December 31, 2009

Lickety-Split Links for Last Post of 2009 (123109, Afternoon)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 1:33 pm

Well, each link will be lickety-split, but a lot of backlog needs to be cleared.

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James Pethokoukis at Reuters: “What Ben Nelson didn’t tell Nebraskans” — “in a TV spot, Nelson failed to tell his fellow Nebraskans that while the Senate bill supposedly improves the U. S. fiscal picture, it employs some Enron-esque bookkeeping tricks to get there.”

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This year’s Christmas shopping season came in “about 1 percent (ahead of last year), in line with what many retailing professionals expected.” Before adjustment for the number of shopping days, it was up 3.6%. Given that the consensus until the week before Christmas had been a slight decline, that’s not bad.

I want to be wrong about this, but based on what I see, I’m very concerned that retailers, who overall did very little seasonal hiring, are bracing for a really rough first quarter, with many accompanying closures and layoffs.

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Ann Coulter writes that Martha Coakley, currently the state’s Attorney General in Massachusetts and the Democratic nominee for U.S. senator there, is “a woman who kept a clearly innocent man in prison in order to advance her political career,” and thus “isn’t even fit for the late Teddy Kennedy’s old seat.”

Ann Coulter is correct. Dorothy Rabinowitz wrote the book on why.

Though I’m not necessarily the best judge of these things, there happens to be an attractive Republican alternative to Coakley. Update: Hillbuzz is calling GOP candidate Scott Brown Hottie McAwesome.

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From the World’s Smallest Violin Dept., on Flight 253′s “alleged” perp — “Web posts suggest lonely, depressed terror suspect.”

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GM offering deep discounts on Saturn, Pontiac” — Hopefully in 2010, someone will explain or expose why Government Motors nixed the Saturn deal and nixed unloading Opel in Germany.

In a 55KRC broadcast in Cincinnati several months ago, a gentleman who claimed to be in a position to know (I have spoken to him, and I believe he is in a position to know via an informant) said that GM was at the ink-drying-on-the-contract stage with Saturn when it backtracked, suddenly deciding that Roger Penske that it wouldn’t make the existing models as originally promised that would have given him the cash flow needed to fund his futuristic car designs and would have enabled him to keep the dealer network largely intact. If true, and nothing else that is known makes sense, of course Penske had to walk away. The Opel pullback, again at the last minute, has angered many in Germany, up to and including Angela Merkel.

In both cases, the ward of the state walked away from multibillion-dollar deals that could either have provided capital, enabled it to pay back a significant portion of the government’s loans, or a bit of each. In the case of Saturn, that means tens if not hundreds of millions in wind-down costs. Both moves have the earmarks, if you will, of car-czar interference. To what end?

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I missed this in September — RIP, Jody Powell.

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“TSA Subpoenas Bloggers, Demands Names of Sources” — It’s over finding out who leaked a Transportation Security Administration directive to Flying with Fish and Elliott. My two-word response would be unprintable.

Surely those who were “outraged” over the “excesses” of the Patriot Act will come to the defense of the blogs’ proprietors. Don’t bet on it.

Update at Pajamas Media: “Armed TSA Agents Threaten Travel Journalist.”

Spot-on comment: “This is not the America I knew.” Especially this, from the text: “They threatened me with a criminal search warrant and suggested they’d call up my clients and say I was a security risk if I didn’t turn over my computer to them.”

Side order of snark, referring to the government’s recorded phone message referring to the “Christmas event”: “So let me get this straight. Our government officially speaks of ‘the holidays’ when wishing everyone cheer — but the moment a terrorism incident happens on one of these holidays, it’s suddenly just fine to call it ‘Christmas?’”

Update 2: Dropped. I’m not impressed. This only means that enough of a stink was raised this time. The more such things are attempted, the less attention they’ll get, the more likely authorities won’t relent. Someone needs to be seriously and immediately disciplined for threatening at least one of the pair’s livelihood.

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From South Carolina (HT Volokh, whose title follows) — “$150,000 Settlement for Black Public School Students Harassed by Other Black Students for “Acting White.”

Here’s a blockbuster story waiting for a journalist with the guts to tackle it: The “acting white” epithet has spread way beyond the schools into extended-family relationships and the workplace.

Too many jealous, bitter, angry African-Americans are throwing the “acting white” slur at “brothers” and “sisters” whose only supposedly “white” actions are working hard, being financially responsible, and maintaining stable nuclear family relationships. This situation, which sometimes rises to the level of intimidation, virtual blackmail (“it’s your duty to give your money to a ‘brother’”), and even violence, may be doing more to hold back African-American achievement and full participation in the American Dream than anything the Klan could ever have dreamed of.

It would be great if a generally courageous guy like Bill Cosby spoke up against this (in a sense, he has, but not directly to this particular matter). It would be even greater if Barack Obama, who has been the occasional target of this ugliness (here and here), would strike back at it with the emotion and persistence he usually reserves for those who disagree with him on public policy.

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Incomplete headline of the day, from Reuters“Treasury to dole out $3.8 billion to GMAC, raise stake.” Actually, Treasury will now have a majority stake. In reality, it’s now Government Motors Acceptance Corporation.

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David Reilly of Bloomberg, glutton for punishment, read the 1,279-page financial services regulation bill passed by the House in early December. This probably makes him more qualified to be in Congress than the vast majority of those who voted for it, because that vast majority probably didn’t read it.

Reilly really finds that:

There are huge giveaways insuring the government will again rescue banks and Wall Street if the need arises.

…. It authorizes Federal Reserve banks to provide as much as $4 trillion in emergency funding the next time Wall Street crashes. So much for “no-more-bailouts” talk.

…. The bill also allows the government, in a crisis, to back financial firms’ debts. Bondholders can sleep easy — there are more bailouts to come.”

Thus, reckless financial dealings by the big boys will still get covered, which will encourage them to be …. reckless. And you thought Obama and Congress were going to put a stop to this just because they said they would? Not when every “crisis” that comes along represents yet another chance to establish yet more federal power and control.

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The sit-in at Republic Windows in Chicago late last year, which got the “moral” support of president-elect Barack Obama, is still considered a “success” by the press and the labor movement.

Republic, where 250 used to work, employed 17 as of late October. At that point, hundreds had gone 10 or so months without a paycheck. There’s a lot more to the story that I hope to get to eventually, but for now I’ll just say that I’d hate to see what “failure” looks like.

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Ron Paul has some good ideas, and many deserve wider exposure, but things like this exemplify why I can’t take him seriously as a presidential candidate.

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Losses at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will top $400 billion. What a “coincidence”; just before Christmas, the Treasury Department/Obama administration gave the entities relief without limits. Update: Context — That’s about eight Enrons, and counting.

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Speaking of Fan and Fred, it’s hard to overstate the relevance of this paragraph from Peter J. Wallison in the Wall Street Journal, because it should end the debate over who is primarily responsible for the housing and mortgage-lending messes:

There is more to this ugly situation. New research by Edward Pinto, a former chief credit officer for Fannie Mae and a housing expert, has found that from the time Fannie and Freddie began buying risky loans as early as 1993, they routinely misrepresented the mortgages they were acquiring, reporting them as prime when they had characteristics that made them clearly subprime or Alt-A.

The two Democrat-crony government-sponsored enterprises created an artificial market for subprime mortgages by bilking investors for 15 years. If they hadn’t done this, subprimes would never have been able to expand to their mortally dangerous levels. Further, the victims of the misrepresentations logically would appear to include the rating agencies that some state attorneys general are going after as the supposed culprits.

I’d like to think that malfeasance on this scale can’t happen again. Sadly, given the one-party culture of corruption that rules Washington, I fear it’s just as likely to get worse. Heaven knows what goes undetected.

If it does, it will be more than a little bit harder to have a happy new year.

Quote of the Day: On Rush and Health Care

Althouse (HT Instapundit):

Much re-tweeted at Twitter: “The people calling for Rush Limbaugh to die are the same people who ask to control your healthcare.”

Also noted by Althouse:

Rush Limbaugh has said on his show many times that once the government runs health care, there is a threat that life-or-death decisions will be made based on politics, and people will worry that if they criticize the government or espouse the wrong opinions decisions will go against them.

For some power-hungry far-left statists, that’s not a bug. It’s a feature.

Does anyone seriously doubt that someone who has advocated mass sterilization through the water supply, or who advocates reordering who receives care based on “communitarian” concepts including “instrumental value,” would even blink at the idea, if proposed, of eliminating political opponents or dissidents if their health care gets “too expensive”? At least two such people are within the walls of the Obama administration. That’s not speculation. It’s in their body of written work, and as far as I know, they’ve never said, “I was wrong. I am sorry.” Sadly, I doubt they ever will.

Latest Pajamas Media Column (‘Economic Rebound? What Economic Rebound?’) Is Up

flatlineIt’s here.

It will go up at BizzyBlog on Saturday morning (link won’t work until then) after the blackout expires.

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Left Out and New Info Since the Column’s Submission

  • A “rebound,” or a recovery with any kind of meaningful strength, wouldn’t normally occur when the Institute for Supply Management’s Non-Manufacturing Index slips back into the realm of contraction (a reading of under 50%, in this case 48.7%), as it did in November, after showing two months of post-recession (as normal people define it) expansion.
  • The combined ISM Manufacturing and Non-Manufacturing Indices (weighted 15% and 85% to roughly approximate their portions of the economy) went from a decently positive 51.37% in October [(.15 x 55.7) + (.85 x 50.6)] to slightly negative 49.44% in November [(.15 x 53.6) + (.85 x 48.7)]. That’s not the kind of oomph you see in a meaningful recovery; in fact, though it’s not recessionary (ISM says that readings need to drop to about 42 for that to happen), it’s not any kind of net oomph.
  • The column’s wrap had a couple of paragraphs about the decline in federal tax and other collections for calendar 2009 vs calendar 2008 (down just over 20% after adding back 2008′s stimulus payments, which were in my view erroneously treated as negative receipts). A point not made is that even in the sixth month of the supposed “rebound,” year-over-year receipts are still declining by 10% or more. Collections for the October-December quarter will come in about 12% below the same quarter in 2008, and over 20% below 2007. If the recovery/”rebound” is so great, where’s the money?
December 30, 2009

Rush Limbaugh Is Hospitalized…

Filed under: General — Rose @ 11:59 pm

The initial report is here.

Our thoughts & prayers are with Rush.

UPDATE, Dec. 31, 8 a.m. (from Tom): Whew

RushLimbaughDotComMsg123109

UPDATE 2, Dec. 31 (from Tom): Via the NY Daily News

Conservative radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh remained in “good, stable condition” Thursday after he was admitted to a Hawaii hospital for chest pains.

Limbaugh’s guest host Walter Williams told listeners the talk radio king “continues to rest very comfortably” at a Honolulu hospital, where doctors planned a complete medical exam.

Rush DU Reax Collection: Someone’s Gotta Note It

Filed under: News from Other Sites — Tom @ 11:55 pm

Your truly put on the hazmat suit and visited Democratic Underground a bit ago.

To be fair, there are several DUmmies calling for restraint.

To be accurate, there are a lot of commenters who aren’t paying it any heed.

Click here or on the picture to see samples of many of the reactions in a new window (warning: Very foul language and harsh sentiments):

RushIllWishersAtDemUnderground1209

Charming.

UPDATE, 1:00 a.m.: Except for the lack of expletives, the hateful comments at the Honolulu source article aren’t any better.

Dumb-Funny Video of the Day

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:00 pm

Yeah, it’s dumb (HT newly and long-overdue blogrolled Temple of MUT), but it’s December 30, and I’m tired of the news (at least for a night).

Besides, it’s good to see that there’s at least one dog out there who is smarter than the people who cast 66,882,230 votes for Barack Obama in November 2008:

Consolation: That 66.9 million is less than 30% of the adult (18 and over) population — and that’s before subtracting out ACORN-inspired duplicates.

Related question: I wonder if pollsters end up throwing out 2/3 or more of their respondents as not likely voters? My guess: Not likely.

Flight 253: Media Ignoring Two-Day Gap Between Preliminary AQ Linkage and Obama Team’s ‘Some Linkage’ Acknowledgment

Obama122909UPDATE, Jan. 1, 2010: This post shows that the there was recognition of likely Al Qaeda involvement in two separate press reports based on sources in a position to know on Christmas evening. Thus, the administration’s delay in acknowledging that reality was actually three full days.

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In their initial December 26 report (“Passengers’ Quick Action Halted Attack”) on the attempted terrorist attack on Flight 253, New York Times reporters Scott Shane and Eric Lipton told readers that the “episode …. riveted the attention of President Obama on vacation in Hawaii.”

In an article later that day (“Officials Point to Suspect’s Claim of Qaeda Ties in Yemen”), Lipton and Eric Schmitt reported that:

…. officials said the suspect (Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab) told them he had obtained explosive chemicals and a syringe that were sewn into his underwear from a bomb expert in Yemen associated with Al Qaeda.

The authorities have not independently corroborated the Yemen connection …. But a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation said on Saturday that the suspect’s account was “plausible,” and that he saw “no reason to discount it.”

Any reasonable person would say that this second report establishes “reason to believe that there is some linkage” between the suspect and Al Qaeda, and that a “riveted” president would have known that there was “some linkage” by Saturday night. That’s why the following opener to a Washington Post item by Anne E. Kornblut dated yesterday is especially hard to take:

President Obama and his top advisers received new information Monday night about the attempted airliner attack in Detroit that has led them to believe there is “some linkage” with al-Qaeda, a senior administration official said Tuesday.

That’s also why the following statement included in remarks made by the president at 11:26 Hawaiian Time on Tuesday (4:26 p.m. Eastern) beggars belief:

I wanted to speak to the American people again today because some of this preliminary information that has surfaced in the last 24 hours raises some serious concerns.

For cryin’ out loud, they had what they needed to make a “some linkage” statement more than 48 hours earlier. Yet Obama and his peeps are acting as if they didn’t learn anything important until …. Monday night, “coincidentally” after a speech that was panned by almost all who saw it, ranging from Charles Krauthammer to Maureen Dowd, as a dreadful dud. Give me a break.

Yet Kornblut and others in the media are swallowing the administration’s rendition hook, line and sinker, or are pretending to. The Associated Press’s version, courtesy of Philip Elliott and Lolita C. Baldor, seems deliberately gullible, while also portraying Obama as the supposedly tough guy:

Obama wants answers after botched terror attack

President Barack Obama is demanding answers on why information was never pieced together by the U.S. intelligence community to trigger red flags about an alleged terrorist and possibly prevent his botched Christmas Day attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner.

…. Officials said Obama chose to make his second statement in as many days after a morning briefing offered him new information about the suspect’s activities and thinking, along with al-Qaida’s plans.

Even if there was even legitimate new information, based on what the whole world knew on Saturday night, it would have moved them from “some linkage” to “strong linkage,” not from nothing to “some.”

The only thing “new” was the PR problem Obama’s listless performance on Monday presented. The establishment media ignored its own reports in giving him an undeserved lifeline.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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UPDATE: Actually, AP’s report on Christmas evening at 7:28 p.m. (“AP sources: Al-Qaida link in failed plane attack”; saved at my web host; hi guys, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year :–>) tells us that AP’s sources had an AQ link figured out within hours of the plane’s landing.

So “some linkage” was surmised virtually from the get-go. Even after allowing for a few hours of i-dotting and t-crossing, Team Obama didn’t acknowledge the obvious for roughly three full days (Friday evening until Monday evening) after everyone with a brain (that would appear to exclude Janet Incompetano Napolitano) knew.

Lucid Links (123009, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:05 am

Jake Tapper Tweets (at about 2PM yesterday; HT Tim Graham at NewsBusters via NB-mail; internal link added by me):

I’ve asked the WH twice now about the executive order the president signed exempting Interpol from certain laws. No response.

Don’t spend all day and night waiting by the Blackberry, Jake.

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You can’t make this up (HT CQ Politics Political Wire) —

President Obama and his top advisers received new information Monday night about the attempted airliner attack in Detroit that has led them to believe there is “some linkage” with al-Qaeda, a senior administration official said Tuesday.

Follow my semi-live post on Friday night (see Updates 9A, B, and C), and you’ll see that there was “reason to believe there is ‘some linkage’” within 12 hours of the plane’s landing.

In related news, the administration received “new information” late Tuesday night that there is “some linkage” between the Cincinnati Bengals and the 2009 NFL Playoffs.

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At the New York Post, Ralph Peters says we’re “Lying to Ourselves.”

That we are:

On Christmas Day, an Islamist fanatic tried to blow up an airplane whose passengers were mostly Christians. And we helped.

…. We proclaim that the terrorists “don’t represent Islam.” OK, whom do they represent? The Franciscans? We don’t get to decide what’s Islam and what isn’t. Muslims do. And far too many of them approve of violent jihad.

It gets worse. Instead of focusing on the religious zeal and inspiration of our enemies and how such motivations change the game, our “terrorism experts” agonize over whether such beasts as Abdulmutallab or Maj. Hasan, the Fort Hood assassin for Allah, are really members of al Qaeda or not.

…. al Qaeda’s far more than a formal organization; it’s an idea, a cause. If a terrorist says he’s al Qaeda, he is, even if he doesn’t have a union card from Jihadi Local 632.

…. With our lies, self-deception and self-flagellation, we’re terror’s little helpers.

George W. Bush gets demerits here for sticking with the default “Religion of Peace” mantra long after it was obviously discredited. This administration is attempting to take that practiced naivete to a new level.

All Muslims aren’t jihadists, but virtually all jihadists claim to be Muslims, and all too many Muslims appear to quietly sympathize with jihadists’ goals and fail to repudiate their actions. It isn’t that difficult to say, and it has the distinct advantage of being true.

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Checkbook journalism gone wild.

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Let them eat wood:

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has ordered his staff to revise a computerized forecasting model that showed that climate legislation supported by President Obama would make planting trees more lucrative than producing food.

Since changing everyone’s digestive system to accommodate a high timber diet seems out of the question, food prices would have to go way up to encourage the needed production. This would lower standards of living across the board.

I’ll bet that’s not figured into the estimated costs per family of cap and trade legislation.

Positivity: Martha Mason (1937-2009)

Filed under: Marvels,Positivity — Tom @ 5:58 am

From the New York Times Magazine (HT Anchoress):

Published: December 22, 2009

…. In 1948, polio came for the children of Willard and Euphra Mason of Lattimore, N.C. First it took 13-year-old Gaston, killing him in days. His sister, Martha, grief-stricken, terrified, knew on the day of her brother’s funeral that her aching muscles meant she was sick, too. She decided she would not go to bed: she would outrun the disease. But she could fight sleep for only so long, and she woke to her weeping mother mopping her forehead. At a hospital an hour away, she heard her mother say, when told to go home, that she had no home to go to. Instead, Mrs. Mason got a job at the hospital. When her daughter was transferred to another facility, she got a job there too.

An iron lung looks like an enormous metal coffin or a 19th-century rocket ship: only its occupant’s head is left outside, a tight seal around the neck. A series of pumps inflate and deflate the lungs. For Martha Mason, age 11, now a quadriplegic, the iron lung was a rocket ship home. After a year in the hospital, doctors sent her back to Lattimore in a machine paid for by the March of Dimes and told her parents to make her last year alive a happy one.

One day she noticed a copy of Marcus Aurelius’s “Meditations” on a bookshelf and read it. “Take away the complaint, ‘I have been harmed,’ and the harm is taken away,” it said. “Sometimes I pretended that my brother had left ‘Meditations’ there for me,” she wrote later. She lived that year, and the next. Her high-school teachers brought lessons to her every afternoon; her parents moved with her to the campus of a local junior college, and then to Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, where she attended class by intercom and majored in English. She graduated first in all three classes. Flat on her back, she’d outrun the disease after all.

Since childhood she had dreamed of being a writer. She went to Vanderbilt University Hospital — she’d heard rumors of muscle transplants that might allow her to hold a pen — where she learned to type with a mouth stick. It made her feel like a trained seal. Instead, in Lattimore she wrote feature stories for the local paper, with her mother, Euphra, acting as amanuensis, as she had for Martha’s college papers. A year later her father had a heart attack, and Euphra, exhausted, said she could not take care of him and her daughter and her daughter’s career. Despite her ambition, Martha Mason didn’t write much of anything for more than 30 years.

She entertained instead. She gave dinner parties with the iron lung pulled up to the table (her mother allowed wine in the house as long as guests took away the bottles, so as not to give the trash man the wrong impression); read books (at first with the help of a human page turner, and then with an electronic one); and watched videotapes of her traveling friends. “My story’s been one of joy, one of wonderful experiences,” she told a reporter.

In 1994, a computer, Internet access and voice-recognition software changed her life again. Now from the iron lung she could answer the phone, turn on lights, switch television channels, read newspapers — and write. “Words, which have floated in my head for almost a half century, have finally found a place to drop anchor,” she wrote in her memoir, “Breath: Life in the Rhythm of an Iron Lung.” ….

Go here for the full story.

December 29, 2009

Wrapping Up 2009′s Search for Christmas (Year 5)

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias — Tom @ 1:02 pm

This is the fifth year I have looked into how the media treats these two topics:

  • The use of “Christmas shopping season” vs. “holiday shopping season” (note how the AP photo at right uses “holiday” and not “shopping,” even though there is a C-C-, Chr-Chr-Christmas tree in the picture).
  • The frequency of Christmas and holiday layoff references.

I have done three sets of simple Google News searches each year — the first in late November, followed by identical searches roughly two and four weeks later. The results of this year’s first two sets of searches are here (NewsBusters; BizzyBlog) and here (NewsBusters; BizzyBlog).

A table showing the results from this year, plus key comparisons to prior years, follows:

XmasComparisons2009

Looking at this year by itself, the proportion of references to the “Christmas shopping season” increased steadily from just before Thanksgiving to just before Christmas, but were a woeful 9.1% of all combined results. Google News search references to Christmas in stories about layoffs were proportionally four times more frequent than they were in stories about shopping (36.9% vs. 9.1%).

Comparing to prior years, while the “Christmas shopping season” percentage of all “shopping season” searches held steady from 2005 to 2007, it has dropped from 12.2% to this year’s 9.1%. That’s a 25% drop in just the past two years. If that 1.5-point drop average yearly drop continues, we will find no references to the “Christmas shopping season” in about a half-dozen years.

The results relating to “layoffs” are doubly relevant:

  • First, this year’s percentage of references to Christmas in layoff stories returned to its 2007 level.
  • More important, the absolute number of layoff references this year was down 88% from a year ago. Even after considering that Google News (and probably the economy itself) have pruned the number of news results by about half, the number of references to layoffs dropped by roughly 75%. “Somehow” this is the case even though the unemployment rate is several percentage points higher than it was a year ago. The number of layoffs occurring certainly hasn’t dropped by that much.

Sadly, this year’s search results show a continuing trend towards having the word “Christmas” become disassociated from stories about the gift-giving season, while keeping it relatively visible in dispatches about job losses.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Imelda Obama

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:05 am

From May:

MichelleObamaShoes0509

From last night (HT Gateway Pundit):

MichelleObamaShoes1209

Besides the obvious point that press sniping about First Ladies of conservative presidents engaging in such extravagance in a difficult economy would be non-stop (as it was in the early 1980s, virtually from Day 1), there’s this Michelle “Imelda” Obama blast from the past from February 2008 in Zanesville, Ohio:

“We left corporate America, which is a lot of what we’re asking young people to do,” she tells the women. “Don’t go into corporate America. You know, become teachers. Work for the community. Be social workers. Be a nurse. Those are the careers that we need, and we’re encouraging our young people to do that.”

Purchasing either of the pairs of shoes above would require at least a week’s net pay for many teachers, most nurses, and the vast majority of social workers. Those who choose the professions noted get to feel noble while struggling to make ends meet and hoping against hope that the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy doesn’t send us over the cliff, while Imelda the FLOTUS flaunts her wealth (and gets praised by the fashionistas for doing so).

Double Standard Couture,” indeed.

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UPDATE, Dec. 30: Well, I guess if Barack Obama is greater than Jesus (yes, I know the article is more than likely tongue in cheek or seriously delusional), then it’s not out of bounds for the New York Times to push the slavering meter to 10 on behalf of Michelle (HT Colleen Raezler at NewsBusters) –

In Mrs. Obama, the fashion industry has found a woman it can admire but cannot completely possess. That’s because she doesn’t favor only one designer or a clique, as her predecessors did. Also, she avoids the appearance of being cozy with designers. That’s why she’s often described in terms reserved for a 1930s screen goddess: “regal” and “dazzling,” a woman not to be contended with so much as worshiped from afar.

No wonder Anchoress suspects that Michelle’s husband wanted “to be the King, not the President.”

Lucid Links (122909, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:05 am

(begin disclaimer)

First, I’ll admit that I don’t understand how they determine it, that I’m not sure I would agree with it if I did, and that I think they’ve overlooked some factors in their calculations in the past.

(/disclaimer)

(begin insufferable bragging)

That said, this is from BlogNetNews:

BlogNetNewsAvgInfluence122709

I believe this marks the first time all year that an independent blog (as opposed to one that is run by a newspaper or a well-funded “not for profit” activist organization), has come out on top of BlogNetNews’s Ohio 12-week average list.

(/insufferable bragging)

(begin gratitude)

Intense thanks to co-blogger Rose, visitors, commenters, tipsters, correspondents, interviewees, and advertisers who have all contributed to this result.

(there is no end to the gratitude)

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Yeah, this is Bush’s fault, and to this extent, as explained by Hot Air commenter “Nozzie”:

…. He (Bush) brought a complete stop to the kind of nonsense we saw this weekend…His actions in Afghanistan and Iraq set tens of millions free from evil dictatorships…His administration tried to protect the American people and they were successful by any measure…A few of these losers were released but given the enormous pressure on the Bush administration from every nutcase lawyer at the ACLU, DNC, and a few within the DoD, and liberal Federal judges blocking every effort to administer military justice on these scum, a few were released.

Yes, those who became the Yemeni bombmakers shouldn’t have been released from Gitmo. Update: As usual, Gateway Pundit has much more detail.

But after Bush 43 settled in Texas, at least these things went wrong, are more immediately relevant, and can’t be blamed on him:

  • The State Department shouldn’t have blown two chances to flag Mutallab’s visa with the derogatory information that should have kept him out of the US.
  • Intelligence agencies should have reacted to this incident (perhaps they did, but whatever their response was, it didn’t work).
  • Intelligence agencies should have reacted to the advance warning that was “in a tape released four days before the attempted destruction of the Detroit-bound Northwest plane” (again, maybe they did, but whatever their response was, it didn’t work).

Open questions:

  • Why was the New York Times allowed to tell the world that “U.S. Widens Terror War to Yemen, a Qaeda Bastion,” including specific information like “A year ago, the Central Intelligence Agency sent several of its top field operatives with counterterrorism experience to the country.” Great. The bad guys will have their operatives comb through airline flight and other records to try to identify infiltrators. Thanks, NYT.
  • Assuming that the Flight 253 suspect wasn’t somehow living off of Dad’s money, is it possible that the money-tracking operation the Times exposed over Bush administration objections in 2006, thereby causing its shutdown, could have detected suspicious movements of funds?

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Did Chinese hackers release the ClimateGate e-mails? It looks more than a little likely.

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At Pajamas Media“Obama Surrenders U.S. Sovereignty: His INTERPOL Executive Order.”

Related, from last week: “Not News: Obama EO Removes Restrictions on INTERPOL.” It’s still not news in the establishment media, as AP searches on “Interpol” and “executive order” (not in quotes) demonstrate.

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Tuition Tax Follow-up – Pittsburgh and its Boy Blunder Mayor Luke Ravenstahl have decided not to attempt to impose a 1% tuition tax on Steel City college students, for a troubling reason:

Hizzhoner obtained a promise of increased financial support from academia, nonprofits and the corporate community. But no specific numbers are mentioned. That’s supposedly to be hashed out early in the year by another one of those largely useless “blue ribbon” panels that also will lobby Harrisburg for more state revenues.

Let’s face it: The colleges, including many not-for-profits, agreed to provide supposedly unspecified protection money to ensure that their students won’t get hit directly.

It’s one thing (barely, in my opinion) for them to agree to pay amounts in lieu of property taxes meant to approximate what they would pay if they were for-profits. It’s quite another to “contribute” money to a government for the sole purpose of keeping it off their backs — for the time being. What’s to prevent Loony Luke from threatening a 2% tax next time unless he gets ever larger payments? How can those who run these institutions defend these payments in light of their not-for-profit missions or their state-funded status?

I fear that this “do your fair share (or else)” idea will spread. It needs to be nipped in the bud and squashed like a bug. It’s probably too much to hope for, but because of that concern I’d like to see that January “blue ribbon” panel tell Luke and the city to pound steel.

Positivity: The Airport Wedding, and the Gift That Followed

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:57 am

Great, from Corpus Christi, Texas:

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Couple Gets Married at Texas Airport

A woman in a wedding gown surprised her fiance by greeting him at a Texas airport along with a justice of the peace.

Robyn Moore and William Acosta exchanged vows Monday at Corpus Christi International Airport after he got off a plane arriving from Toledo, Ohio.

Photos were taken near a Christmas tree at a security checkpoint.

Acosta, who was wearing jeans and a sweater, says he was speechless and thrilled by the wedding Moore planned.

Moore says she and Acosta “spent half our relationship in airports.”

The couple got a marriage license last week and planned to tie the knot this month, at a site to be determined.

Moore and Acosta met in 2008 in Dallas, where she lived and he was on a business trip. They plan to live in Toledo.

Even better, from Orlando, Florida:

Posted on Saturday, 12.26.09

Fla. couple married at airport get free honeymoon

An anonymous veteran is giving a Disney honeymoon to a Florida couple who got married at an airport after a blizzard made the groom miss his wedding.

Shawna Hodge and Army Pvt. Cody Beckwith were supposed to be married last weekend in Orlando. A blizzard stranded Beckwith in Baltimore, and the only flight back to Florida was going to Tampa.

Hodge surprised Beckwith at Tampa International Airport on Monday in her wedding dress, with the rest of their wedding party behind her.

Hodge says the couple didn’t have plans or the money for a honeymoon until the business manager at Walt Disney World’s Shades of Green Resort called. The manager offered a three-night stay, including meals and park tickets.

A card only identified the donor as “a Vietnam vet and his wife.”

December 28, 2009

Thank You, Charles Krauthammer

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:17 pm

Rephrasing what I’ve mentioned a couple of times in the past week, when we desperately need an updated version of the December 1981 model of Ronald Reagan, we instead get the 2009 clunker known as Barack Obama.

Charles Krauthammer rips into Obama’s relative indifference (HT Taxman Blog), after Fox’s fair and balanced Jim Engel attempted to give President ‘Prompter cover for having uttered “strong words”:

Full Text:

President Obama: The decision of Iraq’s leaders to govern through fear and tyranny will not succeed in making those aspirations go away. As I said in Oslo, it’s telling when governments fear the aspirations of its own people more than the power of any other nation.

Jim Engel: Now, strong words, Charles, but what is the administration doing? What can it do with a regime that is so obstreperous?

Charles Krauthammer: Flaccid words. Meaningless words. He talks about aspirations, he talks about rights, he talks about “justice” in the statement he made. This isn’t about “justice,” this isn’t about a low minimum wage, this isn’t about the absence of a public option in health care. This is about freedom.

This is a revolution in the streets. Revolutions happen quickly. There is a moment here in which if the thugs in the streets who are shooting on the crowds stop shooting, it’s over, and the regime will fall. The courage of the demonstrators and their boldness isn’t only a demonstration of their courage, it’s an indication of a shift in the balance of power. The regime is weakening.

This is a hinge of history. Everything in the region will change if the regime is changed. Obama ought to be strong out there in saying “It’s an illegitimate government, we stand shoulder to shoulder with the people in the street.”

He talks about diplomacy. He should be urging our Western allies who have relations to cut them off, isolate the regime. To ostracize it he ought to be going into UN, every forum, and denouncing it. This is a moment in history and he’s missing it.

Ronald Reagan didn’t miss it. You’ll note in his December 23, 1981 speech that he announced specific symbolic and substantive actions. They weren’t overwhelming by any stretch, but they demonstrated a willingness to do something beyond complaining. And of course, Thatcher, Pope John Paul, the AFL-CIO’s Lane Kirkland, and many others also started doing a lot of heavy lifting behind the scenes.

By contrast, Barack Obama is from all appearances avoiding doing anything, and even seems to require convincing to get in front of a microphone.

Not only is Obama missing the moment, he is doing way too much to give the regime of Khamenei, who really runs things, and his puppet Ahmadinejad legitimacy they do not deserve.

Elections matter, don’t they?

_____________________________________________________

Related: Michelle Malkin on Obama’s response to Flight 253 — “Perfunctory, hasty, and bloodless.” Obama’s reax to the attempted takedown is related to the situation in Iran because Iran funds and facilitates Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which would include Yemen.

AP, Aversa Conveniently Change Their Definition of ‘Recession’

recession

The Associated Press’s business writers and many others in the establishment press spent just over a year reminding readers at seemingly every conceivable opportunity that the recession began in December 2007, simply because the supposedly apolitical collection of academics at the National Bureau for Economic Research said so.

Lo and behold, in her year-end roundup of 2009′s top business stories, an article so biased and error-prone that I am devoting my next weekly column to deconstructing it, the Associated Press’s Jeannine Aversa writes that:

After four quarters of decline, the economy returns to growth during the July-to-September period, signaling the end of the deepest and longest recession since the 1930s.

Well, isn’t that special?

All of a sudden, Aversa is telling us that that the recession really ran from the third quarter of 2008 through the second quarter of 2009. She says that the recession ended during the third quarter of 2009 simply because the economy has returned to positive GDP growth (i.e., the “signal” went from a minus sign to a plus sign), which means she is now pegging it as having begun just four quarters earlier.

In other words, after using the NBER to define the beginning of the recession, she is using the “normal people” definition of a recession to say it’s over.

No can do, babe.

If you want to come back to the “normal people” definition, Jeannine, you and your colleagues are going to have to rewrite all items composed during the past year that dated the recession’s beginning as December 2007 — items that conveniently told us that we were putting up with a recession for more than a full year before Dear Leader came along. If you and your fellow journos aren’t willing to do that, you’re just going to have to be patient like the rest of us and wait for the NBER to tell us when it ended, and in the meantime shut your traps about whether it is or isn’t. In other words, if it’s on because they say it’s on, it doesn’t come off until they say it comes off.

As I noted in my Pajamas Media column/BizzyBlog post on February 12 and 14 this year, NBER, to arrive at its December 2007 determination, ignored three different significant pieces of evidence it cited in its own report — beyond the obvious fact that second quarter 2008 GDP growth was positive, ultimately even after the comprehensive revision several months ago — that the economy was improving during 2008’s second quarter, but got stopped in its tracks after that (bolds are mine):

The income-side estimates (of gross domestic income) reached their peak in 2007Q3, fell slightly in 2007Q4 and 2008Q1, rose slightly in 2008Q2 to a level below its peak in 2007Q3, and fell again in 2008Q3.

Our measure of real personal income less transfers peaked in December 2007, displayed a zig-zag pattern from then until June 2008 at levels slightly below the December 2007 peak, and has generally declined since June.

The Federal Reserve Board’s index of industrial production peaked in January 2008, fell through May 2008, rose slightly in June and July, and then fell substantially from July to September.

Beyond these three contrary items, considering December 2007 through June 2008 as part of the recession has these other additional flaws:

  • In December 2007, the economy added 120,000 seasonally adjusted jobs.
  • Fourth quarter 2007 GDP growth was an annualized +2.1%.
  • Compared to the first two full quarters of previous recessions, the first six months of 2008, with its average of +0.4%, is the only period showing positive net positive six-month GDP growth.
  • Jobs lost during the first six months of 2008 were lower as a percentage of the workforce than any other first two full quarters of previous recessions.

I for one am perfectly willing to concede that the recession as normal people define it is over, even if the economy’s performance isn’t particularly impressing anyone. In fact I have to; that’s what’s nice about having clear, objective, fact-based definitions. Of course, that also means that I’ve always said that the recession began in the third quarter of 2008.

But given that seasonally adjusted job losses haven’t yet ended, new home sales are still in the tank, and the largely government-induced nature of third quarter 2009′s growth, it’s hard to see how NBER, if it is to be consistent, will consider the recession to have ended in July. We’ll have to see what these supposedly apolitical academics have to say when they say it.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

P.S. And of course, it is not a coincidence that the the third quarter of 2008 marked the first full quarter of the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy.