If it isn’t Michael Brown or Elizabeth Lauten, it’s Eric Garner(*) or Trayvon Martin or some other media frenzy. In other words, our media “treats” us to a series of frenzies; frenzies that are stupid because – apart from many of the media claims dissolving under scrutiny – there are more important things for the nation to notice.
I’m beginning to think it’s deliberate. For one thing, over the years I’ve seen how the frenzies get nourished (or prevented) by various political fixers, special interests and even government agencies. For another thing, it’s common sense: if the phrase “powerful people” means anything, then certain people have the power to promote (or block) certain media stories to suit their interests.
Finally, whenever you’re confronted with vicious nonsense, you should ask the question “Who benefits?” And again, the series of stupid frenzies does a job: it blots out public notice and discussion of nationally-important topics. It especially blots out discussion of the scandals/failures of the Obama administration.
And that could be Gruber, the IRS scandal, Obamacare, the NSA’s blanket/warrantless spying, Fast and Furious, vote fraud, unconstitutional rule-by-decree, or any number of failures (Iraq/ISIS) for which a Republican president would be crucified. But I think the most glaring problem where President Obama needs a distraction is: his terrible economy.
And now for a little news on the economy. Black Friday retail sales were a disaster by conventional measures. According to the National Retail Federation, sales during the four-day Thanksgiving holiday period plunged by 11% (from $57.4 billion a year ago, to $50.9 billion).
NRF’s CEO Matt Shay offered an absurd explanation – he claimed that sales were down because of (1) Teh Interwebs and (2) an improving economy:
He also attributed the declines to better online offerings and an improving economy where “people don’t feel the same psychological need to rush out and get the great deal that weekend, particularly if they expected to be more deals,” he said.
But Cyber Monday was also weak. And Shay implies that, if sales had not declined (or had even been up), that would have been a sign of a *bad* economy…Riiiiiiiight.
A more sensible explanation is that Americans have less money to spend, because they are struggling to cover basic necessities:
…the Journal analyzed Labor Department data on 2013 out-of-pocket spending for the middle 60% of the population by income — households earning between about $18,000 and $95,000 a year, before taxes.
The data show they are losing ground. Overall spending for the group rose by about 2.3% over the six-year period from 2007, even as inflation totaled about 12%. At the same time, income for the group stagnated, rising less than half a percent…
There it is. The WSJ analysis did not look at 2014, but I can assure you, trends continued in 2014 (aside from our very recent decline in oil/gas prices). In Obama’s bad economy, people struggle more than ever just to cover food, rent and health care: [Read more…]