January 18, 2010

Brown v. Coakley = Liberty v. Tyranny

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:45 pm

A vote for Martha Coakley facilitates tyranny’s expansion. A vote for Scott Brown may prevent it. It’s really that simple.

__________________________________________

Note: This column went up at Pajamas Media on January 18 at Pajamas Media and was teased here at BizzyBlog that day.

I published this post at BizzyBlog on January 20 in accordance with PJM’s 48-hour blackout rule, but have moved it back to January 18 to reflect its pre-election timing.

__________________________________________

A video gone viral states in clear, unmistakable language what Tuesday’s U.S. Senate election in Massachusetts is all about:

ObamaPelosiReidTyranny0110

The run-up to the 2008 presidential election and the first year of Barack Obama’s administration represent a virtual case study in how authoritarian rule begins to take root. History surely will recite a lengthy litany of freedom-restricting and/or government power-enhancing laws, regulations, actions and statements that have come from Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and their swelling ranks of apparatchiks since they assumed one-party control of the U.S. government and Congress early last year. But the Bay State’s beleaguered electorate need only focus on three dangerous developments since 2010 began to understand the overarching importance of their choice on Tuesday.

The first definition of “tyranny” at dictionary.com tells us that it is the “arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power; despotic abuse of authority.” All three items that follow, and so much else that has occurred in the past year, fit that primary definition to a T.

First, there’s the president’s proposed bank tax — er, “financial responsibility fee.”

This sentence in the White House’s related “Fact Sheet” gives away their game (bold is mine):

It is our responsibility to ensure that the taxpayer dollars that supported these actions are reimbursed by the financial sector so that the deficit is not increased.

Note that the statement does not attempt to identify the specific people or entities in the financial sector who are supposedly responsible for the Troubled Asset Relief Program’s shortfall. No-no-no. That would be hard work; and besides, they wouldn’t like the answers. Instead, Barack Obama considers the resources of an entire industry fair game for plunder, and is playing the so-called responsibility card to whip up ordinary citizens’ emotions against it. This is how tyrants think and act.

And yes, I said “plunder.” The Wall Street Journal described the nature of that plunder perfectly in an editorial last week as it observed that government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are exempt from the tax — even though Fan and Fred spent 15 years misrepresenting the quality of what ultimately amounted to hundreds of billions of dollars in subprime and worse mortgages they foisted on the capital markets (italics is theirs):

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac …. 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.

That’s plunder — a brazen attempt at government-sponsored looting of the private sector on behalf of bankrupt government-sponsored enterprises. This is what tyrants do.

Also this month, the House and Senate have worked mightily to keep every aspect of their attempts to iron out differences between their respective versions of statist health care hidden from the public, even though Barack Obama the candidate promised no fewer than eight times to have such meetings broadcast on C-SPAN. House Speaker Pelosi still absurdly tells the world that the process is “the most transparent in history.” If the Senate can’t hang on to its fragile 60-vote consensus, Democrats, with the apparent acquiescence of Majority Leader Reid, have said they will use the option of “reconciliation,” which requires only 51 votes, to circumvent the opposition’s ability to filibuster. These are the kinds of things legislators who support tyrants do.

Finally, there’s the ongoing corruption of the voting process. The most recent body blow to its integrity came last week, when the House Judiciary Committee voted 15-14 along strictly party lines to oppose “requir(ing) the Department of Justice to explain to Congress why it dismissed a voter intimidation case involving members of the New Black Panther Party at a polling place in Philadelphia in November 2008.” There is no dispute that such intimidation occurred. Those who were charged didn’t even bother to counter the government’s accusations; yet they will apparently suffer no consequences. The crystal-clear message being sent in advance of Tuesday’s vote is that those who engage in voter intimidation and other voting irregularities have nothing to fear. This is what a corrupt attorney general like Eric Holder and elected representatives all too eager to rig the process to cement a building tyranny do.

The January actions just cited make it seem as if Washington’s self-confident Democratic elites have decided to make the selection of the next U.S. Senator from Massachusetts a referendum on what they have done to this country during their time in power.

Deliberately or not, they’ve gotten their way. Thanks to them, the choice couldn’t be more clear. There is no middle ground. A vote for Martha Coakley is nothing short of a vote for continuing and consolidating the developing tyranny. A vote for Scott Brown is a direct statement rejecting it. A Brown win, or even a narrow loss in this most liberal of states, repudiates it. A Brown win by a large margin ends any pretense that the country supports the actions and policies of Obama, his government, and Congress.

Pajamas Media Pre-MA Senate Election Column (‘Brown v. Coakley = Liberty v. Tyranny’) Is Up

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:33 pm

ObamaPelosiReidTyranny0110It’s here.

The subheadline:

A vote for Martha Coakley facilitates tyranny’s expansion. A vote for Scott Brown may prevent it. It’s really that simple.

It went up at BizzyBlog on Wednesday, but I backdated it to Monday so that it stays historically time-appropriate.

Intense thanks to David Rusin and Aaron Hanscom at Pajamas Media for their quick response to the column’s submission in what surely must be a time crunch for them.

I’m going to part with precedent and respectfully ask readers to carve out any time they can to read the column, and to pass it on to anyone they know in Massachusetts. I believe this is the most important single non-presidential election in my lifetime.

Wire Watch: Flight 253, and Surveilling Old Media’s Sausage Makers

Filed under: Economy,News from Other Sites,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:28 am

2009-12-25NYTNWA253Note: This item went up at BigJournalism.com on Friday.

___________________________________________________

A quote often attributed to Otto Von Bismarck in the 1930s but really belonging to poet John Godfrey Saxe over 60 years earlier tells us that “Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made.”

“Original Old Media reporting” belongs on Saxe’s list.

In all three cases, the temptation to look away is great. In all three, we must resist. All require strong surveillance to ensure a quality product.

For all of their considerable accomplishments, New Media watchdogs have not done a particularly good job of proactively monitoring wire service and other original-source stories as they move through the assembly line from breaking news to supposedly settled narrative. As a result, as often occurs when legislators and sausage plants aren’t closely watched, product quality is often pathetic, and is sometimes downright dangerous.

Take the coverage of Detroit’s Flight 253. In the hours immediately following the thwarted terrorist attack, both the Associated Press and USA Today told the nation that there was an “Al-Qaida link” involved. The AP’s money paragraphs were these:

One law enforcement source said the man claimed to have been instructed by al-Qaida to detonate the plane over U.S. soil.

“We believe this was an attempted act of terrorism,” a White House official said.

As shown here, by 11:04 p.m., the wire service was already downplaying the AQ link. But in the process, it invoked the dreaded M-word:

APonNigeriaLateEvening122509

From there, the devolution accelerated. As I observed the next morning:

(The Muslim and Nigerian) verbiage remained but went to the second-last paragraph of the 3:07 a.m. version of the report, and disappeared without replacement from the 3:54 a.m. dispatch. The 8:56 a.m. report also has no text discussing circumstances in Nigeria, and has been purged of the M-word.

The wires’ faith in their reporters’ original work continued to dissipate in the days that followed. The supposedly solid AQ connection somehow became tenuous and unproven. It got so absurd that we even began seeing references to how Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab “allegedly boarded a plane.”

All of this culminated on the Tuesday after the attack, when Anne Kornblut of the Washington Post and the rest of the establishment press allowed the President of the United States to inform us, without challenge and as if it was a recent discovery, that — shazam! — the attack might have had something to do with AQ (bold is mine):

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.

This is a self-evident load of rubbish to anyone who followed the story from its inception. The president and his poseurs played “let’s pretend,” and Old Media’s lapdogs let them skate. “Obama learns the truth, and will act to do something about it” became the dominant takeaway. Alleged journalists’ coverage of this critical story broke faith with the public they claim to serve, and arguably allowed an administration whose commitment to fighting the War on Terror is more than a little questionable to appear duly vigilant.

Sadly, this kind of story decay occurs all too frequently, comes in many varieties, and has been occurring for years. In October of last year, the New York Times’s Jeff Zeleny heavily watered it down another reporter’s story originally critical of Barack Obama’s failed attempt to get the 2016 Summer Olympics for Chicago. The original reporter’s dispatch is gone. Zeleny did it again in covering the president’s late October visit to Dover Air Force Base to review the coffins of returning dead soldiers. In 2006, Reuters began blaming Britain’s support of Israel for the thwarted London multiple plane bomb plot within hours of its discovery. In 2005, a routine report about the economy’s job gains at the Washington Post was transformed into a treatise on why it didn’t matter because George W. Bush’s Iraq War unpopularity was the paramount issue.

Sausage makers have had to learn to live with having outside inspectors in their plants. Similarly, legislators have generally come to accept the fact that groups like Citizens Against Government Waste and the Club for Growth will be on the lookout any time they’re in session — which partially explains why the current Congress’s attempt to prevent that oversight during its assembly of the health care sausage has drawn so much outrage.

It should not surprise anyone that Old Media’s sausage makers aren’t particularly interested in allowing a similar degree of oversight, and that they are in some cases quite hostile to attempts at realtime inspection. The AP, as an example, periodically threatens to go after anyone who might dare to cite a few words from or link to its content, as CEO Tom Curley did in a New York Times interview last year:

The company’s position was that even minimal use of a news article online required a licensing agreement with the news organization that produced it. … He specifically cited references that include a headline and a link to an article, a standard practice of search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo, news aggregators, and blogs.

Asked if that stance went further than the AP had gone before, he said, “That’s right.”

While there is clearly a financial motive involved in such a stance, the AP and other wires seem to be at least as interested in making it difficult for others to oversee and record what they do as they’re doing it.

That cannot stand. If bad sausage gets into the market, it can be recalled. If bad legislation becomes law, we can vote out the lawmakers. But once a story’s narrative becomes established, all that remains for those who object is a far less effective reactive response that will reach relatively few.

Especially given Old Media’s obvious, growing, and more aggressive biases, New Media watchdogs must work harder and smarter to ensure that these sultans of slant lose their nearly exclusive control over what will become the first draft of history.

Lickety-Split Links (011809, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 8:28 am

This makes four weeks in a row. The qualifiers and the expressions of gratitude noted here several weeks ago still apply.

________________________________________________________

The Associated Press seems to be growing ever more tired of carrying Barack Obama’s water. This item (“After year, hope turns into disappointment”) is more evidence, beyond that seen on the economic side last week at the hands of Martin Crutsinger (here and here).

________________________________________________________

Third Base Politics detects Ohio governor Ted Strickland having some difficulty finding a running mate for November. Say, isn’t there a filing deadline coming up? Has Alec Baldwin moved to Ohio yet?

________________________________________________________

A fine liberal whine at the Atlantic — “Obama’s Poor Boston Performance” — “Just when he needs to wake up Democrats who’ve mostly slumbered for 50 years putting Ted Kennedy back in office, Obama just kinda… wimped out.” It’s actually pretty painful viewing. I would suggest that the possible absence of a teleprompter might have had something to do with it. Update: I’m told there was a teleprompter. And he was still that bad?

________________________________________________________

The growing authoritarian darkness in Venezuela cited here last week has deepened (bold is mine):

President Hugo Chavez ordered Sunday the seizure of a French-owned retail chain on accusations that it raised prices after Venezuela devalued the currency by half.

“Until when are we going to allow this to happen?” Chavez asked during his Sunday television program in reference to the alleged price hike by Almacenes Exito SA (EXITO.BO), headquartered in Colombia and controlled by French retailer Casino Guichard-Perrachon S.A. (CO.FR).

The Venezuelan leader said that new law may need to be approved to carry out the nationalization. “I’m waiting for the new law to begin the expropriation process,” he said. “There’s no going back,” he added.

…. Separately, Chavez also ordered the nationalization of a large shopping-mall recently built in a downtown district in Caracas. The stores controlled by Exito and the shopping mall will be used to build up Comerso, a new government-run retail chain which seeks to sell its products at “socialist” prices, according to the president.

Expropriation” is the form of “nationalization” involving “Compulsory seizure or surrender of private party … with little or no compensation.” In other words, it’s theft by government.

The last excerpted paragraph tells us that Chavez will use stolen property to put other retailers out of business. Is Sean Penn available for comment?

Positivity: King legacy lives on

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:22 am

From St. Augustine, Florida:

Posted: January 18, 2010 – 12:06am

St. Augustine visit by hero of civil rights sets stage for change

If not for television images of blacks being brutalized in St. Augustine, and one dying U.S. senator casting his last vote, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would not have passed, according to St. Augustine historian David Nolan.

Nolan, who has studied St. Augustine’s black history for more than 30 years, told those gathered at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of St. Augustine on Sunday that the two factors were integral in one of the more important acts of modern justice becoming law.

In 1964, the U.S. Senate was abuzz with the biggest filibuster in its history. Senators, many from Southern states, read from a 60,000 page document — drawn to block the passage of the bill integrating hotels, motels and restaurants — until they were too weary to stand.

To break the filibuster, senators who supported the bill needed a two-thirds majority vote.

Dying from brain cancer, U.S. Sen. Clair Engle, a Democrat from California, was wheeled into Capitol Hill in his hospital bed.

“He couldn’t talk anymore,” Nolan said of Engle. “So he just pointed to his eye to vote yes.”

One month later, Engle was dead at 52.

That the filibuster’s end happened in that Shakespearian-worthy scene would not have occurred, Nolan said, if not for the protests and beatings broadcast to the nation nightly from St. Augustine.

“People were sitting down in front of their televisions across the country, watching unarmed African Americans being bloodied and beaten, and said, ‘This is not the America we want,’” Nolan said.

Nolan has spent years searching out and examining documents on King’s visits to St. Augustine — FBI reports on his activities, and in the Princeton University Library, an “Adverse File” filled with hate letters and death threats similar to those black baseball slugger Hank Aaron would receive 10 years later as he approached Babe Ruth’s all-time major league home run record.

St. Augustine officials were unhappy with the national coverage of rioting in St. Augustine. Record news stories of the time recall that the city was preparing for its 400th anniversary celebration in 1965 as the nation’s oldest city.

The stories said officials were concerned about the impact on the 1965 events.

King came to St. Augustine at the request of Dr. Robert Hayling and others. Hayling is considered by Nolan and others as the father of the civil rights movement in St. Augustine. Hayling frequently visits St. Augustine from his home in South Florida. He was able to convince King to visit.

King’s presence in St. Augustine preceded the U.S. Senate vote by weeks. ….

Go here for the rest of the story.