In his Best of the Web Today column at the Wall Street Journal editorial page site on Wednesday, James Taranto noticed how Reuters had two very different takes on how Osama bin Laden attacks American presidents. He attacks Obama to protest his persuasive skills, while Bush is easily cartooned as a belligerent cowboy:
"A double blast from al Qaeda against Barack Obama shows the group is as worried as ever by the persuasive skills of the U.S. president, who makes a speech to Muslims on Thursday," Reuters "reports" from London:
Remember back in March when Congress had the brilliant idea to retroactively tax bonuses paid out by bailed out insurer American International Group (AIG)? The House voted 328 to 93 for the 90-percent tax on the $165 million in bonuses, but it later died in the Senate.
Steve Moore, a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board, explained on CNBC's May 13 "Street Signs" that the punitive retroactive tax was just a distraction to divert attention away from the culpability of Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., for the current financial crisis.
"Remember, Barney Frank was one of the guys right at the center of the financial crisis," Moore said. "I think he had a lot of the blame of this lays at his foot. He said roll the dice on Fanny and Freddie. So the point is I think that these Democrats are trying to redirect the populist storm against members of Congress like Chris Dodd and Barney Frank towards executives. So, I'm not so sure he didn't want that to pass as a way of deflecting criticism."
It's a whole new wrinkle on the old joke about accountants (when asked what 2 + 2 is, he or she replies, "What do you want it to be?").
The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the reported results of the financial institution stress tests were negotiated:
Banks Won Concessions on Tests Fed Cut Billions Off Some Initial Capital-Shortfall Estimates; Tempers Flare at Wells
The Federal Reserve significantly scaled back the size of the capital hole facing some of the nation's biggest banks shortly before concluding its stress tests, following two weeks of intense bargaining.
The overall reaction to the stress tests, announced Thursday, has been generally positive. But the haggling between the government and the banks shows the sometimes-tense nature of the negotiations that occurred before the final results were made public.
It's also clear that the negotiations were over clearly non-trivial amounts:
Here's a teachable moment: Bad things can happen when the government intervenes in the economy, which Fox Business Network host Cody Willard pointed out on his "Shot Clock" segment on "Happy Hour."
Willard, on FBN's May 4 "Happy Hour" used part of his segment to call for the jailing of the New York Fed's chairman, Stephen Friedman.
"New York Fed [Chairman] Stephen Friedman - this guy belongs in jail," Willard said. "This is the head of the New York Fed - Stephen Friedman guys."
Willard was referring to a report in the May 4 Wall Street Journal that questioned Friedman's current ties to Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) while playing an instrumental role in shaping Washington's response to the financial crisis late last year. Willard explained that Friedman was able to profit after Goldman was approved to be a bank holding company in late 2008, making it eligible for a $10-billion capital injection.
The Audit Bureau of Circulations released this morning the spring figures for the six months ending March 31, 2009, showing that the largest metros continue to shed daily and Sunday circulation -- now at a record rate.
According to ABC, for 395 newspapers reporting this spring, daily circulation fell 7% to 34,439,713 copies, compared with the same March period in 2008. On Sunday, for 557 newspapers, circulation was down 5.3% to 42,082,707. These averages do not include 84 newspapers with circulations below 50,000 due to a change in publishing frequency.
Below is a chart showing the specifics for the top 25, including percentage losses for the past four years and during the past year (current year source: Editor & Publisher):
In a report this morning on the situation off the coast on Somalia, Associated Press reporters Elizabeth A. Kennedy and Paul Jelinek seemed oddly sympathetic to the cause of the terrorists in training the world insists on calling "pirates," almost to the point of grudging admiration.
Check out some of the words the AP pair used in their 9:15 a.m. dispatch (saved at host for fair use and discussion purposes, and for future reference if or when the text changes) following the "breaking news alert" at the link:
Undeterred Somali pirates hijack 4 more ships
Undeterred by U.S. and French hostage rescues that killed five bandits, Somali pirates brazenly hijacked three more ships in the Gulf of Aden, the waterway at the center of the world's fight against piracy.
..... The latest trophy for the pirates was the M.V. Irene E.M., a Greek-managed bulk carrier sailing from the Middle East to South Asia, said Noel Choong, who heads the International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur.
The Irene was attacked and seized in the middle of the night Tuesday - a rare tactic for the pirates.
From that quiet and lonely place where comedians consider the rare possibility and danger of making fun of Barack Obama, Amy Chozick of The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that Wanda Sykes is trying out some Obama jokes on the road in anticipation of her May comedy gig at the White House Correspondents Dinner in Washington:
"It's so crazy how everyone is just in love with this man," Ms. Sykes said. She imitated a love-struck teenager calling into a radio show. "I would like to dedicate 'Always and Forever' to my president."
The audience laughed.
Mr. Obama should have chosen New York Gov. David Patterson as his vice president, she continued. "Who's going to hurt the half-black guy if you're going to be left with the whole black, blind guy?"
Will There Be a Corresponding Media Call to Pitchforks?Please don't halt respiratory activity in the waiting.
Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are two public-private partnerships known as Government Sponsored Entities (GSEs). Wherein the executive staff, populated with woefully unqualified, egregiously overpaid political crony appointees, get to play housing market roulette with the House's (read: OUR) money.
Freddie and Fannie have spent the last two decades plus buying up nearly every horrendous home loan the federal government forced banks to make to unqualified borrowers. While the going was good, so too were the profits and attending bonuses for these political hacks posing as home lending experts.
But when the market collapsed, Freddie and Fannie were left holding the toxic asset bag. And by Freddie and Fannie I mean us. You and me. We tax payers.
Spitzer is best remembered for resigning as the Empire State's chief executive after being caught patronizing high-priced prostitutes over a period of several years, and for having a reputation as an attorney general on a self-aggrandizing crusade against against corporate corruption prior to that.
Spitzer is attempting to capitalize on the public's incomplete knowledge of his sorry saga to get back in its good graces.
The Seattle Times compiles what it calls "The Favor Factory," which it calls "A database of lawmakers, earmarks, and campaign giving."
One noteworthy congressman in the Favor Factory is Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA; picture at right is currently at his home page).
Moran's Favors Factory page for 2008 lists 29 earmarks totaling $40.6 million, and over $890,000 in capaign contributions from earmark recipients.
Recall that Nancy Pelosi promised "Fiscal Restraint If Democrats Win" in a July 2006 Wall street Journal interview about the congressional elections that would be taking place four months later (link is to cato.org, which excerpted the now unavailable WSJ report). She also told the Journal:
“Personally, myself, I’d get rid of all of them,” she said. “None of them is worth the skepticism, the cynicism the public has… and the fiscal irresponsibility of it.”
Rep. Moran begged to differ just one month earlier, using language he would hopefully avoid around the second-graders with whom he is pictured above (actual offensive four-letter word is at link), as reported by a local metro DC community newspaper, the Sun Gazette:
Talk-radio star Mark Levin was so impressed with Daniel Henninger’s Thursday column in The Wall Street Journal – "The Obama Rosetta Stone" – that he read the whole thing to his listeners on Thursday night. Henninger suggested Barack Obama watchers should not only read Obama’s two autobiographies, but the new Obama budget document, 141 pages, printed by the Government Printing Office. Henninger instructed:
Turn immediately to page 11. There sits a chart called Figure 9. This is the Rosetta Stone to the presidential mind of Barack Obama. Memorize Figure 9, and you will never be confused. Not happy, perhaps, but not confused.
Henninger pointed to the source of the chart's data: Piketty and Saez, from 2003. He suggests these names should be better known:
Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, French economists, are rock stars of the intellectual left. Their specialty is "earnings inequality" and "wealth concentration."
There seems to be a wall of silence surrounding the sudden withdrawal of H. Rodgin Cohen (pictured at right) from consideration for the Number 2 job at the Treasury Department.
The party line, according to ABC's This Week host and former Clinton administration adviser George Stephanopoulos, is that "an issue arose in the final stages of the vetting process." David Cho at the Washington Post reports that "two sources familiar with the matter" confirmed this, but that they "declined to identify the reason."
Perhaps the press is not really interested in finding out that reason, or reasons. Or worse, they've got a pretty good idea, and they'd rather not dig; because if they don't dig, they won't have to tell us. Stephanopoulos appears to be giving away that he knows more than he's willing to reveal when he writes that "Cohen has been a counsel to just about every major player on Wall Street, which perhaps complicated his nomination."
"Perhaps"? A review of some of Cohen's known history makes it clear that he carries quite a bit of potentially heavy baggage.
A consistent media meme since Election Day has been that Barack Obama was inheriting a recession that some believe began as far back as December 2007.
Since then, despite various rescue plans from his Administration, and the passage of a $787 billion stimulus package, the stock market has continued to plummet while employers shed payrolls in a fashion rarely seen in history.
This all raises an important question: will media ever blame current economic conditions on Obama, or will they continue to point fingers at George W. Bush despite his residence being in Texas?
Consider that as was reported by Bloomberg Friday, Obama now does indeed have his own bear market (image by Martin Kozlowski courtesy Wall Street Journal):
A month ago, I noted a comment by Chicago Sun-Times writer Carol Marin who was mildly complaining that President Obama never goes before the press without having a list of pre-approved journalists upon whom he'll call during a press conference. She offhandedly quipped that in the press corps, "most of us don't even bother raising our hands any more to ask questions because Obama always has before him a list of correspondents who've been advised they will be called upon that day."
I wondered last month how long it would take for anyone else in the press corps to notice Obama's tendency to hand pick from among the free press who he will deign to allow to ask a question? I also wondered if this same "free press" would have meekly allowed president Bush get away with treating the press in such a way? Or would they have raised a hue and cry that would have deafened the world? Drudge. at least, noticed then because within a day my post had wracked up over 200,000 views. But, until February 11, no one in the press has seemed too interested in discussing this issue.
Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh wrote an op-ed in Thursday's Wall Street Journal wherein he offered a bipartisan stimulus plan to get the economy going.
As not one Republican voted for President Obama's economic package in the House Wednesday despite his campaign promises to usher in a new era of bipartisanship, given the media's focus on Limbaugh of late one would expect his now-published plan to get oodles of press attention.
Will it, and if it does will Obama-loving media members seriously consider the details or quickly dismiss it because of its origin?
As you ponder, here are some of Limbaugh's suggestions:
It's hardly a secret that Chicago public schools chief executive Arne Duncan was the architect behind a failed plan to open a "gay-friendly" high school in the Windy City. But for some reason Washington Post staffer Maria Glod decided to keep that skeleton in the closet, leaving the fact out completely from her page A3 December 17 story, "Education Pick Is Called 'Down-to-Earth' Leader."
Glod set out in her 22-paragraph article to portray Duncan as an education reformed well-respected by both Democrats and Republicans and even garnering begrudging respect and even some allies among teachers unions and school bureaucrats who were at first wary of him.
The controvery over the proposed Social Justice Solidarity High School -- which was scrapped in a November 18 school board vote -- was completely left unmentioned although as Brad Haynes of the Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire blog reported yesterday:
Rupert Murdoch has his critics - from those who think his papers are too tabloid-ish - The Sun, The New York Post - to those who find his cable television networks too right-leaning for their tastes. And back in 2007, there was a fear that his purchase of The Wall Street Journal would result in a hybrid of his newspapers and his cable news channels.
However, a year after Murdoch's acquisition, Newsweek senior editor and financial columnist Daniel Gross said he thought Murdoch has actually improved the Journal.
"I think it's worked out quite well for him," Gross said on CNBC's "Power Lunch" Dec. 16. "He owns one of the best newspapers around. They remade the Journal. The front section is a great kind of political, global coverage."
"I think the journalists - I never thought I would say this - the journalists are quite lucky to be working for Murdoch in this type of environment. You could be working for a company that was owned by Sam Zell or one of his publicly held newspapers."
How about Sean Hannity as editor of the New York Times op-ed page? Maybe O'Reilly and Cavuto in place of Dowd and Krugman as Times columnists? It might not be as far-fetched as it sounds. At least, not if Michael Wolff is right. The Vanity Fair media maven, appearing on CNBC this afternoon, not only said that Rupert Murdoch wants the Gray Lady, but predicted he would get her. [H/t Gat.]
MICHAEL WOLFF: I think that everybody is looking at [the NYT] and waiting for it to kind of go over a brink, to run out of cash, which they're in the process of doing. Or to find itself in a situation where actually, and this is really the key thing, they go looking for a buyer.
A bit later, Wolff, author of a book on Murdoch, mentioned his name as a likely buyer . . .
What follows are the questions that President-elect Obama took today at his 11 a.m. news conference after formally announcing former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) as his choice for Health and Human Services Secretary.:
JACKIE CALMES, Wall Street Journal: Given the, in your statement when you addressed the controversy over Gov. Blagojevich, you did not repeat what your spokesman said yesterday about having him, that he should resign. Why did you not? And could you tell us what context, if any, you know that your staff or any emissaries for you have had with prosecutors or the FBI?
PHIL ELLIOTT, Associated Press: Thank you. Have you or anyone in your transition or campaign been intereviewed as it relates to the criminal complaint? And who is the transition advisor referenced in the complaint?
Against the odds, GOP candidates in the state of Tennessee experienced a historic win. In addition to delivering the state to John McCain, Republicans won both chambers of the state legislature. And, as the Wall Street Journal reported, "Sen. Lamar Alexander became the first Republican to carry all but one county in his re-election win -- even taking a quarter of Tennessee's black votes."
Wall Street Journal reporter Jonathan Weisman (fresh from a stint at the Washington Post) displayed the extremes of mistaking bean-counting for administrative perfection on the paper’s Washington Wire blog on Tuesday:
For the rainbow cabinet of the nation’s first African American president, Mary Beth Maxwell is the perfect labor secretary you’ve probably never heard of: a gay woman, community organizer and labor leader with an adopted African American son. And this founding executive director of American Rights at Work is about to get the full-court press.
How is someone "perfectly" qualified for the cabinet by their sexuality, or by the race of their adopted children? Why doesn’t anyone in the political press have any skepticism about the relevance of race, gender, and sexual orientation in determining every single high government appointment?
Remember the years of media flak President George W. Bush received for his alleged use for political gain of first the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and then the related Afghanistan and Iraq Wars?
Will the press be as vociferous now? Incoming Obama Administration Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, speaking on Wednesday on and to the Wall Street Journal Digital Network, stated outright his desire to make political hay with the ongoing travails of the U.S. and global economy:
"You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before."
Wonder why President-elect Obama resigned from the Senate so early (while Vice President-elect Joe Biden remains an active member) and is hanging back, not wading into the debate over bailouts etc, and naming candidates for nearly every Cabinet post save Treasury (the man or woman who will have $350 billion to dispense when he/she walks through the door)?
Wednesday evening's dour Associated Press report by Tom Krisher and Ken Thomas on the proposed bailouts of General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler acted as if their fates will determine the viability of the entire US auto industry, and waited until the 15th paragraph to name the primary reason why the companies are where they are financially. Beyond that, the AP report did not mention that United Auto Workers has flatly ruled out union contract concessions.
Here is how the AP's report began, followed by selected other paragraphs, including the one (of over 30) that mentioned labor costs (bolds after headline are mine):
It's not like Barack Obama is a socialist or anything. It's just that Thomas Friedman wants him to put a "government master" in charge of the country's biggest manufacturing sector. Friedman made his modest proposal in his New York Times column of today, and expanded on it during a Morning Joe appearance. [H/t reader Tom.]
Barack Obama’s supporters are whining about any attempt to link their candidate with former Weather Underground bomber William Ayers as “guilt by association” — even though, as National Review contributor Stanley Kurtz points out, the working relationship between Obama and Ayers can more correctly be described as “guilt by participation.”
But today’s Wall Street Journal treats us to a classic case of guilt by association: a front-page profile of the descendants of slaves owned by John McCain’s great-great grandfather before the Civil War. After documenting the poor treatment that the black families (who share the last name “McCain”) received over the past century, reporter Douglas Blackmon tags Senator McCain — whom he places at the family’s former plantation as a young man in the 1940s and 1950s — as out of touch:
Maxine Waters, a key Democrat congresswoman that has been implicated in blocking government oversight that could have prevented the current financial crisis, was caught lying Friday evening about her connection to failed lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
During the panel discussion of HBO's "Real Time," Waters was challenged by the Wall Street Journal's Stephen Moore about the campaign contributions she's received from these government sponsored enterprises.
Despite what public records clearly show, Waters denied she had ever taken any money from these two companies (video embedded right courtesy our dear friend MsUnderestimated):
Old Media's coverage of the recently-lifted executive and congressional bans on offshore exploration and drilling for oil and natural gas largely overlooked an important element that should have been very relevant to the discussion.
Supporters of lifting the bans surely share much of the blame for only rarely citing it. Though they have frequently noted the hundreds of billions of dollars a years annually sent overseas to pay for oil that could have been extracted here, they have mostly missed a golden opportunity to tell the American people what over a quarter-century of drilling bans has cost the government and taxpayers. They also generally failed to tell us about the windfall that awaits if the end of the offshore and other bans finally leads to appropriately aggressive use of this country's God-given resources.
But if we had inquisitive financial reporters in the business press who were interested in information relevant to the "Drill Baby Drill" debate instead of merely repackaging the press releases they received from those on both sides (the sole exception I found was this Wall Street Journal editorial), many more Americans would have long ago learned about what follows.
In a companion piece to his hot radio talk on the matter, Rush Limbaugh has an op-ed in Friday’s Wall Street Journal titled "Obama is Stoking Racial Antagonism." In addition to providing a full explanation of the clips inaccurately manipulated by the Obama ad-making team, he lets Team Obama have it for their intentional distortions:
Mr. Obama's campaign is now trafficking in prejudice of its own making. And in doing so, it is playing with political dynamite. What kind of potential president would let his campaign knowingly extract two incomplete, out-of-context lines from two radio parodies and build a framework of hate around them in order to exploit racial tensions? The segregationists of the 1950s and 1960s were famous for such vile fear-mongering...
The malignant aspect of this is that Mr. Obama and his advisers know exactly what they are doing. They had to listen to both monologues or read the transcripts. They then had to pick the particular excerpts they used in order to create a commercial of distortions. Their hoped-for result is to inflame racial tensions. In doing this, Mr. Obama and his advisers have demonstrated a pernicious contempt for American society.