November 30, 2008

Things I’d Like to Post About Today ….. (113008, Morning)

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:30 am

….. But I Don’t Have Any Time For:

  • IBDeditorials.com calls out the president-elect and his party for talking down the economy. This is a bit late; after all the POR Economy’s architects — Pelosi, Obama, and Reid — “successfully” and proactively worked to take it down beginning in June.
  • Michelle Malkin’s question is a good one, given all the grief President Bush got (examples here and here) over his supposedly over-opulent Second Inaugural — “Where are all the Anti-Inauguration activists now?”
  • There is a better headline than the ones used by Hot Air and Canada’ National Post about the following –

    The Carleton University Students’ Association has voted to drop a cystic fibrosis charity as the beneficiary of its annual Shinearama fundraiser, supporting a motion that argued the disease is not “inclusive” enough.

    Cystic fibrosis “has been recently revealed to only affect white people, and primarily men” said the motion read Monday night to student councillors, who voted almost unanimously in favour of it.

    The headline would be, “Carleton Students to White Cystic Fibrosis Sufferers: Drop Dead.”

  • Speaking of people unhappy with universities, Norma at Collecting My Thoughts has closed her wallet to her alma mater, the University of Illinois, over its inclusion of domestic terrorist Bill Ayers as a faculty member. More alums should do the same.
  • Here’s an idea adapted from a Thanksgiving dinner discussion — The Obamas should name their new dog Taxes. Barack Obama will then be able to claim that he kept a campaign promise without killing the economy — “While in office, I raised Taxes.”
November 29, 2008

Couldn’t Help But Comment ….. (112908, Morning)

Our Founding Documents can be a real pain in the butt but must be heeded (or amended), Part 1. This makes whether Hillary Clinton can be permitted to be Secretary of State relevant:

So, “Is Hillary Clinton Unconstitutional?” In a word, Yes — or, to be more precise, a Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would be unconstitutional.

The Emoluments Clause of Article I, section 6 provides “No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time.” As I understand it, President Bush’s executive order from earlier this year “encreased” the “Emoluments” (salary) of the office of Secretary of State. Last I checked, Hillary Clinton was an elected Senator from New York at the time. Were she to be appointed to the civil Office of Secretary of State, she would be being appointed to an office for which “the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased” during the time for which she was elected to serve as Senator. The plain language of the Emoluments Clause would thus appear to bar her appointment … if the Constitution is taken seriously (which it more than occasionally isn’t on these matters, of course).

I think the fact that the salary increase at State was meant to be only a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), something Eugene Volokh mentioned in a previous post at his place, is helpful but not decisive. The key, in my opinion, is whether the COLA was or wasn’t greater than the actual cost of living during the period since the last increase. You could probably parse it down to metro DC cost of living if necessary. But if the increase is still greater than national and local inflation, there’s a problem. Conscientious politicians, and the constitutional professor lecturer who is now president-elect, should be paying attention to this. Unfortunately, this interesting civics lesson will more than likely be ignored.

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Our Founding Documents can be a real pain in the butt but must be heeded (or amended), Part 2. I wish it weren’t so, but that makes the Obama supposedly-dead-but-not-really birth certificate controversy relevant.

It’s easily curable, but:

Obama has refused to disclose (i.e., show us — Ed.) the vault copy of his Hawaiian birth certificate. This raises the question whether he himself has established that he is eligible to be President. To date, no state or federal election official, nor any government authority, has verified that he ever established conclusively that he meets the eligibility standard under the Constitution.

The question not being asked by the holders of power, who dismiss this as a rightwing conspiracy, is what’s the downside of disclosing? This is a legitimate issue of inquiry because Barack Obama has turned it into one. The growing number of people who demand an answer in conformance with the Constitution are doing their work; the people’s watchdogs aren’t.

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The November 26 edition of the Carnival of Ohio Politics, assembled by Lisa Renee of Glass City Jungle, is here.

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Let’s hope this end of the run isn’t permanent. I think the Keeler & Kyle show would be the perfect answer to a resurrection of Wide Open, with maybe more emphasis on statewide matters …. but that probably makes too much sense.

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This should mark the permanent end of Michael Vick’s football career (WARNING: disturbing verbiage follows)

More Michael Vick Barbarism Bared
USDA report details how football star killed pit bulls, lied to FBI

“In the most disturbing account yet of Michael Vick’s dogfighting operation, a federal investigative report details how the disgraced athlete killed pit bulls by hanging them from a nylon cord nailed to a tree and drowned others in a five gallon bucket of water.”

…. “government informant told investigators that Vick twice placed family pets into the ring with pit bulls because he and his cohorts “thought it was funny to watch the pit bulls…injure or kill the other dogs.’”

….. “After Vick agreed last year to plead guilty to a conspiracy charge, he was interviewed by federal agents and claimed that he “never actually killed a dog,” though he admitted watching his friends hang, shoot, and electrocute pit bulls. But after failing an October 2007 FBI polygraph test “as it related to the killings of the dogs,” Vick recanted his denial and ‘admitted taking part in the actual hanging of the dogs.’”

Vick had his shot to come clean and totally failed. If he had, and had done so with legitimate remorse, I think most people would have forgiven him. As it is, I can’t type what I think of this guy and stay within this blog’s standards. I don’t see any justification for an NFL team taking on this kind of baggage. Yes, I know he’s filed for bankruptcy. So?

Positivity: We’re doing some things just right.

Filed under: Positivity,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 6:58 am

From Iraq (the snark doesn’t change the overall positivity of the post):

Us Mercenary Bastid War Profiteer Contractor Parasites got a break from teaching Iraqi kaydets how to stay alive after slipping the surly bonds of earth at about noon today. I stopped to chat with two of the Kurdish kaydets in Class 70. One’s best bud is a Sunni and the other has a pal who’s Shi’a.

As I was walking to the DFAC, I stopped to exchange pleasantries with a couple of the Turkish Ell-Tees who are here as Liaison Officers — the pilots of the Iraqi 3rd Squadron had invited them to be their guests at lunch.

….. Every Iraqi soldier I saw this morning wished me a Happy Thanksgiving.

I’d like to pass those wishes along to you guys…

Go here for the full post and comments.

November 28, 2008

Thoroughly Debunked ‘Food Stamp Challenge’ Just Won’t Go Away

FoodStampMontageHere we go again.

It has been 19 months since Mona Charen and yours truly obliterated the legitimacy of the basic premise of the “Food Stamp Challenges” that began popping in various parts of the USA last year. The false premise is that the USDA’s calculated benefit for recipients is all they have to buy food.

It has been over a year since Colorado couple Ari and Jennifer Armstrong proved they could live even on the artificially low “Challenge” amount (which at the time was $21 per person per week).

Nonetheless, Maggie Thurber at Thurber’s Thoughts tells us that the bogus “Challenge” is back in Ohio’s Lucas County, home of Toledo.

Maggie notes that this time the “Challengers” are throwing in a new wrinkle (second bold is mine):

The idea is to ‘challenge’ various elected officials and media to live (i.e., buy food — Ed.) on $23 during a one-week period of time. The $23 is the average supplemental support that families on food stamps get – per person.

….. When this bogus challenge was issued last year, bloggers and media rightly debunked it (predominantly bloggers — Ed.), showed it as a lobbying effort disguised as outreach and demonstrated how it was possible to live on this amount, even though no one – repeat NO ONE – has to live on this dollar amount a week when they are on food stamps.

So what’s a group to do in light of these facts? They add a twist. In light of the undeniable facts, they say you can live on this amount of money, but not healthily.

Maggie’s link is to a column by Toledo Blade reporter Kate Giammarise, who chronicled her attempt to buy food on $23 a week. As you will see, that is much lower (43%) than the program’s actual benefit levels for those who have no other resources.

In hopes of feeding the info-undernourished “Challengers” some facts, I’ll add a “twist” to my presentation.

From the USDA’s site, these are the much higher Maximum Monthly Allotments (i.e., benefits) for varying household sizes, effective October 1, 2008, followed on the right by the weekly costs per persons of various ages of what the USDA calls its Thrifty Meal Plan:

FoodStampMMAtable100108USDAthriftyMealPlans1008

How totally unsurprising that the two sets of numbers line up so well, in fact erring a bit on the side of generosity (especially considering economies that can be achieved when buying for multiple household members).

I should also note that the Allotment amounts listed above are an average of 8.5% higher than the previous year. That’s because their increases are pegged to an index that measure inflation in food costs, not overall inflation.

As has been explained frequently, the $23 per person per week the “Challenges” are using is less than the amounts in the Maximum Monthly Allotment table because the program is means tested, as the USDA also clearly states on the page containing the allotments table (bold is mine):

The net monthly income of the household is multiplied by .3, and the result is subtracted from the maximum allotment for the household size to find the household’s allotment. This is because food stamp households are expected to spend about 30 percent of their resources on food.

As to nutrition — If you go to the USDA’s “Cost of Food at Home” page and click on the PDF for October, the most recent month available, you’ll see that the table’s first footnote says the following (bold is mine):

The Food Plans represent a nutritious diet at four different cost levels.

What about that sentence is so hard for the “Challengers” to understand?

What I said back in March, with minor updating, still holds:

Those who have a problem with benefit levels need to tell us what, if anything, is wrong with the formulas that reduce Maximum Allotments, and work with federal legislators to change them. But instead of doing that constructive work, politicians and advocates have spent over a year taking part in media-grandstanding “Food Stamp Challenges” and other silly exercises, all based on the bogus assumption, without providing any proof, that the net benefit is “all that participants have for food.” By insisting on (excuse the expression) feeding us this garbage, they’ve squandered their credibility. If they really believe that Food Stamp recipients are being shortchanged, they have, by posturing on a false premise, helped to perpetuate that situation, and have done nothing to alleviate it.

I’ve just set up “Food Stamp Challenge” as a Google News Alert.  Despite the thorough debunking, it’s obvious that new “Challenges” are going to continue to periodically pop up, annoy, and deceive. It’s also obvious that many media members will continue to swallow their disinformation.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Pelosi-Obama-Reid Accountability for the Economy Goes Back to June 1

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Environment,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:35 am

Note: This article originally appeared at Pajamas Media on Wednesday under the title “Obama Has Already Helped Wreck the Economy.”
________________________________________________

After an awful week in the stock market, Team Obama sent its acolytes out to the Sunday morning shows to let everyone know that the president-elect’s campaign promise to impose tax increases on higher-income earners as quickly as possible probably won’t kick in until at least 2011.

By doing so, Obama and his inner circle finally, if only tacitly, acknowledged what they refused to recognize during the presidential campaign, namely that economic expectations matter in the here and now.

This opens the door to the incoming administration’s next required admission — that their candidate, their party, and the expectations they created during the presidential campaign, have been mostly responsible for the steep dive in the equity markets, and, nearly six months ago, put the economy into what will probably officially be declared a recession after this year’s fourth quarter. Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, and Harry Reid did this in the areas of energy, taxation, and, with heavy assistance from Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke, bailouts. With the exception of forcing, with the help of public opinion, a temporary lifting of the Outer Continental Shelf offshore drilling ban, there is little George Bush or the Republican minorities in Congress have been able to do to stop them, or to manage expectations.

The recession, once it becomes official, will thus richly deserve designation as the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Recession. Further, Obama’s and the Democratic Party’s performance on the economy must be benchmarked from June 1, 2008 — not Election Day; not Inauguration Day; and not, as traditionally has been the case, from October 1 of the new President’s first year in office.

Evidence of the POR Triumvirate’s virtually unilateral damage to the economy began appearing as early as the fourth quarter of 2007, the first quarter of negative growth in six years . The POR Recession itself began in June. The historically steep downward revision in second-quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth from an annualized 3.3% to 2.8% in the government’s final September announcement was more than likely due to deterioration that occurred in the final month of the quarter.

It’s not at all a coincidence that June was the month in which it became crystal clear that despite sky-high oil prices, Pelosi, Obama, and Reid were hostile to the idea of drilling for more oil — offshore or anywhere else. Pelosi insisted that “We can’t drill our way out of our problems.” In the Speaker’s world, this means that you don’t drill at all. Reid declared that we have to stop using oil and coal because “it’s making us sick .” Obama seemed pleased that gas prices were so high, saying only that “I think that I would have preferred a gradual adjustment ” instead of the sharp spike. What a guy.

As would be expected, the country’s businesses, investors, and consumers, never having witnessed a political party dedicate itself so completely to starving its own national economy, reacted very negatively to all of this. I said at the time that “Businesses and investors are responding to their total lack of seriousness by battening down the hatches and preparing for the worst.” Subsequent events have validated that observation.

Even as fuel prices have plummeted, the siege mentality in America remains. That’s because, until Sunday’s minor bow to deferring them, the POR Economy’s architects seemed determined to ram massive Social Security and other tax hikes down the throats of the most productive 5% of Americans in the name of creating handouts (oh, I’m sorry, “refundable tax credits”) for millions of others. Americans know that you don’t increase taxes on anyone in a slowing economy, unless your goal is to slow it down even more. Until Sunday, that seemed to be what Pelosi, Obama, and Reid intended. But deferral is totally inadequate, both short-term and long-term. Instead of putting off tax hikes until the economy can supposedly “afford” them, what we need right here, right now, is another across-the-board tax cut. This would quickly free up money for capital investment, and lead to stronger growth when recovery comes.

The cascade of bailouts finished the job of establishing recessionary conditions. These too can be laid at the feet of Pelosi, Obama, Reid, and Democrats in previous Congresses. The summer implosions at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — enterprises that were run into the ground by Democratic cronies who established irresponsibly lax lending rules that ultimately ruined the mortgage marketplace — exacerbated financial-sector problems elsewhere, and led to the SUCKUP (Seemingly Unlimited Cash Kitty Under Paulson) in late September.

Other POR Economy agenda items loom ominously in the background: “windfall” profits taxes on energy producers, unionization of the unwilling through secret ballot-ending “card check” legislation, and a plethora of economy-choking environmental initiatives, to name just a few.

Collectively, these factors have weighed down the economy for nearly half a year. In recognition of when they began doing what they have done, Team Obama’s and the POR Economy’s performance must therefore be benchmarked against where things stood on June 1, 2008, as follows:

  • Inflation (June 2007 through May 2008) — 4.2%.
  • Unemployment — 5.5% (as of the May report ; currently 6.5% ).
  • Prime Rate — 5.0%.
  • DJIA — 12638 (down 36% as of the November 21 close).
  • S&P 500 — 1400 (down 43% as of that same close).
  • NASDAQ — 2523 (down 49%).
  • Quarterly GDP growth before the June-related adjustment — 3.3%.

Positivity: Student, 88, wins Berlin doctorate denied for 65 years

Filed under: Education,Positivity — Tom @ 7:04 am

From Berlin:

Dimitri Stein submitted his thesis on electrical engineering in 1943 but university officials refused to grant him an examination because of his Jewish ancestry.

Berlin — Berlin Technical University has awarded a doctorate to an 88-year-old man whose studies were obstructed by the Nazis, according to the weekly newspaper Die Zeit.

Dimitri Stein submitted his thesis on electrical engineering in 1943 but university authorities refused him an oral examination because he had Jewish ancestry.

His professor arranged a hiding place for him and he survived the Second World War, emigrating to the United States where he worked as an academic and engineer and went into business.

Stein said he asked in the 1950s if could be examined but received a rude rejection. When he asked again in 2006, professors were embarrassed and set to work to right the old wrong before it was too late. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.

November 27, 2008

Positivity: George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation

Filed under: Positivity,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:01 am

This post is a BizzyBlog Thanksgiving tradition.

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Link:

General Thanksgiving
By the President of the United States of America
A PROCLAMATION

WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLIC THANSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed;– for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish Constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;– for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;– and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions;– to enable us all, whether in publick or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us); and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.

(signed) G. Washington

November 26, 2008

Positivity: Michael Yon — ‘Iraq’s New Dawn; Victory Across the Board’

Filed under: Positivity,Taxes & Government,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 1:30 pm

From Baghdad:

Victory Across the Board
By MICHAEL YON

The Iraq War is over.

Flames still burst from various sources and wild cards remain, such as the potential that Muqtada al-Sadr might stomp his feet and encourage his diminished militias to attack us. Yet support for Sadr among Shia is hardly monolithic. In fact, many Shia view him as a simpleton whose influence derives strictly from respect for his father. Others cite the threat from Iran, but the Iranian participation in the fighting here remains overstated.

Nobody knows what the future will bring, but the civil war has completely ended.

The Iraqi army and police grow stronger by the month, and even the National Police (NP) are gaining a degree of respect and credibility.

As recently as last year, the NPs were considered nothing more than militia members in uniform who murdered with impunity. To go on patrol with NPs was to invite attack. But the Americans worked to help alleviate the disdain.

On one occasion, US soldiers peacefully disarmed a local militia that was apparently about to ambush NPs who had harassed it the same morning, and the soldiers sent the NPs to their station and later gave the locals back their guns. The next day, we were at the NP station as the US commander, Lt-Col. James Crider, gave professional instruction to the NP commanders.

Over time, the extremely frustrating process of mentoring the NPs worked. Last week, I went on foot patrol with US forces and NPs in the same Baghdad neighborhood. Kids were coming up to say hello. And the same people who used to tell me they hated the NPs were actually greeting them.

Similar dynamics have occurred in places like Anbar, Diyala and Nineveh. Tour after tour of US soldiers carried the ball successively, further down the field.

Through time, trust and bonds have been built between the US and Iraqi soldiers, police and citizens. The United States has a new ally in Iraq. And if both sides continue to nurture this bond, it will create a permanent partnership of mutual benefit. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.

Extra-Legal Homeschooler Harassment: Happens Often, But It’s Not News

This is not a promo for the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) per se, as there may be other similarly effective organizations out there to help families who homeschool their kids.

But if the following examples don’t prove that homeschooled children and their parents need to have access to legal help at a moment’s notice, I don’t know what will. I will present blood-boiling excerpts here, but strongly advise all to read the full stories at the links.

The HSLDA reported the following incident at their web site on November 6 (HT One News Now):

The Smiths (named changed to protect privacy), an HSLDA member family in Miami, received an unexpected note on their front door from a social worker asking them to call the number on an attached business card. Little did they know, this was the beginning a nightmare they would not soon forget.

The father, a doctor, telephoned as requested. The social worker to whom he spoke asked to meet the family. Dr. Smith requested that the meeting be at a neutral site at a time that would minimize interruptions in his busy work schedule at a medical clinic. The social worker refused, and declared she would arrive at the Smith home the next morning to “enter the home and interview the children.”

Dr. Smith then asked what the allegations were. The social worker refused to answer, but indicated she knew the family homeschooled. Sure enough, when the social worker showed up at the Smiths’ doorstep the next morning, she again refused to explain what the allegations against the family were. This clearly violated federal law, which states that social workers must reveal allegations at the initial time of contact.

The social worker also did not have a search warrant, so Mrs. Smith initially refused to let her enter the family home. This prompted the social worker to call for two police officers.

With this intimidation, Mrs. Smith allowed the social worker to start talking to the children on the front porch. During the first interview, the social worker went so far as to lift up the shirt of the Smiths’ 9-year-old daughter, which greatly embarrassed the girl. Later, the family learned that the allegations had nothing to do with their 9-year-old.

At this point, Mrs. Smith called HSLDA, desperate for help.

….. (at one point) the social worker had one of the police officers move toward Dr. Smith, and she told the officer to handcuff him so she could remove his children from the home.

After being threatened to this extreme, the family felt they had no choice but to let the social worker into their home to interview the children, who were now crying and wailing. During the interview, the social worker would not let the witness the family provided be present. She also proceeded to lift the shirts and clothing of each child, even those whom the allegations did not concern.

The social worker found nothing—but said still she wanted the family to “undergo a formal psycho-social assessment.”

On November 18, HSLDA reported on a drawn-out drama in Missouri:

In March, Shari Egarta told the elementary school teachers for her four children that she would be homeschooling them the following year. In May, she followed up with a letter to the principal. On the last day of school, a school counselor told Mrs. Egarta to fill out certain forms so she could homeschool. Mrs. Egarta patiently explained that she had already given school notice, and was not required to fill out any forms. The counselor insisted that she had to in order to homeschool. Mrs. Egarta explained that she had read Missouri’s law and it said nothing about mandatory forms. The counselor said, “The laws have changed.”

Giving the counselor the benefit of the doubt, Mrs. Egarta brought the form home to read it. It was called the “Homeschool Notification Form.” Near the bottom, it said that it would be sent to the prosecuting attorney’s office. Mrs. Egarta double checked and confirmed that the laws had not changed, and no such forms were required. She explained this to a school official who became very hostile, frightening her young daughter who was with her, and said she had to sign the papers or she would report her. When Mrs. Egarta was firm, the official said, “You just can’t do that, and you are not going to get away with it!”

Although Mrs. Egarta did not know it at the time, the school had kept the children on the rolls, so when school began, the school’s official records began recording unexcused absences for all four children.

….. (ultimately) the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office filed misdemeanor information against Mr. and Mrs. Egarta.

Now in court and facing criminal charges, the family contacted Home School Legal Defense Association for help.

….. After numerous rounds of correspondence with (HSLDA attorney Scott) Woodruff, the assistant prosecuting attorney seemed to understand that something had gone awry and sensibly dismissed the prosecution. The family was delighted.

The attorney for the school system was not so forthcoming, however. He did not acknowledge that the school system had erred or offer any concrete steps to prevent such errors in the future.

This final incident, reported by HSLDA on November 7, “appears” to be not as threatening (but see the question that follows). Nonetheless it reveals dangerous prevailing attitudes, even among those whose job it is to “protect and serve” (bold is mine):

A dog warden showed up at the Jones (name changed to protect privacy) family home in Northern Ohio after receiving a tip from neighbor. She demanded entry into the family’s home, because she wanted to “see if their dog was healthy.”

Mrs. Jones, a homeschooling mother of 10, responded respectfully to this surprise intrusion by politely informing the dog warden that she had a Fourth Amendment right under the Constitution protecting her from warrantless searches and seizures. Mrs. Jones politely explained that her dog was healthy and that unless the dog warden had a search warrant, she would not allow her to come into the house or see the dog.

The dog warden became annoyed and threatened to call the police if Mrs. Jones did not allow her to see the dog. Mrs. Jones politely stood her ground, calmly stating that she would explain her right to the police officer if necessary. The dog warden spitefully called the police.

….. When one of the children opened the door, the mother quickly closed it to protect her children from this unnecessarily ugly intrusion. “You almost shut the door on his fingers,” stated the dog warden, and turning to the officer she stated, “She homeschools, too.” The officer began to criticize the mother for homeschooling, stating that she was being a poor example to her children, questioning the accuracy of her teaching, and asserting that the children had to swallow whatever she told them.

Unanswered question: If this incident is really about the pet, why does the dog warden blurt out that the kids are homeschooled?

One must also assume that these rights-trampling efforts are not of concern to the ACLU, even though the first incident directly involves Fourth Amendment rights, a supposed specialty of theirs.

Of course, as you can see from this Google News search on Home School Legal Defense Association (not in quotes), none of this rights trampling has been worthy of coverage by traditional local or national media outlets (HSLDA President Michael Smith did have an op-ed on an unrelated matter published in the Washington Times on November 8).

If incidents such as these received the attention they deserve, perhaps the country’s cadre of social workers would work on cleaning up, or cleaning out, their bad apples.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Latest Pajamas Media Column (‘Obama Has Already Helped Wreck the Economy’) Is Up

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:24 am

It’s here. Update: PJM’s Obamatrolls are not lovin’ it. The truth hurts, trolls.

The column will appear here at BizzyBlog on Friday (link won’t work until then) under the title “Pelosi-Obama-Reid Accountability for the Economy Goes Back to June 1,” after the blackout expires.

November 25, 2008

What Time of Year Is It? (Year 4 Follow-up, Part 1)

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias — Tom @ 9:36 pm

As the Christmas shopping season went into full swing in 2005, I sensed that journalists in general have a strong preference for using the term “holiday shopping” instead of “Christmas shopping” when covering business and commerce, but that when it came to people losing their jobs, they preferred to describe layoffs as relating to “Christmas.”

My instincts have been proven correct, as you can see below from the results of three different sets of Google News searches in November and December in each of the last three years (links to last year’s related posts are here, here, and here; 2006′s are here, here, and here; 2005′s are here, here, and here):

XmasVholdidayRefs2005to2007

2005-2007 News stories have overwhelmingly preferred “holiday shopping” on the commerce side, but have used “Christmas” over twice as frequently in articles about layoffs.

I’ve decided to continue to track the same items this year to see if the trend continues or changes.

Based on the first set of Google News searches during this Christmas season (done tonight at roughly 9 PM ET), the early conclusion is “mostly, yes”:

XmasVholdidayRefs2008Round1

The continued upward creep in using “holiday shopping season” for commerce continues. Meanwhile, “Christmas” is still used with over two times as much frequency in stories about layoffs, in a year in which, thanks to the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy, there will probably be many more layoffs than in the past. The percentage usage for Christmas layoffs has dropped, and it will be interesting to see if that lower percentage holds.

But for now, what I concluded during the past three years is again proving to be true in 2008:

It seems beyond dispute that there is a strong bias against using the word “Christmas” to describe not only the shopping season, as noted above, but also events, parades, and festivals that happen during the Christmas season. There is, however, a bit of an exception — “Christmas” is a word that is much more acceptable to use when “Scrooge” employers are letting people go.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

__________________________________________

UPDATE: Upon further review – It’s more troubling, if you focus on the second graphic containing Round 1 results, that the percentage component of “Christmas shopping season” has dropped by one-third (from 15.2% to 10.1%) in just three years. If that rate of decline continues, in six years it will go to zero.

UPDATE 2: For those new to the topic or who deny that some folks out there are waging a “War on Christmas,” see the topline review of this 2005 book for these examples:

  • In Illinois, state government workers were forbidden from saying the words “Merry Christmas” while at work.
  • In Rhode Island, local officials banned Christians from participating in a public project to decorate the lawn of City Hall.
  • A New Jersey school banned even instrumental versions of traditional Christmas carols.
  • Arizona school officials ruled it unconstitutional for a student to make any reference to the religious history of Christmas in a class project.

Yeah, it’s all in our imaginations (/sarc).

UPDATE 3: An example from this week, which also illustrates how quickly things have turned (bolds are mine) –

Christmas is just 30 days away, but Santa Claus won’t be stopping by Florida Gulf Coast University this holiday.

He’s not allowed on campus.

FGCU administration has banned all holiday decorations from common spaces on campus and canceled a popular greeting card design contest, which is being replaced by an ugly sweater competition. In Griffin Hall, the university’s giving tree for needy preschoolers has been transformed into a “giving garden.”

The moves boil down to political correctness.

….. In Bradshaw’s memo, he said the decision was not an “attempt to suppress expression of the holiday spirit.” Staffers will be permitted to display holiday decorations on their desks, but not on their office doors or in common spaces. Traditional workplace Christmas parties are not an issue at FGCU.

Good for reporter Dave Breitenstein for calling it PC when he sees it.

Now for evidence of how quickly the PC virus can cause institutional meltdown:

In 2001, then-President William Merwin lit the university’s official Christmas tree, a 22-foot Colorado blue spruce. Children from the college’s child care center and university choir performed traditional carols.

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Previous Posts:
- Dec. 22, 2007 — What Time of Year Is It? (Year 3 Follow-up, Part 3)
- Dec. 10, 2007 — What Time of Year Is It? (Year 3 Follow-up, Part 2)
- Nov. 28, 2007 — What Time of Year Is It? (Year 3 Follow-up, Part 1)
- Dec. 22, 2006 — What Time of Year Is It? (Year 2 Follow-up, Part 3)
- Dec. 9, 2006 — What Time of Year Is It? (Year 2 Follow-up, Part 2)
- Nov. 26, 2006 — What Time of Year Is It? (Year 2 Follow-up, Part 1)
- Nov. 11, 2006 — Will Christmas Be a Four-Letter Word This Year?
- Dec. 22, 2005 — When You Can Say What at This Time of Year (UPDATE 2)
- Dec. 7, 2005 — When You Can Say What at This Time of Year (UPDATE)
- Nov. 29, 2005 — What Time of Year Is It?
- Nov. 23, 2005 — When You Can Say What at This Time of Year

Third Quarter GDP Revised Down to an Annualized -0.5%

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:13 pm

The report from the government’s Bureau of Economic Analysis is here. The -0.5% annualized result is down from the initial reading of -0.3% a month ago.

If the third quarter remains negative, which is nearly a certainty, and the fourth quarter also comes in negative, which seems quite likely, the third quarter will have been the first official quarter of an honest-to-goodness, uncontrived, totally real recession made up of two negative-growth quarters in a row (unlike the one the Associated Press and other media outlets have rooted for and attempted to dream up during at least the five preceding years).

Not coincidentally, the second quarter of 2008 was also the first calendar quarter of the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy. As I noted in early July (“Welcome to the POR Economy: A Washington-Driven Recession or Downturn May Have Begun”), the POR Triumvirate set the foundation in June for recessionary conditions, and it’s been downhill ever since. You can’t say I didn’t call it.

The message to Nancy, “BOOHOO-OUCH” Barry, and Harry should be clear: You broke it. Now you get to try to fix it. But once (or if) it’s fixed, that won’t change the fact that three of you and your party broke it in the first place.

More elaboration is forthcoming in my latest Pajamas Media column, which should go up in the coming day, or two, or three.

Unbylined AP Report: Krugman ‘Opposed Bailout’

KrugmanThe Associated Press can’t even get it right in a three-paragraph item about a White House ceremonial event.

In a story Monday afternoon about President Bush’s meeting with two Nobel Prize-winning scientists and Nobel Economics winner Paul Krugman, the unbylined AP writer claimed that Krugman opposed the government’s financial bailout. Evidence abounds that this is not only not the case, but that Krugman wants the bailouts to be bigger, and to involve more direct government ownership.

Here are the first and third paragraphs from the story (link probably will not work after about a week):

Three 2008 Nobel laureates from the United States lined up with President George W. Bush on Monday for an Oval Office photograph to mark their achievements.

….. The third laureate at the White House was Paul Krugman of New York, who won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his work on international trade patterns. Krugman, a frequent critic of the Bush administration who opposed the recent $700 billion financial bailout, is a Princeton University professor and New York Times columnist.

Since Krugman’s supposed opposition may become folklore shortly, it’s best to take a cruise through Krugman’s blog posts to show that the claim is terribly outdated and currently flat-out wrong:

  • At Krugman’s NYT blog on September 20, he expressed “Doubts about the Rescue,” because nobody was saying “how Treasury might recapitalize firms that will be bankrupt even with the purchase facility, yet need to be kept in being.”
  • Later that day, Krugman, said “No Deal” — “Not unless Treasury explains, very clearly, why this is supposed to work, other than through having taxpayers pay premium prices for lousy assets.”
  • The very next day, September 21, Krugman wrote that “the plan does nothing to address the lack of capital unless the Treasury overpays for assets. And if that’s the real plan, Congress has every right to balk.” But at the same time, he wrote that “public intervention is needed.” He was already on board for a bailout; it was just a question of the form it would take.
  • On September 23, Krugman, to his credit, objected to Paulson’s attempt to avoid any kind of oversight.
  • On September 28, Krugman agreed with another writer, Brad DeLong, “that Swedish-style temporary nationalization is the right answer to a financial crisis; he’s right.” So he didn’t like the bailout as envisioned because it didn’t involve de facto government takeovers.
  • Here’s paydirt — On September 28, Krugman made his support, though a bit grudging, quite clear — “I don’t, in the end, have much more to say about the plan. It passes my test of no equity, no deal; that, plus the danger of financial panic if it doesn’t go through, makes it worth passing, though celebration is not in order.”

So the fact is, at crunch time, Krugman said “yes.”

As what I refer to as The Giant SUCKUP (Seemingly Unlimited Cash Kitty Under Paulson) has morphed from an asset-purchase program to a heavily coerced preferred equity investment program, subsequent posts by Krugman have, as you would expect, become more supportive. His objections lie in the fact that, so far, the government isn’t throwing more money at the problem — i.e., the de facto nationalization of the banking system isn’t happening fast enough:

  • On October 9, as it became clear that Paulson was moving to government equity investments, Krugman gave “A tentative cheer: Paulson may have been dragged kicking and screaming into doing the right thing to rescue the financial system.”
  • On October 25, Krugman supported a complaint that “despite the big-sounding numbers, financial institutions are losing capital faster than governments are putting it in.”
  • Yesterday (November 24), he said that among his objections to the Citigroup bailout, it is “quite possibly inadequate, so that Citi will be back for more.”

Why the AP writer of the Nobel article chose to characterize Krugman as opposing the bailout bill, when under open-ended provisions Treasury has been doing what Krugman prefers for about 45 days — supposedly just not enough of it — is a complete mystery. Was it sheer ignorance, or the need to show Krugman specifically disagreeing with Bush about something-anything to make sure it didn’t end positively, or something else?

I guess we’ll never know, but there’s no doubt that it’s wrong.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Couldn’t Help But Comment ….. (112508, Morning)

Before the Treasury Secretary decided to uses funds from The Great SUCKUP (Seemingly Unlimited Cash Kitty Under Paulson) to “rescue” Citigroup for the second time, the firm’s common shares were worth about $20.5 billion ($3.77 Friday closing price times 5.449 million shares).

Now the government has announced that it will inject yet another $20 billion into the bank in return for a preferred equity position, over and above the $25 billion it injected, also for preferred equity, after the infamous “gun to their heads” meeting in mid-October.

Uncle Sam will probably have much more say than shareholders in how the Citi will be run from here on out. If true, we will have witnessed a de facto nationalization.

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This won’t last, but it should — “On Wall Street, (former Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert) Rubin is facing questions about his role as director of Citigroup given the bank’s current woes.”

Trouble is, his cronies are in most key Obama economic team positions. Rubin will probably get a pass.

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It would have taken extraordinary courage for President Bush to stare down Hank Paulson and say “no” in September when the Treasury Secretary orchestrated his blackmail campaign to intimidate the executive and legislative branches into supporting the bailout with the made-up $700 billion price tag that turned into the pork-laden bailout bill with the $850 billion price tag. After all, the threat was that Bush would be seen in history as the guy who could have prevented a train wreck and didn’t — never mind that he had nothing to do with its imminence.

But I am coming to believe that Bush should have refused, and that history will ultimately show that his failure to do so was his biggest mistake. Just watch — The bailout that Bush acquiescenced to, and that Congress embraced, will allow all manner of ill-informed and hostile parties into economic and business deliberations who have no qualifications, nothing real to contribute, and no real right to even be there. The last thing those parties care about is economic growth.

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Just when you think CNN can’t sink any lower, it invents a “snub” of Bush by foreign leaders that wasn’t. Noel Sheppard at NewsBusters noted that the network’s Jeanne Moos did a whole segment debundking the myth, in effect taking the network’s Bush-Deranged Rick Sanchez to the broadcasting equivalent of the woodshed.

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Just when you think the press groupies can’t get any more blindered in their Obama worship, there’s this: The new first couple is “fabulously fit.”

Leaving aside discussion of how President-elect Barack Obama is objectively unfit to even be president (meaning that we must pray daily such fitness somehow miraculously arrives), I’ll merely point out that:

  • Jonathan Chait at the LA Times in 2005 thought that George W. Bush’s fitness was some kind of character flaw (“Bush has an obsession with exercise that borders on the creepy”).
  • Until recently, if we are to believe press reports that he has quit (Update: Maybe, maybe not), this supposedly “fabulously fit” guy has smoked, and more than a little:

ObamaSmoking.jpg

November 24, 2008

Reason Online: Clinton Admin Credited Deregulation for Good 1990s Economy

Also, 1999 New York Times Article Noted Clinton’s Enthusiasm for Financial Deregulation

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During the presidential campaign, we constantly heard from Team Obama and the media (excuse the redundancy) was how Republican-inspired deregulation had let evil bankers and capitalists run roughshod over the economy and created the current credit mess.

Well, a lot of the deregulation was GOP-inspired, but that isn’t what caused the situation that I like to refer to as The Great SUCKUP (The Seemingly Unlimited Cash Kitty Under Paulson).

What John Berlau has found at Reason Online is that the Clinton Administration loved 1990s financial deregulation so much that it cited it as a major accomplishment.

Berlau provides the proof:

….. when the credit crisis emerged as the top campaign issue, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) pounced on his opponent with two basic messages. One was to blame the policies of deregulation that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) voted for. And the second was to hug former rivals Bill and Hillary Clinton as hard as he could and harken back to the prosperity and economic growth of the 1990s.

….. But now that he has won the presidency and must, as the cliché goes, shift from campaigning to governing, Obama and his economic team will have to face up to a paradox that most of the media overlooked during the campaign. Namely, the Obama campaign’s twin messages of bashing deregulation and embracing the Clinton years were inherently contradictory. Bill Clinton signed nearly every deregulatory measure that John McCain backed—the same measures that are now being blamed (wrongly) for helping cause the current crisis. What’s more, Clinton administration officials have credited these policies for contributing to the ‘90s economic boom—the very “shared prosperity” that Obama says he wants to go back to.

Late in Clinton’s tenure, the White House put forth a document celebrating “Historic Economic Growth” during the administration and pointing to the policy accomplishments it deemed responsible for this growth. Among the achievements on Clinton’s list were “Modernizing for the New Economy through Technology and Consensus Deregulation.” That’s right, a Clinton White House document credited part of the administration’s success to that now dreaded d-word, deregulation.

“In 1993,” the document explained, “the laws that governed America’s financial service sector were antiquated and anti-competitive. The Clinton-Gore Administration fought to modernize those laws to increase competition in traditional banking, insurance, and securities industries to give consumers and small businesses more choices and lower costs.”

Everything in those passages is true.

….. So to the extent that Obama has said he would reverse financial deregulation, what he would largely be overturning are the financial modernizations Bill Clinton signed into law and that Clinton administration officials agree led to the ‘90s prosperity.

This is interesting, in that “1990s GOP-led deregulation” was constantly blamed for the credit mess during the campaign.

But any 2008 campaign reporter could have looked at a well-known source to prove that Obama’s one-sided one-party claims were bogus, namely the New York Times of October 23, 1999. There, in an article entitled “A New Financial Era,” reporter Stephen Labaton quoted Mr. Clinton and Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers gushing as follows:

”When this potentially historic agreement is finalized,” Mr. Clinton said in a statement, ”it will strengthen the economy and help consumers, communities and businesses across America.”

Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers said in an interview, ”At the end of the 20th century, we will at last be replacing an archaic set of restrictions with a legislative foundation for a 21st-century financial system.” The measure, he added, ”would provide significant benefits to the national economy.”

This is just another in a virtually endless string of examples showing how traditional media ran with every lie and half-truth Team Obama putting even the slighest bit of energy into investigating them.

By the way, the reason the conditions that led to the bailout calls came about had nothing to do with deregulation in the private sector. Instead, they had to do with having no meaningful regulation or oversight at “government-sponsored enterprises” now turned “government-controlled enterprises” Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Those two entities abused their intended charters by piling up untold billions of dollars of loans they kept on their own books instead of securitizing. They also irresponsibly relaxed lending standards to the point that they ultimately ruined the mortgage marketplace. Fitful GOP attempts at establishing meaningful regulation and oversight at Fan and Fred were rebuffed by their mostly Democratic protectors, who, including Obama, just so happened to be flush with campaign cash from the two entities.

Whether the bailout mania is or isn’t justified (I think not), it’s clear that what happened at Fan and Fred was both a cause and a precursor to the worse situations that arrived at Henry Paulson’s doorstep.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.