October 12, 2008

AP Reporters Err in Claiming No Nobel Nominee Analysis of Current Market Melt

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:49 pm

ap_logo.gifPoor Karl Ritter and Matt Moore of the Associated Press must have a lot of time to kill, a dearth of ideas, and a studied disinterest in accuracy as they await the awarding of the Nobel Prize for Economics in Stockholm, Sweden on Monday. A list of past winners is here.

Besides lamenting that no woman has ever won the Economics Prize (so?), the AP pair felt the need to relate the financial bailout passed by Congress and signed by the President a week ago, and the current steep stock market decline that followed it (or, as yours truly and Investors Business Daily would argue, occurred because of it), to who might win the award.

Along the way, they, as AP reporters are wont to do, erred, and quite seriously.

Here’s how their report, weirdly entitled “Amid the meltdown, economics Nobel no easy pick,” began (bold is mine):

If history is any guide, this year’s Nobel economics prize will award the developers of economic theories that have had the time to take root, grow and prove resilient.

The past also indicates that Monday’s winner will probably be an American male who will have done the bulk of his work several decades ago, not someone who has analyzed issues related to the financial meltdown that is now throwing capitalism into turmoil worldwide. Also, no woman has ever won the economics prize from the Nobel Foundation since it was first handed out in 1969.

But unless one really believes that professional economists just sign any old thing that crosses their desk, Ritter and Moore are incorrect that all nominees suffer from a dearth of knowledge of issues relating to what the pair describe as the “meltdown.” At least two nominees under serious consideration looked at the matters involved closely enough to be among the over 160 economists who signed a letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate on or shortly after September 24, 2008. The 160 signers also included at least three current Nobel laureates.

One of the nominees for this year’s prize who signed the letter, Lars Peter Hansen of the University of Chicago, was named by the AP pair. The other, Harvard’s Oliver Hart, is mentioned at an October 10 New York Times Freakonomics Blog entry by Steven D. Levitt.

Both gentlemen are among those who signed onto the following letter:

As economists, we want to express to Congress our great concern for the plan proposed by Treasury Secretary Paulson to deal with the financial crisis. We are well aware of the difficulty of the current financial situation and we agree with the need for bold action to ensure that the financial system continues to function. We see three fatal pitfalls in the currently proposed plan:

1) Its fairness. The plan is a subsidy to investors at taxpayers’ expense. Investors who took risks to earn profits must also bear the losses. Not every business failure carries systemic risk. The government can ensure a well-functioning financial industry, able to make new loans to creditworthy borrowers, without bailing out particular investors and institutions whose choices proved unwise.

2) Its ambiguity. Neither the mission of the new agency nor its oversight are clear. If taxpayers are to buy illiquid and opaque assets from troubled sellers, the terms, occasions, and methods of such purchases must be crystal clear ahead of time and carefully monitored afterwards.

3) Its long-term effects. If the plan is enacted, its effects will be with us for a generation. For all their recent troubles, America’s dynamic and innovative private capital markets have brought the nation unparalleled prosperity. Fundamentally weakening those markets in order to calm short-run disruptions is desperately short-sighted.

For these reasons we ask Congress not to rush, to hold appropriate hearings, and to carefully consider the right course of action, and to wisely determine the future of the financial industry and the U.S. economy for years to come.

I first learned of the letter from this article at Bloomberg News. If the actual contents of the letter were posted at any news site, I couldn’t find it.

Considering its gravity and its source, a Google News search on “economists letter bailout” (not in quotes) between September 24-30 surfaced pretty light mention of the letter. The only front-page story about it appeared on Page A01 of the Washington Post on Friday, September 26. Other mentions were clearly less prominent. The ones I found were at a Reason blog post, a New York Times “Talking Business” column by Joe Nocera, the Harvard Crimison, a Chicago TV station and a semi-coherent LA Times column by Joel Stein. I doubt there were many other citations of the letter, and could locate no reports about it by AP.

The report by Ritter and Moore shows that that weak original news coverage begets weaker and erroneous subsequent news coverage — enough in this case to blow away the reporters’ core premise that no one “who has analyzed issues related to the financial meltdown” is up for Monday’s Nobel. They’re flat-out wrong.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

In 1996, Dems Were ‘Proud to be Associated with’ Ayers and Dohrn

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:41 am

AyersDohrn1982On August 27, 1996, in the midst of that year’s Democratic National Convention in the Windy City, the Chicago Tribune had interesting news (posted in full at my web host for fair use and discussion purposes) about what was then a new Internet initiative.

That Tribune story serves to confirm why the distancing from and supposed ignorance of the past activities of William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn by presidential candidate Barack Obama and other members of the Democratic Party ring very hollow.

James Coates’s Tribune piece begins with an all-too-typical whitewash of the pair’s violent past. But what’s revealing is what Ayers and Dohrn were involved with, and who else was involved with them (bolds are mine):

Bernardine Dohrn and William Ayers took to the streets 28 years ago to protest what they considered the injustices in the world, especially the war in Vietnam.

The former leaders of the Weather Underground still are fighting injustice, but–adapting to the changing landscape of American politics–their current arena is the World Wide Web.

After Dohrn, who wound up on the FBI’s Most Wanted List, and Ayers resolved their legal woes, they wound up, together, in the Chicago area.

They work in social programs–she at Northwestern University and he at the University of Illinois at Chicago–and today enjoy the status of folk heroes in leftist circles. And they have discovered the Internet as a medium for social change.

….. Tuesday night, Dohrn and Ayers will open their home in Hyde Park to debut an ideologically oriented site on the World Wide Web, where the whole skein of 1996′s protest movements are within the click of a computer mouse for all who call it up at http://www.democrats.com.

The invitation reads “The Progressive Wing of the Democratic Party hasn’t gone underground …. We’re on the Internet!”

Dohrn and Ayers did not respond to requests to discuss the Web site plans, which also involve more mainstream Democrats, including David Lytel, who set up President Clinton’s Web site at http://www.whitehouse.gov.

“There is a lot of room for different ideas in progressive politics, and we’re proud to be associated with Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers,” said Lytel.

An Internet Archive search indicates that Democrats.com domain was active until late 1996, went dormant, and was revived in early 2000. The first re-appearance of meaningful content occurred in August 2000.

The site’s revival was co-engineered by Mr. “proud to be associated with Dohrn and Ayers” himself, David Lytel, as shown at democrats.com’s current “About” page:

Democrats.com is an independent community of Democratic Party and progressive activists. We proudly support the Democratic National Committee (http://democrats.org) and its chairman Howard Dean, but they do not control us in any way.

Democrats.com was launched at the 2000 Democratic convention in Los Angeles by two veteran Democratic consultants Bob Fertik and David Lytel. (Lytel left at the end of 2002 to launch ReDefeatBush.com.)

Our vision was to create the leading news and community Web site for the progressive base of the Democratic Party, in order to lead the fight against the radical right and the Republican Party. We called ourselves the “Aggressive Progressives.”

The site’s History page also notes no pre-2000 activity.

How convenient that democrats.com conceals its true origins.

A 2003 version of the “About” page indicates that Mr. Lytel and others weren’t mere web-savvy iconoclasts, but were (and perhaps still are) actively involved in Democratic political campaigns:

Democrats.com was founded by two veteran Democrats, David Lytel and Bob Fertik.  We operate the premier online community site for Democratic voters and activists, and create and implement effective Internet campaign services for Democratic campaigns and committees.

We draw on the expertise of talented and committed Democrats in the Internet community, giving us a unique combination of partisan dedication, technical expertise and energetic commitment to innovation.

The site even had its own Director of Candidate Services.

Scroll down that 2003 “About” page, and you see what appears to be a list of mainstream Democratic luminaries.

The Tribune piece demonstrates that for all these years a large plurality, if not a majority, of Democrats who hold the levers of power, up to and including Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, really haven’t had a problem welcoming Ayers, Dohrn, and their unrepentant views of their violent pasts, capsulized in this infamous September 11, 2001 article about Ayers in the New York Times, into their inner circle. So it shouldn’t be all that surprising that Barack Obama didn’t see any problem either, until people outside the fever swamp of so-called “progressive” thought called him on it.

It’s safe to say that most of the rest of the country doesn’t share the forgiving view apparently held by so many powerful Democrats of someone (Ayers) who said of his domestic terrorism: “I don’t regret setting bombs ….. I feel we didn’t do enough.” When asked if he would do it all again, he replied, ”I don’t want to discount the possibility.”

It’s also safe to say that the degree of sympathy and support Ayers and Dohrn have within Democratic circles — in some cases, as noted above, being seen as “folk heroes” — has been furiously downplayed by the media elite, many of whom, like the Tribune’s Coates in 1996, seem to have similar leanings.

If they were to be installed as members of an Obama administration, it’s legitimate to ask what those who have been okay with the “mainstreaming” of Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn all these years would do with their newfound powers. Will they want to “do it all again” — this time as de facto oppressors? And would a President Obama simply let them run rampant over those whom they disagree with or dislike?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Positivity: Pius XII tried to stop the war, saved as many Jews as he could, anticipated the (Vatican) Council, Pope says

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:01 am

From Vatican City:

10/09/2008 16:43

Among thousands of the faithful, including “Synodal Fathers” from around the world, Benedict XVI led the Mass in St Peter’s Basilica for the 50th anniversary of the death of the Pope who cried “Nothing is lost with peace; everything can be lost with war.” Fifty years after the death of Pius XII on 9 October 1958 Benedict XVI is praying that his cause for beatification may “continue smoothly.” He also looked at his predecessor’s actions on behalf of the persecuted, Jews included, which Israeli leaders have acknowledged, also focusing on his magisterial action which led Paul VI to consider him a “precursor” of the Second Vatican Council whose documents cite him 188 times.

Benedict XVI draws the portrait of a pope, the last one born in Rome, by looking first at his personal and ascetic side, inspired by the Book of Sirach which was read during the Mass and which says that those who want to follow the Lord must prepare themselves for trials, difficulties and suffering, and by Saint Peter who exhorted the Christians of Asia Minor to “rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials” (1 Pt, 1:6).

“In light of these Biblical texts we can read about the earthly life of Pope Pacelli,” said the Pope. They “can help us, above all, to understand the source from which he drew courage and patience for his pontifical ministry during the troubled years of the Second World War and those that followed, no less complex, of reconstruction and difficult international relations known as the “Cold War’.”

In discussing Pope Pacelli’s life the Holy Father looked among other things at his actions as nuncio in Germany where “he left behind grateful memories, especially for his cooperation with Benedict XV in trying the stop the “useless slaughter” of the Great War and his early understanding of the danger of the monstrous ideology of National Socialism and its pernicious anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic roots.”

But Pius XII’s work is especially linked to the period of the Second World War. And here Benedict XVI firmly laid claim to what Pope Pacelli actually did on behalf of Jews.

“The war highlighted the love he felt for his ‘beloved Rome’, love expressed in the great charitable work he undertook on behalf of the persecuted without distinction of religion, ethnicity, nationality or political leanings. When, once the city was occupied, he was repeatedly advised to leave the Vatican to save himself, his answer was resolutely always the same: “I will not leave Rome and my post, even at the cost of my life” (cf Summarium, p.186)”.

“How can we forget his radio message of Christmas 1942?” said the Pope. “In a voice stirred by emotion he deplored the situation of “hundreds of thousands of people who through no fault of their own, sometimes only because of their nationality or race, are bound for death or who slowly waste away (AAS, XXXV, 1943, p. 23), a clear reference to the deportation and extermination of the Jews. He often acted secretly and in silence because, given the actual situation of that complex historical moment, he saw that this was the only way to avoid the worse and save as many Jews as possible. At the end of the war and at the time of his death because of his many actions he received many and unanimous expressions of gratitude from the highest authorities of the Jewish world, people like Israel’s Foreign Minister Golda Meir who wrote: “During the ten years of Nazi terror, when our people went through the horrors of martyrdom, the Pope raised his voice to condemn the persecutors and commiserate with their victims,” ending by movingly saying “We mourn a great servant of peace.”

Unfortunately the historical debate over the Servant of God Pius XII, which has not always been untroubled, has overlooked all the aspects of his multi-faceted pontificate.”

But Pius XII must also be remembered for his vast magisterial work. “He delivered many speeches, addresses and messages to scientists, doctors and people from a variety of walks of life, some of which are still extraordinarily relevant today and continue to be concrete points of reference.”

Paul VI, who was a faithful aide for many years, described him as an erudite, an attentive scholar, open to modern ways of research and culture, with an ever-strong and coherent faith in the principles of human reasoning as well as in the intangible repository of the faith’s truths. He considered him a precursor to the Second Vatican Council (cf the Angelus of 10 March 1974)”.

Among the many writings that “deserve mentioning” Benedict XVI cited “the Encyclical Mystici Corporis, released on 29 June 1943 when the war was still raging, in which he described the spiritual and visible relationships that unite men to the Word Incarnate and proposed integrating this perspective to all the main themes of ecclesiology, offering for the first time a dogmatic and theological synthesis that would provide the basis for the Conciliar Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium.”

“How can we not mention the considerable impetus this pontiff gave to the Church’s missionary activity with the Encyclicals Evangelii praecones (1951) and Fidei donum (1957), in which he stressed the duty of each community to announce the Gospels to the nations, as the Second Vatican Council would do, with courageous vigour.”

Go here for the rest of the story.