The Mainstream Media and their Owners are biased in Favor of Government Largess, not Objectivity

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 10th, 2011

The Mainstream Media is Biased after All

Problems with a for-profit education dependent on federal student loans beset The Washington Post.  Reveals a clear and present bias.  And threatens the venerable masthead (see The Washington Post’s dependence on the government it covers by Glenn Greenwald posted 4/10/2011 on Salon).

“The fate of The Post Co. has become inextricably linked with that of Kaplan, where revenue climbed to $2.9 billion in 2010, 61 percent of The Post Co.’s total,” the article detailed; “the company is more dependent than ever on a single business,’ [CEO Donald] Graham wrote in last year’s annual report, adding that the newspaper had never accounted for as large a share of overall company revenue as Kaplan does today.”

And that single business is an educational one.  A network of for-profit universities aimed at those who can’t afford a traditional college education.  These ‘poor’ people often pay for this education with federal loans.  And, of course, education is highly regulated by the federal government.  So this puts this The Post Co. into a bit of a sticky wicket.

Put another way, the company that owns The Washington Post is almost entirely at the mercy of the Federal Government and the Obama administration — the entities which its newspaper ostensibly checks and holds accountable.

Which is another way of saying there is a conflict of interest.  Which may taint their objectivity.  At times.  Not necessarily.  But possibly.  Which may explain the dominance of FOX NEWS.  Who may be beholden to corporate interests, too.  But it is clear that they are not beholden to the Obama Administration.  No, the current administration doesn’t much care for FOX.  Which can’t help but to lend an air of objectivity.

Beyond being reliant on federal money and not alienating federal regulators, the Post Co. desperately needs favorable treatment from members of Congress, and has been willing to use its newspaper to obtain it…

The Post is hardly alone among major media outlets in being owned by an entity which relies on the Federal Government for its continued profitability. NBC News and MSNBC were long owned by GE, and now by Comcast, both of which desperately need good relations with government officials for their profits. The same is true of CBS (owned by Viacom), ABC (owned by Disney), and CNN (owned by TimeWarner). For each of these large corporations, alienating federal government officials is about the worst possible move it could make — something of which all of its employees, including its media division employees, are well aware.

Of course, they left off two other entities that depend on not alienating the federal government.  PBS.  And NPR.  They have no corporate middlemen.  They get their funding directly from the federal government.  So they’ll be even more careful not to bite the hand that’s feeding them.

It would appear that journalism somehow went awry.  They will still criticize corporate fat cats.  Just not the corporate fat cats that sign their checks.  Or the government that signs the corporate fat cats’ checks.

The whole point of the First Amendment’s free press guarantee is that adversarial journalism is possible only if journalists are independent of political power. Yet the U.S. now has exactly the opposite dynamic: most major media outlets are owned by corporations that are anything but independent of government: they are quite dependent upon political officials for their profit in countless ways. We have anything but an independent press, which is another way of saying we have anything but a free press.

It is interesting that many attack the Republicans for being in the hip pocket of the big corporations.  And some of their loudest critics are themselves in the hip pocket of big corporations.  But claims of media bias are laughed off by those in the hip pocket of big corporations.  Meanwhile, they attack FOX NEWS for not being a legitimate news organization.  When many of these attackers are themselves far from legitimate.  So are these people inherently immoral?  Amoral?  Or are they just human?

Currying favor with political officials is how they secure scoops, leaks and access. Because media stars are now as wealthy and celebrated as the politically powerful whom they cover, they identify on socioeconomic and cultural grounds with these political officials; media stars are far more integrated into the halls of political power than they are outside of them.

They’re just human.  Craving attention.  Fame.  Wealth.  The good life.  And more fame.  They all want to be Walter Cronkite.  To become a legend.  By achieving greatness just for reporting the greatness of others.  That’s why reality television is so successful.  People watch rank amateurs achieve celebrity without any real talent.  And they say, hey, that could be me.  And so it is with many of today’s journalists.

FOX NEWS Dares to say the King Isn’t Wearing any Clothes

So how biased is today’s media?  Perhaps not that biased.  Here’s a newspaper story pretty critical of President Obama (see O meets the fog of war posted 4/10/2011 on New York Post).

Gen. Carter Ham, who commanded US military forces in Libya until control of the operation was handed over to NATO, told a Senate hearing Thursday that “there might be some consideration” of sending US ground troops to Libya to aid the anti-Khadafy rebels.

But President Obama said there would be no boots on the ground.  That we were only there on a humanitarian mission to protect Libyan civilians.  That we would be in and out in days, not weeks.  That there would be no mission-creep.  But this sounds like mission-creep.  A lot like in Vietnam.  We were only advisors at first.  To help an outmatched military force.  Then the mission crept.  And the next thing we knew we had hundreds of thousands of boots on the ground.  Could history be repeating?

The point being that situations, both on the ground and in the air, tend to change in unpredictable ways.

Gen. Ham surely knows this. Indeed, brand new second lieutenants know it.

But there’s no indication that President Obama and his defense team understand it — which probably explains why he doesn’t hesitate before making sweeping promises about the length and nature of America’s military commitments.

Perhaps.  While another Democrat president bungles us into another long-term military commitment in a land far from home that never attacked us.

Now that’s a pretty critical, objective news report on the Obama administration.  Perhaps the news media can maintain objectivity in the face of their corporate overlords dependent on the federal government for their profits.  Wait a tic.  The New York PostRupert Murdoch owns this, doesn’t he?  The same Rupert Murdoch who owns FOX NEWS?  Why, yes.  He does.  No wonder the New York Post isn’t afraid to say the king isn’t wearing any clothes.  Their income isn’t dependent on pleasing the king.

I guess a good rule of thumb for objective journalism is this.  Does Rupert Murdoch own the media outlet?  If so, it’s not an Obama administration toady.  And most likely objective.

A Detailed and Objective Mea Culpa

If you want to read more about the problems besetting The Washington Post thanks to its Kaplan division you can read a pretty detailed and objective accounting of it in The Washington Post (see The trials of Kaplan Higher Ed and the education of The Washington Post Co. by Steven Mufson and Jia Lynn Yang posted 4/9/2011 on The Washington Post).  It’s a fascinating read.  And quite the mea culpa.

Yes, they may be biased.  But they don’t like the position they’re in.  And that says something about the organization.  Besides, Charles Krauthammer is a columnist over there.  Not exactly a friend of the Obama administration.  And any paper that has Krauthammer as a columnist is all right by me.

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Obama Explains Autocratic Action in Libya was Necessary to Keep UN Legitimate

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 28th, 2011

Obama Explains the Libyan War

President Obama finally took to the television to explain what we’re doing in Libya.  He takes a dig at George W. Bush over the Iraq War.  Says this isn’t anything like the Iraq War.  And that the U.S. role will be short and sweet (see Obama: Libya Isn’t Iraq by Carol E. Lee posted 3/28/2011 on The Wall Street Journal).

During the 2008 presidential campaign,  Barack Obama became a hero of the left for his opposition to the Iraq war. Tonight, he used the eight-year-old conflict to explain how the U.N.-backed mission to protect rebels in Libya, not overthrow Col. Moammar Gadhafi, won’t result in a prolonged U.S. engagement.

“If we tried to overthrow Gadhafi by force, our coalition would splinter,” President Obama said. “We would likely have to put U.S. troops on the ground, or risk killing many civilians from the air. The dangers faced by our men and women in uniform would be far greater. So would the costs, and our share of the responsibility for what comes next.”

He added: “To be blunt, we went down that road in Iraq.”

“[R]egime change there took eight years, thousands of American and Iraqi lives, and nearly a trillion dollars,” Mr. Obama said. “That is not something we can afford to repeat in Libya.”

Yes, we’ve been down the ‘regime-change’ road before.  And we’ve also been down the ‘no-fly-zone’ road before.  In Iraq, for example.  After the Gulf War.  Some twelve years before the Iraq War.  You see, after we threw Iraq out of Kuwait we entered into a ceasefire.  But Saddam Hussein did not behave.  Or honor many of the terms of the armistice that ended the Gulf War.  Worse, he was violently oppressing Kurds in the north and Shiites in the south that were rising up against his Sunni government.  We were hoping for regime change.  We didn’t get it.  And we didn’t try to help the Kurds or the Shiites.  For the same reasons Obama cites in the Libyan War.  Of course, the Left brutally criticized George H.W. Bush for ending the war too soon.  For not toppling the Hussein regime.  And there we were.  Watching Hussein putting down those uprisings with extreme prejudice (i.e., deadly force).  Oh, it was bad.  Like in Libya. Only worse.

The atrocities got so bad that the international community finally did something.  They established no-fly zones in the north and the south.  And maintained them for some eleven years.  Did we end them after we’ve achieved success?  No.  They ended after the Iraq War toppled Hussein from power making them moot.  You see, here’s the ugly truth.  Unless you topple the bad guy from power, those no-fly zones can never go away.  Even Bill Clinton launched an attack against Hussein while president.  Because he kept attacking the Kurds.  Even with the no-fly zone in place.

What Obama says in effect is that we’re going into Libya half-assed.  We’re not going to do anything that will have a permanent affect.  Just like after 1991 in Iraq.  And we’re leaving ourselves with an open-ended commitment that won’t end until Qaddafi dies by natural causes.  Because he ain’t going anywhere.  He’s a marked man.  And even if he finds safe sanctuary, whoever takes him in may become another Jimmy Carter and see their embassy staff taken hostage (when Carter reluctantly allowed the deposed Shah of Iran into America for medical care).

So the question remains.  Why Libya?  There’s suffering all around the world.  But we help only Libya.  Some have suggested that it was to help the Europeans protect their Libyan oil as they fear another ‘Hugo Chavez‘ nationalization of their oil assets.  Being that they made those agreements with the Qaddafi regime, I’m not sure why they would want to help the rebels trying to topple him from power.  If the Muslim Brotherhood or al-Qaeda fills the power vacuum in a post-Qaddafi Libya, you can bet that their terms on the ‘revised’ contracts won’t be as favorable to any Western economy.  So I don’t know.  It’s a stretch.  But one thing for sure Obama isn’t telling us the whole story.  There has to be a reason why Libya.  Better than the weak arguments he’s making now.

We Attacked Libya so the UN can Save Face

In making his case President Obama inadvertently attacks the role of the UN.  And tries to ease our concerns about a third war with the nation mired in recession.  And buried under a rapidly growing debt (see Obama on Libya: ‘We have a responsibility to act’ by Ben Feller posted 3/28/2011 on The Associated Press).

Citing a failure to act in Libya, he said: “The democratic impulses that are dawning across the region would be eclipsed by the darkest form of dictatorship, as repressive leaders concluded that violence is the best strategy to cling to power. The writ of the U.N. Security Council would have been shown to be little more than empty words, crippling its future credibility to uphold global peace and security.”

 Well, isn’t that a fact?  That that “writ of the UN Security Council” is pretty worthless unless backed by the wealth and military might of the United States?  The UN has no military.  Article 43 of Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter tried to build a UN military but no nation contributed any forces.  So the UN has no teeth.  Oh, sure, you can say NATO can fill that role.  But the bulk of NATO’s assets are whose?  That’s right.  Ours.  However you want to slice it doesn’t change this fundamental truth.  Any UN or NATO operation is only as strong and as effective as the size of the U.S. role in that operation.

Domestic politics got a nod, too, in a nation saddled in debt and embroiled over how to cut spending.

“The risk and cost of this operation – to our military and to American taxpayers – will be reduced significantly” Obama said.

The president said transferring the mission to NATO would leave the United States in a supporting role, providing intelligence, logistical support and search and rescue assistance. He said the U.S. would also use its capabilities to jam Gadhafi’s means of communication.

The U.S. in a supporting role?  Whenever has the U.S. played that part before?  We’re the John Wayne of international peace-keeping and humanitarian efforts.  We don’t get supporting roles.  Even if that’s all we want.  And the sop to the taxpayers?  This from the guy that is running trillion dollar deficits?  That’s ‘trillion’ with a ‘t’.  Not the ‘billion’ dollar deficits of Ronald Reagan that were irresponsible and bankrupting the country.  He has shown little regard to the American taxpayer.  Why should we believe him now?  He likes to spend tax dollars.  And he likes to tax. 

Fighting Illegal Wars and Cozying up to Big Corporations just isn’t for Republicans Anymore

And tax he does.  He and his progressive Democrats.  They go after rich people.  And big corporations.  Well, some of the big corporations (see 15 Tax Escape Artists by The Daily Beast posted 3/28/2011 on The Daily Beast).

As reported Friday, General Electric concluded 2010 with $14.2 billion in profits, for which the Internal Revenue Service is paying them a tax benefit of $3.2 billion, thanks to a shrewd use of U.S. tax loopholes, aggressive lobbying and favorable international tax provisions. They’re far from alone.

“Companies are becoming much more sophisticated in the way they arbitrage the U.S. tax system,” says Howard Gleckman, a resident fellow at The Urban Institute, which analyzes economic issues in the U.S. “GE is not the only one, there are many other companies doing the same thing.”

Did you catch that?  GE earned $14.2 billion in profits and did not pay any taxes.  In fact, the IRS paid them a tax benefit of $3.2 billion.    How does that make you feel about a ‘green’ corporation in tight with the Obama administration?  GE is a heavy Democrat donor.  And crony.  A big proponent of green energy.  Because they want to sell compact fluorescent lamps and windmills.  They’re so committed to Obama in going green that Jeffrey Immelt, GE CEO, leads Obama’s economic advisory board.  And yet it’s always the Republicans that are criticized for being in the pocket of the big corporations.  But when it’s Democrats, we don’t call it crony capitalism.  Go figure.

Is GE getting favorable treatment?  Perhaps. 

Critics argue that the avoidance of corporate income tax hurts the economy and hampers domestic investment and job creation, but defenders of the practices argue it’s the only way their companies can stay competitive on a global scale as the American corporate tax rate of 35 percent is one the highest in the world…

“GE is a symptom of a much bigger problem and GE management uses the tax code for their benefit,” says Gleckman. “I’m not offended by GE, I’m offended by a tax system that allows this to go on. They have an obligation to their shareholders and their workers to maximize after-tax profits.”

Of course, the irony is that GE Chief Executive Jeffrey Immelt is the same person Barack Obama appointed to head the panel of external economic advisers created in 2009 to help steer the U.S. out of the economic crisis. Says Willens, “when [Immelt] was appointed to that position, people who had familiarity with GE’s tax practices had a good laugh, which are rare for tax professionals.”

Obama says our role in Libya will be limited to help the American taxpayer.  Does having the highest corporate tax rates in the world that stifle economic growth and sends jobs overseas help, too?  These tax rates are so high that it forces poor corporations to manipulate the tax code to stay competitive.  Which is okay as long as you are pouring money into Democrat coffers apparently.  Even if you outsource jobs to countries with lower tax rates.

And having the fox guard the chicken house?  In the world of Obama, there’s no conflict there.  Of course, if George W. Bush selected an oilman to lead such a board I suspect there would have been some protestation.  But Obama can do no wrong.  Although the Libyan War is now straining some of his strongest supporters.  Which should make for an interesting 2012 election.  If we have one, that is.

Going Rogue or Just in over his Head?

Special tax deals and policy influence for cronies?  Wars launched without Congressional authority or any clear idea of what exactly our national security interests are?  High taxation?  Huge deficits?  You know, there is a name for this kind of leader.  Autocrat.  Someone who does whatever he wants.  This reminds me of another leader.  You might have heard of him in the news lately.  He’s Libyan.  Goes by the name of Qaddafi.

Of course, Obama is no Qaddafi.  He’s much more conservative in dress.  And he doesn’t murder his own people.  But apart from these two things, you have to admit there are some similarities.  Both are cults of personality (before you object remember that Obama got the Nobel Peace Prize before he had a chance to do anything as president).  Friends of both get special treatment (the stimulus bill didn’t hire anyone – it went to the public sector unions and other supporters).  Both feel they’re above the law (take Obamacare, for example.  Ruled unconstitutional yet the Obama administration is still proceeding in defiance of the court’s ruling).  And they both attack their enemies (the Obama machinery bussed protesters to Wisconsin to try to prevent the elected Wisconsin Assembly from voting on the bill to restrict collective bargaining rights to public sector workers).  Oh, and even though he defied one judge (in the Obamacare ruling) he used another judge in Wisconsin to stop a law he didn’t personally like (restricting collective bargaining rights of public sector unions).

So this leaves all scratching our collective head.  Why Libya?  When you get right down to it, he must like a lot about Qaddafi.  He’s doing a lot of the same.  Only without the blood and fancy dress.  And while we’re asking questions, here’s another.  Will there be an election in 2012?  That may depend on how far his poll numbers drop.  Because there’s a limit to the number of dead people that can vote without drawing suspicion.  I’m joking, of course.  There will be an election.  Obama hasn’t gone rogue.  He’s just young, inexperienced and in over his head.  At least based on his incomprehensible actions.

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Look Out – Here Comes the Middle Class Tax Hike

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 25th, 2010

A Little Business Primer

Who hires more people?  Big corporations?  Or small businesses?  Some may be surprised to learn that small business provides the majority of American jobs.  Little guys taking a risk.  Doing something they love.  Are good at.  They earn a living.  And provide jobs with benefits for others.  Not too shabby.

These people start their own construction company.  Buy a restaurant (from a lunch counter to a fancy place with table cloths and a wine steward).  Captain a fishing boat.  Move up from fixing cars in a backyard to operating a three-bay service garage.  Open a multi-chair hair salon.  Run a landscaping business (and snow removal business in the winter).  Sell ice cream to tourists from an independently owned Ben & Jerry’s on the strip.  Or buy and operate a McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Dunkin’ Donuts, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell, etc.

These are not fat cats running fortune 500 corporations.  They’re no Donald Trump.  So they keep things simple.  And yet protect themselves.  They operate as an ‘S’ corporation.  This is sort of a hybrid between the regular ‘c’ corporation and a partnership.  There’s limited liability (you limit your losses to only what you invested into your business).  And there’s no business tax on earnings like in a partnership.  All earnings are distributed to the shareholders (which could be just one person).  And taxed as personal income. 

I Will Not Raise Taxes on Anyone Earning Under $250,000

Sounds good.  Stick it to the rich fat cats.  But who else makes more than $250,000?  I’ll give you a hint.  Reread the previous section.

A small business owner operating as an ‘S’ corporation is likely to earn more than $250,000.  But they’re not fat cats.  Far from it.  Let’s pick a number.  Something you think is fair for a business owner’s salary.  Someone who probably has his or her house mortgaged to the hilt.  Works 7 days a week and puts in on average 80 hours each week.  If they could earn, say, $75,000 working for someone else, would you begrudge them earning, say, $100,000 working for themselves?  For the sake of the argument, let’s say you don’t.  That’s less than half of the $250,000 tax threshold.  The small business owner, the generator of American jobs, should be safe from any Obama tax hike, right?  Wrong.

As a business struggles to grow, a business owner plows most of their earnings back into their business.  To buy a new copier.  Replace a furnace.  Buy new software.  New computers.  A network for your computers.  Inventory tracking.  A new delivery truck.  Decals for your new delivery truck.  Building signage.  A ‘yellow pages’ ad.  New telephones.  A new website.  New invoicing software with a custom-designed invoice form.  Etc.  But before you can spend this money, you have to earn it.  And, once earned, an ‘S’ corporation small business owner pays taxes on it.  Even if they invest it back into the business.  So, the higher the tax rate, the less they can grow.  And the fewer jobs they can create.

The Obama administration keeps bitching about the greedy bankers and big corporations who are sitting on their cash.  (And they sit on their cash for good reason.  They already have excess capacity.  So there’s no reason to expand.  Because there’re no markets to expand into).  The one area, though, where there may be expansion possibilities is in small business.  Raising taxes on those earning over $250,000 per year, though, will kill small business growth.  Kill jobs.  And prolong this recession.  So why do they persist in attacking the ‘rich’?  Because in terms of voters, they’re less of them than those earning under $250,000.

Playing the Numbers

The Bush tax cuts expire at the end of this year.  If Congress doesn’t extend them, taxes will go up and the economy will tank even further.  And Obama will have violated his no tax rate increase for anyone earning less than $250,000 pledge. 

But there will be no vote before the midterm elections.  (See Congress Punts on Taxes by Martin Vaughan and John D. McKinnon at the Wall Street Journal on line.)  The Republicans want to extend them across the board.  This is a problem for Democrats.  If they do, it endorses George W. Bush’s economic policies and discredits their own.  And angers the liberal base.  They would rather extend the cuts only for the middle class.  This, however, won’t help the small business owners (i.e., the job creators).  So the Republicans are opposing this as it will not help the economy. 

Let’s look at the numbers.  Note the chart at the bottom of the Wall Street Journal article referenced above.  Especially the fine print.  It reads, “2008 tax year, an additional 25% of filers are in the 0% rate category.”  In other words, 25% of the voters pay no federal income taxes.  If you add that figure to the sum of the top three ‘Pct. of filers’ in that chart it equals 95.1%.  In other words, approximately 95.1% of voters earn $140,550 or less.  Only 4.9% of the voters earn more.  Hence the class warfare.  And after stirring up the masses (the 95.1%) to hate the rich (the 4.9%), they have no choice but to keep on hating.  I mean, they can’t tell the 95.1% that they were wrong, can they?  Especially when the poll numbers are moving against them.

So, of course, the Obama administration sticks to the time-honored playbook.  And attacks the rich.  In hopes of persuading enough of the 95.1% to forget about results and to just vote their hate.  We call it playing the numbers.  There’s only one problem.  Most of the 95.1% work for the 4.9%.  So if you make it too costly for the 4.9% to expand and create jobs, they won’t.  They may even cut back.  And the 95.1% are the ones who will suffer.  They may see a reduction in their benefits.  Work longer hours (because their boss can’t afford to hire a new employee). They may even lose their job.  And their house.  They may not like that.  But at least they can find solace in their hate.

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