March 31, 2008

Unreported Story: 5 Years of Hollywood Box Office Misery

The latest round of war-movie failures, explained and discussed in more detail by Mark at Weapons of Mass Discussion this past Saturday, is just another episode in a five-year horror story at the box office for the movie business. Despite the growth of DVD sales and during most of that time and the potential for gold in downloads, the ongoing dismal results at the box office have to be causing headaches in the executive suites in Hollywood.

Box office receipts have never really recovered from a disastrous 2005, barely beating inflation, while per-capita ticket purchases have stagnated:

HollywoodBoxOfficeTix2002to2007

What’s more the US economy as a whole grew 15% in real terms, while the movie industry’s box office contracted by over 9%:

HollywoodBoxOffcVsEconGrowth02to07

Ouch. When’s the last time (or the first time?) you saw the industry’s box-office situation portayed so starkly in the general or business press?

Additionally, DVD sales declined in 2007 for the first time. YouTube and other instant and/or “amateur” movie alternatives loom ever larger.

If there was a way out for the studios, it would seem to involve, among other things, not squandering precious resources on guaranteed duds. That idea doesn’t seem to register — which is why the executive headaches mentioned in the first paragraph will likely get stronger.

Data Sources: Box Office Mojo (Total Box Office and Tickets Sold); US Bureau of Labor Statistics (annual average inflation); US Bureau of Economic Analysis (GDP growth); Census Bureau (annual population estimates).

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Non-Surprise of the Day: ‘Earth Hour Crashes to Earth’

Filed under: Economy,Environment,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:32 pm

In Australia, Andrew Bolt predicts the reax:

The organisers will say never mind, this was about raising awareness (although not of raising awareness of the facts). But here’s the awareness it should raise: how difficult it is to get even a tiny cut in just electricity use for one lousy hour, in a country responsible for just 1.5 per cent of the world’s emissions.

And then think what the Rudd Government is promising: a 60 per cent cut in all emissions, all year. And it’s to be matched by every country around the world.

Meanwhile, the world has not warmed since 1998. Indeed, the oceans and atmosphere have cooled over the past couple.

Facts don’t matter to enviro-control freaks.

Couldn’t Help But Notice (033108)

Liberal Fascism Lite (actually not-so-lite; HT Weapons of Mass Discussion) — As outrageous as this is, it has flown under way too far under the radar:

D.C. police are so eager to get guns out of the city that they’re offering amnesty to people who allow officers to come into their homes and get the weapons.

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier announced yesterday the Safe Homes Initiative, aimed at parents and guardians who know or suspect that their children or other relatives have guns. Under the deal, police target areas hit by violence and seek adults who let them search their homes for guns, with no risk of arrest. The offer also applies to drugs that turn up during the searches, police said.

The program is scheduled to start March 24 in the Washington Highlands area of Southeast Washington. Officers will go door-to-door seeking permission to search homes for weapons.

I could handle this if parents voluntarily called the cops in themselves. But that’s clearly not what this is about. Instead, it’s about intimidation. In my opinion, it’s also a pre-emptive strike in advance of a Supreme Court ruling this summer that will more than likely declare DC’s gun ban unconstitutional, and that will hopefully (praying mightily), once and for all, establish that gun ownership is an individual right under the plain language of the Second Amendment.

A commenter at Weapons of Mass Discussion notes that Boston is undertaking a similar effort.

Is it a coincidence that Washington’s and Boston’s governments have been controlled by lib Democrats for decades? I think not.

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Speaking of flying under the radar, Debbie Schlussel has explosive info about the situation with Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (here and here) that should be getting more visibility, and isn’t.

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Powerline, which has been making hash of the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Nick Coleman for years, caught him repeating a howler about the Vets for Freedom (VFF).

On Thursday, supporting a Twin Cities high school’s last-minute revocation of an invitation to appear, Coleman wrote:

VFF says it is nonpartisan, but the liberal watchdog group the Center for Media and Democracy said it began as a Republican front group managed by White House insiders.

Of course, Coleman never attempted to contact VFF officials, and just took the far-left “Center for Media and Democracy’s” word for it.

Star Trib columnist and blogger Katherine Kersten got it right:

If we were a White House front group, we should have been awash in cash in our infancy,” says (Vets for Freedom Director Pete) Hegseth. In fact, the group was started by a handful of vets and initially could hardly make ends meet. “We had one staff member, and he could barely pay his own salary,” says Hegseth. “He literally put down his own credit card to start the organization.”

To suggest that Vets for Freedom marches lock-step in support of the Bush administration is equally untrue. When Hegseth returned from his tour in Iraq in Oct. 2006, he slammed the Bush administration’s strategy in Iraq in a high-profile piece for the Wall Street Journal.

Minnesota educators and BDS-infected libs (but I repeat myself) have a history of trying to keep mission-supporting vets’ views from becoming widely known — and Coleman has a history of cheering them on.

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Embarrassments like the aforementioned Coleman are part of the reason why the bad financial news just keeps on coming in the newspaper business (“NAA Reveals Biggest Ad Revenue Plunge in More Than 50 Years”). I’m not saying that media bias is the only reason for declines such as the one most recently reported at Editor & Publisher, but that it has served to accelerate those declines.

More importantly for their long-term future, if the public were satisfied with the quality of news delivered by print newspapers, they would have followed those publications to their web sites as the Internet took hold. Look at the numbers in the E&P article, and imagine how different things would be if the papers’ online readerships were 3-4 times what they currently are. Online ad gains would come close to making up for the print ad losses. But that’s not what’s happening, because now that the public has alternatives, it is abandoning the newspaper ship. Newspaper execs who don’t think that bias hasn’t been a major reason for that are whistling past the graveyard.

Positivity: Midway Theater Closing

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:56 am

Yes, it’s a Positivity story, as a businessperson is leaving on her own terms:

Clermont Co.’s Midway Theatre fades into history
Saturday, March 29, 2008

BETHEL – Now playing at the Midway Theatre: The last picture show.

After the 7 p.m. presentation of “Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!” on Thursday, the single screen in the 280-seat theater will fade to black – perhaps forever.

It’s not for lack of business. The theater, which seldom shows anything rated R except for scary movies around Halloween, is popular with families. In the two-week run of the G-rated “Horton,” the Midway has had some sell-out crowds.

However, Deborah Brooks, 54, who has operated the Clermont County landmark for 34 years, plans to pull the plugs on the two reel-to-reel projectors.

“I have been doing this since I was 20 years old,” Brooks said. “I can hardly imagine the day I lock the door for the last time.”

Factoring into her decision was a brain aneurysm suffered a year ago.

“My energy level is not as high as before,” Brooks said. “So I’m going to cut back. I will have some down time … a different lifestyle, and be able to do some traveling and enjoy my life a little more.

“When you’re a small business owner, you really have to be very attentive to it,” Brooks said.

The theater at 210 W. Plane St., which employs six (including Brooks), was opened in 1937 by her paternal grandfather, Earl Hewett.

“I think it was 37 cents (for adults) and 17 cents for children,” Brooks said of tickets 71 years ago.

Adjusted for inflation, the cost has gone down for an adult. It’s now $3.50 for matinees and $4 for the late show. Concessions are also a bargain: $2 for candy or a small popcorn, and $1.50 for a pop.

“That is our niche,” Brooks said. “Especially in this slow economy, people are looking for ways to have entertainment at lower prices.”

Over the past two weeks, “I’ve seen so many generations of people coming in because they’ve learned that this is our last movie, and they’ve stopped by to make comments about how much they’re going to miss the theater,” said Brooks, who is one of the village’s 2,637 residents.

To show her appreciation, Brooks said, patrons will receive free popcorn and soft drinks from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday.

Shortly before the last show at 7 p.m. that day, patrons will be asked to gather outside under the theater’s marquee for a group photograph, which will be donated to the Bethel Historical Society Museum. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.

March 30, 2008

Sgt. Keith Matthew Maupin, RIP

Filed under: US & Allied Military — Tom @ 11:10 pm

From ABC News (original HT to a caller; blog coverage first noted at Porkopolis):

The father of a soldier listed as missing-captured in Iraq since 2004 said Sunday that the military had informed him that his son’s remains were found in Iraq.

Keith Maupin said at a news conference in suburban Cincinnati that an Army general told him DNA testing had identified the remains of his son, Sgt. Keith Matthew Maupin, or “Matt” as he was commonly known.

There’s much more coverage at the Cincinnati Enquirer, which updated with this news a short time ago:

Staff Sgt. Matt Maupin’s mother took a call from President Bush tonight extending his condolences after the Army identified the missing soldier’s remains in Iraq.

Bush has met several times with the Maupins during the past four years and pledged to them that everything would be done to find out what had happened to their son after he was captured by insurgents on April 9, 2004.

Carolyn Maupin took the President’s call on a cell phone at 9:45 p.m. behind the Yellow Ribbon Support Center in Batavia.

Carolyn Maupin’s friend, June Izzi Bailey, said she was told the White House had just found out about the DNA match and called the family as quickly as possible.

Comments from around the SOB Alliance and elsewhere (to be updated as more appear):

  • Porkopolis, who kept up with developments better than anyone else in the Alliance — “Matt Maupin is no longer with us, but his patriotism and love of his country lives on.”
  • Taxman Blog — “May God bless his soul.”
  • Michelle Malkin — “Keep the Maupin family in your thoughts and prayers tonight ….. Let’s hope our troops find the animals who murdered Maupin and deliver justice.”
  • LW at Blackfive — “May his family know peace from having him home, and may the light shine on them all the days to come.”
  • Bill Keane — “Please pray that his parents have some measure of comfort going forward.”
  • Others — Ben Keeler, Brian at One Oar.
  • (March 31) Matt at Weapons of Mass Discussion — “The great sorrow that I feel for the Maupin family is tempered only by the relief in knowing that, like the Maupin family themselves have stated, the enemy can no longer harm him. I am also experiencing a renewed seething anger at our enemy.”
  • (March 31) Excelsior’s comment at NixGuy’s place — “May God bless the Maupin family with peace and strength. And may God bless the United States of America, and give us the fortitude and determination to defeat the Islamist thugs and murderers in Iraq, in Afghanistan and wherever around the world we may find them.”

______________________________

UPDATE: I held off commenting until I learned that Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Reds would do the right thing and dedicate portions of Opening Day events to the Matt Maupin and his family. They will, and how fitting it is. It’s a great way for the Greater Cincinnati community to come together and honor their fallen hero. Rest in peace, sir.

WV Paper’s Report on Food Stamps: Closer To the Truth than Most of Old Media

In a Wednesday story on food stamp program participation in West Virginia that is still being linked at Drudge this evening, Charleston Daily Mail writer Justin D. Anderson fell into the same trap reporters have been falling into for nearly a year, but later largely made up for it by acknowledging that the program is a supplement, and is not designed, or intended, to pay for all of its beneficiaries’ food costs.

Here are paragraphs 1, 5, and 6 of Anderson’s report:

About one in every six West Virginians gets food stamps, the highest level of participation in at least 30 years.

….. A total of 122,877 of the state’s estimated 743,064 households currently receive food stamps. That’s up from 105,365 households in 2003.

But while the number of people on the program has jumped sharply, the federal government has raised the average per-person monthly benefits over that time by just $12 to $85.

The last excerpted sentence clearly demonstrates that Anderson either does not have a sufficient grasp of how the Food Stamp program works, or wasn’t interested in accurately communicating it.

The federal government does NOT raise “average per-person monthly benefits,” as Anderson claims. It DOES raise what it refers to as the Maximum Monthly Allotment (MMA) once a year, effective October 1. The MMA is the benefit a Food Stamp beneficiary with no income or resources of their own will receive. Here is what has happened to the Maximum Monthly Allotment since October 1, 2003:

FoodStampMMA2003and2007

(October 1, 2003 source is here. October 1, 2007 source is here.)

As has been described before in many posts, beneficiaries are expected to spend money on food out of their own income and assets, based on an analysis of each person’s or family’s situation. To the extent that the formulas determine that income and assets should be available, the MMA is reduced. This USDA web site link describes the process in more detail.

In West Virginia, the effect of the formula-based reductions has been to reduce the average benefit disbursed to a Food Stamp beneficiary in 2003 and 2007 to $73 and $85, respectively.

As I’ve noted several times previously (last example here: NewsBusters; BizzyBlog), if there is something wrong with the Food Stamp income/resources formulas, those who wish to reform the program have yet to specify what it is.

But give Anderson significant credit for noting something later in his report that those what have spent the last year organizing “Food Stamp Challenge” publicity stunts, and most reporters covering them, have rarely acknowledged:

The food stamp benefit is based on income and the number of people in a household, (Sarah) Young (of the Department of Health and Human Resources) said. Monthly benefits range from a minimum of $10 to $1,219 for a 10-person household with little to no income.

Young said the benefit was always meant to supplemental (sic) a family’s income, not to totally cover a month’s worth of groceries.

Anderson did a better job of noting the supplemental intent and design of the program than his supposedly more esteemed colleagues at papers like the New York Times (link requires free registration) and the Washington Post have done. I would like to have seen the point emphasized sooner, but in the context of the horrid coverage I have seen elsewhere, my complaint is a relative quibble.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Hot Air’s Morrissey Shows Negative Media Basra Narrative Is False

It is so easy to get sucked in by context-free negativity, isn’t it?

If you looked at the home page of the New York Times a couple of hours ago, these items you would have among those seen in the (appropriately) far-left column:

  • In This Shiite Battle, a Marked Shift From the Past (article link)
  • Shiite Militias Cling to Swaths of Basra and Stage Raids (article link)

Top-of-hour network radio reports in the past few days, including Fox’s, have also “successfully” left the impression that there has been serious decay in the Iraq situation. Who could blame the average person reader/listener for believing that?

As Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey noted earlier this morning, not so fast. In fact, not at all:

Remind me again — who’s losing in Basra?

When the Iraqi government finally took the long-expected action to establish control of Basra after the British pullback left it in the hands of militias and gangsters, suddenly the media declared that the country had reached the brink of collapse. They highlighted stories of defections from the Iraqi military and opined that the surge had failed. Moqtada al-Sadr would finally achieve his goal of controlling the South and would expose the Baghdad government as a house of cards.

Guess which side just sued for peace?

Follow Morrissey’s link, and you’ll see that Old Media is still keeping hope (for defeat) alive in its headlines:

Al-Sadr offers to pull fighters off Iraq’s streets
Shiite cleric demands halt to raids against followers, freedom for prisoners

BAGHDAD – Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr offered Sunday to pull his fighters off the streets of Basra and other cities if the government halts raids against his followers and releases prisoners held without charge.

Morrissey gives the context that Old Media simply won’t:

Anyone who follows the news closely in Iraq knew this day would come. The British left a power vacuum behind in the south that the Baghdad government could not fill at the time, and Sadr and the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council’s Badr Brigades filled it instead. ….. The Iraqi government had no choice but to challenge the militias for control of Basra and the surrounding areas, but they waited until the Iraqi Army had enough strength to succeed.

Did our media give anyone this context? No. They reported it as some kind of spontaneous eruption of rebellion without noting at all that a nation can hardly be considered sovereign while its own security forces cannot enter a large swath of its own territory. And in the usual defeatist tone, they reported that our mission in Iraq had failed without waiting to see what the outcome of the battle would be.

(What Sadr is doing) isn’t the action of a victor. Perhaps our media would like to explain that in the context of their clueless reporting so far.

Heaven knows where we would be without bloggers like Morrissey, who is a most welcome addition at Hot Air.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Positivity: Even in death, couple never parted

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:01 am

From the western suburbs of Cincinnati:

Charles and Erlene Wurster knew how to build a great house, but they were better at building a marriage.

The Bridgetown couple did almost everything together.

They founded a construction company that built more than 500 houses. They traveled the world and donated to charity. They raised three children and instilled a sense of devotion so strong that the kids never moved more than five minutes from home.

“They were always so close,” said their son, Bob Wurster. “In the last couple years, they even talked about dying together.”

In the end, they would do that, too.

Charles, 82, and Erlene, 81, fell ill and died this month in a span of 15 days. Charles died after a stroke on March 11 and Erlene followed Wednesday, a few days after heart surgery.

Charles “Butch” Wurster Jr., the couple’s eldest son, said his mom suffered heart failure moments after learning his father had died. If she had not been in a hospital, he said, his mom and dad would have died almost at the same time.

No one in this tight-knit West Side family is the least bit surprised. The couple had been inseparable from each other – and from the rest of their family – for more than six decades.

“They did every single thing together,” Charles Jr. said. “They wanted to die together.”

Their long devotion began as teenagers in Cincinnati. Charles was driving a cab and Erlene, who was working at a White Castle restaurant, flagged him down for a ride home.

When she complained about the fare, Charles told her she could pay whatever she liked if she let him pick her up again the next day. They were married a year later.

Charles worked for an aluminum manufacturing company for years, but dabbled in home building. His side job became a full-time business in the 1960s when his employer wanted to transfer him to Arizona.

He turned down the job after his kids told him they didn’t want to move.

“He didn’t know if he could make it, but he did it for the family,” said Charles Jr. “They were always thinking family.”

Wurster Builders was a mom-and-pop operation in every way. Charles oversaw the construction projects and did masonry work, while Erlene hung plaster board and kept the books.

The company became one of the most successful in Western Hills, building more than 500 homes, 1,000 apartments and commercial developments such as Charlestown Square, the Good Samaritan Medical Building and T.G.I. Friday’s restaurants.

“They built their business totally together,” Charles Jr. said.

They built their family the same way, and it rubbed off on their children. Charles Jr., Bob and their sister, Sharlene Mohr, all live within five minutes of their parents’ home.

They all gathered for breakfast there at 8:30 every morning for the past 15 years.

Charles and Erlene also hosted Sunday dinners, a big spread at Christmas and summer swim parties for their seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren, all of whom live within 15 minutes of their place.

A few years ago, one of the grandkids briefly considered moving to the West Chester area, but decided that would be too far from home.

“It’s funny,” Charles Jr. said. “Our family is just that way.” …..

Go here for the rest of the story.

March 29, 2008

The Ford Boycott’s Results Demonstrate the Folly of Corporate Reliance on Old Media

Note: This column was originally posted at Pajamas Media on Thursday under the title “Ford Boycott Gets Results.”
_______________________________________________

Two weeks ago, the American Family Association’s the boycott of Ford ended. My Pajamas Media column two months ago may have helped bring about that end.

You may be asking, “What boycott? I didn’t even know one had started.”

Don’t feel bad. Old Media studiously ignored it during its entire two-year run, including its end.

Don’t let that lack of attention fool you. AFA’s Ford boycott was a very costly case of corporate stubbornness, and an object lesson to companies who rely exclusively on Old Media for market feedback.

An earlier boycott call in 2005 was suspended. In November 2005, according to AFA, Ford agreed that it would do the following (paraphrasing the more verbose original at AFA’s now-moribund boycottford.com web site):

  1. Not renew current promotions involving donations to homosexual groups based on a vehicle purchase.
  2. Not make corporate donations to homosexual organizations promoting civil unions or same-sex marriage.
  3. Stop donating to, subsidizing, and promoting activities such as Gay Pride parades.
  4. With one exception, cease all advertising at gay media websites and in gay magazines, television, and radio in the U.S.

According to the AFA, the company did not keep the above promises. The boycott began in earnest in March 2006.

(Note: I have one relative who is a Ford retiree and another currently employed at Ford, and did not personally support the boycott.)

Given the boycott’s potential for serious damage, especially at a time when Ford’s business fortunes were heading in reverse, I expected the company to do something to rectify the situation quickly.

That didn’t happen.

Ford vastly underestimated the boycott’s impact. As I noted in late January:

  • The AFA’s home page claimed that over 778,000 boycott petition signers (over 780,000 signers when it ended).
  • The AFA itself claims to have over 3.3 million supporters.
  • Boycottford.com listed over 30 supporting organizations.
  • It is likely that each boycott supporter, AFA member, and at least some members of the other boycotting organizations influenced three to five others not to buy Ford products.
  • That would mean, at the boycott’s peak, that there were between 12-20 million boycott participants — perhaps as many as 10% of all potential vehicle buyers.

I believe that the Ford’s sales performance during the 24 months of AFA’s boycott supports my estimate of the boycott’s reach:

Ford2YrSalesDeclines0308

The average two-year monthly sales decline in the table above is 16%. That is a far worse result than occurred at the five other largest companies selling cars in the US.

No doubt there have been other factors contributing to Ford’s decline, including weaknesses in its product line and efforts to reduce low-margin fleet sales. But given its scope, there can be little doubt that the boycott was an element of the downward spiral.

How much did the AFA boycott cost the company? My estimate is a bit less than $1 billion in lost margins (the chart assumes that only 1% of 12 million boycott participants decided not to buy a Ford vehicle during the two years of the boycott; margin estimates and the truck/car breakdown are from this July 2007 Forbes.com article):

FordLostMargin0308

Why did the company allow it to go on for so long? False pride and stubbornness certainly played a part. But management hubris at the beginning of a boycott is not unusual.

What Ford generally lacked was real-world feedback (Not that management is totally off the hook; in August 2006, a group of dealers in Texas sent an open letter to the company begging it to do something. The suits in Dearborn paid them no heed.).

Month after awful month, Old Media pretended that the boycott didn’t exist. The business press never considered that something might be happening other than what they read in Ford’s “the sky is not falling” press releases. Management therefore had little indication from anyone other than AFA itself — which it apparently refused to believe — that real boycott-related damage was occurring.

So what finally triggered the Company’s change of heart? I suspect that the comments at the aforementioned January 28 Pajamas column may have been a factor.

In less than 24 hours (before they were turned off), readers posted 461 comments. The large majority of them were from boycott supporters, many of whom quantified how many vehicles they had purchased from other manufacturers. This was, as far as I know, the first time that such visible evidence of widespread boycott support appeared in a widely-read venue. This outpouring, combined with a dash of financial desperation, may have been what at last disabused the company of its long-held notion that the boycott didn’t matter.

The lesson? Companies cannot blithely assume that just because a PC-obsessed Old Media isn’t covering an event or development, that it must not be happening, or must not be significant. The AFA boycott has cost Ford dearly. If it doesn’t survive as an independent entity — a distinct possibility — we may look back on the boycott as the straw that broke the Blue Oval’s back.

Positivity: Ethan’s the hero of Bader Street

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:55 am

From Bader, New Zealand:

Monday, 24 March 2008

The Hamilton suburb of Bader has been in the media for all the wrong reasons lately, but Ethan Slater changed that this week.

The 11-year old boy helped save his mother’s life on Tuesday morning after she collapsed on their kitchen floor.

His mother Shelley Pitts told the Times yesterday all she remembered was washing the dishes when she fell.

Despite being put in the scary situation, Ethan, who was at home with his brother Flynn, three, calmly dialled 111. Melville community police officers Senior Constables Paul Francis and Bill Taua were on patrol just around the corner and were first on the scene.

Mr Francis said although Ethan was very upset, he not only followed correct procedure for an emergency situation but also comforted his mother, who was unconscious, by putting a pillow under her head and looked after his little brother until emergency services arrived.

“He did everything right. He managed to get on the phone, get police, ambulance and get Mum off to hospital. He was quite brave and did very well. He had his little brother there too, who’s only a wee tot.”

Mrs Pitts said it was lucky Ethan was home for the day sick, otherwise the situation could have been a lot worse. “I’m so stoked. People have been telling me a lot this week that Ethan’s a hero. I keep telling him that he definitely saved my life.”

During a special assembly at St Pius School on Thursday morning, Mr Francis and Mr Taua presented Ethan with a Certificate of Appreciation from Waikato police area commander Alan Boreham. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.

March 28, 2008

Mississippi Judge Indicted: Yet Another ‘Name That Party’ Story

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:37 pm

An Associated Press story by Chris Talbott on the indictment of Mississippi judge Bobby DeLaughter waited until the end of the second paragraph to even name him, and never identified his party:

Miss. Justices Suspend Embattled Judge

The Mississippi Supreme Court suspended a prominent judge Friday who is being investigated for his role in a dispute over fees involving attorney Richard “Dickie” Scruggs.

The court sided with the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance, which was concerned that Hinds County Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter might have accepted a bribe.

DeLaughter had said this week that he would not fight the action. He is suspended indefinitely.

The hold-off on even using the judge’s name is more than a little noteworthy, as the judge is at least semi-famous:

DeLaughter, a former assistant district attorney, rose to national attention for prosecuting Byron De La Beckwith in the early 1990s for the 1963 murder of NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers. The case was portrayed in the 1996 movie “Ghosts of Mississippi,” with Alec Baldwin playing DeLaughter.

As to DeLaughter’s party, I know we don’t even have to ask. But we’ll eventually get to the proof in this AP story from February 22:

Lott could be potential witness in Scruggs trial

Oxford — Both the defense and prosecution in the federal bribery case against famed plaintiffs attorney Richard “Dickie” Scruggs and his associates plan to call retired Sen. Trent Lott to the stand if a judge allows testimony about Scruggs’ “prior bad acts” in the upcoming trial.

U.S. District Judge Neal Biggers Jr. is considering whether to allow testimony about what a federal witness called a bribery attempt of Hinds County Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter in an unrelated case.

It was the second time during a two-day hearing to deal with several motions that the former Republican senator’s name was brought up in connection with Scruggs, his brother-in-law.

No, we’re not there yet in that February AP story. In fact, we’re nowhere near there, though, as you can see above, Trent Lott was identified as a Republican in the third paragraph.

It is in Paragraph 15 of the AP report where DeLaughter’s party is finally revealed:

Keker argued that testimony about the alleged bribe attempt should be excluded because there is nothing illegal about a lawyer suggesting a judge for a federal post. He also noted that DeLaughter is a Democrat, making it unlikely that he would be appointed by a Republican administration even if Lott used his considerable influence for his cause.

Par for the course.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Greetings to Jake Tapper of ABC News

Filed under: News from Other Sites,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:38 pm

TOPSIDE UPDATE: ABC has updated its post to link to the full BizzyBlog post in text at the end of the item involved. Though less than perfect (OK, I’ll stop whining), their prompt response is appreciated.

_______________________________________

Hey Jake –

Thanks for covering the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright church bulletin story.

If you’re here, I assume it means that you are looking for the BizzyBlog entry relating to Trinity United Church of Christ’s July 22, 2007 bulletin, and following up on my phone call to ABC’s Assignment Desk. Thanks for visiting.

The entry is here (“TUCC’s Church Bulletins from July 2007 Probably Make Whether Obama Was Present on July 22 Irrelevant”).

If you could fix the link at your Political Punch blog entry to go to that entry instead of to the JPEG of the two relevant pages of the bulletin, I would appreciate it.

Of course, I would have appreciated it more if you had (as one would reasonably expect) linked to the BizzyBlog entry from the very beginning, so that my blog would have received proper credit for the hundreds, or maybe thousands, of page views your direct link to the JPEG caused the blog to lose.

_____________________________________

UPDATE: Jake, while we’re on the topic of your Political Punch blog entry, you wrote this about Obama’s appearance on “The View”:

Sen. Obama in an interview to air Friday on ABC’s The View says he did not read the bulletins in his church. “I don’t purchase all the DVD’s and I didn’t read all the church bulletins…. “

Clever use of “all,” wouldn’t you say? But the question is whether Obama generally looked through the bulletins when he attended church.

This BizzyBlog entry (“Did The New Republic Out Obama As a TUCC Bulletin Reader in March 2007?”) refers back to a New Republic article (Google search result for direct access [3rd and 4th listed results]; alternative link) from March 2007 stating that the author saw Obama taking notes during a Wright sermon. I believe the odds to be very high that Obama was taking those notes in the “Sermon’s Notes” section TUCC helpfully provides in each ….. church bulletin ….. you know, the ones he “didn’t read all” of.

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Selected Previous Related Posts:
- March 27 — Obama Attempts To Distance Himself from Wright. Sorry, Pal; No Sale
- March 26 — Another Bulletin Bomb from Obama’s Pastor, Plus Helpful Campaign Assistance from BizzyBlog
- March 24 — JPost Picks up Obama Condemnation of TUCC Bulletin’s Hamas Column
- March 21 — Obama (Shhh) Blasts Hamas Op-Ed in Church Bulletin, Silent on Other Bulletin Items (See Contradictory Updates)
- March 21 — Did The New Republic Out Obama As a TUCC Bulletin Reader in March 2007?
- March 21 — Hamas-Obama-Wright Resonates
- March 20 — Church Bulletin Bonus: Omid Safi and the Progressive Muslim Union (PMU)
- March 20 — Another “Close Religious Adviser” to Obama Old Media Has Ignored
- March 19 — Obama: The Pummeling by Perceptive Pundits Proceeds (with the Candidate Inadvertently Pitching in)
- March 18 — Analyses of the Day: Allah and Shelby Steele Nail Obama’s “Checkers” Speech
- March 18 — Ahead of Obama’s “Checkers” Speech
- March 17 — TUCC’s Church Bulletins from July 2007 Probably Make Whether Obama Was Present on July 22 Irrelevant
- March 17 — Blogger Patterico Calls Out LA Times Coverage of Obama-Wright
- March 16 — Obama Gives a Nod to Wright
- March 15 — Obama Has Not Set Things Right about Wright
- March 13 — The People Who Have Given Me Grief Over the Use of Barack Obama’s Middle Name ….

Water, Wal-Mart, and Reverend Wright

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:56 am

Bottle-y harm — This is so predictable (HT NixGuy):

Revenues from Chicago’s new bottled water tax are trickling in — at a rate nearly 40 percent below projections — exacerbating a budget crunch that has already prompted Mayor Daley to order $20 million in spending cuts.

January collections were $554,000. That’s far short of the $875,000-a-month needed to meet the city’s $10.5 million-a-year projection.

If form holds with previous attempts by state and cities to enforce cigarette and liquor tax enforcement, the city will:

  • require that bottled water be purchased only in the city.
  • station police outside the Wal-Marts in the nearby suburbs to track and bust city residents who buy their water elsewhere.

Speaking of Wal-Mart, though Mayor Daley vetoed the “big box” ordinance that would have required stores like Wal-Mart to pay above-market wages and benefits in September 2006, the city’s clear hostility has led the company and other big-boxers to build stores just outside the Windy City in inner-belt suburbs, attracting much business from city residents.

The city’s hostility to the big boxes is a three-fer going the wrong way:

  • It doesn’t get the benefit of jobs inside the city.
  • It doesn’t get collect bottled water taxes when city residents buy their bottled water at the inner-belt Wal-Marts.
  • It imposes the higher costs found in non-big box stores on elderly and other less-mobile residents, many of whom would greatly benefit from the substantial savings (see Update 2 at link) the big boxes offer.

Cruise through the church bulletins of the Reverend Jeremiah A. Wright’s Trinity United Church of Christ (TUCC), and you’ll find that one of their pet causes was the aforementioned big box ordinance, and that the church has been, and still may be, a big supporter of boycotting Wal-Mart. The Reverend Wright’s “compassion” thus works directly against the ability of many in TUCC’s congregation to meet their basic needs.

Couldn’t Help But Notice (032808)

Filed under: General — Tom @ 7:54 am

Nominee for most underreported story of the week (HT LGF):

Colombia said it seized at least 66 pounds (30 kg) of uranium from the country’s biggest left-wing rebel group on Wednesday, the first time radioactive material has been linked to the four-decade-old guerrilla war.

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AFP reports thatHuman Rights Campaigner” (yeah, that’s what they called him; HT Hot Air) Mumia Abu-Jamal temporarily dodged being executed for the murder of “a police officer” in 1981.

Memo to AFP — The police officer had a name: Daniel Faulkner.

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The trend of people voting with their feet continues. Midwestern urban areas lost residents yet again in the latest Census Bureau update. AP, of course, doesn’t fully explain why the population gainers are who they are:

Experts credit much of the growth in the South to relatively strong local economies and housing prices that are among the most affordable in the U.S.

“People are running away from unaffordable housing, from the economic slowdown,” said Karl Eschbach, a state demographer in Texas. “I would expect Texas to stay at the top of a slowing game.”

But why are the local economies strong, and the areas relatively affordable? Lower taxes, less regulation, and relatively low crime rates.

Positivity: Birthday cake saves German driver in crash

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Germany’s “The Local” (HT Fox News):

Published: 21 Mar 08 15:58 CET

A German driver walked away from a car wreck unhurt after finding a soft landing in her own homemade birthday cake, police said on Friday.

The 26-year-old woman skidded on a snowy street and slammed into a tree near the city of Freudenstadt in the southern state of Baden-Württemberg.

The car was completely wrecked. But the woman escaped unhurt after being caught by her airbag and birthday cake, police said.