January 23, 2009

Faked But Accurate: Inaugural’s Pre-Oath Quartet Synched Their Taped Performance

Filed under: Scams,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:10 pm

InaugurationQuartetFaking012009.jpgThe New York Times reports that the music played just before Barack Obama took the presidential oath of office was not live (the photo at right is at the Times story via the Associated Press).

At least one reporter who might be expected to know better wrote a review of the performance that would lead readers to believe that she thought it was live.

Here are the first few paragraphs from Daniel Wakin’s quite forgiving report at the Times (HT to Althouse via Instapundit; bolds are mine):

The Frigid Fingers Were Live, but the Music Wasn’t

It was not precisely lip-synching, but pretty close.

The somber, elegiac tones before President Obama’s oath of office at the inauguration on Tuesday came from the instruments of Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman and two colleagues. But what the millions on the Mall and watching on television heard was in fact a recording, made two days earlier by the quartet and matched tone for tone by the musicians playing along.

“Truly, weather just made it impossible,” Carole Florman, a spokeswoman for the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, said on Thursday. “No one’s trying to fool anybody. This isn’t a matter of Milli Vanilli,” Ms. Florman added, referring to the pop band that was stripped of a 1989 Grammy because the duo did not sing on their album and lip-synched in concerts.

Ms. Florman said that the use of a recording was not disclosed beforehand but that the NBC producers handling the television pool were told of its likelihood the day before.

Somebody’s a little touchy, aren’t they?

Maybe Ms. Florman and her committee “weren’t trying to fool anybody,” but somebody, namely Anya Grundmann at NPR (bio here), appears to have been quite taken in by it all. Here is her review of the “performance,” including the sappiest paean to the wonders of diversity you may ever see:

NPRdescPerlmanEtcFaked012009

It sure looks like Ms. Grundmann is telling us that the instruments played on stage by the esteemed musicians were the ones that “held the melody and then layered it,” and then “twist(ed) and curl(ed)” it.

Who knew that piped-in music had such power?

Exit question for Carol Florman: How many of those in attendance, and how many of the 37.8 million TV viewers (about 9% fewer than the 41.8 million who watched Ronald Reagan’s inauguration, and over 30% lower on a percentage-of-population basis), believed the quartet’s performance was live?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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UPDATE: Ed Driscoll, you are one quick linker.

UPDATE 2: NPR’s “performance link” is here.

The Top 10 Disturbing Aspects of Obama’s Geithner Nomination

Note: This first appeared at Pajamas Media on Wednesday. See related subsequent and previous posts below.

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Barack Obama campaigned on his alleged “judgment to lead.” The Timothy Geithner nomination makes a mockery of that claim.

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Barack Obama’s nomination of Timothy Geithner for Treasury Secretary, and the circumstances surrounding it, have raised many issues and questions — not only about the nominee himself, but also about senators and others reviewing it, the media’s coverage, and ultimately his presumptive boss’s leadership.

Here are the top ten disturbing aspects of the Geithner nomination, not in order of importance until Number 1.

10. His performance in his previous job.

Geithner became President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in 2004. The New York Fed’s “About” page says that one of its duties is “…. to ensure a safe and sound banking system,” and that it “conducts onsite and offsite examinations of banks in New York, New Jersey, and Fairfield County in Connecticut.” Since so many major financial institutions are under the New York Fed’s jurisdiction, Geithner’s New York Fed has an outsized role in ensuring the soundness of the banking system nationwide.

But in the same November 24 New York Times article that describes him as “a 47 year-old wonder boy,” reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin quotes several anonymous Wall Street CEOs who “question whether he’s up to the challenge.” His roles in managing the unravelings at Bear Stearns, AIG and Merrill Lynch, the bankruptcy at Lehman, and the ongoing implosion at Citigroup deserve scrutiny. They appear to be getting none.

Beyond that, the suddenness of these collapses should lead nomination-vetting senators to question the quality of and follow-up relating to “examinations” done on Geithner’s watch. Can the money center blowups be traced to years of inadequate oversight?

9. His role in the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP).

Within days of its enactment by Congress, TARP, now fully funded by Congress to the tune of $700 billion, morphed from the asset-buying program originally advertised to one of direct, “(figurative) gun to the head” investments in banks. Geithner was a key behind-the-scenes player in all of this — Sorkin called him “the point person for weeks of sleep-deprived Bailout Weekends.”

To what extent is Geithner responsible for the schizophrenic, misleading, and confidence-shaking mishandling of what I have been calling the SUCKUP (Seemingly Unlimited Cash Kitty Under Paulson)?

8. Likely tax evasion, not “mere” avoidance.

Wonder boy” Geithner failed to pay $34,000 in self-employment taxes on his earnings at the International Monetary Fund from 2001 through 2004, even though the IMF partially reimbursed him for these taxes each year.

The IRS caught his (cough, cough) “honest mistake” in 2006, and made Geithner pay up for 2003 and 2004. But he didn’t do so for 2001 and 2002 until just before Barack Obama nominated him. Why? Because the three-year statute of limitations, based on when a return is filed, had expired for the previous two years.

But the statute of limitations does not apply “in the case of a false or fraudulent return with intent to evade any tax.” Given that he had tax problems going back to 1993 over paying taxes on wages paid to domestic help, it should be obvious that Geithner knew full well when he filed his 2001 and 2002 returns that Uncle Sam demands his 15.3% for Social Security and Medicare no matter where and for whom you work inside the US. Thus, I believe that he knowing filed false returns, engaging in tax evasion, not avoidance.

7. False attestations.

Further supporting my evasion assertion, Geithner told the IMF in writing year after year that he would pay the tax, and didn’t. As Byron York reported at National Review on January 14:

At the end of the tax allowance form were the words, “I hereby certify that all the information contained herein is true to the best of my knowledge and belief and that I will pay the taxes for which I have received tax allowance payments from the Fund.” Geithner signed the form. He accepted the allowance payment. He didn’t pay the tax. For several years in a row.

6. Senate reaction.

Democrats like Max Baucus insist that Geithner’s confirmation is “a given.” Republicans? Orrin Hatch says, ”He’s a very competent guy.” Lindsey Graham doesn’t want “to play gotcha on this.” Ohio’s George Voinovich is among the few who get it: “People who work here — who are big shots — should pay their taxes. I think he’s got a real problem with me and my constituents.”

5. Pundit reaction.

Charles Krauthammer apparently believes these things are trivial mistakes. Hugh Hewitt cops out, saying that “A president deserves his cabinet choices because he has won the election and been charged with executing the laws.” How about somebody who obeys them, Hugh?

4. Press coverage.

The Associated Press and other media outlets relentlessly drone on about tax “discrepancies,” “tax goofs,” and the nomination’s supposed inevitability. Geithner’s partial reimbursements for taxes he didn’t pay and the related false attestations, which York obtained from Senate sources, are being ignored. There is no chance that a GOP president could nominate someone with Geithner’s tax problems for any cabinet position, let alone Treasury Secretary, and get such a pass from the press.

3. Possible press conflicts of interest.

Cliff Kincaid at Accuracy in Media points out that some press outlets are parts of larger firms with financial stakes in the financial bailout. Example: General Electric, which owns NBC also owns bailout recipient GE Capital. GE CEO Jeffrey Inmelt is also on the New York Fed’s board.

2. Disparate treatment of previously pulled nominees.

Zoe Baird (Clinton – 1993), Kimba Wood (Clinton – 1993) and Linda Chavez (Bush – 2001) all had relatively minor or potential issues with self-employment taxes on household help. Geithner’s unpaid amounts were exponentially larger. Is there a whiff of male chauvinism in the air?

1. Barack Obama’s reaction.

No president in my lifetime would have dared to nominate Geithner. But “44″ Obama calls Geithner’s problems a mere “embarrassment.”

It leaves you wondering if anyone in Washington knows or cares about the difference between right and wrong. We’re expected to overlook Geithner’s problems because he is supposedly the only person in a nation of 200 million adults who can do the job. Give me a break.

If he really knows the pertinent facts, Barack Obama’s ringing defense of Geithner should cause the American people to question his fundamental ”judgment to lead.”

Or were those “just words“?

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Subsequent Posts (after column was published at PJM):

  • Jan. 22 — Geithner’s Tax Troubles: There’s Much More, and the Press Is Virtually Ignoring It
  • Jan. 21 –-AP Geithner Hearing Report: No Mention of IMF ‘Reimbursements’ for Taxes Not Paid, Related False Statements

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Previous Posts:

  • Jan. 19 — He Should Be Out ….. Because He ‘Can’t Explain’
  • Jan. 19 –- NRO’s York: Geithner ‘Can’t Explain’
  • Jan. 17 –- AP’s ‘Q&A’ on Geithner’s Taxes Has Excuses Galore, No Mention of ‘Reimbursements’ Pocketed
  • Jan. 16 –- Geithner Must Go
  • Jan. 15 — Tax ‘Goof’ Update: Geithner Was ‘Reimbursed’ for Taxes He Didn’t Pay; AP Story Buries, Then Deletes
  • Jan. 14 — Geithner Update: AP’s Early-AM Revision Flushes Many Details, Calls His Tax Problems ‘Goofs’
  • Jan. 13 — Treasury Nominee Geither’s Persistent Tax Problems Getting the Glossover Treatment; AP Coverage ‘Forgets’ at Least Chavez, Baird

Things I’d Like to Post About Today ….. (012309, Morning)

Filed under: TILTpatBIDHAT — Tom @ 9:36 am

….. But I Don’t Have Any Time For:

  • Besides the raw news (“Oceans are cooling according to NASA “; HT Hot Air) about cooling, not warming, the linked story contains a useful reminder — “In the peak of the recent warming trend, 1998 actually ranked 2nd to 1934 as the warmest year on record.” A related August 2007 BizzyBlog post noted that this came finding came about after NASA fixed flawed data.
  • “Obama Snubs Medal of Honor Recipients” — “In total, nine presidents and 56 years have gone by, and each inaugural evening the new president arrived to thank the veterans and Medal of Honor recipients in attendance (at their ‘unofficial’ ball). ….. it meant quite a bit to have the president show up and make an appearance. Except this time.” I’m going to give the guy the benefit of the doubt on this for being tone-deaf instead of deliberately shunning the group, but it’s here as a memory-jogger in case a pattern emerges. Recall that even draft-dodging military loather Bill Clinton made sure to do visit this ball at his inaugurals.
  • “Obama meets the White House press corps, gets annoyed” (original Politico piece is here) — At about the 3:20 mark of the vid at the link, a reporter asks a question about lobbying, and Obama says, “I can’t come down here and visit you guys if I’m going to get grilled every time I come down here.” Imagine the reax if a Republican president said and acted as Obama did.
  • Here’s a little dust-up that should be watched — “Three news agencies refused to distribute White House-provided photos of President Barack Obama in the Oval Office on Wednesday, arguing that access should have been provided to news photographers. The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France Presse said the White House was breaking with longstanding tradition in not allowing news photographers to capture the president at work in the Oval Office on his first day. …. The White House later released a photograph of the president retaking the oath of office with Chief Justice John Roberts, which the AP also rejected.” Possibly a first-day faux pas, but perhaps an indicator that Team Obama intends to exert tight control over the images we see of him. If that’s the case, my bet would be on the press acquiescing.
  • “Connecticut adds 800 workers during a hiring freeze” — No, it’s not The Onion, and Christopher Fountain is not amused (HT Instapundit). Connecticut’s governor is RINO Jodi Rell, who managed to settle the Kelo mess as best she could in the wake of an odious Supreme Court decision, but has been captured by the spendthrifts.
  • Re the Geithner nomination, which sailed through the Senate Finance Committee by an appalling 18-5 margin yesterday — For what it’s worth, I set up a TurboTax 2007 file and entered a W-2 with Social Security and Medicare wages and no withholding and wasn’t told that there was a problem (though I’m not sure I got as far as I needed to get to prove that). Given the fact that Geithner was reminded on a quarterly basis of his obligation to pay these taxes, and was given money in the form of additional “gross-up” compensation to pay these taxes, and that he had previous run-ins with the IRS going back to 1993 over the Social Security-related “nanny tax,” the “TurboTax said I didn’t have to” excuse is really, really lame.
  • Also relevant to Geithner — Caroline Kennedy’s withdrawal as a New York US Senate candidate may have had other causes, but one of the biggest appears to be a nanny tax problem of her own. So let’s see, you’ll have a hard time being a US senator if you don’t pay a few thousand bucks in nanny tax, but you can be Treasury Secretary if, just for starters, you have failed to pay your own self-employment taxes for four years running involving amounts that may be 10 times as large, use the statute of limitations dodge to avoid paying some of them until you’re about to be nominated, and take a blatantly illegal deduction for overnight summer camp. Why is this? One big reason: Kennedy would eventually have to face the voters. Geithner never will.