July 31, 2010

AP Covers ‘Paperwork Nightmare’ Provision in ObamaCare Without Explaining How It Got There

There’s a big “surprise” in the ObamaCare legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by the President in late March. Imagine that.

This morning, the Associated Press’s Stephen Ohlemacher reported on the status of one of them, namely an IRS-related provision in the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” that has nothing to do with patient protection or providing affordable care. The AP reporter does a decent job of explaining the current situation, but doesn’t tell readers how or why the problem arose in the first place. He also gives Democrats cover for what appears to be a half-hearted effort at repeal.

The key point Ohlemacher avoided is that no almost no one in Congress had any idea that the provision, which extends Form 1099 filing requirements to virtually all vendor payments exceeding $600 in a calendar year, was in the bill. It’s also clear that very few outside of Congress were aware of the provision in the run-up to the final votes, as the results of a Google News Archive search on “Obamacare 1099 $600″ (not typed in quotes) shows:

GoogleNewsArchive1099Ocare073110

Here are selected paragraphs from Ohlemacher’s report (bolds are mine):

Paperwork nightmare: A struggle to fix new law

Tucked into the new health care law is a requirement that could become a paperwork nightmare for nearly 40 million businesses.

They must file tax forms for every vendor that sells them more than $600 in goods.

The goal is to prevent vendors from underreporting their income to the Internal Revenue Service. The government must think vendors are omitting a lot because the filing requirement is estimated to bring in $19 billion over the next decade.

Business groups say it will swamp their members in paperwork, and Congress is listening. Democrats and Republicans want to repeal it, but getting them to work together on the issue is proving difficult in an election year.

The House rejected a bill Friday that would have repealed the provision. The two parties disagreed on how to make up the lost revenue.

“This foolish policy hammers our business community when we should be supporting their job growth,” Sen. Mike Johanns of Nebraska said in the Republicans’ weekly radio and Internet address Saturday. “It’s only one example of how the administration’s promise to support small businesses really rings hollow.”

Democrats blamed Republicans for Friday’s failure.

The House rejected the Democratic bill Friday after Democratic leaders brought it up under a procedure that requires a two-thirds majority for approval. The vote was 241-154, with nearly all Democrats voting in favor of the bill and nearly all Republicans opposed.

… Businesses already must file Form 1099s with the IRS when they purchase more than $600 in services from a vendor in a year. The new provision would extend the requirement to the purchase of goods, starting in 2012.

Uh, Steve, please re-read the bolded items, and kindly absorb these points:

  • Democrats in the House and Senate are the ones who voted for the legislation without reading it in March. The fact that the provision is in there in the first place, leading to the current “struggle” to fix it, is their fault. You should have noted that, and didn’t.
  • Democrats have a majority in both houses of Congress. If they really wanted to get rid of this provision, they could declare it “emergency” legislation as they have on so many other occasions, get around their phony PayGo rules, and pass it with simple majorities. You should have noted that, and didn’t.
  • But instead, “Democratic leaders” (i.e., Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, and perhaps other) ginned up a procedural vote requiring a two-thirds majority for passage. Why? It is because they don’t want it to pass, but instead want to engage in “blame the Republicans” rhetoric for the next 17 months? Why don’t you ask someone?

For those who believe that the search graphically illustrated above is based on a pejorative term (“Obamacare”) that the establishment press won’t use, be assured that a similar Google News Archive search on “health care 1099 $600″ (not typed in quotes) also returned nothing relevant during the first quarter of the year (the few February and March results that were returned are only there because those pages also contain more recently headlined stories).

Well, Nancy Pelosi can at least say that she warned us that there would be surprises like this when she said: “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Positivity: Heroic Afghan Dog Reunited with U.S. Soldier

Filed under: Taxes & Government,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 8:33 am

From Atlanta, Georgia, and Afghanistan (video is also at link):

ATLANTA, Ga., July 29, 2010

Dogs Prevented Suicide Bombing in Afghanistan, Saving Soldiers

When Georgia National Guardsman Chris Duke was serving in Afghanistan, he made friends with the locals – stray dogs Sasha, Target and Rufus.

“A lot of us used the three of them as an escape when you’re homesick,” Duke said.

But, as CBS News national correspondent Jeff Glor reports, the dogs did much more than keep him company.

“I firmly believe I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for him,” Duke said.

On a February night, a suicide bomber tried to get into Duke’s barracks. But the dogs began barking and biting the intruder. The attacker blew himself up before he could kill 50 soldiers inside.

Sasha was severely injured and had to be put down. But Rufus and Target were both nursed back to health. Duke returned home a month later – the dogs had to stay behind.

As another soldier kept an eye on the dogs, Duke wrote a letter to a veterans assistance group called “Hope for the Warriors.” In the letter, Duke requested bringing the dogs home to him.

“This was going to mean a lot to him,” said Robin Kelleher, President of Hope for the Warriors. “So whatever we needed to do to get this wish done we were going to do that.”

Other organizations heard about the story, too. A Facebook page went up, and raised $21,000 in less than 3 months – enough for the dogs to leave Afghanistan.

This week, Rufus and Target finally arrived in the U.S. Today, in Atlanta, they were reunited for the first time with Duke and his wife.

Target will live in Arizona with another soldier, while Rufus will stay with the Dukes. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

CNBC’s ‘Clarification’ of Bush Tax Cuts Still Ignores Their Across-the-Board Nature

CNBClogoIt would appear that someone at CNBC listened to the Mark Levin Show on Thursday. Either that, or someone at the network paid attention to his or her e-mail alerts and read my post that went up in the wee hours Friday morning (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog). Likely in response to our criticisms, CNBC has revised and “clarified” a report by CNBC staff writer Jeffrey Cox.

The network’s revised and “clarified” report still fails to sufficiently inform readers. In fact, the new version seems to be the result of a meeting where the topic of discussion was: “What are the least informative changes we can make while being technically correct?”

On his show Thursday night, Levin referred to Cox’s probably original version (now Google cached; copy saved here at my web host for future reference) addressing Deutsche Bank analysts’ fears that the expiration of the Bush tax cuts at the end of the year will have a sharply negative economic impact. (For what it’s worth, I prefer to describe what’s coming as a plain-and-simple tax increase, simply because after what will have been eight years — 2003 through 2010 — everyone has long since gotten used to the current income tax structure.)

Here are the first two paragraphs of Cox’s report as found by Levin and yours truly (bold is mine):

The nascent US economic recovery would be halted in 2011 if Congress fails to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, analysts at Deutsche Bank said.

The cuts were enacted in 2001 and 2003 under President George W. Bush and covered those earning more than $250,000, but they are set to expire at the end of this year.

Levin in passing, and yours truly with detailed support, pointed out that Bush’s tax cuts were across the board in nature and have affected well over 100 million taxpayers each and every year since their passage. Cox could easily have learned that in five minutes or less of Googling or going through Internet news archives.

Going a bit further with my point than I did in my original post — Those “tax cuts” in some instances turned into de facto tax handouts for some lower- and middle-income filers. The 2003 law allows certain tax credits (e.g., the child tax credit) to be taken even if they amount to more than the amount of tax otherwise due. In the otherworldly language of Congress and the IRS, such credits are characterized as “refundable.”

Here are the first two paragraphs as they now appear at CNBC, followed by the “clarification” that is now at the end of the article (HT to NewBusters commenter “charlestonjames” for catching this; bold is mine):

The nascent US economic recovery would be halted in 2011 if Congress fails to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, analysts at Deutsche Bank said.

The cuts were enacted in 2001 and 2003 under President George W. Bush and in part covered those earning more than $250,000, but they are set to expire at the end of this year. Tax decreases for lower-earning people likely will be continued, but the ones for the top end of the income scale are in danger of going away.

Clarification: An earlier version of this story failed to state that the Bush tax cuts covered more than just those earning more than $250,000.

The response by “charlestonjames” to CNBC’s pathetic effort is spot-on: “Of course, they still refuse to acknowledge these were across-the-board tax cuts.”

Really. Readers not familiar with the history might reasonably but erroneously infer that the revision’s references to “in part” and “lower-earning,” along with the clarification’s “more than just those earning more than $250,000,” mean that the Bush cuts only helped people making a bit less than $250,000.

It would have been so much easier from the start for Cox to merely write that “Across-the-board cuts were enacted in 2001 and 2003 under President George W. Bush, but they are set to expire at the end of this year.”

Crucially, it would also have been accurate based on the facts on the ground at the moment. Despite the confident assertion in CNBC’s revision, there is absolutely no assurance that “Tax decreases for lower-earning people likely will be continued.” C’mon, guys. Obama, Pelosi and Reid have had over 18 months to do this, and haven’t. Further, they have deliberately decided not to pass a budget and to keep the tax structure (and of course spending) on autopilot when the fiscal year 2011 begins on October 1. It’s more than a little likely that they’re not even going to bring up any other tax matters (or, of course, spending control) before the November elections.

Finally, there’s an error I didn’t bring up in my early Friday post that is in the first paragraph of both the original and revised versions.

It is simply not true that ending the Bush tax cuts for those earning over $250,000 will only affect “the wealthiest Americans.” Doing so will instead extract more money from people who happen to be the “highest-earning Americans” starting next year, regardless of whether they have previously accumulated a great deal of wealth or are saddled with a mountain of debt to the point of having a negative net worth.

I can’t believe I have to explain this to the people who work for what is supposed to be the nation’s leading business channel. If Fox’s competitive effort overtakes them, sloppiness such as what is described here, and which has telltale signs of being deliberate, will go a long way towards explaining why.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

July 30, 2010

2Q10 GDP Growth: An Annualized +2.4% (Updates: Looking at the Comprehensive Revision and the Current Quarter)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:51 am

The BEA report (full text with tables) is here.

The result is pretty much in line with predictions, as noted in this post yesterday, where the consensus forecast was 2.5%. I saw another consensus prediction from Bloomberg that it would be 2.6%.

UPDATE: First, let’s deal with the comprehensive revision to prior quarters going back to mid-2007 (BEA actually went back to the beginning of 2007).

Here are the new figures:

RevisedGDP2Q07to2Q10

Initial observations:

  • The recession as normal people define it still ran from the third quarter of 2008 through the second quarter of 2009.
  • That recession, which was caused by the creators of the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) economy, was even more severe than originally thought. This is the second serious downward revision to 3Q08, which was originally thought to have been an annualized -0.3% in October 2008, and then -0.5% in November (there was no change in December). Last year’s comprehensive revision chopped that number down to an annualized -2.1% in July; a later revision took it to -2.7% . Now as seen above, it’s -4.0%. What’s more, 4Q08 is also much worse than before, at -6.8%. It’s amazing what a political party bound and determined to take down an economy in the name of achieving power can do.
  • The downward revision to 2Q08 (from +1.1% to +0.6%) appears to support a contention that the POR Economy’s official beginning might have been sometime in mid- to late-May instead of June of that year. It wouldn’t be surprising if entrepreneurs, investors, and businesspeople picked up on the hostility of Team Obama, which after all had its nomination victory virtually in the bag by late April, earlier than originally thought. That they detected the coming “It’s the Uncertainty, Stupid” situation that this bunch began creating and have continued to build in the two years since would not be surprising.
  • The “Rebound? What Rebound?” alleged “recovery” is about the same as originally thought. 3Q09 was 2.2%; now it’s +1.6%. 4Q09 was 5.6%; now it’s +5.0%, which is far lower than Bush 43′s first blowout quarter (+6.9% in 3Q03) and Reagan’s first blowout year (+7.2% in 1984, or if you prefer, four quarters straddling 1983-1984 that averaged a mind-boggling +8.5%). 1Q10 is better than originally thought (+3.7% vs. +2.7%), but that makes the 2Q10 figure reported today more problematic, especially given that the consensus is that the economy isn’t growing as fast during the current quarter, and may even be contracting again.

UPDATE 2: So here’s the latest on how far we sank and how much of it has been gained back after today’s comprehensive revision:

POReconRecessionAndRecovTo2Q10

What had been a reported shrink of 3.83% is now 4.13%. Thus, as noted earlier, the POR Economy’s recession really was worse than originally thought.

Based on the revised quarterly data, we’re still less than three-quarters of the way back to where we were before the first full quarter during which the POR economy was in effect. It would take another couple of quarters of 2%-plus annualized growth to finally get GDP back to where it was at the end of 2Q08. I’m afraid it will take longer than that to get to that point–and even then, per-capita GDP will have fallen by about 2%-3%.

UPDATE 3: As to the current quarter, inventory growth still was a significant GDP component (+1.05 points), though nowhere near as big as it was during the two previous quarters.

Fixed private investment, which excludes inventory changes, was a +2.09-point component. That line item had its best quarter in a very long time in both its residential and nonresidential elements. There was nice improvement in each nonresidential element, including yet another outsized contribution from “Information processing and software” and an encouraging +0.44-point contribution from “Industrial equipment.” One could argue that fixed investment was long overdue for a good quarter, given how bad previous ones were (after all, you can’t hold out forever, and at some point you have to replace worn-out equipment). But it’s very welcome nonetheless. I just hope it’s not revised downward when better data becomes available.

Government (a +0.88-point component, +0.72 federal and +0.16 state) was a significant growth contributor in the second quarter. Fiscal realities would seem to dictate that this is probably not sustainable.

The stunner is net imports, which came in as a -2.78-point GDP component (+1.22 exports, -4.00 imports). That’s far more negative than seen in any of the previous 11 quarters in the BEA’s report. It seems too negative. If so, GDP may see upward revisions in the next two releases, which would be a welcome change from the track record during previous quarters.

Overall, I’m taking today’s data as “not as bad as feared,” and reason for some guarded optimism.

One big question is how much of today’s reported gain took place in April and May vs. June. Recent economic data indicates that June was probably the worst month of the three.

UPDATE 4: From the Financial Times

President Barack Obama, noting the economy had been growing for a full year, called the GDP numbers “a welcome sign compared to where we were.” But he added: “We’ve got to keep on increasing that rate of growth and keep adding jobs so we can keep moving forward.”

Well, as has been chronicled here since mid-2008, you and your party are why we were where we were — and as noted earlier in this post, we aren’t even back to where we were before you, Pelosi and Reid put us where we were.

CNBC Reporter: Bush Tax Cuts Only Affected Those Making $250K or More

BushSignsTaxCut2003CNBC.com’s Jeff Cox needs to brush up on his financial history.

He believes that George W. Bush’s 2001 and 2003 tax cuts affected only the highest-earning taxpayers, i.e., those who gross $250,000 a year of more. He’s wrong.

Here’s part of what Cox posted this morning (erroneous statement is bolded; HT to Mark Levin in his Thursday broadcast):

Letting Bush Tax Cuts Die Would Kill Recovery: Analysts

The nascent US economic recovery would be halted in 2011 if Congress fails to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, analysts at Deutsche Bank said.

The cuts were enacted in 2001 and 2003 under President George W. Bush and covered those earning more than $250,000, but they are set to expire at the end of this year.

Deutsche said the drag on gross domestic product should they lapse could be as much as 1.5 percent, with the more likely impact at 1.1 percent.

The impact would be worse, the analysts said, if Congress fails to fix the Alternative Minimum Tax, which was enacted in 1969 to make sure rich people pay taxes but was never indexed for inflation, and thus is now hitting middle-income workers.

… The opinion runs counter to that of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who said earlier this week that allowing the cuts to expire would not cause the economy to re-enter recession. The administration has proposed letting most of the tax cuts stand, but eliminating the ones for the top-tier earners.

Deutsche compared the situation to Japan in the 1990s, when the government let tax cuts expire and cut stimulus, leading to another leg down in the recession and ensuring the nation’s “lost decade” of no economic growth.

While the US is headed toward unmanageable debt levels, now is not the time to start tightening the money supply, the analysts said.

It wouldn’t have taken much of an effort for Cox to learn the truth. In fact, it took me about 5 minutes to find the following items (too bad documenting them doesn’t go as quickly):

  • From CBS News (May 28, 2003; “Bush Signs Tax Cuts Into Law”) — You could tell that the network’s Jarrett Murphy wasn’t happy with having to report it, telling readers that “… Mr. Bush said the tax legislation will provide relief to 136 million American taxpayers.” It’s as if there was no reason to believe the president.
  • From the Tax Foundation (June 21, 2007) — “… the Bush tax cuts were mainly across-the-board cuts in tax rates …”
  • USA Today (May 19, 2003; three-paragraph excerpt from “Bush’s drive for tax cuts fueled by his principles”) — Reporters Judy Keen; Laurence McQuillan quote Bush as saying in part: “”Across-the-board tax relief does not happen often in Washington, D.C.”

Cox wouldn’t even have had to go to Google or Google’s news archive to learn how wrong he is. More recently, as in two weeks ago, Bloomberg briefly explained what the Bush tax cuts did in a report that was primarily about how Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan (sigh) wants everyone’s taxes to go up next year (“Greenspan Calls for Congress to Let All Bush Tax Cuts Expire”):

… Bush tax cuts that passed in 2001 and 2003 gave middle- income earners a 10 percent rate on couples’ first $14,000 in income; subsidies for college expenses, a higher child-care credit and relief from the marriage penalty. Keeping those and other reductions for the 130 million households earning less than $250,000 would cost about $300 billion a year, according to the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation.

The Bloomberg item also notes that “President Barack Obama campaigned for election in 2008 on a promise of extending the Bush tax reductions for families earning up to $250,000 while eliminating the cuts for higher- income Americans, a position also embraced by most congressional Democrats.” Of course this means that many other Americans earning below that amount received tax cuts.

This is a pretty blatant error, especially considering that it’s from a business network. Tighten things up, guys and gals.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

July 29, 2010

Politico’s Roger Simon: Journolist Sullies ‘Holy Calling’ of Reporting

column_rogersimonRoger Simon’s Wednesday morning column (“Journolist veers out of bounds”), an item Rush brought up on his show this afternoon, may be one of the most delusional items ever written by a journalist attempting to defend his profession.

Rich Noyes at NewsBusters covered one aspect of Simon’s column on Wednesday, namely the deliciously hypocritical outrage of NBC/MSNBC reporter Chuck Todd over how the Journolist scandal “has been keeping him up nights, and he’s especially frustrated that ‘the right’ would use it as ‘a sledgehammer’ against everyday journalists, ‘those of us who don’t practice advocacy journalism.’”

I’ll suggest that Simon’s rendition of journalistic history is at least as offensive as Todd’s reaction, in that it’s laughably and obviously false on so many fronts (numbered tags are mine):

… when I became a reporter, it was almost a holy calling. (1)

We really believed we were doing good. We informed the public and helped make democracy work. We exposed wrongdoing wherever we found it. (2)

… We were proud. We felt — I am just going to go ahead and say it — honorable.

There were wrongdoers. Fakers, plagiarists, those with private agendas who wished to slant the news. When found, they were often fired. Even when they were subjected to a lesser punishment, their sins were made clear as a lesson to the rest of us. (3)

Somewhere along the way, things have gone terribly wrong. Journalism has become a toy, an electronic plaything. I do not blame technology. (4)

Comments:

(1) — I’m really tempted to give Simon a pass on the “holy calling” characterization. After all, doing any job well, no matter what it is or how the public perceives, is a “holy calling.” But holiness is a religious and a decidedly non-secular concept. Previous Media Research Center studies have shown that journalists in general aren’t just indifferent to religion. All too often, they’re openly hostile to it, as seen in Tim Graham’s 2006 report, “The Trashing of the Christ,” where he concluded:

Network television news stars may boast at seminars that they are tough on everyone, “without fear or favor,” but in real life, their devotion to secularism is almost religious in its intensity.

Especially since several surveys have shown that “Between 6 and 8 percent (of journalists) attended religious services regularly, a tiny fraction of the corresponding rate for the public at large,” I’m entitled to a high degree of confidence that Simon’s “holy calling” characterization is not religion-based. Absent contrary evidence, Simon’s free pass is revoked. In any event, even if Simon is religious, the vast majority of his professional colleagues aren’t. Thus, his use of the word “holy” is wholly out of bounds.

(2) — I’ll supply just a sample here of wrongdoing found or suspected and not exposed or investigated:

  • I’m still waiting for the hard-hitting coverage of blatantly obvious wrongdoing in the management of Barack Obama’s campaign donations made via plastic in 2008.
  • I’m holding on for someone, anyone, to get out the year-by-year details, with the names of the people who orchestrated it and the dollar amounts involved, of the 15-year campaign of mortgage quality misrepresentation to the securities markets by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
  • On a very recent matter, I’m wondering when if ever we are going to find out whether Shirley and Charles Sherrod have actually done anything with their seven-figure Pigford settlement that would involve actual farming, or whether Mr. Sherrod’s infamous statement that “We must stop the white man and his Uncle Toms from stealing our elections” will be carried anywhere besides Fox News and center-right blogs.

Surely readers can supply a myriad of other examples.

(3) — Since their perpetration of the Rathergate phony documents scandal that was obviously ginned up and timed to have maximum impact on the 2004 presidential election, Dan Rather and Mary Mapes have been defended by people like Ted Koppel and others who should know better, and don’t.

(4) — It’s a good thing Simon doesn’t blame the existence of technology for the advent of Journolist. In proper historical perspective, as I showed last week (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) when the story first broke, story coordination by establishment journalists isn’t a recent tech phenomenon. Instead, it’s a time-honored tradition. Between the early 1990s and 2005, when Editor & Publisher exposed it and appeared not to recognize its impact, the Washington Post and New York Times shared at least their front-page headlines before putting them on paper. Someone should ask them if they’re still doing it today, and if it goes beyond headlines. The fact that WaPo was fine with having head Journolister Ezra Klein on board would seem to indicate that the words “journalism” and “ethics” don’t spend a lot of time together in conversations there.

All in all, because Simon is writing a column and not reporting straight news, his pathetic prose doesn’t quite rise (or actually sink) to the level of gems like the June 2008 item I called the “Worst AP Story Ever” (“Everything seemingly is spinning out of control”). But it’s pretty close.

Cross-posted at Newsbusters.org.

_________________________________________________

BizzyBlog Update: It looks like Shirley Sherrod might be using her and husband’s Pigford settlement money for a form of “farming” — i.e., harvesting more money from the legal system (“Sherrod to sue conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart”).

Reuters 2Q10 GDP Growth Consensus Estimate: +2.5% Annualized

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:14 pm

Link:

Reuters2Q10GDPpredix

Additional noteworthy items at the link:

ANALYST COMMENTS

* GOLDMAN SACHS
“We estimate real GDP grew at a below-consensus 2 percent pace in the second quarter. The report should feature solid growth in domestic demand but substantial trade drag and little if any boost from inventory accumulation.”

* IHS GLOBAL INSIGHT
“The economy entered the second quarter with plenty of momentum, but exited with very little. We expect that growth in the third quarter will be slower than in the second.”

Looking back: Three months ago (April 27-28 meeting) an “upbeat” Fed predicted full-year growth of 3.5%.

With 1Q10 at 2.7%, 2Q10 at 2.5%, and 3Q10 lower than 2Q10 (say, 2.2%, which at the moment would seem to be optimistic), the fourth quarter would have to come in at something like an annualized +6.4% (factoring in compounding) for the Fed’s 3.5% prediction — again, about 90 days ago — to happen.

I don’t think so.

Related: From Zero Hedge yesterday —

Durable Goods Are Latest Economic Disappointment: June -1.0% Reading Is Largest Decline Since August 2009 (And Misses Consensus Of Course)

The June US durable goods order is the latest disappointment in a streak of poor macroeconomic data that started well over a month ago, and which will soon enough begin to impact not only GDP but also corporate earnings, as the macro double dip which is now firmly in place, makes it all too clear why companies have been miserly conserving cash. Durable Goods came at -1.0%, a major disappointment to consensus which had been hoping to a nice boost from the previous -1.1% number (now revised to -0.8%), and looking for a +1.0% reading. Better luck next time.

Sidebar: Something funny may be going on in manufacturing reporting. It will become clearer if this is or isn’t the case sometime next week. If it’s a legitimate possibility, you’ll see something here. If not, you won’t.

The Journolist Collection

From the Daily Caller, as links to current news and for future reference:

__________________________________________

July 29Political operatives on Journolist worked to shape news coverage

Despite its name, membership in the liberal online community Journolist wasn’t limited to journalists. Present among the bloggers, reporters and editors were a number of professional political operatives, including top White House economic advisors, key Obama political appointees, and Democratic campaign veterans.

… Journolist founder Ezra Klein, a staffer at the Washington Post, says he “tried to be very strict” in making sure no active political operatives joined Journolist. “It’s possible I missed someone,” he explained in an email.

In fact, he did. Jeff Hauser wrote scores of posts on Journolist during the time he was managing the New Jersey (campaign of a congressman).

… Jared Bernstein, meanwhile, worked as an unpaid surrogate for Barack Obama during much of the campaign. All the while, he remained a member of Journolist. Even after the campaign ended, and he had joined the Obama administration, Bernstein continued his contact with the group.

July 28“Heroes of Journolist: Dan Froomkin, James Surowiecki, Jeffrey Toobin, Michael Tomasky — and founder Ezra Klein”

I’m less than impressed with the examples of “heroism” cited, given that the entire enterprise was devoted to news coordination and media agenda-setting.

Here’s a peripheral but revealing excerpt:

When MoveOn.org infamously called General David Petraeus a traitor with its “General Betray Us?” advertisement, many members of Journolist were livid with MoveOn. In their view, the ad was a public relations disaster for their side.

As then-Mother Jones (and now-Politico) reporter Laura Rozen put it, quoting a friend, the ad “‘accomplishes nothing: it preaches to the converted, persuades no one, and only serves to piss off the other side and make all Dems look bad.”

“Enough aiding and abetting the enemy! as Cheney says,” she added.

In other words, the MoveOn campaign wasn’t bad because it was wrong and fundamentally slanderous, it was bad because it was ineffective.

July 26“Raw Journolist emails on ‘Palin’s first miscue’”

Palin’s alleged “miscue” was saying on September 8, 2008 that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had “gotten too big and too expensive to the taxpayers.” According to Sam Stein “reporting” at HuffPo, this statement was a “gaffe” because Fan and Fred “aren’t taxpayer funded but operate as private companies.”

Yeah, this is the same Sam Stein who lied about the unavailability of local news archives at Palin’s hometown paper, which supposedly proved that John McCain didn’t adequately vet her; the reality is that over 900 articles going back 12 years were right there for everyone to see. An updated list here identifies Stein as a Journolist member.

Many Journolisters saw Palin’s statement as an example of “alarming ignorance.”

The real ignorance was at J-list. Palin was commenting on the September 7 news that Fan and Fred had been … wait for it … had been seized and bailed out by the government. In other words, they were already no longer operating “as private companies.” The seizure and bailout occurred because (duh) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had “gotten too big and too expensive to the taxpayers.”

Nearly two years later, and after over $100 billion dollars of “taxpayer funding” with no end in sight, who’s “ignorant” now? The same people who were ignorant then.

July 26“Raw Journolist emails on ‘Palin’s Downs child’”

The subject was whether Palin is really Trig’s mom. The link is to the third page, where this quote from the oh-so-objective Kathleen Geier of Talking Points Memo can be found:

I am really hoping Palin will self-immolate and bring down the ticket with her. Because if she proves to be a popular choice who doesn’t screw up too badly, she could be really, really dangerous in the years to come.

July 26“Journolisters debate making coordination with Obama explicit”

(Sarah) Palin’s (Republican Convention) speech had been remarkably effective. This troubled members of Journolist. On Sept. 8, 2008, five days after Palin’s national debut, some members of the group discussed producing coordinated propaganda designed to wound Palin and boost Obama.

Luke Mitchell, then a senior editor at Harper’s magazine … (asked) “… Would it be a good use of this list to co-ordinate a message of the week along the lines of the GOP? Or is that too loathsome? It certainly sounds loathsome. But so does losing!”

July 25“The Fix was in: Journolist e-mails reveal how the liberal media shaped the 2008 election”

In a key episode, Journolist members openly plotted to bury attention on then-candidate Barack Obama’s controversial pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. The Washington Independent’s Spencer Ackerman, for instance, suggested an effective tactic to distract from the issue would be to pick one of Obama’s critics, “Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists.”

Conservative critics of Washington’s journalistic establishment have long charged the media with a striking liberal bias. But those critics have also said the problem was mostly unintentional, the result of a press corps made up mostly of Democratic-leaning scribes.

Yet Journolist’s discussions show an influential left-wing faction of the media participating in a far more intentional sort of liberal bias.

July 21“Liberal journalists suggest government censor Fox News”

In the summer of 2009, agitated citizens from across the country flocked to town hall meetings to berate lawmakers who had declared support for President Obama’s health care bill. For most people, the protests seemed like an exercise in participatory democracy, rowdy as some of them became.

On Journolist, the question was whether the protestors were garden-variety fascists or actual Nazis.

… The very existence of Fox News, meanwhile, sends Journolisters into paroxysms of rage. When Howell Raines charged that the network had a conservative bias, the members of Journolist discussed whether the federal government should shut the channel down.

Jonathan Zasloff, a law professor at UCLA, suggested that the federal government simply yank Fox off the air. “I hate to open this can of worms,” he wrote, “but is there any reason why the FCC couldn’t simply pull their broadcasting permit once it expires?”

“Law professor” Zasloff apparently doesn’t understand that Fox doesn’t have a “broadcasting permit” from the FCC. Individual TV stations have broadcasting licenses.

July 20 — “Documents show media plotting to kill stories about Rev. Jeremiah Wright”

According to records obtained by The Daily Caller, at several points during the 2008 presidential campaign a group of liberal journalists took radical steps to protect their favored candidate. Employees of news organizations including Time, Politico, the Huffington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Guardian, Salon and the New Republic participated in outpourings of anger over how Obama had been treated in the media, and in some cases plotted to fix the damage.

July 21“Meet the new Journolist, smaller than the old journolist”

It’s called “Cabalist.”

Positivity: Canadian Anglican Catholic group votes to unite with Rome

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:33 am

From Vancouver:

Jul 28, 2010 / 01:10 am

With “overwhelming support,” a recent meeting of leaders in the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada (ACCC) voted to unite with the Roman Catholic Church through the Apostolic Constitution created by Pope Benedict XVI.

The ACCC, part of the Continuing Anglican Movement, is made up of more than two dozen congregations. Its Eighth Provincial Synod and Thirteenth Diocesan Synod were held simultaneously at the Rosemary Heights Retreat Center in Surrey, British Columbia.

The website VirtueOnline.org published a letter from Dean Shane B. Janzen detailing the event.

The meeting was attended by four ACCC bishops, including Bishop Peter Wilkinson, the communion’s Metropolitan and Ordinary. Archbishop John Hepworth, the Australia-based Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC), was also present.

The discussion included the House of Clergy and the House of Laity and focused on the implementation of a proposed Canadian Anglican Catholic Ordinariate under the Apostolic Constitution “Anglicanorum Coetibus.”

Support for the Ordinariate was unanimous in the House of Clergy and received 25 of 30 votes from lay delegates, with two members opposing the proposal and three abstaining.

The synod then passed a resolution enabling Bishop Wilkinson, with the advice and consent of the Provincial Council, to enact the necessary canonical ordinances and rules to establish the Ordinariate. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

July 28, 2010

Biden’s Blunder on Employment Numbers

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:55 pm

Here’s a little-noticed howler from our Vice-President on July 22:

There are 3 million [more] Americans working today than there were before we took office.

Uh, no, Joe. The Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us that no matter which of four possible ways one looks at the numbers, he’s laughably wrong, and by at least six years:

  • Household Survey, seasonally adjusted — Total June 2010 employment in this report was 139.119 million. The last time comparably measured employment was three million or more lower was January 2002.
  • Household Survey, not seasonally adjusted — You have to go back to March of 2003 to find the last time this employment metric was three million or more lower than June 2010′s figure of 139.882 million.
  • Establishment Survey, seasonally adjusted — The last time payroll employment was three million or more below the 130.470 million of June 2010 was February 2004.
  • Establishment Survey, not seasonally adjusted — June 2010 showed 131.456 million. The last time it was lower than 128.456 million before Obama’s inauguration was January 2004.

Zheesh. Imagine if Dan Quayle, who could at least count to four (Biden has shown that he can’t), had said this.

Lucid Links (072810, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 9:56 am

Zombie, on the Pigford class action suit from which Charles and Shirley Sherrod became personal and “non-profit corporation” beneficiaries, did the heavy lifting in following up on the Pigford case described in my Examiner post last week:

Pigford v. Glickman: 86,000 claims from 39,697 total farmers?

… What I want to know is: How can there be 86,000 legitimate claimants?

Let’s accept as a point of fact that some African-American farmers were unfairly denied loans by racists in the USDA during the Clinton and Reagan administrations.

… But ponder the numbers.
• There are approximately 40,000 African-American farmers in the country.
• Of that 40,000, not all of them have gotten into financial trouble. Some have successful farms.
• Of those who had financial trouble, not all of them sought out loans. Some tried to stay afloat on their own.
• Of those who sought out loans, not all of them sought out loans from the USDA. Some got loans from banks or friends.
• Of those who sought out loans from the USDA, not all of them were denied loans. Some got the loans as requested.
• Of those who were denied loans, not all of them were denied due to discriminatory racial practices.

In the end, a total much much smaller than 40,000 could legitimately claim to be victims of discrimination.

As shown above, it was originally estimated to be no more than 2,000 possible total plaintiffs.

Somehow, that number quickly swelled to 16,000 wronged claimants.

… I have a feeling that the Senate repeatedly fails to fund this settlement because there is a strong suspicion among the senators that something is amiss with the case — that a substantial percentage of the 70,000 claims that were originally rejected must necessarily have been fraudulent claims. And so there is reluctance to fork over the money. But there also seems to be a reluctance on the part of the Senate to admit why they won’t fund the settlement, because the issue is just too racially charged.

… It seems, no matter how you look at it, that a substantial number of the 86,000 claims must necessarily be fraudulent.

What Zombie has done is what establishment press reporters used to do in a bygone era, but won’t do now when they believe they’ll find answers that don’t fit the PC template.

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Michael Barone, on OH-13:

In industrial Ohio 13, which Barack Obama carried 57 to 42, a poll shows incumbent Betty Sutton trailing free-spending Republican Tom Ganley 44 to 31 percent.

… we haven’t seen polls released by many other Democrats on Republican target lists. Most are conducting polls; many have reason to release favorable results if they’re available. This looks like a case where the absence of evidence is evidence of absence.

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John Kerry will pay the Massachusetts taxes he avoided on his yacht by docking it in Rhode Island.

The Boston Herald, which broke the original story in a deliciously drafted write-up, ought to get a 10% cut.

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Fantastic point, via Rush:

If We Were Really Who They Say We are, We Would All be Liberals

… Anti-women’s rights is a cause of the left. That’s who’s pushing Sharia in this country: The left. It’s the left that wants a mosque at Ground Zero.

… Who applauds organizations that divide us by race? It’s not I. It should be me, given their propensity to see and treat people according to the color of their skin, but it’s not I. It’s not I that divide people into groups.

… Who divides this nation into tribes? Who divides this nation into Jews, Indians, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, women, male ancestors of slave owners? Who is it that says a black is not “authentic” if there’s no “slave blood” in the genealogy? It’s not I. It’s the left. Who is it that writes columns saying there’s not enough real, genuine blackness in the Obama White House? It’s not I. It’s Maureen Dowd

The Sherrods are gone, because Andrew Breitbart was right. These people (the Sherrods) are racists. They’re on videotape. It’s conclusive.

… Race, religion, gender, dividing us into tribes, preventing the United States from becoming a true melting pot. With the left as the chef here, folks, we’re just a bunch of different ingredients, never meant to blend together into the same recipe to become one fantastic dish. It’s an incredible backwards, non-progressive, destructive way to view and manipulate people. Either we are equal under the law or we are not.

The Sherrods are also gone because it would be a leftist disaster if items such as this, this, and this became more widely known.

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Another Rush gem: “… when Obama goes on The View (this is a sad reality) he’s going to be the least experienced and the least qualified guy in that room. He’s going to be the least talented person in that room when he goes on The View — and that is saying something.”

Positivity: Cloistered French nuns to make Gregorian chant album for Universal Music

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:58 am

From Avignon, France:

Jul 27, 2010 / 06:07 am

An order of cloistered Benedictine nuns in France has signed a deal with Universal Music to produce an album of Gregorian chant. The abbess said that after time in prayer the nuns decided the effort could touch people’s lives.

The nuns of the Abbaye de Notre-Dame de l’Annonciation (Abbey of Our Lady of the Annunciation), near Avignon, France, won a worldwide search to find the world’s finest female singers of Gregorian chant, Decca Records reports. The search surveyed over 70 convents, including some in North America and Africa.

The nuns’ order dates back to the sixth century and their convent remains closed to the outside world. Vowed sisters remain in the convent until their death and any visitors must communicate with them through a grill. Those women who choose to live in a cloister do so to fully offer themselves to God and to commit themselves to praying for the world and the Pope.

When it came time to hold negotiations with the record label over the album, the Benedictine nuns maintained their cloister.

“I passed the contract through the grill, they signed it and passed it back,” reported Dickon Stainer, managing director of Decca Records.

The prospect of producing an album while respecting the rules of the convent means that record company bosses will not be allowed into the abbey, and that the nuns will film their own television commercial and photograph their own album cover.

“We never sought this, it came looking for us,” said the abbess. “At first we were worried it would affect our cloistered life, so we asked St. Joseph in prayer. Our prayers were answered, and we thought that this album would be a good thing if it touches people’s lives and helps them find peace.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.

July 27, 2010

In ‘Context’: Two June Housing Stats Are Worst For Any June Since Such Records Have Been Kept

HousingDownThanks to Shirley Sherrod, Andrew Breitbart, and the NAACP, political journalists have supposedly discovered the importance of “context” (though they strangely seem to lost interest once fuller context items like this and this became known). It would be helpful if such an interest in full context would legitimately and consistently spread to business reporting.

Full context would include looking at the raw business and economic data before it gets seasonally adjusted and reporting it when it is significant. Given the information the press would then have to report in the current economy, I’m not holding my breath waiting for journalists to even look at it, let alone report it.

Take the housing market, particularly housing starts and new single-family home sales. During the past week, the Census Bureau released statistics on each of these important metrics. Let’s look at an excerpt from reports about each.

First, housing starts, in an unbylined July 20 AP report:

Housing Starts Drop 5 Percent In June; Permits Up

Home construction plunged last month to the lowest level since October as the economy remained weak and demand for housing plummeted.

Construction of new homes and apartments in June fell 5 percent from a month earlier to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 549,000, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. May’s figure was revised downward to 578,000.

Now, here’s an item about new single-family home sales via Reuters:

New Home Sales Surge in June, Inventory at 42-Year Low

The Commerce Department said on Monday sales jumped 23.6 percent to a 330,000 unit annual rate from a downwardly revised 267,000 units in May. The sales pace last month was still the second lowest since records started in 1963.

… June’s rebound to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 330,000 homes surprised analysts on the upside.

In each case, it’s not fair to say that the content of the reports covered up the bad news (though the deception in the Reuters headline is painfully obvious).

But it is fair to say that each report, and every other report I perused before putting up this post –at least a half-dozen articles about each metric — missed the fact that the raw data for June was the worst for any June on record (Census Bureau sources, both 11-page PDFs: Housing Starts; Single-Family Home Sales; also see the Update in the next paragraph):

June2010HousingStartsAndSFHsales

In the case of housing starts, on a population adjusted basis, the 54,200 housing starts that reportedly occurred in June is the lowest figure for any June in the 50-plus years such records have been kept — by over 50%. As to new single-family homes, June is supposed to be one of the busiest sales months of the year. If that ends up being the case in 2010, it’s going to be a very rough rest of the year. (Update, August 19: The June figure was revised downward in July’s release to 53,400.)

Of course, each June 2010 result is also worse than June 2009. It wouldn’t have been at all difficult to communicate those one-year comparisons to readers, if any reporter had cared to. But that might have made the whole idea that a real economic recovery is taking place seem silly. Apparently, we can’t have that.

The above graphic provides context. It’s not pretty, and it makes a mockery of the Obama administration’s so-called “Recovery Summer” propaganda campaign.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with seasonal conversions, but treating them as the be-all and end-all, or even as if they are the real actuals, which is all too typical, is fundamentally incorrect. Unfortunately, this error constantly occurs, and it occurred frequently in the reports I saw on the two metrics that were the subjects of this post.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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UPDATE: Full context  – An NB commenter points out that current stats are in a ridiculously low interest-rate environment. Previous periods when housing activity was low, especially 1979-1982, featured rates that were extraordinarily high.

Lucid Links (072710, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 11:02 am

Life-supporting point of the day:

Defense of life is not a religious issue, maintains family leader

An expert on family issues reminded Mexicans last week that the defense of life is not a religious issue and that it is based on the scientific certainty that life begins at conception.

As noted, the science on when life begins is settled; the best a skeptic can do is quibble over matters involving mere seconds as to the precise moment conception occurs. President Obama, who incredibly claimed that determining when life begins is “above my pay grade” in August of 2008, is smart enough to know that.

But Obama and other advocates of snuffing out human lives after conception won’t publicly admit to when life begins, because they would then have to admit that they are okay with snuffing out those lives. That doesn’t change the fact that the really are okay with snuffing out those lives.

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Mark Levin pointed out on his show Monday evening that those who released the 92,000 Wiki-leaked documents about the Afghanistan War could not have done so without knowing that they are endangering American soldiers’ lives. Any U.S. citizens involved in this are presumptively guilty of endangering national security. The hacker who turned in Bradley Manning earlier this month (Manning is also suspected of having gathered the docs in the latest released) understands that:

Lamo has contributed funds to Wikileaks in the past, and says he agonized over the decision to expose Manning — he says he’s frequently contacted by hackers who want to talk about their adventures, and he has never considered reporting anyone before. The supposed diplomatic cable leak, however, made him believe Manning’s actions were genuinely dangerous to U.S. national security.

“I wouldn’t have done this if lives weren’t in danger,” says Lamo, who discussed the details with Wired.com following Manning’s arrest. “He was in a war zone and basically trying to vacuum up as much classified information as he could, and just throwing it up into the air.”

To the extent that members of the establishment press may have encouraged those who did the leaking to do so and are American citizens, they are guilty of the same.

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Ford made a profit of $2.7 billion in the second quarter. Just as impressive, given the mediocre “Rebound; what Rebound?” recovery: Revenues of $31.3 billion. Ford’s $129 billion in revenues during the past four quarters. (adding the current figure to the $98 billion seen in the previous three quarters) will almost certainly be higher than GM’s during the same period (through three of those quarters, including a 10-day stub period in July 2009 before its emergence from bankruptcy, GM’s revenues are roughly $91 billion; it would have to turn in a $38 billion top line to beat Ford for the four quarters).

Though it is still second in U.S. unit sales, Ford’s top line has been bigger than GM’s since the first quarter of 2009, and probably will be again in 2Q10. Almost no one knows that. I wonder why?

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Shirley Sherrod Update: As noted last week, the Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative (SRBWI), an advocacy group in which Ms. Sherrod has been significantly involved, issued a scathing 2007 report claiming, among other things, that “Since 1948, violations of human rights have been addressed in countries across the world, but seldom in the United States.” Its “Call to Action” also had a number of economic suggestions, including “Every person should have the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of families ….”

Well, an essential element to having such a standard of living, assuming it is not merely handed out, is having a job. As best as I can tell based on available data, the vast majority of people in Sherrod’s neck of the woods who wanted jobs had them at the time the report was written. The unemployment rate in Metro Albany, Georgia, the MSA in which Sherrod’s Baker County lies, was 5.2% in April 2006. In September 2007, the unemployment rate for Southwest Georgia rose to 5% (scroll down to October 25 at link), meaning of course that it had been lower. Though the black unemployment rate in the area was probably higher, it’s clear that the situation there on the whole was the best it had been for quite some time.

The June 2010 unemployment rate in Southwest Georgia was 10.7%.

Despite the obvious deterioration in conditions during the past three years, the SRBWI hasn’t seen fit to issue a subsequent “Status of Human Rights for Southern Rural Black Women” report. I wonder why?

It’s the Uncertainty, Stupid

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:39 am

ObamaFunnyMoneyBig Ben publicly acknowledges what so many of us have known for over two years.

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

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In testimony before Congress on last Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke sounded as downbeat as someone in his position is probably allowed to be. That’s not surprising. The economy is not performing at as it should at this stage of a “recovery.”

The most visible reason why Ben is a borderline bear is because the Obama administration attempted to turn things around with an FDR-like “stimulus” instead of what has historically worked in both Democratic and Republican administrations when tried: tax cuts, tax simplification, and regulatory reform.

After tax cuts first proposed by John F. Kennedy in 1961 became law in early 1964, the economy boomed. Annual growth averaged over 6% during the next three years.

In 1984, the first year when Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts of 25% went into full effect, the economy grew by 7.2%. Growth averaged 3.7% during the rest of the decade, helped along in 1986 when the tax code was simplified down to a very few marginal rates.

In the third quarter of 2003, after George W. Bush’s relatively small tax cuts on income and investments became law, the economy grew at an annualized 6.9%. Despite being hampered by the unproductive busywork mandated by Sarbanes Oxley — a handicap still holding us back that no one seems willing to talk about — economic growth averaged 2.8% during the next dozen quarters.

But despite the steepest four-quarter contraction since the Great Depression, after which one would reasonably expect a brisk uptick, the Obama economy’s rebound, if it’s even fair to call it that, has been disappointing. The high-water mark for growth since the recession as normal people define it ended was the annualized 5.6% in the final quarter of last year. That’s not bad, but no one expects anything resembling a repeat of this performance while this administration’s current economic policies and postures remain in place. Even if growth somehow remains nominally impressive, employment is barely growing. The talk of the town both on Main Street and Wall Street is whether we’re heading into a double-dip recession. Some legitimately smart people think it has already started.

History should have told Team Obama that its statist stimulus strategy was doomed to failure. The Roosevelt administration’s continued stimulus during the 1930s failed to bring the unemployment rate below 12%. Meanwhile, Europe’s unemployment rate during that decade was actually lower. Japan tried a decade of aggressive stimulus during the 1990s. By the end of “The Lost Decade,” a former Asian powerhouse had morphed into a zombie economy.

But the pseudo-smarties at Team Obama thought they could defy history. They couldn’t. The administration can trot out its other-worldly “Recovery Summer” and “jobs created or saved” rhetoric all it wants, but the fact that their stimulus strategy has failed to adequately revive the economy is no longer arguable.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has been over 9% for fourteen consecutive months, and seems certain to break the record for the longest such strong (18) since the government began reporting monthly results in 1948. On a population-adjusted basis, the actual number of housing starts in June (i.e., before seasonal adjustment) was the lowest on record for any June since such records have been kept — by over 50%. Foreclosures are on track to break another annual record. Factory output fell in June. Retail sales went negative during May and June. Federal tax collections are still plummeting; only remittances from the Fed are keeping year-over-year receipts from diving further. Do I really need to go on?

Getting back to Ben Bernanke, it’s important to remember that the Fed chairman has extensively studied the Great Depression and understands its monetary lessons. He agrees with the late Milton Friedman that serious Fed policy blunders added to its depth, telling the Nobel laureate in 2002: “You’re right, we did it. We’re very sorry. But thanks to you, we won’t do it again.”

But there’s only so much Ben and the Fed can do. In Congressional testimony, Bernanke essentially admitted that he has done virtually all he can:

Even as the Federal Reserve continues prudent planning for the ultimate withdrawal of extraordinary monetary policy accommodation, we also recognize that the economic outlook remains unusually uncertain.

That, friends, is a de facto admission of impotence.

Ben really can’t do anything about our atmosphere of “unusual uncertainty,” because he didn’t create it. Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, and Harry Reid did that just over two years ago by establishing what I have been calling the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) economy ever since. It was in June of 2008 that these three demonstrated that they would act as ruthless redistributionist statists if they achieved monopoly power over the presidency and Congress. Their energy-starving environmental proposals, their near giddiness over the prospect of massive tax increases, and their fundamental hostility towards capitalism, free markets, wealth creation, and even the rule of law became all too apparent to those not wearing Beltway blinders. Entrepreneurs, investors, and businesspeople began pulling to the sidelines. Their expansion and hiring plans began to go on hold. They began stripping ongoing operations down to bare essentials.

The pullback by the productive accelerated two months later. The frauds by design known as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac imploded, while Congress got stampeded into setting up the $750 billion slush fund we now know as TARP. Obama’s funny money-aided election convinced all but the snookered (I’m talking to you, Mort Zuckerman) that unacceptable uncertainty was about to become a permanent part of the economic landscape.

If you think the uncertainty is bad now, look at what’s coming. How many yet to be discovered daggers to personal and economic freedom lie in the thousands of pages of signed but largely unread legislation? How much more damage will be done when unelected, job security-conscious technocrats add tens of thousands of pages of regulations into the mix?

I don’t see how the uncertain business environment can improve as long as the current bunch is in charge. Ben Bernanke can’t make things better. Only voters can — maybe.