If there's a Ground Zero for America's foreclosure mess outside of much of California and metro Las Vegas, it's probably Cleveland, the Northeast Ohio city known in most of the rest of the state as the Mistake on the Lake.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Mark Gillespie got out from behind his desk, committed some good old-fashioned journalism, and went looking for the mistakes that exacerbated the town's breathtaking home foreclosure rate. Lo and behold, he found that city government itself contributed mightily and extraordinarily negligently to the debacle. Go far enough into Gillespie's report, and you will also find an implicit admission that the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) also played a pivotal role (bold is mine):
How Cleveland aggravated its foreclosure crisis
The city of Cleveland has aggravated its vexing foreclosure problems and has lost millions in tax dollars by helping people buy homes they could not afford, a Plain Dealer investigation has found.
In a Washington Post opinion piece published on December 6, longtime expansionary entitlement program apologists Peter Edelman and Barbara Ehrenreich ripped into the 1996 welfare reform law and its alleged effect on the poor during the struggling economy of the past two years.
In the course of their rant, Edelman and Ehrenreich told readers something that the rest of the press has largely ignored since Barack Obama took office in January: Homelessness is up, as in way, way up:
According to the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (NLCHP), the number of homeless Americans is up by 61 percent since the recession began in December 2007.
In fact, a new report from a source normally favored by the press tells us that new "tent cities" have sprung up, and that others in existence a year ago have grown. Does anyone think these facts would remain so well-hidden if Bush 43 were still in office?
Interestingly, it seems that Edeleman and Ehrenreich appear to have serendipitously misinterpreted their information source.
The last two times I remember this happening -- with Jimmy Carter in the late 1970s and New York City Mayor David Dinkins in the early 1990s -- it at least took a few years for exasperated establishment media liberals to blame the system for a favored politician's difficulties in achieving his agenda, and to call the country and Gotham, respectively, "ungovernable." Afterwards, Ronald Reagan and Rudy Giuliani proved the whiners spectacularly wrong.
Matt Yglesias at Think Progress is years ahead of those prior hand-wringers. A bit less than 11 months into the Obama administration, the Think Progress blogger considered by many to be one of the far left's opinion leaders is moaning about how tough it has recently become to get anything done. Poor baby.
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
In his coverage of Uncle Sam's November Monthly Treasury Statement released yesterday, the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger reached the wire service's usual quota of errors and misstatements. But what's remarkable is that the AP reporter's article seems to betray a belief that the country is still in a recession. Fascinating.
Along the way, Crutsinger omitted the fact that November's deficit came in a bit higher than the Congressional Budget Office estimated several days ago, failed to report that receipts from corporate income taxes went negative for the second month in a row (i.e., refund checks issued exceeded cash collections), and betrayed more than a little lack of understanding of how the government has chosen to account for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).
This is the fifth year I have looked into how the establishment media treats these two topics:
The use of "Christmas shopping season" vs. "holiday shopping season" (the AP photo at right uses "holiday" and not "shopping," even though there is a C-C-, Chr-Chr-Christmas tree in the picture).
The frequency of Christmas and holiday layoff references.
I have done three sets of simple Google News searches each year -- the first in late November, followed by identical searches roughly two and four weeks later. The cumulative results of all three search sets during the past four years are in this graphic.
On November 24 (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that references to this year's shopping season came up with just over 6% of references to the "Christmas shopping season," while the rest referred to the "holiday shopping season." That's a 9-point, roughly 60% drop from just four years ago.
Here are the results of the relevant Google News searches done late last night compared to roughly the same date in 2005 --
Blogger Doug Ross got to the news of the Congressional Budget Office's Monthly Budget Report (PDF) over the weekend, quite accurately observing that the establishment news coverage of its content barely existed.
Two brief AP dispatches from December 2 and December 3 about Michael Toole, a Pennsylvania judge who has agreed to plead guilty to corruption-related charges, fail to mention that Toole has at least been a contributor to the Democratic Party, and appears very likely to have been a party member.
This see-no-party treatment parallels local media coverage of Toole's situation (four of many examples are here, here, here, and here). As far as I can tell, no one has directly identified Toole's party affiliation.
It wasn't easy to ascertain that Toole is a more than likely a mule. The best online evidence of his party affiliation consists of a March blog post at Sights on Pennsylvania identifying contributions by Toole to the Luzerne County Democratic Party in 2003. Whether Toole is actually a registered Democrat, or was until shortly before his legal troubles began, is supposed to be AP's and other journalists' job to determine -- and report.
The wire service refers to Toole as a "third judge" to be hit with corruption charges. As previously noted several times at NewsBusters and BizzyBlog, the other two, Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. and Michael T. Conahan, are definitely Democrats. The AP actually said so in an early dispatch about the pair's indictment in February, but removed mention of their party membership a short time later; graphic proof that this occurred is at the earliest related post at (here and here) at each blog. As far as I can tell, the pair's party affiliation has not since been mentioned in an AP report.
Normally, it's news when a leading politician in a country hosting a summit expresses harsh dissent against that summit's agenda -- or at least it is when a leftist is the dissenter.
But I doubt that what Thor Pedersen, Speaker of the Danish Parliament, has to say about the upcoming COP15 Climate Summit will get much if any play in U.S. network newscasts or in the nation's establishment media publications of record.
The coverage yesterday by the Associated Press's Stephen Bernard of payroll and human resources giant ADP's monthly jobs report for November focused on a relatively small reduction in the size of the decline in jobs lost and not on the fact that continuing to lose jobs is a bad thing.
That rhetorical sleight of hand enabled the AP reporter to tell us that ADP's reported private sector job loss during the month of 169,000 -- down from 203,000 in October -- was actually good news, because even though it was a decline in the number of people working, the decline of the decline "was not as much as forecast." The forecast was for 160,000 jobs lost.
Readers of a previous version of this post will note that I allowed myself to believe that Bernard had erred when he did not. I apologize for not getting that right. And here I thought I would make it through the whole year without a mistake. :-->
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):
In a long Saturday report on the Food Stamp program that went into print on Sunday, the New York Times's Jason DeParle and Robert Gebeloff:
Almost seemed to celebrate the program's explosive growth.
Bemoaned the fact that many who could participate do not.
Both in their title ("Food Stamp Use Soars, and Stigma Fades") and text, cheered the loss of stigma that has long been associated with the program.
Failed to note not only gross and net benefit increases during the past two years that have far outpaced real inflation in food prices, but also the loosening of eligibility rules in many states, including Ohio.
Speaking of Ohio, omitted key facts and injected blatant bias into a situation from earlier this year in the Buckeye State's Warren County that outraged those who believe the program was meant only for those who would truly suffer if its benefits weren't available.
DeParle's and Gebeloff's work is part of a Times series that "examines how the safety net is holding up under the worst economic crisis in decades." My series of posts on the pair's report with have three parts. This first one will deal with the first three items listed above.
New York Times environment reporter Andrew C. Revkin had a post yesterday that was primarily about an open letter from Judith Curry.
Revkin describes her as "a seasoned climate scientist at Georgia Tech .... (who) has no skepticism about a growing human influence on climate." Revkin writes that "Dr. Curry has written a fresh essay that’s essentially a message to young scientists potentially disheartened in various ways by recent events."
Here are some of the key paragraphs from Curry's letter that touch on that matter:
It's nice that the story of Rom Houben has recently made the news. I carried it as one of my own "Positivity" posts earlier this week.
A Google News Search on "Rom Houben Laureys" (not typed in quotes; Laureys is the last name of Houben's principal doctor) at about 11:30 p.m. ET came back with 1,528 results relating to the word of his amazing recovery and ability to communicate after 23 years of being "comatose."
That same search also comes back with 197 results questioning the legitimacy of his recovery. That number appears likely to grow, as the core article leading those results was only 8 hours old when this post was prepared.
From Brussels, the Associated Press's Raf Cassert gave voice to the doubters, while avoiding one of the real reasons why they're engaged in their doubting:
Tankersley identifies all kinds of supposed factors that seem to have influenced the president's alleged change of heart on attending, while ignoring one that seems more than a little possible -- the need to get some kind of one-world commitment done before enough of the world learns of the fraud that is Climategate.
This is the fifth year I have looked into how the media treats these two topics:
The use of "Christmas shopping season" vs. "holiday shopping season" (note how the AP photo at right uses "holiday" and not "shopping," even though there is a C-C-, Chr-Chr-Christmas tree in the picture).
The frequency of Christmas and holiday layoff references.
I have done three sets of simple Google News searches each year in late November, followed by identical searches roughly two and four weeks later.
The cumulative results of all three search sets during the past four years are in this graphic.
Year-to-year changes have often been subtle. That is anything but the case with the results of the first set of searches I did at roughly 10 a.m. ET. In the context of the current economy, they are stunning, and very revealing:
To say that there's good reason not to be impressed with a quite a few U.S. Senators is to state the obvious.
But I really hope that Dana Milbank either hasn't read or really doesn't remember A Streetcar Named Desire. Because in his coverage of the Senate vote last night to go forward to debate on its health care bill, the alleged journalist stooped well below the level of most of the blogosphere by in essence calling the United States Senate the House of 100 Prostitutes -- and worse.
Yes he did -- in a column the Post put on the top of the front page.
After observing the opportunistic, advantage-taking machinations of Democratic Senators Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas in return for the final two "yes" votes needed for passage, Milbank wrote the following:
At this point, there should be little doubt that there is a concerted attempt underway to use the war in Afghanistan as a justification for punitively taxing high earners.
Last weekend (noted at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), the New York Times discovered that wars cost money. It cited Wisconsin Democratic Congressman David Obey's concern that funding the Afghanistan effort at the level requested months ago by General Stanley A. McChrystal would "devour virtually any other priorities that the president or anyone in Congress had."
Thursday, as reported by AFP (noted last night at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), House Democratic heavy-hitters Barney Frank, John Murtha, and (no surprise) Obey announced the "Share The Sacrifice Act of 2010," an income-tax surcharge that overwhelmingly targets high-income earners.
Now Michigan Democratic Senator Carl Levin has weighed in. Bloomberg dutifully carried his water, as seen in this graphic containing the first four paragraphs of the report:
You've got to hand it to the propagandists at the AFP. When heavy-hitting members of the party they favor announce an idea whose main purpose is, as the New York Times suddenly "discovered" last weekend, to remind people that wars cost money and distract from supposedly more important priorities, the wire service leaps into action.
Even AFP acknowledges that the tax proposal by several top-tier Democrats has no chance of becoming law. But again, that's not the point. Their proposal's purpose is to remind people that spending money on wars supposedly takes money out of the mouths of children and other living things, even those in non-existent congressional districts, and to attempt to make the climate for increasing taxes in the near future more favorable.
Two months ago, there was the "Dog Ate My Global Warming Data" episode. As noted at NewsBusters and at BizzyBlog (original source: National Review Online), we learned that important original information forming the underpinning of global warming alarmists' claims about the earth heating up has vanished. It is longer available and apparently can't be reverse engineered.
Today, e-mails hacked from a UK climate research facility appear at a minimum to indicate a willingness by scientists to fudge the data to make alleged warming trends more clear and convincing. At worst, the whole enterprise could be totally discredited.
Important and damming passages from certain of the e-mails have been acknowledged as authentic.
In what appears to be the opening round of a rearguard action against what leftists used to call "the good war" (only because they felt they needed to pretend they had pro-war bona fides to make their anti-Iraq War arguments look stronger to the general populace), the New York Times's Christopher Drew reported last Saturday for the Sunday print edition that sending more troops to Afghanistan as General Stanley A. McChrystal has requested might cost tens of billions of dollars.
While President Obama’s decision about sending more troops to Afghanistan is primarily a military one, it also has substantial budget implications that are adding pressure to limit the commitment, senior administration officials say.
I believe that the comment (bolded) could be seen as shining a less than flattering light on the president's mindset:
Obama arrived on the base 3:19 p.m. local time (1 a.m. Eastern Standard Time), and received a rousing welcome from 1,500 troops in camouflage uniforms, many holding cameras or pointing cell phones to snap pictures.
"You guys make a pretty good photo op," the president said.
Does anyone think that a similar comment by Bush 43 would have escaped establishment media criticism? Let's see if this Obamism slides by without criticism.
Earlier in the report, Kornblut noted that Obama's Afghan dither continues:
Leftists including those in the White House who presumptively and obsessively attack Fox News will not be pleased with this.
At Forbes (HT Hot Air Headlines), S. Robert Lichter of George Mason University's Center for Media and Public Affairs, asks the question, "Fox News: Fair And Balanced?" -- and answers in the affirmative. In the process, the GMU Professor of Communications also makes a number of interesting points about Fox's competitors, discusses the convergence of news and analysis, and provides useful historical context.
Using a methodology that would be difficult to refute, Lichter's work relating to campaign 2008 is in sync with what CMPA found in late 2007 (noted at the time at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) during the opening stages of the presidential campaign.
Here are key paragraphs from Lichter's commentary (bolds are mine):
That the Associated Press's basement-level poll-cooking and poll-reporting standards are quite low, and quite agenda-driven, might as well be an article of faith by this time.
But the wire service-commissioned poll on health care, and Erica Warner's report on it (saved here for future reference, fair use, and discussion purposes; HT JammieWearingFool via Instapundit; the full poll report in PDF format is here) plumbs new depths of partisanship while making errors of both omission and commission.
Warner and AP want the big takeaway to be that taxing "the rich" is the idea the public overwhelmingly favors to pay for ObamaCare -- never mind that the same public also opposes the plan itself.
What follows is a graphic containing selected paragraphs from Werner's report:
In the alternative universe known as Government/General Motors Land, you can:
Talk about how your financial results are going to be better than last year's and in the next breath caution that the numbers won't be comparable.
Inform the public that the financial information to be released on Monday isn't going to be prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), and is going to simply skip about 3-1/2 months of activity that will apparently never be reported, even though your majority-owning government forces your publicly-held competitors and every other publicly-held company to prepare full-blown financial statements under those same GAAP rules.
Tell the world that you're a private company, even though the federal government owns a majority of your stock (in effect making you more of a public company than any other public company around), and thereby insist that you're doing the world a favor by releasing any financial information at all.
In the alternative reporting universe known as the Associated Press, you parrot these points without questioning whether they are correct, proper, or even less than fully transparent.
In a report that is so riddled with bias and factual errors it's hard to know even where to begin, Associated Press Writers Tom Raum and Andrew Taylor yesterday gave making President Obama look like a born-again deficit hawk their best shot.
The pair's work is partially saved here for fair use, discussion and in this case entertainment purposes.
The biggest error Raum and Taylor made was publishing the following "we wish it were true" statement:
The national debt is the accumulation of annual budget deficits. The deficit for the 2009 budget year, which ended on Sept. 30, set an all-time record in dollar terms at $1.42 trillion.
Well, Tom and Andy, using this readily available tool, if that's the case, why was the national debt on September 30, 2008 $10.02 trillion and then $11.91 trillion on September 30, 2009? That's a difference of $1.89 trillion, a whopping $470 billion more than the past year's $1.42 trillion deficit.
The answer is, sadly, that the national debt is NOT the accumulation of annual budget deficits, as shown in the graphic that follows: