You would think someone in the U.S. establishment press would be following Uncle Sam's progress or lack thereof in getting out from under its investment in Citigroup, especially since the government promised that it would be fully divested from the bank holding company by the end of this year. From all appearances, you would be wrong.
It looks like the government may not be able to keep that year-end divestiture promise. For a fair number of news followers to learn that, the UK's Financial Times had to take an interest (link may require registration), and Drudge had to link to it:
US Treasury stumbles selling Citi shares
The US government is in danger of missing its deadline of divesting all of its Citigroup shares by the year-end after a fall in stock market trading volumes prompted authorities to slow down sales in July and August.
The lull could prompt the US Treasury, which has a stake of about 17 per cent in Citi, to consider a share offering instead of selling the stock in small quantities in the market, according to bankers and analysts.
In the earlier paragraphs of a Friday report on the recently passed small business lending bill at the Associated Press, reporter Pallavi Gogoi gave readers the impression that Congress's allegedly noble intentions might be thwarted because banks and businesses who should apparently be grateful for the "help" don't want it.
Gogoi gives no direct indication that the bill involves government "investment" in (i.e., partial state ownership of) participating financial institutions.
The AP reporter didn't have to look very far to see what's really involved. The defined purpose of the bill, which weighs in at over 40,000 words (full text here), is right there at its beginning (bold is mine):
An Act -- To create the Small Business Lending Fund Program to direct the Secretary of the Treasury to make capital investments in eligible institutions in order to increase the availability of credit for small businesses, to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide tax incentives for small business job creation, and for other purposes.
This is not very different from what ended up happening with the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) enacted two years ago. In fact, two lawyers writing on the law's potential impact describe it as a "mini-TARP." You'd never know that from Gogoi's report (one cryptic reference to the underlying state control involved is in bold):
I tried to find a nicer way to put it in the headline. But I can't.
At the Associated Press, Economics Writer Martin Crutsinger's apparent plug-and-play report less than an hour after the issuance of Uncle Sam's August Monthly Treasury Statement on Monday (his item is time-stamped at 2:56 p.m., which follows the Treasury Department's 2:00 p.m. release by less than an hour) contains three obviously false statements that a news organization which really subscribes to its own "Statement of News Values and Principles" would retract and/or correct.
The specific AP standard in question is whether it has violated its promise not to "knowingly introduce false information into material intended for publication or broadcast." The only conceivable excuse at this point is that Crutsinger and his employer don't realize what they have done. The three falsehoods involved are not arcane or open to interpretation. Rather, they are significant, obvious, irrefutable, and in need of correction.
What follows are the three statements, the first of which contradicts itself in the report's own subsequent sentence:
New York Times reporter Robert Pear ought to consider moonlighting as a stand-up comic in the tradition of Steven Wright.
Wright's deadpan delivery is legendary. Pear's deadpan lines in his article about the immense paperwork burden heading the economy's way in the form of requiring IRS 1099 forms to be issued to each and every person paid $600 or more during the course of a calendar year for any and all goods provided or services rendered are remarkable.
Of course, if Pear chooses to get on stage with his act he'll have to come up with a more humorous topic. The nightmare that could be visited upon American business and really the American economy is pretty stunning -- and don't for a minute think that individuals with hobbies that break even or possibly lose money every year and don't ordinarily bother to file tax returns for their activities (because they aren't required to) aren't going to be affected.
What follows are a few of the choice one-liners found in Pear's September 11 article ("Many Push for Repeal of Tax Provision in Health Law") that appeared in the paper's Sunday print edition on Page A25:
It seems reasonable from their coverage in anticipation of the Census Bureua's release of income and poverty statistics this week that Hope Yen and Liz Sidoti of the Associated Press have a roof over their heads and aren't particularly worried about where their next meal is coming from. If so, good for them; may those circumstances continue.
What's remarkable, though, is how a government report that the media, especially the AP, has traditionally treated as an indicator of society's alleged failure to take care of its neediest --with the blame often directly aimed at Republicans and conservatives -- is now primarily a political problem for the party in power. Yen and Sidoti engage in a presidential pity party, and in the process come off as indifferent about what the numbers, for all their imperfections (and they are substantial), might mean in human terms -- again, something the press normally obsesses over, especially when a Republican or conservative is president. This time, it seems that if Ms. Yen and Ms. Sidoti had their way, this unfortunate information would be held until at least November 3.
What follows are graphic capture's of the pair's first four paragraphs, followed by paragraphs 12-16:
Reports from the twelve Federal Reserve Districts suggested continued growth in national economic activity during the reporting period of mid-July through the end of August, but with widespread signs of a deceleration compared with preceding periods.
... However, the remaining Districts of New York, Philadelphia, Richmond, Atlanta, and Chicago all highlighted mixed conditions or deceleration in overall economic activity.
It may be fair to describe the detail in Atlanta's section of the report as "mixed" (it's a borderline call; the opening paragraph from that District's report will appear later). But Richmond's section is clearly one of deceleration, which brings us to today's clearly needed geography lesson for Jeannine Aversa and/or a headline writer at the Associated Press.
What follows is a graphic containing the headline at Aversa's 2:45 p.m. story (since updated here), and her first few paragraphs:
Obama administration Labor Secretary Hilda Solis (pictured at right with what I would guess is her ideal car of the future) shamelessly used Labor Day weekend as an opportunity to score political points.
In a presentation that was more a political stump speech than an informative presentation, Solis recited a litany of alleged accomplishments. Many of them have no relationship to what her department does, while some are also objectively wrong. Second, she set up a host of straw men in the form of "those who would" and "to those who want to" to make her department and the administration where she works appear as if they and they alone are the bulwark against rapacious employers and their political allies.
The YouTube video is present at this DOL page (direct YouTube link here). What follows are selected transcribed excerpts, with specific critiques:
The news out of Government/General Motors during the past couple of days hasn't been particularly good.
First, August sales results were disappointing. Second, it become known today that GM will attempt to go public on November 18, a later than originally hoped post-election date chosen to hopefully allow for another reported quarterly profit to boost investors' appetite for its shares.
As so often has been the case during Democratic administrations when unfavorable developments arise, the UK press has seen potential problems with the IPO, while the Associated Press has been acting as if all is well.
In two separate items, AP reporters couldn't even bring themselves to tell readers what the company's real August sales decline was.
In a report yesterday on the industry's awful August, reporters Dee-Ann Durbin and Tom Krisher were appropriately gloomy overall, but they massaged GM's reported result (bolds are mine throughout this post):
In late July, a Government Accountability Office report circulated which analyzed stimulus funding being spent by the Department of Energy. The main gist of that report involved the cost of each job being generated by the stimulus bill - a staggering $194,000. Tucked away in that report was a phrase that was new to most of us, a way to calculate jobs through a term called ‘lives touched'.
Last week it was confirmed that some departments being funded by the stimulus are indeed using the metric ‘lives touched' - a regression from the absurd ‘jobs saved or created', which was already a step down from the incalculable ‘jobs created'.
A spokesperson from the CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Company explains:
"Lives Touched" is a figure that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) uses to track the amount of people who have been positively affected by the Recovery Act funds. This total would include people who have been provided full time employment (i.e. saved and created jobs) through the Recovery Act and people who at some point have supported a project funded by the Recovery Act.
Essentially, the Obama administration had figured out another way to inflate job numbers to better fit their claims of success. And yet, the media has remained largely silent on this matter. Even as Vice-President Biden released a report on the Recovery Act yesterday, with a specific focus on the Department of Energy and job creation.
Below is an outline of how the administration and the DOE are collaborating to inflate their numbers by measuring the number of ‘lives touched' by the stimulus bill.
Earlier today, Shirley Sherrod, who, according to the current version of ruling class wisdom, was prematurely evacuated from the USDA by Director Tom Vilsack, decided not to accept an offer to return to the agency.
Instead, according to Politico's Matt Negrin, "she hasn’t accepted the department’s offer to work there again, but that she wants 'some type of relationship' with it later." We wouldn't closure or anything, would we?
Five weeks or so have intervened since Andrew Breitbart posted a video excerpt of Sherrod's speech at an NAACP event. (It should be noted USAactionnews.com actually posted the video earlier; though their link has been taken down, their original July 15 tweet is here.)
In that time, the establishment press has either seriously downplayed or totally ignored the several important items relating to the background and outlook of Ms. Sherrod and her husband Charles.
The Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools in Los Angeles, apparently opening soon, will serve roughly 4,200 students in grades K-12. Its cost is coming in at $578 million, or almost $140,000 per student ($2.75 million per 20-student classroom).
This is the LA Unified District's most flagrant example of its Taj Mahal obsession, and it is far from the only one. Also, as the Associated Press's Christina Hoag reported early Sunday evening, LA is not the only place where the Taj Mahal complex is in vogue:
The K-12 complex to house 4,200 students has raised eyebrows across the country as the creme de la creme of "Taj Mahal" schools, $100 million-plus campuses boasting both architectural panache and deluxe amenities.
"There's no more of the old, windowless cinderblock schools of the '70s where kids felt, 'Oh, back to jail,'" said Joe Agron, editor-in-chief of American School & University, a school construction journal. "Districts want a showpiece for the community, a really impressive environment for learning."
Former USDA employee Shirley Sherrod says she will meet Tuesday with agriculture secretary
Shirley Sherrod, the former USDA rural development director for Georgia, said today she plans to meet Tuesday with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to discuss a new job offer.
... Sherrod today spoke in the Sumter County town of Epes at an event hosted by the Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund. Ben Jealous, executive director of the NAACP, shared the stage with Sherrod during a panel discussion.
Sherrod said she had no ill feelings toward the NAACP or President Barack Obama.
It the meeting does indeed occur, it will be an interesting test of establishment media credibility, given the accusations leveled at Ms. Sherrod and her husband Charles by Ron Wilkins at the leftist publication Counterpunch several weeks ago. Here are some of the specifics:
Here's how the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger and Daniel Wagner reported the housing portion of their Tuesday report on the day's economic news ("Factories aid bumpy recovery, housing still weak"):
Single-family home construction, which represented nearly 80 percent of the market, fell 4.2 percent. And requests for building permits, considered a good sign of future activity, slid 3.1 percent.
... The July increase in housing construction pushed total activity to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 546,000 units. Building activity in June was weaker than first reported. It fell 8.7 percent to an annual rate of 537,000 units, the slowest pace since October of last year.
"The bad news is that activity is likely to remain depressed for several years," said Paul Ashworth, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics. "The good news, however, is that housing is so depressed it is hard to see activity falling much further from such a severely depressed level."
Well, okay, but the situation is already closer to a zero-out than it is to the levels we were seeing just a few years ago--or any time in the 50-plus years such records have been kept. Looking at the raw data on a historical basis, one finds that July 2010 was the worst July on record for the both stats the AP pair cited:
While ABC and NBC ignored a Monday USA Today report that found a significant gap in compensation between public and private sector employees, on Tuesday's CBS Evening News, correspondent Sharyl Attkisson provided a full story: "While many Americans have suffered pay cuts or job losses, one group is bucking the trend – federal workers."
Attkisson described how the "analysis finds that federal employees have gotten bigger pay and benefit increases than private employees for nine years straight." She cited numbers from the report: "Federal salaries have grown 33% faster than inflation. Their pay and benefits average $123,000, up 37% since 2000. Private workers average $61,000, up just 8.8% over the same time."
In addition, Attkisson included a sound bite from Cato Institute budget analyst Tad Dehaven: "So you have Wall Street, you have big oil, and now you have federal civilians." She went to note: "And the bonuses are flowing. CBS News has learned your tax dollars funded $95.8 million in airport security TSA bonuses last year. A $35,000 bonus to the head of the agency."
Earlier today, NB's Lachlan Markey covered Bill O'Reilly's interview with the Fox Business Channel's Charles Gasparino.
In that interview, Gasparino confirmed what the New York Post reported in April of last year, namely that "GE Execs Encouraged CNBC Staff to Go Easy on Obama."
The suits at GE, including Chairman Jeff Inmelt, had a clear motivation for encouraging their reporters to lighten up, namely that "General Electric at the time was hoping to profit handsomely from policies that would benefit a few companies, including GE, at the expense of the majority of the economy"-- specifically cap and trade.
But speaking of motivation: What about former CNBCer Gasparino's?
The easy answer would be that sometime in the past two years he has seen the light and realizes his past reporting at CNBC was lacking in fairness and balance. Despite his move to Fox, there's reason to doubt that.
On August 3 ("U.S. To Train 3,000 Offshore IT Workers"), InformationWeek.com's Paul McDougall reported that the U.S. Agency for International Development is operating at cross purposes with the Obama administration's stated goal to keep high-tech jobs in the U.S.
USAID has since attempted to do some backing and filling about the assistance it is providing in Sri Lanka, but its arguments may ring hollow, given McDougall's report two days later that the agency is also helping to fund IT outsourcing efforts in Armenia.
CNN's Joe Johns surprisingly highlighted Charles Sherrod's racially-charged comments about stopping "the white man and his Uncle Toms from stealing our elections" during a segment on Thursday's Anderson Cooper 360. Johns also reported on the questions being raised by conservatives about how his wife Shirley Sherrod received her former position at the U.S. Department of Agriculture [audio clip available here].
Anchor Anderson Cooper, after devoting some time to faulting himself for not pressing Mrs. Sherrod after she labeled conservative Andrew Breitbart a "vicious" racist during a July 22 interview, introduced the correspondent's report: "There's also a new aspect to the Shirley Sherrod story...Questions about her and her husband, Charles...keep bubbling up on some conservative blogs. The questions center around why and how Shirley Sherrod got appointed to her old job at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the first place, and whether her appointment was somehow connected to a settlement she received from the government in a race discrimination lawsuit."
Missed? Perhaps, but this story of complacency by President Barack Obama's administration has certainly been under-reported thus far.
On Fox News Channel's July 28 broadcast of "Studio B," the network's judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano discovered a potential lapse in responsibility by the Obama White House. For the broadcast of his July 31 Fox Business Network show "FreedomWatch," Napolitano interviewed Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks.org, the so-called "whistleblower site" which released tens of thousands of classified files about the Afghanistan war. During the interview, Napolitano reported Assange revealed he offered the Obama White House the documents, but they were unresponsive. (h/t @CrabbyCon)
"STUDIO B" HOST SHEPARD SMITH: You just interviewed Julian Assange. Now Julian Assange is the man who is the founder of WikiLeaks - released these, or on his site was released the 92,000 pages of documents that lead to all this discussion about our complete failures in Afghanistan and thoughts that we need to get out of Afghanistan. He told you something that I considered to be a blockbuster bit of news. NAPOLITANO: And that is that WikiLeaks presented the documents - there were over 100,000 pages of them, to the White House. SMITH: When? NAPOLITANO: Weeks before they were released. He wouldn't give me an exact date.
On Monday, Andrew Breitbart, on his blog Big Government, revealed video of a Department of Agriculture official making racially charged comments at an NAACP meeting in March. While the media were quick to jump on the civil rights organization accusing the tea party of racism last week, they have failed to provide any coverage of this controversy.
The comments were made by the USDA's Georgia Director of Rural Development Shirley Sherrod at a NAACP Freedom Fund dinner in Georgia on March 27. As the video clearly shows, Sherrod's description of discriminating against white farmers was well received by the audience. The comments stirred so much controversy that Sherrod resigned Monday night and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was forced to issue a statement on the matter: "“There is zero tolerance for discrimination at USDA, and I strongly condemn any act of discrimination against any person.”
As NewsBusters' Noel Sheppard earlier reported, none of the network evening news broadcasts touched the story on Monday . On Tuesday, the CBS Early Show, NBC's Today, and ABC's Good Morning America were all silent on the controversy and resignation. However, all three morning shows did manage to focus on a recent verbal gaffe made by Sarah Palin.
The Associated Press is among many news organizations which have been ignoring the now-sworn testimony of J. Christian Adams, the whistleblowing lawyer who first asserted almost three weeks ago that there is "profound hostility by the Obama Civil Rights Division in the Justice Department towards a race-neutral enforcement of civil rights laws."
Adams resigned from the DOJ after the following sequence of events:
On Election Day 2008, armed men wearing the uniforms and jackboots of the New Black Panther Party were posted in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at the entrance to a polling site. They brandished a weapon and intimidated voters. After the election, the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice brought a voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party and these armed thugs. I, and other Justice lawyers, obtained an entry of default after the defendants ignored the case against them.
Before a final judgment could be entered, however, our superiors ordered dismissal of the claims.
A search on "Christian Adams" (not in quotes) at the AP's main site returns nothing relevant. Sadly, that alone is not exceptional.
Given the above background, what is shocking, even to those of us who think they've seen it all from the wire service, is AP reporter Meg Kinnard's coverage of a South Carolina murder and "group" that wants it declared a hate crime. Guess who (bolds are mine):
In a June 30 interview with "Talk to Al Jazeera," NASA administrator Charles Bolden revealed that President Obama had tasked him with "find[ing] a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering."
Among the media outlets that blacked out the controversy was the Washington Post, which didn't cover the Bolden controversy until today. Even then, the paper printed on page A13 a brief 8-paragraph item by the Reuters news wire:
Once again, it's clear that reading editorials and op-eds at publications like the Wall Street Journal and Investors Business Daily becomes a requirement to be truly informed when a Democratic administration in power.
On July 6, Peter Ferrara at IBD noted that the annual report from the trustees of the Social Security and Medicare system is long overdue, and wondered why:
Are Overdue Reports Concealing ObamaCare Impact On Medicare?
Every year, the Annual Report of the Social Security Board of Trustees comes out between mid-April and mid-May. Now it's July, and there's no sign of this year's report. What is the Obama administration hiding?
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):
If you haven't heard the report of the remarks recently made by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden over what the role of his agency, it's a little troubling. And it hasn't gone unnoticed, at least not by syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer
Recently, Bolden, in an interview with Al Jazeera English, said that the "foremost" mission of NASA is to improve relations with the Muslim world. This drew the ire of Krauthammer on the July 5 broadcast of Fox News Channel's "Special Report with Bret Baier." (h/t Gateway Pundit)
"This is a new height in fatuousness," Krauthammer said. "NASA was established to get America into space and to keep is there. This idea to feel good about their past and to make achievements is the worst combination of group therapy, psychobabble, imperial condescension and adolescent diplomacy."
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:
Don't be surprised if you open up the June 24 USA Today and find pom poms in the ‘Money' section.
Reporters-turned-cheerleaders Paul Wiseman, Jayne O'Donnell and Christine Dugas wrote a glowing 38-paragraph story about the proposed Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (BCFP). The story even included a section called "keys to a new agency's success" with quotes from "experts" at a wide variety of government agencies from the Environmental Protection Agency to the Food and Drug Administration.
USA Today's story began by praising the creation of the EPA in 1970 and the way it hit the ground running by ordered city mayors to clean up their water. They included 10 "expert" voices in favor of government agencies (proposed or current) many of whom were former regulators, against only three voices of opposition - all politicians.
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.