July 31, 2008

Media Near-Secret: Exxon’s Taxes Almost 3x As Much As Profits

Just heard Mark Levin mention this point on his show tonight.

The item he referred to is from Mark Perry at istockanalyst.com, who commented on CNNMoney.com’s coverage of Exxon Mobil’s profit report today.

According to CNN, Exxon Mobil once again reported the largest quarterly profit in U.S. history Thursday, posting net income of $11.68 billion on revenue of $138 billion in the second quarter.

That profit works out to $1,485.55 a second.

Buried in the story we also find that “In addition to making hefty profits, Exxon also had a hefty tax bill. Worldwide, the company paid $10.5 billion in income taxes in the second quarter, $9.5 billion in sales taxes, and over $12 billion in what it called ‘other taxes.’”

….. In other words, Exxon Mobil paid $32.361 billion in taxes in the second quarter, which works out to $4,114 in taxes per second.

Go to his site to see the graph Perry put up.

Looking at it from another perspective, Exxon Mobil’s profit of about 8.4% of sales, while the taxes paid represented over 23% of sales. (August 1 AM Note: This was originally said to be 32%, but has been corrected. The transposition zombies have been appropriately tracked down and punished.)

It’s remarkable that CNN even reported the taxes paid, as they were the clear exception:

The word “tax” does not appear in the Guardian, Chronicle, or AP articles. Bloomberg only used the word in connection with the after-tax effect of the company’s Exxon Valdez settlement.

So who are the greedy ones — Exxon shareholders who want a return on their investment, or the myriad government entities who insist that their grubby fingers be in the pie?

Oh, and would it be impolite to point out that Uncle Sam alone is currently spending $2.9 trillion a year, or $91,958 per second?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Latest Pajamas Media Column (‘AP Plays Fast and Loose With Jobless Numbers’) Is Up

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:34 pm

It’s here.

It would be useful to read this in advance of tomorrow’s Employment Situation Report.

While the Associated Press’s Jeannine Aversa has referred to employers “slashing jobs” and handing out “stacks of pink slips during the past five consecutive months as the economy has lost over 350,000 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis, the fact remains that the economy has added (on a not seasonally adjusted basis — i.e., what’s actually happening) over 2.7 million jobs.

While this number sound large, it is not acceptable, and is not as high the last several years. But in terms of Aversa’s reporting, it’s the direct opposite of the “stack of pink slips” she has written up as reality for the nation’s news consumers.

Aversa’s “slashing” and “pink slip” assertions are not merely exaggerated. They are false.

If this isn’t journalistic malpractice, I don’t know what is.

I will post the column with slight modifications at BizzyBlog on Saturday (link won’t work until then) under the title “AP’s 3-Million Job Gap.”

2nd Quarter 2008 GDP — Up an Annualized 1.9% (Update: 4Q07 Was Negative; I Blame Pelosi-Reid :–>)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:42 am

The post on troop deaths in Iraq during July took longer than expected, so the runup will be rushed:

  • Consensus from the AP’s Joe Bel Bruno, as reported on Monday, was that 2nd quarter GDP growth will come in at an annualized 2.4%.
  • The Wall Street Journal’s Mark Gongloff reports a consensus of 2.3% this morning, and also notes that revisions to prior years are going to be reported today. Those also bear watching.
  • Expert economic analyst and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is presumably expecting a negative number, based on his comment a couple of weeks ago that there is “little doubt we’ve moved into recession.”

The envelope, please, from the Bureau of Economic Analysis:

Real gross domestic product — the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States — increased at an annual rate of 1.9 percent in the second quarter of 2008 (that is, from the first quarter to the second quarter), according to advance estimates released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the first quarter, real GDP increased 0.9 percent.

The Bureau emphasized that the second-quarter “advance” estimates are based on source data that are incomplete or subject to further revision by the source agency (see the box on page 3). The second-quarter “preliminary” estimates, based on more comprehensive data, will be released on August 28, 2008.

There will also be a final report near the end of September.

So it turns out that those who were calling for 1.5% – 2.0% before the end of June were closer to the mark than those who revised their estimates upward during July. Unless the next two revisions go way up (initial reax: doubtful), Brian Wesbury, who predicted 3.0% last week, overshot the mark by quite a bit for the second quarter in a row.

I think Wesbury and others who got overoptimistic (including moi) didn’t take the ISM Non Manufacturing Index’s June move into contraction seriously enough.

Further thoughts may or may not get noted after a further look and a review of the prior-year comprehensive revision.

Regardless, though it’s by no means acceptable, it’s miles away from Barack Obama’s “little doubt we’ve moved into recession.” He should acknowledge he was wrong. Don’t bet on it.

________________________________________________

UPDATE: Well, well. The press has its red meat, six months late (but they should be careful what they wish for — See Update 2).

BEA revised the fourth quarter of 2008 down to -0.2% from +0.6%, breaking the 24-quarter string of unbroken growth that began in the fourth quarter of 2001. Not that anyone in the press will pay attention, but that is the fourth-longest positive string on record (the others are 1Q-1961 to 1Q-1967, 25 quarters; 4Q-1982 to 2Q-1990, 31 quarters; 2Q-1991 to 2Q-2000, 37 quarters).

At the same time, it revised the 2nd quarter of 2007 up from +3.8% to +4.8%. So this is how the past seven quarters look now:

4Q 2006, +1.5%
1Q 2007, +0.1%
2Q 2007, +4.8%
3Q 2007, +4.8%
4Q 2007, -0.2%
1Q 2008, +0.9%
2Q 2008, +1.9%

I know the results are what they are, but seriously, does anyone remember the middle quarters of 2007 being that great (I mean, literally on fire) in comparison to the quarter that preceded it, or the two that followed?

UPDATE 2: Far be it from me to make any kind of political point (/sarc). But since the numbers are sitting there like a bunch of hanging curveballs screaming “Hit me! Hit Me!,” here goes:

  • The Republican-controlled 109th Congress’s last budget, and therefore its partial accountability for the performance of the economy, ended on September 30, 2007, the fiscal year-end of the last budget it passed. Economic growth during their last four quarters of their partial accountability was 2.8%.
  • The Democrat-controlled 110th Congress’s official budget and economy responsibility, and therefore its partial accountability for the performance of the economy, began on October 1, 2007, the effective date of the first budget it passed. That would be the first day of the fourth quarter of 2007 — the quarter that broke the 24-month 24-quarter positive streak. Annualized economic growth during the past three quarters has been less than 1%.

Given that the president has been the same person throughout the entire period, it can’t be a coincidence.

Why shouldn’t I blame Pelosi and Reid?

Just, well, y’know, puttin’ it out there. :–>
____________________________________

UPDATE 3: All politicizing aside, there’s no guarantee that future GDP comprehensive revisions, of which there will be at least two more, won’t pull 4Q-2007 back into positive territory — or make 1Q07 negative. All other quarters back to early 2005 appear to be safe from going negative.

What You Won’t See Reported About Iraq As July Ends

August 1 Note: The original post done yesterday has been updated to reflect July’s final death toll of 13 (8 hostile, 5 non-hostile).

____________________________________________

BizzyBlog readers should know that upcoming news reports about casualties in Iraq are probably going to understate how much US casualties relating to events that actually occurred during July declined.

AFP appears to be the only wire service reporting this at the moment, and it confirms my expectations. The report oddly acts as if the month is over in Iraq, even though roughly 11 hours remained (less than eight remain now) until July’s official conclusion when its brief report appeared.

Here is AFP’s beginning:

Eleven US soldiers were killed in Iraq in July, the lowest monthly toll since the US-led invasion of 2003, according to figures provided by the Pentagon.

The deadliest month was in November 2004, when 137 American troops were killed, an independent toll by icasualties.org showed. The previous low was in May when 19 soldiers were killed.

Iraq has seen a downward trend in violence since the middle of last year, although bloodshed spiked in March and April during clashes between Shiite militiamen and coalition security forces.

Since the AFP report went to press, the official US troop death toll has risen to 12 13, according to icasualties.org. Though zero would of course be ideal, assuming the current figure holds until July officially ends, this is great news.

But there are at least three important points I expect media reporting to miss or to underemphasize about July’s results.

First, the official number of deaths from hostile enemy actions is tied for the lowest number ever, going all the way back to the first full calendar month after the fall of Baghdad (to replicate, go to this link at icasualties.org and select “hostile”):

IraqHostileUStroopDeaths0708

Second, three of the July deaths from hostile action occurred as a result of events that occurred before July 2008. The Department of Defense reported yesterday that Marine Staff Sgt. Faoa L. Apineru, 31, of Yorba Linda, Calif. (RIP, soldier) , died July 2, 2007, from wounds sustained in combat support. It was originally thought that he had not died from injuries sustained during his deployment, but a subsequent investigation determined otherwise. Additionally, two soldiers who had been missing since May 2007 after being kidnapped, Army Sgt. Alex Jimenez, of Lawrence, Massachusetts, and Pvt. Byron W. Fouty, of Waterford, Michigan, (RIP, gentlemen), were found during July.

+++++++++++++++

(ADDED August 1) There was also one non-hostile death in July 2008 unrelated to current military operations. Aviation Boatswain Mate Third Class Petty officer Daniel R. Verbeke, 25, of Exton, Penn. (RIP, soldier), died July 14 in Paoli, Penn. of complications from injuries he suffered in a flight deck accident in December 2005.

+++++++++++++++

This means that there were actually just five US troop deaths relating to hostile enemy action during July, and that the total US troop death toll in July relating to current operations was really nine (five hostile and four non-hostile). July 2008 was without a doubt the safest month to be a soldier serving the USA in Iraq since hostilities began. Beyond that, the last US soldier’s death from any cause occurred at least two weeks ago.

Third, it isn’t just that July was the safest single month ever for US soldiers in Iraq. If the situation holds for another eight hours, the two-, three-, and six-month periods ending July 31 will also have been the safest ever, by far (the four prior-period deaths noted earlier, three hostile and one non-hostile, are included in these totals):

IraqTroopDeaths1236mos0708

Iraqi Security Force and civilian deaths in July, currently at 393 per icasualties.org (the final count came in at 402), are also on track to come also came in at an all-time-low since the site began tracking these results in January 2006.

As noted earlier, I don’t expect Old Media reporting to pick up many, or even any, of these important points. That is why I have posted them here. They serve to further demonstrate the remarkable job our troops have done to stabilize Iraq, train Iraq’s own troops, and largely eliminate or marginalize the enemy.

But what about Afghanistan? I’m going to wait to see how the wire services and others cover July results before dealing with that.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Positivity: Helmet saved a life, says family

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:38 am

From Nashua, NH:

Motorcyclist crashed, fell four stories
July 13, 2008

The family of a motorcyclist says his helmet saved his life as he fell four stories after crashing into a parking garage wall this week.

Leon Belesca, 28, of Nashua, fell over the wall and to the pavement below after his motorcycle crashed on the top floor of a parking garage early Friday.

“If he didn’t have his helmet on, we wouldn’t have Leon,” his father, Larry Belesca, told The Telegraph.

Belesca was in serious condition at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston with multiple injuries, but doctors said his prospects for recovery look good, his family said.

“He’s definitely holding his own,” said his sister, Meredith Belesca. “He’s got broken bones from head to toe, but neurologically he’s in good shape. There’s no spinal damage right now, and there’s no brain damage.”

Police have said that Belesca was not drunk or speeding and that it is unclear what made him lose control.

Some witnesses told police that Belesca waved goodbye to friends as he was driving off, Lieutenant Bruce Hansen said. Friends told his family it appeared as though the motorcycle shot forward for no apparent reason, his sister said.

Larry Belesca said he and Belesca’s sister remembered being shocked by how much money Belesca paid for his helmet, $200. They have since learned that is relatively inexpensive as helmets go.

“It’s the difference between life and death,” said Meredith Belesca. “It’s because of that helmet that my brother didn’t sustain brain damage and isn’t dead.” …..

Go here for the rest of the story.

July 30, 2008

‘Waste Ted’ Stevens Should Have Resigned in 2005 When He Threatened To

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:26 am

Told ya, Ted.

Porkopolis (and I’m sure other SOBers) got on this news from yesterday before I did:

Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, at 84 the longest-serving Republican in the Senate and one of its most powerful members, was indicted Tuesday on seven felony counts alleging that he lied to conceal his acceptance of $250,000 in gifts and services from a now-defunct Alaska oil services and construction company.

Stevens notified senior Republicans that he’d abide by a Senate Republican rule and temporarily step down from his ranking posts on the Senate Commerce Committee and an Appropriations subcommittee.

The indictment, returned by a federal grand jury in Washington, charges that Stevens made false statements on his annual Senate financial-disclosure statements for the years 2001 through 2006 to conceal gifts from VECO Corp. and its chief executive officer, Bill Allen. If he’s convicted, Stevens could face an unspecified fine and as much as five years in prison.

The indictment marked the latest turn in a sweeping, four-year-old federal investigation of public corruption in Alaska that already has led to seven convictions and also is focusing on veteran Republican Rep. Don Young. The investigation has revolved around VECO, whose executives have been the top donors to Alaskan political campaigns in recent years.

Saddest related story — “Indictment will hurt Stevens’ primary hopes, pollsters say.” Geez Ted, you’re 84. Withdraw already.

If you’re on the home page, a re-run of my October 22, 2005 post on Stevens (“Waste Ted” Stevens Threatens to Resign. He Should.” — without the detailed pork spending footnotes), is below the fold.

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Things I’d Like to Post About Today ….. (073008, Morning)

Filed under: TILTpatBIDHAT — Tom @ 9:06 am

….. But I Don’t Have Any Time For:

  • Evangelicals warn McCain: Just say no to Mitt — Agreed. Allah at Hot Air complains this is old news. I say it’s a new, reinforcing reminder, and there’s nothing wrong with that. To see the case against Romney’s selection as VP, and for that matter staying in public life, go here.
  • Brendan Cronin e-mailed this MSNBC link — “Heavy? Your neighborhood may be to blame; Those built before 1950 help keep you skinnier by encouraging walking.” You see, this is before eeeevil suburbia came into vogue. I would suggest that many older neighborhoods are especially good at keeping people in shape for this reason: Because of their often-higher crime rates, people learn to walk really fast.
  • Jack Shafer of Slate says, in comparing the treatment of John Edwards’s treatment vs. Larry Craig’s: “if the press craves consistency, it owes its readers some sort of assessment of Edwards.” Good luck with that.
  • What’s Left of the New York Times Watch — The stock is still in the $12-$13 range. Last week, the company raised the newsstand price to $1.50, making it double USA Today and 50 cents lower than the just-increased Wall Street Journal. Business Week (Biz Weak around here) asks how the Times’s news operation, which it estimates is worth $750 million after taking out its real estate and about.com from the company’s market value, can be worth so little. I’m amazed that it’s worth so much.
  • Just in time for the presidential election — If you think the Associated Press is bad now (wait – you know it is), just wait until AP Washington Bureau Chief Ron Fournier fully implements the sham known as accountability journalism. Steve Boriss’s subheadline at his Pajamas Media’s op-ed: “Amidst charges of bias, the AP decides to put even more opinion in its articles.”
  • Joe Lieberman (HT PrairiePundit) tells you everything you need to know about the Eeeeexcellent Overseas Adventure taken last week by the presidential candidate I refer to as “Mr. BOOHOO-OUCH” (Barack O-bomba Overseas Hussein “Obambi” Obama – Objectively Unfit Coddler of Haters) — “If Barack Obama’s policy in Iraq had been implemented, he couldn’t be in Iraq today, is because he was prepared to accept retreat and defeat, and that would mean, today, al Qaeda would be in charge of parts of Iraq, Iranian-backed extremists would be in charge of other parts of Iraq. There’d be civil war and, maybe, even genocide.” Obama was okey-dokey with leaving Iraq even given the possibility of genocide during the primary campaign. He even has a copy of the article at this web site. In fact, the AP article states that “The greater risk is staying in Iraq.” Has any presidential candidate ever been so wrong about so many things and gotten as far as Obama has?

Positivity: Miracle Cancer Survivor Defies Odds, Wins $100G Dream Wedding

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:52 am

From Tampa, Florida:

July 16, 2008

A Tampa bride-to-be who defied doctors’ expectations after being told she had a year to live four years ago has celebrated another victory — she and her fiancee won a $100,000 dream wedding.

Courtney Dempsey, 33, and Gary Courtney, 37, were among 40,000 couples who entered US Magazine’s wedding contest. The prize includes a dress and honeymoon.

“We’re beyond thrilled. We’re actually in a state of shock right now,” Dempsey said Tuesday.

Dempsey was diagnosed with late-stage melanoma four years ago and doctors told her she had less than a year to live. She survived beyond that and began dating Courtney. But soon after, doctors said she needed a double mastectomy.

Courtney asked Dempsey to move in with him so he could help her recover.

Now the couple is planning a September wedding.

As for her married name, Dempsey says she’ll follow tradition and take her groom’s name, meaning she’ll go by Courtney Courtney.

“I love it,” she said. “I’m in sales. No one will ever forget my name.”

Go here for the rest of the story.

Obama’s Excellent Overseas Adventure Does Little for Evening News Ratings, As Their Long-Term Decline Continues

Filed under: Business Moves,MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:19 am

GibsonWilliamsCouric0708.jpeg(….. or, “we followed Barack Obama around like starstruck
rock groupies, and we didn’t even get a 1% bounce”)

____________________________________________

So the Big 3 networks sent their evening news anchors on the road to follow Barack Obama around last week on his Excellent Overseas Adventure.

If the nets’ managements harbored any hopes that doing so might significantly increase their overall audience, or meaningfully increase the number of viewers in the key 25-54 demographic, those hopes were dashed when last week’s ratings were released Tuesday (Source for all ratings info in this post – Media Bistro Newser: July 21, 2008; July 14, 2008; July 23, 2007; July 16, 2007):

EveningNews072108and071408

If you’re on the home page, analysis is below the fold.

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July 29, 2008

Positivity: Baby Survives 4-Floor Plunge

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 11:29 pm

From Queens, NY:

July 23, 2008

The parents of a year-old baby girl are thanking their lucky stars this week after the baby survived a four-story plunge from their Flushing apartment on July 16.

“It’s a miracle she survived,” said the child’s mother, Mariana Caseres, 26.

Cindy Riveros amazed doctors and her parents by walking just hours after she fell from a bedroom window at the family’s apartment at 134-36 57th St.

Police said Riveros was playing with a cousin in the bedroom at about 6:30 p.m. when she climbed on a chair and tumbled from the window, in which window guards were not installed.

Eyewitnesses told police the girl fell four floors onto a backyard landing one story below ground level that leads to the building basement.

Police said Riveros was saved by two large, soft rubber balls that someone had left on the landing, and which apparently broke her fall.

Neighbors said the baby “made a lot of noise” when she fell. “There was a lot of blood on the baby,” a neighbor said. “She was crying, her mother was crying. It was chaos.” Another neighbor drove the baby and her mother to New York Hospital of Queens, where Riveros’ condition worsened on Wednesday night. She was rushed in critical condition with a fractured skull to Cornell Medical Center, where doctors operated to determine the extent of her injuries.

The miracle baby was admitted to the hospital intensive care unit, where she shocked doctors and her parents hours later, by “taking a few baby steps”, hospital administrators said.

Doctors who operated on Riveros later told her parents she would be just fine. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.

Romney Defends RomneyCare Crackup; WSJ Strikes Back

Filed under: Economy,Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 5:31 pm

Note: To get to the four-part “Case Against Mitt Romney” series, go here.

_____________________________________________

Earlier this month, slipping past my radar, Mitt Romney had an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal (may require subscription) defending his handiwork.

Now that I have read it, it’s clear that he was shamelessly begging for more money from the feds so that Massachusetts’s CommonwealthCare aka RomneyCare wouldn’t sink of its own weight:

The Bush administration will decide in the coming days whether to continue to facilitate this experiment by accepting the state’s financial contribution as qualifying for federal matching funds as in the past. If the federal government refuses or reduces federal participation, the state could be forced to curtail the program.

Well, since the Bay State is spending more (and, I suspect a lot more per capita than other states), what Romney is really saying that the rest of us need to pay more too.

Thanks, Mitt (/sarc). I don’t know whether the Bush admin has made its decision.

Today, the Wall Street Journal called BS on this:

Romney, who should know better, took to these pages recently to proclaim, “Health-care reform is working in Massachusetts.” Shortly after Mr. Romney’s self-tribute, Governor Deval Patrick wheeled out a new $129 million tax plan to make up for this year’s health spending shortfalls. Yet partisans are cheering the cost overruns as a sign of success.

….. The ominous news is that only about 18,000 people — or 5% of the newly insured — have taken advantage of the “connector,” which was supposed to be the plan’s free-market innovation linking individuals to private insurers.

Most of this growth in coverage has instead come via a new state entitlement called Commonwealth Care. This provides subsidized insurance to those under 300% of the poverty level, or about $63,000 for a family of four. About 174,000 have joined this low- or no-cost program, a trend that is likely to speed up.

As this public option gets overwhelmed, budget gaskets are blowing everywhere. Mr. Patrick had already bumped up this year’s spending to $869 million, $144 million over its original estimate. Liberals duly noted that these tax hikes are necessary because enrollment in Commonwealth Care is much higher than anticipated. But of course more people will have coverage if government gives it to them for free. The problem is that someone has to pay for it.

Thus the extra tab of $129 million, which may need to go higher because it relies on uncertain federal funds from Medicaid. For now, Mr. Patrick wants one-time (yeah, right) charges of $33 million on insurers and $28 million on providers, plus some shuffling of state funds. The balance comes from an estimated $33 million boost in the state’s “pay or play” tax: If businesses don’t offer “fair and reasonable” insurance to their employees, they get hit.

This is a textbook example of how business taxes evolve into “pay or pay,” the first recourse of state-funded health systems.

The fact that so many talkers and pundits continue to characterize Romney as an economic conservative is an insult to free-market believers’ intelligence.

I’m also seeing two other important things at work here:

  • First, Romney despite his weekly (or is it daily?) “Who, me?” responses to questions from sycophants like Sean Hannity, has been going after McCain’s Veep slot relentlessly behind the scenes.
  • Second, I believe the Journal is letting John McCain know in no uncertain terms that it believes Romney to be a completely unacceptable Veep candidate.

Most don’t remember, but in 1996 there was actually serious talk of making George Voinovich Bob Dole’s running mate. In a scathing editorial, the Journal pointed to how under Voinovich Ohio’s state spending was rising unnecessarily, taxes were being raised, and Voinovich was acting like a spoiled kid when he couldn’t get his way.

That was the end of serious consideration of Voinovich. Hopefully, the Journal’s editorial today will have the same impact.

Commitments, a Cold, and Cleveland (oh my)

Filed under: General — Tom @ 4:24 pm

Other stuff has intervened today. Then some cold-fighting put me under for a bit. But I’m back now.

Besides, as a Cincinnati-area person, keeping something less-than-desirable about Cleveland at the top for 18 hours hasn’t particularly bothered me. :–>

July 28, 2008

As 200 G-Men Swarm, Cleveland Press ‘Forgets’ What Party Runs Cuyahoga County

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:55 pm

ClevelandFBIsearch072808If there is a previous record for “Highest Level of Saturation Press Coverage with No Political Party Affiliation Named” (HT to e-mailer Jason), the Cleveland press corps almost broke it.

In looking over three publications’ stories about today’s massive and far-ranging police actions in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County, Ohio, I found only one reference to the Democratic Party affiliation of those involved. Cleveland’s sole daily newspaper put up a half-dozen related blog entries and failed to name anyone’s party in any of them.

First, though, from the always-reliable (in shielding troubled Dems’ party affiliations) Associated Press, writer Joe Milicia named no party in eight paragraphs:

FBI searches county offices in Cleveland

FBI and IRS agents served at least 10 search warrants Monday at Cuyahoga County offices, businesses and homes as part of a public corruption investigation, authorities said.

About 200 FBI agents, some brought in from Pittsburgh to help with the searches, raided the county administration building, engineer’s office and an information services center.

….. Agents entering the administration building searched the third and fourth floors, including Auditor Frank Russo’s office and Commissioner Jimmy Dimora’s office, Wilson said. FBI vehicles were spotted at both oAgents entering the administration building searched the third and fourth floors, including Auditor Frank Russo’s office and Commissioner Jimmy Dimora’s office, Wilson said. FBI vehicles were spotted at both of their homes.

At the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the paper’s 9:35 AM blog entry (video is available at the link) also put up eight paragraphs without identifying the Democratic Party affiliation of any of those involved:

Cuyahoga County offices, businesses, homes raided in FBI corruption investigation

More than 100 federal agents swooped into Cuyahoga County offices, the homes of officials including County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora, and several businesses. The FBI said it was investigating public corruption, but agents would not confirm whether all of Monday morning’s raids were connected.

• Agents cordoned off county workers on the administration building’s third and fourth floors and targeted Dimora’s office. The workers were sent home after filling out forms identifying themselves.

• Searches were also conducted at the West Side office of the county engineer and the county’s data center. …..

• The searches involved both the FBI and the IRS, including the tax agency’s entire Northeast Ohio criminal unit.

Separately, the Plain Dealer is working on entering the record books for “Most Related Blog Entries with No Party Affiliation.” Besides the one just excerpted, there’s this, this, this, this, and this.

Only Kim Wendel of TV station WKYC broke the party-affiliation silence in the story’s seventh paragraph — but only after missing at least a half-dozen opportunities to do so in the previous six:

FBI/IRS raid the Cuyahoga County administration building, other county offices, officeholders’ homes

The FBI and IRS executed search warrants early Monday morning inside the Cuyahoga County administration building, the county engineer’s office and elsewhere throughout Cuyahoga County, including the Independence home of Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora; the Mayfield Village home of Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank Russo; and the Parma home of J. Kevin Kelley, a Russo employee and a Parma school board member.

At the county administration building, the FBI’s Scott Wilson said the raid was the culmination of a longstanding investigation but did not elaborate when asked by Channel 3′s political correspondent Tom Beres.

FBI and Internal Revenue Services vehicles encircled the building early this morning. They have questioned and released dozens of employees on the third and fourth floors.

Those employees were told to go home.

People inside the building said the search warrants are being executed on the third and fourth floors and that the warrants are focused on information regarding public and political corruption.

The third floor is where Russo’s office is and the fourth floor houses the Cuyahoga County commissioners — Jimmy Dimora, Tim Hagan and Peter Lawson Jones.

Dimora is also chairman of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party.

Of course we don’t know the full nature of what the FBI and IRS were looking for, exactly what led them to conduct their searches, or what they might have uncovered. But it would appear that the “use by” date for the “culture of corruption” theme employed against Republicans by Democrats to gain political power in the Buckeye State during the past few years might have passed.

In Ohio, it’s likely that even most casual followers of the news know that Cleveland and Cuyahoga County politics are dominated by Democrats. But again, as with the ongoing criminal situation involving Democratic Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (commented on last week at NewsBusters and BizzyBlog), the whole nation deserves to know which political machine is involved with corrupt and/or criminal activities. As in Detroit, Cleveland-area journalists appear to be determined to prevent that as much as they possibly can.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Maverick McCain VP Pick Suggestion of the Day

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:49 pm

Former Pennsylvania Congressman Pat Toomey, currently head of Club for Growth.

Excerpt of the Day: The Greatest Scandal

From a Wall Street Journal editorial this morning:

The profound failure of inner-city public schools to teach children may be the nation’s greatest scandal. The differences between the two Presidential candidates on this could hardly be more stark. John McCain is calling for alternatives to the system; Barack Obama wants the kids to stay within that system. We think the facts support Senator McCain.

“Parents ask only for schools that are safe, teachers who are competent and diplomas that open doors of opportunity,” said Mr. McCain in remarks recently to the NAACP. “When a public system fails, repeatedly, to meet these minimal objectives, parents ask only for a choice in the education of their children.” Some parents may opt for a better public school or a charter school; others for a private school. The point, said the Senator, is that “no entrenched bureaucracy or union should deny parents that choice and children that opportunity.”

Mr. McCain cited the Washington, D.C., Opportunity Scholarship Program, a federally financed school-choice program for disadvantaged kids signed into law by President Bush in 2004. Qualifying families in the District of Columbia receive up to $7,500 a year to attend private K-12 schools. To qualify, a child must live in a family with a household income below 185% of the poverty level. Some 1,900 children participate; 99% are black or Hispanic. Average annual income is just over $22,000 for a family of four.

A recent Department of Education report found nearly 90% of participants in the D.C. program have higher reading scores than peers who didn’t receive a scholarship. There are five applicants for every opening.

….. The state of California just announced that one in three students in the Los Angeles public school system drops out before graduating. Among black and Latino students in L.A. district schools, the numbers are 42% and 30%. In the past five years, the number of dropouts has grown by more than 80%. The number of high school graduates has gone up only 9%.

The silver linings in these dismal clouds are L.A.’s charter high schools. Writing in the Los Angeles Daily News last week, Caprice Young, who heads the California Charter Schools Association, noted that “every charter high school in Los Angeles Unified last year reported a dropout rate significantly lower than not only the school district’s average, but the state’s as well.”

On recent evidence, the Democrat Party’s policy on these alternatives is simply massive opposition.

….. A visitor to Mr. Obama’s Web site finds plenty of information about his plans to fix public education in this country. Everyone knows this is a long, hard slog, but Mr. Obama and his wife aren’t waiting. Their daughters attend the private University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, where annual tuition ranges from $15,528 for kindergarten to $20,445 for high school.

Sometimes it goes beyond massive opposition.

Having contemplated the disgrace I noted yesterday in Rochester, NY (“In Rochester, Almost Half of 7th and 8th Graders Fail Exam — Even When Given Some of the Answers”), I’m led to the inescapable conclusion that urban politicians who are overwhelming Democratic, and the overwhelmingly liberal media that cover them, would prefer to avoid criticizing their school systems — no matter:
- how poor the performance.
- how high the dropout rate.
- how much violent crime, including sexual assault, takes place.
- how derelict administrations and teachers are in doing their duties (as seen in Rochester).

The reason for this criticism avoidance — except occasionally, and even then usually in concert with please for more money, which is so not the problem — is that to engage in criticism will give legitimacy to the arguments of those who advocate alternatives.

They just won’t allow for that.

The hypocrisy of Democrats like the Obamas, who have the means to avoid the awful Chicago Public School system but refuse to contemplate giving poor parents the opportunity to do the same, is obvious.

The Obamas know you that only have one chance to get it right with their children’s education, and have chosen not to wait for the “we’ll have it right in a few years” mentality that pervades the education system. “A few years” never comes.

Poor parents also know that you only have one chance to get it right with their children’s education. But presidential candidate Barack Obama won’t let poor parents who want it choose a better alternative for that one chance.

Their kids be (educationally) damned. Literally.

Oh, and the long-terms needs of the US for a skilled workforce — despite the pretty rhetoric, the heck with that too.