On May 15, I posted (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) on the Obama administration's and government-run Chrysler's blatant deception concerning whether plants would be closed as a result of the company's bankruptcy filing.
Specifically, on April 29 and 30, Obama, the administration and Chrysler told senators, congressmen, state and local politicians, and local and regional union leaders that the bankruptcy (these are Obama's words) "will not disrupt the lives of the people who work at Chrysler or the communities that depend on it." Those who heard this and other reassurances reasonably concluded that no plants would be permanently closed. But on May 1, government-run Chrysler announced that it would close plants in Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Days later, hundreds of Chrysler dealers were terminated.
The national media establishment has treated all of this as a non-story, so I expect it will do the same with this update from the Cleveland Plain Dealer. It includes news that two Ohio congressmen, one Democrat and one Republican, are demanding documents relating to the who, what, where, when, and why of the plant-closing decisions:
Those who believe that Politico is a hangout for former establishment media journalists who want to recreate a combination of the New York Times and Washington Post on the web -- complete with the insufferable biases of those two publications -- can look to the disparate treatment of two challenges to party congressional leaders as affirmative evidence.
In a search on "Cindy Sheehan" at Politico, I found that in covering the congressional candidacy of former media darling Cindy Sheehan in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's Northern California district, the online news site carried two tiny items. Only one of them was originally produced there.
I had no idea the financial situation at the New York Times was so desperate.
Somebody, anybody -- Please spring for a $3.49 calculator like the one pictured at the far right for Times reporter Matthew Saltmarsh. And if you've got another few bucks, pass them on to the Times's home-page headline writers, so they can present something more understandable to US readers than what you see to the left of the calculator.
Saltmarsh reported all first quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contraction figures from Euro-zone and European countries on a "from the previous quarter" basis (a longstanding EU custom), and presented the first quarter 2009 GDP contraction in the U.S. as "annualized" (which is our custom).
But Saltmarsh and Times headline writers never converted the U.S. result to make it comparable to that of European countries -- hence the urgent need for the calculators.
Here are most of the relevant paragraphs from Saltmarsh's report:
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 are the first two paragraphs of Toyota Motor Corporation's press release announcing its financial results for the year ended March 31, 2009 (most Japanese companies end their fiscal years on March 31; bolds are mine):
Tokyo - TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION (TMC) today announced operating results for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2009.
On a consolidated basis, net revenues for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2009 totaled 20.53 trillion yen, a decrease of 21.9 percent compared to the last fiscal year. Operating income decreased from 2.27 trillion yen to a loss of 461 billion yen, and income before income taxes, minority interest and equity in earnings of affiliated companies was a loss of 560.4 billion yen. Net income decreased from 1.72 trillion yen to a loss of 437 billion yen.
Across the board, the financial press reports I read translated the company's reported losses expressed in yen into dollars ($4.4 billion in $US for the year, and $7.7 billion in the fourth quarter), but not its revenues (about $207 billion and $35 billion, respectively).
Obama sent Congress a detailed budget Thursday proposing to eliminate or trim 121 programs and save $17 billion next year — not a trifle, for sure, but only about half of one percent of the $3.4 trillion in federal spending for the fiscal year begining in October.
The size of the savings clearly was a sore subject at the White House.
"It is important ... for all of you, as you're writing up these stories, to recognize that $17 billion taken out of our discretionary, non-defense budget, as well as portions of our defense budget, are significant," Obama told reporters. "They mean something."
Still, Obama's hit list was smaller than the one President George W. Bush included in his budget last year targeting 151 programs for $34 billion in savings.
These alleged cuts mean almost nothing, according to the Heritage Foundation's Brian Riedl, who cut through the misdirection earlier today at The Corner (bolds are mine):
As of early Tuesday evening, according to a report by Liz Moyer at Forbes, the latest news on the Chrysler bankruptcy filing is that:
The recalcitrant non-TARP lenders who would not agree to the deal the government attempted to force on them are now attempting to challenge the deal the government and Chrysler have proposed in bankruptcy court.
These lenders want to keep their identities hidden.
In court documents, they have said that "intensifying pressure and name calling by the government threatened to harm them if their identities became public."
Bankruptcy judge Arthur Gonzalez "isn't buying it," and has given the lenders until 10 a.m. tomorrow morning to identify themselves or (though not specifically stated) they will apparently lose their standing in court.
Meanwhile, John Carney at The Business Insider today expanded on what the lenders' lawyer Tom Lauria first brought out on WJR Radio on Friday, when Lauria told talk-show host Frank Beckmann that "One of my clients was directly threatened by the White House."
Imagine that former Vice President Dick Cheney was set to be honored next month at a Catholic university's commencement ceremony and news came down that another person to be honored at the same ceremony with a different award declined the honor, stating that she felt it inappropriate for the university to honor a man who believes in and furthered the use of torture by condoning waterboarding of enemy combatants.
The press, it's safe to say, would have a field day. But that's not the case with the news of Mary Ann Glendon -- a pro-life Catholic and Harvard professor who is displeased with Notre Dame honoring pro-choice President Barack Obama -- declining to accept the Laetare Award from Notre Dame University.
Yesterday evening NewsBusters Editor-at-Large Brent Baker noted that only NBC's "Nightly News" touched on the story, and that only briefly. This morning, not even NBC's "Today" show mentioned the development in the ongoing commencement speech controversy. Broadcast TV competitors "Good Morning America" and CBS's "The Early Show" ignored the story as well.
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):
Much to the surprise of...everyone, I bet, the Washington Post today ran a front page story on how the Obama tax plan will hurt small businesses. I am not making this up. Small Businesses Brace for Tax Battle: Under Obama Plan, Some Entrepreneurs' Bills Would Soar. Kudos to reporters Lori Montgomery and V. Dion Haynes for having the guts to write something questioning the Obama "Great Society" tax-and-spend extravaganza (and still within the 100-day honeymoon period of the new administration, at that). One can only imagine Obama operatives having a collective cow this morning, gripped by a rampant feeling of betrayal by the normally-friendly Washington Post. Anyhow, the article actually describes the predicament of a small business owner, Gail Johnson, who files her income taxes using the individual income tax form, like so many small business owners do. The article points out that Johnson and her husband make more than $500,00 a year but that that includes individual and business income, so it's not as wealthy as it sounds.
Here's the relevant verbiage from Simpson's column ("Switch Sides, Sen. Specter"), the primary purpose of which is to lobby for the Keystone State Senator to become a Democrat:
The first time I met Mr. Specter was in 1974 as the state department desk officer for Rhodesia. The Nixon administration was trying to repeal the Byrd Amendment, which had America importing chrome from Rhodesia in opposition to most of the rest of the world.
Mr. Specter was representing a steel state and was not inclined to vote on the issue with the Republican president. I was told before seeing him that he was hard-minded and sometimes short-tempered. Nonetheless, he heard out the State Department argument, made no commitment and eventually avoided a vote. But he was fair and did not take the obvious position automatically. He was judicious.
On April 21, the Business and Media Institute's Dan Gainor testified before the House Judiciary Committee's Courts and Competition Policy in a hearing on "A New Age for Newspapers."
As MRC's Tim Graham wrote on April 22, the hearing was spurred by the steady drumbeat of newspaper closings around the country, and calls from some Democrat lawmakers to bail out and subsidize the newspaper business.
While others testified on newsprint business models and the impact of the Internet, Gainor's statement to the subcommittee highlighted liberal bias as a major factor in the industry's decline. "The concept of a journalist as a neutral party has become a punch line for a joke, not a guideline for an industry," he said.
Ladies and Gentlemen, The Lamestream Media The media coverage of the more than 800 Taxed Enough Already (TEA) Party protests that took place in all fifty states on April 15 ranged from disdainful dismissal of their nature, significance and import, to outright hostility towards the events and individual participants, to sexual innuendo-based full-on ridicule.
In this summary, we focused on the three major networks - NBC, ABC and CBS, the two left-of-center cable news networks - CNN and MSNBC and the three major "national" newspapers - the USA Today, the New York Times and the Washington Post.
While not an exhaustively comprehensive oeuvre of TEA Party bias, it contains many, many examples which serve to illustrate the broader antipathetic themes.
MSNBC featured the Republican Party's elephant logo in a segment on Wednesday's "MSNBC News Live" about the possible rise of right-wing hate groups. Anchor Contessa Brewer introduced the piece by asserting, "The White House is warning that a bad economy, combined with the election of the nation's first black President, could draw new extremist right-wing members, especially war veterans, to a dangerous cause." An onscreen graphic behind her featured a red and blue Republican elephant and fretted, "New Right-Wing Threat?" Even if one were to believe the report, how fair is it for MSNBC to link one of America's two major parties to such violence?
A second graphic for the remainder of the segment hyperbolically wondered, "Rise of the Radical Right?" Brewer interviewed Washington Times correspondent Eli Lake, who broke the story of the new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report on Tuesday. After Lake pointed out that a footnote in the DHS analysis defines right-wing extremists as both hate groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan, and also those concerned with state rights, Brewer inquired, "Are there any of these groups that have shown violent tendencies, trying to organize, overthrow the government or anything along those lines?" Lake chuckled and mused, "I mean, other than, I guess, you know, people in the Revolutionary War in 1776?"
Here's a Tea Party Wednesday engine-starter, so to speak.
This past week, while much the world focused on the terrorists in training euphemistically known as "pirates," and the more religious among us attended Holy Week services and celebrated the Resurrection, bean counters and government bureaucrats were trying to figure out just how much a bankruptcy at General Motors could cost the treasury .... Oh, I forgot, the treasury is empty. I should have said "how much future generations will pay for General Motors' current bankruptcy."
In a Sunday night/Monday morning story that 'skillfully' buried the lede, the New York Times's Micheline Maynard and Michael J. de la Merced misdirected readers with talk of a "surgical" bankruptcy, while saving for later paragraphs evidence they have indicating that, if it occurs, it won't be a bankruptcy as you or I understand it. Properly stated, it should be renamed "Operation Make UAW Members Nearly Whole at Taxpayers' Expense."
Meanwhile, the Detroit Free Press appears to be almost unique in reporting that, hard as it is to believe (kidding, of course), GM might not actually repay all of the monies "lent" by Uncle Sam.
But back at the Times, though they waited until Paragraph 10 to drop the big number on us, Maynard and de la Merced eventually made it clear that taking a bit of a principal hit on the government's loans might be the least of taxpayers' problems, given the skulduggery (and that is the right word) Barack Obama and Treasury Secretary Tim "Tax Cheat" Geithner have embarked upon:
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.
As was usually the case during Bill Clinton's presidency, the ascendancy of Dear Leader Barack Obama means that we will often have to consult the output of center-right commentators, and of course the Media Research Center and its affiliates, to cut through the establishment media's puffery to pick up even the most basic pieces of news.
I have bolded items in the excerpt below that represent news that was either not reported or vastly under-reported by what's left of the establishement media (there are even more examples at Krauthammer's full column):
The Associated Press's determination to keep the identity of Democrats in trouble or under investigation hidden is indeed strong and persistent.
Its report (as of 11:03 p.m.; a copy is saved here at my web host for future reference) on the launch of an ethics probe into Democrat Jesse Jackson Jr.'s relationship with ousted former Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich, particularly relating to Jackson’s bid to be appointed to the Senate seat left vacant by President Barack Obama, does not refer to Jackson or Blago as a Democrat. Any more, that's relatively unremarkable.
What is a bit more remarkable is that the underlying Chicago Sun-Times story on the impending probe refers to Jackson twice as a "D-Ill," once in the report's very first sentence and once in the picture caption copied at the top right (which, of all things, is apparently an AP file photo).
This means that AP had to proactively scrub the Democratic Party references already present in its underlying source.
As has been mentioned here before, the Media Research Center is heading up the Free Speech Alliance (FSA). Made up thus far of sixty-five organizations, the FSA is dedicated to protecting the freedom of speech of all practitioners of conservative and Christian talk radio from any and all government regulatory censorship.
Well here is an excellent piece by Peter Ferrara of the American Civil Rights Union (ACRU), a Free Speech Alliance member organization, that appeared in Sunday's Washington Times.
This essay captures perfectly the other half of the argument we are making. Just as Rush, Sean, Mark et. Al. have the First Amendment-guaranteed Freedom to Speak, We the People have the First Amendement-guaranteed Freedom to Listen.
The Left's attempts to take away the former inherently abridge the latter too.
We will at this point allow Mr. Ferrara to speak expertly for himself.
On Monday, the UK's Evening Standard, at its "This Is London" site, matter-of-factly noted the following in the final sentence of its report about President Obama's upcoming European trip (bold is mine):
Accompanying the party will be a total of 500 officials including kitchen staff, 35 vehicles in all, four speech writers and 12 teleprompters.
This more than vindicates yours truly's "President 'Prompter" appellation.
They could even tell good jokes and break news at the same time. As has so often been the case with Obama's gaffes and myriad foibles, the US media establishment has been nearly unanimous in ignoring the Standard's teleprompter tidbit.
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.
On Tuesday, both USA Today and the Associated Press highlighted guarded optimism that seemed a bit beyond the justifiable after the release of March's sales results for the auto industry.
Though there is perhaps some cause for hope, both reports made more out of the industry's roughly 25% sales pickup from February to March (compared to a typical 20% in previous years) than was justified. More importantly, both reports failed to specifically cite:
Continued market-share losses at bailed-out General Motors and Chrysler.
Ford's disproportionate share of that decent but not exceptional industrywide February to March pickup (seen in a chart after the jump).
There is plenty of evidence that many environmental activists are, at bottom, dangerous extremists who have deluded themselves into believing that the earth's population must be radically reduced if humanity is to survive. There is also growing evidence that this far-out viewpoint is more widely accepted among so-called mainstream environmentalists than the establishment media would have us believe.
Occasionally, these views surface. Ted Turner, father of five, infamously asserted the need to reduce the earth's population to 2 billion about a decade ago. He also expressed a stronger personal preference: "Personally, I think the population should be closer to when we had indigenous populations, back before the advent of farming. Fifteen thousand years ago, there was somewhere between 40 and 100 million people." In the early 1990s, the late Jacques Cousteau suggested that "World population must be stabilized and to do that we must eliminate 350,000 people per day." More recently, though less famously, at a Psychology Today blog, writer Stephen Kotter asserted "we need to lose 4.4 billion people and we need to lose them fast."
But I don't recall seeing an adviser to a government as prominent as the UK's Jonathon Porritt publicly utter such sentiments. But utter them he has. The UK Times Online took note on March 22:
Gallup has issued two polls in the past couple of weeks showing that the reality is breaking through the non-stop, years-long propaganda blitz known properly known as the Great Global Warming Hoax (characterized by me since January 2007 as globaloney):
On March 11, the pollster told us that "Although a majority of Americans believe the seriousness of global warming is either correctly portrayed in the news or underestimated, a record-high 41% now say it is exaggerated." That's up from 30% three years ago.
On March 19, we were informed that "For the first time in Gallup's 25-year history of asking Americans about the trade-off between environmental protection and economic growth, a majority of Americans say economic growth should be given the priority, even if the environment suffers to some extent." And it's a 51-42 rout, a 27-point swing from 55-37 the other way just two years ago. Since globaloney is the main environmental justification for slowing (really stopping) economy growth, this result is a good proxy for increased rejection of the enviro kool-aid.
Now there's a third. Yesterday, Gallup told us that not only is globaloney increasing not believed and not more important than economic growth, it's the least important environmental issue we face. You have to look past its "clever" title and subhead to get to what should be the lede, but the glum news for Saturday's Earth Hour participants is there (bolds after title are mine):
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.
Vincent Fumo's chronicle of corruption is extraordinary, even by the "standards" of Philadelphia, PA.
Thus, it's a journalistic fail that in a story about the convictions of former 30-year state senator Fumo and longtime associate Ruth Arnao, NBC Philadephia (HT Michelle Malkin) did not identify his or her Democratic Party party affiliation.
Here is a portion of NBC Philly's early-morning story:
Fumo Guilty on All Counts
Guilty is the verdict on all 137 counts for Vince Fumo in his federal corruption trail. His co-defendant Ruth Arnao is also guilty on all counts against her.
On March 6, in response to New York Times reporters' questions, President Barack Obama told the paper that he is not a socialist. He or his advisers were apparently so bothered by the questions that Obama later called the Times reporters involved in an attempt to .... well, I'm not sure, because he had already supposedly denied the charge.
The best guess is that Obama and his peeps felt he needed to get in some gratuitous digs at former president George W. Bush.
Part of Obama's phone call back to the Times including the following relative to the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) under then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson:
I did think it might be useful to point out that it wasn’t under me that we started buying a bunch of shares of banks.
..... I just think it’s clear by the time we got here, there already had been an enormous infusion of taxpayer money into the financial system.
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.
Prominent hurricane forecaster Dr. William M. Gray, a professor at Colorado State University, appeared at The Heartland Institute's 2009 International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC) in New York on March 11 to elaborate on his theory that a natural cycle of ocean water temperatures related to the salinity (the amount of salt) in ocean water was responsible for some global warming that has taken place.
It seems that so-called stimulus package funding is being spread around so widely that some of its beneficiaries can't figure out how to spend it as intended.
When it became clear to a few small cities in California's Los Angeles County that they didn't have appropriate transportation projects for their promised stimulus funding, they decided to sell the rights to that funding to other nearby locales at a discount. The selling city's resulting cash would then go into its unrestricted general fund and could be spent on anything the city wished.
Apparently these transactions aren't that unusual in the topsy-turvy world of California state and municipal finance. But it was a, uh, bridge too far for LA County's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). After approving a few stimulus-related swaps (noted in stories here and here), the MTA reversed course and putting the kibosh on those and prohibiting any future deals (noted in stories here, here, and here).
Apparently it hasn't occurred to anyone, including the local media, or the New York Times's Jennifer Steinhauer, that if these municipalities really don't need and can't use the money, US taxpayers ought to be first in line to get it back.