September 9, 2010

At WEOZ: ‘The Obama administration’s Three Big Fat Fiscal Fables’

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:28 pm

It’s here at the Washington Examiner’s OpinionZone blog.

I will post it here at BizzyBlog on Sunday (link won’t work until then).

The three fables are:

  1. The annual budget deficit is down.
  2. The (very modest) increase in federal receipts reflects a recovering economy.
  3. Year-over-year spending is down.

Go there to see graphics and content demonstrating why all three are fables.

Blackmail: Rauf Plays the Islamic Violence Card

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:25 am

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf has taken the “long hot summer” arguments of the 1960s and early 1970s (which were essentially that “if the government doesn’t provide enough urban aid, there will be riots”) to a whole new level.

At least it’s now obvious where he’s coming from:

RaufOnCNNviaBreitbart090910

Excerpt:

(Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf said that) “If we move from that location, the story will be the radicals have taken over the discourse, the headlines in the Muslim world will be that Islam is under attack. Our national security now hinges on how we negotiate this, how we speak about it. The battlefront is between moderates of all sides… and the radicals on all sides.”

Moving the project to another location would strengthen Islamist radicals’ ability to recruit followers and will likely increase violence against Americans, the imam said.”

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UPDATE, Sept. 10: Taranto at Best of the Web (“Protection Racket”) — “Rauf’s outrageous comments ought to erase all doubt that the construction of the Ground Zero mosque would be a victory for terrorism.”

Latest Pajamas Media Column (‘Ohio’s Dumb v. Dumber Election Campaign’) Is Up (Dumbest: Ohio’s Campaign Calendar and Other Incumbent Protections)

It’s here.

Sub-headline:

In the Buckeye State, dumb Republicans are ahead, but only because a) it’s 2010, and b) the Democrats have been dumber.

It will go up here at BizzyBlog on Sunday morning (link won’t work until then) after the blackout expires.

_____________________________________

So Ohio is having a “Dumb v. Dumber” campaign this fall, while other states are seeing sensible conservative and even a few leftist insurgencies succeeding or getting uncomfortably close.

Why is Ohio being left behind? I think one of the main reasons is that Ohio’s electoral calendar and procedures are rigged to protect incumbents. Establishment Democrats and Republicans are both perfectly fine with that; in fact, they created the situation.

Start with the calendar. There’s no good reason beyond incumbent protection why Buckeye State party primaries are held in May during non-presidential election years and March during presidential election years. If Ohio’s primaries were held shortly after Labor Day, we would a) see a higher, more informed, and more focused turnout, and b) have more and possibly better challengers willing to run for office because of the shorter time commitment. Presidential primaries could still be held early, but they would be separate elections, as is the case in California and many other states.

The aforementioned advantages are clearly seen as bugs and not benefits by ORPINO (the Ohio Republican Party In Name Only) and the Ohio Democratic Party.

I submit that ORPINO’s ticket would be very different and probably better this November if the Republican primary were coming up next week instead of having been held four long months ago.

The game is also rigged against independent runs. There is no good reason why:

  • Independents generally have to come up with higher numbers of signatures than party candidates.
  • Independents have to file their petitions six or eight months before the general election.
  • The Secretary of State’s office needs (and apparently always uses up, regardless of who is in charge) 75 days before certifying the candidacies of independents. Other states get it done much more efficiently and effectively.

The handicaps on independents clearly serve both party establishments. Note how even some Democrats in states with later primaries are having to deal with insurgent candidates (see Barney Frank in Massachusetts, Carolyn Mahoney in New York).

A bedrock principle of capitalism is competition. One would think that the state’s Republican Party would recognize that as a better and more prosperous economy emerges in an open competitive free market, better candidates and better ideas for governance will over time emerge out of open, competitive primary campaigns. But noooo. This is ORPINO, which as I noted in the column, is a philosophical Seinfeld: i.e., all about nothing (except power, of course).

I’d like to think that perhaps in time for 2014 or 2016, sensible conservatives in the state legislature and (hopefully if elected) Governor Kasich would give scheduling later primaries serious consideration. If there’s no perceived seriousness about that, the Tea Party movement should consider getting behind a ballot initiative to get it done.

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UPDATE: For another example of how early primaries hurt a state’s political culture, see Illinois.

I believe that GOP US Senate candidate Mark Kirk would be in serious trouble right now against a sensible conservative challenger if he had to face a primary fight next week (Kirk is one of eight RINO congressmen who voted for cap and trade legislation). As it is, he was able to sew it up in February (!) before insurgents could gain any traction.

On the Democratic side, there’s Alexi Giannoulias. Thanks to the barrage of corruption-related stories about Mr. Giannoulias and his family that have come out in the past seven months, I believe that he too would be very vulnerable to a September primary takedown by a reform Democrat.

I don’t think it’s an accident that one of the most corrupt states in the union happens to be one where party primaries are held so ridiculously early.

Positivity: New US stamp honors Mother Teresa, admirer and critic of American society

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:59 am

From Washington:

Sep 5, 2010 / 02:15 pm

Following the 100th anniversary of the birth of Mother Teresa on August 26, the United States Postal Service is honoring her with a new 44 cent stamp. It was issued in a special ceremony today at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

Postmaster General John Potter dedicated the stamp Sunday along with other officials from both the postal service and the Catholic Church, including the Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S., Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the Auxiliary Bishop of Washington Barry Knestout, Monsignor Walter Rossi of the national shrine, and Sister Leticia, MC, provincial superior of the Missionaries of Charity.

During the ceremony, Potter explained that it is important for the government agency to “focus attention on subjects our country regards with respect and affection, and that is certainly true of Mother Teresa, who believed so deeply in the innate worth and dignity of humankind and worked tirelessly on behalf of the poor, sick, orphaned and dying.”

The postmaster added that he is “very proud” for the U.S. to be “honoring Mother Teresa with such a lasting memorial.” Collectible first-day postmark editions of the new stamp will be available directly through the U.S. Postal Service.

Mother Teresa died in 1997, and was beatified by the Church as “Blessed Teresa of Calcutta” in 2003. Born in Albania, she founded the Missionaries of Charity in India in the late 1940s, where she resolved to work among the “poorest of the poor” for the rest of her life. The Missionaries of Charity have continued her mission among the sick and destitute in India, and now serve those in extreme need in countries throughout the world.

Blessed Teresa received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and was made an honorary citizen of the U.S. in 1996, as an acknowledgment of her remarkable and persistent efforts to relieve the suffering of the very poor.

Although she was appreciative of these honors, and spoke highly of many values expressed in America’s founding documents, Mother Teresa also directed blunt criticism toward the materialism and “spiritual poverty” of Western countries, conditions which she believed led to a particular and systematic neglect of the unborn and the elderly.

Prior to receiving her honorary American citizenship, she summed up her message to America in her letter to the Supreme Court:

“I have no new teaching for America. I seek only to recall you to faithfulness to what you once taught the world. Your nation was founded on the proposition—very old as a moral precept, but startling and innovative as a political insight—that human life is a gift of immeasurable worth, and that it deserves, always and everywhere, to be treated with the utmost dignity and respect.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.

The Fed’s Beige Book: AP Needs a Geography Lesson

FedTheBeigeBookGraphic0910For the record, here are the first and fourth sentences from the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book released earlier this afternoon:

Reports from the twelve Federal Reserve Districts suggested continued growth in national economic activity during the reporting period of mid-July through the end of August, but with widespread signs of a deceleration compared with preceding periods.

… However, the remaining Districts of New York, Philadelphia, Richmond, Atlanta, and Chicago all highlighted mixed conditions or deceleration in overall economic activity.

It may be fair to describe the detail in Atlanta’s section of the report as “mixed” (it’s a borderline call; the opening paragraph from that District’s report will appear later). But Richmond’s section is clearly one of deceleration, which brings us to today’s clearly needed geography lesson for Jeannine Aversa and/or a headline writer at the Associated Press.

What follows is a graphic containing the headline at Aversa’s 2:45 p.m. story (since updated here), and her first few paragraphs:

APreportOnBeigeBook245pmOn090810

That’s clever.

By isolating slower growth to the “East” and “Midwest” (really “decelerating,” a somewhat stronger term that implies a trend of ever-slower growth instead of a onetime event), the AP’s headline writer would appear to be attempting to limit the full brunt of the Beige Book’s relatively bad news. The fact is that the declining Richmond District includes Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and West Virginia, many of whose non-DC Beltway residents would be surprised to learn are considered “East” by the AP’s headline writer.

The opening paragraph about Atlanta is mixed, but contrary to the AP’s communicated geography, some of the bad news is neither in the “East” nor the “East Coast,” no matter how far you try to stretch the definition (bold is mine):

Sixth District business contacts indicated that the pace of economic activity continued to slow in July and August. Retailers reported a decrease in traffic and sales, and their outlook was less positive than in previous months. Reports from the District’s tourism sector were mixed as contacts outside of the oil-spill affected Gulf coast experienced positive growth, but areas from Louisiana to the Florida panhandle saw significant declines in visitors. Residential real estate contacts noted that the pace of new and existing home sales slowed, and their outlook remained pessimistic. Nonresidential real estate activity remained weak. Manufacturers reported that the pace of new orders growth slowed. Banking credit conditions remained constrained and loan demand was reportedly weak. Labor markets improved modestly, but most businesses maintained a strong preference for increasing the hours worked of existing staff and expanding their use of temporary hires rather than for hiring permanent employees. Transportation and material prices rose slightly, but most firms expressed limited ability to pass increases through to consumers.

The bolded item would seem to indicate that contacts actually in the Gulf didn’t see growth in the tourism sector. That would include Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, none of which have recently been known to be located in “the East” or “East Coast.”

Additionally, the two tidbits that follow in Atlanta’s section of the report allude to other forms of deceleration occurring in those decidedly non-”Eastern” states:

  • “areas from Louisiana to the Florida panhandle saw significant declines in visitors.”
  • “Most District merchants reported that traffic and sales decreased in July and August.”

Jeannine Aversa would have been better off simply publishing the first four sentences of the Beige Book and going home. A public attempting to stay informed would have been better off with a headline reading “Fed releases Beige Book, identifying regional economic trends.”

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.