January 26, 2010

Obama the Lonely

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:39 pm

Item, at CBS News (HT Mark Steyn on the air subbing for Rush):

Obama Lonely in Office, People Mag Says

…. Betsy Gleick, People’s executive editor, filled “Early Show” viewers in on the candid session.

Gleick said the headline of the interview is that Michelle and Barack are optimistic about the country’s direction, but that there are huge challenges ahead for the U.S.

“Early Show” co-anchor Harry Smith pointed out that the president talked a lot about “being in the bubble” of the powerful office.

Gleick called Barack’s words on the subject “touching.”

“He just talked about the loneliness of the job. And some of the loneliness, he embraces. He realizes that he has big decisions that he alone needs to make,” she said. “But he misses being out among regular people.”

Gosh, they’re even on a first-name basis. How much sympathy would Bush 43 or Bush 41 have received if they had made similar observations to someone from People Mag?

Well, I can’t let the pity party go by without going to Roy Orbison (lyrics here) for help (apologies for the ads):

USAT Misses California’s Dominance of Welfare Caseload and Its Increase

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:03 am

CaliforniaIOU

Sometimes getting hung up on percentage increases causes one to miss what’s going on with the actual numbers.

Such is the case in a January 26 front page story by USA Today’s Richard Wolf. USAT’s is the only recent original coverage I have found thus far relating to increases in the national welfare rolls during the recession. (An unbylined story at UPI merely reports on what USAT’s Wolf wrote.)

USAT’s Wolf let himself get distracted by double-digit caseload increases in certain states, but missed the big story: California, with roughly 12% of the country’s population, was responsible for over half of the increase in both families and recipients receiving benefits. The reason the state’s percentage increase was smaller than several others was because its caseload is already scandalously out of control.

Wolf also made a point of comparing the relatively small increase in the national welfare caseload to steep rises in the number of Americans receiving food stamp and unemployment insurance benefits.

Here are the first five and final paragraphs from Wolf, followed by a closer look at the numbers:

Welfare rolls up in ’09; more enroll in assistance programs

Welfare rolls rose in 2009 for the first time in 15 years, but the 5% increase was dwarfed by spikes in the number of people receiving food stamps and unemployment insurance.

The cash-assistance program that once helped more than 14 million people served an average of 4 million in the 2009 fiscal year, up from 3.8 million in fiscal 2008. By comparison, there were more than 37 million people receiving food stamps in September, an increase of 18% from the year before. The number receiving unemployment benefits more than doubled, to about 9.1 million.

The disparity has caused some of those involved in passing the 1996 welfare overhaul to question whether it’s failing to help victims of the recession.

“Making the rolls decline got to be a badge of honor for states,” says Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution, who led the Republican staff on the House panel that wrote much of the law. “The evidence now is that it is not a very good safety net.”

In the past year, some states have seen increases of 15% or more in their welfare caseloads, including Florida, Ohio, Oregon and Washington. Others have continued to cut the rolls, including Texas, Indiana and Rhode Island, according to federal data.

…. Advocates for a more lenient welfare system say tough work rules, time limits and penalties in many states are blocking needy people from qualifying. Benefit levels in some states are so low that many people don’t apply. “They decide the program’s not worth it,” says Stephanie Goodman of the Health and Human Services Commission in Texas, where the average monthly benefit is $68 per person.

The latest information available at the Administration for Children & Families web site for families and recipients illustrates just how out of whack California’s situation TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the name for “welfare” since the program was reformed in 1996) has become, and how much worse it is getting (the immediately available data is for the 11 months from October 2008 to September of 2009, which suffices to prove the point):

USandCAwelfareStats0909

As you can see, California’s recipient increase was more than double that of the rest of the nation, while its increase in the number of families receiving benefits almost quadrupled the rest of the U.S.

The situation isn’t going to get any better, based on this item I stumbled across from October 2009 at UPI:

California relaxes welfare rules

California’s welfare-to-work program will allow more than one-third of its applicants to opt out of jobs and still receive checks, the governor has decided.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has achieved a future tightening of the rules by temporarily suspending part-time work requirements for a large share of recipients, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Single parents with a child age 1-2 and those with two children under the age of 6 are getting letters telling them they no longer have to work to collect a welfare check.

The move represents a return to the welfare approach that existed before a national overhaul in the 1990s.

California officials emphasize the relaxation will end in 2011.

Oh sure.

Image at top right found at Zazzle.com.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

‘Women’s Groups’ Pressuring CBS to Scrap Tebow Super Bowl Ad (Update: Dem Hackery Alert)

TebowThe story behind Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow’s arrival into this world is remarkable.

So-called “women’s groups” would seem to prefer that as many Americans as possible not know the story about the courageous and faith-based decision Tebow’s mother made to carry her pregnancy to term. That’s the only plausible reason why they are opposing a 30-second Focus on the Family (FOTF) ad scheduled to air during the Super Bowl. So far, it seems that CBS, which will air the Super Bowl on February 7, seems disinclined to buckle.

David Crary’s coverage of the story at the Associated Press (from which the photo at the top right was obtained) labels FOTF “conservative,” but does not apply any descriptive label to the “women’s groups” objecting to the ad.

As you’ll see in the final excerpted paragraph, Crary’s coverage included an over-the-top statement from the objectors:

CBS urged to scrap Super Bowl ad with Tebow, mom

A national coalition of women’s groups called on CBS on Monday to scrap its plan to broadcast an ad during the Super Bowl featuring college football star Tim Tebow and his mother, which critics say is likely to convey an anti-abortion message.

“An ad that uses sports to divide rather than to unite has no place in the biggest national sports event of the year – an event designed to bring Americans together,” said Jehmu Greene, president of the New York-based Women’s Media Center.

The center was coordinating the protest with backing from the National Organization for Women, the Feminist Majority and other groups.

CBS said it has approved the script for the 30-second ad and has given no indication that the protest would have an impact. A network spokesman, Dana McClintock, said CBS would ensure that any issue-oriented ad was “appropriate for air.”

The ad – paid for by the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family – is expected to recount the story of Pam Tebow’s pregnancy in 1987 with a theme of “Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life.” After getting sick during a mission trip to the Philippines, she ignored a recommendation by doctors to abort her fifth child and gave birth to Tim, who went on to win the 2007 Heisman Trophy while helping his Florida team to two BCS championships.

The controversy over the ad was raised Sunday when Tebow met with reporters in Mobile, Ala., before beginning preparations for next weekend’s Senior Bowl.

“I know some people won’t agree with it, but I think they can at least respect that I stand up for what I believe,” Tebow said. “I’ve always been very convicted of it (his views on abortion) because that’s the reason I’m here, because my mom was a very courageous woman. So any way that I could help, I would do it.”

… “By offering one of the most coveted advertising spots of the year to an anti-equality, anti-choice, homophobic organization, CBS is aligning itself with a political stance that will damage its reputation, alienate viewers, and discourage consumers from supporting its shows and advertisers,” the letter said.

Since when is telling the story of a key part of someone’s life — namely its beginning — a “political stance”? NBC turned away a celebration-of-life ad during last year’s Super Bowl. I hope that CBS holds firm.

Also missing from Crary’s coverage: any indication of how many members and supporters FOTF has compared to the membership rosters of the so-called “women’s groups.”

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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BizzyBlog Update: From the Rust Belt has unearthed revealing info about the Women’s Media Center’s Jehmu Greene. The short, unsurprising story: She’s a longtime, far-left Democratic Party hack, and of course the AP didn’t identify her as such.

Lickety-Split Links (012610, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 7:38 am

Ed Morrissey’s reax to yesterday’s news that a $25 million no-bid contract went to a Democratic Party donor:

Barack Obama repeatedly blasted the Bush administration for its supposed predilection for giving war contracts out on a no-bid basis to political cronies, and promised to change things once elected as President. And he has — he’s changed the recipients.

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Pete DuPont at the Wall Street Journal: “An Economic Time Bomb” — “Even if Congress does nothing, tax hikes will hit hard a year from now.”

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Nice catch (and update) by Sabrina Eaton and the Cleveland Plain Dealer for exposing the astroturfing on steroids of “Ellie Light.” Patterico, his commenters, and other bloggers also deserve props for expanding the list of Light’s let-through letters. “Light,” or whoever he/she is, has succeeded in having a letter praising President Obama published in over 40 places (that’s as of about 36 hours ago; the detected number could be much higher by now), in each case pretending to be a local resident.

Since many of these “letters,” including the one to the Plain Dealer, are really e-mails, it seems that recipient publications could be looking into Ellie’s IP address and figuring out who this person is. Someone should, and should tell us.

Update: In a vid at the PD of a Fox News appearance, Andrew Breitbart said yesterday that the number of Light sightings in 61, and the Light has masked her IP, betraying a degree of sophistication that would not normally be expected of a lone ranger.

Update 2: A Sunday Patterico post identified two types of astroturfing –

  • “Donald Trump Astroturfing: A letter published in multiple places from one person claiming to live in multiple cities.” Examples: “Ellie Light,” “Mark Spivey.”
  • “David Axelrod Astroturfing: Identical letters published in multiple places claiming to be from different people.” Patterico devoted yet another post to examples of this form, and traced one to the Democratic Party.

Bottom line:

A Centralized Body determines a message. Minions repeat it. And readers are tricked into thinking that the message is individualized.

Frankly, at least half of the pro-Obama and leftist letters to the editor I’ve read in USA Today over the past several years seem to have been canned by leftist propaganda mills.

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“U.K. Economy Emerges from Recession.” I would expect that it’s subject to revision as our GDP is, so Brits shouldn’t be relieved just yet. Growth was a non-annualized 0.1%, trailing expectations of +0.4%. Gordon Brown’s green economy has had little success in generating spendable green.

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Also in the WSJ“Public Employee Unions Are Sinking California.” Steven Greenhut’s money paragraph:

Approximately 85% of the state’s 235,000 employees (not including higher education employees) are unionized. As the governor noted during his $83 billion budget roll-out, over the past decade pension costs for public employees increased 2,000%. State revenues increased only 24% over the same period. A Schwarzenegger adviser wrote in the San Jose Mercury News in the past few days that, “This year alone, $3 billion was diverted to pension costs from other programs.” There are now more than 15,000 government retirees statewide who receive pensions that exceed $100,000 a year, according to the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility.

No wonder so many Not-So-Golden State residents are voting with their feet.

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So now the President wants a 3-year discretionary spending freeze. He ripped the idea (“using a hatchet instead of a scalpel”) when John McCain suggested it during the 2008 campaign.

Besides, having spent fiscal 2009 and 2010 ratcheting such spending up to unprecedented levels, saving $250 billion over 10 years is hardly impressive. $25 billion a year is about 0.7% of the government’s annual spending of about $3.5 trillion. In the fiscal year ended September 30, 2007, the last budget year under a Republican Congress, total spending was “only” $2.7 trillion.

Positivity: ‘Miracle’ Haiti survivor who lived on beer and biscuits found 11 days on

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:57 am

From Port-au-Prince:

For 11 days, Wismond Exantus prayed for rescue, surviving on cola, beer and biscuits. And, just as aid teams were packing away their gear, his prayers were answered.

24th January, 2010

A last-ditch plea for help by his brother saw Greek rescuers send two women workers into the wreckage of an Haitian hotel to find an exultant Mr Exantus.

He was discovered late on Saturday about 6m (20ft) beneath debris after initially surviving the quake by diving under a desk.

Mr Exantus, who worked as a cashier in the grocery store on the ground floor of the Hotel Napoli, was smiling and said ‘thank you’ to rescuers as he was saved.

‘I was hungry,’ said Mr Exantus, who is in his 20s. ‘I would eat anything I found. After the quake I didn’t know when it was day and when it was night.

‘It was God who was tucking me away in his arms. It gave me strength.’ Two women were sent into the ‘hole’ to find him because men could not fit, according to rescuers.

Mr Exantus said he thought other people might have been trapped when the building collapsed in Port-au-Prince. ‘There were times I heard rustling,’ he said.

Lieut Col Christophe Renou, a French Civil Protection official, said rescuers were looking for more survivors in the rubble.

‘What happened in that spot there is a miracle,’ he added. ‘We are really happy he is alive.’

Apostolos Dedas, a mission leader for the Greek rescue team, added: ‘It is very emotional. It is the best thing that can happen to you when you are a rescuer.’

Carmen Michalska, a Scottish woman who is a member of the Greek team, said: ‘He was smiling and he was just really happy to get out. He said: “Thank you”.’ She was with a French female rescuer who used a saw to cut away the last pieces of debris. ….

Go here for the rest of the story.