise offices and apartments.
"They had already built a monster there," Chavez said. "I passed by there just recently and said, 'What is this? My God!'"
Two situations over the weekend illustrate that the Associated Press's habitual failure to identify the political party of Democrats in trouble is more than likely a conscious decision. This is despite the AP Stylebook's guidance (as of 2000, the latest free edition I can find; a PDF is here) that a reporter should "include party affiliation if readers need it for understanding or are likely to be curious about what it is."
In both of the instances I will cite, local papers decided that party affiliation was important enough to include. But AP reporters decided that they weren't, even though out-of-state readers are less likely to know the party affiliation of the politician(s) involved.
Hugo Chavez has announced that he plans to expropriate a huge and nearly complete shopping mall in Caracas.
The Spanish language web page of Constructora Sambil that describes the project (pictured at the right) says that it's 21,600 square meters.
Chavez appears to have no idea what he will do with it. The Associated Press's Ian James apparently had no idea what to do with that shocking bit of information. He didn't follow up with any government officials who might have an idea of what Dear Leader has in mind. He didn't explore whether what Sambil has built thus far is useful or sensible for whatever noble purpose Chavez might be considering. He just let the Venezuelan strongman's comment sit there, and instead moved on to his incoherent screed against materialism.
It seems that some in Congress are so upset that our troops and their president have achieved what looks like victory in Iraq to seasoned, on-the-ground observers like Michael Yon that they feel compelled to get in their final digs to somehow discredit the war's legitimacy.
One such congressman is Democrat Henry Waxman of California (image originally found at the Washington Post), whose Committee on Oversight and Government Reform decided to re-hash the famous "sixteen words" President Bush used in his January 2003 State of the Union Speech ("The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa").
The conclusion of Waxman's 10-page Memorandum (a PDF at this link) begins by saying:
Associated Press writer Glen Johnson's story on the indictment of a close friend of Salvatore DiMasi, Massachusetts's Democratic Speaker of the House, is the latest in a long line of fairly long stories about Democratic politicians in trouble that fails to identify their party affiliation.
The story names a half-dozen politicians, all of whom are Democrats, without identifying the party of any of them. No variation of the word "Democrat" appears anywhere.
I don't know. Maybe the Associated Press thinks that no one is aware that John McCain lost his race for the White House? Maybe the AP thinks no one is aware that his choice for VP, Governor Sarah Palin, lost right along with him? Maybe the AP thinks that hardly any American has gotten the word that Obama and slow Joe Biden won on November 4th? The AP sure acts as if they think people still need it pointed out that Governor Sarah Palin is "the failed Republican vice presidential candidate." At least if its current report on the latest doings in Alaska is concerned, anyway. After all, right in the middle of a report on Alaska state workers having sent around some race tinged joke emails, the AP helpfully reminds us that Palin is that aforementioned "failed Republican vice presidential candidate." I mean, who knew she lost?
The AP is reporting on some race-y emails that were reported to them by a state worker, using it to needlessly jab the governor. At one point the AP sternly tells us all that, "State officials were unaware of the e-mails until asked about them by the AP," as if something untoward was going on in the Administration itself. But, even the AP's own report seems to show that a mountain is being made of a mole hill.
No, it's a not a story from the Onion. It's AFP reporting on the actions of Associated Press photographers and journalists:
US news agency staff stage 'byline strike'
Journalists and photographers at the US news agency the Associated Press (AP) are withholding their bylines to protest management's stance in contract talks, their union said.
"Staffers recognize the tough times, but they also understand that quality journalism at AP means attracting and retaining the best employees," Tony Winton, president of the News Media Guild, said in a statement on Tuesday.
The Guild said AP reporters and photographers were withholding bylines and personal equipment "in protest over the news agency's proposals that would threaten job security, dramatically raise medical costs, and freeze wages."
President-elect Barack Obama said Monday a review by his own lawyer shows he had no direct contact with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich about the appointment of a Senate replacement, and transition aides did nothing inappropriate.
Obama pledged to make the review public, but said he decided to hold off because prosecutors asked for a delay and "I don't want to interfere with an ongoing investigation." U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald released a statement confirming the request.
By contrast, back in October when Gov. Sarah Palin (R) released her own report denying impropriety in her firing of Alaska's public safety commissioner, the AP noted that "Palin Pre-Empts State Report, Clears Self in Probe." As e-mail tipster Matt Healy observed in his e-mail:
Politico announced a new partnership with Reuters on Monday that will provide political, government and business news from both organizations to newspapers across the United States.
In September, Politico launched the Politico Network, a partnership whereby member publications could run Politico content in print or online, while sharing in the profits from online advertisements.
Now, members of the Politico Network—which includes 60 newspapers and 40 broadcast outlets—will be able to run a broad selection of Reuters’ wire copy for free, while similarly sharing in the revenue from online advertising that’s sold by Politico.
And Reuters will distribute Politico stories worldwide through the news organization’s subscription-based wire service.
The country awoke to surprising news that President George W. Bush had flown off to visit Iraq in a sort of farewell tour of the place that drove his presidency. With an early report, Reuters gave a few backhanded slaps at Bush that we are sure to see grow throughout the Old Media as the day progresses.
In its very first sentence, Reuters reminded us all, as if we didn't already know, that the war in Iraq is the "unpopular Iraq war" that Bush has bequeathed to Barack Obama. Even as the war has rebounded in approval ratings among the American people over the last year, Reuters is still stuck on portraying the war as troubled.
There was a fire Friday at Wasilla Bible Church, where GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and her family are members. The fire did $1 million in damage. The photo at the right is among three that are in a slide show at Wasilla's local paper, the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, whose story is here.
The Washington Post has a short AP story at Page A02 (more on that shortly). The New York Times has nothing about it on its home page. A Times search on "Palin Church" (without quotes) leads to the same AP story; a review of today's print edition shows that the story appears on Page A41.
Does anyone think a similar fire at Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ, which Barack Obama attended for almost two decades until earlier this year, would have been as quietly covered -- even if Obama had lost?
Maybe it's just as well that the AP's coverage isn't too prominent yet, because Rachel D'Oro's story added an agenda-driven undercurrent in the last excerpted paragraph:
Liz Sidoti of the Associated Press seems to be setting the table for a certain amount of failure from Barack Obama by helping lower expectations among the people. Her latest AP report is as much as warning that, since he is facing "heady challenges," we shouldn't expect too much from him. In other words, before he has even really faced anything at all, Sidoti is making excuses for him almost in the mold of an affirmative action hire. It seems a perfect example of using the soft bigotry of low expectations to make preemptory excuses for Obama.
At the start, she seems to be downplaying any possibility that Obama will shine by noting how tough are the challenges he faces. Even the headline warns that "Obama faces heady challenges, and they're growing." But, the reality is few presidents in modern time faced a placid world upon taking office. Obama does not face any worse times than did Harry Truman, John Kennedy, Nixon, Reagan or any number of modern American presidents.
The Associated Press is as much as blaming the victim for the attack again with theirs headlined "Obama says he wants to 'reboot' America's battered image among Muslims." In this report we get the AP saying that the reason the Muslim world is mad at us is because of George W. Bush. But not a word is mentioned about why Bush might have been in a position of interacting so heavily with the Muslim world in the first place. How soon the AP forgets a little thing we like to call 9/11.
Using Obama's claim that he'll use his full given name, Barack Hussein Obama, as he's sworn into office, the AP trumpets how Obama will "repair America's reputation worldwide" after that dastardly Bush leaves the Oval Office. AP's thoughts on why Obama must undertake this grave effort, though, are interesting.
Evidence in abundance of AP's new "style" of news coverage.
Not long ago, the Associated Press informed its writers that they should be more emotive in their writing. Instead of an old newsy just-the-facts style of reporting, then AP was looking to goose it up and add more opinion and emotion to its reporting of the "news." Well, with the story of the arrest of corruption plagued Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and his connection to Illinois Senator and president in waiting Barack Obama, the emotive words flow fast and furious. This incident serves as an interesting example of the APs new more emotive style.
For instance, for the AP Sharon Cohen gives us a piece headlined "Illinois governor's arrest stuns politicos." This piece tries to force upon Blago's fellow Illinois politicians a sort of "shock" in response to Blago's arrest. But, while some politicians and FBI officials expressed disappointment and a sort of faux shock, no one in Illinois or Chicago politics is really shocked that Blago is finally under arrest. It has been building for several years at this point and for most folks in Illinois at all aware of the situation, it was a matter of when Blago was going to get picked up by the feds, not if. There really isn't much genuine shock and it is hyperbole to say there is. Truth be told, instead of real shock, it is more like weariness. (Even this AP piece featuring a series of quotes from Illinois politicians doesn't reveal any of them being "shocked.")
Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was arrested today. The Associated Press's Mike Robinson actually identified "Blago's" party in the third paragraph of his 10:27 a.m. report (link is dynamic; cited report is also here for future reference; underlying news HTs to an e-mailer):
Those who thought that President-elect Obama's pre-Thanksgiving promise to "create or save jobs," appropriately satirized by Mark Finkelstein at NewsBusters on November 24, might have been another one of the Oh-So-(in)Articulate One's "inartful" statements should know that it has become standard fare in Obama speeches.
In related news, Uncle Sam told us Friday that over 136 million seasonally adjusted jobs were "saved"in November (go here to replicate):
Never mind the 533,000 seasonally adjusted jobs lost -- which illustrates just how risible Obama's promise shift from the presidential campaign really is. Old Media's failure to note this shift is journalistic malpractice that would never occur during a Republican presidency.
I suppose the Associated Press wants us all to feel sorry for Mexico. With so many illegals here either having trouble finding work or actually returning home, Mexico is finding that its citizens illegally in the US have fewer American dollars to send home. AP says the "situation is so serious" that the Mexican government is trying to create new programs to reinforce ties between illegals here and its citizens at home. Of course, no where in AP's story does it seem to occur to anyone that Mexico clean itself up and offer opportunities there as opposed to trying to squeeze money from people here.
The whole story is reported as a legitimate economic issue instead of the thievery by illegals that it really is. The AP sternly informs us that as the "economic crisis worsens" Mexico finds that the money sent home is at "record lows." And we are treated once again to the euphemism for this theft of American dollars that is doled out in every such story. The AP calls this sending of American money back to Mexico a "remittance revenue stream," as if it is some sort of legitimate economic matter. It's a great way to gussie up the word "theft," isn't it?
The truth is that the Mexican government is trying to undermine our nation yet the AP treats this as if it is just an average story.
Attention, y'all in the South: Urban crime is partly your fault.
You see, if you didn't own so many guns, you wouldn't have so many of them stolen or sold at gun shows. Right now, those evil guns cross state lines and get used to commit crimes in urban areas.
I know all of this because the Associated Press's Seanna Adcox, acting as a mouthpiece for the Mayors Against Illegal Guns, has told me so (link is dynamic; 2 AM version saved here for future reference):
Report: South a big exporter of guns used in crime
The party-ID treatment of Fabian Nuñez, whose term as California Assemly Speaker ended on May 13, but whose term in the Assembly ended just this past Sunday, was barely better than what Kerry observed in the articles she reviewed yesterday.
Here's the rundown, which I will follow with past examples of obviously disparate treatment of Republican politicians whose sons got into much less trouble with the law:
Apparently, if one calls an Arab-American an A** H*le, Reuters and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee want all Americans to know that this is to be considered a "violent hate crime." At least that is what it seems when looking over the very lose and sloppy definition of "violent hate crimes" in a recent story on the falling numbers of such crimes against Arab-Americans in the U.S.
While ostensibly a good story -- discrimination against Arab-Americans has decreased -- it is still odd that Reuters allows this Muslim advocacy group to define even name calling as a "hate crime" and "violent" at that. So many levels of behavior are categorized under the rubric "hate crime" here that it really makes a mockery of the term, if one is even disposed to accept such a term in the first place.
In her story about pardon applications submitted to the Bush Justice Department before the President leaves office, the Associated Press's Lara Jakes Jordan made it seem as if pardon applicants appealing directly to the president is a new thing, and whitewashed the last-minute flurry of pardons granted by Bill Clinton in 2001.
Here are the key passages from Jordan's story:
Some high-profile convicts past and present are among more than 2,000 people asking President George W. Bush to pardon them or commute their prison sentences before he leaves office.
Junk-bond king Michael Milken, media mogul Conrad Black and American-born Taliban soldier John Walker Lindh have applied to the Justice Department seeking official forgiveness.
But with Bush's term ending Jan. 20, some lawyers are lobbying the White House directly to pardon their clients. That raises the possibility that the president could excuse scores of people, including some who have not been charged, to protect them from future accusations, such as former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales or star baseball pitcher Roger Clemens.
The Associated Press can't even get it right in a three-paragraph item about a White House ceremonial event.
In a story Monday afternoon about President Bush's meeting with two Nobel Prize-winning scientists and Nobel Economics winner Paul Krugman, the unbylined AP writer claimed that Krugman opposed the government's financial bailout. Evidence abounds that this is not only not the case, but that Krugman wants the bailouts to be bigger, and to involve more direct government ownership.
Here are the first and third paragraphs from the story (link probably will not work after about a week):
Three 2008 Nobel laureates from the United States lined up with President George W. Bush on Monday for an Oval Office photograph to mark their achievements.
..... The third laureate at the White House was Paul Krugman of New York, who won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his work on international trade patterns. Krugman, a frequent critic of the Bush administration who opposed the recent $700 billion financial bailout, is a Princeton University professor and New York Times columnist.
Since Krugman's supposed opposition may become folklore shortly, it's best to take a cruise through Krugman's blog posts to show that the claim is terribly outdated and currently flat-out wrong:
The Associated Press is worried that Americans might accidentally imagine that the elevation of Barack Obama to the presidency could make people think that blacks in America really can get ahead. The AP is so worried that it sought out a race hustler to deny that blacks can make it here no matter what happened on November 4.
As the AP reports it, apparently young Kari Fulton "cringed" when Barack Obama won the past election. She "cringed" because she heard a white guy say that Obama's election put a dent in the charge of racism in America. And why did she "cringe"? Why, it's because "racism is still very much alive and well" she told the AP.
Governor Palin is in demand. Every newshound, every TV talking head, every newsertainer in the country is after her. She is being pursued for TV shows, book deals, movie roles, hounded by photographers and every hanger on in both Hollywood and the newsertainment industry. But the Associated Press wants to be sure you understand one thing: she is a FAILURE! That's right, in discussing Palin's current celebrity, the main concern AP has is to make sure you know she is a big ol' loser. The AP is so intent to remind you she lost that it has to tell you she lost over and over again. You know, just in case you were unaware she and McCain didn't win the election.
So, did you know Sarah Palin lost the election? Here, let the AP remind you (My bold throughout)...
Ya gotta hand it to them. The Associated Press knows how to cut out all the extraneous background noise and get right to the important issues of the day. Barack Obama will surely be in the center of the vortex of some of the most important decisions in the world during the next four years and even his preparations for taking office are vitally important as a marker to what he might do in office. There are wars and rumors of wars, disasters and relief efforts and historic decisions will soon be made. But no decision is so important, as the AP dutifully tells us, than the one of what the president elect had for lunch. The shocking, heartwarming and resolute decision the leader of the free world... no the leader of all mankind... made for his lunch was apparently a corned beef sandwich.
Darfur still swirls with genocide, Iran is still making plans to destroy Israel, China is on pace to build the largest most dangerous army on Earth, the European Union still angles to lay America low, but all that pales in comparison to the important report the AP could muster (no, not mustard). Yes, the AP brings us the most salient story of our day: "Obama grabs lunch at local deli, greets patrons."
Yahoo News featured an interesting short report issued by Agence France-Presse on November 20. In it we discover that a consortium of French, German and Hungarian mathematicians are claiming to have proven that Einstein's famous equation, e=mc2, is correct. The report is all good except for one very small aspect. They call the effort of these mathematicians "heroic" in contradiction to the root meaning of the word. Mathematics isn't "heroic" and it is a degradation of true heroics to say it is.
Unfortunately, while a small thing too casually used in the AFP report, it proves a sort of degradation of our language. Not only that, but it further devalues real heroism, making the word mean less with each garbled usage.