January 17, 2010

Brown v. Coakley Links and Vids

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:15 pm

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Campaign energy, as Doug Flutie and others endorse Scott Brown, followed by the Massachusetts Miracle (no, not Doug Flutie’s Hail Mary pass for Boston College again the University of Miami), Scott Brown’s campaign; HT Michelle Malkin):

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Other links and notes:

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  • HillBuzz, remembering Henry Gates — “Obama’s Chickens Come Home to Roost in Massachusetts”
  • Hot Air: “New Coakley gaffe: Curt Schilling’s a Yankee fan”
  • In December, Ann Coulter told the story of sordid Martha Coakley and the Amiraults — “Martha Coakley: Too Immoral Teddy Kennedy’s Seat.” That was pretty “clever” of Coulter to suckerpunch the left and get them to call it Ted Kennedy’s seat (/good dumb luck).
  • Mark Steyn: “Mark Steyn: Can Obama hold Teddy’s seat?”
  • Red Mass Group: “WOW! Purple Shirted SEIU Members Holding Signs at Standout”
  • Washington Times: “Martha Coakley: Devout Catholics ‘Probably shouldn’t work in the emergency room.’” Matt at WoMD makes an important tie-in to RomneyCare aka the ObamaCare Prototype.
  • Legal Insurrection: “Coakley Takes Slap Shot At Fenway Fans.”
  • Michael Graham (“Brown Supporters: The Most Motivated Voters Ever?”; HT Instapundit): “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
  • Legal Insurrection (HT Gateway Pundit): “Cambridge Police Reject Retired Member’s Wife’s Candidacy for Senate.”
  • Gateway Pundit (HT Hot Air): “Martha’s Coakley’s mission is to skedaddle from Afghanistan because the Taliban are gone… ‘They’re not there anymore.’”
  • Howie Carr in the Boston Herald: “It becomes increasingly clear, Scott Brown is winning among the people who work for a living, as opposed to Democrats, who are Martha’s voters.”

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UPDATE, 9:30 p.m.: The new PJM poll is supposedly comforting, but I don’t think so –

A poll taken Sunday afternoon while President Obama was in Massachusetts campaigning for Democrat Martha Coakley against Republican Scott Brown for the open Senate seat in that state showed Brown leading his Democratic opponent by 9.6% (51.9% to 42.3% with 5.7% undecided).

The poll, conducted via telephone for Pajamas Media by CrossTarget, was of 574 Likely Massachusetts Voters and has a margin of error of +/-4.09%. CrossTarget used the exact method – Interactive Voice Technology (IVR) – it used in a similar poll for PJM on Friday. The previous poll showed Brown ahead by approximately 15%.

The problem is that the poll contained 21.6% Republicans and I thought I read somewhere that GOP registration in MA is only 11%. Even given that a lot of people might assume their registered to a party because they vote that way, it seems like that 9.6% lead is soft. The previous PJM poll showing 20.3% GOP was the one with the 15-point lead. I learned of the 11% figure sometime after that first poll.

No one should take anything for granted. Update: I note with some relief that there’s a second poll with the same margin.

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Historical Background: Though the election is primarily a referendum on Obama’s first year in office (hey, HE said so, so he made it so), the moral bankruptcy of Martha Coakley in the Amirault case, as recounted last Thursday (saved here at host for posterity) by the Wall Street Journal’s Dorothy Rabinowitz, is a must-read. How do people like Martha Coakley get as far as they do?

WSJ on the Bank ‘Responsibility Tax,’ (Plus Whiffs of Mob Rule and Authoritarianism, and a Biden Bonus)

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:40 am

Note: This post has been moved up because of its importance.

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ObamaWeWantOurMoneyBack0110From a Saturday editorial (bolds are mine):

The White House has spent months imploring banks to lend more money, so will President Obama’s new proposal to extract $117 billion from bank capital encourage new bank lending?

Just asking. Welcome to one more installment in Washington’s year-long crusade to revive private business by assailing and soaking it.

Mr. Obama’s new “Financial Crisis Responsibility Fee”—please don’t call it a tax—is being sold as a way to cover expected losses in the Troubled Asset Relief Program. That sounds reasonable, except that the banks designated to pay the fee aren’t those responsible for the losses. With the exception of Citigroup, those banks have repaid their TARP money with interest.

The real TARP losers—General Motors, Chrysler and delinquent mortgage borrowers—are exempt from the new tax. Why the auto companies? An Administration official told the Journal that the banks caused the crisis that doomed the auto companies, which apparently were innocent bystanders to their own bankruptcy. The fact that the auto companies remain wards of Washington no doubt has nothing to do with their free tax pass.

Also exempt are Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which operate outside of TARP but also surely did more than any other company to cause the housing boom and bust. The key to understanding their free tax pass is that on Christmas Eve Treasury lifted the $400 billion cap on their potential taxpayer losses expressly so they can rewrite more underwater mortgages at a loss.

…. In other words, the White House wants to tax more capital away from profit-making banks to offset the intentional losses that the politicians have ordered up at Fan and Fred.

The administration has owned up to TARP losses of $30 billion at GM and Chrysler. The total at stake according to the article excerpted at the linked post is $82 billion.

The way the administration is attempting to gin up support among its hopefully dwindling corps of activists has a whiff of attempted mob rule — and no, I’m not going to link to it (click on the pic to open in a new window if necessary):

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Who’s this “we”? Do people signing this really think they’re ever going to see any of the money?

Speaking of whiffs, the authoritarian aroma of the President’s statement (“We want our money back. And we’re gonna get it.”) is unmistakable:

UPDATE: Seriously sick irony — The author of one of the “We Want Our Money Back” e-mail missives is Vice President Joe Biden. In 2005, Biden was known as “D-MBNA” for his support of so-called “bankruptcy reform,” which tilted the playing field in favor of banks and at the expense of troubled consumers. All too many people in legitimate trouble with no way out haven’t been able to escape foreclosure because that law made filing bankruptcy a deliberately delayed process.

Byron York at National Review took a closer look at the history of Biden’s relationship with MBNA in 2008. A distinct aroma of clever corruption emerges from that piece.

The Ghosts Haunting Ohio’s (and America’s) Factories and Offices

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:17 am

ObamaPelosiReidKasichJebBush0110Jeb Bush revived Florida. Leaders like Ohio’s John Kasich can do the same, but only if Washington’s ghosts are tamed.

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Note: This column went up at Pajamas Media and was teased here at BizzyBlog on Friday.

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I attended a campaign-related event for GOP gubernatorial candidate John Kasich on Tuesday. I came away both impressed and very concerned.

I was impressed with how well the event was organized, the quality of the discussion, and the passion of those who participated. I am deeply worried that the ghosts haunting these and other events will continue to work against my state’s economic success, even if (or especially if) a strong leader with an “R” by his name takes charge.

Kasich’s Mason, Ohio business forum on the floor of a robotics facility had former Florida governor Jeb Bush as a special guest. Six top executives of Ohio firms and facilities were also on the panel. The meeting’s goal was to help everyone in the room, including an audience of about 300 business and political leaders, understand what can and should be done to end Ohio’s economic doldrums.

Based on results he achieved, there may not be a better person to give a state’s would-be leader and key businesspeople meaningful guidance on how to revive their economies than Jeb Bush. Kasich let the audience know that while Bush presided over the Sunshine State from 1999-2007, it turned in the second-best performance in the country in jobs created, and eighth-best in income growth. Even though Florida has about 6% of the nation’s population, during a five-year period early last decade it alone accounted for one-third of the nation’s job growth.

Later, one of the execs on the panel recited some of the awful elements of Ohio’s record. Since 2001, Ohio has lost 500,000 jobs; 170,000 of them have gone away in the past year. Forbes rates it 48th in terms of economic growth prospects. The state ranks 46th (i.e., fifth-worst) in its personal bankruptcy rate, 49th in foreclosures, 42nd in unemployment, and 47th in business tax climate. Kasich accurately told the audience that to deal with an $850 million shortfall, current governor Ted Strickland and Ohio’s legislature had “just raised taxes again and declared victory.” Oh, and they called it a “tax cut delay.” It seems that almost no one inside Columbus’s I-270 beltway gets it.

Bush pointed to these elements as part of his formula for success:

  • “We demanded that personal income …. had to grow faster than government spending.”
  • “We crafted workers’ comp for significant savings.” Ohio is one of only a few states nutty enough not to let the private sector handle this critical area.
  • He resisted the pleas of “lots of business people (who) put their hands out.”

Bush had three other key observations that led to my concerns. First, he spoke of the importance of transparency and clarity, and how their presence is positive and self-fulfilling. He observed how important minimizing uncertainty is to a healthy and growing business climate. Finally, when asked how he dealt with energy and environmental issues during his eight years in office, he said, “Not well, unfortunately. We couldn’t get past the barriers.”

The ghosts who were haunting the room are fakers at transparency, seem to love uncertainty, and definitely relish those environmental barriers. Even when they weren’t in power, the ghosts’ green sympathizers “successfully” gummed up most attempts at new domestic energy development during the previous decade in Florida and the rest of the nation. Sadly, at least until recently, they have convinced all too many of the relatively disengaged that we can be the only major power in human history not to take advantage of the abundant natural resources we have and suffer no consequences for it.

As to Bush’s points about transparency and reducing uncertainty, the Wall Street Journal had this to say about the Beltway ghosts I am referring to in the wake of last week’s once again disappointing jobs report:

With so much policy uncertainty out of Washington …. no one can be sure what they will pay for energy (rising oil prices, cap and trade) or new regulation (antitrust), how high their taxes will rise, and how much each new employee will cost (health care). In this kind of world, employers will wait as long as possible to add new workers.

Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, and Harry Reid were the ghosts whose presence I felt. That trio, assisted by their party, became the architects of what I have been calling the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy since the summer of 2008. That is when they first introduced heavy doses of the very economic uncertainty both Bush and the Journal described. Their irresponsible rhetoric, their punitive policy promises, already profligate spending, and the prospect that they would likely win control of the presidency along with a tighter grip on Congress, sent the economy on a downward path that only accelerated after they achieved the control they desired. While the economy is in the early stages of recovering, their legislative agenda, takeover mentality, and regulatory aggression still prevent most prudent employers from hiring.

Pelosi, Obama and Reid did not control Congress or the presidency when Jeb Bush governed Florida, giving him the flexibility to do what he felt had to be done. But they have been in power during the past year. Look at the economic havoc they have wrought. Has there ever been a time since World War II when businesses have faced more uncertainty and seen less transparency out of Washington? I don’t think so. Give them just a little more time in control, and you’ll see Washington giving independent, unfettered thinkers like Kasich and other current and future governors who share his passion for business and job development fits.

I’m told that John Kasich hasn’t yet embraced the idea of asserting states’ 10th Amendment rights as certain current governors have. You might as well get with the program now, John, because those ghosts will be with you from your first day on the job, and you’ll have to keep them at bay for the state you love to truly turn around.

Positivity: Beatification ceremony of brave Spanish martyr announced

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:02 am

From Barcelona:

Jan 16, 2010 / 04:30 pm

The Vatican announced on Friday the time and location of the beatification of Fr. Josep Samsó i Elisa, a Spanish priest and martyr. According to the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, the ceremony will take place on Jan. 23 at the parochial basilica of Santa Maria n Mataro in the Archdiocese of Barcelona.

Born in Jan. of 1887 in Castellbisbal, Spain, Fr. Josep eventually studied at Barcelona’s seminary and was sent to the Pontifical University of Tarragona. Upon graduation, Bishop Laguarda of Barcelona assigned him to be his personal secretary, and he was ordained a priest in 1910.

…. His spiritual direction encouraged many people to follow their religious or priestly vocation. Fr. Josep also insisted on punctuality in the Mass schedule, sought perfection in the liturgy, and worked intensely to improve the interior decoration of the local cathedral, which was honored with the title of minor basilica in 1928.

…. Fr. Josep was eventually arrested for being a priest in 1936. While he was in jail, he set up a schedule for reading his breviary, mediating, and praying the Rosary without the guards knowledge. He also heard the confessions of his fellow prisoners. Always friendly in his disposition, he reportedly shared the gifts people brought him with everyone.

On the morning of his execution, he bid the other prisoners farewell with his customary “God above all” and, with his hands tied together, was escorted to the cemetery of Mataró. When he got to the top of the stairs, he asked for the ropes to be taken off his hands so he could embrace those who were about to kill him. He also told his executioners that he forgave them as Christ forgave those who nailed him to the Cross.

Though the executioners tried to cover his eyes, he asked that he be left able to see the city where the people he loved so much lived as he died. After his attempts to embrace the firing squad, Fr. Josep crossed his arms and said, “you may shoot now.”

Fr. Josep’s beatification is the first one to take place in the Archdiocese of Barcelona.

Go here for the full story.