September 30, 2009

Garrison Keillor Muses Over Cutting Republicans ‘Out of the Health-care System’

KeillorHere’s more “civility” from the Left.

In a Chicago Tribune article today that appears to open as an attempt at humor but quickly devolves into nastiness, NPR-dependent radio host and author Garrison Keillor, among other things, blames them and not those who have brought legal actions for years-long fights over keeping religious symbols right where they are, and — while conveniently forgetting that Republican Mitt Romney gave us the Massachusetts disaster known as CommonwealthCare that current Bay State Democratic governor Deval Patrick considers the model for ObamaCare — ponders the pros and cons of cutting Republicans “out of the health-care system entirely.”

There are few if any indications in the last 2/3 of his column that Keillor was attempting anything resembling humor. If he was, he failed.

Here are some paragraphs from the screed:

The so-called cultural wars over abortion and prayer in the schools and pornography and gays did nothing about anything, except elect dullards to office who brought a certain nihilistic approach to governance that helped bring about the disaster in the banking industry that ate up a lot of 401(k)s, and all thanks to high-flyers in shirts like cheap wallpaper who never learned enough to let it discourage them from believing that they had magical powers over the laws of economics and could hand out mortgages to people with no assets and somehow the sun would come out tomorrow. The anti-regulation conservatives enabled those people. We’re still waiting for an apology.

Uh no, Garrison. The government’s Community Reinvestment Act, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac did that. And it will surely surprise social conservatives that they have controlled Wall Street all along.

Continuing:

And now here comes the U.S. Supreme Court, about to rule in the case of a little plywood cross erected, as it turns out, on federal land in the Mojave Desert as a memorial to the war dead — could there be anything less pressing right now? But we shall have great legal minds wrangling over something that doesn’t make a dime’s worth of difference to anybody whomsoever.

Thirty-six years of bitterness over Roe vs. Wade and what has it gotten us? If the decision were overturned tomorrow, not much would change.

….. When an entire major party has excused itself from meaningful debate and a thoughtful U.S. senator like Orrin Hatch no longer finds it important to make sense and an up-and-comer like Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty attacks the president for giving a speech telling schoolchildren to work hard in school and get good grades, one starts to wonder if the country wouldn’t be better off without them and if Republicans should be cut out of the health-care system entirely and simply provided with aspirin and hand sanitizer. Thirty-two percent of the population identifies with the GOP, and if we cut off health care to them, we could probably pay off the deficit in short order.

Actually, Garrison, you should be careful what you wish for. One could argue that GOP-identifiers are disproportionately productive compared to the rest of society and cost it less in entitlement and other benefits. If that is so, things might get worse instead of better. At your advanced age, I wouldn’t take a chance like that if I were you. It would be a particularly good idea, assuming you’re interested in quality care, to ensure that Republican doctors aren’t among those you cut out of the system. Since 45% of all doctors are reportedly considering quitting if ObamaCare is enacted, and many of them are Republicans, perhaps even more than 32% of them, that should be of more than academic interest.

Rush mentioned Keillor’s column on the air, and took passing offense that the Tribune was willing to publish it. The paper shouldn’t have done it, and I daresay would not have published a column by a conservative proposing, supposedly in jest, cutting far-leftists out of the health-care system.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Econ Update: 2Q09 GDP at -0.7%; ADP Reports Big Job Losses Again

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:39 pm

The Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that the economy contracted by 0.7% in the second quarter. That was an improvement from the -1.0% estimate a month ago.

Separately, ADP’s Employment came in with 254,000 seasonally adjusted jobs lost in the private sector during September (they say “from August to September”).

ADP says that the 254,000 jobs lost is the lowest number since July 2008. That would make sense, because July 2008 was the first full month of the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy, which as we know turned into the POR Recession/”RepressionAs Normal People Define It.

According to ADP’s full September press release (PDF), 788,000 private sector jobs were lost during the third quarter (357K in July, 277K in August, and the 254K above). That represents a 0.72% contraction in the private sector workforce.

An ABC report says that analysts are forecasting 180,000 seasonally adjusted jobs lost in the entire economy when the Bureau of Labor Statistics weighs in on Friday. Ignoring possible prior-month adjustments, that would mean 672,000 seasonally adjusted jobs lost during the third quarter.

I would suggest that those who screamed “recession!” when job losses were about 1/2 to 2/3 of what occurred during the first half of 2008 — especially in the second quarter of 2008, when the economy was growing — would be advised not to claim that the recession is over, or even that there is a legitimate “recovery,” when 50%-100% more people are still losing their jobs each month. But they probably won’t listen.

Dem Congressman: ‘Republicans Want You To Die Quickly’; What Will the ‘Civility’ Crowd Say?

GraysonAlanFLcongress0909

The Politico’s Jonathan Allen reported last night that Democratic Congressment Alan Grayson of Florida let loose on the House floor. (UPDATE: Politico now has a YouTube video of Grayson’s performance at the link.)

Hopefully, Allen himself was only being sloppy with his own wording:

Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., warned Americans that “Republicans want you to die quickly” during an after-hours House floor speech Tuesday night.

His remarks, which drew angry and immediate calls for an apology from Republicans, were highlighted by a sign reading “The Republican Health Care Plan: Die Quickly.”

“Warned”? As if “Republicans want you to die quickly” is a fact?

What follows, via Politico’s Glenn Thrush, is what you can’t say about a President:

Especially useful: The section on how to properly insult the executive branch in the in the chamber.

“Disgrace” and “nitwits” — okay.

“Liar” or “sexual misconduct” — ixnay.

Under section 370 of the House Rules and Manual it has been held that a Member could:
• refer to the government as “something hated, something oppressive.”
• refer to the President as “using legislative or judicial pork.”
• refer to a Presidential message as a “disgrace to the country.”
• refer to unnamed officials as “our half-baked nitwits handling foreign affairs.”

Likewise, it has been held that a member could not:
• call the president a “liar.”
• call the president a “hypocrite.”
• describe the president’s veto of a bill as “cowardly.”
• charge that the president has been “intellectually dishonest.”
• refer to the president as “giving aid and comfort to the enemy.”
• refer to alleged “sexual misconduct on the president’s part.”

Yet saying that “Republicans want you to die quickly” is not a problem?

In a November 2005 House floor speech, Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) quoted a Buckeye State Representative who wished to remind Congressman John Murtha (D-PA) of something:

House Republicans maneuvered for swift rejection Friday of any notion of immediately
pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq, sparking a nasty, sometimes personal debate over the war following a Democratic lawmaker’s own call for withdrawal.

….. At one point in the emotional debate, Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio, told of a phone call she received from a Marine colonel.

“He asked me to send Congress a message – stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message – that cowards cut and run, Marines never do,” Schmidt said.

What Schmidt said supposedly violated a ruling against criticizing a fellow individual House member, even though Schmidt was only relaying a constituent’s message that did not itself criticize Murtha personally; if the poor guy took it personally, that’s his problem. Schmidt, under pressure from fellow party members, later apologized; I say she had nothing to apologize for.

Schmidt’s statement got her saturation media coverage and a Saturday Night Live parody.

But I’m betting that asserting (not “warning,” Mr. Allen) on the House floor that “Republicans want you to die quickly” — in effect personally tarring each and every GOP House member — will be seen as okey-dokey, or at a minimum won’t generate a wave of outrage, if it’s noted at all.

I can’t wait to see all of the coverage of Grayson’s smear in the supposedly civility-obsessed establishment media. Actually, I can, because I virtually know that I’ll have to. I half-expect that the cop-out will be, “Well, our old buddies at the Politico covered it, and they did a fine job, so we don’t have to mention it.”

The real reason will be that civility is a one-way street.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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BizzyBlog Update: Here is the vid

What a buffoon.

Lucid Links (093009, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 7:55 am

Commenter Daniel at my post a few days ago on the Associated Press’s Kelo update has some pictures at his place of the New London, CT area in question, known as Fort Trumbull.

Paraphrasing Joni Mitchell, New London’s city fathers painted a picture of paradise, and put up a bunch of empty lots.

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I hope someone’s keeping track of the names of celebs, diplomats, government officials and others who are outraged at Roman Polanski’s arrest and the attempts to extradite him back to the U.S. to face the music, while minimizing the ugliness of what he did, i.e., drugging and raping a child. Allah at Hot Air reminds us that “The conviction’s on the books. All that’s left to settle is the sentence. …. Convicted child-rapist and fugitive from justice.”

Because the next time any one of them yammers on about doing this or that “for the children,” I hope someone throws their ugly, elitist hypocrisy right back in their faces with brute force. The current Numbers 1 and 2 on that list are Debra Winger and Whoopi Goldberg.

What Polanski’s victim wants now is irrelevant; what he did to her then when she was legally not able to consent (and against her will in any event) is. As noted here by Kate Harding: “The justice system doesn’t work on behalf of victims; it works on behalf of justice.”

Go here (HT Michelle Malkin) to see what Polanski said a year after he fled. Michelle is right: “Sicko.”

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Non-surprise of the day: “Without Bush, media lose interest in war caskets.”

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In one sentence, the Associated Press’s Karen Matthews crystallizes the la-la-la we’re never wrong attitudes of the media elite that just won’t ever admit that one of their brethren erred.

In writing about the dismissal of Dan Rather’s lawsuit against CBS, she says that:

The dispute began with a piece Rather narrated for the now-defunct “60 Minutes II,” in which he reported that Bush got preferential treatment during his Vietnam War-era service in the Texas Air National Guard.

Rather cited new documents CBS had obtained, but the authenticity of the documents later came under attack.

Uh, Karen, the documents were forged fakes, period. Five years later, and journalists still won’t acknowledge the obvious.

Related: No one should be surprised by this (HT NewsBusters) — “Ex-CBS Anchor Dan Rather to Headline Planned Parenthood Abortion Biz Event.” Howler of the day: “Rather is going to speak on ‘new media.’”

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This wasn’t supposed to happen: “The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index® Dips in September.” It went from 54.5 to 53.1. Analysts had expected an uptick to 57.

AP’s Anne D’Innocenzio writes that “worries about job security seem to be offsetting any enthusiasm about rising home values and stocks.”

According to D’Innocenzio, “A reading above 90 means the economy is on solid footing. Above 100 signals strong growth.”

So sentiment is far from growth.

Uncle Sam’s cash collections continue to seriously contract.

The auto biz on track for its worst month since related records have been kept.

August’s combined ISM indices were still in contraction.

Oh, and net seasonally adjusted job losses continue to be in the hundreds of thousands.

Yet analysts are pegging third-quarter growth at 3%-4%. If it really turns out that way, I’ll need to be convinced that it wasn’t artificially induced and totally unsustainable. This post from a month ago claims that any growth will be “thanks to big subsidies” and “will be a one time event.” That seems right, though I fail to see how the big subsidies translate into production of real goods and services, i.e., real growth, which is what GDP is supposed to measure.

Pre-emptive strike: No, the second quarter of 2008′s growth was not artificially induced.

Positivity: Dog helps rescue man from mud, water

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:55 am

From Cincinnati:

September 29, 2009

An 80-year-old man who somehow became trapped in the bottom of a 15-foot deep septic tank behind his home has an unlikely neighbor to thank for his rescue – a 9-year-old mutt named Murphy.

Stacey Walsh, who was spending time at her mother’s house two doors down from 646 Pontius Road, where the man was trapped in muck and water, said she heard the dog barking wildly about 5 p.m.

“He was barking like he was being attacked – like he’s never barked before,” Walsh said. “He was pointed in the direction of the hole. Then we heard Mr. Paff yelling for help.”

• Photos: Man, 80, rescued from cistern

But getting to the man, who Walsh identified as Paul Paff, would be difficult. Even when rescue crews arrived, it took nearly 2½ hours to get the man out as temperatures dropped into the 50s.

“It may have been as long as 3½ hours before he was discovered … so he was in the hole five to six hours,” said Delhi Township Fire Chief Bill Zoz. “The rescuers commented he was a pretty tough old guy – friendly. He kept talking to them.”

The first responders started a bucket brigade, moving water and waste out of the hole. It soon became apparent they needed heavier equipment.

Emergency crews from several jurisdictions sent manpower and gear, including a heater to pump warm air into the tank, septic trucks to pump out the water and sewage, lights other materials.

Hours into the rescue, the Red Cross brought in food and drink for the estimated 60 emergency personnel.

When Paff was finally extricated using a rope and pulley system by the Hamilton County Urban Search and Rescue unit, he was decontaminated on the scene – the warm water was brought over by a neighbor – and transported to University Hospital by a medical helicopter.

He had signs of hypothermia, but authorities said he appeared uninjured. He does have known medical conditions, but authorities did not disclose details of his ailments.

As of 10:30 p.m., the hospital said he was in stable condition but still being evaluated. ….

Go here for the rest of the story.

September 29, 2009

Uncle Sam’s September Collections Dive at Fiscal Year-End Minus Two Days

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:57 pm

This is just awful:

USrecs092809v092908jpg

(Sources: Sept. 28, 2009; Sept. 29, 2008)

Well, at least it’s consistently awful.

With all due respect to the data accumulators in the government and elsewhere, it’s going to be interesting to see how there can be any real economic growth occurring when the money the federal government rakes in from that growth has plummeted by such huge amounts so consistently during the entire quarter compared to the third quarter of 2008.

Further, in the third quarter of last year, the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Recession As Normal People Define It was in full swing, with an annualized GDP contraction of 2.7%. Receipts were already heading down a year ago; this quarter is compounding on that. Yet the economy is growing again?

How to Keep Your Doctor Under BaucusCare aka ObamaCare v.__ (I Lost Count)

Filed under: Economy,Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:36 am

To keep their current medical providers, employed Americans covered under employer-provided insurance plans only have to look at their insurance situation once a year during open enrollment, stick with what they have or change it, make sure their doctor remains in a covered network, and pay what they owe when they incur deductible and other out-of-pocket costs.

This chart, provided by the Republican side of the Senate’s Joint Economic Committee chaired by Sam Brownback, explains how “easy” it’s going to keep your doctor under Montana Senator Max Baucus’s version of ObamaCare (click here or on the graphic to see the original in a separate window; you may have to enlarge the graphic that separate window to be make it fully readable):

SenateKeepYourDocFlowchart92209

A reminder: As noted bank in July, here’s how HB3200 plans to structure the insurance and delivery system (as above, click here or on the graphic to see the original in a separate window):

SenateKeepYourDocFlowchart92209

Glad they’re working so hard in Washington to simplify our lives. (/sarc)

Positivity: Cousins grateful for ‘miracle’ survival

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:57 am

From East Cambia County, Alabama:

Monday, September 28, 2009 10:36 AM CDT

David Gibbs and Jeremy Rackard believe in miracles.

Gibbs is the owner of David’s Paint and Body Shop in Atmore and Rackard is a relative and an employee of A-1 Landscaping. Both men’s lives were spared as they worked what began as a minor incident on I-65 last Friday.

“We had a call of a car in the ditch,” Gibbs said. “It turned into something else and we are blessed to be here.”

Rackard said he was just helping out on a call with Gibbs on his way home.

“I was at the shop when the call came in,” Rackard said. “I wanted to help and drove out to help him with it.”

Gibbs related the story of how the incident unfolded.

“We had pulled a car out of the ditch and another car (a white Mustang) went into the ditch,” Gibbs said. “We actually even ran from the Mustang when it went into the ditch. Then we pulled (the Mustang) out of the ditch and were getting it unhooked when everything happened.”

Gibbs said the Mustang hooked to his equipment was being handled by his cousin, Rackard, when a van slammed into the rear of a police car monitoring the scene.

“The police car slammed into the Mustang Jeremy was under,” Gibbs said. “(The police) car flew over and landed in the ditch and the (Mustang) rolled over (Rackard). I think he may have actually been run over twice.”

Rackard said he was unconscious for a short time after the cars rolled over him. “I must have been out for a little while,” Rackard said. “I know when I woke up, I was facing in the other direction and my shirt was soaked in gasoline.”

Rackard could only point to one thing that saved him.

“I was there standing in the middle of a wreck,” Rackard said. “I can say it was nothing but God that saved me. God had His hand in it, and that’s the reason I’m here today.”

The result of the accident sent Rackard to Atmore Community Hospital for what could be deemed minor injuries, Gibbs said.

“They took Jeremy and the man and woman in the van to the hospital,” Gibbs said. “He got some cuts but he is lucky to be alive. I guess it was a blessing he was under that car and didn’t get hit. It was a miracle.” ….

Go here for the rest of the story.

September 28, 2009

Stephen A. Smith Speaks Out

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:53 pm

I’ve detected rumblings of unhappiness from the far leftosphere over the comments of sports reporter Stephen A. Smith. Apparently those running the liberal plantation are starting to have a problem with him.

I don’t. In fact, Smith inadvertently yet eloquently makes the case (HT HipHopCSS via an e-mailer) in a discussion with Mark Levin that Barack Obama’s election was accomplished by fooling people about his agenda:

ACORN Question for Local Media: What in the World Are These People Really Doing?

acorn_rottenIn a great NewsBusters post early this morning, Rusty Weiss wondered how much local media coverage there has been of ACORN’s suspension of services, and focused on potential vote fraud in Albany and Troy, New York.

Here’s a question local reporters looking for an angle should be asking, even in the somewhat unlikely event they can’t find anything corrupt or criminal at the ACORN office in their town: How effective is the organization’s outreach?

Based on what little I’ve learned, a more legitimate question might be, “Is ACORN’s so-called outreach really just a facade to conceal other not well-known activities it really considers more important”?

The issue first occurred to me when I read a September 18 report by WCPO in Cincinnati (WCPO apparently stands for “We Constantly Promote Obama”) about the office’s decision to suspend services (bolds are mine):

Every month more than two dozen people walk into ACORN’s Cincinnati office on Central Avenue for help with avoiding foreclosure and finding financial aid programs.

ACORN, or The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, is the nation’s largest community activist group. But starting this Friday, it’s suspending its social services and outreach.

The agency is conducting damage control after undercover video hit the airwaves. In it, ACORN workers appear willing to help a pimp and prostitute buy a home to run as a brothel. The two were actually conservative activists.

ACORN says the tapes were doctored and an internal investigation is underway. The employees in the tapes have been fired.

The leader of Ohio ACORN, Amy Teitelman, calls the videos “a racist and classist campaign against us.”

Let’s get past the tired boilerplate leftist name-calling for a moment and look at the numbers.

ACORN Cincinnati, when operating, was seeing barely more than one new client each business day. Barely one.

A September 18 Cincinnati Enquirer story by Quan Truong takes the number down further, even though the services described are wider in scope (bold is mine):

People seeking services from ACORN will have little luck getting any as the agency’s offices statewide try to ride out nationwide scandal over advice given to some clients and caught on hidden cameras.

Locally, that means about 20 clients a month will be turned away, said Amy Teitelman, the local and state director of ACORN.

The decision to suspend services, which includes foreclosure prevention and tax preparation, came after conservative activists revealed hidden camera footage of ACORN employees in other states offering advice about setting up prostitution businesses.

We’ve now gone from barely one to only one new client each business day, and for all services.

That’s embarrassing. What in the world are these people doing all day?

The stories just excerpted are, as far as I have been able to determine based on this Cincinnati.com search, the only two locally-originated Greater Cincinnati stories generated in the wake of James O’Keefe’s and Hannah Giles’s undercover video work in various U.S. cities (five thus far). I’d say I just gave our locals a story idea, if they would care to run with it.

A similar pattern holds when you look at the numbers nationally. For example, here’s this excerpt from a September 15 report by Fox News, which says it obtained the numbers it reported from ACORN’s national web site (bold is mine):

Six years later, in 1986, the organization created the ACORN Housing Corporation to “build and preserve housing assets.” Since its inception, according to its Web site, the corporation has assisted more than 45,000 families to become first-time homeowners and has rehabbed more than 850 vacant or abandoned housing units.

What?

Even if those totals were for only 5 years instead of 23, that would be 1.57 families per office per week (45,000 divided by 110 cities divided by 5 years divided by 52). It seems pretty obvious that the real number is a lot lower than 1.57. Again assuming only 5 years instead of 23, the rehabs are less than 1.6 per city per full year (850 divided by 110 divided by 5). Habitat for Humanity (this is a huge understatement) runs circles around that.

Again, what in the world are these people doing all day?

Finally, there’s this September 23 AP story about the Internal Revenue Service severing its ties with ACORN:

The Internal Revenue Service said it would no longer include ACORN in its volunteer tax assistance program. The program offered free tax advice to about 3 million low- and moderate-income tax filers this spring. ACORN provided help on about 25,000 returns, the IRS said.

25,000 returns nationwide? That’s less than 1% of the 3 million cited, is just over 200 per year in each of ACORN’s 110 cities, and likely includes a lot of repeat-year returns that are pretty easy to prepare. The IRS could have fired ACORN solely on the basis that they weren’t worth management’s time and attention.

By contrast, here’s just one example of a United Way taxpayer assistance outreach effort out of Washington state (bold is mine):

In 2009, 530 volunteers dedicated 16,000 hours to United Way of King County’s Free Tax Prep Campaign. Volunteers prepared 13,631 tax returns, helped return $17.3 million in federal refunds back to the community, including $5.2 million in Earned Income Tax Credits, and saved customers an estimated $1 million in tax preparation fees.

The King County group, in just one metro area, did over half as many returns as ACORN did in the entire country, and provided their services for free.

I repeat, what in the world are the people in these ACORN offices really doing?

Local reporters ought to be all over this, assuming they’re interested in digging for the truth instead of parroting ACORN’s press releases and talking points. National reporters should be ashamed that they have ignored the obvious indications that ACORN’s offices really accomplish very little of value on behalf of the poor people they allegedly serve.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

A Billion Here, A Billion There: Dem-Backed Firms Get Speculative Energy Dept. Loans

GlobalWarmingThe headline and the first paragraph from this Friday Wall Street Journal report by Josh Mitchell and Stephen Power reads like a bad joke Jay Leno’s writers would have discarded, because no one would believe it. The second paragraph isn’t much better.

Gore-Backed Car Firm Gets Large U.S. Loan

A tiny car company backed by former Vice President Al Gore has just gotten a $529 million U.S. government loan to help build a hybrid sports car in Finland that will sell for about $89,000.

The award this week to California startup Fisker Automotive Inc. follows a $465 million government loan to Tesla Motors Inc., purveyors of a $109,000 British-built electric Roadster. Tesla is a California startup focusing on all-electric vehicles, with a number of celebrity endorsements that is backed by investors that have contributed to Democratic campaigns.

That’s a combined total of just shy of a billion dollars going to two companies currently making toys for the wealthy under circumstantially suspect conditions.

Tesla may have legitimate prospects; at least it is selling something. The company claims in an August 7 press release to have posted a profit of $1 million on sales of $20 million during the month of July. Fisker, on the other hand, is still working on a dealer network.

But in each case, based on where the companies stand, the funding for development would ordinarily come from venture capital or corporate investors who would take significant ownership stakes. No lender in the private sector, even a bank laboring under the Treasury Department’s Troubled Assets Relief Program, would dare make these loans except under externally-induced duress, on the justifiable concern that, well, they would be creating more troubled assets.

But the Department of Energy (DOE) has no problem putting taxpayers on the hook for these speculative ventures. As the late Illinois Senator Ev Dirksen said (in essence), “A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.”

The story should have received more attention than it has, especially because of the circumstantial evidence of favoritism, which apparently included a of taxpayer-financed loan application consulting:

DOE officials spent months working with Fisker on its application, touring its Irvine, Calif., and Pontiac, Mich., facilities and test-driving prototypes.

…. Henrik Fisker, who designed cars for BMW, Aston Martin and Tesla before starting his Fisker Automotive in 2007, said his goal is to build the first plug-in electric hybrids that won’t sacrifice the luxury, performance and looks of traditional gas-powered luxury cars.

…. He said he pitched the Karma to Mr. Gore at an event hosted by KPCB last year, and that the former vice president almost immediately submitted a down payment for the car.

Kalee Kreider, a spokeswoman for Mr. Gore, confirmed that the former vice president backs Fisker and purchased a Karma. “He believes that a global shift of the automobile fleet toward electric vehicles, accompanying a shift toward renewable-energy generation, represents an important part of a sensible strategy for solving the climate crisis,” she said in a statement.

Fisker’s top investors include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a veteran Silicon Valley venture-capital firm of which Gore is a partner. Employees of KPCB have donated more than $2.2 million to political campaigns, mostly for Democrats, including President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks campaign contributions.

…. Fisker’s government loans will come from a $25 billion program established by Congress in 2007 to help auto makers invest in the technology to meet a new congressional mandate to improve fuel efficiency. In June, the DOE awarded the first $8 billion from the program to Ford Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co., and Tesla, which are all developing electric cars.

It’s reasonable to ask whether Congress in 2007 expected that the program would take on the self-evident default risks of lending to a start-up and a very early-stage company, respectively, or if it expected that the funds would be accessed by already well-capitalized companies.

It’s also reasonable to ask whether the Fisker deal is worth it, based on the DOE’s September 22 press release (bolds are mine):

US Energy Secretary Chu Announces $528 Million Loan for Advanced Vehicle Technology for Fisker Automotive
Investment will save or create at least 5,000 jobs

Washington, DC – Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced a $528.7 million conditional loan for Fisker Automotive for the development of two lines of plug-in hybrids that will save hundreds of millions gallons of gasoline and offset millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions by 2016. The project will result in approximately 5,000 jobs created or saved for domestic parts suppliers and thousands more to manufacture a plug-in hybrid in the U.S.

“This investment will create thousands of new American jobs and is another critical step in making sure we are positioned to compete for the clean energy jobs of the future,” said Secretary Chu. “Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles could revolutionize personal transportation and cut our dependence on foreign oil, not to mention give us cleaner air and less carbon pollution.”

…. While the final assembly of the Karma will be done overseas, more than 65 percent (based on cost) of the parts required for Karma will come from U.S. suppliers. The four-door Karma is scheduled to appear in showrooms in summer 2010.

All of this for 5,000 jobs? What’s more, DOE itself acknowledges that many of the jobs will probably not be “created,” only “saved,” using the preposterous “created or saved” language the administration has used since shortly after the November election. Before the election, candidate Obama, without any exception I could find, referred only to “creating jobs.”

If there were so many conflicts of interest in appearance in a financial arrangement in any other administration, I daresay the press as a whole would be paying a lot more attention to this, and asking a lot more questions. But in the Obama administration, under the environmental mantra, apparently anything goes, even if, as noted yesterday (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), much of the underlying data supporting the very idea of global warming as a valid concept may have disappeared.

Cross-posted at Newsbusters.org.

Lucid Links (092809, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 9:53 am

Here’s an absolute howler (HT Noel Sheppard at NewsBusters) from the Associated Press’s Stephen Ohlemacher yesterday:

The (Social Security cash) deficits – $10 billion in 2010 and $9 billion in 2011 – won’t affect payments to retirees because Social Security has accumulated surpluses from previous years totaling $2.5 trillion. But they will add to the overall federal deficit.

That gives less-informed readers the impression that there’s a stash of cash sitting there for retiree payments.

There is not.

As I have pointed out in previous columns (here and here), there is virtually no money in the Social Security “Trust Fund” because almost all of the $2.5 trillion in “surpluses” Ohlemacher refers to has been “lent” to the rest of the government — and spent.

The “Trust Fund” consists almost entirely of IOUs from the rest of the government, which in case you haven’t noticed is about $12 trillion in debt. The “surpluses” have NOTHING to with Social Security’s ability to pay benefits, because they have long since been raked off.

If Social Security taxes stop coming in, that “surplus” can’t be used to pay benefits without begging our broke government to either pay back its debt or print more money.

The false impression Ohlemacher creates is incredibly irresponsible, but sadly typical.

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Oh, and speaking of Social Security benefits and taxes, in case you missed it last week, Social Security is running monthly cash deficits already — and thank to the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy, now the POR Recession/”RepressionAs Normal People Define It, they’re getting worse very quickly. As long as unemployment stays high, payroll tax collections will lag, and more seniors will start taking benefits early.

Remember how we were repeatedly told this wouldn’t happen until 2017? That would have been the case if Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, and Harry Reid hadn’t caused, worsened, and, by choosing “stimulus” over tax cuts, extended the recession.

Speaking of recession, this CNNMoney.com article indicates that final GDP contraction for the second quarter will come in at -1.2% on Wednesday.

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RIP, William Safire.

The best sentence he ever wrote was about Hillary Clinton in January 1996:

Americans of all political persuasions are coming to the sad realization that our First Lady — a woman of undoubted talents who was a role model for many in her generation — is a congenital liar.

He never backed down (here, here) — because he was right.

Positivity: Leprosy patients from Hawaii to see canonization of Fr. Damien

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:56 am

From Honolulu:

Sep 26, 2009 / 01:08 pm

Eleven elderly leprosy patients from Hawaii will travel to the Vatican for the canonization ceremony of Fr. Damien de Veuster, the heroic priest who cared for leprosy patients in Hawaii and died of the disease. The patients’ attending doctor called Fr. Damien their “personal saint.”

The Belgian-born priest is a hero in Hawaii for caring for those victims banished to the isolated Kalaupapa peninsula. Native Hawaiians were devastated by leprosy, which appeared after the arrival of Captain James Cook in 1778.

About 90 percent of the approximately 8,000 people exiled to the peninsula were native Hawaiians. The state of Hawaii stopped exiling leprosy victims in 1969, more than two decades after a reliable treatment was discovered.

Many patients chose to stay at the colony because the community had become their home.

Eleven of the about 20 patients still living at Kalaupapa will make the 12,000-mile trip to Rome for the priest’s canonization, according to the Associated Press.

Their physician, Dr. Kalani Brady, said the trip will be an “energy-laden” voyage for many patients.

“They’re going to see their personal saint canonized,” Brady told the Associated Press. The event is “incredibly important, incredibly personal for them.”

Since 1936, Fr. Damien’s body has rested in his Belgian hometown of Tremelo. However, his grave at Kalaupapa contains a relic of his right hand.

The canonization of Fr. Damien was announced earlier this year after the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints ruled that there was no medical explanation for a woman’s recovery from terminal cancer. She had prayed to Fr. Damien to intercede for a cure.

Pope Benedict XVI will preside over the canonization on October 11. The priest was beatified in 1995 by Pope John Paul II.

Pope Benedict is expected to meet privately with the patients during their stay in Rome.

About 650 people from Hawaii are traveling to Rome for the canonization. Most are expected to be part of the delegation of the Catholic Diocese of Honolulu.

A Boy Scout group called the St. Damien Boy Scouts of Oahu will document the capstone event and their travels on the internet using a blog, YouTube and Facebook. ….

Go here for the rest of the story.

September 27, 2009

AP Does a Balanced Update on the Kelo Story and Current Situation

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:48 pm

Susette-Kelo-784696Pigs aren’t flying, but don’t be surprised if you see a few of them sprouting wings.

The Associated Press, which along with the rest of the establishment media has almost totally ignored the aftermath of the awful Kelo v. New London ruling over fours ago, actually carried a mostly fair and balanced piece about where things stand by writer Katie Nelson. Though I’ve followed the story reasonably closely since the fall of 2005, I learned a few things I didn’t know about the City of New London’s original lofty promises.

I do have a couple of quibbles, the biggest one being the current headline (“Conn. land vacant 4 years after court OK’d seizure”). It seems to me that the word “Kelo,” as in Susette Kelo (pictured at top right), belongs in it. My other problem is that it’s a weekend story and will thus be lightly read.

But let me highlight the better paragraphs in Nelson’s report:

Weeds, glass, bricks, pieces of pipe and shingle splinters have replaced the knot of aging homes at the site of the nation’s most notorious eminent domain project.

There are a few signs of life: Feral cats glare at visitors from a miniature jungle of Queen Anne’s lace, thistle and goldenrod. Gulls swoop between the lot’s towering trees and the adjacent sewage treatment plant.

But what of the promised building boom that was supposed to come wrapped and ribboned with up to 3,169 new jobs and $1.2 million a year in tax revenues? They are noticeably missing.

Proponents of the ambitious plan blame the sour economy. Opponents call it a “poetic justice.”

“They are getting what they deserve. They are going to get nothing,” said Susette Kelo, the lead plaintiff in the landmark property rights case. “I don’t think this is what the United States Supreme Court justices had in mind when they made this decision.”

…. New London officials decided they needed Kelo’s land and the surrounding 90 acres for a multimillion-dollar private development that included residential, hotel conference, research and development space and a new state park that would complement a new $350 million Pfizer pharmaceutical research facility.

Kelo and six other homeowners fought for years, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2005, justices voted 5-4 against them, giving cities across the country the right to use eminent domain to take property for private development.

The decision was sharply criticized and created grassroots backlash. Forty states quickly passed new, protective rules and regulations, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

…. In New London the city’s prized economic development plan has fallen apart as the economy crumbled.

…. In July, backers halted fundraising for the project’s crown jewel, a proposed $60 million, 60,000-square-foot Coast Guard museum.

Read the rest of Nelson’s story for other quotes from Kelo, Kelos’s Institute for Justice lawyer Scott Bullock, and current New London Development Corporation excuse-maker John Brooks, who blames the Kelo litigation itself for the development failure.

Nelson did miss one thing that continues to annoy: the fact the high-powered Italian Dramatic Club, in an act of blatant political favoritism, was spared the wrecking ball and allowed to stay where it is, while homes right next to it were demolished. This June 2006 BizzyBlog post, which includes a view of the neighborhood and identification of the holdouts’ home locations, shows how absurd the IDC’s permission to survive really was. The media’s failure to tell its consumers about the IDC’s survival while homes around it were destroyed kept public sympathy for the Kelo holdouts lower than it should have been, and made the Supreme Court’s risible decision in the case easier than it should have been.

Image found at ArkJournal.com.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

This is McCain…

Filed under: Activism,Taxes & Government — Rose @ 9:10 am

…and this is McCain sipping Romney’s Kool-Aid.

Any questions?

Of course not, this tells us all we need to know. (HT: Ben Smith)

Stick a fork in “Mandate, Objectively Unfit Mitt…”