February 28, 2008

4Q07 GDP Growth Unchanged at 0.6%

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:21 am

Well, that’s weak. I anticipated an uptick because I expected that inventories would not decrease by as much as originally thought in last month’s advance report.

I would expect that any kind of perk-up in the latter part of this quarter would require those inventories to ramp up pretty quickly.

What’s Supposedly ‘New’ Is Old Around Here, and How Old Media May Have Fatally Injured Its Fave

Given who the presidential candidate I refer to as BOOHOO (Barack O-bomba Overseas Hussein “Obambi” Obama) is up against this fall, the emphasis is on “may.”

Though the presidential campaign has already been on for a mind-numbing 13 months, it is only during the past two weeks that a few “hot” stories about Obama have surfaced.

Did I say “hot”? Well, not around here. They’re either “been-there, done-thats” or “been-there, who’s-going-to-look-at-thats” at BizzyBlog.

The Rezko property? On December 17, 2006, yours truly picked up on a Washington Post story that seemed to have its priorities out of line:

This has the appearance of a clever misdirect. What’s bigger news, possibly overpaying $64K for part of a lot, or definitely underpaying $300K for his principal residence (because an appraisal almost certainly exists, and WaPo didn’t qualify its “under market” statement in any way)?

The WaPo report in question mentioned the smaller transaction in the first paragraph, and waited until the third to mention the one involving the $300K underpayment. Now the Obama-Rezko relationship appears to be deeper and has more tentacles, including a British-Iraqi billionaire, as revealed by the Times of London (interesting how you have to go overseas to get good investigative reporting about Democrats).

Another old-news item relates to Obama’s autobiograpy. Kenneth Lamb, in a post that primarily questions the accuracy of Obama’s claimed racial heritage, criticizes Obama for using composite characters in that autobiography. Yep, that’s what Obama did. Yours truly noted it in a January 15, 2007 post, which commented on a New York Daily News report that Old Media ended up not pursuing further:

We can thank (Obama) for introducing literary devices even James “Million Little Pieces” Frey might be too embarrassed to use into the realm of political biography.

It should not go unnoticed that the same Oprah Winfrey who ripped James Frey for deceiving her about the use of composites in his book hasn’t had a word to say about someone aspiring to the highest political office in the land doing exactly the same thing.

(Feb. 29 Note: A commenter takes me to task for not noting that Obama discloses the existence of composite characters. This is a weak argument, because as I understand it, Obama doesn’t specifically identify all of the composites [if true, we get to guess which ones are and aren't]. And even if all composite characters have been identified, their presence in an “autobiography” is questionable at best, and, even if disclosed deceptive at worst [basically telling the reader, "this isn't the truth, but believe it anyway"]. Further, any possible “mitigation” relating to the disclosure of composites is wiped out by the fact that the Chicago Tribune found flat-out untruths in the autobiography. Their presence goes beyond the composites gambit. I appreciate the commenter reminding me of the extent of Obama’s fundamental credibility problems, and the disappointing degree of Oprah’s concomitant lack of expressed concern.)

Aside: The flow of traffic from Lamb’s site has been steady, and not insignificant, in the 11 days since I commented there, indicating that Lamb’s post has been getting consistently heavy traffic during that time. I get the sense that Obama’s basic credibility is doing a slow but sure drawdown.

The third old-news item turns out to be a real hoot. Obama, it seems, is building a perception, celebrated in some circles, that, if elected, he will in some ways be our first “feminized,” if not feminine, president. Dr. Helen noted this in the course of reading “The New Feminized Majority” by Katherine Adam and Charles Derber.

At the New York Times, Maureen Dowd raised alarm bells about this in December 2006, invoking “Obambi,” the nickname given to Obama by the Chicago press corps, in the process:

So there is a second question, perhaps one that will trump race and gender. It’s about whether he’s tough and she’s genuine.

Adam and Derber are saying/hoping that he isn’t tough.

It appears that the two needn’t worry. BOOHOO showed (covered in this December 2006 post) that he richly deserves the Obambi part of his nickname when, seven weeks after she wrote about them (“His ears stick out, he smokes, and he’s written about wrestling with pot, booze and “maybe a little blow” as a young man.”), he complained to Dowd that he was sennnnnsitive about his ears, and “put her on notice” that she should quit writing about them. The Obama excuse machine says he was kidding. I’ve listened to audio of the exchange; I’m not buying it, especially given Dowd’s response (“We’re trying to toughen you up.”).

She may not like the reality, but Dowd knows that a “feminized” male presidential candidate is more than likely a “losing” presidential candidate.

The larger point is this: There have been plentiful warning signs about BOOHOO that have been out there for a long time. Rather than investigate them, Old Media decided that things like Fred Thompson’s cancer, Fred Thompson’s supposed abortion lobbying, Mitt Romney’s wealth, Mitt Romney’s religion, Rudy Giuliani’s expense reports, Rudy Giuliani’s post-mayoral work history, and other matters were more important than basic digging into one of the guys on their team. Now that he’s the presumptive nominee, Old Media is in the unfortunate position of having to trying to suppress inconvenient truths about Obama for the next eight months in the New Media Age. Good luck.

If more of the truth about Obama comes out after the nomination, and if it affects his electability, it will only show that Old Media does the party it is partial to no favors when it chooses not to do its job by giving those candidates a free pass.

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ALSO: In a non-Obama-related matter, Weasel Zippers (HT to Hot Air’s headlines) noted a few days ago that Canadian Soldiers are being told to avoid posting personal information on social sites like Facebook because “They are worried that terrorists will look at a soldier’s friends and family, find them and use them as soft targets.”

A BizzyBlog post on October 23, 2005 about why soldiers’ exploits in Iraq are not being highlighted by the military refers to this very same problem — one that Old Media has not to my knowledge mentioned even once in the intervening two-plus years:

This may be the first war we have fought since The Revolutionary War where our soldiers have had to worry about harm to their families and relatives from enemy sleepers inside our own country. Maybe even more than media bias against the war, perhaps this unfortunately legitimate fear explains why we are not hearing as much about war heroics in Iraq and Afghanistan as we have heard in previous wars. It’s a real shame not to hear the stories, but it’s hard to argue against suppressing the news if discretion is necessary to keep loved ones safe.

New Pajamas Media Column (‘The Assembly Line Is Healthier Than You Think’) Is Up

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:11 am

It’s here.

Saturday, morning, after the blackout is lifted, I will post it at BizzyBlog under the title “Both Dem Candidates Buy into the Myth of Deindustrialization.”

The column largely borrows from this August 2007 BizzyBlog post (“Myth Busted: ‘Deindustrialization’”), but adds commentary relating to the two Democratic presidential candidates’ positions and a couple of other related items.

Couldn’t Help But Notice (022808)

The New York Times is shocked and amazed that not everyone is in favor of bailing out financially troubled homeowners — even in liberal mecca Seattle:

Not only are people in Seattle relatively prosperous, but they have a reputation for being nice, too. Yet no sooner had Mayor Greg Nickels announced the program than opposition surfaced.

Imagine that.

While I’m on this: Plenty of folks have made the point that current homeowners who bought and borrowed wisely during the past five years, or who are doing all they can without government help to make their payments (e.g., getting second jobs, selling assets, etc.) are receiving disparate treatment compared to troubled owners getting breaks. Others have pointed out the potential negative impact on homeowners who are new to the market, as they are likely to find their loans more expensive than they would have been and tougher to get.

But I haven’t seen anyone make the point that those who might have bought during the past five years, could easily have qualified for a loan (given that having a pulse was often sufficient), yet prudently decided not to get in over their heads, and are still renting. These folks, who are not benefiting from mortgage interest deductions, are seeing their higher taxes subsidize those who inadvisably bought.

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I wonder if the people who were pretending (in some cases hypocritcally, BTW) during its early days that the Bush administration was allowing industry to poison us with arsenic are at all upset about this?

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Michelle Malkin’s passionate column on Emma Beck’s suicide over aborting her twin babies in the UK is a must-read.

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Duncan Hunter’s concerns are vindicated, and there’s one more reason to be relieved that Mitt Romney has suspended his GOP presidential run (HT: China Law Blog; Wall Street Journla link requires subscription after the first two paragraphs):

A closely watched Chinese investment in a U.S. network-technology company has fallen to political pressure in Washington, revealing new limits for deal makers who expected foreign buyers to invigorate a fallow deal market.

The tech company, 3Com Corp., which agreed in September to be acquired by private-equity firm Bain Capital LLC and China-based Huawei Co. for $2.2 billion, said the three had withdrawn an application from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., or CFIUS, a 12-agency government panel that reviews the national-security implications of foreign-led deals. The decision signaled the government likely wouldn’t have approved the deal, according to people familiar with the matter, fearing that Huawei’s influence could put government secrets at risk.

Romney, of course, built his fortune at Bain, and is still a Bain investor.

Former presidential candidate Hunter raised the security issue revolving around the deal during the campaign, demanded a response from Romney, who is still a Bain investor, regarding the advisability of the deal, and got no response.

Bain’s advocacy of the deal would appear to reflect a culture that is indifferent at best to US security interests. Would a President Romney, who is from that culture, have made sure that a deal like this went through, despite the fact that it would involve, as Hunter said, “forming a business partnership with a corporation known to have direct ties with terrorists and dictators while, at the same time, openly seeking to acquire a major U.S. corporation that performs vital cyber security work for the Department of Defense”?

That’s one more reason why Objectively Unfit Mitt was, and remains, a risk not worth taking.

Positivity: The Greatest March

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:59 am

Written up at Done with Mirrors on February 21:

What was the greatest Civil Rights march of all time?

My pick is the hundred-thousand-strong March on Washington of July 1, 1941. It broke down more doors for black Americans than any single event in modern history, and it reversed two generations of hardening racism in the United States.

Because it never happened.

It all begins with Asa Philip Randolph (1889-1979), a Florida native who moved to New York in hopes of being a Shakespearean actor but ended up a full-time civil rights agitator. He paved the way for Martin Luther King Jr. in every important regard.

In 1925 Randolph was chosen to head the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and Maids, a union of Pullman car workers. If you’re familiar with the America of those times, you’ll realize that this was an all-black union. Randolph never worked on a Pullman car a day in his life. That’s why he was chosen to head the union: He was someone the company couldn’t punish by firing him.

In 1940, America was gearing up for war. People today tend to forget this; we have been taught to think of Pearl Harbor as a sneak attack against a nation slumbering in peace. But Roosevelt had already begun to build up the military, and he had instituted a draft. What made Pearl Harbor such a surprise is that the war we expected to fight was against Germany.

Yet pacifist and isolationist tendencies ran deep in America, as did antipathy to the British and the Soviets — the two powers then in the field against Hitler. Roosevelt knew he would have a difficult time selling the coming war to the American people, as Wilson did in 1917. He would have to frame it as a moral crusade, a clash of civilizations, or rather, a contest between democracy and despotism (pay no attention to those Soviet purges).

Enter Asa Randolph. As the federal government began to spend millions on defense, in a nation still crippled by the Depression, Randolph went to work to end racial discrimination in the defense industry and the armed forces. Perhaps it was his theatrical background that led him to the notion of a mass march on Washington, D.C., which was booming in the build-up to war. He proposed such a tactic in December 1940. The NAACP and the New Negro Alliance and the black churches got behind it, and soon there was talk of 100,000 black Americans demonstrating in front of Congress and the White House against discrimination on government-financed jobs.

There never had been such an event in American history. It was the idea of it that sparked fear in Roosevelt and his cabinet. What would happen? One thing was certain; it would be reported around the world, at just the time America was building its case for being a society superior to the totalitarian Nazi order that Jesse Owens had humiliated in 1936.

“What will they think in Berlin?” government officials asked.

Randolph was summoned to White House and asked to call it off. He refused. Roosevelt called him back and asked him what it would take to change his mind. Randolph asked for an executive order prohibiting racial discrimination in defense plants. Roosevelt agreed, and the march was called off.

Executive Order 8802 was issued June 25, 1941. It forbid discrimination by race, creed, color, or national origin in any defense plant with federal contracts. “[I]t was the first presidential order protecting blacks since Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863″ [Gregor Dallas, "1945," p.217]. Roosevelt created a new agency — the Fair Employment Practices Committee — to see that it was enforced.

The defense jobs were open to black Americans. This helped spark the mass exodus of blacks out of the South that changed America. …..

Go here for the rest of the Done with Mirrors post.