Free Markets, Free People
A compressed week of economics data begins with today’s retail sales numbers, as Redbook reports a 4.1% year-on-year sales increase, while ICSC-Goldman reports a 0.5% increase for the week, and 4.5% for the year.
The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index unexpectedly dropped almost two points to 92.5 last week. Analysts had expected an increase.
Wholesale inventories increased by 0.9% in February, but a 1.2% increase in sales left the stock-to-sales ratio unchanged at 1.17.
Yesterday I talked about the horrendous coverage of the Trayvon Martin case by much of the mainstream media. How, now, they’re walking a back much of what they claimed in stories they aired or wrote. About how both NBC and ABC had abused anything called objective and/or unbiased reporting with NBC’s purposeful re-editing of a 911 tape to make Zimmerman sound racist and ABC’s false claims concerning a lack of injuries to Zimmerman as well as claiming he made a racial slur on the 911 call.
Not to mention the NY Daily News’ claim that Neo-Nazis were patrolling Sanford FL, a completely false rumor a simple check with the Sanford Police Dept. would have revealed (as a blogger proved).
It took only two minutes. An unfounded report on a little-known blog claiming that Gov. Nikki R. Haley was about to be indicted rocketed from South Carolina political circles into national circulation, along the way becoming the latest lesson in the perils of an instantaneous news culture.
Well, no, that’s not the peril. The peril is forgetting to do what journalists and editors are supposed to do and that is check their sources and get confirmation before going with a story.
But again, at numerous main stream media organizations, those three levels of editors came up with a big #FAIL.
But journalists from news outlets that reposted Mr. Smith’s report on Twitter — including establishments old and venerable (The Washington Post, CBS News) as well as new and widely read (The Huffington Post and BuzzFeed) — had no way of knowing that in the minutes after it went online, and did not stop to check first.
March 29, 12:52 p.m.: The Palmetto Public Record publishes an article online with the headline “Haley indictment imminent? Stay tuned. …” It cites two unidentified “well-placed legal experts” who said they expected the federal Department of Justice to indict Ms. Haley “as early as this week” on charges stemming from her involvement with a local Sikh temple.
12:54 p.m.: A blogger for The Hill, a Washington newspaper that focuses on government and politics, sends a Twitter post about the article to his 1,500 followers, who include several prominent political journalists with large Twitter followings that reach into the tens of thousands. Some then repost the item — BuzzFeed just two minutes later; The Washington Post 18 minutes after that.
1:03 p.m.: The Daily Beast posts a short article, which it later removes, about the Palmetto Public Record report, becoming one of many online outlets to write lengthier items, including Daily Kos and The Daily Caller. Headlines like one on the Atlantic Wire’s post, “Nikki Haley Probably Won’t Win Republican Veepstakes,” are common.
1:12 p.m.: A USA Today reporter contacts Ms. Haley’s office with a request for comment, the first of dozens of such inquiries that will deluge the governor and her staff for the rest of the day.
1:22 p.m.: The Romney campaign, which is reported to be considering Ms. Haley as one of many possible vice-presidential choices, receives a request for comment from ABC News.
1:25 p.m.: Mr. Smith seems bemused by all the attention his report is getting, posting on Twitter: “Well, now I know what it’s like to watch a story go viral in real time.”
3:29 p.m.: Matt Drudge, whose heavily visited Drudge Report can help drive decisions in newsrooms around the country, links to a Daily Caller article under the headline “REPORT: DOJ targets S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley.”
And none of it was true.
Not everyone pushed it out there though:
“I saw the original Tweets, and my first thought was that I’d never heard of the Web site that reported it,” said Byron York, the chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner. Mr. York, a prolific Twitter poster, decided not to send the item out to his 30,000 followers. “It was a pretty easy decision to stay away from it,” he said.
Uh, no it wasn’t that easy, Byron … see the rumor mongers above who couldn’t resist. Not that repeated failures by the main stream media will at any point lesson the condescending lectures we’ll continue to get from them about why they’re so superior to blogs. Will these repeated failures on the part of the media prompt any soul searching? Has it in the past?
More importantly, given their part is spreading a false rumor one has to ask, where does Gov. Haley go to get her reputation back, media?
I know this will likely come as a huge surprise, but it appears that the almost trillion dollar stimulus bill, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama, has seen widespread fraud.
Much of the stimulus was earmarked for transportation projects:
But federal investigators have uncovered widespread financial management problems with many of the projects. As of early March, federal authorities were investigating 66 cases of alleged false statements, bid rigging, fraud and embezzlement, according to a report by Calvin L. Scovel III, the Department of Transportation’s inspector general. Justice Department lawyers are scouring 47 of those cases for potential prosecution, according to Scovel.
Twenty-five of those cases involve alleged fraud by minority-owned or operated enterprises that received preferential treatment in the awarding of the contracts, while 22 involve allegations of false claims. Investigators are also looking into nine cases of alleged violations of the prevailing wage law, three involving corruption and one case involving embezzlement, according to a report Scovel presented to the House transportation appropriations subcommittee on March 29. A spokesman for Scovel’s office declined to provide further details of the ongoing investigation, but stressed, “We take very seriously any allegations of waste, fraud, abuse or violations of the law.”
Then, of course, there were the usual nonsensical projects (most of which, I would guess, can probably be traced back to people with political connections):
Those included $4.7 million towards development of private supersonic jet travel years after the Concorde last flew, $2 million to help build a replica railroad as a tourist attraction in Nevada and nearly $1 million to help beef up security on a private entertainment cruise ship.
But back to the transportation projects. As usual, purposeful discrimination (i.e. not awarding projects to the lowest bidder but instead to the applicant that best fits the favored demographic) has led to the expected outcome – expected by anyone with at least a passing understanding of human nature:
The inspector general’s office voiced particular concern about the potential for fraud within the so-called Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program, which is aimed at increasing the number of government contracts awarded to minority-owned businesses. “There is a preference given to minority and female-owned firms and it’s to level the playing field, so to speak,” said the Inspector General’s spokesman.
A “typical scheme” involves a prime contractor persuading a minority firm to front for it in obtaining a major federal contract and then receiving a kickback of a set percentage of the overall contract, according to the spokesman.
Of course this isn’t a new scheme or the first time it has happened, but apparently it is a scheme that government, in their hurry to hand out money, was unable to thwart. And, of course, if government had simply made safeguarding the tax payers money the priority instead of trying to “level the playing field” it would have chosen the best qualified and lowest bidder to do these projects instead of basing their decision on skin color and gender.
But we’ve been over this a million times, haven’t we?
As usual, the government provides incentives to engage in fraud and then seem shocked when it occurs. Yet it occurs every time they provide those incentives, doesn’t it? It reminds you of a goose that wakes up in a new world every day. Unfortunately the incompetence of the goose is bankrupting the nation.
Obama’s attack on the Supreme Court concerning his signature legislation, ObamaCare, and the possibility of it being over turned can’t help but make one wonder how such an attack would be received by the public at large.
Well, if this Rasmussen poll is to be believed, not very well:
While President Obama cautioned the U.S. Supreme Court this past week about overturning his national health care law, just 15% of Likely U.S. Voters think the high court puts too many limitations on what the federal government can do.
In fact, a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that twice as many–30%– believe the Supreme Court does not limit the government enough. Forty percent (40%) say the balance is about right, while 15% more are undecided.
So in the great scheme of things, given this poll is accurate, more Americans than not (in fact about twice as many) are concerned the Supreme Court doesn’t limit the government enough. Hmmm …. no leverage there for the administration.
In fact, 70% of Americans find that SCOTUS is about right or needs to limit government even more.
It points to an argument the administration can start, but is unlikely to win. In fact, it would appear that most Americans, according to this survey, see the SCOTUS as a vital governor on the engine of run-away government. And they surely don’t agree that the court has acted out of the main for the most part.
That, of course, doesn’t bode well for a campaign to smear the court, does it?
Let’s see if this administration realizes that and backs off or, as it has many times in the past, blindly and arrogantly charges on.
Seriously. This administration will invest your dollars in every sort of “alternative energy” scheme but that which runs the county (i.e. fossil fuel) is not one of them. From pond scum to BS.
Western Plains Energy, LLC, a Kansas company, will use the money to "utilize waste energy resources from a local cattle feedlot to replace almost 90 percent of the fossil fuels currently used" at the plant.
"Projects such as this are a key part of the Obama Administration’s all-of-the-above approach to American energy that is supporting the development and usage of renewable energy, revitalizing rural economies and creating an America built to last," USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement touting this project as an example of the policies that cut dependence on foreign oil.
"Animal waste from a local feedlot will be the primary feedstock that Western Plains will use for the digester," USDA added. "Support for renewable energy projects such as these is an example of the many ways USDA is helping revitalize rural economies."
USDA expects the project to create 15 permanent jobs and 100 temporary construction jobs.
Just when we thought we had seen the epic failure of every single possible "alternative energy" project by this administration, along comes the announcement that the USDA is investing $5 million in a "biogas anaerobic digester" that will use "cow manure to heat an ethanol plant and create 15 permanent jobs." Which for anyone confused, is roughly exactly what it sounds like. Perhaps if "Hope and Change" is a little passé now, a far more appropriate slogan for the 2012 Campaign will be "From Bullsh*t to Jobs, and Back Again."
Got to love it … it’s heating an ethanol plant (another subsidized “alternative fuel”). And how much will each BS shoveling job cost the tax payer?
So how many sh*t shovelers does it take to run a "biogas anaerobic digester"? Apparently 15. At $333,333 a poop, pardon pop.
Oil? Well, it’s just not something this administration wants to invest your tax dollars in because it’s ideology says it’s bad stuff and while admin hacks will flap their gums about “all of the above” energy strategies, it is, in fact, invested in BS (and here’s hoping the feed lot never goes away or those sh*t shovelers will be out of work won’t they?).
As an aside, one has to wonder if these are jobs “Americans won’t do”.