Give credit to CNN Money's Annalyn Chensky for intuitively recognizing the ridiculousness of the economic projections included in the White House's Mid-Session Review released today. That especially goes for the assumption that full-year economic growth in 2012, with the first and second quarters coming in at an annualized 2.0% and 1.5%, respectively (the latter subject to revisions which probably won't be significant), will somehow still come in at 2.6%.
Chensky gets demerits, however, for understating how fast growth will really have to be during the second half of the year to get that 2.6% (bolds are mine):
Today's report on the growth of gross domestic product (GDP) during the second quarter didn't impress anyone -- except, apparently those who send out email alerts to CNN Money subscribers.
For several years, it has seemed like the primary goal of these alerts has been to create the illusion of pervasive prosperity when the economic news is even remotely tolerable, and to ignore or downplay news that is really bad -- all so that the relatively disengaged can be convinced that the economy isn't performing as poorly as it really is. The email alert received shortly after the government released its report showing that the economy grew at an annualized 1.5% rate during the second quarter arguably fits both categories:
No matter how inane or damning his comments and answers to inquiries, it appears that Obama Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner can continue to count on favorable coverage from the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, aka the Administration's Protection.
The AP's Marcy Gordon, with the help of her story's headline writer, made Geither's appearance before the House Committee on Financial Services all about partisanship until near the very end. Incredibly, she also relayed a very important question committee members asked about Geithner's use of an interest rate he knew was being lowballed by British banks as the basis for determining the interest rate on Treasury bailout loans while he was still head of the New York branch of the Federal Reserve Bank -- but didn't tell readers what his answer was. Excerpts follow (bolds are mine):
While it's nice that the 2000 election cycle made a fool out of Al Gore for his outrageous claim that "I took the initiative in creating the Internet" -- which was in due course shortened by critics to a claim that he invented the Internet -- it's more than a little annoying that an accompanying myth emerged and has long persisted that the Internet was created by the government.
President Obama repeated this supposedly established wisdom during his infamous "You didn't build that" speech" on July 13 in Roanoke, Virginia: "The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet." Geez, even I know that the original purpose of the Internet had nothing to do with companies making money. But at the Wall Street Journal on Sunday evening, L. Gordon Crovitz took a deep dive into the actual history, and -- Surprise! (not) -- the government wasn't the Internet's creator, or its enabler, but was instead a barrier:
Gosh, if Apple would only send the money it has parked overseas back to the United States and pay income taxes on it, the federal government's situation would be so much better, the budget would would balance, and ... no, not really. According to Peter Svensson at the Associated Press, the company has $74 billion in cash parked overseas, meaning that it would owe federal income taxes of about $26 billion at the maximum statutory rate of 35% if it brought it all back at once. That amount would cover the average daily deficit incurred during the past three and now going on four years for about a week.
In September 2010, the Associated Press prepared an advance report on the expected surge in the Census Bureau's official poverty rate, which rose from 13.2% to a 15-year high of 14.3%. Their stated preoccupation was not with the associated pain, but with "the unfortunate timing for Obama and his party just seven weeks before important elections when Congress is at stake."
Well, this year's official poverty rate will very likely be the highest seen since the mid-1960s, and there's a presidential election coming up. What's the AP, aka the Administration's Press, to do? It looks like the strategy is to get a comprehensive report out on how bad things are in July when few are paying attention, and then to give the official report short shrift when it arrives in mid-September. Here are excerpts from Hope Yen's nearly 1,500-word writeup:
The Jurassic Press is missing much in their reporting on the $50 billion bailout of General Motors (GM). The Press is open channeling for President Barack Obama - allowing him to frame the bailout exactly as he wishes in the 2012 Presidential election.
The President is running in large part on the bailout’s $30+ billion loss, uber-failed “success.” And the Press is acting as his stenographers. An epitome of this bailout nightmare mess is the electric absurdity that is the Chevrolet Volt. The Press is at every turn covering up - rather than covering - the serial failures of President Obama’s signature vehicle.
Here's how a "Business Highlights" item at the Associated Press summarized the situation between Timothy Geithner and London banks whose officials had admitted to rigging the London Interbank Offered Rate ("Libor") on Friday evening: "The Federal Reserve Bank of New York released documents Friday that show it learned five years ago of big banks understating their borrowing costs to manipulate a key interest rate. The documents also show Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who was then president of the New York Fed, urged the Bank of England to make the rate-setting process more transparent."
Today, Charles Gasparino at the New York Post called total BS such pathetic media spin (bolds are mine):
Uncle Sam's June Treasury Statement released today told us that with three months remaining in the 2012 fiscal year the government has already run up a deficit of over $900 billion. According to the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger, Americans should see that as a "positive sign," because "deficit is growing more slowly than last year."
During the final three months of fiscal 2011, the government ran a deficit of $326 billion, which is why the following statement found in Crutsinger's Thursday afternoon report is such a howler:
It seems that Matt Drudge is a better headline writer than whoever at the Associated Press performed the same task at its story about California lawmakers' passage of "building the nation's first dedicated high-speed rail line, a multibillion dollar project that will eventually link Los Angeles and San Francisco" -- if sanity doesn't prevail in the meantime.
Since late yesterday, Drudge's home-page headline linking to the AP's story is "Broke California OKs funding for high-speed rail line..." That's a lot more complete than the wire service's "California high-speed rail gets green light." Then again, if the headline writer didn't already know about the state's serious budget situation, he or she wouldn't have learned from reporter Judy Lin, who stayed conveniently vague, as seen in the following excerpt:
On Tuesday, Tom Brown at Reuters (HT CounterContempt.com aka "Republican Party Animals") wrote about the case of Quartavious Davis, a 20 year-old sentenced to life (and then some) after being "convicted of participating in a string of armed robberies in the Miami area in 2010."
In the process, Brown, whose column title was inadvertently humorous ("Insight: Florida man sees 'cruel' face of U.S. justice"), demonstrated his lack of knowledge and failure to confirm through research by asserting that "United States ... prisons house fully one-quarter of all the prisoners in the world, most of them black." As David Stein at the linked blog noted, this statement isn't merely untrue, it's most sincerely untrue (link was in original):
Three years ago, fellow Ohio blogger Matt Hurley at Weapons of Mass Discussion learned of a situation in Warren County where food stamp benefits were approved in a situation "where the family have over $80,000 in bank, own a 2001 Toyota and 2006 Mercedes Benz, and a $311,000 home that is paid for ... (with) monthly benefits of over $500 ..."
In a column I wrote at the time, I asked (pretty much knowing the answer) if "food stamps for the well-off" was "a national trend." Well, as if there was ever any doubt, the Associated Press finalized that answer tonight in an unbylined rundown of a series of pervasive situations which show how routine and extensive the waste in the program really is:
At the rate things are going, it may be that the list of leading West Virginia Democrats attending the party's convention in Charlotte is going to be shorter than the list of those who aren't.
The Associated Press reported the following in an unbylined item this evening in a terse three-paragraph squib with some pretty amusing attempts at impact-minimizing verbiage (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
Norah O'Donnell spun the recent controversy over national security leaks in the Obama administration's favor on Tuesday's CBS This Morning, touting that "the Justice Department...points out that they have launched six cases since 2009 to investigate these leaks. And interestingly...that is more than all previous administrations combined."
O'Donnell also forwarded the White House's talking point on the issue, that "the President said he has zero tolerance for these leaks, and that's why he said he's sure it wasn't anyone in his White House."
A Los Angeles Times editorial on May 23, naturally accompanied by a dour photo of House Speaker John Boehner, stated as if it's an indisputable fact that the August 2011 debt deal raised the ceiling by "enough to last until the end of 2012 or early 2013." A Saturday AP report by Ken Thomas and Jim Kuhnhenn so filled with distortions that it's virtually unreadable asserted, again as if it's a no-doubt fact, that hitting the limit is "more than eight months away," putting the ceiling-busting date at about January 31, 2013. Just a few of many other examples with late-December or later assumptions baked in are here (to be fair, this one frames it as a Geithner estimation), here, and here.
The real numbers, combined with the experience of the past two years, indicate that there is a good chance not only that we're not going to be that lucky, but that the government could even hit the ceiling before Election Day.
CBS This Morning stood out as the only Big Three network morning show on Thursday to cover a conservative group's allegation that the Obama administration gave a movie director and writer "special access to government officials involved in the commando operation that killed Osama bin Laden," as reported by Reuters on Wednesday. ABC's Good Morning America and NBC's Today ignored the story.
Correspondent Chip Reid outlined that "the documents...obtained by Judicial Watch, a conservative government watchdog group...reveal that director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal...met with top national security officials; gained access to Seal Team 6; and visited the CIA."
"A House committee chairman charged Wednesday that the CIA and Defense Department jeopardized national security by cooperating too closely with filmmakers producing a movie on the raid that killed Osama bin Laden," reported Larry Margasak of the Associated Press yesterday. "[Rep. Peter] King [R-N.Y.] referred to documents obtained by Judicial Watch in a Freedom of Information Act request. He said the filmmakers received 'extremely close, unprecedented and potentially dangerous collaboration' from the Obama administration."
Margasak's story on Rep. Peter King's hearing investigating the matter was printed in today's Washington Post, but editors buried the item on page C4, deep in the heart of the Style section, which typically reports on fashion, music, and the entertainment industry. Noted Margasak:
A quick comparable: If George W. Bush had arranged to insert "Did You Know?" promos of his administration's accomplishments and positions into other presidents' biographies on the White House's web site, does anyone think that the press would have ignored it? Not only would they have not ignored it, they and every left-leaning entertainer would (quite justifiably) have ridiculed and criticized him for historical tampering bordering on vandalism.
Well, Dear Leader has done exactly what I described sometime in the past four days to 13 of his past 14 predecessors, sparing only Gerald Ford (I guess that will have to wait until Obama can compare his administration-ending pardons to Ford's pardon of Dick Nixon). After the jump, readers will find pictures of the conclusion of the bio of Franklin Delano Roosevelt from Google Cache as of May 12 and as of today, followed by a bit of commentary from Andrew Malcolm at Investor's Business Daily:
On Tuesday morning at 8:30 a.m. ET, the Commerce Department reported that seasonally adjusted U.S. retail sales in April rose by 0.1%. In an 11:12 a.m. report via the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, carried at the Detroit News ("U.S. consumers hold back retail sales, even as gas prices fall"), Martin Crutsinger was appropriately not impressed: "Lower gas prices in April weren't enough to embolden U.S. consumers to spend much more elsewhere. The Commerce Department said retail sales rose only 0.1 percent last month."
Look how things changed in a late afternoon AP report currently carried at its national site co-authored by Crutsinger and Christopher Rugaber, reworked in time to go into most newspapers' print editions Wednesday morning:
Here's a word which the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger only used once in his coverage last Thursday of Uncle Sam's April 2012 Treasury Statement: "debt." And when he did, he was quoted someone about Europe's situation.
To his credit, the AP reporter wasn't particularly impressed with the fact that the government was able to run a single-month surplus of $59 billion in April. To his detriment, he didn't note that somehow, the national debt also went up by $110 billion:
Searches on "Government Accountability Office" (not in quotes), "shale," and "mittal" at the Associated Press's national site return nothing relevant to the energy-related story which will follow. A Google News search on "Anu Mittal," the person from the GAO who on Thursday testified before the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology`s Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, appears to return seven relevant items, but it's really five. The first is a press release from the Luddite (aka Democratic) members of the committee pooh-poohing the importance of Ms. Mittal's assertions. The other four are from non-major and/or non-establishment press sources: Newser, American Thinker, Daily Markets, and the Inquisitr (yes, spelled correctly). Only one other news outlet I'm aware of, Media Research Center's CNS News, has also noted Ms. Mittal's testimony.
What Ms. Mittal had to say is that, according to a leading research organization, just one area overlapping three states in the West (not the Midwest, as a couple of the other links assert) has an astounding quantity of recoverable oil:
On Friday evening, it was Christopher Rugaber and Paul Wiseman. Today it's Martin Crutsinger. Together with Derek Kravitz (who isn't in on the latest offense -- yet), perhaps the just-named quartet of alleged journalists should be named "The Four Distortsmen."
Today, it was Crutsinger who, in the wake of a mediocre report on consumer spending, again invoked "government budget-cutting as the primary culprit explaining why the economy only grew by an estimated annualized 2.2% during the first quarter:
A year ago in March, an Investor's Business Daily editorial ("America's Enemies Don't Want U.S. Drilling") informed readers that "the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington put out a Twitter post expressing disappointment that the documentary 'Gasland' didn't win an Academy Award." Specifically: "Sadly, 'Gasland' didn't win an Oscar, because a Vzlan helped make it," Venezuela's Twitterer whined." IBD went on to note that "Gasland" had "a Venezuelan production assistant, Irene Yibirin, who ... (has) ties to the (Chavez) government's Foundation National Cinematheque. ... [O]n the site, she praised Chavez."
Why is this relevant? Well, as another IBD editorial on Thursday noted, EPA Region 6 Administrator Al Armendariz, who became deservedly infamous last week when his public articulation of his "Crucify Them" philosophy towards enforcement of environmental laws and regulations in a speech a year ago was exposed, really loves the film, which industry officials have shown is riddled with deceptions and outright falsehoods. Not only that, he was also involved in making it:
In the first quarter of 2012, the federal government spent $966 billion. That's 10% more than the $877 billion spent during the previous quarter, and 2% more than the $949 spent during the first quarter of 2011.
Yet the party line Friday evening from Christopher Rugaber and Paul Wiseman at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, is that economic growth in the first quarter, which the government preliminarily told us yesterday was an annualized 2.2% (trailing consensus estimates of 2.6%), was so mediocre because of "government budget-cutting." A closer look indicates that if anything, they should have tagged it as defense budget-cutting and never did; the rest of government spending continues to balloon out of control. The pair's opening six paragraphs follow the jump.
Yesterday, as apparently first reported at the Daily Caller, Oklahoma Republican Senator James Imhofe revealed that Environmental Protection Agency Region 6 administrator Al Armendariz had explained his enforcement philosophy towards companies within his jurisdiction as "[C]rucify them ... Find people who are not compliant with the law, and you hit them as hard as you can and you make examples out of them, and there is a deterrent effect there." Remember that Antagonistic Al was referring to those who are "not compliant." A YouTube video of Armendariz's remarks in fuller context is here.
The Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, in what I would hope is only its first version of coverage (but don't count on any follow-up), did its level best to minimize the significance of Armendariz's remarks, with a headline designed to make people think he only said one bad word, and content which tried to emphasize that the administrator reserves his harsh treatment only for actual lawbreakers. At Forbes, Christopher Helman has made mincemeat of that pretense in one very prominent case.
At Bloomberg Business Week, the distortion of what the Social Security system's trustees told the public on Monday began with its headline and opening sentence.
The headline: "Social Security Fund to Run Out in '35: Trustees." Any reader would assume that the reference is to the situation with the retirement and disability programs combined, as both are collectively referred to as "Social Security." Reporter Brian Faler doubled down on the headline error in his opening sentence:
In the campaign to ensure that anyone with a proposal to actually do something about the federal government's out-of-control spending gets demonized, while incumbent Barack Obama and his party go scot-free for proposing nothing beyond the autopilot, budget-free situation of the past three years, Andrew Taylor at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, went after Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's spending proposal in an early-morning item today.
There are so many problems with Taylor's presentation that it would take a writeup longer than a college term paper to fully vet them all. But the report's most risible aspect is its blithe and unsupported assertion that Romney's plan would require "big cuts" in "nuts-and-bolts" federal programs.
It has become clear what the Obama campaign's strategy for trying to win states like Michigan and Ohio is and will continue to be. In three steps, it's as follows: 1) Pretend that the states' Republican governors, John Kasich in Ohio and Rick Snyder in Michigan, who both succeeded free-spending Democrats who presided over stagnant economies, have had nothing to do with their increased employment, lower unemployment rates, and improved business climates (as well as balanced budgets in fiscal 2012 involving no tax increases, though Snyder may ruin that in Michigan this year); 2) Instead give the credit for all of these favorable developments to Obama and the governments' bailouts of Chrysler and General Motors; 3) Don't say anything about how other states run by Dems, particularly Illinois, North Carolina, and Connecticut, are lagging because they have instead tried to apply Washington's tax-and-spend model to their states' fiscal situations.
Of course the AP, aka the Adminisitration's Press, is all too willing to make the administration's laughable claims appear credible. It did so in two separate items this week, one giving basic details about the job-market situations in Ohio, Michigan, and North Carolina, and the other covering Obama allegedly improving chances of winning Ohio, Michigan, and a dozen other "swing" states. There was no mention of the Buckeye State's or Wolverine State's chief executives in either article.