Bringing on yet another appearance of the dreaded "U-word" — "unexpectedly" (via Bloomberg) — the Labor Department reported today that initial claims for unemployment benefits rose to a seasonally adjusted 379,000. That's a nine-month high, and an increase from last week's also unexpected 369,000. This week's and last week's results were far above the 332,000 and 320,000, respectively, analysts had predicted.
The Department of Labor's excuse for the past two dismal weeks has been "holiday volatility." Though they mostly had a point last week, this week they don't. Last week was the week after Thanksgiving, while that holiday took place six days earlier in 2012. But the week ended December 14, 2013 and the comparable week from last year (12/15/12) are both sufficiently removed from Thanksgiving's influence on the numbers that the holiday has no meaningful impact. The business press is pretending that DOL is right.
So here's the "logic" Michelle Price at the Associated Press relayed from Democratic circles in Utah in her Tuesday report on eight-term Democratic Congressman Jim Matheson's decision to leave Congress: He would have had a tough time defeating Mia Love in next year's congressional race rematch, but he's now in a better position to take on an incumbent Republican in a 2016 statewide race — either U.S. Senator Mike Lee or Governor Gary Herbert.
Price either chose not to find or couldn't find a Republican to comment on Matheson's statewide prospects, nor could she locate anyone close to Matheson to comment on whether or not the congressman even has any statewide ambitions. Thus, she spent several paragraphs on mere speculation. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine):
Earlier today, Matt Hadro at NewsBusters refuted a ridiculous assertion Tuesday evening by CNN's Don Lemon who, in reaction to guest Larry Klayman's criticism, insisted that he is not "a big supporter of Obama" or an "ultra leftist." Horse manure, Don.
Lemon and CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin also acted like immature children in Klayman's presence. They were clearly mortified that — ugh — Larry Klayman had to be the guy who brought suit against the National Security Administration arguing against the constitutionality of its metadata collection efforts. Apparently even worse for Lemon and Toobin, Klayman won a tentative legal victory when a judge ruled that NSA's "bulk collection of millions of Americans' telephone records is likely unconstitutional." Tal Kopan recounted Klayman's CNN appearance early this morning at the Politico:
Earlier this morning (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), in a post primarily about the Associated Press's whitewashing of President Barack Obama's quote of the year acknowledging that his multi-year guarantee — "If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health clinic care plan, period" — was, ahem, "not ... accurate" (Obama's words), I noted that the related web page for NBC's "Today" show followed the AP's lead by claiming that Obama's original promise and not the admission was the quote of the year.
The video clip present at that same web page is both funny and sad. It's funny, because Tamron Hall began her report by ignorantly asserting that Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is "everyone's favorite mayor from the Northeast." It's sad, because like the AP, NBC's video truncated Obama's actual November 14 admission and let it slide without further comment, effectively giving what Ford said about his drinking and use of drugs more weight than Obama's admission that he lied to the American people for years. The clip follows the jump:
In what appears to be a deliberate watering down of the significance of the statement a Yale University librarian has identified as the year's top quote in his eighth annual list, the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, used the following headline in its Sunday morning "Big Story" coverage: "OBAMA'S HEALTH CARE PROMISE IS 2013 TOP QUOTE."
Uh, no. The statement tagged as 2013's top quote is Obama's admission that the guarantee he made dozens of times over a several-year period — "If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan, period" — was, ahem, "not ... accurate" (Obama's words). The wire service also truncated what Obama actually said in his November 14 admission, yet didn't employ an ellipsis in doing so.
An Associated Press-GfK poll has found that 11 percent of an admittedly small sample of Americans insured through their employer or a family member's employer are losing their coverage in 2014. The related AP report relays that point and even has a graphic supporting it.
But reporters Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Jennifer Agiesta failed to make the drop-dead obvious connection. According President Barack Obama and his White House spinmeisters, nothing is changing as a result of Obamacare if you're employed, and Obama's false guarantee that "if you like your plan, you can keep your plan" only applies to those in the private individual insurance market. Tell that to the 11 percent.
In mid-November, Americans for Tax Reform compiled a list of federal spending on state Obamacare exchanges totaling a breathtaking $4.5 billion.
One number on the list stands out from the rest — and it's not California's, though its $910 million amout is awful, disproportionate, and surely highly wasteful (before considering scalability concerns, the fixed costs of building a web site should be close to the same regardless of a state's population). The big eye-catcher is tiny Vermont's staggering $208 million. The nation's second-least populous state (626,000 as of 2012) has 0.2 percent of the U.S. population, but has received 4.6 percent of grants from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Though the Green Mountain State's enrollment numbers have been among the country's least embarrassing on percentage of the population, its exchange's rollout has in many ways been as bad, if not worse, than HealthCare.gov's, according to a December 10 Vermont Public Radio report which has garnered very little attention (HT Megan McArdle at Bloomberg News; bolds are mine):
But somehow, the fact that the state's Obamacare exchange, Access Health CT, "had incorrect information online about deductibles and co-insurance impacting all 19 individual health plans from the three insurance companies that offer those plans" doesn't merit attention. Further indicating the development's national significance, as David Steinberg at PJ Media has noted, President Barack Obama himself cited Access Health CT as a success story in supposedly getting one-third of its enrollees from people who are 35 and younger (also not true) back on October 21. More verbiage from the story, as reported in the Hartford Courant by Fox Connecticut's Louisa Moller, follows the jump:
Earlier this week, NBC Sports announced that "Moscow-based TV journalist Vladimir Posner (also frequently spelled "Pozner") will be a correspondent for NBC Olympics’ late-night show with Bob Costas during the Sochi Games."
To call Posner's background "problematic" is like saying that Bob Filner, former Democratic Mayor of San Diego, has a bit of a problem with how he treats members of the opposite sex. Posner is an old hand at defending and dissembling the worst excesses of the Soviet Union, including but not limited to the following exchange from 1980 cited by Lisa de Moraes at Deadline.com on Wednesday (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Well, it's not perfect, but it's a start — and it's certainly a far cry from what President Obama is now willing to admit.
In his report Tuesday on the congressional hearing for John Koskinen, Obama's nominee to be the next IRS Commissioner, Stephen Ohlemacher of the Associated Press wrote that Koskinen "told senators Tuesday he will work to restore public trust in the agency in the wake of the tea party scandal even as the IRS takes on new responsibilities administering the president's health care law." That's a remarkable admission, given that the word "scandal" does not appear in Koskinen's prepared remarks, and of course given that Obama's current opinion of what is better described as the "IRS conservative targeting scandal" is that it isn't one ("they’ve got a list, and suddenly everybody’s outraged"). As nice as it is that he used the "S-word," Ohlemacher's dispatch still contained serious oversights, including his failure to cite the change in Obama's public stance since May and his contention that no one outside the IRS knew of its targeting efforts until then.
To do so, she reinvented what it is to be "rich" or "affluent." It apparently has nothing to do with how it is normally defined, i.e., based on current net worth (assets owned minus debts owed). Ms. Yen's and AP's yearning is apparently to base it on whether you're in a household which has had annual earnings above $250,000 — ever. Really. The purpose of the piece appears to be to go after this segment of the population, such as it is, because they aren't knee-jerk supporters of limitless government spending, and won't spend money on consumption to improve the economy like Keynesians think they're supposed to. Be on the lookout for a clearly misused word (HT to emailer Alfred Lemire; bolds are mine throughout this post):
As a reminder, the Washington Post's Ezra Klein was the founder of the secretive JournoList group late last decade. Their objective was to put left-wing writers, perhaps with input from the Democratic Party itself and certain of its candidates for national office, on the same page in their coverage of the news.
That's useful to know, as on Saturday Klein published a column which might as well have been called "Obama administration talking points meant to convince readers that the President's 'If you like your health insurance plan, you can keep your health insurance plan, PERIOD' promise really wasn't that important" (Alternative title: "As the Goalposts Move"). Almost four weeks after Barack Obama owned up to the fact that his guarantee wasn't true for millions of private individual health insurance policyholders (he has yet to acknowledge the current impact on certain small employer group plans or the impending impact on large employer-sponsored plans), and given the fact that his broken guarantee is already an established fact in the historical record — no less than the Associated Press acknowledged this on September 30 — Klein's topic choice is odd indeed. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post; numbered tags are mine):
So it's come to this. During the past week, the Associated Press reported today, "Federal health officials," meaning "the Obama administration," began "urging" (i.e., "telling") counselors and navigators around the country to stop using paper applications for Obamacare coverage, "because of concerns those applications would not be processed in time." It seems that either Team Obama or AP (my money is on AP) doesn't mind risking criticism for waiting to let this news out until a weather- and sports-dominated Saturday. It's apparently okay to keep those who don't know any better, i.e., those who went to the trouble of printing a paper app on their own, in the dark.
So you shouldn't use paper. But the vastly under-reported but inarguable fact is that HealthCare.gov isn't secure; experienced IT security experts strongly warn against using it. So consumers shouldn't be going online either, meaning that there's no defensible way to apply for coverage before the end of the year. Of course, the Associated Press's Kelli Kennedy didn't tell readers that (no form of the word "security" is in her late Saturday morning story), just as she and Time Magazine's web site failed to do earlier this week (bolds are mine):
On November 19, Henry Chao, deputy chief information officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told a congressional committee that "[W]e still have to build the payment systems to make payments to issuers in January" for those who have enrolled in plans through HealthCare.gov.
On Black Friday, while almost no one was paying attention, Alex Nussbaum at Bloomberg News reported that "The administration is setting up a temporary process ... (in which) insurers will estimate what they are owed rather than have the government calculate the bill." Somehow, they'll settle up (or "true up") at the detailed level later. Tuesday evening, Roberta Rampton and Caroline Humer at Reuters covered this development. The Reuters item, which went live about an hour before Megyn Kelly's broadcast last night, moved the Fox News host to treat it as her lead story.
How does one do a report on an important commerce-related web site without mentioning serious known security problems which are so bad that respected IT experts warn that it shouldn't be used? Ask Kate Pickert at Time's Swampland blog and Kelli Kennedy at the Associated Press, because that's exactly what they did.
Pickert and Kennedy reviewed the new and not much improved HealthCare.gov on December 2 and 3, respectively. No variation of the word "security" is in either writeup. Both reports ignore the fact that IT experts are absolutely appalled at the site's lack of security.
In response to several outlets contending with basis that the Associated Press sat on its knowledge that the United States and Iran were conducting secret diplomatic discussions, the AP's Paul Colford has published a "Back Story" item defending its conduct, claiming that it could not "confirm, to its standards, what had happened." My related NewsBusters post is here.
Breitbart had a related item earlier today. In it, Larry O'Connor posted a tweet from a specific person at another news organization indicating that "both had versions of it independently early & were asked to not publish til end of Iran talks." Barring a better explanation from AP than what readers will see after the jump, the tweet by Laura Rozen at the Washington-based, Middle East-focused Al-Monitor presumptively refutes AP's claim that it didn't have enough information to justify publishing a story (if they didn't, why would the government bother to ask them to not publish?). Colford did not address Rozen's relayed claim, even though his item more than likely went up several hours after O'Connor's Breitbart post and roughly 48 hours after Rozen's tweet (depending on its time zone). Colford's full AP post follows the jump (links and italics are in original):
On October 3, the National Retail Federation projected that "sales in the months of November and December" will "marginally increase 3.9 percent to $602.1 billion, over 2012’s actual 3.5 percent holiday season sales growth." But on October 16, it warned that "the average holiday shopper will spend $737.95 on gifts, décor, greeting cards and more, two percent less than the $752.24 they actually spent last year."
Anne D'Innocenzio at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, in a report on the upcoming Christmas shopping season, chose to report the NRF's overall November-December increase, and ignored the obviously more relevant and more recent individual spending expectations. She also held off mentioning the elephant in the room — sharply reduced spending by Obamacare "sticker shock" victims and those who anticipate more of the same during 2014 — until the 19th of her 21 paragraphs (bolds are mine):
My previous post (at BizzyBlog; at NewsBusters) dealt with Pace's blind acceptance of unsupported assertions about the reason for the Obama administration's delay of 2015 Obamacare enrollment until November 15, 2014 and her willingness to parrot long-discredited talking points about why the HealthCare.gov website initially crashed. Before that, she bragged about how her organization, which didn't exactly have a track record of sitting on news about secret Bush administration efforts, sat on what it knew about the existence of secret negotiations between the U.S. and Iran (bolds are mine throughout this post):
One of the two sequences involved the Obama administration's announcement that it will delay Obamacare enrollment for 2015 by 30 days until November 15, 2014 and its optimism that the dysfunctional, insecure HealthCare.gov web site will be operational by the end of the month. In this sequence, Pace indicated blind acceptance of unsupported assertions combined with willingness to parrot long-discredited talking points about why the website initially crashed. Fortunately, as we'll see, Wallace did not let her website history rewrite slide (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
Anyone out there who still doesn't believe or won't admit that the establishment press is hopelessly biased in favor of the left, particularly the Obama administration, needs to have the establishment press's virtual failure to cover the Jessica Sanford story rubbed in their faces.
Ms. Sanford is the unfortunate victim of deception by Washington state's Obamacare exchange. When it was thought that she would get a significant Obamacare subsidy and a net monthly premium of $169, President Obama touted her story based on a letter she wrote to him in a Rose Garden speech. Ms. Sanford has since learned that the state exchange seriously erred, and that she will get no subsidy at all. Because she can't afford to pay the monthly premium, which now appears to be in the neighborhood of $600 a month (her original premium was said to be $169, and her original subsidy was reported as $452), she will go without health insurance coverage next year and pay the Affordable Care Act's mandated fine.
On Thursday, CBS's Sharyl Attkisson reported on Twitter that the White House Correspondents Association, along with "dozens of associations & media outlets", sent a letter of protest to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. Attkisson outlined in subsequent Tweets that the letter blasted the Obama administration for restricting the access of photojournalists at certain presidential events, "while releasing government photos and videos of the same events".
Politico's Hadas Gold posted the full text of the letter to Carney in a Thursday item, which was signed by "leading media outlets like ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News, The Associated Press, Reuters, The New York Times, The Washington Post and Yahoo News". In the letter, the WHCA board asserted that the Obama White House's policy was a "troubling break from tradition", and hinted that it ran counter to the President's claim that his was "the most transparent administration in history":
In a mild surprise, the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, hasn't totally ignored John Crudele's Monday evening blockbuster story at the New York Post about how fabricated Census Bureau information fed a pretty clearly cooked September 2012 Employment Situation report. But the wire service's Sam Hananel ruined the surprise by spending five terse paragraphs making sure that relatively disengaged readers would learn as little as possible.
Most crucially, Hananel never told readers that the alleged manipulation may have been the main reason why the reported September 2012 unemployment rate fell below 8 percent for the first time since President Barack Obama took office in January 2009. At the time, former GE CEO Jack Welch was among those who strongly questioned the rate drop.
Never one to let facts get in the way of the proabort narrative, Mark Sherman at the Associated Press characterized today's 5-4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to allow Texas's abortion law to stand while on appeal as one rendered by "the court's conservative majority."
Really? Anthony Kennedy is one of the justices in the critical "Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), which reaffirmed in principle (though without many details) the Roe v. Wade decision recognizing the right to abortion under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment." That's hardly "conservative," though Sherman at least applied the "liberal" label to the four dissenters. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine):
Can anyone imagine a top Bush 43 adviser, say Karl Rove, telling a reporter that his boss couldn't attend an important American historical anniversary event because "he's too busy trying to save the Republican Party"?
Dan Pfeiffer is "Assistant to the President of the United States and Senior Advisor to the President for Strategy and Communications." Today, in response to a tough but fair question tweeted by Ron Fournier at the National Journal, Pfeiffer said that President Barack Obama wasn't attending the ceremonies surrounding the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address because "there's this whole website thing that someone suggested might destroy the Dem Party." The exchange would surely generate a great deal of press coverage if it involved a conservative or Republican presidential adviser, but the only story other than at Fournier's National Journal was at the Hill, a popular burial ground for such stories. The Fournier-Pfeiffer exchange, with some external razzing, follows the jump (HT Twitchy):
I don't want to go overboard here, but most of the print establishment press deserves a bit of grudging credit in the Arne Duncan "white suburban moms" controvery.
Most of them aren't characterizing the gutless attempt by Barack Obama's education secretary to back away from his spiteful, condescending, bigoted comment Friday as an apology — because it wasn't. In a Monday post at the Department of Educations's Homeroom blog (how courageous — not), Duncan only admitted that "I used some clumsy phrasing that I regret," and that "I singled out one group of parents when my aim was to say that we need to communicate better to all groups," while repeating many of the tired lies which have accompanied Common Core's imposition from its inception. There was no admission of wrongdoing, and nothing resembling an "I'm sorry." Predictably, Stephanie Simon at the Politico was among those who considered Duncan's dumbness an apology (links are in original; bolds are mine throughout this post):
Well, that settles it. Sunday on ABC's "This Week" (video here) New York Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand admitted that "We all knew" that Obamacare's core guarantee — "If you like your plan-doctor-provider, you can keep your plan-doctor-provider" — was false. That's "we" as in "all of us Democrats."
There's no wiggle room in what Gillibrand said, as will be demonstrated after the jump. Also note how guest host Martha Raddatz, with her use of "we," admitted to viewers that she's on the same team with Washington's Democrats two and possibly three different times (HT Truth Revolt via Ed Driscoll).
In a pathetic analyis piece at the Politico on Friday morning, Politico's Todd S. Purdum engaged in egregious excuse-making driven by a de facto admission that the Affordable Care Act would never have passed if the public had been told the truth about what was in it.
This is the same Todd S. Purdum who recently, as Mark Finkelstein at NewsBusters reported earlier this month, accused Republicans of "calculated sabotage" of Obamacare, and compared their opposition to the "pattern of 'massive resistance' not seen since the Southern states’ defiance of the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954." His Friday exercise, which should have been headlined "The Obamacare Scam," was barely less odious (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
Will yet another example of rhetorical intemperance by an Obama administration official get a free pass? So far it mostly has.
A Washington Post item by Valerie Strauss at its "Answer Sheet" blog quotes a dispatch from Libbly Nelson at the Politico, but does not link to it. I couldn't find a related original story by Nelson at her Politico archive or in a Politico search on Education Secretary Arne Duncan's name (not in quotes). Here is what the Post says Nelson wrote (HT The Blaze; bolds are mine):
In a Saturday evening writeup whose purpose seemed to be to reassure Americans that they will come to accept the government forcing you to buy state-approved health insurance just as they have other government mandates and intrusions (wait til you see the parallels he attempts), the AP reporter told readers that the left's "you can keep it" guarantee was just one of many "inflated promises" (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
The student health care plan offered by Bowie State University, Maryland's oldest historically black college, is an example of one of those "substandard" plans President Obama, the Affordable Care Act's architects, and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius have been determined to extinguish.
Well, they've gotten their way. Rather than continue a plan whose costs would have gone from $54 to $900 per semester, an increase of over 1500 percent, the university has dropped the plan. Many students are angry, and have criticized the President directly, as seen in a video at CampusReform.org. News coverage of this calamity has been sparse, to say the least. Excerpts from a report at Washington TV station WUSA follow the jump (bolds are mine):