Although it was woefully short on actual ads, the advertising supplement featured thirteen columns that sponsored, championed, and moralized the environmental catastrophe sure to result if Americans - and sometimes others - don't dramatically overhaul the economy and lifestyles. It predictably featured loud calls for more and more government while consciously downplaying the costs to the American economy.
Sources for the special "Environmental Leadership" supplement include:
Sources for the special "Environmental Leadership" supplement include:
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg urging Congress to adopt the Green Taxis Act requiring all taxi owners to buy hybrids when retiring old vehicles.
Greensburg, Kansas Mayor Bob Dixson recommending every city emulate Greensburg's environmental standards for buildings.
On the surface, it's one of the Associated Press's better dispatches from the real world on the state of the economy as people are experiencing it.
Datelined in Twinsburg, Ohio, Megan Barr's Monday morning report, "Recession is ending? Some Americans don't buy it," does a good job of mixing macro and micro elements, painting a picture of a struggling town, a non-improving state economy (now eighth-worst, according to AP's "economic stress" measurement tool), a somewhat-improving national picture, and a pervasive belief on the part of most Americans that things aren't really getting better. I couldn't help but notice the irony that AP reporter Jeannine Aversa, who wrote that the top economic story of last year was the economy's "fall - and rebound," contributed to Barr's report.
But something was done to Twinsburg a year ago that goes a long way towards explaining why many people there are likely responding as one quoted resident did -- "Who are they trying to kid?" -- when asked for a reaction as to whether the economy is getting better. The AP didn't cover that story last year -- and should have -- so it didn't know that it should have referred it this year.
Watch the latest business video at &lt;a href=&quot;http://video.foxbusiness.com/&quot;&gt;video.foxbusiness.com&lt;/a&gt;Another devastating intended/unintended consequence of the Obama administration's major government expansion: charity organizations (already in deep struggle to weather current economic conditions) will likely experience additional major decline in contributions.
On the April 16 broadcast of Fox Business Network's "Varney & Co.," Rick Dunham, CEO of fundraising consultant Dunham & Company, weighed in on the new budget proposal that would scale back charitable deductions for families making over $250,000.
"Do you think you're going to take a really big hit in terms of lower donations to charities? How big a hit?" host Stuart Varney asked.
"Well the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University did a study last year to look at the impact of the rise in the marginal tax rate and the capping of charitable deductions at 28-percent and they believe that it'll be about almost a $4 billion hit based on 2006 dollars," Dunham said. "So we're probably looking at about a $5 billion hit."
"Officials say it's too soon to pinpoint the exact cause of the tragic explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia that took the lives of 29 miners, but we certainly know enough to identify the root cause," Huffington began. "It's the same cause that led to the 2006 Sago mine disaster in West Virginia that killed 12 miners. And it's also the same cause that led to the Lehman Brothers disaster, the Citigroup disaster, the bursting of the housing bubble, and the implosion of our financial system: a badly broken regulatory system."
"The economic collapse has not killed people, but it has gradually destroyed millions of lives. Both calamities occurred because elected officials who should have been creating a regulatory system that protects working families instead created a system that protects the corporations it was meant to watch over."
Last May, I wrote a column called "The Federal Deficit Becomes Nearly Indecipherable," pointing to a mid-fiscal year policy shift in how the government handles the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and other bailout efforts:
What Treasury did in April (2009) was to convert the TARP “investments” it began making in October in the country’s financial institutions, General Motors, Chrysler, and who knows what else to NPV (Net Present Value) accounting.
Mixing hundreds of billions of dollars of NPV into what has essentially been a cash flow report turns the Monthly Treasury Statement, and deficit reporting in general, into an exercise that will become not only become ever more difficult to comprehend, but one that will also be routinely subject to political manipulation.
One such political manipulation occurred in the March 2010 Monthly Treasury Statement that was released on Monday, and it involved NPV accounting (to be explained in a bit). While the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger dutifully noted its existence, he deceptively described its meaning in his report's opening sentence, and in doing so played along with that manipulation (bold is mine):
The establishment press has for decades and almost without exception insisted that FDR's sacrosanct legacy of Social Security can go on and on with only minor tweaks, and that if trouble looms, it's way out there in 2040 or so when the "Trust Fund" is depleted. The problem is that during that time the federal government has raided the annual surpluses generated by "Trust Fund" which now consists almost entirely of IOUs from the rest of the government. Meanwhile, annual surpluses, where tax collections exceed benefits paid and which were well over $100 billion just a couple of years ago, have vanished, and aren't coming back to any significant degree.
Another mythology is under development: That the just-passed ObamaCare legislation has "saved" Medicare. The Social Security/Medicare Trustees report is being delayed until June 30 to incorporate the effects of the recently passed ObamaCare on the health of Medicare. It will supposedly tell us that the life of the Medicare "Trust Fund" has been magically extended by about a decade. (Raise your hand if you think the Trustees are under immense political pressure to issue a favorable verdict regardless of the facts.)
In his Tuesday coverage of a government official's leak to the Associated Press about the report's delay in advance of the official administration announcement, the AP's Martin Crutsinger spun these and other fairy tales in his stout defense for the fiscally destructive programs. But in doing so, he perhaps inadvertently revealed that Congress and the administration had no idea of the true future impact of ObamaCare.
Here are key paragraphs from Crutsinger's report (footnotes are mine, and are explained later):
One would think that in a story about how a four-year move-up of higher fleet gas mileage requirements being imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency would at least look at which manufacturers might be more or less affected by them based on what they currently sell, and how those sales are trending.
Well, most readers here don't think like writers at the Associated Press. Heck, in his report last Friday, the AP's Ken Thomas didn't even mention the fact that the EPA's regs represented a four-year move-up, and to a slightly higher standard -- apparently because doing so would have required him to mention the B-word (Bush) in connection with something seen as environmentally positive. Thomas also allowed "global warming" advocacy support to go unchallenged, as if the ClimateGate scandal that has wrecked the alarmists' entire case didn't exist.
A recent blog post from Earl Devaney seeks to dispel several so-called myths involving the Recovery Board, but does little to dispel the notion that those operating the Recovery.gov Web site are woefully inept.
In fact, Devaney's defense for the ‘phantom' congressional districts (clerical errors), the claims that he reports to the Obama administration (they simply listen and adjust their thinking), and the complaint that Recovery.gov itself cost $18 million to overhaul (it might cost up to $18 million), make the operation look amateurish at best.
Couple all of this with stories of overly complicated systems involved in the stimulus application process, and inaccuracies in the reporting of supposed ‘two-time losers' - an error that prompted a statement of apology from the board -, and one can only envision those CareerBuilder monkey commercials from years past.
More troubling is Recovery.gov's insistence on using the phrase ‘jobs created' when tracking stimulus funds - as can be seen here on a report designed to show the viewer the ‘Most Jobs Created by State'. This comes nearly three months after Ed Pound, Spokesman for the Recovery Board, told ABC News that, "...since OMB is not going to use ‘jobs created or jobs saved' anymore, we're not going to use it either."
The reason the Office of Management and Budget was distancing itself from the phrase?
Government/General Motors announced today that it lost $4.3 billion during the second half of 2009 (actually from July 10 through the end of the year). A further look at that result will come later after yours truly has time to digest GM's 10K Report to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
What stood out even further for me about the announcement was GM's top line, i.e., global revenues. That figure came in at $57.5 billion.
Ford's revenues during the final two quarters of 2009 were $66.3 billion, or roughly 15% higher. GM's ten missing days in July would only explain about one-third of that difference.
It may be out there, but I haven't seen a lot of establishment media recognition that Ford is a bigger company worldwide than General Motors, and has been since the first quarter of last year. Given that GM was larger than Ford for about the previous 80 years, Ford's ascension to the top spot among US-based companies in worldwide revenues would ordinarily be what is known as "news."
Burdened under a mountain of student debt? CNN has the answer - dedicate ten or so of your prime years to social work. Better yet, join the AmeriCorps.
Doing her best to channel Obama's inspiring Notre Dame address about shunning immoral endeavors in the private sector for virtuous and selfless community endeavors, Stephanie Elam sounded more like a Public Works Czar than a CNN correspondent on April 6.
"This is really about helping those people out, getting them ready as far as the choice for best course of study for the financial future," Elam said on CNN "Newsroom." "So you may consider the possibility of enlisting in public service. Demand is really high right now for government jobs ... and any remaining debt on federal student loans will be forgiven after you work full-time in public service for ten years."
Chris Liddell, who himself just started at GM in January, brought on a new VP to be involved with its pension investments. More interestingly, he hired a new VP and Treasurer with an interesting background (bold is mine):
During his 11 years at Morgan Stanley (head of Industrials Investment Banking), (Daniel) Ammann was instrumental in many high profile assignments spanning a variety of technology, service, and manufacturing clients. His diverse experience in mergers, acquisitions, raising capital, and restructuring includes leading Morgan Stanley’s banking team in advising GM on its restructuring and sale pursuant to Section 363 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.
Oh, and did I forget to note that GM won't submit its audited financial statements to the Securities and Exchange Commission until about two weeks after the deadline for normal companies (note the "not to worry" tone at the link)?
(March 27th, 10:06 a.m. -- Please see update at the end of the post.)
What is the first step in the main stream media's handbook of liberal bias? Why, alter the headline to fit your agenda, of course.
To say that CNN was misleading in their headline about James O'Keefe is to be kind:
Feds punish ACORN filmmaker? Seems an odd choice of headline considering the article itself does not mention any punishment being doled out by the Feds - in fact the word ‘punish' or any other variation does not even appear in the article.
The actual story concerns the fact that prosecutors have reducedthe charges against O'Keefe and three others involved in the Landrieu phone incident. Perhaps CNN is confusing allegations and charges with actual punishment.
Doing work the Associated Press refused to do -- or more specifically, providing context the AP refused to provide -- Sweetness & Light's indefatigable blogger Steve Gilbert gave readers the back story behind the order by U.S. District Judge James Robertson (pictured at right) to release Guantanamo Bay detainee Mohamedou Ould Salahi. Salahi is said to have, in the words of the wire service's Pete Yost, "provided advice to three of the Sept. 11 hijackers."
In a week that has been chock full of lame claims, it would not be correct to say that the howler propagated by Sharon Thiemer of the Associated Press on Tuesday is the worst. But it's definitely in the upper echelons.
In an item about government bureaucrats' increased volume and increased level of excuse-making for denying Freedom of Information Act requests, Theimer acts as if the guy in charge of the entire enterprise -- that would be President Obama -- has stood by helplessly while things got worse. One can be reasonably assured that the problems described below would not be treated with such kid gloves if a conservative or Republican occupied the Oval Office:
PROMISES, PROMISES: Is gov't more open with Obama?
Federal agencies haven't lived up to President Barack Obama's promise of a more open government, increasing their use of legal exemptions to keep records secret during his first year in office.
The liberal media's favorite targets - Wall Street "fat cats" - have endured a firestorm of outrage and attack over bonuses since the financial meltdown. As some, like CNBC contributor Rick Santelli pointed out however, part of the screaming is the result of it is Obama and the White House whipping up political outrage.
Now we'll have a chance to see if it's also selective outrage.
Fox Business anchor Eric Bolling uncovered embarrassing and questionable bonuses being received by those charged with keeping an eye on banks - government regulators. But who watches the watchers?
Bolling told FNC's "Happening Now" that even as the economy has struggled, the government was handing out millions of dollars in bonuses to workers - and not even for a job well done.
The Associated Press's timing couldn't have been better for those who still want to pretend that Social Security is really not in serious trouble. Stephen Ohlemacher's item ("Social Security to start cashing Uncle Sam's IOUs") originally appeared on Sunday, in the midst of most of the major college basketball conference tournament championships, then followed by the evening's announcement of the selections for the NCAA Division I Men's basketball tournament. (The AP has issued minor revisions several times since its original appearance, up to and including today.)
The wire service's timing, while convenient for the Washington establishment, as it minimizes the possibility of distractions from its statist health care obsession, couldn't have been worse for those of us who wish the American people would get a grip on the gravity of the situation -- which is why I saved this post for today.
What is about to occur is the event that as little as a year ago, according to the Social Security Trustees' 2009 Report, wasn't expected to arrive until 2016. Ohlemacher tells us that it's right here, right now, and gets the reporting right until his seventh paragraph (bolds are mine):
Yesterday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted Fannie Mae's $72 billion loss announcement and the ward of the state's simultaneous $15.3 billion handout request.
Late Friday was also the occasion for the release by the Treasury Department of the "2009 Financial Report of the United States Government." The report shows how seriously the government's financial situation deteriorated during the fiscal year that ended September 30. The coverage of the report prepared by the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger demonstrated how weak the press's communication of that seriousness is.
After presenting the first several paragraphs of Crutsinger's composition for the purpose of providing the basic facts, I'll concentrate on the AP writer's three worst paragraphs that followed (there is also a summary table from the report at the end of this post):
CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanja Gupta pressed HHS Secretary Kathleen for price controls in all parts of the health care industry on Thursday's Newsroom. Gupta stated that insurance companies were "just the tip of the iceberg" of health care costs: "There are a lot of different organizations, groups, people who contribute to health care costs. Are you going to be going after all these folks?" [audio clip available here]
It looked a bit odd for CNN to choose the correspondent, whom Obama chose to be surgeon general before adviser Tom Daschle was forced to resign, to interview other people who signed up to sell ObamaCare. Gupta's question came during an interview 26 minutes into the 9 am Eastern hour, in which both he and CNN anchor Kyra Phillips asked the Obama administration official about the health care summit later in the day at Blair House. Gupta also hinted at the possibility of going after the profits of health care suppliers in his last question to Sebelius (who was sympathetic to Gupta's proposal in her answer):
Special C-SPIN Coverage of the Toyota Recall Hearings [Satire]
House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations
REP. WALDEN (R-OR.): Secretary LaHood, are Toyotas safe to drive?
SEC. LAHOOD: We believe that the Toyotas listed on our Web site are not safe to drive - unlike the sporty, affordable Chevy Cobalt.
REP. SUTTON (D-OH.): So, you're saying that a woman - a minority woman - driving a Toyota is putting her life at risk?
SEC. LAHOOD: Yes ma'am there is a significant risk of her Toyota accelerating, uh, unwantedly. Now had that woman checked out the surprisingly affordable Buick Enclave ...
REP. DINGELL, (D-Mich.): Mr. Secretary, I want to thank you for your forthright testimony here today, and I'd like to ask you if you think these problems in vehicles built at Southern plants might be the result of negligence of workers who are unhappy? I mean workers whose job security and retirement are in constant jeopardy, and who've been denied the opportunity to collectively bargain? Who lack representation?
SEC. LAHOOD: If you mean to imply, Congressman, that these safety issues wouldn't have occurred in cars built in UAW plants, uh, you're absolutely right. Now, for the union professionals who build the luxurious Cadillac Escalade, there's union quality behind every turn of the wrench.
REP. WALDEN: Now let me ...
SEC. LAHOOD: I'd also like to say that the quality doesn't end at the factory door...
REP. WALDEN: Thank you...
SEC. LAHOOD: ...and it extends to those famous Mr. GoodWrench Mechanics...
I guess we could call it the congressional leakers' version of "spreading the wealth."
As noted in a post late Sunday evening (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), the Detroit News received a "10-page document" from what had been a Toyota internal presentation that more than likely came from someone who is either a member of or working in Congress, or is involved with the Department of Transportation. Reporter David Shepardson clearly led readers to believe he had the whole thing -- even though the page numbers on the document were 1-6, 8, and 14-16.
Shepardson, along with the Associated Press's Ken Thomas in a related story, wrote that the company "bragged" and "boasted" about saving money on recall costs when the underlying documents show no such thing, especially when one understands (as this pair clearly doesn't) Japanese cultural and behavioral norms.
Politico was the beneficiary of its own different set of leaked documents from that same presentation. As seen below, the web site's Jack Sherman also gave readers the impression in his report that it had the entire document:
How coincidental. A Detroit News item by David Shepardson supposedly indicating that Toyota is more concerned about saving money than driver safety surfaces less than 48 hours before congressional hearings are to begin. His story's basis is a presentation that appears to have been leaked by someone either in Congress or working there, or who is involved with the Department of Transportation.
Lo and behold, Associated Press writer Ken Thomas is right behind him to make sure the story goes national and to mimic Shepardson's breathtaking cultural ignorance in time for the wee-hours press runs for Monday's newspapers and for the writers at the morning news shows.
Shepardson and Thomas, absent any other evidence they chose to make readers aware of, believe that four documents in what was originally an internal company presentation somehow prove that Toyota "bragged" and "boasted," respectively, about saving money in connection with the potential "sudden acceleration" problem in many of its models.
Further, and crucially, Shepardson seems to be a bit numerically challenged, while Thomas appears to have relied on Shepardson's innumeracy. The Detroit News writer told readers that he obtained a "10-page" presentation, but the page numbering on the actual documents indicates that its full length was at least 16 pages. I'm not kidding.
The top United Nations climate change official said today that he has made the “difficult decision” to step down from his position, citing his desire to pursue new opportunities to advance progress on the issue in both the private sector and academia.
.... Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement that he was informed by Mr. de Boer of his decision two days ago and respected his decision, but “with regret.”
“Developing countries need to move as quickly as possible toward a future of low-emissions growth and prosperity,” he stressed, noting that millions of people in Africa and around the world are suffering from climate change’s effects.
These people are still living in the fantasy world they have constructed over the past two decades.
In late August 2009, Toyota announced that it would close its New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI) factory in Fremont, California at the end of March. The plant had been a joint venture of the company and General Motors until June, when GM withdrew.
Almost six months later, in the wake of a series of Toyota product recalls, and roughly seven weeks before the plant's scheduled shutdown, the UAW and the AFL-CIO on Friday began an attempt to gin up a campaign to convince the company to reopen the plant, and to encourage the public to refuse to buy its products it if doesn't.
Since there is virtually zero chance of the plant remaining open (the company said at the time of the closure that "it will close the plant, regardless of financial incentives offered by the state"), you'll have to excuse me if I question the overall timing, and even if there might be just a wee bit of government and union coordination going on here -- especially given some of the people involved and some of the statements made at a rally outside the plant and at the UAW's nearby union hall yesterday.
In terms of press coverage of yesterday's events, you have to wonder if Brooke Donald of the Associated Press and George Avalos of the Oakland Tribune were actually in the same place. Donald's AP coverage made what was going on appear relatively benign, while Avalos included important details to the contrary.
Time after time, the Obama White House has demonstrated a desire to control the message and flow of information, whether it's issues on health care, the economy, bailouts and the latest - climate science.
But AccuWeather.com's chief long-range and hurricane forecaster Joe Bastardi, who appeared on the Fox Business Network's Feb. 9 "Cavuto," warned there are other implications with the government having an expanded role in climate forecasting. According to Bastardi, it could lead to an effort to shut out other opinions.
In a post late Thursday afternoon (at NewBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that the half of the teases (6 of 12) for the Associated Press's short videos in business stories at its web site were about Toyota, specifically its recent product quality issues and falling sales.
In that post, I noted a conflict of interest in the relationship between the U.S. government and Toyota, and wondered when someone in the press would bring the matter up:
To the extent the government is leaning hard on the company, somebody in the press should be questioning whether the motivations are purely related to safety or whether they also involve generating as much negative publicity as possible about the principal foreign-based competitor of government-controlled General Motors and Chrysler.
I didn't realize at the time that one wire service, AFP, actually had actually brought up the matter, complete with quite a provocative headline, Thursday morning.
The government's traditionally enforced safety standards on automobiles sold in the United States. But the government didn't always own a car company. So you'd expect the media to take a hard look when the government's roles as regulator and competitor converge.
"We've got a fabulous Toyota engine plant in Alabama," Sessions replied. "They've been doing very well. It seems that they've recognized they're going to fix this problem and it's going to take some effort."
With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests - including foreign corporations - to spend without limit in our elections. I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people.
Brad Smith at National Review Online has already delivered the definitive debunking of the president's statement, while offering two choices as to what that statement represents. Whichever it is (I pick "demagoguery"), the fact that Obama could even have the nerve to make such a statement exemplifies how establishment media-enabled negligence enables over-the-top political chutzpah.
Sometimes getting hung up on percentage increases causes one to miss what's going on with the actual numbers.
Such is the case in a January 26 front page story by USA Today's Richard Wolf. USAT's is the only recent original coverage I have found thus far relating to increases in the national welfare rolls during the recession. (An unbylined story at UPI merely reports on what USAT's Wolf wrote.)
USAT's Wolf let himself get distracted by double-digit caseload increases in certain states, but missed the big story: California, with roughly 12% of the country's population, was responsible for over half of the increase in both families and recipients receiving benefits. The reason the state's percentage increase was smaller than several others was because its caseload is already scandalously out of control.
Wolf also made a point of comparing the relatively small increase in the national welfare caseload to steep rises in the number of Americans receiving food stamp and unemployment insurance benefits.
Here are the first five and final paragraphs from Wolf, followed by a closer look at the numbers: