January 31, 2010

WSJ on the 4Q09 GDP Report and ‘Animal Spirits’

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:15 am

The key paragraphs:

Slower inventory draw-downs in the quarter contributed 3.4% to that growth number, but a turn in the inventory cycle is normally the first sign of an economy emerging from recession. Given how deep the recent recession was, we might have hoped for an even bigger bounce. The rebuilding of inventories will likely continue to add to growth into this year, but clearly inventories can’t outgrow final demand forever.

For the recovery to be sustained, businesses will have to start investing again, and faster than the 2.9% annual rate of last quarter, which remains relatively weak for this point in a recovery. And for that, we need a revival of animal spirits.

Of course, WSJ’s editorialists are referring to the “animal spirits” ascribed to Keynes, the ones that positively drive economies in confident, non-threatening environments. Keynes correctly identified an aspect of human psychology while being wrong about almost everything else, including the idea that government stimulus will ignite those spirits. Maybe it would, if the stimulus were applied to worthwhile things and didn’t include heavy doses of pure handouts and low-priority/no-priority items. But that’s not how it ever turns out in the real world.

Unfortunately, negative “animal spirits” predominate now, because the government is being run by a crony-capitalist, “who will we go after next?” administration. The natural reaction is to take no chances, curry favor and make concessions where possible, and to otherwise take cover until things get better.

I’m beginning to question my hope that equipment and software may save us (the “Windows 7 Recovery” cited at Update 2 in my Friday GDP post) based on this statement in a New York Times editorial:

Much of the recent upsurge in business purchases of equipment and software was likely due to a rush to take advantage of an investment tax break before it expired in December.

If true (I’m not so sure, because I suspect a lot businesses might think the break will be extended anyway), editorial writers at the Times are quite justified in worrying about a “renewed recession.” Of course, they don’t understand that the government uber alles approach they have advocated is why the recession as normal people define it that went from 3Q08 and 2Q09 was so deep in the first place.

AP Headline Tells Readers DOJ Lawyers Approved Torture; Article Content Differs

Well if you can’t win the propaganda war by twisting the content of something you don’t like, you can at least plant a presumptive seed in the heads of those who will only see a story’s headline.

That seems to be the logic behind an unbylined Associated Press report this morning. Its headline (“Report: No sanctions for lawyers who OK’d torture”) would tend cause anyone not reading further to believe that what was under review is indisputably considered “torture.” But that is not the case, and the underlying article itself proves it.

Here is a graphic capture of the first few paragraphs of the AP report:

APonDOJsocalledTorture013010

Note that the second paragraph refers to “so-called torture memos.” The word “torture” does not appear anywhere else in the report.

There is widespread disagreement as to whether waterboarding fits the legal definition of torture. The AP report also fails, as so many other reports relating to the controversy have, to note three important points the linked Newsmax article makes:

Only three terrorists have been subjected to waterboarding, and the technique has not been employed since 2003.

…. In fact, U.S. special forces are subjected to waterboarding as part of their training in case they are captured and experience the procedure.

…. The three terrorists who were subjected too waterboarding are Abu Zubaydah, Osama bin Laden’s chief of operations; Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the mastermind of the bombing of the USS Cole; and Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.

In these cases waterboarding and other coercive techniques, such as forcing prisoners to stand for hours, succeeded in extracting intelligence that led to the capture of key al-Qaida operative planning terrorist attack against Americans.

…. “Waterboarding was employed on only three terrorists who were not cooperating, and the information they ultimately provided helped stave off attacks that could have resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people.”

In a later sentence, the AP writes (hopes?) that “The finding is likely to unsettle interest groups who contended there should be sanctions for Bush administration lawyers who paved the way for tough interrogations, warrantless wiretapping and other coercive tactics.”

An honestly headlined report would at least have put quotes around the word “torture.” A more accurate headline would have replaced the T-word with “enhanced interrogations,” either with or without quotes. But excuse me for questioning whether honesty or accuracy was the goal.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Positivity: Holy Father praises model provided by newly beatified Spaniard

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:57 am

From Vatican City:

Jan 24, 2010 / 12:20 pm

After the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI brought attention to the recently beatified Blessed Jose Samso i Elias. On Saturday, the martyred Spanish priest became the first person ever to be beatified in the Archdiocese of Barcelona.

He was “a true witness of Christ, (who) died forgiving his persecutors,” said the Pope of the man. “For priests, especially for parish priests, he constitutes a model of dedication to catechesis and charity to the poor.”

According to the archdiocese, the priest, known by the Archbishop of Barcelona in the 1920′s as “the premier catechist in the diocese,” was famous also for his charity and very active and successful in pursuing new vocations as a spiritual director.

He was killed by a firing squad in the cemetery of Mataró, Spain for being a priest. Before he was shot, he attempted to embrace his executioners and forgave them for actions “as Christ forgave those who nailed him to the cross.”

Go here for the rest of the story.

January 30, 2010

Latest Pajamas Media Column (‘RINOs RINOs Everywhere’) Is Up

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:23 am

RINOsEverywherePJMtease0110

It’s here.

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

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Previous related posts:

  • Jan. 27 — Quote of the Day: Matt at Weapons of Mass Discussion
  • Jan. 25 — The Impending Yost Announcement
  • Jan. 21 — Thanks Rob Portman…NOT!
  • Jan. 21 — Kevin DeWine, Screwing Up A Perfectly Perfect Storm… (Also See Updates)
  • Jan. 17 — The Ghosts Haunting Ohio’s (and America’s) Factories and Offices
  • Jan. 16 — Dave Yost Gets Another Spontaneous Endorsement!
  • Jan. 14 — Delayed-Blogging the Kasich-Taylor Announcement
  • Jan. 14 — Washington County Suspends Rules to Endorse Dave Yost!
  • Jan. 13 — Kasich’s Taylor-Made Move
  • Jan. 11 — Hey, Republican Party, Don’t ‘Whig’ Out!
  • Jan. 4, 2010 — Awwww…Rob Portman Hearts Jon Husted
  • Dec. 19, 2009 — AP, Ohio Media, Gov. Strickland and Dems Call Retroactive Income Tax Increase a ‘Tax Cut Delay’
  • July 16 — Support Dave Yost …
  • June 18 — A Great Graph About John Kasich and Ted Strickland
  • May 29 — An Open Letter to John Kasich

Positivity: Kurt Warner Retires

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:00 am

From Tempe, Arizona:

Warner, 2-time MVP, hangs up jersey
Updated: January 29, 2010, 9:10 PM ET

Kurt Warner thanked God, hugged his children and wife and said goodbye to an NFL career that seems the stuff of sports fiction.

The 38-year-old quarterback announced his retirement Friday after a dozen years in a league that at first rejected him, then revered him as he came from nowhere to lead the lowly St. Louis Rams to two Super Bowls.

Then, as if going from stocking groceries to winning NFL MVP awards wasn’t improbable enough, Warner was written off as a has-been and rose again to lead the long-suffering Arizona Cardinals to the Super Bowl.

A man of deep faith who carried a Bible to each post-game news conference, Warner walked away with a year left on a two-year, $23 million contract, knowing he still had the skills to play at the highest level.

“It’s been an amazing ride,” Warner said. “I don’t think I could have dreamt it would have played out like it has, but I’ve been humbled every day that I woke up the last 12 years and amazed that God would choose to use me to do what he’s given me the opportunity to do.”

Warner had one of the greatest postseason performances ever in Arizona’s 51-45 overtime wild card victory over Green Bay on Jan. 10, but sustained a brutal hit in the Cardinals’ 45-14 divisional round loss at New Orleans six days later.

“He has had a dominant career,” Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said. “He’s got to do what’s best for his family. He played long enough. He took us to the Super Bowl last year.

“If you’re going to go out, go out on top.”

The Cardinals signed Warner to a one-year contract in 2005 largely because no other team would give him a chance to be a starter. His opportunities over the next two years were scattered and even when coach Ken Whisenhunt took over in 2007, Warner was the backup to Matt Leinart.

But when Leinart went down with an injury five games into the season, Warner got his chance. He started 48 of the remaining 49 games of his career.

“I’ve played 12 years, I’m a 38 years old and I believe I was playing at as high a level now and over the last two years as I was playing when I first got into the league,” he said. “That’s something I’m proud of.”

Blessed with an uncanny throwing accuracy and a knack for reading defenses, Warner leaves the game with a legacy that could land him in the Hall of Fame even though he didn’t get his first start until he was 28.

In a comparison with the 14 quarterbacks to make the Hall of Fame in the last 25 years, Warner has a better career completion percentage, yards per pass attempt and yards per game. Only Dan Marino had more career 300-yard passing games. ….

Go here for the rest of the story.

January 29, 2010

AP Video Teases Give Away Attitude Toward Tony Blair’s UK Iraq War Inquiry Appearance

BlairAPvidIraqPromo2BlairAPvidIraqPromo1

Based on the two pictures seen at the right, it doesn’t exactly take Sherlock Holmes to figure out that the people at the Associated Press who decide on what pictures to use to tease the wire service’s assorted video clips are not all favorably inclined towards Tony Blair.

Rather than show a picture of the former UK Prime Minister, the AP chose pics of a demonstrator outside where the inquiry was held.

As of about 8 PM ET, the “Raw Video” feed was still in the rotation and easily accessible at many hosted.ap.org pages carrying an international story. An accessible link to that vid is here at YouTube.

The “Blair Unrepentant” story is no longer in the rotation, but can be found here.

Here is a transcript of that “Unrepentant” video:

AP Reporter Martin Benedict: This was billed as “Judgment Day” for Tony Blair, and protestors outside the hearing offered their judgment that Blair was a war criminal for invading Iraq on the false premise that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

But inside, the former Prime Minister was unrepentant, telling the inquiry panel he’d do it all again if he had to.

Blair: It’s really really important I think to understand this as far as understanding the decision I took, and frankly would take again. If there was any possibility that he could develop weapons of mass destruction we should stop him, that was my view. That was my view then that’s my view now.

Benedict: Outside the mood turned somber, as protestors including actor Samuel West held a naming of the dead ceremony.

Samuel West (speaking to AP): I find it extraordinary that a man who saw 1-1/2 million people march past his office go to war with no more justification than that he, he thought he was doing the right thing. Every war criminal in history has said the same thing.

Benedict: Blair’s successor Gordon Brown is due to give his evidence before the election which will be held by May.  Martin Benedict, the Associated Press.

Blair appears in all of 23 seconds of the 1:22 video. It’s enough to make one almost relieved that the AP has little direct presence (so far) in broadcast television.

As to Benedict’s breezy assertion about Saddam’s possession of weapons of mass destruction being a “false premise,” here the short version of the required routine debunking of the tired leftist claim, historically accurately phrased as “There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq” (with no qualification of any kind) any time yours truly sees it made:

  • April 2, 2007 — “Munitions Found (in Iraq) Last Year Were Officially WMDs.”
  • In a mid-August 2006 post called “The ‘No WMD’ Lie (With Linked Proof) — The Sequel,” I identified six establishment media press reports describing items found in Iraq after the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein. The conclusions concerning these items were that 3 of them were “undisputable definites” as WMDs, that one related to raw materials definitely usable for creating WMDs, that one was inconclusive, and that a final item was not a WMD, but a clue to to the existence of hundreds of WMDs that were subsequently found.
  • And of course, there were the 550 tons of yellowcake uranium taken out of Iraq in the summer of 2008. Investors Business Daily deadpanned noted that its “the stuff that can be refined into nuclear weapons or nuclear fuel, at a facility in Tuwaitha outside of Baghdad,” and that “it was bought by a Canadian company for further processing into nuclear fuel — thus keeping it from potential use by terrorists or unsavory regimes in the region.”

Thus, the claim that there were no WMDs in Iraq is demonstrably and indisputably false. Martin Benedict or anyone else at the Associated Press are welcome to come by BizzyBlog or NewsBusters any time to show why my work based primarily on reports by others in their profession is wrong.

They won’t be able to. Thus, they must resort to showing immature caricatures and providing excessive face time and air time to the same people who have been wrong all along, both about the existence of WMDs and who was on the noble side in the military victory known as the Iraq War.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Paranoid Much? Robert Reich Imagines that Fox News Was Around in 1994

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:51 am

RobertReich2009Robert Reich must have nightmares about Fox News. Shoot, he must have triple locks on his doors and sleep under his bed out of fear that Roger Ailes will come and take him away.

In a Monday column at Salon.com (“Is the President Panicking?”), Reich excoriated President Obama’s proposed discretionary spending “freeze” — a “freeze” that NewsBuster Julie Seymour noted fails to offset the spending proposals Obama brought up in his State of the Union speech —  for “invok(ing) memories of (Bill) Clinton’s shift to the right in 1994,” especially because  ”it could doom the recovery.”

That was absurd enough, but in the process of recounting his fevered view of 1990s history, Bill Clinton’s former Secretary of Labor threw in this whopper, revealing that for Reich, as Buffalo Springfield told us so many years ago in their 1960s hit song “For What It’s Worth,” paranoia really does strike deep:

In December 1994, Bill Clinton proposed a so-called middle-class bill of rights including more tax credits for families with children, expanded retirement accounts, and tax-deductible college tuition. Clinton had lost his battle for healthcare reform. Even worse, by that time the Dems had lost the House and Senate. Washington was riding a huge anti-incumbent wave. Right-wing populists were the ascendancy, with Newt Gingrich and Fox News leading the charge. Bill Clinton thought it desperately important to assure Americans he was on their side.

There’s one “little” problem: Fox News Channel’s first day on the air was October 7, 1996.

Salon has since corrected Reich’s falsehood.

Evidence of Reich’s original statement is here, here, and here (see Reply 20). For posterity, I have saved a graphic of the aforementioned paragraph here.

Mary Katharine Ham at the Weekly Standard calls it one of the “Great moments in Salon corrections.”

Reich obviously doesn’t remember this moment from a Bill Clinton press conference in 1996, as recalled by Carl M. Cannon at Politics Daily:

Interestingly, although he had once lost his temper at Hume in a Rose Garden press conference, President Clinton made a point of saying he thought Hume’s coverage was, well, fair and balanced. This happened on Dec. 13, 1996 at Hume’s farewell White House news conference for ABC News (before moving to Fox — Ed.) when Clinton surprised us all by suddenly saying, “Brit, let me say before you leave, I know this is your last White House press conference … but over the last several years, I think all of us think you have done an extraordinary, professional job under Republican and Democratic administrations alike, and we will miss you. And we wish you well, and congratulations on your new position.”

My, how things have changed. Instead of having its job-changing correspondent praised for his coverage, Fox gets blamed for stuff it allegedly did when it wasn’t even around.

Bob Reich’s paranoia has a softer conservative counterpart: Many of us have occasional nightmares about Reich ever again gaining executive authority inside the government.

I daresay that if a conservative suffered from a similar paranoid memory lapse we’d be hearing a lot more about it.

Cross-posted at NewsBuster.org.

4Q09 GDP Post (012910): Advance Estimate Comes in at Annualized +5.7% (See Update 2: A ‘Windows 7 Recovery’?)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:29 am

Well, here comes the report that, if it comes in as predicted, will bring out Obamanomics’ defenders in droves.

An AP report I saw yesterday that I can’t find the link to immediately predicted that the government will report that economic growth during the fourth quarter of 2009 was an annualized 4.5%. This Reuters link has a consensus prediction of 4.6%.

We’ll see right here very shortly.

8:34 a.m. — Here we go:

Real gross domestic product — the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States — increased at an annual rate of 5.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009, (that is, from the third quarter to the fourth quarter), according to the “advance” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the third quarter, real GDP increased 2.2 percent.

Immediate reax: This administration has done what most would have seen as the impossible — creating an environment where the economy grows and jobs are still lost, i.e., not a jobless recovery, a “job-loss recovery.”

Second reax: That number is extremely likely to come down in subsequent revisions. There are so many tepid (or worse) reports coming from elsewhere, including the ones from Uncle Sam telling us that the money one would expect to be coming into the government as a result of strong growth isn’t coming in.

Third reax: As good as the 5.7% number is, it still trails Bush 43′s breakout quarter of 6.9% after the supply-side investment-related tax cuts that he wanted all along finally happened in 2003.

Fourth reax: As good as the number is, it only bring us just over halfway back (before considering population growth) to where we were before the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy kicked in (results are compounded and carried out to more decimal places than displayed):

GDPcontractionRecoveredThur4Q09

Since Pelosi, Obama, and Reid own the results of all six quarters (the POR Economy’s arrival came in the summer of 2008), this represents the full context of their awful stewardship.

More later.

UPDATE: There’s a big difference between what was produced and what was sold, as this paragraph from the government’s report shows:

Real final sales of domestic product — GDP less change in private inventories — increased 2.2 percent in the fourth quarter, compared with an increase of 1.5 percent in the third.

AP has picked up on that point with its current opening paragraph:

The economy grew faster than expected at the end of last year, though the engine of that growth – companies replenishing stockpiles – is likely to weaken as consumers keep a lid on spending.

The thing to really be concerned about is that companies might have overdone it on the replenishment.

UPDATE 2: The AP report also cites something I referred to several months ago (third item at link) as one of the economy’s best hopes for a legitimate, private industry-driven breakout:

Growth exceeded expectations mainly because business spending on equipment and software jumped 13.3 percent – much more than forecast. It’s the second quarter in a row that business spending has increased, after six quarters of decline.

From the government’s long-form report – “Information processing and software” was a 0.60% component (Table 2) of the 5.7% the reported GDP increase — a remarkable percentage of total growth (10.5%, or .6/5.7; also 27%, or .6/2.2, of the final sales growth rendition of GDP) considering that it’s about 4.4% of the economy (Table 3: $578 billion divided by $13.155 trillion).

Especially considering the potential productivity improvements throughout the economy of widespread Windows 7 adoption after 3 years of business misery with and avoidance of Vista (and assuming that Windows 7 is as good as reviewers have said it is), if the recovery ends up having longer-term legs, we may need to start calling it the “Windows 7 Recovery.”

Apple’s fourth quarter results earlier this week, which included a 33% increase in sales of Macs, indicate that it also has had a role in the sector’s outsized contribution to growth.

Should I mention that computers and software are among the few sectors the government hasn’t been particularly successful at heavily regulating–yet?

Lucid Links (012910, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 8:22 am

A John Kerry-like State of the Union moment — President Obama and his fellow Democrats were the architects of the 2009 budget Obama whined about inheriting in his State of the Union speech:

… the 2009 budget was almost exclusively approved by Democrats, with “Yeas” coming from current President then Sen. Obama, his current Vice President then Sen. Joe Biden, his current Chief of Staff then Rep. Rahm Emanuel, and his current Secretary of State then Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Beyond that, Noel Sheppard’s NewsBusters post points out that Obama himself praised that budget on March 14, 2008:

“The budget passed by the Senate tonight makes significant progress in getting our nation’s priorities back on track. After years of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, this year’s budget helps restore fiscal responsibility in Washington, and provides tax relief for the middle class and low-income families who need help most. It includes an expansion in the Child Tax Credit that I have fought for and makes marriage penalty relief permanent. And it rejects the President’s drastic cuts in important domestic programs.

“We need change in this country, and this budget is an important step in helping bring it about. I commend Chairman Conrad for his extraordinary leadership in moving this resolution forward and moving America’s fiscal policies in the right direction.”

In 2003, in connection with Senate votes involving funding the war in Iraq, Kerry said, “I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.” In 2008, Obama voted for the budget and praised it before he trashed it on Wednesday.
______________________________________________________

Andrew Breitbart has come out swinging on James O’Keefe arrest — “For those in the mainstream media committed to report the false and libelous narrative of ‘Watergate Jr.,’ ‘wiretapping’ and ‘bugging,’ I predict much egg on your J-school grad faces.”

MSNBC so-called journalist David Shuster has already made a complete fool of himself in making stuff up. Breitbart and Lachian Mackley at NewsBusters have forced Shuster into a retraction and his MSNBC bosses into admitting that Shuster’s related pseudo-triumphant tweets “were inappropriate.”

______________________________________________________

Running without shoes is supposed to be better for you (HT Instapundit). OK, but what about the occasional piece of broken glass or other sharp objects?

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Who says there’s no partisan cooperation? From the Politico:

A top House committee responded to the mounting voter backlash against backroom deals on health reform by seeking more information Wednesday about White House negotiations with industry groups.

Hours before President Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union address, Republicans and Democrats on the Energy and Commerce Committee agreed to pursue a revised GOP request for additional documentation about the talks that led to a series of controversial administration agreements with doctors, hospitals and drug makers at the outset of the health care debate.

This is funny. Desperate Democrats feeling that they have to do something to distract their voters from their support of statist health care bills are saying, “See, see, I don’t like those backroom deals either, and so I supported an investigation.” Pathetic.

______________________________________________________

AnObama Shocks the Elitesmoment via Bloomberg – “Stunned Wall Street Firms Don’t Want War With Obama.”

I wonder how many of them thought that making political contributions to the Democratic Party and its candidates would buy them peace?

Positivity: Glad to the bone

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Ukiah, California:

Cross-country walker raises awareness for bone marrow registry

Updated: 01/24/2010 12:00:28 AM PST

When Jeana Moore’s granddaughter Jada was born 2 1/2 years ago, her nurse noticed something that saved her life. “She saw some red dots on her skin. Jada had patechiae – red spots that indicated her blood was not clotting,” Moore explains.

In a month, Jada was diagnosed with leukemia, and by 5 months old, she had received four chemotherapy treatments. Jada’s survival was dependent upon finding a bone marrow donor.

“Once we knew Jada needed a transplant, everyone in the family was tested. No one matched,” says Moore. The National Bone Marrow Registry was contacted, and the wait for a suitable donor began.

There are 8 million Americans listed on the registry – a million more than last year. Even with that many registrants, Jada’s donor was not found in the U.S. “A 30-year-old man from Germany became her donor,” Moore explains. A volunteer from the registry flew to Germany to pick up his lifesaving cells and transport them to Seattle Children’s Hospital. Jada received her bone marrow transplant in November of 2007, and was in remission by March of 2008.

Following the family’s arduous ordeal, Moore felt she needed to help others suffering with leukemia. “I decided to help patients and families waiting for their donors. I looked at the Internet and other programs but realized I wanted to talk to people face-to-face about the National Bone Marrow Registry.”

Moore and her family created the Jada Bascom Foundation. As an adjunct activity, Moore stepped out – literally and figuratively – embarking from Seattle in October of 2009 on an 18-month-long trek across the United States to raise awareness about becoming a member of the National Bone Marrow Registry, and explain how simple it is to be a bone marrow donor.

Moore walked into Ukiah Tuesday, traveling with a 35-pound backpack. Her goal is simple: to encourage people to get on the registry.

“Jada found her donor in two months. We were very lucky,” says Moore. She recounts the story of another friend. “He’s been waiting for a match for four years and decided to recruit donors. He’s recruited over 8,000 people. Fifty have been matched with patients. He’s getting weaker and says if he dies, he knows he’s fulfilled his life’s purpose by helping to increase the number of people in the registry.”

Moore stresses becoming a registrant is easy and painless. “You simply request a kit from the National Bone Marrow Registry. You take a cheek swab of cells and mail the packet to the registry. No blood is drawn,” Moore explains. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

January 28, 2010

Establishment Media Negligence in ’08 Campaign Enables Obama Foreign Campaign Contribution Chutzpah

ObamaSOTUIn his State of the Union address last night, President Barack Obama had this to say about the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on campaign finance:

With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests – including foreign corporations – to spend without limit in our elections. I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people.

Brad Smith at National Review Online has already delivered delivered the definitive responsethe definitive debunking of the president’s statement, while offering two choices as to what that statement represents. Whichever it is (I pick “demagoguery”), the fact that Obama could even have the nerve to make such a statement exemplifies how establishment media-enabled negligence enables over-the-top political chutzpah.

Here is Smith’s response:

The president’s statement is false.

The Court held that 2 U.S.C. Section 441a, which prohibits all corporate political spending, is unconstitutional. Foreign nationals, specifically defined to include foreign corporations, are prohibiting from making “a contribution or donation of money or ather thing of value, or to make an express or implied promise to make a contribution or donation, in connection with a Federal, State or local election” under 2 U.S.C. Section 441e, which was not at issue in the case. Foreign corporations are also prohibited, under 2 U.S.C. 441e, from making any contribution or donation to any committee of any political party, and they prohibited from making any “expenditure, independent expenditure, or disbursement for an electioneering communication… .”

This is either blithering ignorance of the law, or demogoguery of the worst kind.

President Obama’s Wednesday whining is especially offensive because presidential candidate Obama’s campaign accepted contributions from foreign sources. Pamela Geller, who with the help of her readers at Atlas Shrugs broke and pursued the story in the summer of 2008, recounted much of her proof in a BigGovernment.com post on Monday. Here are selected excerpts, which are no substitute for reading the whole thing:

I broke the jaw-dropping story about how tens of thousands of dollars came in to the Obama campaign from a Hamas-controlled camp in Gaza. Al-Jazeera actually ran video of Obama phone banks in Gaza.

…. Gaza was not alone. The contributions came from over 50 nations. And many seemed intent on skirting campaign finance laws: Obama’s foreign contributors were making multiple small donations, ostensibly in their own names, over a period of a few days, some under maximum donation allowances — but others were aggregating in excess of the maximums when their contributions were all added up. Other donations came in from donors with names such as “Hbkjb,” “jkbkj,” and “Doodad.” Also, thousands of Obama’s foreign donations ended in cents. This was evidence of foreign contributors sending in donations in foreign currencies that exchanged into odd amounts. Americans living overseas would almost uniformly be able to contribute dollars, in set amounts.

…. The Obama campaign received a substantial amount of money from countries that have an interest in seeing a weak American President: $366,708.22 from China; $25,259.00 from the United Arab Emirates; $7,062.60 from Russia; and $6,716.28 from Saudi Arabia. Obama also took in $6,350.00 from Indonesia; $5,000.00 from Kenya; and $1,750.00 from Egypt.

…. If justice is to be done, Barack Obama will have to own up to his violations of campaign finance law, and pay the political price. An audit of Obama’s campaign finances is long overdue.

Pamela also noted at her blog in August 2008 that many of these foreign-sourced and bogus-named contributions were over the legal limit of $2,300.

The audit Geller and others including the Heritage Foundation have demanded is indeed overdue, but stories such as this one at Politico shortly after the election indicated that the likelihood of such an audit ever occurring is low, largely because Obama did not accept taxpayer financing of his campaign (John McCain did).

Geller and her readers also discovered that the Obama campaign’s contribution acceptance mechanism had disabled normal protections and safeguards against fraud. I noted this fact in a Pajamas Media column on the Sunday before Election Day 2008, while also observing the establishment media’s apathy towards what would have been a blockbuster story if a campaign other than the Anointed One’s had engaged in these activities (bolds are mine, and differ from original):

…. anyone could pretend to be someone else, with someone else’s address, and successfully process a credit-card donation to Obama.

…. (an Atlas reader reported that) “Having worked for companies that process credit cards online, it is necessary to go through and manually disable the safeguards that they put in place to verify a person’s address and zip code with the cardholder’s bank. But international banks don’t currently have the same safeguards that banks in the U.S. have, which also works in the One’s favor. So most likely they’ve disabled the necessary safeguards for U.S. cards

The disabled components involved are part of what is known as the “AVS” (Automated Verification System). Many bloggers and blog commenters have confirmed the accuracy of the just-excerpted claims, including the fact that the merchant has to take proactive steps to rewrite or disable existing programming and controls to make AVS not work.

This information would indicate that Team Obama does not know (or pretends not to know; that would be for investigators to determine) who specifically has donated much of its campaign money — and the fact that they don’t know is deliberate.

Further, the lack of controls in Obama’s campaign-contribution system enables the use of prepaid cards, which if paid for in cash, are more than likely completely untraceable without going back to store video recordings, most of which are discarded or overwritten after a short time.

From all appearances, in both cases — unverified credit-card and prepaid-card contributions — it is very likely that the Obama campaign couldn’t refund monies received even if it wanted to.

…. Despite many tests, no one has been able to show that these material control weaknesses exist in the McCain-Palin contributions system.

…. America’s mainstream Obama-mad media has been negligent in covering this astonishing story, either failing to report it at all (which Clay Waters of NewsBusters has noted is the case at the New York Times), or blandly understating the severity and, if you will, audacity of the enterprise ….

…. As it is, most voters have cast or will cast their presidential ballots totally unaware of what may very well be the largest and most highly-organized campaign-finance fraud in U.S. elections history.

I am not aware of anything that has occurred since the presidential election that would affect the accuracy of the final excerpted sentence.

The key to Obama’s ability to make his false SOTU statement Wednesday night without immediately raising eyebrows is that the establishment media gave very short and dismissive shrift to the findings of Geller and others when it mattered most. Sadly, this demonstrates that ignoring unpleasant truths further enables and emboldens those who, like our president, prefer to engage in disseminating and perpetuating falsehoods while attempting through endless repetition to transform them into conventional wisdom.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Lucid Links (012810, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 9:55 am

From the UK Times Online, the ClimateGate obstruction is official (internal link was in original):

The university at the centre of the climate change row over stolen e-mails broke the law by refusing to hand over its raw data for public scrutiny.

… (But the Information Commissioner’s Office) said that it could not prosecute those involved because the complaint was made too late …

… Professor Phil Jones, the unit’s director, stood down while an inquiry took place. The ICO’s decision could make it difficult for him to resume his post.

Professor Phil Jones should not be allowed to resume his post, or any scientific post with management responsibilities anywhere else.

____________________________________

The best word for what Obama said list night captured in this video segment isfalse“:

(In his State of the Union address, President Obama) claimed that last week’s Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC, “open[ed] the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections.”

The president’s statement is false.

The Court held that 2 U.S.C. Section 441a, which prohibits all corporate political spending, is unconstitutional. Foreign nationals, specifically defined to include foreign corporations, are prohibiting from making “a contribution or donation of money or ather thing of value, or to make an express or implied promise to make a contribution or donation, in connection with a Federal, State or local election” under 2 U.S.C. Section 441e, which was not at issue in the case. Foreign corporations are also prohibited, under 2 U.S.C. 441e, from making any contribution or donation to any committee of any political party, and they prohibited from making any “expenditure, independent expenditure, or disbursement for an electioneering communication… .”

This is either blithering ignorance of the law, or demogoguery of the worst kind.

Since the president is supposed to be such a smart guy, I choose Door Number 2.

This is what a person with tyrannical instincts does.

Anyone who wants Door Number 1 would be forced to concede, even after a two-year presidential campaign and a year in office, that he’s a dummy about the law.

____________________________________

“Rebound? What Rebound?” update:

Demand for new homes in December fell, as cold weather and continuing joblessness put a chill on hopes for a housing-market recovery.

Single-family home sales fell 7.6% from November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 342,000, the Commerce Department said Wednesday, though it noted the drop was within the margin of error. December’s reported drop followed a 9.3% plunge in November. Meanwhile, on a positive note, home inventories fell last year, compared with 2008, but prices fell, too.

Uh, if the numbers are already seasonally adjusted, “cold weather” shouldn’t be much of a factor if it’s a factor at all.

Bloomberg adds a historical note:

Sales of new homes in the U.S. unexpectedly dropped in December, capping the worst year on record and signaling the government’s tax-credit extension has yet to shore up demand.

____________________________________

“Rebound? What Rebound?” add-on from Liberty Works (HT to e-mailer and frequent commenter Joe C):

ObamaNomics: An Endless Downward Spiral

…. The drop in individual income tax revenue in fiscal 2009 was the steepest since 1939. …. revenue continues to plummet in fiscal 2010.

…. The drop in corporate income tax revenue in fiscal 2009 was the greatest since 1932, the depths of the Great Depression …. revenue continues to crash in fiscal 2010.

Total federal revenue in fiscal 2009 dropped more than any time since 1932. …. revenue continues to drop, dramatically, in fiscal 2010.

Here are pictures showing what has happened since 2008 (click on each to open in separate windows):

Individual-tax-dive corporate-tax-dive All-revenue-dive1

Continuing (bold is mine):

…. When someone in the media finally confronts the Democrats with this ominous data, they will, of course, dismiss it all as the result of “Bush policies.” But it has been three years since the Democrats won a controlling majority in Congress and sixteen months since the Bush team persuaded Congress to let government start the bailout program now known as TARP. Obama continued and expanded the TARP program. He seized control of AIG, GM and Chrysler. He discouraged risk-taking and investment by promising to burden businesses with new taxes, health care mandates, forced unionization and an artificial energy shortage created by government. Obama owns the “policies” driving this downward spiral.

The drop in the first graph on individual income taxes would be sharper if the roughly $90 billion in stimulus checks distributed by the IRS was added to 2008′s figure. The stimulus should have been reported as part of outlays, but was instead treated as “negative receipts.”

It has also been 19 months since the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy began. It has been their economy since then. We have to live in it.

Positivity: iPhone App Saves Man in Haiti Earthquake

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:59 am

From Haiti:

Posted January 24, 2010 9:41:20pm

We all download iPhone apps for fun and convienence. The idea of these apps are to make our lives more interesting and simplify tasks with the push of a button. However, we never really know how handy the apps can actually be until we are in a life or death situation. Dan Woolley shared the details of his struggle under the rubble in the Haiti earthquake and how the iPhone saved his life.

While being trapped for 65 hours, Woolley used a first-aid application to treat his compound leg fracture and a cut on his head. The app showed him how to craft a bandage and tourniquet for his leg and stop the bleeding from his head injury. Woolley also set his alarm clock for 20 minute intervals due to the apps warning to not fall asleep. Working in Haiti, for Compassion International, Woolley was making a film about the people of Haiti and the impact of poverty.

January 27, 2010

PPP Prez makes PPP-U Statement About His Own PPP Poll

PPPlogo

Yesterday, Noel Sheppard at NewsBusters noted that an organization known as Public Policy Polling (PPP) reported results of a survey it did showing that “Americans do not trust the major tv news operations in the country- except for Fox News.”

The survey-related quote comes from a post at PPP’s blog. Tom Jensen, its author, pecked in quite a presumptuous final paragraph there (italics are Jensen’s):

These numbers suggest quite a shift in what Americans want from their news. A generation ago Walter Cronkite was the most trusted man in the country because of his neutrality. Now people trust Fox the most precisely because of its lack of neutrality. It says a lot about where journalism is headed.

Huh? Surely this must be simply a rogue PPP staffer’s rant. Uh, no. At Politico’s coverage of the poll, reporter Andy Barr quoted PPP’s President making this putrid pronouncement about what the poll results putatively personify:

“A generation ago you would have expected Americans to place their trust in the most neutral and unbiased conveyors of news,” said PPP President Dean Debnam in his analysis of the poll. “But the media landscape has really changed, and now they’re turning more toward the outlets that tell them what they want to hear.”

Debnam’s derogatory declaration has no evidential basis, at least in his own poll (PDF here). There is no record in the crosstabs of any attempt to ask viewers why they watch and trust Fox. Debnam’s and Jensen’s presumptions about Fox’s lack of neutrality and the reasons why viewers tune in are apparently all in their heads.

Just for the heck of it, let’s test the “fairness and balance” of other establishment media outlets concerning an item I blogged about on Monday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), namely the news reported by Fox’s James Rosen that a prominent Obama donor’s firm had received a $25 million no-bid contract for work that plenty of other firms were capable of bidding on.

A Google News search on Checchi, the firm’s name, for January 25-27 (sorted by date with duplicates included) came back with 24 results. Nine of them concerned matters unrelated to Rosen’s story. The remaining 15 are from the Torrington (CT) Register Citizen, PoliticalLore.com, Red State, Investor’s Business Daily, MainStreetMonroe.com (an Ohio forum), Fox News (Rosen’s actual story), Lone Star Times, ShortNews.com, yours truly’s NewsBusters post, two item (here and here) at National Review, Before It’s News, Gather.com, Wizbang, and the Daily Caller. There’s not a TV network news story in the bunch.

In case you’re curious, an AP search on “Checchi” comes up empty, as does a regular search at the New York Times.

This leads to a couple of questions for Mr. Jensen and Mr. Debnam:

  • Regardless of which party is involved, do you think the average American would care about a story about a no-bid contract that represents a clear break with a president’s core campaign promise? If you do (and if you don’t, you’re in the propaganda business, not the news business), please note that Fox in this case is the one original source for it.
  • Viewers have learned that Fox will cover stories such as these, while the others won’t, while also still dealing with the stories CNN and the Big Three networks et al do report. If viewers are choosing Fox for this reason, what in the world does it have to do with telling people what they want to hear?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Quote of the Day: Matt at Weapons of Mass Discussion

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

Expressing mass disgust over ORPINO (Ohio Republican Party In Name Only) head Kevin DeWine’s hardball tactics:

Mike DeWine couldn’t win without Kevin’s meddling in both of these races. Those are the facts. Party bigwigs and fat cat donors (read “lawyers”) ought to be ashamed of themselves for putting up with the threats of pay-to-play action. That Mike DeWine had to resort to that tired Bennett-era tactic ought to tell the electorate all they need to know about the Republican’s candidate for Attorney General.

The only thing I would question is whether the pay-to-plays were threats or promises.

If there has ever been a clearer, more blatant example of disrespect of the sensible conservative grass roots in the Buckeye State as the DeWine-Yost fiasco, I don’t know what it is. And I totally don’t get Dave Yost’s clear acquiescence to all of this.

Mike DeWine will not get my vote in May or November. I don’t see how any self-respecting sensible conservative can vote for him in these rigged circumstances.

Matt is right that this is an ideal time for a candidate with Tea Party values to step forward, perhaps preferably as a third-partier to avoid any conceivable association with ORPINO.