January 21, 2008

Oops — Marcy Kaptur Mistakes Bernanke for Paulson

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:55 pm

This is Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio):

MarcyKaptur0108

Last Thursday, she was at a House committee meeting (HT QandO) and started asking this guy some questions:

Ben_Bernanke0108

The guy is Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke.

The problem is, this is what she asked:

The Ohio Democrat, at a House of Representatives Budget Committee hearing, said she wanted to know what Wall Street firms were responsible for the securitization of subprime mortgages.

She then asked: “Seeing as how you were the former CEO of Goldman Sachs …” But the only person testifying at the hearing interrupted.

“No, no, no, you’re confusing me with the Treasury Secretary,” said Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

Kaptur backtracked:

“I’ve got the wrong firm? Paulson, Oh, OK. Where were you sir?” Kaptur said.

Bernanke noted that he was head of the Princeton University economics department.

“Oh, Princeton, oh, all right, sorry. I got you confused with the other one … I’m glad you clarified that for the record,” she said.

Kaptur had confused Bernanke with this guy, Henry Paulson:

Ben_Bernanke0108

He doesn’t look very much like Ben Bernanke.

Darn. Too bad this “Paulsen” is no longer with us, because he might have had a lot of fun at the hearing:

PatPaulsen

If a conservative congressman or congresswoman messed up as Kaptur did, his or her mistake would be Leno-Letterman-O’Brien-Stewart-Colbert material for days.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Couldn’t Help But Notice (012108)

Another one bites the dust at the LA Times. That is, another editor who refused to make budget cuts demanded by management. James O’Shea knew what happened to Dean Baquet in late 2006, but followed him over the cliff anyway.

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Bruce Barlett at the Wall Street Journal onFeel-Good Economics“:

A new rebate probably won’t do much harm. But anyone who thinks it will prevent a recession — if one is actually in the pipeline, which is not at all certain — is dreaming. It’s an insult to Keynes even to call a tax rebate Keynesian economics. It should be called “feel good economics” because its only real effect is to make politicians feel good about themselves and buy re-election with the public purse.

An equally important point made by Bartlett hearkens back to the late, great Milton Friedman and his permanent-income conclusion (note: this paragraph preceded the one above in Bartlett’s original):

His research had led him to conclude that consumer spending was less a function of liquidity than something he called “permanent income.” Friedman observed that when workers lost their jobs, they didn’t immediately cut back on spending. They borrowed or drew down savings to maintain spending, in the expectation of finding a new job shortly. Conversely, consumers didn’t immediately spend windfalls. They kept spending on an even keel until they achieved a promotion at work, or other increase in their long-term income expectations.

So the best way to juice consumer spending is to increase “permanent income.” Translation: Make the Bush tax regime that has been in place since 2003, well, “permanent.” Then cut tax rates across the board — again, “permanently.”

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MSNBC Hosts “Chris (Matthews) and Keith (Olbermann) Continue to Laugh at GOP Speeches.” That’s okay; ratings results like these are absolutely hysterical, and show who’s having the last laugh.

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Definitely couldn’t help but notice, having looked at these results — The guy who finished third in South Carolina’s GOP Primary is supposed to drop out of the race because he has no chance (apparently, he’s not listening to the “conventional wisdom”). But the guy who finished fourth (behind the guy who’s suppposed to quit), campaigned in the Palmetto State for nearly a year, and spent millions in the process, before going dark 10 days before the election in self-defense, is still considered a front-runner. Uh-huh.

Luskin: There’s No Recession, and Those Who Say So Are Slowing Things Down

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:46 am

From Don Luskin’s Friday Smart Money column:

The economy isn’t falling into recession. Retail sales are just fine — the supposedly horrible numbers for December look pretty much like the kind of numbers you get every couple months in the normal ebb and flow of a growing economy. We still haven’t had any negative jobs growth. The unemployment rate is now 10% lower than the historical average for economic expansions. Jobless claims are at the low end of the range of the last several years. S&P 500 forward earnings, outside the financial sector, are at all-time highs. Some credit markets are in disarray, but bank lending is operating at very near all-time highs. Damaged credit markets, such as the market for asset-backed commercial paper, have been steadily recovering from the summer crisis.

Fine — the housing market is in the gutter. But it has been for two years now, and so far it hasn’t substantially affected the rest of the economy at all. In fact, since the housing slump started, the rest of the economy has had its best period since this economic expansion began in 2001.

To put it another way, I think the permabears and the politicians who’ve been saying literally for years that America is heading for a recession, or already in one, have basically just gotten lucky here. Their broken clock is finally right. Stocks haven’t fallen because of all the crazy stuff they’ve been fear-mongering about all this time. If anything, these people have contributed to the atmosphere of fear that’s feeding the panic we’re in. That’s not being right — that’s being an arsonist.

Luskin should have added the business press as a named party to the flame-throwing.

I would add that December’s retail numbers may have been affected more by the use of gift cards than the estimators think (gift card purchases are not considered sales until the gift cards are used). If so, January’s retail numbers may have an upside “surprise” in store.

Frightening Canadian Free-Speech Suppression Ignored by US Old Media

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:23 am

My my, the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) is busy these days — aiding and abetting those who wish to suppress the human right of free speech and expression.

Even though (or is it because?) the vehicle that enabled and emboldened the CHRC’s thought police and those who complain to it was the passage of the kind of “non-discrimination” legislation Congress has considered passing for several years, US Old Media could care less.

Some of the CHRC’s targets:

  • A Catholic magazine

    In February 2007 Rob Wells, a member of the Pride Center of Edmonton, filed a nine-point complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission alleging that Catholic Insight had targeted homosexuals as a powerful menace and innately evil, claiming it used inflammatory and derogatory language to create a tone of “extreme hatred and contempt.”

    Catholic Insight responded to these charges in its January 2008 issue, saying the complaint consists of “three pages of isolated and fragmentary extracts from articles dating back as far as 1994, without any context.”

    ….. The magazine has continually emphasized that, with the respect to homosexual activity, it follows the guidance of the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church.

    Although I doubt it will happen (yet), it seems “logical” that CHRC could say, “OK, you’re right, the entire Catholic Church is engaged in ‘extreme hatred and contempt.’”

  • Ezra Levant, who as noted at Wikipedia, “drew the attention of the Muslim community by reprinting the controversial editorial cartoons depicting Muhammad, the founder of Islam” in February 2006 (the cartoons originally appeared in Denmark). Syed Soharwardy of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada filed a Human Rights Commission complaint over the cartoons’ publication.

    At his hearing last week, Levant requested that he be convicted (YouTube video is at link; HTs to LGF and Hot Air):

    As the 90-minute interrogation proceeded, it became obvious to me that it would be morally inconsistent to end by asking for an acquittal, or any other “mercy” from the government. The logical conclusion of denying the legitimacy of the commission was to demand its worst. The point of civil disobedience is not to get off scot-free, but to willingly accept the punishments of an unjust system, to shame that system into reform.

  • Then there is the case involving syndicated columnist and self-described “One-Man Global Content Provider” Mark Steyn

    The Canadian Islamic Congress, one of Canada’s largest Muslim groups, says Maclean’s, a popular Canadian weekly news magazine, subjected Muslims to hate speech with an article in October 2006 by best-selling author Mark Steyn that said a high Muslim birthrate, combined with Muslims “hot for jihad,” could conquer a West that is unwilling to stand up for its civilization.

    The Islamic group has asked a government body to step in to guarantee it the right to an equal-length rebuttal to the article, which was an excerpt from Steyn’s September 2006 book “America Alone.”

    ….. (Maclean’s) Publisher Kenneth Whyte said he would rather go bankrupt than have the CIC set the terms for what the magazine publishes.

    Steyn is philosophically in solidarity with Levant: “I don’t want to get off the hook. I want to take the hook and stick it up the collective butt of these thought police.”

  • Finally, there is the evidence that CHRC staff and/or sympathizers are anonymously engaging in what they would consider “hate speech” for the purpose of baiting others into engaging in it. Steyn explains

    Canada’s “Human Rights” Commissions have managed to get anonymous website comments designated a crime and its investigators now go around leaving such comments themselves? Is that right? Traditionally, an “agent provocateur” in the men’s room has to entrap the guy in the adjoining stall into propositioning sex. In other words, the target still has to commit the actual crime. But in the case of the HRCs the agent provocateur can, in effect, commit the crime himself and then charge the target with it.

    Nice work if you can get it. Agent Steacy and other current or former CHRC employees who do likewise would undoubtedly insist that they’re nice liberal progressives posing as anti-Semitic white supremacists. But who’s to say it’s not the other way round? Maybe someone should take them to the CHRC.

These are only the most visible examples. For several years, as Toledo Blade op-ed columnist Terrence Watson points out, the CHRC has gone after several individuals who have expressed politically incorrect thoughts:

But for some time now, Canada’s HRCs (both federal and provincial) have decided they have the authority to punish thought as well as deed. They have used their power to inflict fines and tear apologies from the pens and throats of those crazy enough to hold opinions offensive to Canadian orthodoxy.

People like Stephen Boissoin. In 2002, a Canadian newspaper published his letter-to-the-editor. In the letter, Mr. Boissoin, a former pastor, stated his opposition to homosexual activity. Eric Lund, a university professor, complained to Alberta’s HRC and it agreed to hear the case. In making his complaint, Mr. Lund not only demanded that the HRC force Mr. Boissoin to apologize, but that it also prohibit other newspapers from publishing his letters.

In 2007, the HRC ruled against Mr. Boissoin. His punishment has yet to be decided.

I could also tell you about Ron Gray, leader of Christian Heritage Party, a bona fide political party, who was brought before an HRC because of an article on his party’s Web site that was critical of homosexuality. During the hearing, a top HRC investigator declared that, “Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don’t give it any value.”

The sad non-surprise is that US Old Media could care less. Examples:

  • New York Times searches on “Catholic Insight,” “Levant,”Maclean’s,” and “Mark Steyn,” and “Canadian Human Rights Commission” return no results — none — relevant to any of the matters described above.
  • A Google News search on ["canadian human rights commission" "catholic insight"] (typed as indicated) returned six items, none from Old Media. The same search done in the Google News archive for 2007 came back bone dry.
  • Google News on “Ezra Levant” (typed using the quote marks) — 65 items, including one Washington Times op-ed, and no Old Media stories.
  • Google News on “Mark Steyn Canadian Human Rights Commission” (typed without quotes) — 36 items. There’s a three-paragraph mention in the Washington Times, a story in the January 9 Times, and a short item at Editor & Publisher. The E&P item uncritically quotes a Steyn complainant:

    (Canadian Islamic Congress) President Mohamed Elmasry said the complaint is not designed to prevent free expression but to ensure that large media outlets like Maclean’s allow minorities to respond.

    One wonders how E&P would feel if everyone dissatisfied with its coverage of the news publishing industry became routinely able to demand and get equal time and bandwidth.

Their virtual silence on the CHRC, and how it has been co-opted to intimidate and silence critics, should cause one to question Old Media’s claim that they are champions of free speech and expression.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Positivity: Neighbor Is a Lifesaver

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:56 am

From Akron, Ohio:

Kenmore girl hears distress call when pickup truck falls on man working underneath

Published on Friday, Jan 11, 2008

Big things come in small packages, Kenmore resident Rob Congrove is quick to say.

The 48-year-old crane operator was doing some routine maintenance on his metallic blue Dodge Dakota pickup Monday night when everything went black. The jack started slipping, pinning Congrove underneath.

Before the drama was over, a petite 11-year-old superhero named Schae Painter swooped in and saved his life.

”I need to do something,” said Congrove as he sat Thursday in his hospital bed at Akron General Medical Center. ”She needs recognition for what she did. In our neighborhood, that’s rare. People will sit and watch your house burn down.”

It all began Monday evening around 9, when Congrove’s wife Rebecca, 50, was doing laundry in the basement of their 13th Street Southwest home and he was tinkering with the truck outside, adding antifreeze and tightening a few bolts.

”I was just working underneath the front end of my truck,” he said. ”I had the tires off the ground and had a tight bolt on the tie rod and put my foot up on the curve for leverage to release the pressure and it pulled the jack and stand, which went sideways, and the truck came down on top of me.

”God had to be with me, because I was going to take the passenger tire off, but didn’t because it was too much bother. I got the weight of the frame, but the tire took a lot of the pressure. . . . It’s all a daze to me. Nobody was around and I was
yelling and screaming. My wife said I laid there for 20 minutes before anybody seen me.”

But somebody was listening.

Up in her room, little Schae Painter, a Pfeiffer Elementary School student, was watching TV.

”I heard something three times,” said the little girl in a pink ”princess” sweatshirt on Thursday. ”He kept saying the same thing. Someone was saying, ‘Hey,’ then I told my mom it was Rob.”

It wasn’t an easy thing for Schae to hear a cry for help above the din of the constantly active neighborhood, said mom Shanan Painter. ”There’s always fights outside,” but she has learned to ignore the racket. Schae’s instincts kicked in to alert her that something bigger was amiss. Those instincts saved a man’s life.

When mom looked out, she saw a flashlight going on and off across the street, from under the truck. The families were friendly and Rob liked to give her sons, Kahlib, 14, and Jimmie, 5, old toys and model cars from time to time. It’s important for neighbors to hang tight, Schae said.

Shanan Painter told Schae to hang back while she bolted across the street. Rob, who was in and out of consciousness, told her to get Rebecca and put their barking Dobermans in the basement. Rebecca alerted authorities while Rob struggled for his next breath.

”It was a heavy load,” he said, ”I don’t think I’d like to do that again. I didn’t like all that excitement.”

He recalls being under the truck and face-to-face with a firefighter at one point.

”I pray to God that fireman knows who he is ’cause I don’t have his name to thank him,” Congrove said. ”I just remember one fireman talking to me and then I was in the emergency room. I thought the fireman was brave being down there with me. I didn’t know if the jack would come down any further.”

He spent three nights in the ICU but was moved to a private room Thursday evening. The prognosis is good. ”I’m just bruised up on the insides,” he said.

The Congroves asked Shanan and Schae Painter to visit Rob’s hospital room Thursday so they could say thanks.

”You saved my life, young lady,” he said to the girl in pink. ”Can I have a hug?

Go here for the rest of the story.