January 7, 2007

Quote of the Day: Marty Peretz on Some Saddam Perspective

Filed under: Quotes, Etc. of the Day,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:18 pm

The wailing and gnashing of teeth over the conduct and aftermath of Saddam Hussein’s execution is incomprehensible, and totally lacks any perspective.

The fact is, as Peretz says, “by taking Saddam’s life, Iraqis do justice“:

Saddam Hussein’s execution was another matter entirely. Those who do not see that are blind to the implicit social compact of any polity, and to its always precarious situation. What this tyrant did in murdering hundreds of thousands and terrorizing millions more, within Iraq and outside it, was to normalize brutality, establish falsity and hysteria as the common language, and routinely invade the boundaries of private life. Saddam’s crimes unraveled whatever authenticity and spontaneity was possible in the artificial confines of a post-Versailles state.

He also brought dread to this state’s neighbors. Men and women trembled at his name. And for what purpose did Saddam put the people of Iraq and the region through these horrors? For the nihilistic purpose of sustaining his rule and that of his clan. And yet, as no one has reminded us in recent times, he also murdered kith and kin.

Seen from this perspective, the attacks on Saddam’s death sentence, self-righteous and oh, so elementally moral, are petty and falsely framed.

And to what possible constructive end?

Weekend Question 4: Did Gerald Ford Save New York City?

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government,TWUQs — Tom @ 4:05 pm

ANSWER: Felix Rohatyn thinks so. And he should know.

____________________________

Rohatyn says as much in his OpinionJournal.com op-ed on Thursday (bolds are mine):

Ford to City: OK
How the 38th president saved New York.

The year 1975 was a difficult one for the city.

….. a crisis had been building up here for some time. The city’s financial condition was deeply concerning, running a significant deficit as a result of an exodus of private sector jobs and an influx of new municipal employees. Politically New York was always a Democratic city, a union city, with a strong Republican business community and little contact between the two. Morale was bad, the city was dirty, crime was up and the economy was weak.

….. Year after year, and with the support of the state, the city spent more than it took in. It had the choice of raising taxes, cutting spending or borrowing. Naturally the politicians chose to borrow and, in addition, characterized tens of millions of expenses as capital investments. The result was to constantly reduce the city’s ability to make capital improvements while, simultaneously, increasing the debt by $1 billion annually. While the mayor had just agreed to a major pay increase for the municipal work force, no one really knew the level of the city’s deficit.

By the beginning of May we had little over a month to avoid a default–the next debt maturity of $1 billion would occur on June 18. At that point, Gov. Carey, brilliant and courageous, stepped into the picture.

….. Gov. Carey appointed a bipartisan committee of business leaders to review the impact of a New York bankruptcy. The committee unanimously recommended against it because of its unfathomable risks and we turned to a structure which became the Municipal Assistance Corp. The MAC was a financing mechanism, which could sell its own bonds backed by the New York sales tax and which might give the city time to bring its budget into balance. The banks and labor leadership joined in the recommendation and on June 18 the state legislature voted to create MAC. Gov. Carey immediately christened it “Big MAC” and the underwriters began selling its bonds.

….. We created the Emergency Financial Control Board, chaired by the governor, to control the budget. With the EFCB in control of the budget and the MAC in control of the financing, the state effectively controlled the city. The unions went along even though they were kept outside these structures because they knew this was the city’s only chance. They committed to investing part of their pension funds in MAC bonds while the banks extended their existing loans.

….. on Oct. 29, Ford gave his famous “drop dead” speech. He never spoke those words; but he indicated that he would veto any legislation proposing a financial bailout–and the meaning was quite similar. The Daily News engraved them in stone.

….. Ford deserves great credit for his willingness to change his mind. On his return to Washington, he signed legislation providing credit to the city; this unlocked other pieces of the package: from the banks, the pension funds and insurance companies. It saved New York but it did not save his presidency. Jimmy Carter was elected in 1976.

In 1980 the city balanced its budget; in 1981 it re-entered the securities markets and repaid the government guarantees. Since those dark days the city’s recovery was uninterrupted, except for 9/11. New York’s present economic boom is ample proof that those who opposed bankruptcy were right, and that in a crisis, bipartisanship and business-labor cooperation will go a long way. One of Ford’s greatest achievements may have been that he knew when he had pushed New York City to the limit and that, contrary to some of his colleagues, he also knew when to stop.

Between the Nixon pardon, which even most die-hard opponents at the time have come around to agreeing with, the tax cut that served as a bit of a field test for supply-side econ, and the tough-but-fair love for the Big Apple described by Rohatyn, the Ford Legacy looks ever more impressive, and should not be forgotten.

Don’t Tell Me the Democrats Have a Macho Problem (Satire)

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Ignorance,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:57 am

No, of course the Democratic Party in Washington doesn’t have a problem with the real or perceived masculinity of its male senators and congressmen.

Absolutely not. What in the world are you talking about?

You’re all excited just because Maureen Dowd calls Barack Obama “Obambi,” had to listen to him complain to her because she wrote that his ears are big (he’s sennnnnnsitive about them, y’know), and told him that she’s trying to “toughen him up.”

So?

Oh, and you still remember Al Gore bringing in Naomi Wolf in to help him during the early stages of his 2000 presidential campaign because:

….. he is a beta male, a subordinate figure, and must learn to become an alpha male, or leader of the pack, before the public can accept him as President …..

Your point is?

And I’ll just bet you’re going to try to make hay out of that Sunday New York Times Week in Review feature (requires registration):

NYT010707DemAlphaMales

What? ……

You think the Times is implying that most or all of the Democratic males already serving in Washington AREN’T Alpha Males?

How can you THINK that?

I just knew you’d be all over these items in the Times story. I bolded the key words so I’d be ready for you:

The members of this new faction, which helped the Democrats expand into majority status, stand out not for their ideology or racial background but for their carefully cultivated masculinity.

The return of Democratic manliness was no accident; it was a carefully planned strategy. But now that the Macho Dems are walking the halls of Congress, it remains to be seen whether they will create as many problems for Democrats as they solved. After all, these new Democrats have heterodox political views that could complicate Democratic caucus politics, and their success may raise uncomfortable questions for those Democrats who don’t pass the new macho test.

“Joe Sestak — that guy’s muscular!” says Mr. Lapp. “He’s a vice admiral. I’ve told him to spend a lot of time going on the national talk shows. He can really do a service changing the mold and the way the Democratic Party is viewed.”

The roots of the Macho Dem strategy can be found in the party’s 2004 losses when Democrats decided that their post-9/11 candidates needed to exude strength above all else.

Adds the Democratic strategist James Carville, “The fact that the party has come across as less — I don’t want to say less masculine — but certainly less aggressive than Republicans, is true.”

Just as these female faces are solidifying the perception of the Democrats as the party of women — the gender gap still exists — the Macho Dems are adding a dash of testosterone, which could add some cultural frisson to the party.

See, I just knew that you’d assume that the Times meant that the male Dems who were already holding office in Washington aren’t sufficiently (in order of bold text appearance):

- masculine
- manly
- macho
- muscular
- strong
- masculine (again)
- aggressive
- possessing testosterone.

The Times obviously isn’t implying any of those things. CAN’T YOU READ?

And finally, I’m sure you didn’t miss the Times article’s early take on 2008 in the Democratic party, so here it is:

The leading presidential candidates — Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton — may not score that high on the Alpha meter. And in the past, when Democrats believed their candidate was a true hero — well, just remember how the Republican Party was able to portray John Kerry. It could be a warning sign for Democrats: live by the Macho Dem creed, die by it.

What? You don’t think Democrats will allow their new Alpha Males to be Alpha Males, at least for long, and that even our favorite paper, the New York Times, can sense that?

That’s not a nice thing to say …..

You’re really hurting my feelings.

Go away — Next thing you know, you’re going to be calling Democrats the Party of Pansies, and that even our apparatch-, er, friends in the media think so.

I still haven’t gotten over Arnold Schwarzenegger calling California’s Democratic legislators a bunch of girlie-men a couple of years ago …..

That was really mean …..

You’ll have to excuse me ….. I’m feeling a need to ….. oh, you wouldn’t understand …..

____________________________

UPDATE: (sniff) I’m back. Now you’re telling me that the Times might have taken the article’s main graphic off of its home page so quickly (before Noon ET on Sunday) because some of its male subscribers whi-, er, complained about it? Don’t be silly — the guy who’s trying to sell the bar he owns that has a million pennies in it is obviously of much more interest to Times readers.

____________________________

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Coverage of Voter ID Law Court Cases Depends on Result

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:27 am

Last week, a Federal Appeals Court upheld Indiana’s Voter ID law (HT Volokh):

Appeals court upholds voter ID law

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana’s law that requires voters to show photo identification at the polls is not too burdensome, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago said Thursday in a 2-1 ruling that upholds the 2005 law.

….. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court questioned arguments that Indiana’s rule is unfair to poor, elderly, minority and disabled voters, and pointed out that opponents could not find anyone unable to cast a ballot under the new law.

….. Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita, who pushed for the voter ID law, said the ruling was a victory for election reform.

“The seventh circuit affirmed what we have seen from four successful elections in Indiana under the photo ID law – this is a common-sense way to protect honest voters and to improve voter confidence,” he said.

Judge Terence T. Evans dissented with the majority opinion, which affirms an earlier decision of U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Evans Barker. Evans said there was no evidence of voter fraud in Indiana that could be avoided with the photo ID law.

“Let’s not beat around the bush,” Evans wrote. “The Indiana voter photo ID law is a not-too-thinly-veiled attempt to discourage election-day turnout by certain folks believed to skew Democratic.”

Despite Judge Evans’ intemperate remarks, the story received minimal coverage. A Google News search on the Associated Press story title above (without quotes) found only 23 stories, and almost all of them were in Hoosier State publications. The Los Angeles Times did have a story, leading with (as it usually does with non-unanimous decisions it appears not to like) “A sharply divided federal appeals court ….”

The Washington Post and New York Times, based on on-site searches, appear not to have covered the story. Additionally, I do not recall hearing or seeing radio or TV coverage of this ruling on the Indiana law in the past few days.

But when a Georgia state court judge ruled to prevent enforcement of that state’s voter ID law in September of last year, the coverage was much more extensive (though the LA Times appears not to have covered it in-house):

  • The Washington Post had an in-house story.
  • The New York Times covered it (only Free Preview available), and also had what appears to have been a scathing editorial the following day (only Free Preview available) criticizing Republican attempts to pass national and state voter ID laws.
  • I recall that there was at least some mention of the Georgia ruling on major TV and radio outlets.

Voter ID court case coverage appears to fit an ongoing modus operandi for the formerly Mainstream Media — If a ruling favors a liberal or Democratic cause, cover it. If it doesn’t, try to ignore it.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Weekend Question 3: Are There Any Ironies in Steve Jobs’ Troubles?

ANSWER: Ironies galore.

____________________________

BizzyBlog readers know that I’m a Mac enthusiast, “bordering” on fanatic (admitting to “bordering” probably means that you really “are”). So I’m not going to pretend to be objective about Steve Jobs’ possibly imminent troubles over stock-options backdating. I’d rather be looking forward to the rumored iPod phone (latest rumor: not gonna happen) and other wonders that may be announced at MacWorld Expo this week when Jobs gives another one of his now-legendary keynote speeches.

Biz Weak Online, in a story carried at MSNBC (irony noted), makes two points about the situation that, for better or worse, are true, and are destined to converge on each other in some way.

First, Jobs is in some potentially serious trouble:

A report issued on Dec. 29 by a two-member special committee, composed of no less than former Vice-President Al Gore and tough-minded finance veteran Jerome B. York, “found no misconduct” by Jobs or other managers.

Yet it acknowledged that he knew about some of the 6,428 option grants handed out between late 1996 and early 2003–roughly 15% of the total in that time–that were improperly dated to give employees an artificially low price. On some occasions, Jobs even recommended the dates.

….. “It looks like Apple’s board is trying to whitewash the situation because they like him so much,” says Willem P. Roelandts, CEO of chipmaker Xilinx Inc.

OK, there’s an obvious conflict WITHIN this first item that needs to be resolved. What’s in the second para sounds like misconduct. Al Gore “et al” can’t just wave it away by saying “No it’s not” without proving it, which hasn’t been done (i.e., the world of publicly-held companies is not the Clinton White House).

(Aside: If Gore is serious about contending for the presidency, isn’t there a little “no guts, no glory” here? When faced with potential corporate malfeasance of the type that is the staple of the standard liberal stump speech, it appears that he’s blinking. Opponents will notice.)

The article later notes Apple’s contention that Jobs didn’t benefit financially from the backdating; but because the options, which went “underwater,” were later swapped for restricted stock, the truth of that contention is not clear.

Second:

No big company has more of its success wrapped up in one person. Jobs is a master marketer whose 30 years of experience have sharpened his skill at creating stylish, breakthrough products. He combines not just hardware and software smarts but a sense for how all that technology must fit together with the music, movies, and other content consumers want.

So there’s your quandary. If Jobs is guilty of a firing offense (and, again, it’s not clear that he is) that others, including some at Apple, have already been fired or pushed out over, how can you defend carving out an exception for him on something other than business grounds (i.e., “we can’t afford to fire him”)? You can’t. But Apple’s board has, and, as the article indicates, it will most likely continue to, “even if the government does move against him.”

The ultimate irony is that here we have a company with fantastic products, an overbearing swagger, leftist sympathies, and a vocal legion of very liberal fans (Apple knows its demographics, which is why it won’t allow itself to be associated with its arguably most famous fanatic). It is faced with a decision that, if almost any other “capitalist pig” company were involved, would be a “Mac Community” no-brainer: Throw him out, shoot first, ask questions later.

Apple’s liberal legion, and the business press, which has bent over backwards to portray the company and its culture heroically for years, ought to at least be asking itself if the looming hypocrisy over Jobs’ situation (because, as noted in the article, he’ll most likely survive this, even if guilty as sin) should make them less inclined to assume the worst and ignore the business implications in less hip, but otherwise quite analogous, situations.

Positivity: High-Schooler Credited with Saving Ex-Girlfriend’s Life

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:58 am

From Marysville, CA (link requires subscription, which it did not at the time this post was drafted):

Dyllan Adame to the rescue
December 25, 2006

Teenagers often get a bad rap for having attitudes and being unconcerned about anyone besides themselves.

Thankfully, that isn’t always the case – especially at Marysville High School.

When sophomore Dyllan Adame saw his ex-girlfriend, freshman Koriena Trimble, lying unconscious on the floor of her literature class on Dec. 6, he never thought twice. He ran to her and tried talking to her to get her to respond.

“My locker was by the classroom, so when I stopped there, I saw her and ran in,” Adame explained.

The two had been sharing Trimble’s locker in another area of the school before breaking up, and both Adame and Trimble agreed that if he had still been using her locker, he may not have seen her.

“I just ran in and did what I could,” he said shyly. “I wasn’t really thinking about it.”

Adame said Trimble’s eyes were open for a while and she was breathing, but then stopped. He started with chest compressions, and when that didn’t seem to be working, started performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

Assistant Principal Chris Meyer said that when he and fellow Assistant Principal Eric Preston reached the classroom, Trimble was a “grayish-blue” color and saw a staff member doing chest compressions as Adame held Trimble’s head. Trimble then began to come around and her color returned to normal.

“I’ve heard from several kids that the EMTs who took Koriena to the hospital told them Dyllan probably saved her life,” Meyer said.

Adame was very reserved when answering questions about the incident.

“I can’t really remember a lot about it,” he said quietly. “I couldn’t sleep because of it for days.”

Trimble, a small teenager with a bright smile, is back in full force. She was out from the Wednesday she fainted and returned to school the following Monday. She said doctors have run tests on her but still do not know what made her lose consciousness.

“I just remember feeling dizzy, then I blacked out and fell,” she said. “I had no idea Dyllan was there until someone told me. I got so emotional when I heard what he did; I was crying.”

Adame said he was able to act so quickly because his mother is a nurse, and while she was going through school, he helped her study and learned from her lessons.

He said his dad wants him to go into the health field because he reacted so well to Trimble’s incident, but Adame just shrugged.

“I’m a sports guy,” he said with a small smile.