December 12, 2007

AP Bookends the Year by Repeating a Kyoto Myth

I suspect that if one looks hard enough, one could catch the Associated Press misstating the history behind the US and the Kyoto Protocol on a nearly monthly basis.

As it is, they’ve surely done it for the second time this year.

The first such instance occurred in January (NewsBusters link; BizzyBlog link), when AP writer Jim Krane wrote (third paragraph; bold is mine):

But the oil-rich Emirates is considered a developing country, and even as a signatory to the United Nations Kyoto protocol on global warming, is not required to cut emissions. The United States is no longer bound by Kyoto, which the Bush administration rejected after taking office in 2001.

The second took place earlier Wednesday (“Ministerial talks begin to hammer out ‘Bali roadmap’”; HT Instapundit; bold is mine):

The United States is the only major industrial country not to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. President George W Bush contended the emission cuts would harm the US economy, and should have been imposed on China, India and other fast-growing developing economies.

The first specifically says that the Bush “rejected” Kyoto in 2001, almost as if it were in effect until that time. The second all but does the same.

Here, for what seems like the gazillionth time, is the truth (link is to Wiki entry; see this OpinionJournal.com link for further support):

On July 25, 1997, before the Kyoto Protocol was finalized (although it had been fully negotiated, and a penultimate draft was finished), the U.S. Senate unanimously passed by a 95–0 vote the Byrd-Hagel Resolution (S. Res. 98), which stated the sense of the Senate was that the United States should not be a signatory to any protocol that did not include binding targets and timetables for developing as well as industrialized nations or “would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States”. On November 12, 1998, Vice President Al Gore symbolically signed the protocol. Both Gore and Senator Joseph Lieberman indicated that the protocol would not be acted upon in the Senate until there was participation by the developing nations. The Clinton Administration never submitted the protocol to the Senate for ratification.

….. The current President, George W. Bush, has indicated that he does not intend to submit the treaty for ratification, not because he does not support the Kyoto principles, but because of the exemption granted to China (the world’s second largest emitter of carbon dioxide).

The Wiki entry’s statement that China is Number 2 in CO2 emissions is incorrect, and has been for at least six months. It has been known since June, if not earlier, that China is now Number 1.

George W. Bush can’t “reject” something that has only been “symbolically” signed, even if the “symbolic” signer is Mr. “Inconvenient Truth” himself. Bush, like his predecessor, simply didn’t submit the treaty for ratification. The AP was, and still is, dead wrong.

Proper reporting would have been this easy, and would have involved fewer words:

The United States is the only major industrial country not to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. President George W. Bush, who, like his predecessor, has not submitted it to the US Senate for ratification, objects to the exemption granted to China.

The fact that AP repeatedly can’t get it right on something as simple as this justifies top-to-bottom skepticism concerning all of its content.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Brinkman’s Running in OH-02

Filed under: OH-02 US House — Tom @ 9:21 pm

And the blogosphere (Matt at Weapons of Mass Discussion, 5:21 p.m.; NixGuy, 6:33 p.m.) skunks the Enquirer (“last updated” 9:01 p.m., unless updated earlier – doubtful; meanwhile, the Enky’s Politics Extra blog has nothing).

Reax: I guess I won’t be able to get away with not paying attention to the 2nd District until September, as I had sort of hoped.

And speaking of hopes, I hope for a constructive campaign, and believe that it is legitimately possible.

If Washington Needs a Reason to Restrain Spending, This Would Be It (See Update – Wait Until December for Fair Comparison)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:58 pm

Spending in the current autopilot situation is showing every sign of being out of control much higher during the first two months of the fiscal year, as shown in the Monthly Treasury Statement released this afternoon:

MonthlyTreasStmt1107

(Note: See Update below for discussion of timing of spending.)

Receipts, as I suspected would be the case a couple of months ago (near end of post), are coming in only 5% ahead of last year, while spending is ahead by double digits, at a rate that would lead to $2.9 trillion by the end of the fiscal year. That’s over 6% more than last year, or more than twice the rate of inflation (last year’s total spending, per the Treasury Statement, was “only” $2.73 trillion). That’s inexcusable.

I should remind readers that the current Congress officially began to be jointly responsible with the President for federal budget results effective October 1. Before that, we were living predominantly with the budget passed by the 2005-2006 Congress and agreed to by the President.

I would say that some serious holding of the line needs to be done in the coming days. A supply-side tax cut that would increase revenues would be nice, but given that spending as a percentage of GDP is in essence about as high as it has ever been in a non-wartime period, that side of the ledger needs the immediate attention.

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UPDATE: Further review of the last Daily Treasury Statements for November 2007 and November 2006 give me reason to believe that November 2007′s higher spending is due to the month having five Fridays instead of the usual four which was the case in 2006 (see my comment below for an example). If that’s correct, then I would expect December 2007′s spending with four Fridays to come in way lower than December 2006, which had five. But it’s not clear that this will occur, because there was very little difference between December 2006 (5 Fridays) and November 2006 (4 Fridays) spending (see the Monthly Treasury Statement for that).

So to be fair, we’ll have to see how the year-over-year spending numbers look at the end of December. I would be the first to report being pleased if the spending increase ends up being at or below inflation.

Regardless of this nuance, I would think that it’s hard to argue that including $9.5 billion in earmarked items (i.e., pork) that are apparently under consideration is a go0d idea. If David Obey wants to carry through with his threat to zap them all, I say by all means, do it. Then, if anyone has the nerve, which they don’t, we can have an up-or-down vote on each one. There’s probably a lot of other spending that could be jettisoned with very little real pain.

Hillary’s Babbling with Bartiromo Ignored by All Except Rush

Hillary Clinton’s performance in her interview with Maria “Money Honey” Bartiromo of CNBC last week was so bad that she must have sent a double (stop shivering at the thought, will ya?).

After all, the genuine Smartest Woman in the World couldn’t possibly have said the things she said, as noted at Rush Limbaugh’s site last Thursday. It got so bad that Bartiromo, who seemingly has barely cracked a smile since George Bush became president, felt compelled to challenge her.

Here is one of the choice offerings Mrs. Clinton served up:

(There are ) lots of people who come on your show who, you know, are gung-ho, protect the tax cuts for the wealthiest of Americans, that will not work if the economy slows down. You need to get money in the pockets of tens of hundreds of millions of Americans, and that’s what I intend to do.

Would the real Hillary have told Maria that there are billions of Americans who need to have money in their pockets?

Some, including Rush, will say that she was thinking of the population of Communist China, the possible source of so much of her campaign funding, but I digress.

Here’s another item she tried to push past Maria:

But I think it is, as I probably evidenced to your viewers, amusing, that we would have had these tax cuts, which I have benefited from, and people in my income tax bracket have benefited from, and the rest of the economy is stalled.

Some “stall.” The real Hillary surely knows that GDP grew by 3.8% (annualized) in the second quarter, and 4.9% in the third (before final revision). Her crack staff of advisers knows that while Old Media has been busy talking the economy down, October’s and November’s news about growth in manufacturing, services, and the job market have all been very positive. So they wouldn’t put her on a cable network covering the economy and the markets so woefully underprepared, would they?

Oh wait. I know what happened. It WAS the real Hillary, but she thought she was going to appear on NBC, not CNBC, whose viewers are largely not among the 57% (!) who told CNN’s Friend of Clinton-controlled (see last few paragraphs at post) Opinion Research Corporation that they believe we are currently in a recession.

NBC’s viewers, on the other hand, probably believe in even larger numbers that we are now in a recession. NBC and other Old Media networks have been talking down the economy and feeding their audiences so much doom and gloom that it’s a wonder their viewers have the strength to get up in the morning.

Nobody that I know of besides Rush has noted Mrs. Clinton’s pitiful CNBC performance. The idea that she might actually be involved in overseeing the economy is what really should be giving viewers the shivers.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Malkin-Channeling Mortgage Market Musings

Alan Greenspan channels Michelle Malkin:

Bubbles cannot be safely defused by monetary policy before the speculative fever breaks on its own.

The Malkinesque version from late last week was more succinct, if less delicate: Suck it up.

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James Stewart of Smart Money channels Malkin:

Rate Cuts Alone Can’t Fix Financials

Stewart’s in-essence memo to the stock market, given its 2% temper-tantrum drop in response to a rate cut that supposedly wasn’t enough: Suck it up.

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This story should give thundering herd looking to freeze adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) willy-nilly some pause:

Many homeowners with ARMs stand to gain

The biggest beneficiaries of the Federal Reserve Board’s rate cut will be borrowers with adjustable-rate mortgages linked to one-year Treasury bills, says Greg McBride, senior financial analyst for Bankrate.com. About 1.8 million subprime adjustable-rate mortgages will reset in coming months, often to rates sharply higher than their initial “teaser” rates.

The decline in short-term interest rates will make the increases much less painful, McBride says.

The Fed cuts Tuesday and in October and September have caused one-year Treasury yields to plunge from 5% to just over 3%, McBride says.

On an ARM with a margin of 2.5 percentage points above the Treasury index, the new rate would be 5.7%, McBride says, instead of the 7.5% it would have been if the loan had reset in July.

For crying out loud, 5.7% is LESS than the current 30-year FIXED rate for golden credit, according to myfico.com this morning (5.799% for a score between 760 and 850). Treasury-indexed ARMs are about half of all ARMs, according to the article. Yes, I know that most of the rest are based on LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rate), which is currently higher, but the idea that there is an across-the board, mammoth crisis is absurd.

My turn to channel Malkin: If people with ARMs that are at or moving to 7% or less who are in non-personal crisis situations think they’re going to get a lot of sympathy from the general public, I would suggest an alternative to looking for it: Suck it up.

And what about “fairness”? If profligates get help, and those in otherwise identical circumstances who haven’t been profligate don’t (because they don’t “need” it), won’t there be, and shouldn’t there be, a justifiable resentment factor? What if many of the former avoid foreclosure, and some of the latter fail to?

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UPDATE: A subscription-only Wall Street Journal editorial notes that Ben Bernanke should be added to the list of Malkin channelers:

False Savior

The Federal Reserve cut interest rates again yesterday, and equity markets promptly sold off because it was only a 25-basis-point reduction. This is probably good, if paradoxical, news. The Fed has become so Pavlovian in its response to Wall Street’s begging that even this modest declaration of independence is a welcome reminder that easier money is not the solution to every economic problem.

Short version: “Bernanke to the markets — Suck it up.”

Positivity: Heisman Winner’s Mom Gave Birth to Him Despite Doc’s Advice Not to

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 5:58 am

From Life News:

December 9, 2007

New York, NY (LifeNews.com) — University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow became the first sophomore in the history of the NCAA to win the coveted Heisman Trophy as the best football player in the nation. However, Tebow’s accomplishments may never have been supported had his mother followed a doctor’s recommendation to have an abortion.

With 29 passing touchdowns and 22 rushing touchdowns, Tebow displayed the kind of versatility that has become more valued at the quarterback position.

Pam Tebow and her husband were Christian missionaries in the Philippines in 1985 and they prayed for “Timmy” before she became pregnant.

Unfortunately, as the Gainesville Sun reports, Pam entered into a coma after she contracted amoebic dysentery, an infection of the intestine caused by a parasite found in a contaminated food or drink.

The treatment for the medical condition would require strong medications that doctors told Pam had caused irreversible damage to Tim — so they advised her to have an abortion.

As the Sun reported, Pam Tebow refused the abortion and cited her Christian faith as the reason for her hope that her son would be born without the devastating disabilities physicians predicted.

Pam ultimately spent the last two months of her pregnancy in bed and, eventually, gave birth to a health baby boy in August 1987.

As she told the newspaper, Pam was not surprised that her son would be up for the Heisman despite no underclassman receiving the award since its inception in 1933.

“The combination of Timmy’s God-given talent, hard work, character and leadership have made a mark on and off the football field,” she said.

….. Because Tim Tebow was spared, he’s wowed a nation by his athletic skill and, at his younger age, has an opportunity to become the second person to win two Heisman awards.

Go here for the full story.