May 14, 2009

Toledo Blade’s Slow-Learning Reporter IDs Prosecutor as GOP, Doesn’t Name Party of Dem Indicted (Update: Circ Decline Graphic)

Gutierrez0509In early March (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), Toledo Blade Columbus Bureau reporter Jim Provance named the party of Ohio’s Republican State Auditor Mary Taylor, who sharply criticized Democratic Governor Ted Strickland’s serious lateness with the state’s financial statements — so late that they couldn’t possibly be audited until after the Ohio General Assembly passes the budget for the two-year fiscal period that will begin on July 1.

Provance never named Strickland’s or any other Democrat’s party.

After that episode, NewsBuster commenter HoosierEm reported that Provance responded as follows to an e-mail complaint about his coverage of the Taylor-Strickland story:

I should have mentioned that the governor is a Democrat. I mentioned Ms. Taylor’s party affiliation because she is of the opposite party of the person she is criticizing. Just a fact that should be put out there. I should have taken the next step of noting the governor’s party.”

Lesson learned, right?

Hardly.

In a story in Thursday’s Blade, Provance did it again. This time he identified a Republican prosecutor while failing to specifically identify the party of a former high-level assistant of disgraced former Democratic Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann.

Here are the key paragraphs from Provance’s story (HT Maggie Thurber):

Former aide to Marc Dann indicted on 10 counts

Anthony Gutierrez, the man at the center of a sexual harassment scandal that helped drive former Attorney General Marc Dann from office, faces theft and fraud charges for allegedly using his ties with his long-time friend to benefit himself financially.

Franklin Country Prosecutor Ron O’Brien Thursday announced a 10-count indictment — six felonies and four first-degree misdemeanors — against Mr. Gutierrez one year to the day after Mr. Dann left office just 16 months into his term.

Mr. O’Brien, a Republican, said the timing was not scheduled to coincide with the anniversary.

….. Mr. Gutierrez was the target of a pair of sexual harassment allegations that were settled earlier this year by the attorney general’s office. Allegations are still pending in Trumbull and Mahoning counties that Mr. Gutierrez padded bills paid by Mr. Dann’s campaign committee for security windows at Mr. Dann’s Youngstown area home and then redirected the extra money to three businesses to which Mr. Gutierrez’s private firm, MTV Construction, owed money.

Mr. Gutierrez is expected to turn himself in on Monday.

If convicted on all charges, Mr. Gutierrez faces a maximum of eight years in jail and $20,000 in fines, said Mr. O’Brien.

….. Mr. Dann has so far faced no criminal charges. In March, he was fined $1,000 and given a public reprimand by the Ohio Elections Commission for illegally mining campaign funds to finance a $40,000-plus security system for his home as well as personal cell phone use for him and his family.

The panel chose not to refer the case to Mr. O’Brien for possible criminal prosecution, but it is expected next month to examine more serious allegations of misspent funds against Mr. Dann, his wife Alyssa Lenhoff, former press secretary Leo Jennings, and campaign committee Deputy Treasurer Mary Beth Snyder.

Mr. Dann resigned last year under pressure from Republicans and fellow Democrats alike in the wake of the harassment scandal. Mr. Dann admitted at the time that he feared his own extramarital affair with his office scheduler may have set a poor example.

The allusion to Mr. Dann’s “fellow Democrats” in the story’s final paragraph above is the only reference to the Democratic Party in the entire story. Provance never specifically identified the indicted Mr. Gutierrez or any of Dann’s assistants as Democrats.

If Mr. Provance believes this is a “next step” improvement, he has a very steep learning curve to climb.

Meanwhile, the Toledo Free Press reports that the Blade continues to bleed readers:

Blade circulation numbers down 42,700 since 2004

ABC (the Audit Bureau of Circulations) reported The Blade has dropped from 178,274 Sunday circulation in December 2004 to 135,567 in March 2009.

Its combined Monday through Friday numbers have dropped from  131,117 in December 2005 to 110,728 in March 2009.

….. The Blade’s Director of Circulation, Dick Fuller, did not return repeated phone calls or e-mails by press time.

It could not happen to a more deserving and slow-learning bunch.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

_______________________________________________

UPDATE: I enhanced a chart, also available as a PDF at the Toledo Free Press, of the Blade’s circulation bleed during the past four-plus years to strengthen its points (the Free Press’s “Pct.” changes are really decimal reductions):

BladeCircDecline2004to2009

AP Blows The Deficit Reporting, Part II: The Invisible April Receipts Dive

In Part I (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) of my coverage of Martin Crutsinger’s Associated Press report about Uncle Sam’s Monthly Treasury Statement and the Obama administration’s deficit projections, I noted that the government “miraculously” shrunk the deficit through March, the first six months of its fiscal year, by $175 billion, by employing an “accounting change.”

Even though this “accounting change,” which does not report TARP disbursements as outlays because they are considered “investments,” violates fundamental cash-flow reporting principles, Crutsinger gave the change an unskeptical treatment. He also failed to tell readers whether the administration used the old or new method in calculating its latest full-year deficit projection of $1.84 trillion. If Team Obama used the new method to determine it, the deficit under the old and more correct method will more than likely be over $2 trillion.

Crutsinger also failed to report the steep dive in federal receipts that took place in April, which is the government’s highest month for collections, compared to last year’s all-time record April haul, which I referred to as the “Supply-Side Stunner,” and which Crutsinger and others also failed to report when it occurred last year (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog).

Here is how April 2009 collections compared to April of 2008:

USreceiptsFinalDetail0409

(Sources: Monthly Statements – April 2009, April 2008; Daily Statements – April 30, 2009; April 30, 2008)

Here is all Crutsinger had to say about federal receipts in his report:

The government normally runs surpluses in April as Treasury’s coffers swell with people paying their annual tax bills by the April 15 deadline. But the deficit is being driven higher by the billions of dollars being spent to rescue the financial system from its worst crisis since the 1930s and deal with the worst recession in decades.

The recession also has boosted government outlays for benefit programs like unemployment insurance and food stamps while slashing tax revenues.

….. Through the first seven months of this budget year, the government has collected $1.26 trillion in receipts, a drop of 18.9 percent from a year ago.

That’s it. He was right there, and refused to tell us how much April’s drop was.

By doing so, Crutsinger conveniently ignored the bigger receipts story. Here is how collections during the first seven months of fiscal 2009 compare to fiscal 2008:

USreceiptsThruApril09vApril08

It is at least as important for readers to know that April continued a steady and alarming downward trend in receipts that actually begin a bit less than a year ago as it is for them to know the fiscal year’s overall result thus far.

April is supposed to be a strong month for receipts not only because of April 15 payments, but also because the first quarterly installment for individuals who pay estimated taxes is due on April 15 — something Crutsinger “somehow” forgot to tell his readers. Those who make estimated payments are largely the self-employed and those who are required to report income from partnerships and corporations on their individual returns. Receipts from those individuals are on the third and fourth line items in the first chart above.

As you can see, they’re drying up, as are collections from corporations, by far more than one would expect as a result of the 3.3% non-annualized contraction that has occurred during the past three quarters.

I attribute at least part of the decline to the much-discussed “going Galt” phenomenon, which really began last summer, as businesspeople, investors, and entrepreneurs began discerning the true nature of the administration that was the media favorite to gain power. “Going Galt” is yet another very real development that Crutsinger and the establishment media refuse to acknowledge.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Latest Pajamas Media Column (‘Obama Shocks the Elites’) Is Up

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:29 am

It’s here.

The subheadline is “Business bigwigs thought they were investing in a charismatic left-of-centrist. They were wrong and should have known better.”

It will go up here at BizzyBlog on Saturday morning (link won’t work until then) after the blackout expires.

Left on the cutting-room floor: In April of last year, business bigs and monied contributors in the San Francisco Bay Area heard Obama describe small-town Pennsylvanians and Midwesterners thusly:

You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.

And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

This is a man with a deep well of condescending contempt for everyday people. Yet he is said to be their champion.

Maybe the trust-fund trolls in attendance found this amusing, but the business bigs should have been asking themselves, “What does he think and say about us when we’re not around? And what will he do to us if he gains power?”

Now they’re learning.

Positivity: Man Says Miracle Chain of Events Saved His Life

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:59 am

From Cincinnati:

Last Update: 5/08 6:40 pm

If you don’t believe in miracles, this next story might have you thinking a little differently. Even doctors at University Hospital say a man found unconscious by a stranger on the side of the road got a little help from above.

Local 12 Medical Reporter Liz Bonis has the story.

As pictures show, by the time Jeffery Koeller finally made it to the hospital, he was in pretty bad shape. His wife was stunned by what she saw.

Jayna Koeller, Wife: “It was something I don’t ever want to see again.”

A team of specialists led by Doctor Lori Shutter eventually discovered he’d had what’s called an aneurysm in his brain.

Dr. Lori Shutter, UC Neuroscience Institute: “It had ruptured, it had bled around his brain, that causes the brain to release all sorts of chemicals that shut down the rest of his body.”

“They said his heart was very bad, it wasn’t working, and his lungs were not good.”

According to what his family can piece together from witnesses and emergency medicine reports, it had all started on the side of a busy highway hours earlier. Jeffery Koeller stopped to help a motorist change a flat tire, something he wasn’t even supposed to do in a company vehicle. Apparently, right after the motorist left, Koeller headed back toward his vehicle and keeled over. A nurse found him, tools still in hand. She started emergency care, and called for help. This is Jeffery Koeller today. He has never met that nurse, but credits her with helping to save his life.

Jeffery Koeller, Patient: “What made me do it? I don’t know. I think that’s the way God kept me from injury and that way I was also there where the nurse was going to find me.”

From there, the Koellers say the best medical experts in the world and the power of prayer seemed to continue this miracle chain of events. His wife says her faith never waived. “I knew it wasn’t his time. I knew God had a plan for us.”

This specialist got to him in time to drain the blood off his brain. Doctor Shutter coordinated care to get him out of what she calls a continual heart attack. Eventually even an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist helped repair what could have been permanent respiratory damage. His wife kept track of every person that entered his room and prayed for them all. She also wrote every one of them thank you notes for saving her husband’s life.

For 19 days, Jeffery Koeller hung in the balance, so to speak, where the experts admit:
“That’s where you still say there are forces we don’t understand.”

Koeller’s family says that force is a constant presence in their lives:
“When you pray to God, he’s going to answer your prayers.”

Go here for the rest of the story.

AP Blows The Deficit Reporting, Part I: The $175 Billion (Yawn) Accounting Change

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:12 am

You have to see this to believe it, and even then you’ll have a hard time believing it. It’s the Obama administration’s deficit reduction program, otherwise known as “change the accounting.”

Here is what the Monthly Treasury Statement (MTS) from Uncle Sam looked like in March:

MTS0309

Here is the report for April:

MTS0409

Shazam! The government just made about $175 billion in deficits disappear (March’s reported $956.8 billion compared to April’s $781.4 billion through March).

Surely they jest, right? Nope.

Surely this manipulation of the government’s cash reporting is front-page newsworthy, right? Not at all.

Tuesday, the AP’s Martin Crutsinger gave it the “no big deal” treatment, virtually ensuring that broadcast and news outlets who rely on AP reports would pay it little heed. The AP reporter also left readers hanging as to whether the White House’s predicted deficit of $1.84 trillion is before or after an “accounting change,” one that will leave many readers here shaking their heads:

Gov’t runs April deficit for first time since ’83

The federal government ran a deficit in April for the first time in 26 years, pushing the red ink so far this budget year to a record $802.3 billion.

The Treasury Department said Tuesday the deficit for April was $20.9 billion, a sharp contrast from the surplus of $159.3 billion in the same month last year. It also was slightly more than the $20 billion deficit economists had expected.

For the budget year that began Oct. 1, the imbalance totals $802.3 billion, keeping the country on track to register the first $1 trillion annual deficit in U.S. history. And the Obama administration made an accounting change on bailout payments or the deficit already would have been at nearly $1 trillion.

The administration on Monday raised its deficit estimate for the year to $1.84 trillion, from the $1.75 trillion it estimated less than two months ago.

The administration made revisions to the deficits reported from October through March to reflect a change in how it was accounting for the bailout payments. The Bush administration recorded each payment to a bank or auto company getting bailout support on a dollar-for-dollar basis.

However, the Obama administration said it was changing the accounting process to a “net present value” basis, which means it assumes that the government is getting an asset when it provides loans to the banks and auto companies. Based on the new accounting method, the size of the deficit from October through March fell about $175 billion.

Three quick points:

  1. Crutsinger had nothing to say about what the April deficit would have been under the prior accounting method, whether the government even disclosed it, or even intends to disclose it for April or future months.
  2. The Monthly Treasury Statement has always been a cash flow statement. Excluding real outlays because their purpose was to buy assets (very questionable ones, but that’s beside the point at the moment) profoundly violates cash-flow reporting principles. If you have $21,000 in your checking account and pay cash for a $20,000 car, you can’t run around pretending you didn’t spend $20,000 to acquire the car. That’s exactly what Treasury is doing with its TARP related adjustment.
  3. The AP reporter did not tell us whether the administration’s revised deficit forecast of $1.84 trillion uses the old method or the new method. If it uses the new method, that would mean that the deficit using the more conceptually correct old method will be well over $2 trillion, a huge jump from the prior $1.75 trillion. Crutsinger leaves us totally hanging, and seems oddly incurious.

Even calling this Treasury maneuver an “accounting change” overdignifies what is being done. It’s a gimmick that threatens to turn this and other routine reports into indecipherable gibberish.

Maybe that’s the point.

Part II (“The Invisible April Receipts Dive”) is here.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.