spin

You always finish everything you start, right?

Right.

I. love. this. post.  Yet another take on how the lamestream media, this time in the form of the Administration's Press, spins news and statistics:

Once again, a reporter from the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press, has told a major fib about the situation in the new-home construction industry, thereby vastly exaggerating its degree of improvement — claiming a 60% surge during the past nearly 3-1/2 years when it has been 15% at most.
 

Today’s figures from the Census Bureau on housing starts weren’t terrible, but they surely weren’t cause for major optimism — except at the AP, where Martin Crutsinger cited “steady progress in the housing recovery” and committed the same serious mistake other AP writers have made (examples herehere, and here), namely pretending that the term “housing starts” has the same meaning as “home construction.”...

...Over a year ago, someone who is now a former AP reporter tried to claim in a conversation that treating “home construction” as identical to “housing starts” is okay because the average reader, listener, or viewer doesn’t really understand what “housing starts” are. Give me a flippin’ break. Equating the terms is misleading and deceptive. How much more obvious can it be?...

That says it all, doesn't it?  The media believe that lying is OK because people are stupid.

Wonderful.

Absolutely read the whole thing.
 

"It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words."

That was Syme speaking in 1984.  Fast forward to 2011:

It appears that America is rapidly being transformed into an Orwellian caricature...Even the basic precepts of the English language are no longer applicable.
 
In the interest of fairness and balance, a budget cuts language reference guide is in order.
 
Budget Cuts - Sanity version
------------------------------------
Minute = 1-1.6%
Minor = 1.7-3%
Small = 4-6%
Average = 7-10%                                           
Large = 11-15%
Significant = 16-20%
Serious = 21-25%
Drastic = 26-30%
Severe = 31-35%
Draconian = 36-40%
 
Budget Cuts - Insanity version
------------------------------------
Draconian = 1-1.6%
Catastrophic = 2-3%
Demonic = 4-5%
Apocalyptic = 6-10%

Compare & contrast

The three states in the worst shape financially are California, Illinois, and...New York.  From today's Ithaca Journal USA Today page:
Illinois enacts tax increases to cut $15 billion deficit
CHICAGO — Debate is raging across Illinois about tax increases passed this week by a lame-duck General Assembly: Are they job killers that will drive employers away or a vital step toward erasing a $15 billion budget shortfall?

The latter, says Ron Howell, executive director of Recovery Resources, a non-profit substance-abuse treatment center in Quincy struggling with a 30% cut in state funding and a 90-day lag time for state reimbursements.

"The bigger the (state budget) hole gets, the bigger the problem becomes," he says.

In Danville, though, owner Bob Watson of Watson Tire and Automotive Service says he might scratch his plan to hire another worker and may even consider a move 5 miles away to Indiana.

"I have to live on what I make," he says, "and so should the government."

Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, signed the legislation Thursday. The measure could add $6.8 billion a year to revenue by temporarily raising income taxes from 3% to 5% and increasing the corporate tax rate from 4.8% to 7%.

Quinn says the increases are necessary to stop the state from "careening towards bankruptcy."....

Interestingly, the New York Times reported that same story this way:

Illinois Legislators Approve 66% Tax Increase

By MONICA DAVEY

Published: January 12, 2011 

CHICAGO — With only hours left before new state lawmakers were to take over, Illinois’s State Legislature narrowly approved early on Wednesday an increase of about 66 percent in the state’s income tax rate.

The vast size of the increase, the rarity of such increases here — the last one came two decades ago — and the hour of the vote (in the wee hours of Wednesday) all reflected the urgency and depth of this state’s fiscal crisis.

Even grudging supporters of the tax increase, which won no Republican support in a state capital controlled by Democrats, voiced a desperate sense of regret over the circumstances in which Illinois finds itself. State Representative Elaine Nekritz, a Democrat who voted for the increase, described her decision as an alternative “between bad and worse.” Another Democrat cautioned his colleagues: “We don’t have a better choice today.”...

Creates a very different impression from the first version, doesn't it?  

A couple of things come to mind: first, particularly where numbers, percentages, etc., are concerned, beware of spin and use common sense. The other side is banking on our "innumeracy" to cloud the issues.

Secondly, this probably isn't going to end well for Illinois (from John Kass's column in the Chicago Trib, via Pundit & Pundette):

They forgot to earmark some extra funds for that great, big wall.

You know, that wall they're going to need, 60 feet high, the one with razor wire on top and guard towers, equipped with police dogs and surrounded by an acid-filled moat.
 

The wall they're going to have to build around the entire state, to keep desperate taxpayers from fleeing to Indiana,Wisconsin and other places that want jobs and businesses and people who work hard for a living.

Something to keep in mind, NYS leaders.

And as for "Pundit and Pundette": we only wish we'd thought of it first.

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