October 2, 2006

Don Boudreaux Recycles

Filed under: Environment,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:34 pm

Oh, this is funny (HT Club for Growth), unless you’re a humorless enviro (or is that a redundant term?).

Humorless enviros and others who want to learn more about Don Boudreaux’s sensible take on recycling should go here. Oh, and he recycles his thoughts today at TCS Daily. What a guy.

The Air America Radio Shell Game

….. appears to be moving to its next shell. If it comes down as Brian Maloney at Radio Equalizer (HT Michelle Malkin) believes it will, the previous owners will be left with …. a mostly-empty shell.

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Previous Posts:

  • Sept. 13 — Air America: Bankruptcy, If It Happens, Won’t Necessarily Mean Disappearance
  • Feb. 26 — Is the Air America Radio Bailout a Violation of Campaign-Finance Laws?
  • Jan. 26, 2006 — The Franken-stein Monster That’s Eating Air America Radio
  • Oct. 21, 2005 — Air America: If They Can’t Make It There, Can They Make It Anywhere?
  • Sept. 8 — Air America Radio (AAR) Update: Is the Endgame Near?
  • Aug. 8 — If It’s Monday, There Must Be At Least Three Obvious New York Times Errors, Omissions, or Hilarities to Report
  • July 27 — Did the Liberal Talk Network Really Steal from Kids and Seniors?

527 Media Business Decision: To Use Larry Sabato, or Not?

Here’s what AP wrote about what Sabato said (HT Powerline):

A noted political scientist joined one of Sen. George Allen’s former college football teammates in claiming the senator used a racial slur to refer to blacks in the early 1970s, a claim Allen dismisses as “ludicrously false.”

Larry J. Sabato, one of Virginia’s most-quoted political science professors and a classmate of Allen’s in the early 1970s, said in a televised interview Monday that Allen used the epithet.

Sabato’s assertion came on the heels of accusations by Dr. Ken Shelton, a radiologist who was a tight end and wide receiver for the University of Virginia in the early 1970s when Allen was quarterback. He said Allen not only used the n-word frequently but also once stuffed a severed deer head into a black family’s mailbox.

Allen’s campaign released statements from four other ex-teammates defending the senator and rejecting Shelton’s claims.

Christopher J. LaCivita, an Allen strategist, said Allen and Sabato were not friends nor did they associate with each other in college.

“Larry is obviously relying on words he heard from someone else,” he said. “We believe it’s completely inaccurate.”

Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, would not tell The Associated Press how he knew Allen used the n-word. He told Chris Matthews on MSNBC that he did not know whether it was true that Allen used the word frequently while in college.

“I’m simply going to stay with what I know is the case and the fact is he did use the n-word, whether he’s denying it or not,” Sabato said.

THE FACT IS that Sabato doesn’t know, as documented in this e-mail response relayed to Powerline:

I didn’t know these things until the past few months.
People I know and who are very credible contacted me and shared the stories.

Then reporters checked them out: I am not a reporter. Based on everything they learned, they believe the stories and so do I. Other things will determine the election, though.

How Can Someone Say This and Retain Any Objective Credibility?

ANSWER: They can’t. Larry Sabato is, from this day forward, a partisan hack. Without a complete mea culpa from Sabato, any news organization that passes Sabato off as a nonpartisan analyst is knowingly covering up the truth. Doing so is not only a dishonest decision, but in today’s media age, it’s a really bad business decision.

ISM Manufacturing Report is Out; Expansion Continues, But Is Slowing (UPDATES: Other Econ Reports)

Filed under: Economy — Tom @ 10:32 am

Economists surveyed predicted this morning that the index would fall from 54.5 to 53.5. The actual came in at 52.9, the lowest reading since May of 2005. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion. It’s the 40th consecutive month of expansion, which extends the longest winning streak for manufacturing expansion in 27 years (first noted in this post back in June).

The bottom line from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM):

“The manufacturing sector continues on a trend of slowing growth in September. While there was little change in new orders and production when compared to August, significant slowing took place in employment and inventories. It’s apparent that manufacturing is losing momentum and feeling the effects of higher interest rates and a weaker housing market.”

The index has bounced up before when the pundits thought that contraction was at hand, and I don’t see any reason that it won’t do so again, especially given the strong ISM report for the Midwest region that was released Friday.

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UPDATE: August construction spending was “unexpectedly” up –

WASHINGTON (AP) — Spending on construction projects unexpectedly edged up in August as the best gain in nonresidential activity in 11 months offset another big decline in home building.

The Commerce Department reported that construction spending rose by 0.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.20 trillion. It followed a huge 1 percent decline in July and represented the best showing in five months.

Analysts had been forecasting construction spending would drop in August, reflecting continued weakness in residential construction. However, a big drop in residential activity was offset by strength in office building and other nonresidential projects. Spending by state and local governments also rose.

UPDATE 2: Housing Bubble believers will have a tough time swallowing this report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Pending sales of U.S. homes rose 4.3 percent in August in a sign the nation’s housing market might be stabilizing, a trade association said on Monday.

The National Association of Realtors said its Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed each month, rose to 110.1 from 105.6 in July.

It was the first increase since May. Still, the index was 14.1 percent lower than August 2005, when the nation’s housing market was near its peak.

“Our sense is that home sales may have reached a low in August,” said NAR’s chief economist David Lereah.

The overstock of homes for sale in the United States should be drawn down as fewer new homes come on the market, he said.

By early next year, he predicted, “home prices will rise, but at a slower pace than historic norms.”

UPDATE 3: Chips ahoy

Chip Sales Set Record in August

Oct 2, 2:22 PM (ET)

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) – Semiconductor sales worldwide surged to a monthly record of $20.5 billion in August, fueled by higher demand for memory chips used in PCs and mobile gadgets such as cell phones and digital cameras, an industry group reported Monday.

The figure was more than 10 percent higher than the $18.6 billion reported in August 2005, and a slight increase from the $20.1 billion reported in July, the Semiconductor Industry Association said.

The previous one-month record for worldwide chip sales was $20.4 billion in November 2005.

Much of the growth in August was driven by higher sales of dynamic random access memory chips, which are widely used to store information in computers and other electronics. Sales of DRAM chips increased by 31.4 percent from a year ago, and 7.5 percent from July.

Somebody must think there will be a big demand for consumer electronics during the Christmas buying season.

Illegal-Immigrant Crime in SW Ohio: Willful Blindness Is a Big Part of the Problem

I corresponded with the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Krista Ramsey on another matter many years ago. She struck me then as the living prototype of a very well-meaning person who, for reasons unfathomable to me, will not face facts when they are inconvenient, and who therefore should not be covering or commenting on hard news.

My impression of Ramsey was unfortunately confirmed Sunday in her hopelessly naive Enquirer editorial (“Danger in tarring aliens as ‘criminal’”). In response to the death of Kevin Barnhill at the hands of two illegal immigrants (one has been caught, and one is, as I understand it, still at large) and the citizen outrage about violent acts committed by illegal immigrants, she wrote:

All of us are saddened by the Barnhills’ tragedy and touched by their willingness to use it for what they see as broader good. But those emotions cannot blind us to the dangerous, if unintended, undertones of the cause they’ve undertaken.

Part of the rationale that drives the effort is that illegal immigrants carry with them what William Barnhill terms a “culture of violence.” Warren County Prosecutor Rachel Hutzel says her office has seen an increase in violent crimes by illegal immigrants although she has no hard numbers. She told an audience at a recent Citizens for Legal Communities meeting, “People who don’t want to obey our immigration laws aren’t going to obey our criminal laws.”

Yet officials at the U.S. Department of Justice say they have no statistics to back up those claims. In fact, they say they believe the majority of undocumented workers conduct lives of quiet conformity, working steadily at jobs and caring for their families. A 1994 study by the Justice Department showed aliens – here legally and illegally – to be six times less likely to commit violent offenses than were U.S. citizens. Indeed, many law enforcement officers say, fear of deportation makes illegal aliens steer so clear of criminal entanglement that they often do not report crimes of which they’re the victims.

First of all, Krista, Kevin Barnhill’s death was NOT a “tragedy.” You write as if it was just a bad break, or one of life’s vicissitudes. Horse manure — It was a wanton, violent, criminal act perpetrated by two people who had no business being here on someone who didn’t deserve to die. If you need a better understanding of why using the word “tragedy” is so pathetic, go here, and be sure to read the comments.

Second, your statement that “officials at the U.S. Department of Justice say they have no statistics to back up those claims” about violent crimes by illegal immigrants is either the worst-researched factoid I’ve ever seen, a willful lie, or both. And by going back 12 years for your information, you appear to be unwilling to look at more recent readily available information that might shake up your comfortable assumptions.

Here are facts that are irrefutable, Krista (bolds are mine):

  • Government Accountability Office (GAO) report number GAO-05-337R (‘Information on Criminal Aliens Incarcerated in Federal and State Prisons and Local Jails,’ issued May 9, 2005) informed us that “At the federal level, the number of criminal aliens incarcerated increased from about 42,000 at the end of calendar year 2001 to about 49,000 at the end of calendar year 2004–a 15 percent increase. The percentage of all federal prisoners who are criminal aliens has remained the same over the last 3 years–about 27 percent.” (Translation: If the current estimate of 12 million illegals in the US is accurate, that would represent 4% of the country’s population, and would mean that illegals are 6-1/2 times MORE likely to be in federal prison than the rest of the population. June 2, 2007 update — Actually, this needed to be recalculated: Illegals are over nine times MORE likely (49,000 [27% of federal prisoners] divided by 12 million, compared to 133,000 citizen prisoners [the other 73%] divided by 300 million) to be in federal prison than the rest of the population.
  • A GAO report released that same day, number GAO-05-64R (‘Information on Certain Illegal Aliens Arrested in the United States’) studied the criminal records of over 55,000 incarcerated illegal immigrants, and found that “….. they were arrested at least a total of 459,614 times, averaging about 8 arrests per illegal alien. Nearly all had more than 1 arrest. Thirty-eight percent (about 21,000) had between 2 and 5 arrests, 32 percent (about 18,000) had between 6 and 10 arrests, and 26 percent (about 15,000) had 11 or more arrests. Most of the arrests occurred after 1990. They were arrested for a total of about 700,000 criminal offenses, averaging about 13 offenses per illegal alien. One arrest incident may include multiple offenses, a fact that explains why there are nearly one and half times more offenses than arrests. Almost all of these illegal aliens were arrested for more than 1 offense. Slightly more than half of the 55,322 illegal aliens had between 2 and 10 offenses. About 45 percent of all offenses were drug or immigration offenses. About 15 percent were property-related offenses such as burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and property damage. About 12 percent were for violent offenses such as murder, robbery, assault, and sex-related crimes. The balance was for such other offenses as traffic violations, including driving under the influence; fraud–including forgery and counterfeiting; weapons violations; and obstruction of justice.”

Uh, Krista — How much criminal activity does it take before you’ll be convinced that there indeed is a culture of criminality and violence in the illegal-immigrant population, and that it permeates a significant percentage of it?

And while we’re on the subject of violent local crime by illegal immigrants — Why has the local press failed to follow up in any meaningful way on the attempted murder at the Hamilton Township construction site in July? This is the incident where a worker who was asked to produce proof that he was here legally left the construction site and came back later with 7-9 other “friends” intent on killing the job site supervisor.

If the Enquirer had followed up with the Hamilton Township officer in charge of the case, as yours truly has, area readers would know that:

  • Victor “Max” Martinez, the employee involved, was arrested, got out on bail (a $5,000 down payment on $50 grand), and is now at large. Oh, and by the way, his real name is Jose Ocasio-Nunez. The “Wheels of Justice” link is so weak that it doesn’t even have a picture of Nunez. It also doesn’t bother to chronicle the complete list of charges against him or to completely describe his possible whereabouts (both sections end with ellipses).
  • Based on tattooes observed on Nunez’s “friends,” police believe that the violence was MS-13 gang-related.
  • Further, police believe that the city of Hamilton is home to quite a few MS-13 gang members.

For chilling background on MS-13, go here.

The fact is that there is a significant criminal element in the illegal-immigrant population, that they are operating with virtual impunity in Southwestern Ohio, and that the problem is probably getting worse. Willfully blind journalists like Krista Ramsey, who refuse to recognize what is going on, and who backhandedly criticize those who are trying to open others’ eyes, are a very big part of the problem. Their failure to inform us of the dangers that exist could cause people to either miss clues that might lead to the apprehension of perpetrators, or could put people unknowingly into dangerous situations. It is totally inexcusable, and breathtakingly irresponsible.

How many more Kevin Barnhills will have to die before our local press and federal immigration officials start doing their jobs?

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UPDATE: Porkopolis has more on the good, bad, and ugly of recent Enquirer coverage of illegal immigration.

Don’t Miss Patterico’s 5-Part Interview with a Former Gitmo Nurse

Filed under: News from Other Sites,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:34 am

His introduction segment is here. Subsequent parts will be posted this week.

The gentleman involved spoke with Patterico instead of someone from The 527 Media because “I don’t trust them to factually report anything I say. I’ve read you and trust you.” Good judgment on his part.

To get an idea of how good inmates have it at Gitmo, read Mark Steyn’s column from yesterday.

Greenspan: Overhaul SarBox

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:06 am

Last week, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan joined the chorus of those calling for the overhaul of the over-reaching law (note that the “Dump SarBox” headline at Eweek is misleading):

September 26, 2006

BOSTON—The Sarbanes-Oxley Act is doing more harm than good and must be overhauled, Alan Greenspan told a technology audience here.

“One good thing: Sarbox requires the CEO to certify the financial statement. That’s new and that’s helpful. Having said that, the rest we could do without. Section 404 is a nightmare.” Greenspan’s remarks came at a meeting of the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council here on Sept. 25. Greenspan was Chairman of the Federal Reserve board for 18 years, having retired in early 2006.

He said the evidence is clear that Sarbanes-Oxley strictures are driving initial public stock offerings away from the New York Stock Exchange and to the London Stock Exchange. Increasingly, he said, people recognize that Sarbanes-Oxley must be changed. “The pressure on getting 404 significantly altered is rising and is taking on a critical mass.” But he added, “You do not get a bill altered when the two names [Sarbanes and Oxley] are in the process of retiring. People are waiting until they are gone. Then, hopefully, changes will be made. Any bill that passes both houses almost unanimously, cannot be a good piece of legislation.”

A hearty “Good-bye, good riddance, and don’t let the screen door hit you on the way out” should be delivered to Mr. Oxley and Mr. Sarbanes this coming January.

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UPDATE: SoxFirst accuses Greenspan of reversing his position supporting SarBox in May of 2005, and “saying it should be scrapped.” First, that’s not true (the assessment of Greenspan’s speech at the link provided was that “most of the Sarbanes-Oxley corporate governance rules enacted in 2002 have become a ‘nightmare’ and should be scrapped as soon as possible.”), and the entry’s author tells us as much a short while later. Greenspan wants to keep CEO personal “certification” of financial statements; that may not be a majority of the BURDEN of SarBox, but it’s in essence what senators and congressmen voted for.

What now bothers Greenspan and what has bothered most other SarBox opponents since the law was enacted is Section 404, a vaguely written requirement relating to internal controls that has opened up a Pandora’s box of busywork and navel-gazing. 404 is distracting companies’ management and IT resources, imposing immense costs (just one example: external audit fees have typically doubled or tripled since SarBox), and (in my opinion) hurting companies’ competitiveness vs. foreign companies who don’t have to deal with this madness.

It took Greenspan a year of hearing reports from the trenches to believe that what a lot of us predicted would happen was indeed happening. Greenspan should be congratulated for changing his mind in the face of real evidence, something SarBox supporters stubbornly refuse to even think about.

They’re So Blatant, They Don’t Even Try to Fake It

Filed under: Immigration,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:04 am

From Expatica Belgium, most Chinese spies don’t even have to put on the appearance of being what they aren’t while they’re busy doing what their government wants them to do:

Chinese ‘students’ use studies as cover
31 October 2006

BRUSSELS – Only a small proportion of the young Chinese nationals granted student visas for Belgium every year actually turn up at the universities.

There is a tendency for them to melt into illegal work, often in Chinese restaurants.

This year 125 Chinese students obtained a student visa after their acceptance at the University of Liège but, says the Dean, Bernard Rentier, “We only met about 20 of them.”

This practice is known to happen in other Belgian universities as well as throughout Europe.

The article doesn’t call the non-students “spies.” OK, what are they?

The Latest of 57 Reasons to Reject Ohio Learn & Earn Initiative (100206)

Filed under: News from Other Sites,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:01 am

From Jill at Writes Like She Talks (original entry relating to Jill’s effort is here) –

  • Reason 40: “Because its mere existence forces me into bed with truly strange and otherwise extreme people.” — An interesting one. I think finding out that someone you normally oppose has the occasional sensible streak is beneficial. The OL&E initiative isn’t really a right-left debate as much as it’s a matter of, first, inappropriately matching a public good (education) with a socially questionable enterprise (casino gambling), and second, even if you don’t agree with the first reason, recognizing a bad deal when you see it.
  • Reason 39: “Just because something is legal doesn’t make it right to do.” — Sounds like your mom talking. Mom was, or is, right.
  • Reason 38: “Because even one person’s vote makes a difference, so do not for a moment think that just because people in other states have succumbed to the ‘everybody’s doing it’ or ‘they’ll take their money outside Ohio’ arguments, that voting against for this amendment, as one person, in the face of facts about other types of gambling already allowed, won’t make a difference.” — Okay, it runs on a bit, but it works for me.

And now, for a BizzyBlog contribution:

Reason 37 (Writes Like She Talks link is here): This absolutely idiotic Cincinnati Business Courier editorial (link requires subscription; full text follows) –

Gambling would have big payout
Cincinnati Business Courier – September 22, 2006

Even the most ardent gambling opponents now have a good reason to vote in favor of an Ohio ballot measure that would legalize casino gambling. And that’s what all voters in Southwest Ohio should do: Hold your nose and swallow this bitter pill but vote in favor of the so-called “Learn and Earn” constitutional amendment.

This region is emerging as a big winner in this emotional and controversial debate. Here’s how:

Win 1. No casino would be built in downtown Cincinnati or anywhere in Southwest Ohio. Instead, up to 3,500 slot machines would be installed at both River Downs and Lebanon Raceway. Both of those businesses would get a badly needed boost. We’re not introducing gambling to our citizens, as they already have it available in Indiana and online.

Win 2. Backers of this initiative have cleverly made education a benefactor. About $1 billion each year would be generated for college scholarships. Students in Cincinnati would get about $22 million of this money. Students in the rest of Hamilton County would get about $30 million. If you need only one reason to vote for legalizing gambling, this is it. You’re right if you say that this is bad public policy, but political leaders from both sides of the aisle do not have the boldness to change the way Ohio funds higher education by making it a public policy priority. This initiative lets Ohio voters do it for them.

Win 3. Badly needed dollars for economic development will come our way. Each of Ohio’s 88 counties will share in a $230 million annual economic development allocation. In addition, Hamilton and Warren counties and the cities of Cincinnati and Lebanon will receive a total of $22 million because they will be hosting the new slot machines. Cincinnati and Hamilton County will get another $11 million annually for economic development because of our position as a large urban area not benefited with a new gambling facility.

Win 4. For those concerned about the effects of gambling on our community, this initiative will make Ohio a leader in the nation in creating a funding strategy aimed at keeping people from letting gambling ruin their lives. Hamilton County alone would get $1.7 million in new funding for these services.

It’s an odd argument, but gambling might be what we need. A better-educated citizenry would reduce our jail population, lower our crime rate and create a stronger work force. Forget the misleading advertising Learn and Earn is using, but remember how our region would benefit when you vote in favor of legalizing gambling.

This may be the most cynical editorial I have ever read. In essence, it says “It mostly stinks, but vote for it anyway, because we’ll benefit.”

No, thanks. Vote NO on Issue 3.

In a “Slowing” Economy, Another “Unexpected” Sign of a Quickening

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance — Tom @ 7:56 am

From Reuters:

NEW YORK, Sept 29 (Reuters) – Business activity in the U.S. Midwest region jumped in September to its highest in over a year, a report said on Friday, in a surprise performance which contrasted with recent signs of weakness elsewhere in the U.S. economy.

The National Association of Purchasing Management-Chicago’s index surged to 62.1 in September from August’s reading of 57.1. It was its highest reading since matching 62.1 in July 2005 and it outstripped even the highest forecasts.

A reading above 50 shows expansion in regional activity. The Chicago index has been above that mark for over three years.

The consensus expectation of analysts contacted by Dow Jones Newswires was that the index would go DOWN to 55.1.

Those analysts really need to stop reading those downbeat Associated Press reports like the one I covered and compared to a Reuters report on the same information relating to consumer spending on Friday.

The Institute for Supply Management’s report on Manufacturing for the entire country comes out later today. A “surprise” would not surprise.

Thespis on the MTP DeWine-Brown Debate

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:51 am

He’s not happy with Sherrod Brown. He is correct not to be, especially over the lie about not saying that he wanted troops out of Iraq by October 2006 last year.

DeWine did pretty well. The “reach across the aisle” stuff didn’t work for me, but it does for some.

Full transcript is here.

Positivity: “Thank You for Making Me Safe”

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:01 am

From a Louisville Courier Journal letter from Brian A. Cissell, stationed in Iraq (HT A Rose by Any Other Name):

Sent: Friday, July 14, 2006, 7:10 a.m

….. What happened to me yesterday outdoes all of the photos I have sent and all the stories I have told to you about my experiences over here.

The day started off as any other, planning the mission, briefing it, and heading out the gate. It was about 120 degrees and we had been on mission for about 3 hours. Everybody was miserable and no one in the community was cooperating. It was just a plain old bad day. The kids were the usual, always there to get a toy or candy. I was not in the mood that day to be pleasant, so I separated myself from the group passing out the gifts and just pulled rear security.

I even told kids to keep away, but this one child who appeared to have Down syndrome just kept watching me. Every time I moved, he moved. He was literally like my shadow. I pointed to the guys giving out gifts and told him to go to them and he shook his head no. I just looked at him like what do you want.

Now here is the part that just broke me down. He slowly walked over, looked up at me, stuck out his hand and said, in English, Thank you for making me safe!

I didn’t know what to say. My words just stuck in my throat. All I could do was smile and do my best to keep it together. He wouldn’t even let go of my hand. He just kept looking up at me and shaking my hand. I mean what do you do? It was absolutely the best thing that could have happened to me on that day or even on my whole tour over here, totally unbelievable.

I didn’t know it at the time, but one of the other guys had a camera and caught the moment. During de-brief the unit was showing slides on the projector for the day’s mission and this photo popped up. I lost it and I had to walk out of the room. It took me several minutes to shake it off. Unbelievable!! Remember this picture/moment every time the news tells you about all the bad going on over here! We are absolutely making a difference, even if it is only one step at a time!!! I hope all of my last 15+ days go this way. See you all in August. WOW!!!!