October 24, 2009

ACORN-y: LAT Runs Op-Ed by ACORN Consultant Without Disclosing Relationship; Patterico Pounces

Filed under: Activism,Scams,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:31 pm

LATimesWithACORNEither LA Times op-ed writer Peter Dreier lives in a cave, or he’s all too willing to spread falsehoods to defend an organization where he once served as a consultant. Perhaps it’s a little of both.

In that Thursday op-ed (“The war on ACORN; Conservatives are distorting and playing up the community organizing group’s so-called scandals”), Dreier parroted ACORN CEO’s now-discredited claims that “not a single person who signed a phony name on a registration form ever actually voted,” and that undercover filmmakers James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles were only able to get help from two ACORN offices in starting up their proposed prostitution enterprises involving the importation of immigrant girls.

In running Dreier’s op-ed, the Times miscalculated at least twice:

  • First, the paper failed to disclose Dreier’s past relationship with ACORN as a consultant, something that is right there in his Occidental College bio, and that readers had a right to know.
  • Second, the Times somehow thought Dreier’s propaganda would get past LA blogger and certified Times nemesis Patterico. That was the far more serious blunder.

Here are key paragraphs from Dreier’s drivel:

The attack on ACORN is not really about bogus names on voter forms or about staffers encouraging people to lie on their tax forms. Rather, it is part of a broader conservative effort to attack progressive organizations and discredit President Obama and his liberal agenda.

Over the years, ACORN has made powerful enemies. Many businesses oppose the group’s efforts to raise wages for the working poor. Banks, mortgage companies and payday lenders have fought ACORN’s campaigns to strengthen regulation of the financial industry. Business groups have funded anti-ACORN websites, such as rottenacorn.com, that aim to destroy the group’s credibility. Republicans have long opposed ACORN’s success at registering low-income, mostly minority voters, who are more likely to vote for Democrats.

Christopher Martin, a journalism professor at the University of Northern Iowa, and I recently analyzed media coverage of ACORN over the years. In our published report, “Manipulating the Public Agenda: Why ACORN Was in the News, and What the News Got Wrong,” we found that, despite ACORN’s effective community organizing work in more than 70 cities across the country, 55% of the stories about the organization during 2007 and 2008 dealt with voter fraud.

The coverage was largely driven by the GOP. In the third and final presidential debate last October, McCain charged that ACORN was “now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.” At rallies and media events, McCain and Palin repeated this charge and demanded that Obama disclose his ties with ACORN — echoing attacks that first appeared in conservative publications.

…. Did ACORN engage in election fraud? Absolutely not. As part of its highly successful voter registration drive, the group — like many others — paid outside contractors to gather signatures. A few of them turned in bogus forms, registering names such as “Mickey Mouse” or “Donald Duck.” ACORN’s staff did what was required by law and promptly reported the questionable names to authorities. In some cities, those local officials — mostly Republicans — turned around and accused ACORN of voter fraud.

Our study documented that many news outlets reported the voter fraud allegations without attempting to verify them. Had they done so, they would have discovered that not a single person who signed a phony name on a registration form ever actually voted. What occurred was voter registration fraud, not voter fraud, and it was ACORN that exposed the wrongdoing in the first place.

…. And what about the prostitute-and-pimp video? It also isn’t quite what Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly would have you believe. Two “gotcha” right-wing activists showed up at about 10 ACORN offices hoping to entice low-level staff to provide tax advice for an illegal prostitution ring. In most ACORN offices, the staff kicked the pair out. In a few cities, staffers called the police. In two offices, however, the staff listened and offered to help. That was wrong. But ACORN immediately fired the errant staffers.

Patterico pounced. First, he debunked the obvious misstatements to be detailed shortly. He then documented Dreier’s undisclosed ACORN relationship (I suspect that a further look would reveal that other organizations on Dreier’s list have ties to ACORN). Finally, the LA blogger fired off a letter to the editor demanding a detailed retraction of misstated facts and disclosure of Dreier’s ACORN relationship.

As to Dreier’s errors, let’s start with the “not a single person who signed a phony name on a registration form ever actually voted” claim.

Tell that to ACORN Cleveland and Darnell Nash, as documented by Matthew Vadum at the American Spectator:

The conviction of Darnell Nash, apparently known by several aliases including Serina “Sexy Slay” Gibbs, is hugely significant for several reasons, not least of which is the fact that ACORN has long maintained that vote fraud, as opposed to the lesser crime of voter registration fraud, essentially never happens.

…. While ACORN has not yet been charged in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, the fact that an individual voter registered by ACORN has been convicted of actually casting a fraudulent ballot appears to be a historic first for the embattled radical advocacy group.

…. (Cleveland prosecutor Bill Mason’s spokesan Ryan) Miday explained that Nash was registered nine times to vote with the assistance of what the spokesman called “ACORN outreach workers.” Nash repeatedly used different names and different addresses to register to vote. He was indicted by a grand jury earlier this year.

Nash cast a fraudulent ballot at the local board of elections office, Miday said.

Nash entered a guilty plea to one count of casting a fraudulent ballot and to several counts of false registration on August 5. On August 19 he was sentenced to six months imprisonment by Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Nancy Margaret Russo.

As to the O’Keefe-Giles video stings:

  • Dreier says, “In most ACORN offices, the staff kicked the pair out.” He refers to 10 offices visited by O’Keefe and Giles (how he knows this is a mystery, but stick with me). We know now that in six cities (Baltimore, DC, Brooklyn, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Philadelphia, the pair were not kicked out. That only leaves four cities out of 10. Last time I checked, 4 is not “most of” 10.
  • Dreier asserts, “In a few cities, staffers called the police.” As far as I know, that has only been shown to be the case for Philadelphia, the site of the latest proven example of a successful O’Keefe-Giles sting — and in that case it would appear that the cops were only called after the pair had departed ACORN’s premises.
  • Dreier further dissembles by saying that “In two offices, however, the staff listened and offered to help.” As already noted, the number of instances where “the staff listened and offered to help” is six — so far.
  • Dreier wanders into the neighborhood of the truth when he writes that “ACORN immediately fired the errant staffers.” But then, the awful fired staffers in Baltimore became parties in ACORN’s lawsuit against O’Keefe and Giles. That’s an odd way to punish malfeasance.

As its circulation in March showed yet another steep decline compared to the previous year, one thing the Times doesn’t need is Patterico with a laundry list of perfectly valid complaints. But he’s got ‘em, and I don’t think he’ll let go.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Stossel on Beck, on RomneyCare and Nationalized Care

Filed under: Health Care,Life-Based News,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:10 pm

This is a good segment that among other things rips RomneyCare’s real fiscal results:

Here’s the transcript of Beck’s opening monologue on RomneyCare:

Beck: …. Remember, while the White House is waging war on Fox, what this is really all about is the effort to push health care.

I want to show you what we’re headed for with universal health care. …. Don’t forget …. we don’t have to look across the pond or in Canada. There is an example that is much closer to home. Yes, it’s in Barney Frank’s home state. Universal health care. How’s that RomneyCare working out for them, hmm?

Since 2006, the state’s overall cost — remember, the overall cost is supposed to go down — there in Massachusetts program (costs) have skyrocketed 42%. It’s out of control; it’s eating up the state budget.

Democrats are now scrambling to compensate. How? Taxes. They’ve increased fines also for those who didn’t get insurance under the individual mandate. They’ve increased business penalties. They’ve taxed insurers and hospitals. They’ve raised premiums. They’ve even in Massachusetts — this isn’t, y’know, Botswana — Massachusetts, they have resorted to group doctor visits. Like, okay, “He’s got a gallstone and I have a sore throat. Can you do this at the same time?”

It’s still not enough. So what are they considering? Excluding coverage of “low-priority, low-value services.” Also, limit the coverage. Implementing spending caps.

Wait a minute here. This sounds like everything they’re denying would happen in a (national) universal plan.

So less service, less innovation. Oh, and guess who decides what the value is. Not the doctors. Not you. Those in the Statehouse. I can’t wait.

In the Stossel interview (Stossel has an “I’m not settled in yet” look, which is understandable given that this is his first Fox appearance since leaving ABC), Beck talks about his efforts to set up a health care plan building on the idea of health savings accounts, and asserts that such an arrangement is illegal where he is based for business purposes, which I believe is New York. Stossel points out that individuals and families under such health savings account arrangements are more vigilant consumers, and that doctors welcome the opportunity to get paid directly without hassling with mountains of government/insurance company paperwork.

In an e-mail, Gregg Jackson also points out that Beck/Stossel didn’t get to the $50 subsidized abortions and other RomneyCare shortcomings, which is true enough, but normally wouldn’t be expected in a Stossel interview.

That said, as yours truly has noted (here and here), abortion is indeed in ObamaCare. As of yesterday, it remained present in the BaucusCare iteration. As I wrote several months ago, even if abortion disappeared from all related proposals under consideration tomorrow, ObamaCare’s various incarnations are moral clunkers.

AP Waters Down Impact of Romer’s ‘Stimulus Has Had Biggest Impact’ Remark, Ignores Other Howlers

APabsolutelyPathetic0109It would appear that the Apparatchik Press — er, the Associated Press — thinks that part of its job is to soften the impact of embarrassing admissions made by Obama administration members.

Take the wire service’s Thursday afternoon AP report by Jim Kuhnhenn on Council of Economic Advisers’ chair Christine Romer’s observations about the stimulus package. Romer said (in AP’s words) that “the government’s economic stimulus spending has already had its biggest impact,” and will (in Romer’s words) “likely be contributing little to further growth by the middle of next year.”

As you’ll see shortly, AP’s headline doesn’t reflect what Romer said. Additionally, Kuhnhenn allowed Romer to mischaracterize the economy’s performance in the second quarter without challenging it, and saved the big news — yet another administration official admitting that unemployment will stay near double digit through the end of next year — for his eighth paragraph.

Here’s a graphic capture of Kuhnhenn’s first eight paragraphs, posted for fair use and discussion purposes:

APonRomerRemarks102209

There’s a self-evident difference between what Romer said (“contributing little to economic growth”) and what AP’s headline communicates (“Impact of stimulus will level off next year”). The headline is perhaps deliberately vague; readers who don’t go to the content will have no idea whether the “leveled-off” impact next year will still be significant. Obviously, it won’t. “Little stimulus impact expected next year” would have communicated the reality quite nicely.

As to Romer’s contention that the stimulus “expanded the economy in the second and third quarters of this year,” a widely cited official government report refutes half of that assertion.

For the stimulus to have “expanded the economy,” there first has to be a recorded economic expansion. The trouble is that the Bureau  of Economic Analysis tells us that the economy contracted during the second quarter by 0.7%. Though it still would have been dubious, if Romer had wanted to claim that the contraction would have been worse without the stimulus, that would have at least been coherent. Most analysts seem to believe that the economy will show expansion during the third quarter, but that doesn’t change the fact that it didn’t during the second.

Romer’s prediction that the unemployment rate will stay so high for so long may be the most specific and gloomy prediction that has come from an administration spokesperson about persistent unemployment. I submit that its relevance to readers would have justified its placement well above the eighth paragraph. I daresay that in a Republican administration an unemployment prediction such as Romer’s would have been part or all of the story’s headline.

Finally, let’s get to Romer’s continuation of the administration’s tired claims about jobs “created or saved.” As I showed in early December 2008 (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I could not find a single instance during the presidential campaign where candidate Obama promised in any possible variation of the phrase to “create or save” jobs. He always said that his policies would “create” them.  The phraseology magically and dishonestly transformed into “create or save” within weeks of the election and has been employed with almost no challenge from the establishment media in the ten or so months that have since transpired. As I noted in that December post, “Old Media’s failure to note this shift is journalistic malpractice that would never occur during a Republican presidency.” That malpractice continues.

The laughable imprecision of Romer’s “created or saved” claim (“600,000 and 1.5 million”; are you kidding me?) virtually proves how utterly foolish and unprovable the administration’s assertions have been all along. The establishment press’s adoption and continued parroting of those “created and saved” assertions demonstrates how generally valid a characterization of them as apparatchiks really is.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Positivity: Newton school bus driver survives without brain damage despite 56 minutes with no heartbeat

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 8:31 am

From Newton, Massachusetts:

Posted Oct 15, 2009 @ 03:44 PM

For Laura Geraghty, a 46-year-old from North Attleborough, Newton is far from a place on a map.

It’s where two Newton school staffers help saved her life.

Shortly before noon on April 1, Geraghty suffered a massive heart attack while working as a bus driver at Newton South High School. Though her heart stopped for nearly an hour – and she underwent 21 shocks from a defibrillator to restart her heartbeat – she survived without any brain damage.

She credits her survival to Gail Kramer, the school’s nurse, and Michelle Coppola, a CPR instructor, with saving her life.

“Those girls are just awesome,” said Geraghty, who also thanked the firefighters, ambulance medics and police who responded to the school that day.

Geraghty will be profiled by CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta on Saturday, and has spoken to doctors about her experience. But Geraghty’s heart attack also had an impact on Kramer and Coppola.

“It’s something Michelle and I think about everyday,” Kramer said, calling Geraghty “a lucky woman.”

Kramer said the South high school’s portable defibrillator was key to saving Geraghty’s life.

“It clearly saved her life (to) have a defibrillator here,” said Kramer, who noted the devices were installed last week in the city’s elementary schools.

On April 1, Geraghty was driving a bus for a private transportation company, and drove to Newton South High School as part of her job.

After she got to the school, she felt a strong pain in her stomach, and then another pain that shot up her left arm and into her heart. She knew she was suffering a heart attack – and asked a nearby teacher’s aide for help.

“’I’m having a heart attack. Go get the school nurse,’” Geraghty recalled saying to the aide.

She lost consciousness within a few minutes of her heart attack, and the last thing she remembered was being placed on a gym mat.

Kramer, the school’s nurse, and Coppola, a CPR instructor, were the first on the scene. They began administering CPR and using a portable emergency defibrillator to restart her heart.

“Those two women at Newton South High School saved my life,” said Geraghty, who credited continued CPR as the reason she never suffered brain damage from a lack of oxygen.

After three shocks, she turned blue, said Geraghty, who reviewed the medical reports of her case. An ambulance called to the scene took Geraghty to Newton-Wellesley Hospital, and she was given additional shocks and medics continued CPR during the trip.

At Newton-Wellesley, an emergency room team continued administering shocks to restart her heart. Nearly 56 minutes had passed since her heart stopped by the time she got to the emergency room, she said.

“The chances of me living were basically zero,” she said.

On the 21st shock, her heart was restarted. But she remained in grave condition, as the emergency room team found a blockage in her heart that could’ve killed her. She was taken in a second ambulance to Massachusetts General Hospital for emergency surgery.

Geraghty said she had an out-of-body experience: she felt herself leave her body, saw the people working to save her life, and then was surrounded by bright lights.

Geraghty said she experienced a religious awakening.

“The mystery part of it is, why did God pick me?” she asked, and noted her priorities have changed.

“It’s not a material world… material things come and go. You can’t take them with you,” she said. ….

Go here for the rest of the story.