Free Markets, Free People

New York Times


Obama’s lies and the media’s betrayal

How little interest has the media show in the actual facts of Barack Obama’s history?

The simple answer is “very little”.  For instance I expect a minute and basically negative examination of the Mormon religion when Mitt Romney is officially nominated.  That’s already being set up by numerous of those type articles already beginning to surface.

But Obama’s 20 years in a church with a reverend who basically preached anti-Americanism and black liberation theology? Meh.

A great example of what I’m talking about is covered by Jonathan Tobin in Commentary’s “Contentions” blog.  It is about the story oft repeated by Obama.  It is his version of his mother death of cancer because those nasty old insurance companies wouldn’t pay.

It’s a lie.  Again, I use the word “lie” much less frequently than do many in the press or around the blogosphere.  A lie is a knowing falsehood. I try to restrict my usage to that tight definition.  As it turns out, the story Obama has told repeatedly as the truth about his mother’s death is, in fact, a lie.  Oh, and the mainstream media knows it. 

Proof?  Well, they said so.

Never let it be said the New York Times is afraid to tackle an unflattering story about President Obama, even if it’s often a delayed reaction. The paper’s political blog The Caucus deigned to notice today that the new biography of the president by David Maraniss uncovered the fact that much of Dreams From My Father, the highly praised Barack Obama autobiography, is either fabricated or exaggerated. The Times’s Michael Shear opines that having its author now sitting in the White House has brought Dreams more scrutiny than its author could have envisioned when he wrote it in 1995. But the problem with contemporary analyses of the questionable personal history in the book is not so much the peril associated with being a famous political author but whether the book provides proof of a pattern of falsehoods and distortions about his past that has been one of the hallmarks of the president’s public career.

The answer to that question is contained near the bottom of the piece in which Shear lets drop that proof of such a pattern was already provided by his own newspaper last year. Though the Times buried the story when it broke and then never followed up or editorialized on the scandal, it was their own reporter Janny Scott whose research on the life of the president’s mother Ann Dunham revealed that the oft-told story of her dying because of the failure of her health insurance company to pay for her cancer treatment was a flat out lie. But while Shear is right that this year’s election will not turn on how Maraniss’s book is received, the unwillingness of the Times and other mainstream publications to call out Obama for writing fiction and calling it autobiography gives us a good indication of how much of an advantage having a quiescent media is for an incumbent president. [emphasis mine]

You know the standard line here: imagine them discovering something like this about someone on the right.  Do you suppose it would not be followed up or be editorialized?  Do you suppose they’d skip pointing out it seems to indicate a pattern?

As to that pattern and the specifics of his mother’s death:

The fables Obama seems to have told about his alienation, his girlfriends and the rest of his over-intellectualized voyage of self-discovery actually pale in comparison to the whopper he told when running for election in 2008 that his mother died because she had been denied coverage and treatment of her disease. Scott revealed that in fact the expenses relating to her cancer had been paid by her insurance. Though she had a separate and totally unrelated dispute relating to disability coverage, Scott’s research proved that Obama’s statement during the 2008 presidential debate was fiction:

“For my mother to die of cancer at the age of 53 and have to spend the last months of her life in the hospital room arguing with insurance companies because they’re saying that this may be a pre-existing condition and they don’t have to pay her treatment, there’s something fundamentally wrong about that.”

It bears repeating that the president knew this account was false because he served as his mother’s attorney in all her dealings with the insurance company. [emphasis mine]

And where did the Times run this revelation?  What was the White House reaction?

When the Times ran that story (on page 14 rather than on the front page), the White House chose not to deny the truth of Scott’s reporting. But that didn’t stop the Obama campaign from  refloating the same falsehoods about Ms. Dunham having perished for lack of insurance coverage in an autobiographical campaign film narrated by Tom Hanks.

So the Times discovered what would be a bombshell revelation were it anyone else, they plop it out on page 14, the White House denies it and that ends it?

Now that’s journalism isn’t it?  Duty fulfilled, even halfheartedly, and now safe to ignore.  Meanwhile the lie lives on and no one even bothers to address the fact that’s what it is.  It is pure political propaganda designed to demonize an industry in order to gain popular consent to all but wreck it and have government take its place.

Yet, it’s only worth page 14 in the “paper of record” and zero followup. 

Not only has the president never apologized for lying to the American people about his mother’s plight, he rightly assumed that even though the truth was uncovered by the New York Times, neither that paper nor the rest of the mainstream media would follow up on it as they undoubtedly would had a Republican ever tried to sell the voters such a transparent whopper.

There’s the bottom line.

Another example of how poorly a biased media is serving the public.  Yet they wonder why the public’s confidence in them continues to drop and newspapers all over the country are dying.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


New York Time editorial declares war on GOP [update]

I sometimes wonder what world the editorial board of the New York Times calls home.  It certainly isn’t the one the rest of us live in.  But I guess it is necessary to live in an alternative world to be able to push narratives like it pushes in an editorial today.  The NY Times has decided, to use a poker term, to go “all in” on Obama’s “right-wing extremism” and “dishonesty” meme. 

Referencing the Obama speech yesterday, the editorial board says:

Mr. Obama provided a powerful signal on Tuesday that he intends to make this election about the Republican Party’s failure to confront, what he called, “the defining issue of our time”: restoring a sense of economic security while giving everyone a fair shot, rather than enabling only a shrinking number of people to do exceedingly well. His remarks promise a tough-minded campaign that will call extremism and dishonesty by name.

Remember Obama, who’s answer to the “defining issue of our time”, submitted each of the two years (I’m talking about his budgets) has gone a collective 0-511.  That’s right, the two budgets he’s submitted to address the “defining issue of our time” hasn’t garnered a single vote in two years.  

Why?  Primarily because neither of the budgets convinced a single legislator of either party, to include the President’s own, that they addressed that issue at all.

Yet he presumes to lecture the GOP on the failure to confront this issue?  And the NYT somehow manages to buy into that nonsense?

The GOP budget at least passed the House.  The NYT presumes that no negotiations are possible because, again, it buys into the Obama claim that the GOP won’t compromise.   Nonsense.  Compromise doesn’t mean wholesale capitulation.  In an negotiation or compromise there are lines drawn over which the two parties won’t give in.  Each side has them.  The NYT and Obama, naturally, want to characterize the lack of movement as GOP intransigence.  But the Democrats are equally intransigent.  They want more money in taxes.  The GOP continues to point out that taxes aren’t the problem.  The problem is spending.

Says the NYT:

Mr. Obama has, in recent months, urged Republicans to put aside their destructive agenda. But, in this speech, he finally conceded that the party has demonstrated no interest in the values of compromise and realism. Even Ronald Reagan, who raised taxes in multiple budget deals, “could not get through a Republican primary today,” Mr. Obama said. While Democrats have repeatedly shown a willingness to cut entitlements and have agreed to trillions in domestic spending cuts, he said, Republicans won’t agree to any tax increases and, in fact, want to shower the rich with even more tax cuts.

Ronald Regan agreed to raising taxes in return for what from the Democrats?

Spending cuts.  In fact as I recall, his deal was 1 1/2 to 2 times the spending cuts to the tax increases.  Guess what never happened?

That’s right – spending cuts.

So call it a lesson learned.  What the GOP is pointing out that until the spending cuts are implemented and take effect, there is no reason to discuss revenue increases.

That’s a common sense approach that best safeguards the citizenry’s money and is based on a history that says the Democrats don’t keep their word about spending cuts.

I don’t blame the GOP for refusing to compromise on taxes.

Finally, and I’ve flipped the paragraph order in the editorial, consider the NYT lede:

President Obama’s fruitless three-year search for compromise with the Republicans ended in a thunderclap of a speech on Tuesday, as he denounced the party and its presidential candidates for cruelty and extremism. He accused his opponents of imposing on the country a “radical vision” that “is antithetical to our entire history as a land of opportunity.”

There has been no search for compromise with President “I won”.  None.  And it is amazing to see smaller and less intrusive government being characterized as a “radical vision” that is “antithetical to our entire history”.  It is the basis of our entire history up until the welfare state came into being.

“The land of opportunity” was such because of a lack of government interference, not because of it.  Obama and the left continue to attempt to rewrite history in a manner in which they redefine the words and key phrases that characterized our nation differently than they’d like prior to the institution of the welfare state.

The radical vision is that which Obama, the NYT  and the Democrats continue to push, not the GOP.  They don’t seem to understand that the majority of the American people have come to understand that we just can’t afford their radical vision and that government control of more and more of our lives is not a “good thing”. 

If there is anyone out of touch with the American people it is Mr. 0-511. He hasn’t a clue.

And neither does the New York Times editorial board.

UPDATE: A further thought sparked by a comment by The Shark.  If compromise is what Obama and the Democrats really want, they’ve had two opportunities to actually force that or at least make the argument they attempted it.  For two years the GOP House has passed a budget.   The way the Congress works is the Senate then passes its version of the budget and the two houses of Congress get together and hash out the differences (known commonly as “compromise). 

Except the Democratically controlled Senate hasn’t passed a budget in over 1000 days.  So who isn’t interested in compromise, Mr. President?  And why aren’t you exerting a little leadership and confronting the Senate about its dereliction of duty?  If “compromise” is so all fired important to you, why are you neglecting the easiest way of forcing it?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


NYT: Dealing with reality by calling the result racist

Perhaps not openly, but certainly more than just by implication.

Here’s the problem as stated in the lede of the NY Times editorial:

Buried in the relatively positive numbers contained in the November jobs report was some very bad news for those who work in the public sector. There were 20,000 government workers laid off last month, by far the largest drop for any sector of the economy, mostly from states, counties and cities.

Oh, my.  So, it would seem that city, county and state governments are finally dealing with the reality of their fiscal condition and, unfortunately, doing what must be done to meet the new reality of limited budgets, right?  It’s about time.  Many of us pointed out that the “stimulus” only put off reality, it didn’t supplant it.   At sometime in the near future (like now) those government entities were going to have to deal with the reality of decreased tax revenues and shrunken budgets.

Well, not according to the NY Times which manages to stretch this into something completely different.  You see, it is a grand plan being pushed by the racist GOP in case you were wondering:

That’s one reason the black unemployment rate went up last month, to 15.5 percent from 15.1. The effect is severe, destabilizing black neighborhoods and making it harder for young people to replicate their parents’ climb up the economic ladder. “The reliance on these jobs has provided African-Americans a path upward,” said Robert Zieger, an emeritus professor of history at the University of Florida. “But it is also a vulnerability.”

Many Republicans, however, don’t regard government jobs as actual jobs, and are eager to see them disappear. Republican governors around the Midwest have aggressively tried to break the power of public unions while slashing their work forces, and Congressional Republicans have proposed paying for a payroll tax cut by reducing federal employment rolls by 10 percent through attrition. That’s 200,000 jobs, many of which would be filled by blacks and Hispanics and others who tend to vote Democratic, and thus are considered politically superfluous.

Wow … in a world of groundless claims, that’s perhaps one of the most groundless I’ve seen.  The case isn’t even cleverly built.  I mean how do you like the claim “many Republicans … don’t regard government jobs as actual jobs”.  Really?  Since when?  As I understand “many Republicans” they support a small and limited government but see this one as an outsized behemoth.  I agree with them.  What they talk about is cutting the size of government. And the intrusiveness of government. That necessarily means cutting jobs.  But they don’t support cutting the size of government because it will make those that are “considered politically superfluous” unemployed.  That’s just race baiting nonsense. They support it because that’s the conservative ideology based in a foundational concept of this nation.

By the way, unlike the NY Times, most people don’t consider the government to be a “jobs program”. Government is a necessary evil not a method of “getting ahead”.  It is there to serve, not provide “a path upward” (although there is nothing wrong with those who’ve been given the opportunity to take advantage of it).  It is there to be just as big as it needs to be and not one bit bigger.  But who or what color those who work in government are is irrelevant … even to the GOP.

Finally, what you most likely won’t hear is the NY Times whining about are any cuts in defense which will see troop strength radically reduced.  Those are good government job cuts too.  And many blacks and Hispanics have chosen that field as “a path upward” too.  But those are jobs they’re fine with being cut.  After all, if they cut more of those they can probably fund the 230,000 new bureaucrats wanted by the EPA to enforce it’s regulations.

How lame is the “racist” argument today?  Well, here’s your latest example.  I’m sure your no more surprised at the source than I am.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


The NYT on the UK riots — the Grey Lady still doesn’t get it

The New York Times published an editorial today that reminds one how  liberally biased the paper’s editorial board is.  In its editorial it claims that all of the problems the UK has recently undergone are the result of the current administration and their austerity measures.

Cameron has been talking tough, suggesting that perhaps eviction or cutting off benefits to looters who are on the public dole might be one means of punishing offenders and making others think twice about committing such crimes again.   He’s even talked about cutting off internet service in areas hit by flash looting mobs to cut their communication links.

The Times finds all of that an abhorrent over-reaction, and there are some good arguments against such moves by government.  But that’s not where the NYT editorial board gets it wrong.  It is here:

Such draconian proposals often win public applause in the traumatized aftermath of riots. But Mr. Cameron, and his Liberal Democrat coalition partners, should know better. They risk long-term damage to Britain’s already fraying social compact.

Making poor people poorer will not make them less likely to steal. Making them, or their families, homeless will not promote respect for the law. Trying to shut down the Internet in neighborhoods would be an appalling violation of civil liberties and a threat to public safety, denying vital real-time information to frightened residents.

Britain’s urban wastelands need constructive attention from the Cameron government, not just punishment. His government’s wrongheaded austerity policies have meant fewer public sector jobs and social services. Even police strength is scheduled to be cut. The poor are generally more dependent on government than the affluent, so they have been hit the hardest.

What Britain’s sputtering economy really needs is short-term stimulus, not more budget cutting. Unfortunately, there is no sign that Mr. Cameron has figured that out. But, at a minimum, burdens need to be more fairly shared between rich and poor — not as a reward to anyone, but because it is right.

This is utter nonsense.  As with most on the left the Times prefers to cast blame at those who they disagree with ideologically instead of actually analyzing the problem and admitting that perhaps it is their ideology which has led to these problems.

Point one – these riots weren’t a result of several months or even several years of austerity.  They are the culmination of a decades long social engineering project that has created a culture and is dependent upon government for everything.  It has coddled it, excused its behavior and now finds it can’t afford it.   The socialists have finally run out of other people’s money and are now paying the price for such foolhardy social engineering.

Point two – the answer to the problem isn’t now nor has it ever been more “public sector jobs and social services”.  Instead the answer is to entice the private sector into these areas and have them produce productive jobs.  Of course, if the benefits program, i.e. the dole or “the game”, continue as it has, there’s absolutely no incentive for anyone to take a job.   One of the standing jokes is about an government appeal for businesses in the UK to hire Brits instead of Eastern Europeans.  But British businesses know that Eastern Europeans will actually show up, on time and work, whereas Brits won’t.   That is a cultural problem – not an austerity problem.   And it is a cultural problem that has been caused and nurtured by the likes of those who write editorials for the New York Times.

Point three – it won’t get better by doing the same thing again.   As has been said by many, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting different results.   This is a social engineering project that has failed.  Committing money they don’t have to recreate it is the height of idiocy.

The Times also stoops to a bit of class warfare by claiming David Cameron is a product of “Britain’s upper classes and schools”.  The implication being he has no concept of the problem, being so far removed by class, and thus “he has blamed the looting and burning on a compound of national moral decline, bad parenting and perverse inner-city subculture”.

Janet Daley at the UK’s Telegraph rips into that premise and calls the Times on its hypocrisy:

Yes indeed he has, thus putting himself in agreement with about 90 per cent of the British population. But the New York Times in as uninterested in the overwhelming majority of British public opinion as it is in the great mass of American public opinion. It is as smugly and narrowly orthodox in its Left-liberal posturing as its counterparts in Britain. (If the BBC were to be reincarnated as an American newspaper, it would be the New York Times.) So it carries on in class war mode with accusations about Mr Cameron’s blithe imperiousness: “Would he find similar blame – this time in the culture of the well housed and well-off – for Britain’s recent tabloid phone hacking scandals or the egregious abuse of expense accounts by members of Parliament?”

Well as it happens, the MPs’ expenses scandal is pretty small beer by comparison to the “pork barrel” and lobbying scandals which have dogged the US Congress for generations. Would the New York Times like to opine on how much relevance the class backgrounds of Washington legislators have to those problems?

If the Times could find an angle that would help it push its outmoded ideological argument, probably so, but her point is well taken.  Dailey concludes with the real reason for the editorial, fact free as it is – it’s all about certain politics:

The remedies which it criticises Mr Cameron for adopting are, in fact, not within his personal power at all: evicting tenants from council housing is a matter for local councils not for the Westminister government. And he has not proposed “shutting down the internet in neighbourhoods [where there is civil disorder]“. As far as the New York Times is concerned, the riots of last week were all about the state of the economy and the Government’s spending cuts: an argument so untenable that even the Labour party does not advance it. In its pious conclusion, the editorial states unequivocally that “what Britain’s sputtering economy really needs is short-term stimulus, not more budget cutting.” Barack Obama couldn’t have asked for a more generous endorsement. And that, one assumes, is what this ludicrous exercise in Schadenfreude was all about.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


NY Times still clueless about economic woes

Cluelessness seems to be a fairly rampant disease among those who seem unable to peer objectively at reality and analyze it.  They prefer to pretend they know what they’re talking about and unhelpfully prescribe exactly the wrong antidote every single time (in this case, more of what we’ve watched fail for two plus years).  And, as it turns out, the New York Times editorial board is peerless among that group:

It was not surprising to hear the Republican presidential candidates repeat their tiresome claim that excessive government spending and borrowing were behind Friday’s terrible unemployment report. It was depressing to hear President Obama sound as if he agreed with them.

And the NYT’s claim as to why that’s not the case?

There has never been any evidence that the federal debt is primarily responsible for the persistent joblessness that began with the 2008 recession. The numbers have remained high because of weak consumer demand and stagnant wage growth, along with an imbalance between jobs and job skills.

Who has ever argued that “federal debt is primarily responsible for the persistent joblessness?”  Certainly there are other factors.  However, there’s no question that excessive government spending – i.e. borrowing to spend – has had a hand in the stagnation we’re now undergoing.  In fact, increased and excessive government spending has had no effect and, given the promises made, could be argued to have had a negative effect. 

The debt is the indicator of the problem – excessive and unaffordable spending.  As we’ve been pointing out for months, revenue isn’t the problem – spending is.   So pointing to this strawman, as the NY Times does, is just more politics from the side who thinks it prudent to penalize those who produce in order to bail out those who spend what they produce (and the reason the Democrats insist on calling the present income tax levels “Bush tax cuts”).  What doesn’t seem to penetrate the thinking of those who continue to push this line is one of the reasons we’ve had weak consumer demand and stagnant wage growth is the unsettled business and regulatory atmosphere this administration has created in its 2 plus years.  That, of course is pushed aside by the NYT in favor of this argument:

The president may have a nebulous approach to unemployment, but he is hardly indifferent to it. His re-election hinges on reducing it. It is hard to understand, though, why Mr. Obama has adopted the language of his opponents in connecting the economy to the debt. To his credit, he talked about the one step that would work — investing money in rebuilding the country. But the debt-ceiling ideas he is now considering would make that investment much less likely by pulling hundreds of billions of dollars out of the economy at precisely the moment when the spending is needed most.

Yeah, there’s absolutely no connection between the “economy” and the “debt” is there?   Of course there is?   And pretending that borrowing money we don’t have to push it out in the economy and calling it an ‘investment’ doesn’t fool most rational folks.  The NYT even points out that the last time the money was thrown out there is it mostly went to service state debt which only delayed the inevitable.  Now, apparently, that will somehow be different in the face of “weak consumer demand”.   Really?   And, of course, the jobs the NYT laments about aren’t private sector jobs but government jobs (state and local) which we all know are the engine of our economy (/sarc).

The types of increases in revenue that government should be encouraging are those that come from private sector jobs.   They provide tax revenue from created wealth.   They don’t require the government to borrow money to “invest” (i.e. borrow money, create jobs and then tax the jobs created with the borrowed money and claim “increased revenue”.  Make sense to you?).

So while I don’t disagree with the Times when it says “his re-election hinges on reducing” unemployment, it appears the Times would opt for the easy and wrong way to do it – borrow more money, pump it into creating make-work jobs just long enough to get Obama past the 2012 election.   Then, who care?   Debt ceiling, increased drag on the economy’s GDP and all that stuff, forgetaboutit.  Well, at least till they get this guy re-elected.  Then, of course, I expect a clarion call by the Times wondering how this could have all be so mismanaged and spinning and twisting it, as they have in this editorial, so it all ends up being the fault of the Republicans.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


New York Times: NY is not like WI

The NYT editorial board has decided it is time to rein in the compensation that government union employees get:

That huge increase is largely because of Albany’s outsized generosity to the state’s powerful employees’ unions in the early years of the last decade, made worse when the recession pushed down pension fund earnings, forcing the state to make up the difference.

Although taxpayers are on the hook for the recession’s costs, most state employees pay only 3 percent of their salaries to their pensions, half the level of most state employees elsewhere. Their health insurance payments are about half those in the private sector.

In all, the salaries and benefits of state employees add up to $18.5 billion, or a fifth of New York’s operating budget. Unless those costs are reined in, New York will find itself unable to provide even essential services.

So to review – government unions conspired to elect union friendly Democrats to the state legislature who in turn then granted, via “outsized generosity [with other people’s money]”, incredibly expensive benefits that cost those union members next to nothing.

Uh, yeah, I think that’s what has been said about Wisconsin as well.   But in its very next paragraph, the NYT says, presumably so as not to seem too anti-union or anti-worker, that pointing this out isn’t either of those things, but that darn GOP is both:

To point out these alarming facts is not to be anti- union, or anti-worker. In recent weeks, Republican politicians in the Midwest have distorted what should be a serious discussion about state employees’ benefits, cynically using it as a pretext to crush unions.

The NYT provides one of the perverse joys I look forward too each day – trying to figure out how the editorial board will torture both the language and logic to come up with the positions it assumes.  This is another example.  What is happening in Wisconsin – almost precisely the same scenario – is anti-worker and anti-union because good old Governor Walker is one of them – a Republican.

But Governor Cuomo?  Why the model of what it means to be a union friendly Democratic governor:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has pursued a reasonable course, making it clear that he expects public unions to make sacrifices, starting with a salary freeze. He wants to require greater employee contributions to pensions and health benefits, with a goal of saving $450 million.

Negotiations begin this month, but so far union leaders have publicly resisted Mr. Cuomo’s proposals. If they don’t budge, Mr. Cuomo says he will have to lay off up to 9,800 workers.

Wait, what?  Capitulate or he lays off 9,800 workers?  Wow, that sounds pretty familiar.  So that’s a reasonable course, but what Walker has proposed (do the same or he lays off 1,500 workers) is a “cynical…pretext to crush unions”.

Got it. 

By the way, in WI, government union workers are being asked to pay 12% of their health benefit costs, up from 6%.  In NY, government union workers only pay 3%, far below the 20% private workers pay. And, NY government union workers have received pay increases every year (3%), to include last year (4%) in the middle of the downturn. 

The average salary for New York’s full-time state employees in 2009 (even before the last round of raises) was $63,382, well above the state’s average personal income that year of $46,957. Mr. Cuomo’s proposed salary freeze for many of the state’s 236,000 employees is an important step to rein in New York’s out-of-control payroll. It could save between $200 million and $400 million.

Pay freeze?  Huh.  Reasonable in NY, not reasonable in WI?

And pensions?

In 2000, employee pensions cost New York State taxpayers $100 million. They now cost $1.5 billion, and will be more than $2 billion in 2014. Wall Street’s troubles are a big part of that. But so are state politics. The Legislature, ever eager to curry favor with powerful unions, added sweeteners to pensions and allowed employees to stop making contributions after 10 years.

Of course the salient question avoided by the Times (and the coverage in WI) is “which politicians were “ever eager to curry favor with powerful unions”?”  In WI we know – they’re hiding out in IL.   In NY?  Well simply look at which party has controlled the Assembly for decades, including a supermajority now.  It wasn’t that cynical union crushing GOP (they’ve held off and on slim majorities in the state’s Senate).

Ironically, the NYT points out why government unions are problematic and should be “crushed” without knowing it.  But, and here’s the magic part, – apparently when the NYT makes note of that it has nothing to do with being “anti-union or anti-worker”, it is just pointing out “facts”.

It is also worth considering giving new employees the option to join what is known as a defined-contribution system, similar to the 401(k) plans widely in use in the private sector, and reducing the reliance on a guaranteed benefit system that has proved so ruinously expensive. The 401(k) system shifts the risk of a falling stock market to the employee instead of the state, but in the long run may be necessary to protect vital state services from economic downturns.

Nice … a device that has been in the private sector for decades, has been pointed out by critics of the defined benefit system for just as  long as a means to drastically cut the huge benefit hole the states have dug themselves and the NYT finally gets on board.  The horror, no?  A quasi-privatized pension system that requires workers to contribute to their own retirement.  What’s next, paying more for health care benefits!

Health care – another area the state has managed well.

Current state employees pay 10 percent of their health insurance premiums for single policies, and 25 percent for family policies, which is roughly in line with national averages for the public sector. But it is considerably less than most private workers pay — 20 percent and 30 percent, respectively.

And that has the state paying about $3 billion a year in health care costs with projections seeing that rise $300 to $400 million a year.

Opines the NYT:

If the state is unable to achieve the necessary savings in wages and pensions, it may need to seek higher insurance contributions for all state workers. That benefit is not protected by the state Constitution.

You think?

So again,let’s review. The NYT thinks wages should freeze, pensions need to be privatized, and government workers must contribute much more to their medical benefits/care, right?

But:

Unlike Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Governor Cuomo is not trying to break the unions. He is pressing them to accept a salary freeze and a reduction in benefits for new workers. The unions need to negotiate seriously.

You have to laugh at this sort of nonsense.

But then there’s this, so you can again be assured that it is indeed the NYT spouting the nonsense:

We are also urging the governor to rethink his pledge to cap property taxes and allow a tax surcharge on high incomes to expire at the end of this year. That would bring the state an additional $2 billion this fiscal year, and $4 billion the following year — not enough to solve the fiscal crisis, but a serious down payment.

That’s right, the editorial board thinks solving it by increasing property taxes and taxing the “rich” is a wonderful idea.

And in an attempt to put a spin on the plea for more taxes:

The state’s middle-class workers will have to make real sacrifices. New York’s many wealthy residents, all of whom are benefiting substantially from a new federal tax break, should have to pay their fair share as well. That would bring the state an additional $2 billion this fiscal year, and $4 billion the following year — not enough to solve the fiscal crisis, but a serious down payment.

The middle class workers the Times is talking about are government union members who, on average, earn  $16,425 a year more than the private sector “middle class” employees. The government employees would have to do something the average middle class worker in the state has been doing for decades – pay more for their benefits. 

But, this gives the editorial board’s an opportunity to talk about its favorite method of problem solving – raising taxes on the rich and on property owners.   And you have to love the language of class warfare – “the state’s middle class workers”, “fair share”, “wealthy residents” (they’re citizens, NYT, just like the middle class workers) and a “serious down payment” on solving the fiscal problem.  Of course, not a word in the editorial about spending cuts.

Oh, and union, you need to “negotiate seriously.”.

Uh huh.

But remember, none of this is like Wisconsin.  And don’t you forget it.

~McQ


NYT: Blogs “wane” as young set moves to sites like Twitter

In another example of how little the NYT knows about blogging (but fervently wishes for the day they’d just go away and the Times could get back to the good old days of deciding what is news or just flat making it up), it reports today that blogs are on the “wane”.  Check out this paragraph:

Like any aspiring filmmaker, Michael McDonald, a high school senior, used a blog to show off his videos. But discouraged by how few people bothered to visit, he instead started posting his clips on Facebook, where his friends were sure to see and comment on his editing skills.

“I don’t use my blog anymore,” said Mr. McDonald, who lives in San Francisco. “All the people I’m trying to reach are on Facebook.”

This is the lead for the story.  It is clueless.

Some 17 year old who likes to make videos doesn’t use his blog to show them off anymore, but instead uses Facebook – and that sounds the death knell of blogs?

What this youngster wanted to do was show his vids off to a few (tens? hundreds?) friends at most.  Facebook is a much better venue for that.  In fact, it’s an even better venue than YouTube because your friends have to go to YouTube to find your vids vs. having them delivered to their Facebook page via your posting.  It. Makes. Perfect. Sense. 

But … it says more about the misapplication of blogging (for what the young man wanted to accomplish) than the demise of blogging.

Twitter – same thing.  For some things it’s perfect.  For others, a blog is perfect.   Depends on what you want to do.   Like say anything  that takes more than 142 characters. Blogs, Twitter and Facebook are all networking tools that provide an application that helps accomplish what the user wants to accomplish.

The case the NYT is trying to make is blogs will die out as the younger demographic moves to different venues:

The Internet and American Life Project at the Pew Research Center found that from 2006 to 2009, blogging among children ages 12 to 17 fell by half; now 14 percent of children those ages who use the Internet have blogs. Among 18-to-33-year-olds, the project said in a report last year, blogging dropped two percentage points in 2010 from two years earlier.

Well here’s a news flash – I don’t read “children” or their blogs and they most likely don’t read mine.  But note the next demo – 18-to-33 year olds – suffered a whole 2% decline from two years earlier.

As of Feb. 16th, 2011, according to Wikipedia, there were 156 million blogs in existence.  A two percent drop in two years is simply statistically insignificant.  And, blogs aren’t just for “social networking” as the Times would like you to believe.  Nor do they require writing “lengthy posts” unless you want too. 

Blogs went largely unchallenged until Facebook reshaped consumer behavior with its all-purpose hub for posting everything social. Twitter, which allows messages of no longer than 140 characters, also contributed to the upheaval.

No longer did Internet users need a blog to connect with the world. They could instead post quick updates to complain about the weather, link to articles that infuriated them, comment on news events, share photos or promote some cause — all the things a blog was intended to do.

Phenomenal – I never had to blog to “connect with the world”. Nor was any blog I was a part of “intended” for comments on the weather or to just share photos. 

I hadn’t waited on blogs to “connect with the world” – that had been available for years via email, first through bulletin board systems, then through Usenet and Google Groups.  Blogs are just another method of doing so and may someday be supplanted by something else.  But on the wane because of Facebook and Twitter? 

All I can say is if Twitter is now the first choice of someone who was once blogging, they were never a serious blogger to begin with.  And, if Facebook is now the choice of a blogger, they’ve greatly narrowed their outreach to only those who subscribe to them.  The fact that they’re on Facebook, even with an open page, doesn’t mean anyone is going to read them any more than when they had a blog.

Obviously things are going to change and evolve in the online media and social networking world, but as much as the NYT would love to declare the blog dead and gone, it’s not even close.

And a little note for the editors and publishers of the Times – when blogs have finally gone the way of the dodo bird, the NYT will most likely have predeceased them by a substantial amount of time.  My guess is Hot Air has as many or more readers than the Times does.    HuffPo just went for 300 plus million to AOL.  Point me toward the last major newspaper that sold for that much.

~McQ


NYT screams for adults while acting like a child

Reading the first paragraph in an NYT editorial gave me a rather cynical chuckle this morning

Are there any adults in charge of the House? Watching this week’s frenzied slash-and-burn budget contest, we had to conclude the answer to that is no.

Really – is that the answer?  Or is the answer there haven’t been any adults in charge for years – decades even – as evidenced by the horrendous fiscal mess we’re in today.

The NYT’s answer?  Apparently the status quo is alright with the Grey Lady.  Check this out:

First Speaker John Boehner’s Republican leadership proposed cutting the rest of the 2011 budget by $32 billion. But that wasn’t enough for his fanatical freshmen, who demanded that it be cut by $61 billion, destroying vital government programs with gleeful abandon.

Here we go … speaking of acting like adults, it would be nice if the NYT would try it.  As Rand Paul pointed out, $32 billion is about 5 days of government spending.  $61 then would be about 10.  And the $81 billion they’re now talking about – tack on 4 more days. The NYT wants you to seriously believe that eliminating that pittance would destroy “vital government programs”?   We’re talking a multi-trillion dollar budget here guys.  Until we’re talking trillions in cuts, we’re not talking about serious cuts.

In fact, what the NYT is worried about is cuts to some programs it considers to be vital but apparently others don’t. 

If the Republicans got their way, it would wreak havoc on Americans’ lives and national security. This blood sport also has nothing to do with the programs that are driving up the long-term deficit: Medicare, Medicaid and, to a lesser extent, Social Security.

Well here’s the bad news for the NYT – to get the budget back on a sustainable track, it is going to require a little “havoc” within the budget and certainly a dramatic lessening of spending.

Obviously I agree that the programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security have to be addressed.  But that doesn’t exempt the other areas where spending may be less in terms of those programs but just as wasteful, unnecessary or unneeded.  You aren’t going to address the problems of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security in a Continuing Resolution – that’s a ‘red herring’.  The fact that the big 3 haven’t been addressed yet doesn’t mean they won’t be nor does it mean discretionary spending shouldn’t be.

So, if the mean old Republicans end up cutting $81 billion out of the 7 month Continuing Resolution to fund government (since the Democratic Congress didn’t do its primary job and pass a budget) what will that mean?

Several credible economists have said that an $81 billion cut could result in up to 800,000 layoffs throughout the American economy.

The House freshmen seemed even less concerned about the effect of their budget slashing. “A lot of us freshmen don’t have a whole lot of knowledge about how Washington, D.C., is operated,” Representative Kristi Noem, a Republican of South Dakota, told the Conservative Political Action Conference last week. “And, frankly, we don’t really care.”

Frankly, he shouldn’t.  My guess is government will trundle along without a hiccup if the worst case (and you know that’s what is going to be presented here) scenario of 800,000 layoffs materializes.   It won’t, of course.   We all know how this works – if in fact the cuts were to cause layoffs, most would come through attrition and early retirement packages vs. being “let go”. 

No, this is the usual “if they do that, the baby ducks will die” rhetoric in which any cut is countered with the worst imaginable scenario whether feasible or not.  Government’s job is not providing employment.  It is doing the people’s business and protecting the nation.  And it should do that in as lean a posture as possible.  That’s what an adult would say.

Of course Obama has bowed up and claimed he will veto any such “job killing” measure.  If I were the GOP I’d be saying “go ahead, make my day”, because it then becomes a matter of explaining that the GOP attempted to cut spending and the size of government, but Big Government Obama, who depends on the votes of public service unions to win reelection, opted for them over the will of the people.

~McQ


Was it bias or lack of time that caused the NYT to get the Giffords story so wrong? Or both?

The New York Times public editor, Arthur Brisbane, engages in a little self-criticism of the Times.  It is about the Giffords shooting, and it highlights one of my critiques of the media for years.

That is, it feels the need to get the story out first rather than getting the story out right.  Or perhaps “feels the need” isn’t the right way to say that – the media has devolved into an industry where getting the story out first has become more of a priority than getting it out right.

The Giffords shooting and the Times give us the perfect case study.  First the premise:

JIM ROBERTS, the assistant managing editor who has helped create today’s NYTimes.com, likes to call it the 1440/7 news cycle — 1,440 minutes every day, seven days a week, each one of those minutes demanding news for delivery to a networked world.

In a word – wrong.

I don’t know about you, but as a consumer of news, what some might call a news junkie, I’m not demanding “news for delivery” in every one of those minutes.  Heck, I couldn’t absorb that much news – nor could anyone else.  What I want is factual, complete and comprehensive news delivered when it is ready to be delivered – i.e. confirmed and out of the realm of rumor.

In the case of the Giffords shooting the Times failed miserably at meeting my demand.  Brisbane details the failure.

A major breaking news event, occurring on a Saturday afternoon with a small staff on duty, with print deadlines to worry about and a Web site that needed to be fed as fast and as frequently as possible.

The Times’ first online posting came at 1:47 p.m., followed by two quick updates — at 1:53 and 2:16. These stories, pieced together from other news organizations that were on the ground in Tucson, reported the shootings and other basic facts, attributing word of the shooting to the congresswoman’s spokesman, C. J. Karamargin. At this point, her condition was described as “unclear.”

At 2:27, though, the story was revised to say Ms. Giffords had been shot and killed, attributing the information to Mr. Karamargin and “news reports.” Lower in the story, those news reports were identified as coming from NPR and CNN. As it turned out, the information was incorrect. The Times compounded the error by appearing to attribute it in part to Ms. Giffords’s own spokesman, who was not the source of the error.

Or said another way, the Times got it completely wrong and really didn’t know they had.  The question then is this – did anyone get on the phone to NPR and CNN or Rep. Giffords spokesperson and try to confirm the details?  Apparently not.

Enter the infamous “3 layers of editors”:

Here’s how the error was made. It was hectic in the newsroom with many news reports flowing in as Kathleen McElroy, the day Web news editor, was trying to decide whether The Times was ready to report Giffords’s death. She decided against it and was telling Web producers to hold off reporting it in a news alert when J. David Goodman, who was writing the story, told her he had a few changes he wanted to make.

Ms. McElroy said, “I should have looked at every change,” but she thought Mr. Goodman was referring to small stuff. Mr. Goodman told me he then erred by reporting Representative Giffords’s death in the lead as though The Times itself were standing behind the information. In any event, Ms. McElroy had said O.K. without seeing that change, so Mr. Goodman pushed the button.

And suddenly, the Times was reporting, unedited, the death of Giffords.

Brisbane entitles his critique, “Time, the enemy”.  I call BS.  It wasn’t time that was the enemy, it was the unspoken premise that says “it is more important to get it out first than to get it out right” that seems to have infiltrated the media.  Brisbane sort of admits to that in another paragraph:

The Tucson shootings afforded another, quite different illustration of the pressure of time in news coverage — not pressure measured in seconds and minutes, but pressure that news organizations feel to define the context of a story, to set up a frame for it, sometimes before the facts can be fully understood.

Note his choice of words.  “define the context of a story” – “to set up a frame for it”.  He claims that has to be done “sometimes before the facts can be fully understood’”.

Really?  How in the freakin’ world does one “define the context of a story” without knowing the facts?  Well, as it turns out, they’re reduced to making assumptions and those assumptions, in the case of Giffords, were wrong.

The Times’s day-one coverage in some of its Sunday print editions included a strong focus on the political climate in Arizona and the nation. For some readers — and I share this view to an extent — placing the violence in the broader political context was problematic.

It wasn’t “problematic”, it was, as one reader claimed “a rush to judgment”.  So what was that rush to judgment based on?

One would have to assume, given the Times admits it didn’t have all the facts, it was based in bias.  How else does one “set up a frame” for a story for which it admittedly doesn’t have all the facts or “before the facts can be fully understood”?  You go with what you believe to be true, that’s how.

And, apparently, that’s precisely what the NYT and a whole bunch of other news organizations, politicians, pundits and bloggers did.

So strong was this bias that the Times admits it missed even more facts available and germane to the story:

Meanwhile, opportunities were missed to pick up on evidence — quite apparent as early as that first day — that Jared Lee Loughner, who is charged with the shootings, had a mental disorder and might not have been motivated by politics at all.

Fancy that – with the story framed the way the bias dictated, the Times wasn’t looking for facts that might contradict or dispute their frame. 

Is that what happened?  Well, not according to Brisbane.  You see, it was a function of “framing protocols” developed “generations ago”.

My, my – you mean like this nonsense?  If this is the function of generational framing protocols it would seem to me media organizations would be taking a serious look at modifying them.

Jerry Ceppos, dean of the journalism school at the University of Nevada, Reno, said journalists’ impulse to quickly impose a frame on a story is “genetic.”

“Journalists developed automatic framing protocols generations ago because of the need to report quickly,” he said. “Today’s hyper-deadlines, requiring journalists to report all day long and all night long, made that genetic disposition even more dominant.”

Nonsense. It may be "genetic" to an organization, but it is hardly "genetic" in the real sense to reporters. It is what is demanded of them by the media organization. And when that is what is demanded, inaccurate stories and bias are what you will get. And that’s precisely what the Times got.

A self-imposed dictum of "publish or die" has overridden that of "get the facts, corroborate them and get the story right" that should be dominant in any media organization. This internal requirement to "get it out first" instead of "get it out right" has naturally led to short-cuts – like pre-conceived frames which can be imposed even "before all the facts are understood".

The editors simply make assumptions based on what they initially have heard and then select the "facts" that support those assumptions. In short, they establish a bias and then "support" it. Brisbane’s two pages of equivocation and "transparency" aside, that’s the short version of what happened.

~McQ


Constitutional cites, NYT and “fundamentalism”

The New York Times editorial board wasted little time in attempting to attack the new Republican led House in the way smug elitists usually do … by invoking “fundamentalism”.   In this case the fundamentalism is an apparent attempt by a party to refocus the legislation it plans on debating and passing on the “fundamental” legal document of the land.

That just won’t do:

In any case, it is a presumptuous and self-righteous act, suggesting that they alone understand the true meaning of a text that the founders wisely left open to generations of reinterpretation.

Really?  Is that what it means?  If that were the case, I’d suggest no cite would be necessary – they’d simply do as Democrats have done for four years and pass whatever they wanted to with the implicit assumption that it is Constitutional.  Frankly, I see the move as one that says exactly the opposite of what the editors of the Times claim.  I see it as a bow to the fact that much of what has been passed lately has no relation to those powers granted Congress and the “assumption” that they do is simply unfounded.   It is a check on the validity of the legislation before it ever arrives on the floor of the House.

So what is this nonsense from the Times then?  Well it is an obvious attempt – at least to me – to lobby for business as usual because if the requirement to cite Constitutional authority for legislation were really honestly applied, I’d guess about 75% of the garbage that has been run through the place would never have been passed. 

And notice the word they choose – not “interpretation”, but “reinterpretation”.  We all know what interpretation means and it isn’t at all the same thing as reinterpretation.  One implies clarifying the original intent of the document/law/writer.  The other means making it up as you go along and as you see fit.

So it comes as no surprise that the NYT finds this “fundamentalism” both egregious and horribly inconvenient.  ”My goodness … if they really do this why, ObamaCare and …oh my!” 

Can’t have that can we?

Instead we get a catty editorial that takes cheap shots at everyone and raises the scare word of which the left is so fond.

Fundamentalist.

The Republicans’ antics are a ghastly waste of time at a moment when the nation is expecting real leadership from Congress, and suggest that the new House leadership is still unable to make tough choices. Voters, no less than drama critics, prefer substance to overblown theatrics.

The same editorial board watched the previous Congress toss trillions of dollars up into the wind of a financial storm half of it to land who knows where and then ignore the critical employment concerns of the voters and the economic crisis in general in order to pass their ideological agenda and the Times takes issue, on the first day of the new Congress, with “Republican’s antics”?

Good lord I am tickled to death that someone woke the editorial board up in time to dash this bit trash off and throw it out there.  Welcome back!  

And here’s a poser for the board -  why do you suppose the “nation is expecting real leadership from Congress” as you state?

Could it be because the last one exhibited none?   They totally ignored the wishes of the American people to instead focus selfishly on their own legislative wants.  Where was the NYT during those “antics”?  Silent as a tomb.

You have to wonder if the thought ever entered the heads of the editorial writers that perhaps the “ghastly” waste of time these “antics” take is something the American people desperately want to see – a visible return to fundamentals, to reason, and to responsibility instead of the absurdity that was Congress for the past 4 years?  Maybe these antics are a comforting demonstration that the incoming Congress “gets it” — something the NYT editorial board rarely achieves as this editorial demonstrates.

I think they might be surprised by an entirely different attitude outside the ivory tower about what they find to be “ghastly … overblown theatrics”. 

But it is always nice to see the editors, who are clueless as usual, have retained their fighting edge when in comes to being petty, smug, dismissive and ignorant.  Wouldn’t be the old Grey Lady if that wasn’t so.

~McQ