November 6, 2007

2007 Weblog Awards Update (110607)

Filed under: General — Tom @ 4:57 pm

The Best Business Blog Ballot is here. You can vote once every 24 clock hours. That means 2 or 3 opportunities remains to vote before the November 8 cutoff.

An index to all blog category ballots is here. Complete voting rules are here. Vote early; vote often. Every vote for yours truly is greatly appreciated.

Other personal recommendations (links are to the respective ballots; actual site links are just below the ballots): fellow SOBer Weapons of Mass Discussion; Michelle Malkin; NewsBusters; Doug Ross @ Journal; Betsy’s Page; EU Referendum; Brussels Journal; Pundit Review; Michael Yon; Little Green Footballs; Day by Day; DUmmie FUnnies.

Business Blog Race update: The latest standings show BizzyBlog in seventh place. Kudlow, apparently fearful of losing his CNBC gig to a rank amateur, has secured a powerful homer’s endorsement, and is pulling away. But Don Luskin remains within reach.

Mike Coleman’s Potential Dealbreakers and Faith-Shakers Make Him Unfit for Reelection

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:35 pm

My biggest and most unforgivable miss of the past week has been of Right Angle Blog’s coverage of what ought to be called “Waterdowngate” — referring to the Columbus Dispatch’s failure to spill all the beans on the apparent treasure trove of derogatory information it has about incumbent Mayor Mike Coleman, who is up for re-election today against challenger Bill Todd.

Here are the RAB and other relevant links:

  • Oct. 31 — The Dispatch Hides Bad News About Columbus Mayor Mike Coleman
  • Oct. 31 — An assist from Patrick Poole at American Thinker.
  • Nov. 1 — Columbus Dispatch Actions Apparently Prove They Are Hiding Stories about Coleman
  • Nov. 2 — Columbus Mayor Mike Coleman is BREAKING THE LAW & Another Dispatch Coverup!
  • Nov. 4 — The Truth About Columbus Mayor Mike Coleman & His Questionable Character
  • Nov. 4 — One Columbus Dispatch Employee Speaks Out Against His Own Paper’s Reporting
  • Nov. 4 — Brent Greer: To Say The Dispatch Watered Down News about Mike Coleman is a Understatement
  • Nov. 5 — ePluribus Media chimes in.

Let’s “dispatch” with Mr. Coleman, who actually entertained thoughts of running for governor in 2006 (yikes!), first. He has several potential BizzyBlog Dealbreakers that would, if proven, make him clearly unacceptable.

Recall that a BizzyBlog Dealbreaker is:

….. something that completely justifies a person not voting for you, regardless of your party or your stands on the issues.

A quick perusal of RAB’s posts shows at least the following potential Dealbreakers:

  • HERE“money laundering in the amount of $200,000 by city hall vendors in order to support the democrat candidate’s TV commercials.”
  • HERE — Breaking a city campaign-finance law he championed — “the Dispatch management allegedly decided NOT to expose Mayor Coleman apparently breaking the law (Columbus City Code 2321.53). In 2005, Mayor Coleman signed a law requiring each and every Columbus candidate to file a five-day campaign finance report if they have raised or expended $10,000 or more during a specific time frame. Well, you guessed it, the MAYOR apparently broke the law!”
  • HERE“….. used his influence and power to take care of his (convicted) drug dealing buddy by helping his wife get a job in the city government.” Matt also notes the likelihood that this person likely skirted normal city hiring procedures.

I may have missed others in the rush to get this entry posted.

Given the compelling if still inconclusive evidence, that’s too many potential Dealbreakers for voters to ignore. Mike Coleman does not deserve their votes, period.

Let’s add to that plenty of pretty serious faith-shakers, which at least include:

  • Coleman’s disgraceful near-defense of sexual predators and administrative stonewallers at a Columbus-area public school in an interview with Glenn Beck.
  • His association with CAIR national vice-chairman Ahmad Al-Akhras (who despite non-citizenship managed to get onto a Franklin County board involved with Homeland Security until exposed).
  • His apparent initial obliviousness to his wife’s continuing alcohol-abuse problem. That’s not necessarily a faith-shaker, but his follow-up actions, which were in my view more oriented more towards minimizing the damage to him than to helping her, are.
  • Unexplained expenditures on almost-beyond-doubt personal items using campaign funds.

It should be patently obvious to Columbus residents that a lot of the wrong people have their hands on the levers of power in that city.

That needs to change. Columbus voters have until this evening to do something about that, and they should.

Now to “dispatch” with the Dispatch — The quiet, selective, delayed coverage of Coleman’s potential Dealbreakers and faith-shakers, along with the cozy, contribution-riddled, favor-driven relationship between the Mayor and the paper’s publisher, should be subscription-breakers for anyone who cares about the disappearance of quality journalism at state capital’s only wide-circulation daily paper. Regardless of whether Mr. Coleman survives, a lot of people in Columbus should be voting against the Dispatch — with their wallets.

My Last Boring Plain Dealer-Wide Open Follow-up Post

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance,Wide Open — Tom @ 10:51 am

Being a silver-lining person, I’m focusing on the fact that the demise of the PD-WO experiment has freed up blog time to look at things that regretfully fell by the wayside during October, and even moreso during the past week.

But for now, please indulge one last roundup and thought dump.

For starters, it bears noting that Dave and I were aware by mid-to-late morning Wednesday that Jill would resign. She asked us not to disclose her departure until she posted, so there was no point in posting anything until she did. Jill’s post went up in the late afternoon, and ours (here and here) came within a few hours of that. Interpreting our radio silence during this time as a lack of support for either Jeff or Jill, or as indicating some hope for revival for the project, would be incorrect. Neither Dave or I had any belief, barring divine intervention, that it could go on.

Before I read PD Reader Representative Ted Diadiun’s Sunday column, I believed that salvage efforts might have had potential if the four of us had huddled before Jeff’s post-termination post. I still think we should have convened as a group first (and Jeff in essence agrees with that), but Diadiun made it clear that continuation was out of the question when, after appearing to equate the blogosphere as a whole with “primordial ooze,” he concluded that:

Here’s the reality:

You can’t contribute to a political candidate and then write about his or her campaign, either as an employee or as a paid free-lancer for The Plain Dealer, on paper or online. Period.

Steve LaTourette has got nothing to do with that, now or ever.

This is one of those times when you wish you had done some thinking for other people who should have known better.

Ted, your company should have known that the Wide Open bloggers had made political contributions in the past, and should have asked us if we intended to do so prospectively (and about our activism intentions in general), before Wide Open launched. I know y’all seem to have acquired a reluctance to investigate imams, but you surely haven’t been averse to investigating bloggers in the past. The contributions and advocacy issues came up very early on, and should have been resolved early on. Stupid us — we thought that they had been resolved, or had faded into unimportance.

And I have one other name to add to the inconsistency list: Connie Schultz (aka Mrs. Sherrod Brown). If the PD gave a rip about independence in appearance it would not have allowed her to continue at the paper after Brown declared his Senate candidacy. I think her continued presence as a journalist at the paper after she married Brown while he was still a Cleveland-area congressman was out of bounds. Get married, be compelled to get a different job. It’s not like that never needs to happen — or is that only a standard when the politician involved is a Republican?

Bill Sloat, whose earlier reported contentions that Congressman Steve LaTourette was not pressuring for a Jeff Coryell ouster from PD-WO Mr. Diadiun appears to at least partially refute, made an excellent point that Newspaper Guild dues/contributions from real reporters largely go to Democrats. Two obvious questions: 1) Why are they allowed? 2) How can any dues-paying reporter covering issues like the Supreme Court’s Beck decision and its implementation claim with a straight face to be objective?

Jill has thoughts on the Diadiun column here; Dave follows up here. Jill has even more at her place (just scroll).

Jeff is still breaking through the resigned/fired thing. In a different realm, I’ve been there, done that.

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UPDATE: Meant to say this — Whether or not bloggers associated with a newspaper are paid is really a dumb question, and resolves nothing. A for-profit enterprise should expect to have to pay for professional services that it values. Further, the fact that bloggers aren’t being paid doesn’t “solve” the conflict of interest problem. Just wait until an unpaid blogger in a similar situation is found to have made contributions to a political candidate without disclosing them. It will happen, and you will find that attempting dissociation through non-payment doesn’t fly. In fact, it’s likely to attract the kind of dissembling opportunists the paper thinks it is avoiding exposure to.

UPDATE 2, Nov. 7: The Cleveland Free Times’s coverage of the story points to another potential PD conflict yours truly mentioned in a different discussion in early September (last sentence at link) –

And though it has nothing to do with blogging, it’s worth pointing out that Plain Dealer publisher Terrance Eggar joined the board of the Cleveland Clinic while the paper was running extensive coverage of the Medical Mart proposal, a pet Cleveland Clinic project. Is that less indicative of bias than a $100 campaign contribution from a blogger?

Good point, though in my view the PD is on solid ground if it has consistently and prominently disclosed the relationship.

Barney Frank and the Congressional majority apparently want a recession

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:40 am

And they apparently want it now.

Mr. Frank’s electioneering is currently aimed at the mortgage market:

Mr. Frank’s proposal is a trial lawyer’s dream. It would forbid banks from signing up borrowers for “overly expensive loans”; require banks to make sure that the consumer has a “reasonable ability to repay the loan”; and insist that loans must be “solely in the best interest of the consumer.” This kind of murky language would invite litigation from every borrower who misses a payment. If it becomes law we can expect to see billboards reading: “Behind on your mortgage? For relief, call 1-800-Sue-Your-Banker.”

Also for the first time, banks that securitize mortgages would be made “explicitly liable for violations of lending laws.” This is a version of secondary liability that holds the bundlers and resellers of mortgages responsible for the sins of the original lenders. The reselling of mortgages has been a boon both to housing liquidity and risk diversification. So to the extent the Frank bill adds a new risk element to securitizing subprime loans–and it surely will–the main losers will be subprime borrowers who will pay higher rates if they can get a loan at all.

What will happen:

  • If you think the anal exam involved in getting a mortgage is rough now, you haven’t seen anything yet, when lenders, facing huge potential liability, try to jump the hurdles in the first paragraph of the excerpt.
  • Frank’s proposals won’t only affect the subprime market, which will virtually disappear. They will ripple upward into the conventional mortgage market. Almost all borrowers will have a tougher time getting approved than is warranted.
  • Fees and/or rates will go up considerably to cover the additional over-the-top due diligence costs.
  • The number of lenders able to function in the new framework will go down considerably, leading to further financial services industry consolidation.

Oh, and minorities, who make up a disproportionate share of the subprime market for a reason, which is that they disproportionately have less-than-perfect credit, will find the dream of home ownership less achievable.

The real answer to all of this is to aggressively prosecute the crooks who have made deceptive and predatory loans, while improving financial education in general in schools and, to the extent they can afford it, at employers for employees and at financial institutions for their customers and communities. It isn’t to ruin the entire mortgage market — unless your agenda, as appears to be the case with the congressional majority, has nothing to do with keeping the economy going.

Couldn’t Help But Notice (110607)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 8:34 am

US Treasury receipts for October 2007 came in well ahead of October 2006, according to the last Daily Treasury Statement of the month. The specific items I track came in as follows:

TreasuryRecsEst1007

The final word on this will be the Monthly Treasury Statement coming on Monday.

As mentioned towards the end of this post on how last year’s definition reduction was virtually ignored, I don’t expect future months’ receipts to exceed last year’s by more than 5%-6%. I believe that investors and those handling corporate capital expenditures will start pulling back on the possibility that Charlie Rangel’s Mother of All Tax Increases (named MOAT around here) might become law, and that the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 will go away. I would greatly enjoy being wrong.

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This appears to be the underplayed story of the month so far out of Western Europe:

BRUSSELS – Yesterday was 148 days since the last general election and Belgium still has no new Federal Government. The figure is a record. In 1988 PM Wilfried Martens’s eighth administration took charge of the country 148 days after the poll.

….. Nobody dares to contemplate the ramifications of a failure to reach an agreement on these (remaining) issues (currently preventing government formation).

The “ramifications” including a breakup of Belgium, whose current capital, Brussels, is the home of the “supranatural and intergovernmental” European Union.

_________________________________________

House Minority Leader John Boehner discussed MOAT, the federal budget drift-by-continuing-resolution, and several other matters in his conference call yesterday afternoon with several SOBers, including yours truly, and fielded quite a few wide-ranging questions. Matt at Weapons of Mass Discussion, Gribbit, and Justin at Right on the Right were also on the call.

_________________________________________

Related to the Boehner call — I looked for evidence of a “Pelosi blog conference call” or “Pelosi blogger conference call” (regular Google searches here and here; Google blog searches here and here; searches done without quotes; conference calls with the regular press don’t count), and didn’t find any evidence of one.

If that’s so, it sort of makes sense. What can you talk about when you yourself don’t even approve of the Congress you’re in charge of? –

“I don’t approve of Congress, because we haven’t done anything that — we haven’t been effective in ending the war in Iraq,” Pelosi said. “And if you asked me in a phone call, as ardent a Democrat as I am, I would disapprove of Congress as well.”

Fortunately for the country — not so much for Ms. Pelosi et al — it appears that the US military is (crossing fingers and toes while praying mightily) making a great deal of progress in ending the war (must-listen audio here). The least she could do is thank our soldiers for helping her accomplish her stated objective.

Positivity: Nine Year-Old’s Book on Coping with Father’s Death Published

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:58 am

From Exeter, UK (HT Daily Good e-mail):

24 October 2007, 11:05 GMT 12:05 UK

A nine-year-old girl whose father died of a brain tumour has had her book about how to cope with death published.
Milly Bell’s father Simon Bell died in May 2006 at the age of 37.

The youngster wrote My Daddy Is Dying, a compilation of drawings and games she created to deal with her impending loss, at the age of seven.

She said: “I wrote about the things I found difficult like going to sleep. I hope that my book helps other children and lets them know they are not alone.”

The book deals with a four-month period when her father was seriously ill. Milly would read to him every day and help with his medication.

Milly, from Exeter, said: “When Daddy was dying I thought I was the only child this was happening to and I thought: How can I help other children?”
In one activity, she advises readers to add happy thoughts as ingredients in a Happy Feelings Cake.

The work was put together by her mother, Gaynor Appleby, who separated from Mr Bell in 2000 and later remarried.

She said Milly had shown great courage during the illness.

“I told her straight away that her father had cancer. She was amazingly strong and grown up about it.

“Then one day she came downstairs at my mum’s house with drawings and puzzles.

“Milly is very pleased to see how her work has turned out.”

Milly received a Children of Courage award in Westminster Abbey in 2006.

Go here for Milly’s Top Tips and for links to previous related stories.