September 19, 2008

BDS Meets PDS: AP Writer ‘Finds’ Bush v. Gore/Palin Investigation Parallels

Late this afternoon, AP Special Correspondent David Espo cobbled together one of the most incoherent “comparisons” of two totally unrelated events I have ever seen.

In a piece that should be called “AP Writer’s Bush Derangement Syndrome Meets Up with His Palin Derangment Syndrome; Hilarity Ensues,” Espo attempts to paint current GOP tactics being employed to defend Sarah Palin in the Walt Monegan firing case with those Bush-Cheney used to ensure that the Florida results in the 2000 presidential election didn’t get hijacked by Democratic Party efforts to selectively recount only certain counties and to exclude legitimate overseas military ballots.

Of course, that’s not how Espo sees it (saved here at my web host in case the report changes or goes away), as you’ll see in the beginning of his report:

Palin probe has parallels to 2000 recount fight

This time, there are no hanging chads.

Yet the Republicans’ drive to derail an abuse of power investigation against Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the GOP vice presidential candidate, reflects the same determination and many of the same methods employed in shutting down the 2000 presidential recount in Florida.

Now, as then, the playbook includes lawsuits, the exercise of power by sympathetic state officials, and appeals to the court of public opinion – all in an operation directed by out-of-state Republicans.

Not only are there no hanging chads, David, there are no similarities worth citing. The only “parallels” are these:

  • The two events involve US states.
  • They both pit Democrats against Republicans.

Along the way, Espo does what the media has consistently done in virtually every reference to the 2000 election:

  • Writing as if the GOP stopped the recount; no, the Supreme Court did.
  • Conveniently forgetting that media recounters in 2001 concluded that the result wouldn’t have changed, even if the recounts the Democrats wanted would have taken place.
  • Ignoring the wholesale attempts at disqualifying overseas military ballots.

Readers who endure Espo’s piece in its entirety will find much more material to dispute and refute.

Espo’s Alaska 2008 reporting isn’t any better.

He writes that “Republican lawyers, researchers and public relations specialists have been dispatched to Alaska,” and doesn’t mention that the Democrats did the same thing. He even claims that “Democrats have appeared slow off the mark, unwilling or unable to dispatch their own crew to Alaska to counter the Republicans.” That’s baloney.

Of course, Dems and their co-operatives in traditional media aren’t just working on “Troopergate.” They’re also stirring up rumors, half-truths, and untruths about Palin at breakneck speed — so far totalling 84, according to Charles Martin, who has taken on the unenviable task of monitoring them. Update: Make that 89, and #89 is a doozy that I hope will get its own post shortly.

Espo’s piece looks to be a thinly-veiled excuse to vent his spleen over what happened in 2000, something he clearly can’t get over, and to begin yet another fantasy-based victimization saga with even less substantive support. One fears for what remains of the guy’s mental well-being if the McCain-Palin ticket wins in November.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Some Things I Learned Today While on a Secret Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy Project

Filed under: Economy,Immigration,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:35 pm

The state and regional unemployment and jobs numbers came out today.

As usual, the fearsome foursome of CA, MI, OH, and IL brought up the large-state rear (SA is seasonally adjusted, NSA is not seasonally adjusted):

  • CA — 7.7% SA, up from 7.4% in July; 7.6% NSA, unchanged; Metro LA’s NSA is 8.2%. Yet Arnold won’t drill.
  • MI — 8.9% SA, up from 8.5% in July, 8.8% NSA, down from 9.4% in July.
  • OH — (HT Naugblog and Nix) 7.4% SA and 7.1% NSA.
  • IL — 7.3% SA and NSA; 145,000 more SA unemployed compared to a year ago.

The SA national unemployment rate in August was 6.1%.

Meanwhile, red state TX had a “bad month,” coming in at 5.0% SA and 5.1% NSA. The Blue Triumvirate in the Midwest should be so lucky.

OK reported 4.0% SA and 3.8% NSA, both down from July. When is someone going to follow up on this post and look into the impact of immigration enforcement reform in the Sooner State?

Channeling Carl Sagan (x 100′s); Cramer’s About-Face; The Fred-Fan Specifics; Other Blame

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:08 pm

There may be “billions upon billions” of stars out there in the universe, but there are apparently “hundreds and hundreds of billions” available to bail out the banks who made unwise mortgage loans and the “Barney’s Rubble” government-sponsored enterprises that facilitated them.

Moderate Mainstream, who predicted this, take a bow.

As to Cramer, he was literally screaming for Ben Bernanke to open up the discount window at the Fed some months ago. Now he talks (not without basis) about how our government is more socialist than China, and complains.

Earth to Jim: You, and a large element of Wall Street, have mostly supported the Democrats who built up this mess all these years.

They’re already spinning this as a private-sector failure. Horse manure: It’s yet another in a long list of government-intervention failures.

It’s going to be hard to convince me that FDR isn’t raising a champagne glass in his grave. I believe he and his party have wanted to take over the economy piece by piece for many, many years. Now the government has de facto ownership of mortgage lending, and in essence controls the fate of a large portion of the nation’s housing stock. Free-marketeers are going to have to dig in for the long haul to try to get it back. As the Rubblemaker himself said: Lots of luck with that.

__________________________________________

Refresh: For those who missed it, what follows is more than likely the biggest factor that brought on the financial mess. It’s a reprise of the final portion of my Pajamas Media column of September 9 (mirrored here at BizzyBlog on the 11th), accompanied by a graphic that I couldn’t post at the time because of my computer-challenged situation.

+++++++++++++++++

How the two GSEs acted to keep their perpetual motion machines running probably did more than anything else anyone did to bring on the explosive increase in foreclosures.

During the heyday of the home price run-up several years ago, I had a conversation with a mortgage broker I have known for many years. I questioned how aggressive mortgage lending practices were and how ridiculously easy it had become to get approved.

His response was that Fan and Fred had significantly lowered the standards built into the loan-approval programs lenders used to ensure that their mortgages would be bought by the two GSEs. Specifically:

  • The credit score threshold for conventional mortgages, which had generally been 670 or more, dropped to about 630. In the real world, a score of 630 indicates that you’re having trouble with your debt load, paying your bills on time, or a little of both.
  • More ominously, the credit score threshold for subprime mortgages, which had generally been 630 or more, fell to about 590. A score of 590 is the credit scoring equivalent of barely having a pulse.

A quick primer on credit scores is here.

You can see the huge impact of those moves by looking at a graphic that comes from this myfico.com page:

FICOscoreDistribution2008

  • About 10%-12% of the population, people who formerly would have only qualified for subprime mortgage consideration, suddenly became eligible for conventional treatment.
  • Far worse, another roughly 7%-9% of the population with awful credit records, most of whom had no business taking on a mortgage, now received subprime treatment.

No wonder loan activity boomed, followed by unprecedented defaults. In hindsight, the results we’re seeing today were an almost foregone conclusion. The way out will be a long, hard slog.

When will Washington ever learn that governments and their “clever” offshoots only make things much worse?

Newly added today: Repeat — Fred and Fan did this on their own, and I would argue in direct violation of their corporate and congressional charters.

This is even before considering the impact of lower required down payments, variable rate and interest-only mortgages, option ARMs, and other exotic products that were out there during the lending heyday — and still haunt the industry.

________________________________________________

UPDATE: Since I might be seen as making it look like the President and his party are blameless, let me elaborate. I don’t think Paulson and Bush had to do what they did, even in an election year. Very few Americans outside of the affected industries supported this bailout nonsense. And besides, this is supposedly what we have bankruptcy courts for. Oh the howls would have been loud, but leadership is doing the right thing despite the howls.

Also, Bush did not push hard enough for reform during his tenure, including getting behind John McCain’s 2005 effort.

That said, I believe the Fan-Fred credit-score threshold game-playing described above was done outside of official purview, and perhaps illegally. But that’s what you supposedly have audits and quarterly financial statements for.

Oh wait, Fan and Fred had accounting fiascos that made the books unauditable for several years.

How convenient.

If we don’t watch out and face the music, we’ll be facing 15 year’s of malaise, as the Japanese have since the early 1990s.
_______________________________________

UPDATE 2: I’m not quite down with Michelle Malkin’s RIP to fiscal conservatism just yet. But I have to concede that it’s on life support — and Jack Kevorkian has entered the building.

You HAVE to See This ….. (Update: Racism-Free Certificates for IL Voters)

Filed under: Positivity,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:49 am

….. but I’m not saying you’ll necessarily believe it (HT AJ Strata):

ARGillinois091608

__________________________________________

UPDATE: Barack Obama won his Illinois US Senate race in 2004 by a margin of about 70%-27% over his GOP opponent, Alan Keyes, who is also African-American:

ObamaKeyesIL2004

Therefore, roughly four million non-African-American Illinois voters irrefutably proved themselves to be non-racists in that election by voting for either Obama or Keyes (after subtracting the roughly 16% of the Land of Lincoln electorate that was African-American).

It thus appears, if form holds, that at least 1.8 million John McCain supporters in Illinois (45% of four million, and likely growing) are in need of certification.

Accordingly, by the blogging powers vested in me, and with apologies to NixGuy (who can certainly improve on this), I have created an Illinois-specific version of the Racism-Free certificate:

ObamaKeyesRacismFree0908

Similar certs could be prepared for non-African-Americans who pulled the lever for Michael Steele for US Senate in 2006 in Maryland, or voted for Lynn Swann in bitterly-clinging Pennsylvania that same year, JC Watts any number of times for Congress in Oklahoma, etc.

I sense a cottage industry in the works.

UPDATE 2: Did you know that despite his overall crushing defeat, Keyes actually carried 10 of 103 Illinois counties in 2004? Start here to verify.

Team Obama had best not assume that waking up a lot of dead people in Chicago will guarantee victory in their candidate’s home state.

Positivity: Utah children live their father’s dream of seeing Red Sox play at Fenway

Filed under: Positivity,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Utah, and Boston, and Red Sox Nation (HT Kevin at Pundit Review, who correctly warns this is a “Hankie Alert” story):

September 4, 2008

A Promise Kept

When two medical flight helicopters collided near a Flagstaff, Ariz., hospital June 29, a promise died.

It was a sacred promise from a Red Sox-loving father to his three young sons. On his 37th birthday in August, they would make the 2,100-mile pilgrimage to see the Red Sox play in Fenway Park.

By all accounts, James W. Taylor Jr. was no ordinary dad. He was a hero.

He loved to save lives. He was an emergency room nurse who served as a first lieutenant in the US Army Reserves. He had treated medical burn victims from Desert Storm while stationed in Germany. Once a month he commuted from his Eagle Mountain, Utah, home to serve as a Life Flight nurse 500 miles away in Page, Ariz.

Baseball was his passion and he loved to play ball with his kids.

As a child he was drafted by a Little League team named the Red Sox and became inquisitive about the big leaguers. He fell in love with the 1984 Red Sox of Boggs, Rice, and Clemens. He decorated the house for Red Sox playoff games. He once even painted a Boston “B” on a mare he owned. When he finally went to Fenway Park in 2002 on a stop with the Army Reserves, a fan gave him a seat behind the Red Sox dugout.

“He came back saying the Red Sox fans were the greatest in the world,” said his sister, Laurie Brady.

With his intense work schedule, Taylor would tape Red Sox games. Then on Saturdays, his boys – Mason, 10, Weston, 9, and even Jackson, 4, who is autistic – would watch the team together.

When Mason was drafted by a team called the Yankees, it bugged Taylor so much that he decided to coach a team called the Red Sox. But that was to be next year, and next year never came.

Taylor and six other people were aboard the Life Flight chopper that was transporting a man injured in the Grand Canyon. They were near Flagstaff Medical Center when the crash occurred. Only Taylor survived, but he was in critical condition. Most of his bones were broken and he was unrecognizable, according to Brady.

For five days, Taylor’s sons were not allowed into the Intensive Care Unit to see their father because of the extent of his injuries.

But when things took a turn for the worse on the Fourth of July, the sons were ushered in to say goodbye to their father.

“My dad was in there, [too],” said Brady. “Mason stayed in there with his dad for a while, holding his hand. He couldn’t let go. He was in there watching highlights of Red Sox games, believe it or not. Mason just looked up at him with tears in his eyes and said, ‘Now I will never be able to get to see a real Red Sox game with my dad.”

A Nation responds

Jim Taylor, a Vietnam veteran, broke down in tears but then recovered and hugged his grandson. He told him that although his dad wouldn’t be there physically, he would always be there “in spirit and in heart.” And he, too, promised to somehow get them to Fenway.
Brady posted a letter addressed to Red Sox fans on MLB’s Red Sox fan forum relating the tragedy.

“I’m writing in hopes that there will be someone, somewhere that will read this story. Somehow, someway our family will find a way to get my brother’s boys to a Red Sox game. With all the expenses of the funeral we may need help . . .”

And Red Sox Nation took it from there.

“I was suspicious at first,” said Tom Nardozzi, a Red Sox fan from New Hampshire who quarterbacked the drive. “I asked her what she needed and she said, ‘Damn near everything.’ ”

More than $2,000 in donations from as far away as New Zealand and Denmark were collected by Cyn Donnelly, a longtime Red Sox blogger. JetBlue donated eight round-trip tickets from Salt Lake City to Boston. Fight promoter Al Valenti took the family to Regina’s in the North End but when he tried to pick up the check, the restaurant told him there would be no check.

Nardozzi bought the Taylor family eight box seats just up from the Red Sox’ on-deck circle. But he didn’t want to talk about his act of kindness.

“Whaddya mean why am I doing this? It just seemed the right thing to do. A 10-year-old boy loses his dad. The common connection is Red Sox baseball. I love the Boston Red Sox. Why not?”

For the three Taylor children, game day – last Friday night against the Central Division-leading Chicago White Sox – was shrouded in secrecy.

“It was all a secret,” said their mother, Traci. “They only know that they will see a Red Sox game. They asked only if they could get there a half-hour earlier, they’d love to try to get an autograph.”

They also said they wanted to go to the Museum of Science. They heard that the Bloody Sock was on display.

But they were in for treats far greater than dirty socks. Mr. Bloody Sock himself, Curt Schilling, agreed to meet the boys in the media room before the game. One condition, according to his publicist. No media. The Red Sox also appointed the two oldest Taylor kids honorary bat boys and the entire family would be given a VIP tour and allowed on the field pregame.

“[Schilling] hugged the kids, picked them out by name, he was great,” according to Nardozzi. “He gave them signed jerseys.” …..

Go here for the rest of the story.