On Wednesday, the Congressional Budget Office released its Monthly Budget Review for June. It estimated that June's deficit was "only" $69 billion, down from $94 billion last year, and that the deficit through nine months of the current fiscal year is $1.005 trillion, down from last year's $1.087 trillion.
June's single-month improvement -- or more properly stated, its less disastrous result -- is probably legitimate, because collections have picked up a bit. But, as I noted in April (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), the reported year-over-year deficit reduction, such as it is, has nothing to do with anything resembling control of government spending.
What follows was my explanation at the time, which still holds, and which you will more than likely not see in any media coverage of the government's financial situation when the Treasury Department releases its official monthly statement next week (also see the chart below the jump which shows what the deficit really is after adjustment):
Last week, Matt Robare at NewsBusters noted the fact that the Big 3 networks' combined year-over-year audience fell by a bit more than 1 million during the second quarter.
Last week's showing appears to be to a slight pickup over the previous week, but it may have been much worse.
Here, per Media Bistro, is how the the week of June 28 as reported by Nielsen compared to the week of June 21, the last reporting week of the aforementioned dismal quarter:
June 21 -- NBC - 7,190,000; ABC - 6,740,000; CBS - 5,230,000; Total - 19,160,000. June 28 -- NBC - 7,800,000; ABC - 6,740,000; CBS - 4,970,000; Total - 19,510,000.
So how did NBC attract over 600,000 additional viewers during the week of June 28, increasing its audience by over 8%? The answer, according to Media Bistro's Kevin Allocca, is that the network probably didn't:
Rush has spent a considerable portion of today's broadcast ripping into this article by Christine Stapleton of Cox Newspapers, and rightly so, for the first three of the four opening paragraphs that follow:
Despite the warnings of Dick Cheney, George Will, Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, the Russians are not drilling for oil off Cuba. Neither are the Chinese. In fact, no one — not even Cuba — is drilling for oil off Cuba.
The pesky and persistent rumor, bubbling back up with the Deepwater Horizon disaster, is still nothing more than a pesky and persistent rumor — aired in 2008 by former Vice President Cheney (who got the misinformation from conservative columnist Will), repeated on Fox News and recently revived by conservative radio commentator Limbaugh, who told his listeners 10 days after the spill: "The Russians are drilling in a deal with the Cubans in the Gulf. The Vietnamese and Angola are drilling for oil in the Gulf in deals with the Cubans."
However, as oil from BP's exploded well continues surging from the Gulf floor and washing onto Panhandle beaches, the rumor is poised to become fact.
The first six words (bolded by me) of Deb Riechmann's report from Kabul, Afghanistan for the Associated Press are refreshing:
"We are in this to win," Gen. David Petraeus said as he took the reins of an Afghan war effort troubled by waning support, an emboldened enemy, government corruption and a looming commitment to withdraw troops - even with no sign of violence easing.
It would have been even more refreshing if the AP's Riechmann, who obviously felt compelled to tick off as many of the reasons Petraeus and the troops he leads may not meet the goal as quickly as possible, would have reminded readers that Petraeus's boss, President Barack Obama, has been decidedly allergic to using the words "win" and "victory" in Afghanistan since his inauguration. One of her later paragraphs presented a perfect opportunity to remind readers of the president's aversion. She passed; she shouldn't have.
Petraeus, thankfully, feels no need to hold back, as noted later in Reichmann's report (bolds are mine):
Those looking for evidence that there is a move afoot in the establishment press to lower the bar for whatever economic accomplishments might be accomplished during the Obama administration will be interested in how the Associated Press's report on the government's June jobs report defined "normal" unemployment.
Perhaps it's valid for reporters Jeannine Aversa and Christopher Rugaber to refer to 6% unemployment as "normal," if by that they mean "typical non-recessionary" or "long-term average" unemployment. But I couldn't help but remember that during the Bush 43 and Reagan years, unemployment rates just above and occasionally even below that level were described by wire service reporters and other journalists as "persistent unemployment" -- i.e., decidedly not "normal." I quickly found several AP and other reports from those eras that confirmed my recall of what is now a demonstrated double standard.
Here is the opening sentence from the AP report, followed by the term-redefining paragraph (bold is mine):
At the Associated Press, Kelli Kennedy's Thursday report on fraud and abuse in the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which is well done in several aspects, nonetheless significantly understated its losses.
The AP dispatch deals with a now-released Government Accountability Office report on the results of investigations in nine states.
Here are the first four paragraphs of Kennedy's report (HT David Freddoso at the Washington Examiner), including reference to a woman who is LIHEAP's version of a welfare queen:
A federal program designed to help impoverished families heat and cool their homes wasted more than $100 million paying the electric bills of thousands of applicants who were dead, in prison or living in million-dollar mansions, according to a government investigation.
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is admonishing the leaders of other countries attending the G-20 summit in Toronto to keep spending like there's no tomorrow, because if they spend like there's no tomorrow, there will still be a tomorrow. But in the gospel according to Geithner, if they don't spend like there's no tomorrow, there really won't be a tomorrow.
With such blubbery logic, is it any wonder that America's stature with the rest of the world is plummeting?
Earlier this evening, Brent Baker at NewsBusters pointed to an ABC report warning that a second recession might be on the horizon if the G20 nations don't follow the spend-spend-spend recommendations of the Obama administration.
In his attempt to convince the rest of the world of the folly of being fiscally responsible, Geithner has invoked a supposed "lesson" from the 1930s. Back in mid-May, I happened to stumble on the fundamental untruth of his assertion, and will demonstrate it shortly.
The Associated Press's Jeannine Aversa let Geithner's contention pass without challenge in her Saturday report on the summit. Here are the three relevant paragraphs from her report:
As pathetic as Joe Biden's thin-skinned "Why do you have to be such a smart-a**" comment to a Milwaukee-area custard shop manager was yesterday (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), it wasn't even the Vice President's worst Wisconsin Saturday moment.
A far worse moment, in terms of familiarity with the truth, occurred as Biden rewrote history and unilaterally revised economic growth upward in a speech to Democrats in support of Senator Russ Feingold's reelection.
In a CBS News online report by Stephanie Condon that I suspect will not make it to the airwaves Biden was dour and downbeat, while misstating economic reality:
Biden: We Can't Recover All the Jobs Lost
Vice President Joe Biden gave a stark assessment of the economy today, telling an audience of supporters, "there's no possibility to restore 8 million jobs lost in the Great Recession."
Matt Drudge is currently linking to the YouTube version (also carried at Real Clear Politics) of Milwaukee TV station WISN's report on Vice President Joe Biden's visit to a Greenfield, Wisconsin custard shop. In it, you can hear the following exchange between Biden and the Kopp's Custard manager:
Biden: What do we owe you? Manager: Don't worry. It's on us. ... (inaudible) ... Lower our taxes and we’ll call it even.
Reporter: A few minutes after the Kopp's manager's comment on "Lower our taxes," there's another exchange. Biden: Why don't you say something nice instead of being a smart-ass all the time? Say something nice.
To refresh, as posted at NewsBusters and Eyeblast.tv, Pennsylvania Congressman Paul Kanjorski said the following on Wednesday while he was defending what Investors Business Daily has called "Financial Deform":
We’re giving relief to people that I deal with in my office every day now unfortunately. But because of the longevity of this recession, these are people — and they’re not minorities and they’re not defective and they’re not all the things you’d like to insinuate that these programs are about — these are average, good American people.
This isn't too tough to decipher, no matter how many House Democrats try to give him defensive cover -- If the people Kanjorski "deal(s) with in my office everyday" are "average, good American people" because "they're not minorities and they're not defective," then those who are minorities and "defective" in some way are not "average, good American people." Kanjorski uttered an objectively racist (embodying "the belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others") statement.
According to this report, Kanjorski is not apologizing. Therefore, one must conclude that the congressman is comfortable with his objectively racist statement.
The Associated Press is still failing to tag the currently imprisoned former Detroit Mayor and former beneficiary of President Barack Obama's high praise Kwame Kilpatrick as a Democrat.
I know, same-old, same-old. And Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead. But there's more to this particular chapter in this ongoing "Name That Party" narrative.
The wire service kept its near-perfect Kilpatrick non-labeling track record intact in two shorter items and a lengthier treatment of the latest development in Kwame's calamaties, all published in roughly the past 24 hours. The closest Kwame got to being tagged as a Dem occurred in an otherwise detailed report turned in by Ed White, where he described Kilpatrick's mother, Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, as "D-Mich." The link to White's report doesn't contain his byline; I'll explain why later in the post, where I will also suggest that there is reason to believe the AP has attempted to bottle up White's full report.
A six-paragraph story carried at the Toledo Blade last night (HT to Maggie Thurber in an e-mail) described the latest and by far most serious development in this sickening saga:
In an indictment filed Wednesday, he’s accused of failing to report at least $640,000 in taxable income between 2003 and 2008, which includes money, private jet flights and personal expenses paid by the (Kilpatrick) Civic Fund.
A federal judge in New Orleans has blocked a six-month moratorium on new deepwater drilling projects that was imposed in response to the massive Gulf oil spill.
The White House says President Barack Obama's administration will appeal.
Several companies that ferry people and supplies and provide other services to offshore drilling rigs had asked U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman in New Orleans to overturn the moratorium.
This later paragraph from AP's breaking news report explains why I believe Ken Salazar's dissenting experts from the National Academy of Engineering may have influenced the judge's outlook on the case:
Feldman says in his ruling that the Interior Department failed to provide adequate reasoning for the moratorium. He says it seems to assume that because one rig failed, all companies and rigs doing deepwater drilling pose an imminent danger.
Feldman's take seems to mirror the language of the dissenting experts.
Late last year, a story carried by the wire service AFP reported on an announcement by Venezuela's Hugo Chavez that his government would launch "a new chain of government-run, cut-rate retail stores that will sell everything from food to cars to clothing." Chavez reportedly said that these "discount socialist stores" would show people "what a real market is all about, not those speculative, money-grubbing markets, but a market for the people."
This initiative was on top of Chavez's creation of Mercal (link is to the Venezuelan home page, complete with "The Bolivarian Government of Venezuela" logo), a state-run network of grocery stores, seven years ago.
How is this great leap forward into state control working out? A June 18 Reuters dispatch carried at CNBC reports that the government can't even keep its food fresh. But that's okay. The wire service takes a while to get there, and even then a bit of interpretation is necessary, but eventually we learn that the Chavez "solution" to that thorny problem is to seize replacement goods from private merchants:
Hugo Chavez Spearheads Raids as Food Prices Skyrocket
Mountains of rotting food found at a government warehouse, soaring prices and soldiers raiding wholesalers accused of hoarding: Food supply is the latest battle in President Hugo Chavez's socialist revolution.
CNN has announced that it will cease using all content from the Associated Press effective June 30, and from all appearances will take a run at becoming a credible wire service competitor.
Although it would be easy to dismiss this as the blind leaving the blind, this development seems like it has the potential to alter the news landscape and temper some of the worst excesses of press bias and ignorance.
Here are a few paragraphs from CNN's internal announcement, as carried at Media Bistro:
To: CNN Staff From: Jim Walton
We are taking an important next step in the content-ownership process we began in 2007 to more fully leverage CNN's global newsgathering investments. Starting today, CNN newsgathering will be the primary source of all content for all of our platforms and services. We will no longer use AP materials or services. The content we offer will be distinctive, compelling and, I am proud to say, our own.
At first blush, it seems as if this item might be one to file under "It Takes One to Know One." That would be wrong; the circumstances are too different.
Carly Fiorina took what she thought was a private swipe (which might not even have been a swipe at all, as noted at the end of this post) at Barbara "Don't Call Me Ma'am" Boxer's hairdo as being "so yesterday." The comment was captured by a live microphone.
The Washington Post's Robin Givhan writes widely-read columns on fashion, and has all the time in the world to consider the temperance, or lack thereof, of her critiques before they are published.
Given Givhan's situation and history, the WaPo fashion editor's characterization of Fiorina as a "style bully" (HT to Ann Althouse) is especially galling. If anyone has a track record of style bullying, it's Givhan, whose targets unsurprisingly are often conservatives and Republicans.
Sticking to the hair-raising subject at hand, the Media Research Center documented Givhan's given tendencies in an April 15, 2005 item:
A Friday report by reporters Matthew Lee and Eileen Sullivan indicates that there is a serious shortage of critical thinking skills over at the Associated Press, or a serious desire to run interference for the Obama administration no matter how ignorant doing so makes the wire service's reporters appear.
Lee and Sullivan try to excuse the State Department's inaction on the vast majority of roughly 60 specific offers of assistance from over twenty nations, many of which go back to late April and early May (detailed in a 4-page State Dept. PDF here), because almost all of the offers are being made with an expectation that the costs of such assistance will be reimbursed. By my count:
15 of those assistance offers involve the provision of "containment boom" to protect beaches, shoreline, and other sensitive areas.
Roughly 10 of those 15 containment boom offers are over a month old, and a few were made on or before April 30, over fifty days ago.
Out of all 60 offers made involving all forms of goods and services, roughly a half-dozen have been accepted.
The reason Lee and Sullivan cast these offers as proof of a "double standard" is -- wait for it -- because the U.S. doesn't get reimbursed when it provides aid in natural disasters like earthquakes, and because many of the countries involved, several of which are dirt poor, receive American foreign aid.
The presidential commission tasked with investigating the BP oil spill is so short on technical expertise and packed with left-leaning politicians and knee-jerk environmentalists that even the Associated Press's resident ClimateGate apologist Seth Borenstein is concerned.
On December 12, 2009, over two weeks after the ClimateGate e-mails first appeared, Borenstein wrote that "the exchanges don't undercut the vast body of evidence showing the world is warming because of man-made greenhouse gas emissions." What part of Kevin Trenberth's famous October 12, 2009 assertion that "The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t" did Seth not understand?
Nonetheless, non-skeptical Seth is somewhat taken aback at the lack of expertise in the spill commission's membership:
Obama spill panel big on policy, not engineering
The panel appointed by President Barack Obama to investigate the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is short on technical expertise but long on talking publicly about "America's addiction to oil." One member has blogged about it regularly.
When it comes to the performance of the U.S.-headquartered Detroit automakers once known as the Big Three, the real news in the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 Initial Quality Study (IQS) is not what the Associated Press's Stephen Manning wrote in his Thursday coverage ("US cars top foreign brands on quality survey") of Power's pronouncement. While barely true and in a sense historic, it's not even in the neighborhood of being the big story.
Because of its timing, Power's IQS is as good a report card as any out there on the job President Barack Obama's car czars and his apparatchik management appointees have done during the past year in improving the quality of the vehicles produced at government-controlled General Motors and Chrysler.
Previous work I did in connection with two other AP reports on perceived quality -- one in April (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), and one in mid-May (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) -- caused me to detect a distinct aroma of propaganda-driven misdirection in Manning's missive. A detailed look at J.D. Power's report reveals the full extent of Stephen's stench.
Succinctly stating AP's inversion of reality with a strange assist from a Power spokeperson, Manning treated us to the following paragraphs:
There several annoying aspects of today's Associated Press report on the plight of newly-hired employees at U.S. auto plants represented by the United Auto Workers.
Mentioned by writers Dee-Ann Durbin and Tom Krisher, but not until their eleventh paragraph, is the fact that new workers, whose starting wage (mentioned in Paragraph 2) is "about half what veterans make under their current contract," have to "pay the same union dues as those who have been at the plant for years." But the AP pair didn't tell readers how much those dues payments are, and how harshly they affect entry-level workers. The web site ProCon.org estimates that it's in the neighborhood of $700 at Ford and Chrysler, and as much as $950 at Government/General Motors. When you're making $14 an hour, that's not chump change; it's about 34-46 cents per hour, or about 2.5% - 3.3% of base pay. A union official (not directly quoted) deadpans that "he understands their resentment." Sure.
As bad as that easily rectifiable AP oversight is, it's not the worst reporting error Durbin and Krisher committed. The following excerpted sentence is, in several ways:
It seems that when they saw today's today's disappointing unemployment claims report from Uncle Sam, the Associated Press's Alan Zibel, perhaps with the help of contributors Jeannine Aversa, Martin Crutsinger, and Tali Arbel, decided to start playing the expectations game with June's Employment Situation Report, which isn't due to arrive from the Bureau of Labor Statistics until July 2.
If so, from a propagandist's perspective, it's a pretty slick strategy, given that the BLS's report will probably be the last significant piece of economic news before the July 4 weekend, making it a larger than usual topic of conversation among the American people in the days that follow.
Private sector job growth shrank to a seasonally adjusted 20,000 in May. Maybe if the AP and others make us think that June will go negative and the actual result comes in barely positive, it won't seem so bad. The worse possibility is that they're aware of more information than the rest of us have, and that things really are heading south in this "Rebound? What Rebound?" recovery.
Here are key paragraphs of Zibel's report (link is probably dynamic and subject to revision; bolds are mine):
Gave reporter Jeff Zeleny about 330 words on Page A21 to recycle a Caucus Blog post softly covering the video-recorded arguable assault North Carolina Congressman Bob Etheridge committed against a questioner on a public street "last week," and which came to public light early Monday morning. The vague print edition headline (per the index): "Congressman Apologizes After Tussle."
Devoted almost 1,000 words on Page A15 to a story about a three year-old alleged shoving incident involving California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman that "no one else appears to have witnessed." Yet the headline gives the impression that the facts are not in dispute: "Settlement Was Paid in Whitman Shoving Incident."
It would appear, based on the graphic tease reproduced at the right and the underlying content, that the folks putting together videos at the Associated Press didn't get the memo that they should go as soft as possible on North Carolina Democratic Congressman Bob Etheridge.
Etheridge arguably committed assault "last week" when approached on a public street. The description of what occurred and its aftermath at AP video is quite a bit stronger than what is found in AP Reporter Martha Waggoner's Monday evening text report, as you will see shortly.
Despite having over 400 words with which to work, Waggoner also failed to record a comment -- or even a "no comment" -- from anyone else in the Democratic Party, or to give any indication that she or anyone else at AP tried to contact House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, any other Democrat in a leadership position, or anyone in the Obama administration.
Here's what the video and accompanying description look like in the AP's Raw Video report, which re-runs the original video without the original producer's interspersed words:
Note that the incident took place "last week," according to the linked BigGovernment.com post, which means that Etheridge didn't see the need for an apology until the video went viral.
So ... who does the intrepid Associated Press attempt to go to for comment? The Congressman? Apparently not, as you will see; the AP must see his "apology" as the end of the story. The person whom Etheridge arguably assaulted? Legal experts, who could weigh in on whether the congressman could be arrested and and charged? House or Democratic Party colleagues? No-no-no.
Get a load, in the final paragraph of what will probably end up being a brief initial report, of who the AP believes owes it a comment first and foremost:
Real Clear Politics currently has a video highlighting statements by Democratic Congressman James Clyburn Jr. of South Carolina. It teases the video with a question asked by Candy Crowley of CNN.
Once one sees the entire sequence, it's clear that Clyburn really answered Crowley's question before she even asked it.
Here's the full transcript of the vid, which begins after Indiana Republican Congressman Mike Pence had apparently made some points about how steps taken by the Obama administration to revive the economy to the point where it generates meaningful job growth aren't working. Clyburn's answer to when his party will stop blaming Bush is in bold:
Clyburn: Uh, Congressman Spence, uh, Pence keeps talkin' about, uh, the fact that, uh, we are, uh, failing in our approach. We all know exactly what this president inherited, and we will stop talkin' about that inheritance, uh, when uh Congressman uh Pence and others stop talkin' about takin' us back uh to those failed policies.
On Friday, Investors Business Daily (IBD) reported on leaked government documents identifying what employer-provided health plans can and cannot do if they wish to retain their "grandfathered" status under the statist health care legislation commonly known as ObamaCare that became law on March 23. One of the items in the government document (83-page PDF) is the following table, which estimates the percentages of large and small employers who will choose to (or be financially forced to) "relinquish" (i.e., give up) their grandfathered status:
In ironic timing, Walecia Konrad at the New York Times, in a personal finance column that appeared in the paper's Saturday print edition and which was probably written shortly before IBD's report, inadvertently revealed that ObamaCare itself may be a reason why employer "relinquishments" over the next three years come in well above the mid-range estimates in the table:
In mid-July of last year, the good folks on the editorial board at Investors Business Daily made the following observations about the version of ObamaCare then under consideration by the House:
... Right there on Page 16 is a provision making individual private medical insurance illegal.
... the "Limitation On New Enrollment" section of the bill clearly states:
"Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day" of the year the legislation becomes law.
So ... Those who currently have private individual coverage won't be able to change it. Nor will those who leave a company to work for themselves be free to buy individual plans from private carriers.
The leaked Treasury draft documents (83-page PDF) referred to in an earlier post this morning about employer coverage (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) go beyond vindicating IBD by applying the same prohibitions to group coverage, as the following language found at Page 14 of the document shows:
Earlier this year, in his "Can we lose health coverage? Yes we can" column, syndicated columnist Deroy Murdock made a point asserted in dozens if not hundreds of columns and reports during the hide-and-seek legistlative process that ultimately led to the passage of what is commonly known as ObamaCare: The President's core promise relating to the statist health care legislation that ultimately became law in March -- namely that "If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what" -- could not and would not be kept.
In that column, Murdock quoted Cato Institute analyst Michael Cannon as follows:
"Obama's definition of 'meaningful' coverage could eliminate the health plans that now cover as many as half of the 159 million Americans with employer-sponsored insurance, plus more than half of the roughly 18 million Americans in the individual market. ... This could compel close to 90 million Americans to switch to more comprehensive health plans with higher premiums, whether they value the added coverage or not."
In a late Friday afternoon blog post followed by a fuller early evening report, David Hogberg and Sean Higgins at Investors Business Daily confirmed that Obama's never-credible core promise is on the brink of being shattered, and that the employer-related calculations by Cato's Cannon were essentially correct (graphically illustrated by IBD at the top right):
The establishment press is either getting tired of being beaten up over using the U-word ("unexpectedly," or sometimes "unexpected") to the point of excess when economic news disappoints, or has itself wearied of using the word.
Retail sales plunged in May by the largest amount in eight months as consumers slashed spending on everything from cars to clothing. The big drop raises new worries about the durability of the economic recovery.