April 7, 2009

Un-Name That Party: AP Scrubs Dem IDs From JJ Jr./Blago Report in Cgo Sun-Times

JJjuniorPicAtSunTimes0409.jpgThe Associated Press’s determination to keep the identity of Democrats in trouble or under investigation hidden is indeed strong and persistent.

Its report (as of 11:03 p.m.; a copy is saved here at my web host for future reference) on the launch of an ethics probe into Democrat Jesse Jackson Jr.’s relationship with ousted former Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich, particularly relating to Jackson’s bid to be appointed to the Senate seat left vacant by President Barack Obama, does not refer to Jackson or Blago as a Democrat. Any more, that’s relatively unremarkable.

What is a bit more remarkable is that the underlying Chicago Sun-Times story on the impending probe refers to Jackson twice as a “D-Ill,” once in the report’s very first sentence and once in the picture caption copied at the top right (which, of all things, is apparently an AP file photo).

This means that AP had to proactively scrub the Democratic Party references already present in its underlying source.

Here’s how the Sun-Times’s story began:

Ethics board launches probe into Rep Jesse Jackson Jr.

A congressional ethics board has launched a preliminary inquiry into U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill), related to President Obama’s vacant Senate seat and the corruption investigation of ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

The Office of Congressional Ethics, formed just last year, voted in late March to conduct a “preliminary review,” of actions surrounding Jackson’s bid to be appointed to the Senate seat, according to documents released to parties involved in the probe. The committee launched the action Thursday — the same day Blagojevich was indicted on corruption charges.

The panel has asked parties in the Blagojevich case — including his former gubernatorial staff and campaign staff — to turn over any documents, emails, or other correspondence involving Jackson Jr. and his campaign staff, Jackson’s brother, Jonathan, and political fund-raisers Raghuveer Nayak and Rajinder Bedi, lawyers close to the probe told the Sun-Times. The request for information is from June of last year through Dec. 31, 2008.

Here’s how the AP story began:

Report: Jesse Jackson Jr. faces ethics probe

An independent panel that reviews possible ethical lapses by members of the House of Representatives has launched a preliminary review of U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.’s efforts to be appointed to the U.S. Senate by ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, according to a published report.

The Office of Congressional Ethics voted in late March for the review, the Chicago Sun-Times reported in a story posted Tuesday on its Web site, citing documents released to parties involved in the inquiry.

The committee has asked for documents, e-mails and other correspondence from Blagojevich’s gubernatorial and campaign staff regarding Jackson, Jackson’s brother Jonathan and his campaign staff, the Sun-Times reported, citing lawyers close to the probe. It requested information from June through December 2008.

It would appear that the writer of the wire service’s unbylined story ignored its own Stylebook (from 2000), which reads as follows:

party affiliation Let relevance be the guide in determining whether to include a political figure’s party affiliation in a story. Party affiliation is pointless in some stories, such as an account of a governor accepting a button from a poster child. It will occur naturally in many political stories. For stories between these extremes, include party affiliation if readers need it for understanding or are likely to be curious about what it is.

The idea that relatively disengaged readers outside of Illinois don’t need to know the party ID of Jackson is absurd on its face. The Sun-Times clearly thought that its mostly local readership needed a party-ID reminder, yet AP ridiculously decided that its more national audience somehow did not.

It would seem that the goal of minimizing the results of future searches on “Democratic” and “corruption” or “D-Ill” and “corruption” is more important than the AP following its own Stylebook.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Walter Williams’s 2000 Column on Smoking, Freedom, and Socialism; It Has Way-Beyond Relevance Today

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:14 pm

In the process of putting together my latest Pajamas media column, which will come out later this week and be about last week’s tobacco tax hikes, I came across this 2000 item by Walter Williams.

Williams’s seemingly unrelated work ties in to this Wall Street Journal story about how a 38 year-old punk (appropriate, given that we’re currently enduring the Punk Presidency), whom Don Luskin correctly calls a “swaggering bastard,” is ordering bank and car-company CEOs around. If bankers ever used these tactics on their lending clients, they’d either be prosecuted or sued into oblivion.

The tie-in is to the two bolded sentences in this excerpt from Williams:

The first thing we should acknowledge is that we live in a world of harms. The secondhand smoke from my cigarette might harm you. However, your being able to prevent me from smoking harms me; I have less enjoyment. We cannot say which person’s harm is more important and should take precedence. The reason why is that it is impossible to make interpersonal utility comparisons. In other words, there is no scientific way of deciding whose well-being is more important: whether the harm you suffer from my smoking is more important than the harm I suffer from not being permitted to smoke.

…. In a socialistic society, conflicting harms are resolved through government intimidation and coercion. In a free society, conflicting harms are settled through the institution of private property rights. Private property rights has to do with rights, belonging to the person deemed owner of property and protected by the state, to keep, acquire, use and dispose of property as he deems fit so long as he does not violate the property rights of another.

Therefore, in a free society, whether smoking harms others or not is irrelevant. The relevant issue is who owns the air? It is clear that if you own the air, it is your right to decide how it is used. If you do not want tobacco smoke in your air, that is your right that government should protect. By the same token, if I own the air, I have rights just as you do to decide how it is used. If I want to have tobacco smoke in my air, I have every right to do so and the government should protect my property rights just as it protects yours.

….. A majority of Americans agree with laws prohibiting smoking in restaurants, bars, airplanes, factories and offices and other “public” places. But why should their wishes be indulged through force of law? Are restaurants, bars, airplanes, factories and offices publicly owned places? No. For the most part, restaurants, bars, airplanes, factories and offices are private property simply doing business with the public. As such the institution of private property rights should resolve any conflict over smoking. The owner of a restaurant or bar should have the right to decide whether smoking is permitted on his premises or not. Customers have the right to decide the terms on which they patronize the restaurant. If the owner does not permit smoking, then people who wish to smoke during dinner can decide not to patronize that restaurant. Similarly, an employer who wishes to permit smoking in his offices should have the right to do so. People who wish to work in a smoke-free office environment can simply choose some other place of employment where the owner does not permit smoking.

There is absolutely no moral argument for people to use the power of the state to force a restaurant owner who does not want smoking in his establishment to accommodate smokers. Just as there is no moral argument for people to use the power of the state to force a restaurant owner who permits smoking to prohibit smoking. That would be the moral values in a free society; however, so much of mankind exhibits a generalized contempt for the principles of liberty. We succumb to the temptation of using the power of the state to forcibly impose our preferences on others.

We’re seeing early and current signs that Williams’s characterization of socialism is as correct here as it has been elsewhere. When in doubt, this heading-towards-socialist administration plays the intimidation/coercion card. One example of many besides the items the Journal cites at the link above is its refusal to accept repayment of TARP loans made to larger banks, and threatening regulatory grief if one dares to try it:

(Fox News’s Andrew) Napolitano said this bank “has no subprime loans, it has no bad debts, wasn’t involved in credit default swaps. It didn’t need any money. It didn’t ask for the money and didn’t want it. … officials from both the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Treasury said if you don’t take this money, we will conduct a multi-year public audit of you.”

The Fox News analyst said the bank’s “board was forced to issue a class of stock just for the federal government. The federal government owns 2% of this huge bank.”

That was done under the Bush administration. Enter the Obama White House. Last month, Napolitano said, Treasury told the bank “we own 2%, we’re going to tell you how to run the place.”

“As a result of that minority ownership, they now want to control salaries. They want to see his books, and they want to tell him who he can do business with,” Napolitano reported.

The quasi-nationalization of GM also probably crosses the line into state-sponsored coercion. It is without a doubt extra-constitutional.

These guys are beginning to employ tactics the previous administration never dreamed of. To the extent the previous administration did similar things in its final months, we are learning that President ‘Prompter’s current peeps probably instigated them. Tax Cheat and Proven Liar Tim Geithner is the most likely behind-the-scenes suspect in encouraging Hank Paulson in mid-October to force the large banks to take TARP money with a (figurative) gun pointed to their heads, including the situation described above.

Republic Window and ACORN’s occupation of foreclosed homes are two other off-the-cuff examples of the culture of extra-legality this administration and its members have fostered and encouraged.

Williams got it right nine years ago, on a scale that goes way beyond smoking.

Lucid Links (040709, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 9:18 am

Noteworthy Net-Worthies:

It’s getting chilly, and it’s not the weatherThe AP seems to be signaling that it will use legal intimidation to curb fair use of its content for discussion purposes when it has no legal leg to stand on. Also, part of fair use, properly applied, is analyzing wire service reports as they evolve for evidence of story slanting after initial raw reports. That means saving them. Sorry, AP (not). Also: The public discussion of media bias requires comparing AP reporters’ varying interpretations of similar events depending on who is involved. That’s another reason to excerpt and save articles, and another reason AP should back off.

Related — A NewsBusters commenter at Warner Todd Huston’s post on this topic reminds me of a Michelle Malkin item from June of last year. Michelle pointed out that AP has frequently lifted blogger content without attribution. I would add, based on experience, that AP and the press in general is bound and determined not to name “bloggers” who break stories, while subscribing newspapers and other publications constantly complain about AP’s lifts of their content.

President ‘Prompter is full of globaloney — “I think it’s important.” It’s a load of rubbish — sloppy, manipulated rubbish.

Not news to those who followed him during the presidential campaign — Obama wants to unilaterally disarm to set a “moral example.” In the same linked editorial, the Wall Street Journal reminds us that “the world’s most conspicuous antiproliferation victories in recent decades were the Israeli strike against Saddam Hussein’s nuclear plant at Osirak, and the U.S. toppling of Saddam and the way it impressed Libya’s Moammar Ghadafi,” and notes that “Obama’s ‘moral authority’ won’t deter Tehran or Pyongyang.” 2-1/2 months into President ‘Prompter’s predominance, the world is clearly a more dangerous place. Update: Doug Ross reinforces.

The travel industry is in the tank because of the administration’s and Congress’s demonization of business conferences. This has spread far beyond DC’s original bailout targets to businesses in general who are afraid to be seen as even a little extravagant. Hawaii, a favorite rewards destination for successful sales groups, is begging President ‘Prompter to do something about it. Taking back TARP money that certain banks want to repay instead of refusing repayment, and then staying the heck away from them after they break free, would be a nice start. Alas, I fear that suppressing commercial activity in any way possible, including tourism, is part of the plan — at least until it’s time to credit the POS (Pork Over-Stuffed) stimulus for any economic uptick. Never mind that an awful lot of little people have lost their jobs, and will continue to. Collateral damage in pursuit of la causa, I guess.

Catching up: The Institute for Supply Management’s monthly indices for Manufacturing (from 35.8% to 36.3%) and Non-Manufacturing (from 41.6% to 40.8%) both stayed in the doldrums in March. The architects of the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy were remarkably adept at taking the economy down. Now they’re applying their skills to keeping it down, apparently effectively. Never mind those hundreds of thousands of little people losing their jobs every month. Again, anything for la causa.

Positivity: Woman Pulled From Burning Building By Mystery Hero

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:32 am

From Jacksonville, Florida:

POSTED: Sunday, April 5, 2009
UPDATED: 12:00 pm EDT April 5, 2009

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A 27-year-old Jacksonville woman is lucky to be alive, after being pulled from a burning home on the north side.

Jacksonville firefighters said someone pulled the woman through a window and out of her burning home in the 6000 block fo Heckscher Drive early Saturday night.

Investigators said a fire broke out while the woman appeared to be asleep inside the home. They said that before firefighters arrived, at least one person went inside to rescue the woman. Fire crews aren’t certain if more than one person aided in the rescue, but whoever is responsible left before they could be interviewed.

Go here for the rest of the story.