January 2, 2011

NYC Sanitation Workers Absenteeism Double the Norm in Storm, As Union Head Says ‘You Can Never Count on the Privates’

From the New York Times on Thursday, in an item put together with the help of a half-dozen Times reporters (“Inaction and Delays by New York as Storm Bore Down”; bold is mine):

… Harry Nespoli, president of the Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association, said the problems late Sunday (during the initial stages of the Northeast’s post-Christmas snowstorm — Ed.) underscored how the city could not rely on outside contractors to help with snow removal and other jobs in such storms, particularly during a holiday weekend.

“You can never count on the privates, because they don’t have to show up,” he said. “What obligation do they have? The mayor can’t order them out. The commissioner can’t order them out.”

That’s quite an interesting assertion, given the following item carried in the New York Post today:

More workers catch a ‘cold’

Between 660 and 720 Sanitation workers called in sick for the cleanup of last week’s blizzard — more than double the usual rate, The Post has learned.

About 11 to 12 percent of the Sanitation Department’s 6,000-strong force didn’t show up for work on Monday or Tuesday, city officials confirmed, as 20 inches of snow brought the Apple to a near-standstill.

Perhaps one of the six reporters at the Times might consider taking a moment away from their paper’s knee-jerk sympathy for organized labor, seemingly regardless of the damning circumstance, and ask Mr. Nespoli of the Sanitaationmen’s Union, who you would think would have been aware of the absenteeism issue when interviewed, to elaborate on who can and can’t be counted on in a municipal emergency.

By the way, a “normal” workforce absenteeism rate of 5%-6% (i.e., half the reported 11%-12% during the storm, or roughly 11-13 days a year) would be considered completely intolerable at just about any private sector company.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

AP Item on Susana Martinez’s Inauguration in NM Notes ‘Place in History,’ Omits Status As Nation’s First Latina Gov.

A brief January 1 item from the Associated Press’s Barry Massey on the inauguration of Susana Martinez (“Martinez becomes NM gov as new year starts”) began as follows:

Republican Susana Martinez has claimed her place in history as New Mexico’s first female governor, taking office with the start of the new year.

If it weren’t for the “place in history” part, I might have blown right by it without hesitation. But speaking of a “place in history,” especially at a wire service that sometimes seems overly obsessed with race and racial milestones, it’s more than a little odd that the AP dispatch failed to note what the AP’s Jesse Washington reported on Election Night in November:

Wed Nov 3, 2:24 pm ET

Minorities ride GOP wave to groundbreaking wins

The Republican wave produced groundbreaking results for minority candidates, from Latina and Indian-American governors to a pair of black congressmen from the Deep South.

In New Mexico, Susana Martinez was elected as the nation’s first female Hispanic governor. Nikki Haley, whose parents were born in India, will be the first woman governor in South Carolina, and Brian Sandoval became Nevada’s first Hispanic governor.

Clearly, becoming the first Latina governor in the country is more significant for those who keep score of such things than becoming the first female governor of New Mexico. At a minimum, it’s quite an oversight.

At a maximum, it may just be that someone at the AP does not appreciate the existence of a female Latina who appears to be a genuine conservative with growing star power. An LA Times item by Michael Haederle, containing the predicatble “you’d better not govern like a conservative” warnings, elaborates:

When she takes the oath of office Saturday morning in Santa Fe’s historic plaza, Susana Martinez will become New Mexico’s — and the nation’s — first elected Latina governor.

The 51-year-old, four-term Doña Ana County district attorney is also a rising star in national Republican circles, already being mentioned in the blogosphere as a potential vice presidential candidate in 2012.

But as she takes over from Bill Richardson — a termed-out Democrat whose final two years in office were clouded by federal investigations into pay-for-play allegations — Martinez faces stiff challenges as New Mexico deals with a high unemployment rate and a hefty budget deficit.

“We have to start cutting back on the wasteful spending,” Martinez said in a telephone interview last week as she drove to her hometown of Las Cruces. She wants to sell the state’s $5.5-million jet, pare administrative costs in the education budget and put the state’s generous film industry incentives under the microscope.

Martinez is also considering scaling back the Rail Runner Express commuter train service and is looking to privatize operations at Spaceport America, where Virgin Galactic soon hopes to launch suborbital space flights. She has also promised to reverse a policy of issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants and to fight for reinstatement of the death penalty.

Each of these proposals could be seen as a repudiation of Richardson and his expansive approach to state government. “We’re asking people to cut back and not spend as much, but government has not been able to do that,” Martinez said.

… Voters were ready for a change, said state Democratic Chairman Javier Gonzales. But he warns that if Martinez hews too closely to a budget-slashing, tax-cutting agenda she will quickly alienate New Mexicans, many of whom rely on government-funded programs. “There is a real concern among the Democrats about how she is going to prioritize solving the state’s problems,” he said.

Later in the article, Haederle relays a story about how local Republicans invited Ms. Martinez and her husband to lunch to discuss political issues, after which they realized, “Oh my God, we are Republicans! Now what do we do?”

The ultimate to that question came Saturday. You can’t help but wonder if Barry Massey or perhaps someone else at the AP decided that they didn’t like how Susana Martinez answered that question, and determined that readers, viewers and listeners at the wire service’s news, radio and TV outlets should not be made aware of “her place in history” as the nation’s first Latina governor.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

2010 a Banner Year for MSM’s Winston Smiths and Their Ministries of Mistruth

On the big stories of the year, they engaged in preemptive propaganda.

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Note: This column went up at Pajamas Media and was teased here at BizzyBlog with five more examples on Friday.

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In George Orwell’s 1984, set in a pre-computer era, Winston Smith, working in the misnamed Ministry of Truth, alters documents that contradict or conflict with his totalitarian government’s take on history, wiping out inconvenient truths or revising them to fit the current template.

In 2010, the establishment press ramped up its propaganda role, acting as a collective of preemptive Winston Smiths. They ignored or massaged important news stories in ways that prevented the relatively disengaged vast majority of the population (probably 85%, but perhaps as low as 80% thanks to the Tea Party movement) from getting their arms around the truth without doing a great deal of independent research.

Reviewing my blog’s 2010 posts, I thought I might have a hard time coming up with ten obvious Smith-like examples. I found about 50. If I’m lucky, I may have addressed 10% of the really offensive instances that occurred during the year. What follows are ten of the worst, with occasional multiple offenses packed into one item. Except for the final two, which are clearly the worst I found, they are in no particular order.

1. Refusing to describe the U.S. homebuilding industry and new home market as the worst since World War II — The current meme is that it’s the “worst in 47 years of record-keeping,” except that in most instances the “record-keeping” phrase is omitted, giving readers the clear impression that at least 2010 wasn’t as bad as 1963.

That’s not so. 2010 was 43% worse than 1963, and worse than every full year after Japan blessedly surrendered to us–even before adjusting for population.

Reporting the truth would make it painfully obvious that the Obama administration’s HAMP (Home Affordable Mortgage Program) and other initiatives have not only failed to revive the market, but have harmed it. The press won’t tolerate that.

2. “Channel-stuffing” at Government/General Motors — From July through November, the company shipped 112,000 more cars to its dealers than its dealers sold, increasing dealer inventories to an unreasonable 90 days’ sales. In doing so, GM, which according to accounting rules recognizes a sale when a vehicle leaves the factory, created over $1 billion in shipped-ahead profit.

This is a very effective technique for dressing up the books ahead of an initial public offering and making things look good for a while thereafter. But it’s not sustainable without a huge upward spike in sales, which isn’t happening. None of this is news in the establishment press.

3. ObamaCare’s work and marriage disincentivesRobert Rector at the Heritage Foundation has shown that If ObamaCare ever takes full effect, those who wish to advance themselves could face marginal health care subsidy-loss rates of more than 100% (I’m not kidding). A person’s “reward” for earning more income would be having to pay more for the same health care coverage than the additional wages they have earned.

Additionally, couples who marry or wish to stay married would lose thousands of dollars a year by doing so. If not stopped, the subsidy structure will virtually kill any incentives for financial self-improvement, and will be a recipe for breaking up untold numbers of families. Of course, the establishment press has raised no concerns over this.

4. Global warmists’ admissions — First, there was Professor Phil Jones’s February concession that there has been no global warming since 1995. Then there was IPCC Economist Ottmar Edenhofer’s frank November assertion that climate policy “is redistributing the world’s wealth.” Apparently only English newspapers and editorial writers at Investors Business Daily care about these things. Meanwhile, journalists moaned about how people were no longer buying into the supposedly “settled science.”

5. Multiple falsehoods packed into one report — For sheer volume and chutzpah, it’s hard to beat the falsehoods the Associated Press’s Martin Crutsinger churned out in one September dispatch. First, he informed readers that trillion-dollar deficits didn’t happen until two years ago (wrong; the 2008 deficit was “only” $455 billion). Then he claimed that tax collections through eleven months of fiscal 2010 were up from the same period in fiscal 2009 (wrong again; they were down). Finally, he wrote that government spending was down compared to the previous year (three times wrong; true spending, as opposed to “outlays” as defined by Uncle Sam, was up by over 4% at the time). I asked the AP to retract Crutsinger’s false claims. To my knowledge, the wire service never has, and the falsehoods are still out there.

6. The State in the boardroom — The “Small Business Lending Act” passed in the fall contains a little-known provision requiring banks wishing to participate to accept federal government “capital investment” in their institutions. It’s little-known because the press has shown little interest in reporting it.

7. Flubbed scrub at the New York Times — The scrub goes back to a December 2009 article (link is to post-scrubbed version), but relates to the Ground Zero Mosque, one of the most misreported stories of 2010. In August, as the controversy heated up, a few bloggers who had excerpted that December story noted that several passages were missing from the original, including this quote from GZM spokesperson Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf:

“New York is the capital of the world, and this location close to 9/11 is iconic.”

The article’s co-author, Sharaf Mowjood, is a “Former Government Relations Coordinator for the Council on American Islamic Relations.” It is reasonable to believe that Mowjood recognized the odious religious triumphalism in Rauf’s statement, and had it and other questionable items expunged shortly after they appeared online and before they went to print.

8. Skimmers, what skimmers? — The press said virtually nothing about the EPA’s utter lack of preparedness for the BP oil spill. Journalists also took very little interest in the fact that several nations offered many forms of tangible aid to help the federal government contain and clean up the spill, and were either turned down flat or severely delayed. One Associated Press item whined that many nations wishing to provide help expected to be (gasp!) reimbursed for their costs.

9. He didn’t read it; what’s your point? — Except for the uniqueness of the final item, this example would be firmly in the running for 2010′s worst media muff. In May, regarding Arizona’s commonsense immigration enforcement measure, long after irresponsible charges of nativism and racism had been hurled by many administration members, President Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder told Congress: “I have not had a chance to, I’ve glanced at it. I have not read it.” The press virtually ignored this shocking dereliction of duty.

10. Shirley Sherrod — No review of 2010 media “Smithing” can be complete with mentioning Sherrod, the USDA employee who was fired after Andrew Breitbart showed a video of a speech she made to an NAACP chapter. Sherrod and her husband Charles received the free press ride of the year. The $13 million the pair received in a farming racial discrimination lawsuit settlement just before she took her USDA job in July 2009 was almost never reported. The documented proof from a longtime leftist that the pair’s New Communities “cooperative” exploited child labor, paid less than minimum wage, illegally resisted union organizing efforts, and employed scab labor never made it into the mainstream media.

Finally, the press has fiercely resisted reporting the pervasive fraud in a related legal action meant to compensate black farmers who truly suffered discrimination in past decades. It is an operation that Breitbart’s BigGovernment.com recently exposed as a false claims gravy train. CNN actually covered for the government by relaying without question its contention that only three claims were fraudulent.

Will the press’s Winston Smiths be more or less aggressive in 2011? As New Media gets stronger, the establishment will likely get more desperate. So the answer is probably: “Yes.”

Positivity: A Mother’s Christmas Miracle

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 8:37 am

From Contra Costa, California:

Posted: 01/01/2011 11:31:10 AM PST
Updated: 01/01/2011 02:08:33 PM PST

Jimi Norberg didn’t look.

He could see that the wallet lying on the ground outside a Wendy’s restaurant in Hawthorne Dec. 20 contained cash, but he didn’t look through it to see how much.

“It’s not my place to go through someone’s stuff,” the 23-year-old SpaceX employee said. “I was assuming there was a couple hundred. I was thinking it’s so close to Christmas, (I wanted) to try to get this back as quick as possible.”

About the time Norberg was picking up the wallet, David Valero was freaking out. When he and his mother, Consuelo, arrived home from Hawthorne that day, his mother realized her wallet had fallen from her coat.
The money was gone.

“She kept calm,” he said. “She kept saying God would provide the miracle. I was so angry and upset.”

Valero’s mother had joined her son that day for a sheet metal delivery to the SpaceX offices in Hawthorne. Valero, who works for his mother’s company, wanted to get there quickly, so he asked his mother to go along for the ride so he could use car-pool lanes.

The recession has been tough on the family’s Anaheim metal company, he said. His mother is in bankruptcy and in danger of losing her Corona house.

Unable to write checks or use credit cards, she carried the cash in her wallet because she intended to go to the post office to buy money orders to pay her bills.

After making the delivery, the Valeros stopped at a Wendy’s restaurant at Crenshaw Boulevard and 120th Street about 3 p.m. to eat.

“Apparently as we got into the truck, (the wallet) must have fallen out,” Valero said.

They discovered it was gone when they returned to their Anaheim business. Valero called the Wendy’s, but no one there knew anything about a wallet.

Norberg, who had stopped to eat at the same Wendy’s before heading to work, had picked it up and taken it with him. He looked at the identification for a phone number, but didn’t find one. Instead he called the police to turn it in.

Norberg said he knew that whoever had lost the wallet would be faced with the frustration of replacing credit cards, the driver’s license and other identification.

Plus, there was the money.

Norberg admitted that it did pass through his mind to take the cash. But only for a moment.

“Of course it does, but you have that good conscience and bad conscience,” he said. “You can’t do something like that. I couldn’t do something like that and sleep at night.”

Norberg wept during an interview when he explained why he did not take the money and run.

“I got a little girl, and if somebody took that from me and took presents from her … ,” he said, choking back tears. “My little girl – how could I be a role model?” …

Go here for the rest of the story.