August 25, 2010

This Week’s Rob Portman Counterpoint

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:28 pm

I have received some grief for taking ad money from Rob Portman’s campaign.

There is a method to the seeming madness. It will come in installments over the next four Wednesdays, during which Rob Portman’s smiling mug at the right will still be present (unless they read this and change their minds, which will be telling if they do so).

Here’s the first, from June 30:

Why Ohioans Should Not Let Themselves Be ‘Robbed’

Readers should ask themselves after reading if Mr. Portman has truly done enough to deal with the significant deficiencies noted. Perhaps the candidate himself might see fit to address those which remain — and plenty of them do remain.

It’s not enough to win only because you’re not the totally unacceptable Lee Fisher, pal — assuming you do, which, given that the race is still seen as a toss-up, is open to doubt.

Remembering the Real Ted Kennedy, A Year After His Death (See Update)

Filed under: Life-Based News,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:01 pm

Chappaquiddick_Kennedy_Car_25This item was originally posted just after midnight, but has been moved to near the top.

First, an excerpt from Doug Patton, followed by a telling remembrance relayed last year by a close friend of Kennedy’s (the remembrance is that he liked to hear jokes about Chappaquiddick):

Let Us Not Confuse Longevity with Statesmanship
September 2, 2009

It was almost nauseating to watch the media fawning over Ted Kennedy’s corpse as though he were the last brother of King Arthur, and his passing was signaling the end of a real place called Camelot. In fact, there’s an argument to be made that Chris Matthews and company actually believe in that mythical kingdom.

… Even one of my formerly favorite columnists, Cal Thomas, had glowing, gooey things to say about his “old friend Ted Kennedy,” the most laughable of which was that Kennedy never personalized his politics. Tell that to Robert Bork. Remember Kennedy’s ridiculous speech on the floor of the United States Senate, wherein he hyperventilated that “Robert Bork’s America is one in which women will be forced into back-alley abortions and blacks will be sitting at segregated lunch counters”?

… what we have witnessed in his passing is the near-deification of a man merely because he came from a rich, powerful family, because he lived a long time and because he managed to bamboozle his gullible state into re-electing him simply because his name was Kennedy. What has been sorely missing in all this is a sense of perspective. This was more than just a flawed man. This was a man who cheated, lied and undermined his family, his friends, even his own country.

Perhaps Ted Kennedy’s most contemptible moment — many consider it treasonous — came in 1983. President Ronald Reagan was in the process of bringing the Soviet Union to its knees. In one of the hotter moments of the Cold War, Kennedy sent word to Soviet Premier Yuri Andropov through an old friend and former senator offering Kennedy’s help in undermining the Reagan administration in its dealings with its old arch enemy in exchange for Andropov’s help in defeating Reagan in the 1984 presidential election. Think of that. A United States Senator offers to help our sworn enemy in exchange for political propaganda to win an American election.
(more…)

July New Home Sales: Wire Reports Dour, But Still Understated; Reuters-Quoted Economist Blames Govt.

HomeSoldPic082510July’s bad news in new home sales is even worse than it first appears.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of 276,000 units is bad enough. That is an all-time low since records have been kept and 12% lower than June’s annual rate. It’s also lower than what analysts predicted by about the same percentage. The lazy business press is running with those figures.

But, as has been the case so many other times, it takes a trip to the raw (i.e., not seasonally adjusted) data, this time at the Census Bureau (large PDF), to fully comprehend the extent of the new-home market’s collapse during this big, fat failed “Recovery Summer.”

The raw data shows that 25,000 new homes were sold in the U.S. in July. That’s not a typo, and it really is the figure for the entire country. Worse, that figure, the lowest July since records have been kept, is down by over one-third from July of last year, when the economy supposedly bottomed out, and by 42% from July 2008. I don’t think you’ll see those facts reported today.

Here is a graphic cap of a 10:07 a.m. report at Reuters carried at CNBC.com. It contains a jaw-dropper of a quote from an economist (red box is obviously mine):

ReutersNewHomeSalesIntro082510

You have to wonder how widely reported Mr. Porcelli’s in-your-face to the government will be, or if it will even survive future Reuters revisions.

As would be expected, no similar quote is present at the Associated Press, which used its time-honored business-reporting strategy of downplaying the awful news inside of two larger stories, one about the stock market’s reaction and the other about the not as bad news about durable goods orders, instead of giving it the separate treatment it deserves.

Here are a few paragraphs from the two reports. To their credit, the authors of the first cited the lowest-on-record nature of the past three months’ results, but without indicating the degree of the cratering:

(Daniel Wagner and Alan Zibel, “Recovery in danger as firms, homebuyers cut back,” as of 12:09 p.m.)

The economic recovery appears to be stalling as companies cut back last month on their investments in equipment and machines and Americans bought new homes at the weakest pace in decades.

… Separately, Commerce said new home sales fell 12.4 percent in July from a month earlier to a seasonally adjusted annual sales pace of 276,600. That was the slowest pace on records dating back to 1963. Collectively, the past three months have been the worst on record for new home sales.

… The two reports are likely to stoke fears that the economy is on the verge of slipping back into a recession. They follow Tuesday’s report that showed sales of previously owned homes fell last month to the lowest level in decades. Unemployment remains near double digits and job growth in the private sector is slowing.

… Housing has never fully recovered from the recession. Builders have been forced to compete with foreclosed properties offered at significantly lower prices.

(Stephen Bernard, “More bad news on home sales sends stocks lower,” as of 12:04 p.m.)

The Dow Jones industrial average fell about 16 points in midday trading Wednesday following news that sales of new homes fell last month to the lowest level on record. It was the latest indication that home sales are stagnating after the expiration of a homebuyer tax credit this spring.

… New home sales fell 12.4 percent in July to an annual rate of 276,600, the Commerce Department reported. That was the slowest pace on records dating back to 1963 and worse than the pace forecast by economists polled by Thomson Reuters. A day earlier, the National Association of Realtors said sales of existing homes, a far greater proportion of the housing market, fell to a 15-year low in July.

… Despite the ultra-low borrowing rates, home sales have been weak since a home buyer tax credit expired at the end of April. High unemployment has kept people from buying homes, and banks still reeling from the crisis in the mortgage-backed securities market have been cautious in making new loans.

Note how the last excerpted sentence dodges Porcelli’s contention at Reuters that “There is also little demand for lending.” Banks are being cautious, but there’s plenty of mortgage money out there for people who want to borrow (listen to the constant barrage of lender radio ads if you don’t believe it). There’s just little interest in doing so.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Fear and the Politics of Panic

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:33 pm

Note: This post went up at the Washington Examiner’s OpinionZone blog and was teased here at BizzyBlog on Monday.

_______________________________________

Related: A new example of panic — “Bennet Bombshell: Trillions in Debt, ‘Nothing to Show for It.’” The trouble is that Colorado Senator Michael Bennet voted for all of it, and can’t rationally run away from it now. But what else can a panic-stricken incumbent do?

_______________________________________

(original post)

Three seemingly unrelated stances taken by well-known Democratic politicians during the past week have one thing in common.

The first came courtesy of Nevada Senator and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Out of the blue, he announced that he opposes the Ground Zero Mosque — or, if you’re the Associated Press, “the mosque near ground zero” (note the lowercase on “Ground Zero,” which, despite the PC AP, is a place every bit as deserving of uppercase letters as, say, “Pearl Harbor”). He says that “the mosque should be built somewhere else.”

Then came Congressman Barney Frank. The Massachusetts congressman, who spent well over a decade defending government-sponsored mortgage behemoths Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from anyone and everyone who questioned their dangerously burgeoning role and ever-shakier financial situation, went on a TV tour telling the world he now wants to abolish them.

Finally there was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who announced on Thursday her belief that those who oppose the Ground Zero Mosque should be investigated to see where their funding is coming from.

This is all pretty bizarre stuff, but it all comes down to one word: Fear.

Harry Reid is afraid of losing in November to Sharron Angle. The concern is justified.

Incredible as it may sound, Barney Frank, assuming he dispatches Rachel Brown in the Democratic primary, is afraid of losing in the general election race to a Republican, either Sean Bielat or Earl Sholley.

It’s a fair bet that Frank has taken note of a survey of 12 Eastern state congressional districts current held by Democrats. In the generic party ballot, “voters in these districts prefer a Republican to a Democrat as their next congressman by a 38 to 31 percent margin.” Frank’s district is bluer than most, but many of its voters may be seeing red after experiencing Commonwealth Care, the Bay State’s precursor to ObamaCare, for a couple of years, and Obamanomics for the past 19 months.

Pelosi isn’t afraid of losing her seat. (Of course not. That could never happen … could it?) She’s just afraid she won’t be House Speaker much longer, and is trying to go to on the offensive in the misbegotten belief that doing so will benefit her Democratic colleagues.

All three seemingly diverse actions give off a distinct aura of panic. Reid and Frank believe their sudden conversion to semi-sensible positions will garner favor with voters who have until now been disengaged (sad to say, despite the Tea Party, that’s still most Americans). Pelosi believes that she can turn the tables and distract a bit of attention away from her party’s monstrously poor handling of the economy and federal finances.

Watch for more Democratic politicians to engage in desperate, out-of-character antics in the next 70 days or so. Now you know what they’ll all have in common.

Lucid Links (082510, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 9:32 am

Why the coverage of the Ground Zero Mosque at the New York Times reads like it was written by a CAIR apologist: One of its reporters on the story is a former CAIR apologist

As Alana Goodman of the Business and Media Institute reported earlier this month, Sharaf Mowjood is a former lobbyist for the Council on American Islamic Relations, an interest group that strongly supports the mosque.

Last week (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that Mowjood co-authored an online December 8, 2009 Times story that had this critical quote from Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf scrubbed before it went to the front page of the print edition

“New York is the capital of the world, and this location close to 9/11 is iconic.”

This interpretation by NB commenter “OxyCon” credibly explains why the quote disappeared:

… building a mosque as close as possible to Ground Zero is the true ambition of taqiyya practicing Imam Rauf. It is his mission.

“New York City is the capital of the world”

+

“this location close to 9/11 (ground zero location) is iconic”

=

“Victory Mosque”.

Perhaps Sharaf Mowjood knew exactly what it meant, and didn’t want it in the story. Too bad for him that a few bloggers excerpted the online original before it too was changed.

______________________________________________

UW1970BombersWordsIn1986This AP video (HT Rusty Weiss) of convicted 1970 University of Wisconsin bomber Karleton Armstrong outs him as essentially remorseless, even though what he did, besides inflicting millions in damage, killed physicist Robert Fassnacht, husband and father of three.

Lowlights from the video:

  • He’s happy that people walk up to him and say, “Karl, so glad to meet you. You really did the right thing.”
  • He thinks his accomplice, who has been on the run for 40 years, should be given amnesty, because “being on the run is probably punishment enough.”
  • He “regrets” the death of Fassnacht and the people injured in the bombing, “but not the bombing per se. I think it was the right thing at the time.”

For decades since his release, Armstrong has run a juice stand on Library Mall at the Wisconsin campus where he committed his terrorist act. Watch him, and you get the impression that the stand is the rough equivalent of his own personal Ground Zero Mosque.

Read the excerpt at the right from a long Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report in 1986, and you’ll realize that he has felt that way for alt least a quarter-century, and that his late brother agreed with him while he was alive.

______________________________________________

Megan McArdle“Housing Market Stuck in a Rut.”

We should be so lucky. It’s still in decline, as shown in June’s housing starts and new home sales (both since-records-kept lows), July’s housing starts and building permits (ditto), and yesterday’s news that existing home sales plunged 27% in July to a 15-year low.

Update: Told ya — “US New Home Sales Sink to Lowest Pace on Record.” It’s even worse than that, which I’ll address later. Update 2: That post is here. That’s three worst-ever stats, a true trifecta of trauma.

______________________________________________

Politico goes after bloggeragain. I agree with Patterico’s call to avoid linking to the Politico, and will do so henceforth. This is vindictive bullying by lawyers with way too much time on their hands.

______________________________________________

Lachlan Markey at NewsBusters“Media Nearly Silent as ObamaCare Proponents Drop Deficit, Cost Savings Claims.”

Nobody who studied it carefully ever believed those claims.

So there’s nothing left but an overreaching, statist monster. It uses the health insurance system to redistribute wealth on a scale that no socialist European country has ever gotten anywhere near. Virtually no one knows this.

Positivity: Archbishop launches video blog to reach Louisiana Catholics

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:45 am

From New Orleans (the video blog is here):

Aug 25, 2010 / 01:07 am

Archbishop of New Orleans Gregory Aymond has launched a video blog to deliver weekly messages to area Catholics. His first message reflects on his hopes for the future and what he has learned in his first year an archbishop. His next video will mark the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

“On most days it’s hard to believe it’s been a year already,” Archbishop Aymond says in his first video. He added that it was his “humble privilege” to serve as archbishop, especially since he is the first native son of New Orleans to hold the office in over 200 years.

He also admitted that he has not been to all the parishes of the archdiocese as he had hoped he would, but he intends to fulfill the promise he made.

Speaking of the state of the archdiocese, he said “the Catholic Church is alive and well” and continues to be a “strong, strong presence” in New Orleans and beyond.

The archbishop has said he has been “overwhelmed” by the fraternity of the priests and by the “wonderful welcome” he has received from the priests, religious and laity.

Turning to the challenges facing the Archdiocese of New Orleans, Archbishop Aymond cited rebuilding from Hurricane Katrina, responding to the effects of the Gulf oil spill, and addressing those hurt by the archdiocese’s pastoral plan to reorganize its churches. …

Go here for the rest of the story.