Today's Advance Monthly Retails Sales Report for November from the Census Bureau came in with a seasonally and shopping-day adjusted 0.2% increase over October. Analysts expected 0.6%, and a whole host of them described the result as "disappointing," as shown here in a Google News Search for the past 24 hours on ["retail sales" disappoint"] (typed exactly as indicated between brackets; as of 6:40 p.m. ET, over 1,100 results were returned, but only about 400 are from after the report's release).
That didn't stop the Associated Press's Christopher Rugaber and the wire service's headline writers, in separate items at 11:44 a.m. and 3:05 p.m., from getting really close to in essence claiming, as Kevin Bacon's character Chip Diller did in "Animal House," that "all is well."
Uncle Sam's Monthly Treasury Statement for November came out yesterday. The results: Tax collections through two months of the fiscal year are up 4.4% over fiscal 2010; spending is down 5.5%, but only because about $31 billion in checks which would ordinarily have gone out on October 1 (a Saturday) were sent on September 30; and the deficit of $235 billion is $55 billion less than last year.
The headline in the report by Martin Crutsinger of the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press ("Gov't on pace to run budget deficit below $1T"), celebrated the totally untenable claim, only two months into the year, that the deficit might come in below $1 trillion for the first time in four years. Crutsinger's coverage was otherwise adequate, except near the end, when he threw in the following obviously gratuitous and recklessly false and misleading statement: "A decade ago, the government was running surpluses and trillion-dollar deficits seemed unimaginable."
On Wednesday, the Politico ran a story about the International Association of Machinists Union at Boeing agreeing to approve a contract extension, the result of which ultimately led to the National Labor Relations Board dropping its controversial decision to prevent the company from beginning to operate a mostly-constructed plant in South Carolina.
Though it deserves separate commentary, that decision is not the subject of this post. What is germane at the moment is the howler of a photo accompanying the Politico's report which appears after the jump.
On Wednesday, as Terry Baynes at Reuters reported, "A federal appeals court on Wednesday upheld the convictions of five leaders of an Islamic charity on charges of funneling money and supplies to Hamas, designated a "terrorist" group following a 1995 executive order by President Bill Clinton. ..." The organization involved was the Holy Land Foundation based in Texas. The five involved received sentences of 15 to 65 years.
Reuters appears to have been virtually unique in covering the story at a national level, and from all appearances very few establishment press outlets picked it up. What follows are various search results in attempts to find coverage of the story:
Awwww. Don Berwick is unhappy. In a speech at the annual conference of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement excerpted at the Boston Globe's White Coat Notes blog, the man whom Congress would not confirm as Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) administrator seventeen months after President Obama gave him a recess appointment lashed out at his critics, especially their use of the terms "rationing" and "death panels," describing the employment of the latter term as "beyond cruelty."
Neither Chelsea Conaboy's introduction at the Globe excerpt nor Sam Baker's coverage at the Hill's Healthwatch blog brought up why the two terms Berwick despises so accurately describe his health care views, which include his belief that the Affordable Care Act passed by Congress and signed by President Obama last year -- the one where, as Nancy Pelosi warned, we're still figuring out what's really in it -- is, as he told Boston station WBUR, "majestic." What follows is most of Conaboy's intro, which almost completely ignored the overheated rhetoric in the speech excerpts which followed:
Bradley Fikes at the North County Times, whose coverage area is mostly the northern portion of San Diego County in California, appears to have broken a quite significant story last Thursday when he reported that cloning pioneer Ian Wilmut of Dolly the sheep fame (4,250 stories from 1996-2003 were found in the Google New archive) urged stem cell scientists, as Fikes headlined, to "shift away from embryonic stem cells." Wilmut, speaking at a stem cell research conference in nearby La Jolla, advocated instead for stronger pursuit of direct reprogramming of stem cells.
Five days later, searches at Google News on "Dolly sheep" (not in quotes) and Wilmut's name surfaced about a half-dozen other results, virtually all from religious and pro-life publications, and none from the establishment press. The same two searches at the Associated Press's main site (Dolly sheep; Ian Wilmut also come up empty. Here are key paragraphs from the report by Fikes (bold is mine):
Not that it took keen insight to catch it, but yours truly was one of a very few people who pointed out that General/Government Motors unduly dressed up its financial statements in advance of its late-2010 initial public offering by foisting an unreasonable level of vehicle inventory on dealers. The effect of this was to enable the company, which in accordance with general industry practice recognizes sales when it ships vehicles to dealers, to book an estimated $900 million in sent-ahead pre-tax profit largely not supported by dealer sales.
Contrary to the drawdown or at least level-off I expected after the IPO, GM, with of course virtually no establishment media coverage, has continued to push vehicles out to its dealers to what would appear to be potentially dangerous levels, as seen in the following graphic (HT to Zero Hedge for original):
It appears that cleanup crews around the country aren't the only ones engaging in sanitation exercises in the wake of the largely disbanded Occupy encampments around the country.
At the Associated Press, which made the goings-on in the waning days of Occupy LA national news, the aftermath is apparently just a local or regional story. Here's a list of results at the AP's national site of a search on "occupy Los Angeles" (not in quotes):
A story generating a lot of discussion today concerns how former Philadelphia Schools Superintendent Arlene Ackerman, who is receiving $905,000 in severance, has applied for unemployment benefits, and has been promised that the school district will not contest her claim.
Not so fast, people. I searched Google and Google News briefly, and found an interesting aspect of the situation which no one in the media apparently wants to consider. It relates to how Ackerman's employment ended. One of many place where that ending is described came from Matt Petrillo at Philadelphia Weekly just three weeks ago. It began thusly: "It’s been 11 weeks since the School Reform Commission unanimously voted to fire public school boss lady Arlene Ackerman." A quick visit to the relevant page at the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry would appear to indicate that Ackerman should not get unemployment benefits, and that it shouldn't matter whether the district contests her claim:
Anyone who made the easy prediction that the Associated Press would fail to bring up Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac in its fawning tribute to Barney Frank after his retirement announcement yesterday was correct. Anyone making the easy prediction that the AP would lionize him as a "gay pioneer" was also spot-on.
Also predictably, the wire service's Bob Salsberg and David Espo failed to mention that Frank advocated abolishing Fan and Fred as a dishonest survival tactic during his final reelection campaign in 2010, and of course did nothing visible to make that happen this year. What's really odious in this regard is that the AP pair gave him credit (pun intended) for how he "worked to expand affordable housing," when the Community Reinvestment Act-driven subprime crisis Fan and Fred engendered has sent the housing market levels not seen since World War II. What follows are excerpts from the AP. After that I have a few contrary and clear-headed paragraphs from an Investor's Business Daily editorial, and a little reminder of a 1999 "Present" vote which should have generated controversy, but didn't:
NBC's Tom Costello made a gaffe of planetary proportions on Saturday's Nightly News as he reported on the launch of NASA's latest Martian rover. The correspondent identified the rocket, which blasted the unmanned Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) probe into space for its eight month-plus journey to the fourth planet, as a "Saturn V." This is actually the name of the rocket that took Apollo astronauts to the Moon in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The last Saturn V flew in 1973.
The expendable rocket that actually blasted off on Saturday morning, taking MSL and its Curiosity rover beyond the Earth's atmosphere, is the Atlas V. It is the newest member of a rocket family that has been in service since the 1950s. John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962 after a modified first-generation Atlas launched his Mercury capsule into space.
In their deeply deceptive Friday morning story ("Deep spending cuts pose a new threat to US economy") about how the bicameral bipartisan supercommittee is supposedly going to hurt the economy with whatever results from its handiwork, Christopher Rugaber and Daniel Wagner of the Associated Press, aka The Administration's Press, "somehow" forgot to include one "little" detail, and deferred another until very late in their report.
The omission, which is that the "cuts" under consideration are really reductions in projected spending increases in future years, is sadly typical. The fact is the $1.2 trillion in "savings" the supercommittee hopes to engineer will only slightly reduce the rate of spending growth. The deferral is that the pair waited until Paragraph 18 to tell readers, and even then only incompletely, that the "deep cuts" would be spread over nine years, thereby amounting to roughly 3% of the $40.3 trillion if projected 2013-2021 spending (Page XI here). The AP pair never explains how "cuts" which wouldn't kick in until the October 1, 2012 beginning of fiscal 2013 and which are (as they have almost always been) heavily skewed towards later years would affect the current economy. Excerpts from the pair's report follow (bolds are mine):
You would think that a story headlined "GOP says Energy Dept. tried to delay solar layoffs" would have a quote or two from a Republican Party spokesperson, politician, candidate or even a rank-and-file party member alleging that, well, the Energy Department tried to delay layoffs at now-bankrupt Solyndra. It doesn't. The "trifling" matter clearly didn't concern the headline writer at the Associated Press, which one again is showing that it deserves to be called "The Administration's Press."
Without attribution, Matthew Daly's early afternoon story (saved here at host for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes) largely relays and only slightly builds on what Carol D. Leonnig and Joe Stephens reported yesterday at the Washington Post. What follows are selected paragraphs from Daly's report, including two (in bold) which only generically cite GOP criticism:
On Saturday, at a Q&A session at the APEC CEO Business Summit in Hawaii, President Barack Obama, when asked about impediments to foreign investment in the United States, responded in part: "... we’ve been a little bit lazy, I think, over the last couple of decades. We’ve kind of taken for granted -- well, people will want to come here and we aren’t out there hungry, selling America and trying to attract new business into America."
As would be expected, this impolitic comment has generated quite a bit of discussion all over the place in the two days since. Well, almost all over the place, as you'll after the jump in graphic captures of the results of searches on "Obama lazy" (not in quotes) at the main site of the Associated Press and at the New York Times (Times search is in order of newest first):
In Hawaii today, according to an Associated Press dispatch filed by Ben Feller, President Barack Obama is reported to have told supporters that, in Feller's words, "everything they worked for and that the country stands for is on the line in his 2012 re-election bid."
Well, if what those donors have "worked" for is an inside track to government money, and if what the country stands for is crony capitalism, the President is right. The following excerpt from Peter Schweizer's new book, "Throw The All Out," provides the details in just one commercial arena (via The Daily Beast; HTs to Doug Ross, Conservatives4Palin, Victory Chronicles, and Heritage; bolds are mine; extra paragraph breaks added by me):
A story first broken by David Willman at the Los Angeles Times on Friday (the story is currently dated November 13, but the first comment appeared late Friday evening Pacific Time) is going almost nowhere in the rest of the establishment press. I wonder why?
No, I really don't, and neither will most readers here once they see what it's all about, namely Obama administration corruption and crony capitalism (bolds are mine):
Kerem Ozkan at Advertising Age is not happy with Matt Drudge for having the nerve to call a USDA-administered fee imposed on growers of Christmas trees a "Christmas Tree Tax" (link is Drudge Archive item containing the referenced headline).
Actually (Ozkan recognizes this), Drudge didn't start it. David Addington at Heritage did. Here are excerpts from Ozkan's not-so-fine whine, during which he inadvertently demonstrates to readers why Drudge's characterization was correct:
It would be funny if it weren't so transparently sad. We've seen "name that party" games for a long time in the press. Today, the Associated Press played "name that company."
In an unbylined report Friday evening which oddly has Dina Cappiello's Twitter address at the bottom , the identity of failed solar manufacturer Solyndra isn't revealed until the third paragraph. The item's headline refers vaguely to "a failed solar firm," while the opening paragraph describes "a failed solar panel manufacturer." Really:
It's truly delicious when the outfit which calls itself the Essential Global News Network essentially admits that a certain economic theory which begins with a "K" has become such an undesirable word -- almost an epithet -- that it avoids its mention.
That was the case with a pathetic critique of GOP candidates' economic plans written up by the wire service's Charles Babington on Sunday. When I saw its headline ("Studies challenge wisdom of GOP candidates' plans"), I blew past the story because I expected the same-old, same-old. Then an emailer with a journalistic background informed me that it was even worse than usual. He's so right that I can't possibly pick it apart without writing a book; so I'll just concentrate on the paragraph containing the theory with no name and the one which immediately follows it:
Consider this post the print and online follow-up to the report early Tuesday evening by Matthew Balan at NewsBusters on the failure of the Big Three TV networks to note the Democratic Party/Obama fundraising affiliation of former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, whose now-bankrupt MF Global financial firm has apparently admitted to diverting client money in a futile attempt to battle its financial free-fall.
Balan found that the Big Three's morning shows "omitted the party affiliation of Jon Corzine as they reported on the federal investigation into his brokerage firm," and that ABC didn't even mention Corzine's name. This is not surprising, as the wire services which provide much of the raw material for these shows for the most part similarly failed, and have continued to do so. A rundown of much of what the wires have produced, along with a look at several New York Times items, follows the jump:
Jonathan Alter, who spent 28 years at Newsweek, has been a columnist at Bloomberg News since early this year. Just this year, the reliably and insufferably liberal Alter, among many other things, called the Republican House's passage of Paul Ryan's budget plan in April an attempt "to throw Granny in the snow," and coldly calculated that in the wake of her shooting, Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was more valuable to Barack Obama's reelection efforts alive than dead.
In early January, Alter, appearing on an MSNBC program, took great offense at Rep. Darrell Issa's suggestion that the Obama White House is "one of the most corrupt administrations ever," claiming that "there is zero evidence" of it. The Washington Examiner's Tim Carney proceeded to identify seven such examples. Alter must have been saying "la-la I can't hear you" during Carney's chronicle, as his October 27 column was an exercise in sheer fantasy from beginning to end (bolds are mine throughout this post):
The news item I will cite goes back over a week, but the problem surely remains. In light of the ongoing battles over public-sector wages and benefits as well as the taxes which pay for them, it deserves far more attention than it is currently receiving. It follows up on an October 15 post (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) where I noted, in reviewing an Associates Press story which originally appeared the previous day, that the State of Illinois' financial inability to pay its vendors on time and the related hardships involved have been mostly getting the establishment press silent treatment, while efforts at fiscal balance in Ohio and Wisconsin largely involving collective-bargaining reforms have been national stories with mostly negative coverage.
An October 20 AP item by Political Writer John O'Connor informs us that who gets paid first is often driven by politicians' pleas instead of place in line. Despite O'Connor's claim that "Republican or Democrat" influence can be involved, he only cited examples involving Democratic lawmakers:
At the Associated Press today, National Writer Jesse Washington attempted to dissect the relative dearth of college degrees earned by African-Americans in "STEM" (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
Not that anything he reported was particularly wrong, but in my view he missed the largest contributor to the problem, one that apparently can't be mentioned in polite press company. He used one word -- "uneducated" -- that started to get close but backed away. The five-word phrase he failed to mention, which could usefully carry the acronym "LUPUS":
The easy catch in former Obama administration economic adviser Austan Goolsbee's Thursday interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," as reported by the Politico's Tim Mak, is that he believes that "if given a second chance he would not have backed the Cash for Clunkers program or the home buyer tax credit." Goolsbee's excuse for his changed position -- that the administration didn't think the recovery would take so long, when the administration's policies have primarily explain why the recovery has taken so long -- is characteristically lame.
Something else Goolsbee said is far more surprising -- so surprising that one wonders if famed supply-side economist Arthur Laffer somehow temporarily took over the former Obama adviser's mind and body. One also wonders why Mak saved what Goolsbee said for his report's final two paragraphs instead of headlining and leading with it.
Readers participating in the real world will be quite surprised to learn that, according to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, "It's very clear that private-sector jobs have been doing just fine."
At The Hill's Floor Action blog, reporter Pete Kasperowicz, writing as if the world began in early 2010, supported Reid's contention: "Private-sector jobs have increased over the last 19 months, while government jobs have lagged." I hope both gentlemen don't mind if, after excerpting a few paragraphs from Pete K's report, we look at some real numbers after the jump.
The headline and opening sentence in Derek Kravitz's Associated Press report this morning on the Census Bureau's homebulding industry data release gives readers the impression that industry activity increased impressively during September. It increased a tiny bit, but certainly not by the percentage indicated.
The headline ignorantly assumes that a double-digit increase in housing starts is the same as an increase in "home building." It isn't. That headline, the first four paragraphs from Kravitz's report, and some other indicators of housing market progress -- and the stunning lack thereof, three full years after the politicians promised that the Troubled Asset Relief Program would right the ship -- follow the jump (bolds are mine):
Somebody needed to give Calvin Woodward and Christopher Rugaber at the Associated Press Five-Hour Energy drinks or some other boost before Tuesday night's GOP debate. Their brains must have totally turned off late in the afternoon without re-engaging before they filed their late-evening post-debate report.
Behold how the AP pair "proved" that excessive government regulation doesn't kill jobs (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Yesterday, in a different post about long-term unemployment, I wrote: "Of all the reality-denying aspects of Obama administration press coverage, the usually implicit but occasionally explicit assertion that he and his people are just helpless bystanders in an economic calamiity is easily among the most annoying."
Bloomberg's Mike Dorning triggered the annoyance meter today with an "analysis" contending that President Obama's move from being a "conciliator" (quoting an alleged "expert") to supporting "populist causes" and sympathizing with the anti-capitalist Occupy Wall Street assemblage "may provide some inoculation" against the continuing bad economy -- as if Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and the their party bear no conceivable responsibility for current economic conditions. Here are the first seven paragraphs of Dorning's dreck (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
Chicago Mayor and former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel went after GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney yesterday over the 2008-2009 state of the auto industry. Emanuel, as paraphrased by the Associated Press, believes that "had Republican candidate Mitt Romney been president the nation would no longer have an auto industry" -- though last time I checked, Ford Motor Company, which did not accept federal government bailout money, is still headquartered in Dearborn, Michigan, which is still in the USA.
In his coverage of Emanuel's comments, the Detroit News's Dave Shepardson -- who infamously and falsely claimed in February 2010 that Toyota executives "bragged" and "boasted" about saving money on safety recalls when Japanese culture deeply frowns on the practice to the point of shunning people who engage in it -- headlined Emanuel's "no industry" howler, and committed several factual errors. In addition, he missed a quite relevant and critical March 2009 episode of support from Romney -- for better or worse (readers can decide) -- when President Obama engineered the ouster of General Motors' CEO. Here are excerpts from Shepardson's shilling: