In June 2006, the New York Times, over strident pleas not to from the Bush 43 administration, published details of how counterterrorism officials were "tracing transactions of people suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda by reviewing records from the nerve center of the global banking industry." According to the administration, the program had "helped in the capture of the most wanted Qaeda figure in Southeast Asia." Other outlets like the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times, which were apparently on the brink of breaking what the Times reported first, also chipped in with their own supplements. The stories received prominent network TV coverage, and reinforced the image of the Bush administration as secretive and far less than transparent.
So the details of how the government was monitoring the operation of the world's financial system to obtain clues to help catch terrorists apparently deserved full exposure. If that's fine, why has the press been barely interested in a far more troubling development, namely Eric Holder's U.S. Department of Justice using pressure on the financial system to conduct "a massive government overreach into private businesses that are operating within the law," which has been going on for at least a year? Welcome to "Operation Choke Point."
On the Wednesday, April 30, Hardball with Chris Matthews, guest and MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman -- formerly of Newsweek -- mocked Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan's intent to visit impoverished areas as a plan to "introduce himself to the bro," and went on to complain that Ryan's budget "whacks away at" programs to help the poor.
There are so many things to mock about General Electric Vox from the fact that there is almost no Vox Populi (i.e. reader's comments) in Vox except for a narcissistic story celebrating itself after just three weeks on the web to Sarah Kliff reporting today with a straight face about how the White House considers that rising health care spending means ObamaCare is working. Perhaps the most hilarious thing about Vox so far is an interview by Vox's Matthew Yglesias of the new hero of the Left who wrote a book decrying capitalism, Thomas Piketty. So what was so funny about that interview? It took place at the bar of the St. Regis Hotel, close to the White House, which serves $16 cocktails.
Sonny Bunch of the Washington Free Beacon exposes this in a way (and photos such as the one you see here) to make you burst out laughing enough to spill a Remy Martin Louis XIII drink:
General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt has made nice with President Barack Obama on several occasions. Among other things, he chaired the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, which met a grand total of four times in 2011 and 2012 before it was unceremoniously allowed to expire a year later. He fully expected that his company would benefit from its involvement in green energy and its membership in the U.S. Climate Action Partnership. He also endeared himself to Team Obama by calling "other U.S. business leaders greedy and mean."
In more than a minor comeuppance, as well as the latest evidence that business-related news reflecting badly on the Obama administration almost never escapes the business pages and center-right blogs and outlets, Inmelt's company has seen its medical division hit hard by the onset of Obamacare. Portions of Bloomberg News's original April 17 report follow the jump.
On Tuesday April 29, the Supreme Court ruled in a 6-2 decision that the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to regulate air pollution from power plants that cross state lines yet NBC and ABC failed to cover the story.
Despite the unprecedented ruling by the court, only CBS bothered to cover it, with Scott Pelley giving it a mere 22 seconds on the CBS Evening News on Tuesday night. Unlike the EPA ruling, all three networks provided extensive coverage of last week’s Supreme Court ruling that voters could decide whether or not they want to limit the use affirmative action in their respective state. [See video of Fox News’ coverage of the ruling below.]
Yesterday the Toyota Motor Corporation announced it would move its U.S. headquarters from Torrance, California, to Plano, Texas. Closing his report on the development, Tim Reid of Reuters noted the reaction of a Torrance business owner who doubtless counts many Toyota employees as loyal customers. "The taxes are lower in Texas. There are fewer regulations. It's cheaper for a company there. Why wouldn't they leave California?" shrugged Frank Portillo, the owner of a nearby Mexican restaurant.
While Toyota's forthcoming move is a huge economic and PR development for prospective 2016 presidential candidate Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) and a major embarrassment for liberal Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown (D-Calif.), a search of Nexis and our DVR recording system shows the Big Three networks -- ABC, CBS, and NBC -- ignored the story on both their April 28 evening newscasts and their April 29 morning news programs.
At the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, Martin Crutsinger has pretty much proven that he's been on some kind of workout regimen. If he wasn't, he couldn't possibly have carried so much Obama administration water in his 1:45 p.m. report on the state of the economy (saved here for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes) as he did.
Crutsinger's message: Pay no attention to that lousy GDP report we expect to see tomorrow morning (there's some reason to believe that it may get artificially juiced, which I'll explain later). Starting this month, the economy has been smokin', and this year's going to be just great. Too bad the evidence for his optimism mostly doesn't exist — and to the extent it does, it's not rip-roaring great. Excerpts from Crutsinger's latest crummy creation follow the jump.
The National Employment Law Project claims that it is dedicated to "working to restore the promise of economic opportunity in the 21st century economy." That sounds promising, but one look at NELP's directors and the supposed "solutions" the group and its friends advocate — e.g., higher minimum wage, "uphold the freedom to join a union." etc. It's clear that NELP is just another lefty advocacy group pushing the kinds of policies which have led to six years of economic weakness.
That said, NELP recently released research showing that jobs gained since the recession ended have skewed far more heavily towards low-wage industries than the jobs which were lost during the recession. Press coverage has been skimpy. The one major writeup at the New York Times on Sunday for Monday's print edition appeared on Page B4. The nature of Annie Lowrey's coverage at the Times led Fox News to accuratey tease it as a story about the "Fast-Food Recovery." Excerpts from the Times story follow the jump (bolds are mine):
The Associated Press's lengthy Monday evening treatment of Toyota's decision to move its U.S. headquarters and consolidate many of its North American operations in Metro Dallas is reasonably good in spots. But Gillian Flaccus and Michael R. Blood were unduly selective in reporting Torrance, California Mayor Frank Scotto's reaction to the news that his town would be losing several thousand jobs, and downplayed the relevance of clearly obvious factors influencing the move.
Let's see what Scotto, a Republican, told the Los Angeles Times, followed by the AP's reporting.
At the Associated Press today, economics writer Christopher Rugaber was a bit subdued, even when presented with nominally favorable news. He wrote that the March rise in the National Association of Realtors' pending home sales index of 3.4 percent, the first gain in nine months, was "a sign that the housing market might pick up after a sluggish start to the year."
Rugaber's relative ruefulness, which after being fed through the media translator actually means "Things really stink," is understandable once one looks at how pathetic that gain is in the circumstances, and at a key paragraph in the NAR's press release which he chose to ignore.
Earlier today, Pope Francis tweeted from his English-language account, "Inequality is the root of social evil." Not long afterwards, the Daily Beast shouted out its Amen by placing the development at the top of its Tip Sheet digest, complete with the cheeky caption "Occupy Vatican." [see screen captures below page break]
Naturally, however, the Beast completely ignored statements the pontiff made on Friday lamenting the emotional and spiritual effects that abortion has on women who have obtained them. As TheWire.com reported yesterday:
Norah O'Donnell pursued Texas Governor Rick Perry on Thursday's CBS This Morning over the controversial land dispute between Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and the federal government. O'Donnell asked Perry, "What do you make of this standoff? What do you think of Clive Bundy? Do you think what he's done was a good thing?"
When the Republican politician replied that Bundy is a "side story," and that "rather than sending armed troops....I hope our government officials...use common sense when it comes to these issues of conflict...dealing with something...in a substantially-less confrontational way," the CBS anchor followed up by spotlighting the rancher's racially-charged remarks: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
A day after the liberal website Think Progress wrote a piece complaining “There’s Even A Gender Gap In Children’s Allowances” the folks over at NBC rushed to tie the issue to the “pay gap” between men and women.
On Thursday, April 24, Today show co-host Matt Lauer hyped “We all know about a pay gap that exists for adult men and women in the work world, but there are surprising new numbers this morning revealing that that gap actually begins during childhood with the allowances we pay our kids. In a new survey, 70% of boys say they get an allowance. That’s compared to just 60% of girls.” [See video below.]
March was going to be the month when new home sales in the U.S. would finally break out after several months of horrible weather. After all, everyone knew that this winter's snow, ice, and low temperatures were the only things holding the new home market back. Consensus predictions ahead of today's related report from the Census Bureau were in the range of 450,000 to 455,000 annualized sales.
Oops. New home sales dove to a seasonally adjusted annualized 384,000, a 14.5 percent decline from February, a slightly larger miss compared to expectations, and a whopping 13.3 percent lower than March 2013. Press reports on this result predictably brought on appearances of the U-word ("unexpectedly"), with at least one interesting twist.
If there's a prize for most words spent in Obamacare avoidance, NBC News's Martha C. White is definitely in the running.
White managed to burn through almost 40 paragraphs and nearly 1,600 words in a report carried at CNBC on the all-time record number of workers employed by temporary help services. But she somehow managed to completely avoid mentioning Obamacare, which used to be known as the Affordable Care Act until President Obama and his Health and Human Services regulators made 40 changes to the law originally passed by Congress, some of which directly contradict the original law's language. The closest she came was noting that using temps "lets companies avoid the cost of providing benefits like health insurance" — which has always been the case, except that health insurance is and will continue to be a lot more expensive, giving companies even more incentive to avoid adding to their own payrolls. Excerpts follow the jump.
Earlier today, just an hour before a hearing was to begin at the National Labor Relations Board, the United Auto Workers union dropped an appeal of the election it lost in February as it attempted to become the bargaining representative for workers at Volkswagen's Chattanooga, Tennessee plant.
In a writeup which appears at the Associated Press's "Big Story" but which somehow failed to appear in a 6 p.m. search on "UAW" at the Big Story site (sorted by date), reporter Erik Schelzig pretended that two Democratic Congressmen who last week started an "inquiry" into the circumstances surrounding the union's loss will be conducting a "congressional investigation." No they won't, because they can't, because their party is in the minority. What they can do is conduct a theatrical exercise which looks like a "hearing" which has no power and which a responsible AP reporter wouldn't call a "congressional investigation." Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine):
Last Tuesday, in an incredibly childish piece, even by his non-standards, Politico's David Nather acted as if the resistance at Clive Bundy's ranch was endorsed and supported entirely by the tea party movement and/or Republicans and/or conservatives, so he could then characterize their post stand-off behavior — i.e., pursuit of their longer-term political goals — as some form of abandonment.
I was tempted to ignore Nather's nattering, but a couple of subsequent events are making Nather look even more foolish than usual. The first is the fact that Bundy still has significant armed assistance, something the Politico reporter appears not to have anticipated. The second relates to allegations of misbehavior, including illegal property destruction, by Bureau of Land Management agents. First, let's get to some of Nather's blather (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Appearing as a panel member on the Sunday, April 20, Disrupt with Karen Finney, MSNBC political analyst Jonathan Alter -- formerly of Newsweek -- asserted that President Obama's move to delay a final decision on the Keystone Pipeline "strongly increases the likelihood that he will rule against the pipeline after the election."
He recounted a history of Democratic presidents appeasing liberal environmentalists before leaving office when it is politically safer.
It either doesn't take much to surprise Josh Lederman and Dana Capiello at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, or they have very short memories.
The AP pair described the Obama State Department's Friday afternoon statement (roughly 3:30 p.m., based on the "9 hours ago" result returned in a Google search on the document's title at 12:30 a.m. ET) that it would "provide more time" for eight federal agencies involved to submit "their views on the proposed Keystone Pipeline Project" as a "a surprise announcement Friday as Washington was winding down for Easter." It's as if something like this has never happened before during the Obama administration. Well, yes it has.
On the Friday, April 18, PoliticsNation, Al Sharpton hyped President Obama's dubious claims about the Affordable Care Act's alleged success as the MSNBC host asserted that the program has "exceeded expectations," and that Republicans are suffering from a "hangover" in denying its success.
Sharpton claimed to see "lies, fearmongering and paranoia" from the GOP, and brought up questionable claims dating back to 2010 that Tea Party members spat on Democratic members of Congress during a protest. Sharpton began:
In a Friday morning dispatch which comes off more as a set of election instructions from "Democratic strategists" than as a real news report, David Espo at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, wanted to make sure that political operatives who don't read boring pollster reports still get the message: Don't use the word "recovery" during your fall campaign.
In the course of his missive, Espo falsely claimed that economic growth since the recession officially ended has continued unbroken, and failed to remind his audience that the party has trotted out "recovery" themes several times, only to see historically weak economic and employment results each time. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine):
If government regulation was literally made of red tape, adhesive manufacturers would be making a killing in the Obama economy.
Yesterday the Wall Street Journal editorial board noted how the president is a "Regulator Without Peer," citing analysis by Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, who has a forthcoming annual review of federal regs, "Ten Thousand Commandments" slated to be unveiled on April 29 [click here for the 2013 study]. Read an excerpt of the WSJ's editorial below the page break, and leave us your thoughts on this or anything else on your mind in the comments thread (emphasis mine):
MSNBC contributor Jared Bernstein pulled off a deft sleight-of-hand on Tuesday’s PoliticsNation. It started after host Al Sharpton played a clip of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) calling for fiscal responsibility: “If Washington is serious about helping working families or serious about getting families out of work back to work, then it needs to get serious about our national debt. How do we do it? First we stop spending money we don't have.” [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
Bernstein, formerly Vice President Joe Biden’s chief economist, blasted Ryan for being “wrong on the numbers” (even though Ryan didn’t cite any numbers in the clip). He claimed:
There has been the usual tax day-related glut of articles from liberal publications urging a federal takeover of the tax preparation business. As always, the ultra-left wing blog Pro Publica took the lead, followed predictably by outlets such as Slate, Vox, and Tax Analysts, as well as respectable news outlets like Bloomberg View and Yahoo!.
The basic argument is always the same: the IRS has all this information on you anyway, so wouldn't it just be easier and better if they simply prepared your taxes for you? Wouldn't that be better than having to pay some rent-seeking middleman? This flawed line of thinking fools many a reporter this time of year, but it's refuted pretty easily once you scratch beneath the surface. Below are the top seven reasons the IRS should not prepare your taxes for you:
MSNBC is not known as a champion of religion, unless it’s someone who is liberal coming on to criticize religious individuals, especially if they are a member of the Catholic Church. Take Sister Simone Campbell, president of the liberal Catholic organization NETWORK, who has been featured on the “Lean Forward” network multiple times for her criticism of Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and his budget priorities.
Appearing as a guest on Andrea Mitchell Reports on Wednesday April 16, the fawning over Ms. Campbell was evident, with Mitchell proclaiming how “the honor is all mine” to finally meet Campbell in person. [See video below.]
MSNBC's Chris Hayes celebrated Tax Day by standing up for the IRS as the "cornerstone" of the federal government and lambasting Republicans for trying to gut the agency.
"Conservatives recognize that one of the only things standing between us and a genuine plutocracy are thousands of anonymous bureaucrats doing the basic work of enforcing our nation's laws," Hayes said, painting a homey picture of IRS workers holding up democracy instead of targeting Tea Party groups. [Video coming soon. Audio here.]
Former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich made a very curious statement on Monday’s Morning Joe. During a roundtable discussion on income inequality, former congressman Harold Ford Jr. (D-Tenn.) asked Reich what policies, besides raising the minimum wage, the government should employ in order to improve economic mobility and increase middle class purchasing power. [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
Reich, who is significantly to the left on economic issues, signaled his support for expanding the earned income tax credit, but then added that we should also “spread ownership,” asserting, “ [W]e really do have to spread, seriously, ownership because if most of the gains are coming from stock rate gains, the whole country ought to be part of that.”
Monday afternoon at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, Andrew Taylor predictably described the House's passage of the Ryan Budget in shrill terms (in order of appearance): "A slashing budget blueprint"; "Sweeping budget cuts"; balances the budget "at the expense of poor people and seniors"; "sharp cuts to domestic programs"; "staking out a hard line for the future"; and "tough cuts." Naturally, he failed to disclose that the Ryan budget increases the federal government's total outlays in each and every fiscal year from 2015 to 2024, with the final projected year coming in at $4.995 trillion, or 42 percent above the $3.523 trillion in spending the Congressional Budget Office predicted yesterday for fiscal 2014.
In the process of performing the AP's usual hatchet job, Taylor let loose with a howler about the federal government's ability to continue on its current financial path. The AP reporter may also have inadvertently let something slip into his narrative about the viability of a cherished government program, something which is a deep, dark secret to most Americans, but is quite well-known to those who watch things more closely:
On Thursday, Christopher Rugaber's assignment at the Associated Press was to cover that day's release of Uncle Sam's Monthly Treasury Statement for March.
If the AP economics writer had limited the scope of his coverage to the statement itself, his coverage would have been passed muster. But, as he and his AP colleagues so often do, Rugaber felt it was duty to offer what he must have thought was helpful analysis. He wrote that March's reported $37 billion deficit, an admitted significant improvement over the March 2013 result, even after adjusting for timing differences in end-of-month receipts and outlays, was "the latest sign of improvement in the nation's finances." The last time I checked, running significantly in the red is not an improvement. It really signifies less rapid deterioration, especially since fiscal 2014 in full is still expected to end with deficit of over $500 billion.
Guess who's all of a sudden standing up for law and order? Why, it's radical environmentalists, who despite their general disdain for lawful behavior have felt compelled to speak out in support of the Bureau of Land Management's attempts to round up Cliven Bundy's cattle and ultimately force the Nevada rancher to abandon his family's century-old business.
Martin Griffith at the Associated Press relayed the comments of one such group in a Sunday report in the aftermath of the BLM's abandonment of its roundup efforts, in Griffith's words, "after hundreds of states' rights protesters, some of them armed militia members, showed up at corrals outside Mesquite to demand the animals' release" (There's much to it than that; go this archived Drudge Report page for more; bolds are mine throughout this post):