December 19, 2007

What Time of Year Is It, Hillary? No C-Word Present in Her ‘Presents’ Ad

I’ve noted previously that Old Media has developed a squeamishness towards describing this time of year in business stories as the “Christmas shopping season.”

In the midst of media criticism of Mike Huckabee’s Christmas ad, including the Whoopi Goldberg-Joy Behar exchange on “The View” noted earlier today by NewsBusters’ Justin McCarthy, how interesting it is that one of Hillary Clinton’s latest ads in Iowa joins in the C-word sqeamishness (HT Hot Air, whose Bryan Preston calls it “Hillary’s Unintentionally Revealing Christmas Ad”).

The ad shows Mrs. Clinton wrapping presents for the American people, including “Universal Health Care,” “Alternative Energy,” “Bring Troops Home,” and “Middle Class Tax Breaks” (where have we heard that undelivered promise before?). In search of the final present to wrap, she asks, “Where’s Universal Pre-K?” Finding it, she says, “Ah, there it is.”

(Three of these “presents” to the American people would have to be paid for with money coming from the American people in the form of taxes — but that’s for another time.)

Then comes the ad’s final new slide:

HillaryClintonHappyHolidays1207

According to Wikipedia:

A 2001 survey from the City University of New York found that 52% of Iowans are Protestant, while 23% are Roman Catholic, and other religion made up 6%. 13% responded with non-religious, and 5% did not answer.

Exactly what did Mrs. Clinton have to lose by at least allowing the dreaded C-word to appear in equal billing with “Happy Holidays”? Will anyone in Old Media note this “curious” omission?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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UPDATE: A NewsBusters commenter makes a good point — why in the world would the greeting above be in black?

UPDATE 2: Jonah Goldberg

It’s a profound commentary on the state of our political culture that Huckabee’s ad is the controversial one. Huckabee promises nothing, Hillary everything.

UPDATE 3: The “Presents” video — priced out.

Clueless Time’s Putin of the Year

2007′s most important people, according to Time:

Winner, Vlad Putin — “His final year as Russia’s President has been his most successful yet. At home, he secured his political future. Abroad, he expanded his outsize—if not always benign—influence on global affairs”

First Runner-Up, Al Gore — “Nobel laureate, minding the environment.”

Second Runner-Up, J.K. Rowling — “Harry Potter creator, finally telling secrets.”

Third Runner-Up, Hu Jintao “China’s leader depends on both ancient wisdom and communist doctrine as guides to action.”

Fourth Runner-Up, David Petraeus — “The commanding general in Iraq fought America’s most difficult foreign war — and one at home.”

I wouldn’t be surprised that if the Timesters had their preferences, independent of business considerations, they would have kept Petraeus off the list entirely — but even insufferable moonbats know their limits.

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UPDATE: Kevin at Pundit Review is not exactly “behind” Time’s choice.

Romney, Planned Parenthood, and That 1994 Photo (Update: 1994 Research — Romney Supported Abortion Rights EXPANSION)

Filed under: Health Care,Life-Based News,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:57 am

Devastating (HT Life News). Can’t be “dismissed.” The picture’s worth 10,000 words.

The idea that Objectively Unfit Mitt Romney continues to claim that his alleged prolife “epiphany” is similar to that of Ronald Reagan and Henry Hyde (who were shown on Monday to have never been “effectively” or “adamantly” proabort) grows more repulsive with each passing day.

Though it would be nice if they would, many average voters won’t take the time to look at the detail behind Romney’s post-”epiphany” abortion betrayals (also see the first item at this link), or his extra-constitutional and oath-of-office violating unilateral imposition of same-sex marriage to keep a 2002 campaign promise in Massachusetts while he was governor.

But they will now surely understand the difference between Mitt Romney, Ronald Reagan, and Henry Hyde on life issues.

Just look at the picture.

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UPDATE, 11 a.m.: The ProQuest database is a truly beautiful thing. Here’s an article (opens in a new window; saved to BizzyBlog host for fair use and discussion purposes) from the September 8, 1994 Boston Globe –

Mass. antiabortion group backs Romney; [City Edition]

The leading antiabortion group in Massachusetts has endorsed Republican Mitt Romney for US senator even though Romney portrays himself as a strong supporter of abortion rights.

….. Charles Manning, a political consultant working for the Romney campaign, said Romney has accepted the endorsement. But he stressed that the endorsement contained several inaccurate statements about Romney’s position on abortion, perhaps because Romney never met with the group or answered its questionnaires.

For example, the endorsement says Romney would vote against any health care proposal that includes abortion and opposes a federal abortion rights bill and federal funding of abortions. It also notes he favors parental consent for teen-agers seeking abortions.

Manning said Citizens for Life characterized Romney’s position correctly only on the parental consent issue. Manning said Romney believes health care plans should be structured to leave it up to consumers whether to seek abortion coverage.

Translation of bolded text: Employers must be made to provide abortion coverage, so that all “consumers” can decide whether or not to utilize it.

Further:

Manning said Romney does support the so-called Freedom of Choice Act as long as it just codifies the US Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, but believes federal funding of abortions should not be mandated.

Here’s what I believe is a dirty little secret: The only reason Henry Hyde’s ban on federal funding of abortions withstood court challenge all the way up to the Supremes is that Roe v. Wade has never been made “the law of the land” through legislation (Put THAT in your pipe and smoke it, Chuckie Schumer; scroll down about 80% of the way at link). If a “Freedom of Choice Act” (FOCA) were ever passed, making abortion a codified “right,” I don’t see why federal funding of this “right” would not inevitably follow. Perhaps Mitt Romney (Harvard Law, 1975) didn’t realize it, but his position in this matter was incoherent.

If I’m wrong, why is there even a need for a FOCA, and why are there ongoing efforts to pass one?

The fact that FOCA or its equivalent has never made it into law makes you wonder how credible those polls we’re always fed on abortion are — y’know, the ones that tell us we’re evenly divided as a country, or slightly prolife, at most.

The point is that the 1994 Mitt Romney was not merely in favor of preserving abortion rights. He was in fact an advocate of expanding them — in one case explicitly, in another at least implicitly or ignorantly. It turns out that the already-incriminating video, “The Real Mitt Romney” (1994 abortion-related footage begins at about 1:00; related post is here) doesn’t portray the 1994 Mitt Romney harshly enough.

Perhaps Romney’s emphasis in the video that Roe v. Wade should be “sustained and supported” is his cryptic way of stating his support for FOCA. If so, 2007 viewers should know that.

Cali’s Budget Crunch Commentators Avoid Looking at the Welfare Rolls

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:34 am

Barely four years after California’s historic recall of sitting Governor Gray Davis and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s landslide election to replace him, the Golden State is, again, in a budget crunch of its own making.

Oh, it’s not as bad as the Gray days — yet. The $35 billion budget deficit Davis papered over long enough to win reelection in 2002 over Bill Simon, with the help of the state’s ignorant and non-inquisitive news media, is 2-1/2 times higher than the $14 billion gap the state is facing over the next 18 months.

The state’s Old Media, as would be expected, is moaning about cuts that might have to be made, obsessing over the possibility that “universal health care” might be derailed, and of course giving visibility to anyone and everyone who thinks even more taxes will solve the problem.

As has been the case for well over a decade, nobody that I know of in California’s Old Media is considering the idea that the state is paying the price for failing to sufficiently go along with the rest of the country in aggressively reducing welfare rolls. But the numbers support the idea that if the state had done what the rest of the country has “somehow” done without visible suffering, it would be in a much better situation.

Welfare reform was passed in 1996, and became effective in 1997. During the first six years of reform, welfare rolls came down in California at pretty close to the same rate as the rest of the nation. By the end of 2002, the number of families on TANF, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Family Families (the new name for the deservedly stigmatized AFDC, Aid for Families with Dependent Children) was down 47% in the Golden State, compared to 52% for the rest of the country, and total caseload was down 55%, compared to 57% for the rest of the US.

But those percentage declines mask a huge problem: The state’s welfare rolls have for decades been twice as high, as a percentage of the population, as the rest of the country.

Despite having so much room for improvement, on Schwarzenegger’s watch, welfare rolls in California have gone up (you read that right), while the rest of the country has continued to enjoy significant declines.

Here are the raw numbers on recipients and families on welfare in California and the rest of the country since 2002:

CaliRawWelfareNumbers1207

The welfare situation in California is so bad that, rather than spend 4,000 words on it, I’ll provide four pictures (graphs) worth 1,000 each (:–>):

CaliWelfareGraphs1207

(Source Data: Office of Family Assistance Caseload Data by year; Census Bureau data for population estimates. Most data is available as web pages; the rest is in Excel-downloadable format.)

Taking the graphs one at a time:

  • Though the percentage of the population on welfare in the Golden State has fallen from an unfathomable 7.7% at the time Welfare Reform was passed to about 2.9% in at the end of 2006, that percentage is still more than double that of the rest of the US.
  • In fact, while welfare caseloads in the rest of the US have dropped almost 30% in the past 4-1/2 years, California’s caseload has gone up about 4%.
  • As a result, though it has only about 12% of the total US population, California’s share of the total US welfare caseload has risen from 22% in 2002 to almost 30% today. The rest of the country is paying a heavy price for the state’s failure to trim its welfare rolls.
  • Part of the reason for the caseload increase is that there are more welfare recipients per family in California, and that number has crept upward in the past couple of years. This would seem to indicate that California welfare mothers are bearing more children that those in the rest of the US.

One might think that immigration, illegal or otherwise, could explain California’s out-of-whack welfare rolls. But if that’s the case, it’s because the state is allowing it to happen, not because it has to happen. The immigrant-heavy states of Arizona, Texas, and Florida do not have welfare populations that are at all out of line with the rest of the country.

I’m not close enough to the situation in Sacramento to recommend a policy fix, but I can rough out a few estimates:

  • If California’s welfare caseload reflected the rest of the country, it would have over 300,000 fewer families on welfare, and a lower caseload of about 700,000 fewer individuals.
  • If those 300,000 fewer families stopped collecting a conservatively estimated $15,000 a year each in benefits, taxpayers (state and federal) would be saving $4.5 billion a year in welfare costs, even before considering the reductions that could be achieved in the state’s social-services bureaucracy.
  • If those 300,000 fewer families each had one additional adult in the workforce adding an estimated $30,000 yearly in value to the economy, the state’s annual economic output would be $9 billion higher. That higher output, plus the additional spending by the now-employed, would be generating a great deal of revenue to the state’s treasury.
  • The turnaround just described would not alone close the budget gap noted earlier. But if the state had gotten its act together on TANF several years ago, while cutting the social-services bureaucracy proportionately, the multi-year impact might come pretty close.

Arnold Schwarzenegger was very fortunate during his first few years of handling California’s finances. The economic growth created by the Bush tax cuts came at just the right time. The state also benefited greatly from a number of onetime windfalls, such as the hundreds of millions of dollars founders and insiders at Google coughed up when their stock options and restricted stock were cashed in.

Unfortunately, it appears that the good fortune enabled the state to avoid serious expenditure reform in welfare, and surely other areas, that should have been more aggressively undertaken when Schwarzenegger took office. Now the party’s over.

Will California’s Old Media ever cover the big problems the state still has with welfare and other items on the expenditure side of the ledger?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Positivity: After doctors give up, Mom saves baby’s life with a cuddle

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:58 am

From England:

Last updated at 23:10pm on 8th December 2007

It was to be the one and only cuddle Carolyn Isbister would have with her tiny, premature daughter.

Rachael had been born minutes before – weighing a mere 20oz – and had only minutes to live. Her heart was beating once every ten seconds and she was not breathing.

As doctors gave up, Miss Isbister lifted her baby out of her hospital blanket and placed her on her chest.

Scroll down for more…

She said: “I didn’t want her to die being cold. So I lifted her out of her blanket and put her against my skin to warm her up. Her feet were so cold.

“It was the only cuddle I was going to have with her, so I wanted to remember the moment.” Then something remarkable happened. The warmth of her mother’s skin kickstarted Rachael’s heart into beating properly, which allowed her to take little breaths of her own.

Miss Isbister said: “We couldn’t believe it – and neither could the doctors. She let out a tiny cry.

“The doctors came in and said there was still no hope – but I wasn’t letting go of her. We had her blessed by the hospital chaplain, and waited for her to slip away.

“But she still hung on. And then amazingly the pink colour began to return to her cheeks.

“She literally was turning from grey to pink before our eyes, and she began to warm up too.”

Four months later, Rachael was allowed home weighing 8lb – the same as a newborn baby – and she has a healthy appetite.

Miss Isbister, a 36-year- old chemist from West Lothian, said: “Rachael has been such a little fighter – it is a miracle that she is here at all. When she was born the doctors told us that she would die within 20 minutes. But that one precious cuddle saved her life. I’ll never forget it.” …..

Go here for the rest of the story.