March 18, 2012

AP Assigns Seven to Occupy Movement’s Six-Month Anniversary, Omits Crime, All Other Negative Items, Obama’s Endorsement

OWSgeneralStrikeSymbol05012012In what may be the most obvious over-employment of journalistic resources since the Associated Press assigned 11 reporters to review Sarah Palin’s book in late 2009, seven journalists with the AP (yep, again) worked up a Friday afternoon item (saved here for future reference, fair use, discussion and embarrassment purposes) entitled “6 months later, what has Occupy protest achieved?”

Primary writer Meghan Barr, along with “Jeff Martin in Atlanta, Kathy Matheson in Philadelphia, Michael Gormley in Albany, N.Y., Erika Niedowski and David Klepper in Providence, R.I., and News Researcher Julie Reed in New York,” recited an embarrassing, paper-thin list of accomplishments. They also completely avoided what most of the nation likely sees as the movement’s primary achievement, despite the press’s attempts to minimize and cover it up: showing us what the world might very well look like if the movement’s leaders and primary instigators ever got their way — ugly, dangerous, and filthy. Here is the complete list of key accomplishments the seven AP personnel cited (my comments in italics):

The movement has lost steam in recent months, with media attention and donations dropping off as Occupy encampments across the country were dismantled, some by force. (force usually necessitated when Occupiers wouldn’t obey lawful orders to vacate)

Some achievements that can be connected to the efforts of the Occupy movement, and some plans for the near future:

In Albany, N.Y., Occupy protesters dubbed Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo “Gov. 1 Percent” for his refusal since the 2010 campaign to agree to a millionaire tax, and because his major campaign financial support comes from corporate executives.

… In a surprise, Cuomo reversed his position on the millionaire tax in December to avoid further cuts to schools and health care. (As if Cuomo is the first politician to change his mind about raising taxes)

An Atlanta pastor, whose church struggled to pay its bills after its building was struck by a 2008 tornado, credits Occupy Atlanta with helping it to avoid foreclosure. …

… In Rhode Island, Occupy Providence pushed for – and won – a temporary day center to serve the homeless during the winter. Protesters made the center’s opening a condition of their departure from a public park downtown, where they had camped against the city’s wishes for more than three months.

While the city didn’t fund the center, officials pledged to help its operator, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, find money for it.

… Also in Rhode Island, the state’s junior U.S. senator, Sheldon Whitehouse, introduced a bill in November to crack down on high credit card interest rates – the same week he visited the Providence encampment.

… Whitehouse had introduced similar legislation a year earlier. (So Occupy wants to claim credit for a reintroduced bill? Wow, I bow before your movement’s awesome power)

Occupy protesters helped save an Iraq war veteran’s home from foreclosure in Atlanta, the Huffington Post reported. “I strongly believe Occupy Atlanta accelerated the process and helped save my home,” Brigitte Walker, whose home activists began occupying Dec. 6, told the website.

Occupy Minneapolis also worked with community organizers to help a former Marine who faced eviction from his home strike a deal with his bank, the Post reported.

Seriously, that’s all six reporters and a news researcher could find positive about the Occupiers in the entire country during six months: three eviction/foreclosure avoidances, a reintroduced bill, a forced opening through intimidation of a homeless shelter, and a supposedly influenced tax increase by a Democratic Governor who has rarely met a tax he didn’t like.

As to “accomplishments” relating to political involvement, the AP cites one guy running for State Senate in Maine and another running for Congress as … wait for it … a write-in candidate.

I thought I’d seen the worst examples of under-accomplishment when I chronicled how little ACORN did in areas other the creating fraudulent voter registrations back in 2009. I was wrong; yet this is where AP squandered 950 unskeptical words.

But getting back to the movement’s main accomplishment — as noted earlier, it has been to show us what the world might very well look like if the movement’s leaders and primary instigators ever got their way — here is what the Occupiers have wrought, per compilations at the indispensable OWSexposed.com with the assistance of PunditPress:

OccupyMovementCosts020712

For what it’s worth, I believe the final three items relating to cost are vastly understated. The identified costs to taxpayers of Occupy Oakland alone have amounted to $3.7 million. The temporarily successful attempts by Occupiers in that city to shut down the Port of Oakland probably cost $10 million in lost business by itself before even considering the hits to commerce taken by merchants across the country in areas where the Occupy protests took place.

But none of this was of any interest to the AP 7. But what do you expect from an outfit whose trade union, the News Media Guild, along with others in the media, heartily endorsed the Occupy Movement?

Speaking of endorsements, the AP 7 also missed a big one, even beyond the unions, trendy Hollywood types, and opportunistic politicians. President Barack Obama also endorsed the movement (proof hereherehere, and here), and owns it until he formally repudiates it.

Finally, when you think the report can’t sink any further, it does. The AP 7 tell us that the Occupy Movement plans “a global day of ‘economic disruption’ on May 1″ and weekly thereafter, and doesn’t tell us the significance of that date (i.e., that it’s May Day), even though the Occupy Wall Street site does.

If there’s a worse example of journalism this year by a major establishment press outlet, I really don’t want to have to read it.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

On Solyndra and Obama’s 2011 SOTU Avoidance, Politico’s Samuelsohn Misses the Big Kahuna: By That Time, Everyone Knew

On Friday, Darren Samuelsohn at the Politico (HT Hot Air), the place where it seems that inconvenient stories go so the Associated Press, the New York Times and the rest of the establishment press can claim they have an excuse not to cover them (respective proofs as of about 3:30 p.m. in the current instance are here and here), covering — or I should say attempting to cover — the latest of the White House’s ritual Friday document dumps, reported that a White House communications official rejected an apparent proposal to seat Solyndra executives at the President’s January 2011 State of the Union address, and that others within the White House already knew that Solyndra was in deep trouble before then.

And he almost got to the real meat of the story, but not quite. In this instance, not quite isn’t anywhere near good enough (bolds are mine throughout this post), nor is the “nothing new here, you really don’t need to read this” headline:

W.H. on Solyndra: ‘Ugh’

… The idea of seating Solyndra officials with first lady Michelle Obama in the Capitol during the president’s nationally televised speech came up around the same time that DOE was preparing a controversial change to the company’s $535 million federal loan guarantee, which wound up increasing the risk to taxpayers.

… (Friday’s doc dump) offers further confirmation of White House aides fretting over the struggling company. POLITICO obtained the emails from a government source late Friday.

On Dec. 8, 2010, for example, White House energy and climate adviser Carol Browner and her top deputy agonized over Solyndra’s pending collapse.

“You hear solyndra is in a severe liquidity crises and we areent likely given next doe loan? Banner week,” Heather Zichal wrote. Browner’s reply was quick: “Yep. Ugh”

The White House’s red flags also were flying in late May 2010, just days before Obama visited the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters for a tour and speech during which he declared Solyndra a stimulus success story.

“FYI. We may want to be measured in how POTUS talks about Solyndra on his California visit,” added Joseph Aldy, a White House staffer who worked for both Browner’s Office of Energy and Climate Change and the National Economic Council.

… In a cover letter accompanying the materials, top White House lawyers repeated their contention that the documents do not support GOP allegations of favoritism to Obama campaign contributors or improper involvement in the loan guarantee decision-making process.

Samuelsohn “cleverly” never mentions Obama bundler and frequent White House visitor George Kaiser, and never notes that the vaguely described “increasing risk to taxpayers” mentioned in the first paragraph directly relates to the “allegations of favoritism to Obama campaign contributors or improper involvement in the loan guarantee decision-making process” mentioned in the last.

That’s not reporting; that’s deliberate obfuscation.

Even Samuelsohn’s vague phrase — “increasing risk to to taxpayers” — is a whitewash of what really happened. The correct description would be “increasing the amount of money taxpayers were destined to lose,” as Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey explains (bolds are mine):

Those familiar with the timeline of Solyndra’s collapse and the loss of more than a half-billion taxpayer dollars will understand the significance of these e-mails. Just a few weeks later, the Department of Energy “restructured” Solyndra’s loans so that taxpayer money was subordinated to later investors, allowing Solyndra to get $75 million in new financing. That financing came from Obama campaign bundler George Kaiser, who gets his money out of Solyndra’s assets before taxpayers see one thin dime, which means that we won’t see that thin dime any time soon, if at all. The restructuring also either gave Solyndra sweetheart interest rates or perpetuated them despite the subordination, a move that the DoE and the White House have never explained.

So the question raised is this: If the White House comms group and its climate czar both knew that Solyndra was an embarrassment, and so much so that the comms group nixed having Solyndra execs attend the 2011 SOTU in person, then why did Obama and Energy Secretary Steven Chu agree to restructure the loan less than a month later on such unfavorable terms? Solyndra’s woes must have been common knowledge in the West Wing for the “director of White House message events” to have that kind of wherewithal in advance of the January 25th speech. If so, then the decision to forge ahead with the restructuring that protected an Obama bundler’s late investment while illegally subordinating taxpayer investment becomes much more curious.

“Curious”? How about “illegal” and “corrupt,” Ed?

On November 27, ABC News reported the following from Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s Solyndra-related testimony before Congress:

He said the decision to restructure the loan deal as the company was struggling was a tough decision, but one he felt was in the government’s best interest. When asked if that decision was legal — even as it placed the government second in line behind private investors to recoup its losses during a bankruptcy — Chu defended his department.

… “The number of red flags about Solyndra that were raised along the way — many from within DOE — and either ignored or minimized by senior officials is astonishing,” said Energy Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Michigan.

Since no conceivable plausible deniability about Solyndra’s condition remains, no reality-based person can explain how granting other parties superior status in bankruptcy at a company which is on its way to bankruptcy is “in the government’s best interest.” Because it’s not, in any conceivable way.

Oh wait, maybe there is an explanation which works. If this is it, it would be grounds for a complete housecleaning of everyone in a significant decision-making capacity in the U.S. government. That would be if those in charge think it’s “in the government’s best interest” to completely bankrupt the country by throwing money down ratholes like Solyndra and and are willing to roll the dice on what comes out of it at the other end. Is that what Chu was telling the committee and the American people? Is there any other explanation which is even in the neighborhood of making “sense”?

The chances of Solyndra having a liquidation value above $75 million appear to be virtually zero — and in case there’s any doubt, the company has been recklessly destroying valuable inventory and paying outsized bonuses to those who remain during the mop-up. Whatever the investors recover should have and really still should come back to taxpayers.

Kaiser’s association (note that I didn’t say directly proven involvement, but the distance to that point isn’t far at all) is not in dispute. The fact is that “Argonaut Private Equity, an arm of the (George) Kaiser Family Foundation … was a major investor in Solyndra and was involved in negotiations with the DOE to restructure the failed company’s loan agreement.”

Readers who are unfamiliar with the investment involvement of the George Kaiser Family Foundation and the Argonaut Private Equity investment firm with which Kaiser is associated — namely, about 90% of the American people, because news of his association has rarely been mentioned in the press, and almost never in the non-Fox broadcast press — won’t see much significance in Samuelsohn’s writeup. The Associated Press, the New York Times, and the rest of the establishment press will say, “It’s not that big a deal, and Politico covered it anyway.”

I believe that’s why Samuelsohn’s report was written up as it was.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Friday Executive Order: ‘National Defense Resources Preparedness’

It’s here (mobile) and here on the White House’s website.

Its title is “NATIONAL DEFENSE RESOURCES PREPAREDNESS.”

It hardly seems inconsequential, but it has received no media coverage.

The White House clearly wants it to get minimal attention. It was issued on a Friday. There is no related White House blog entry or statement or release (pages will change with additional entries) since its issuance.

Though it demands rigorous analysis, it looks like a plan for taking control of the economy in case of some arbitrarily determined state of emergency or difficulty. Quoting just one item concerning a “finding required under section 101(b) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2071(b)” (bold is mine):

… the Secretary of the resource department that made the finding may use the authority of section 101(a) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2071(a), to control the general distribution of any material (including applicable services) in the civilian market.

Similar language is in previous EO 12919, but the paragraph in question in the new EO changes how findings are handled:

From — “This finding shall be submitted for the President’s approval through the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs.”

To — “This finding shall be submitted for the President’s approval through the Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor and the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism.”

So is this a bureaucratic update, or does this now-dual submission of “findings” create more opportunity for mischief (or, perhaps, paralysis)?

This demands a review for which I lack time at the moment — and yes, I know that Hot Air and Legal Insurrection have opined that it’s merely an update.

Any thoughts from readers about the EO and links to others’ analysis are welcome.

Sunday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (031812)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 7:30 am

Rules are here. Possible comment fodder may follow later. Other topics are also fair game.

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Positivity: Pro-life supporters to ‘Bike for the Unborn’ in California

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:10 am

From Denver:

Mar 17, 2012 / 06:09 am (CNA).- Organizers are encouraging cyclists to sign up for a 250-mile bike pilgrimage in southern California to raise money for pro-life organizations and pray for change in America.

“We’re asking for divine intervention, and even a Pentecost on our country, for hearts to become pro-life,” said Fr. David Nix, an event organizer who serves as parochial vicar at St. Anthony of Padua Church in the northeast Colorado city of Sterling.

The “Bike for the Unborn” route intends to follow the missions of Bl. Junipero Serra, the 18th century Franciscan priest who evangelized colonial California. It begins in San Gabriel, California at the San Gabriel Mission.

It also runs through Topanga State Park and Point Mugu State Park along the Pacific Coast Highway, before continuing through Carpinteria State Beach to Santa Barbara Mission.

From there, bikers will return to San Gabriel.

“Like Bl. Junipero Serra whose steps we’ll follow, we know that simple steps can call down God’s grace to give the gift of faith and shine into our country,” Fr. Nix said. “We’re literally asking for miracles.”

The idea for the June 12-16 event originated during pro-life work in Los Angeles with college men from Colorado, the priest told CNA March 14.

“God put together a remarkable team with a great zeal to make this not just a fundraising trip but a pilgrimage to change this country as only God Himself can do, because no celebrity can give the gift of faith,” he said. “Penance and pilgrimage seems to call down those gifts like nothing else.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.