(Tony) Rezko is a central figure in the government's conspiracy case. His relationship with Obama was highlighted this week when Joseph Aramanda, the owner of a Chicago pizza business, took the stand to detail how Rezko arranged for him to receive a $250,000 "finder's fee" from a state teacher's pension system investment deal, and then instructed him to use the money to make a $10,000 contribution to Obama's presidential campaign. Prosecutors say that Aramanda never performed any work on the deal, and that most of the money was funneled to Rezko, who used it to pay off debts.
Aramanda may still be involved in pizza, but his primary gig now would appear to be the executive Federal position he currently holds. As noted in a Chicago Tribune piece earlier this week:
These days Joseph Aramanda manages a U.S. Census Bureau Chicago-area office and its 1,000 employees. But it was in a different capacity that he showed up for the government Tuesday at the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse — witness in the corruption trial of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Quite a coincidence, huh? Aramanda, testifying with an immunity deal after his $10,000 funny-money gift to The Anointed One, just happens to land a more than decent Federal job. How'd he get it? According to the Associated Press:
What do Tea Partiers, Truthers, birthers, Birchers, militias, Pat Buchanan, Jerry Falwell, Barry Goldwater, Joe McCarthy, Father Coughlin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Ronald Reagan, Strom Thurmond, Rand Paul, Alex Jones, Orly Taitz, and Oklahoma City bomber Tim McVeigh all have in common? Approximately nothing, but don't tell Chris Matthews.
The MSNBC "Hardball" host spent the better part of an hour last night trying to associate all of these characters with one other. Of course he did not provide a shred of evidence beyond, ironically, a McCarthyite notion that all favor smaller government, and are therefore in league, whether they know it or not, to overthrow the government. Together, by Matthews's account, they comprise or have given rise to the "New Right."
The special was less a history of the Tea Party movement than a history of leftist distortions of the Tea Party movement. As such, it tried -- without offering any evidence, mind you -- to paint the movement as potentially violent. Hence, after Matthews tried his hardest to link all of these characters, he went on to paint them all as supporting, inciting, or actually committing violence. (Videos embedded at the end of post.)
Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann isn't exactly known for her reticence on the news of the day. And when it comes to the White House's handling of the BP oil spill disaster, Bachmann had some harsh words for President Barack Obama.
"The thing that we're all focusing on today will be the president's remarks that he'll be giving tonight and it looks like an absolute opportunism moment for the president to try and advance the next stage of his legislative agenda," Bachmann said. "And I think the curious feature in all of this has been: this is a major disaster and yet it seems like every response that has been coming out of the White House has been about the president rather than about the disaster. That is odd to me. That seems extremely odd."
Gave reporter Jeff Zeleny about 330 words on Page A21 to recycle a Caucus Blog post softly covering the video-recorded arguable assault North Carolina Congressman Bob Etheridge committed against a questioner on a public street "last week," and which came to public light early Monday morning. The vague print edition headline (per the index): "Congressman Apologizes After Tussle."
Devoted almost 1,000 words on Page A15 to a story about a three year-old alleged shoving incident involving California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman that "no one else appears to have witnessed." Yet the headline gives the impression that the facts are not in dispute: "Settlement Was Paid in Whitman Shoving Incident."
It would appear, based on the graphic tease reproduced at the right and the underlying content, that the folks putting together videos at the Associated Press didn't get the memo that they should go as soft as possible on North Carolina Democratic Congressman Bob Etheridge.
Etheridge arguably committed assault "last week" when approached on a public street. The description of what occurred and its aftermath at AP video is quite a bit stronger than what is found in AP Reporter Martha Waggoner's Monday evening text report, as you will see shortly.
Despite having over 400 words with which to work, Waggoner also failed to record a comment -- or even a "no comment" -- from anyone else in the Democratic Party, or to give any indication that she or anyone else at AP tried to contact House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, any other Democrat in a leadership position, or anyone in the Obama administration.
Here's what the video and accompanying description look like in the AP's Raw Video report, which re-runs the original video without the original producer's interspersed words:
None of the three broadcast evening newscasts had even a few seconds last night for video of Democratic Congressman Bob Etheridge physically grabbing and yelling at an unidentified student attempting to ask him whether he supports President Obama’s agenda. But last Thursday, after Republican senate candidate Carly Fiorina was caught making a flip remark about Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer’s hair, ABC’s World News ran a full report on that “caught on tape political moment.”
Worth noting: Back on June 10, George Stephanopoulos was sitting in for Diane Sawyer. But last night, Sawyer was back in the anchor chair.
In introducing last week's report from correspondent Jonathan Karl, Stephanopoulos touted the Fiorina flap as “the latest caught off guard, caught on tape, all too candid political moment.” The Etheridge scuffle would surely fit that same standard, but ABC’s World News had no time on Monday to mention that embarrassment for the Democrats.
The New York Times's obituary Saturday for Manhattan Project physicist turned Maoist Joan Hinton by William Grimes left out her Maoist beliefs in both the headline -- "Joan Hinton, 88, Physicist Who Chose China Over Bomb" -- and a text box: "A Manhattan Project member whose desire for peace led her to a Chinese farm." And the obituary itself completely omitted the deadly nature of Mao Zedong's totalitarian regime:
Joan Hinton, a physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project, which developed the atom bomb, but spent most of her life as a committed Maoist working on dairy farms in China, died on Tuesday in Beijing. She was 88.
In 1948, alarmed at the emerging cold war, she gave up physics and left the United States for China, then in the throes of a Communist revolution she wholeheartedly admired. "I did not want to spend my life figuring out how to kill people," she told National Public Radio in 2002. "I wanted to figure out how to let people have a better life, not a worse life."
Grimes concluded without any reference to Mao's atrocities during the Cultural Revolution:
The network morning and evening news shows have all but ignored President Obama's Saturday letter to congressional leaders asking for $50 billion in additional spending to prevent the "massive layoffs of teachers, police, and firefighters." Only Sunday's Good Morning America on ABC has covered the President's request so far.
The chief executive's June 12 letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Minority Leader John Boehner urged "swift action" on the multi-billion dollar proposal to prevent the public sector layoffs and "give our nation's businesses added impetus to hire and grow."
ABC anchor Bill Weir brought up the President's letter with White House correspondent Jake Tapper 13 minutes into the 8 am Eastern hour of Sunday's Good Morning America:
Real Clear Politics currently has a video highlighting statements by Democratic Congressman James Clyburn Jr. of South Carolina. It teases the video with a question asked by Candy Crowley of CNN.
Once one sees the entire sequence, it's clear that Clyburn really answered Crowley's question before she even asked it.
Here's the full transcript of the vid, which begins after Indiana Republican Congressman Mike Pence had apparently made some points about how steps taken by the Obama administration to revive the economy to the point where it generates meaningful job growth aren't working. Clyburn's answer to when his party will stop blaming Bush is in bold:
Clyburn: Uh, Congressman Spence, uh, Pence keeps talkin' about, uh, the fact that, uh, we are, uh, failing in our approach. We all know exactly what this president inherited, and we will stop talkin' about that inheritance, uh, when uh Congressman uh Pence and others stop talkin' about takin' us back uh to those failed policies.
On Friday, Investors Business Daily (IBD) reported on leaked government documents identifying what employer-provided health plans can and cannot do if they wish to retain their "grandfathered" status under the statist health care legislation commonly known as ObamaCare that became law on March 23. One of the items in the government document (83-page PDF) is the following table, which estimates the percentages of large and small employers who will choose to (or be financially forced to) "relinquish" (i.e., give up) their grandfathered status:
In ironic timing, Walecia Konrad at the New York Times, in a personal finance column that appeared in the paper's Saturday print edition and which was probably written shortly before IBD's report, inadvertently revealed that ObamaCare itself may be a reason why employer "relinquishments" over the next three years come in well above the mid-range estimates in the table:
In mid-July of last year, the good folks on the editorial board at Investors Business Daily made the following observations about the version of ObamaCare then under consideration by the House:
... Right there on Page 16 is a provision making individual private medical insurance illegal.
... the "Limitation On New Enrollment" section of the bill clearly states:
"Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day" of the year the legislation becomes law.
So ... Those who currently have private individual coverage won't be able to change it. Nor will those who leave a company to work for themselves be free to buy individual plans from private carriers.
The leaked Treasury draft documents (83-page PDF) referred to in an earlier post this morning about employer coverage (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) go beyond vindicating IBD by applying the same prohibitions to group coverage, as the following language found at Page 14 of the document shows:
Earlier this year, in his "Can we lose health coverage? Yes we can" column, syndicated columnist Deroy Murdock made a point asserted in dozens if not hundreds of columns and reports during the hide-and-seek legistlative process that ultimately led to the passage of what is commonly known as ObamaCare: The President's core promise relating to the statist health care legislation that ultimately became law in March -- namely that "If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what" -- could not and would not be kept.
In that column, Murdock quoted Cato Institute analyst Michael Cannon as follows:
"Obama's definition of 'meaningful' coverage could eliminate the health plans that now cover as many as half of the 159 million Americans with employer-sponsored insurance, plus more than half of the roughly 18 million Americans in the individual market. ... This could compel close to 90 million Americans to switch to more comprehensive health plans with higher premiums, whether they value the added coverage or not."
In a late Friday afternoon blog post followed by a fuller early evening report, David Hogberg and Sean Higgins at Investors Business Daily confirmed that Obama's never-credible core promise is on the brink of being shattered, and that the employer-related calculations by Cato's Cannon were essentially correct (graphically illustrated by IBD at the top right):
CNN's Kyra Phillips completely got it wrong on Friday's Newsroom as she reported on Pope Benedict XVI's latest apology for the priestly sex abuse scandal. Even after she reported that Pope was "begging for forgiveness," Phillips repeatedly claimed that "there are two simple words we haven't heard: I'm sorry." The Pope has actually used those words and has made multiple apologies.
The CNN anchor led the 9 am Eastern hour with the pontiff's request for forgiveness, which he made at a Mass in St. Peter's Square to close out the Catholic Church's Year for Priests, which began on June 19, 2009 and ends June 19 this year: "Here's what we're working on right now. Sex abuse in the Catholic Church- the Holy Father begs forgiveness, promises never again. But why is it that being Pope means never having to say, I'm sorry." Despite the continuing the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico and other top stories, Phillips highlighted the Pope's comments, along with the teenager stranded at sea and the opening of the World Cup in South Africa.
Borrowing a line from one of her Harvard colleagues, the Washington Post entitled its June 10 front-page profile of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, "Her work is her life is her work."*
But the 60-paragraph story by staff writers Ann Gerhart and Philip Rucker shed barely any light on the judicial philosophy that Kagan's life work demonstrates. Instead, Gerhart and Rucker presented a gauzy profile that rehashed the usual trivia -- Kagan loves poker and the opera -- while painting Kagan as a workaholic who still has time to lend an ear or a shoulder to cry on to friends in distress:
She has arrived at the age of 50 in a blaze of accomplishment. But her achievements can obscure how relatively narrow her world has been.
Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds employed sarcastic irony this morning when he wrote that "Obama’s hate speech is promoting violence against BP." Well, it's at least clear that the blame game out of Washington isn't helping the situation.
Reynolds is referring to a report from TV station WREG in Memphis about an incident involving property damage at a local BP station, and other instances that have occurred in other parts of the country (video is at the link):
Bullets Shatter Glass at BP Gas Station
(Southaven, MS) -- Windows at the BP Gas Station on Highway 51 at Custer Drive were shot out overnight. Folks who work at the store believe the suspects were expressing anger over BP and how it's handling the oil spill.
"I believe that would be the reason," said Alex Saleh. "We don't have any enemies." He said nothing was taken from the store after the windows were destroyed.
On Wednesday's Rick's List, CNN's Rick Sanchez twice highlighted how "several Republicans want to keep the cap on what oil companies pay for spills at $75 million" and how apparently that's about "how much they [oil companies] spend on campaign contributions to politicians each year," but omitted that President Obama was the top recipient of money from BP during the 2008 election cycle.
Sanchez first made those statements during a segment just after the beginning of the 3 pm Eastern hour, as he reported on left-wing organization Code Pink's interruption of a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee earlier on Wednesday. Before playing a clip of the protest, the CNN anchor stated how Diane Wilson "disrupted a Senate hearing this morning by pouring oil all over herself." He continued that Wilson "was arrested, but not before she interrupted Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, who is tied, many would argue, to big oil in Alaska."
Copies of the U.S. Constitution put out by Wilder Publishing and being sold on Amazon.com come with an odd disclaimer on the first page of the pamphlet, in part declaring: "This book is a product of its time and does not reflect the same values as it would if it were written today." On Wednesday's America Live on FNC, host Megyn Kelly reported the controversy, will the rest of the media follow? [Click on image for larger view of disclaimer]
In an example of political correctness run amok, the disclaimer goes on to warn parents of the literary material to follow: "Parents might wish to discuss with their children how views on race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity and interpersonal relations have changed since this book was written before allowing them to read this classic work." The provocative pamphlet also includes the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation.
On FNC, correspondent Trace Gallagher quoted the publishing company's response to the controversy: "We specialize in classic books and we were receiving complaints about the values depicted in some of the books. We wrote the disclaimer so that we could stop having to point out to our readers that people held different values 100 or 200 years ago. It seems we're dammed if we do and dammed if we don't." Kelly concluded: "You know, it's one thing when you republish 'Lady Chatterley's Lover,' its another when you slap that thing on the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence." Gallagher mocked: "Warning children."
In an article published yesterday afternoon, CNBC news associate Joseph Pisani took note of something the rest of the media mostly hasn't, or at least hasn't highlighted: the terrible job market for teenagers. The headline and text indicate that this is the worst such market in 41 years. That's true, based on the stat Pisani presented. But barring a near miracle in the next three months, in terms of the stat that matters most, the unemployment rate, it's the worst ever.
Give the CNBC reporter props for doing something almost no other journalist has done, which is to use the not seasonally adjusted (NSA) employment numbers as his factual source. As I have discussed several times, including here, the reported NSA numbers represent the government's best estimate of what really happened in a given month, while the seasonally adjusted (SA) numbers published (and appropriately labeled) by the government and reported (but usually not labeled) by the press represent the result after smoothing out seasonal fluctuations.
CNN anchor Dr. Sanjay Gupta refreshingly made an implicitly pro-life argument during a report about how toxic chemicals possibly affect the unborn children: "Here in the womb, enveloped in darkness and warmth, a baby's life begins in earnest. It is a sacred space: pristine, insulated, more than nine months of safe refuge from the world outside" [audio available here].
Dr. Gupta made that statement as he gave a voice-over for the first segment of his "Toxic Childhood" special, which first aired on Thursday evening at 8 pm Eastern. CGI of a baby in the womb played as he described the "sacred space." The anchor continued on this note in his first question to Dr. Frederica Perera of Columbia University: "We imagine a baby sort of nice and safe and tucked away in the womb, impervious to all the assaults that occur on the body. You say, not so fast?" So Gupta twice referred to the unborn human as a "baby."
As other media outlets have given Helen Thomas the kid glove treatment in light of her "trailblazing" career, media consumers may be forgiven for assuming that Helen Thomas's anti-Israel, arguably anti-Semitic comments were an aberration in an otherwise unblemished career of assertive but fair journalism.
To his credit, Washington Post's media reporter Howard Kurtz made note of other incidents, such as the time Thomas blamed Israel for inspiring "99 percent" of terrorism and the time in 2002 when she exclaimed "Thank God for Hezbollah," the Iran-backed terror group that murdered 241 U.S. servicement in 1983 and has plagued Israel for decades.
As the excerpt below shows, it's not just conservatives who have had complaints about Thomas (emphases mine):
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed today, George Mason University economics professor Daniel Klein today notes that "self-identified liberals and Democrats do badly on questions of basic economics."
It therefore shouldn't be terribly surprising that so many journalists do a poor job of economic and business reporting, because, as the Media Research Center has frequently and consistently documented for over a quarter-century, a significant majority of journalists are, well, self-identified liberals and Democrats.
Sometimes what passes for business reporting in the establishment press isn't the result of conscious bias. Ignorance, as just cited, and a failure to look behind numbers, often because they fit a predetermined outlook, are also factors.
An emerging defense of Helen Thomas's "Jews go home" comment is that either what she said really was not that bad, or that others occasionally say worse things without the same level of reproach.
Richard Greener, writing at the Huffington Post on Monday, was so close to making a good point. He noted that a number of other public figures have said things that could reasonably be interpreted as more offensive than Helen Thomas's comment, and have not been forced into retirement.
Though Greener neglected to note the higher standard to which White House correspondents are inevitably held, his credibility was instantly reduced to ashes when the only example of vitriol from the left he could come up with was Keith Olbermann saying Sarah Palin is "an idiot." And he even followed it up with a pathetic attempt to satiate his readership's intense hatred for Palin (and Olby affection) by noting that "perhaps truth is an absolute defense."
It isn't particularly surprising that the establishment press is for the most part attempting to give Helen Thomas's hateful remarks and her dubious apology a very light once-over -- if they're covering her outrageous statements (that citizens of the Jewish state of Israel should “get the hell out of Palestine” and “go home” to Germany, Poland, and elsewhere) at all.
That said, the Associated Press has engaged in a few eyebrow-raisers already. The following is the only search result I found at the Associated Press's main web site at 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time:
That's a classic "Don't read this, it's boring" headline. It also confirms that the AP hasn't considered the Thomas situation newsworthy until very recently. Yes, as seen in the related video, the question from RabbiLive was about "Israel." But at the barest minimum, Thomas's remarks were "anti-Israel," and at bottom they were anti-Semitic. Any doubt about that characterization goes away when one observes Thomas's sickening sense of self-satisfaction after delivering her opening "get out" answer.
But it got more interesting when I clicked on the AP search result's link.
Writing anonymously at the Daily Caller, an anchor for a prominent TV news channel called that channel's coverage of the Gaza-bound Turkish flotilla "an abomination" and "grotesquely distorted and biased."
"I’m embarrassed by our coverage," the Anchorman concluded in an unsent email to his boss. "I take this job and my reputation seriously. But that’s nearly impossible with coverage like this." He accused the network of "acting as a public relations arm of Hamas."
The Anchorman, his pseudonym at the Daily Caller, was livid about his news organization's kid-gloves treatment of controversial former US ambassador Edward Peck. In an interview with Peck, the Anchorman claims, an on-air personality omitted "anything that might cast the slightest doubt on Pecks political motivations."
It isn't just the pro-Palestinian press that is attempting to distort the reality behind the recent flotilla incident off the coast of Gaza.
Former Democratic Congresswoman, and 2008 Green Party candidate for President of the United States, Cynthia McKinney, has voiced her own version of reality through an anti-Israeli rant in Arab News. McKinney is of course, a reliable source on the topic, having been involved in her own little attempts at defying and breaking an Israeli blockade of Gaza (translation - aiding and abetting a terrorist regime).
In her column for Arab News, McKinney expresses outrage over ‘Israel's needless, senseless act against unarmed humanitarian activists.' Having been involved in previous attempts to defy the authority of the Israeli Navy, McKinney knows full well that the Free Gaza Movement, organizers of this flotilla, consists of anything but unarmed humanitarian activists. In case memory has failed her, here is a handy reminder:
A report from the Intelligence & Terrorism Information Center highlights the link between flotilla organizers and radical human rights violators.
The Jerusalem Post points out that ‘soldiers encountered fierce resistance from the passengers who were armed with knives, bats and metal pipes.' The article then goes on to say that the already armed protestors upgraded their arsenal by ‘stealing two handguns from soldiers', opening fire, and ultimately escalating the violence that they themselves had already started.
The federal government saw its tax collections fall by almost 20% in fiscal 2009 compared to fiscal 2008. Through the first seven months of the current fiscal year, year-over-year collections were down by another 4.5%.
New York Senator Charles Schumer (pictured at right; obtained from wbng.com) is desperately searching for another way to fleece taxpayers (because cutting spending is of course out of the question), and has come up with a "brilliant" idea. An unbylined Associated Press story gives Schumer's idea, a foreign call center tax, undeserved cover by going back to seven year-old information about industry job losses that doesn't reflect current conditions.
Here are the first five paragraphs from the AP story, followed by a later paragraph containing the outdated information:
Schumer wants to slow exodus of US call centers
In an effort to slow the exodus of U.S. telephone work to overseas services, Sen. Charles Schumer is introducing legislation that would impose an excise tax on companies that transfer calls with American area codes to foreign call centers.
Parts of the U.S. establishment press have acknowledged "climate science" reality, six months late.
The fallout from ClimateGate (link is to the NewsBusters tag), the name eventually given to the scandal resulting from the unauthorized posting of over 1,000 emails and dozens of documents obtained from University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (CRU) in the UK, goes back a full six months to November of last year.
On November 20, Australia's Andrew Bolt crisply described the contents of the aforementioned items as providing substantial evidence of: "Conspiracy, collusion in exaggerating warming data, possibly illegal destruction of embarrassing information, organised resistance to disclosure, manipulation of data, private admissions of flaws in their public claims and much more."
Over the past two years, yours truly has noted how the economy in Oklahoma has with very little media attention outperformed most of the rest of the nation. The Sooner State's much lower unemployment rate, higher GDP growth, and higher personal income growth have "strangely" coincided with the passage of a strict illegal immigration law-enforcement measure in 2007.
Now there's another significant news item out of Oklahoma that the establishment press has also virtually ignored. In November, voters there are going to decide whether to opt out of the statist health care legislation passed by Congress in March, also known as ObamaCare, by passing a state constitutional amendment.
Oklahoma is not alone. Two larger states will also have state constitutional opt-outs on the November ballot.
Rush Limbaugh brought the Oklahoma news to his listeners' attention yesterday, and linked to this LifeSiteNews.com story. If that seems an odd choice, it's because press coverage in general has been either curt, dismissive, or non-existent.
Here are key paragraphs from Peter J. Smith's LifeSite report:
Be on the lookout for media coverage of the new Medicare brochure. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) sent out this glossy piece this week to more than 40 million Medicare recipients telling them that with ObamaCare, everything is dandy!
In fact, the CMS mail piece - which likely cost $8 million at the least - wildly exaggerates claims of patient security and ignores what CMS itself has declared to be true about ObamaCare.
The mailer gushes that "Medicare is strong and solvent" and that beneficiaries will see "better access to care."
"This brochure provides you with accurate information about the new services and benefits to help you and your family now and in the future," it says.
Update - 5/27, 3:08 PM | Lachlan Markay: A new Harvard study finds that increased government spending actually reduces economic activity, contradicting the basic premise behind CBO's assumptions. Details below.
Good economic news is so rare for the current administration, that when some does emerge, many in the media parrot it as fact without really examining the claims that undergird it. New CBO numbers on the stimulus, for instance, have been trumpeted as proof the legislation at least helped, despite the fact that the numbers have little to no basis in reality.
Congressional Budget Office models are based on the assumption that stimulus spending will create jobs. They assume the conclusion they purport to demonstrate, and then claim they've demonstrated it. But if the model is inaccurate or simply based on false premises, it simply goes on tallying jobs "created or saved" without regard to the actual employment rate.
In March, a reporter asked CBO director Doug Elmendorf: "If the stimulus bill did not do what it was originally forecast to do, then that would not have been detected by the subsequent analysis, right?" His response: "That's right. That's right." Yet despite those numbers' disconnect from reality, the media continue to report them as fact, and proof that the stimulus is working.