September 26, 2010

AP’s Elliott Looks for Post-Delaware Primary ‘Expert’ Commentary From Lincoln Chafee

LincolnChafeeThis goes back eleven days, but the entertainment value is too good to let it slide by without notice.

On the Thursday after Christine O’Donnell defeated Mike Castle in the GOP primary for Delaware’s open U.S. Senate seat, the Associated Press’s Philip Elliott apparently felt the need to seek out an one-time Republican (or at least that’s what he said) — one of only a very few Republicans whose positions were or have been to the left of Castle’s.

That would of course be former Rhode Island senator Lincoln Chafee (pictured at top right). To pick just one example to demonstrate Chafee’s liberalism, during 2006 and 2005, his final two years as a U.S. Senator, his grades from the Club for Growth came in at 27% and 26%, respectively. Castle’s grades in the House during those same two years were 48% and 43%.

Gosh, Phil, was there any doubt over how Chafee would feel about Castle’s defeat and O’Donnell’s win? Is this news?

Here are a few paragraphs from Elliott’s brief report, including a Chafee prediction that may be disproven in 5-1/2 weeks (BizzyBlog reader bonus: a rear view of Chafee can be seen on the right):

RINOFormer Sen. Lincoln Chafee, a one-time Republican, says GOP Rep. Mike Castle should have seen the tea party challenge to his Senate bid coming.

Chafee, running for Rhode Island governor as an independent, said his former party’s leaders have been forced to the right and have scared moderates out of the GOP. He pointed to Castle’s loss Tuesday as the latest example of a competent lawmaker losing his seat in an unrealistic purity test.

“These primaries, they’re destructive beasts,” Chafee said in an interview with The Associated Press at his campaign headquarters. “If those people are going to control the Republican Party, good luck. You’ll have a tough time getting into the majority. Ever.”

It’s still early of course, but Real Clear Politics is showing the House races at 206-191 in favor of the GOP, with 38 races undecided. If the “sure” count holds, Republicans would have to win less than a third of the still-undecided races to gain a majority (a shaky one to be sure, but Chafee was talking about any majority — “Ever”).

RCP’s take on the Senate is that it is at 50-46 in favor of Democrats, but that counts New York’s Kirsten Gillebrand and California’s Barbara Boxer as “Leans Dem,” which given recent polls is open to some dispute.

It would appear that Chafee’s predictive abilities might be about as reliable as his vote for sensible conservative bills and initiatives while he served in the U.S. Senate.

Surely Philip Elliott could have found a more informed interview subject somewhere else. But does anyone believe that his was really his goal?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

AP Report on Small Biz Lending Bill Omits Required Govt. ‘Investments’ in Participating Banks

http://i739.photobucket.com/albums/xx40/mmatters/RedTapeAndStatismIn the earlier paragraphs of a Friday report on the recently passed small business lending bill at the Associated Press, reporter Pallavi Gogoi gave readers the impression that Congress’s allegedly noble intentions might be thwarted because banks and businesses who should apparently be grateful for the “help” don’t want it.

Gogoi gives no direct indication that the bill involves government “investment” in (i.e., partial state ownership of) participating financial institutions.

The AP reporter didn’t have to look very far to see what’s really involved. The defined purpose of the bill, which weighs in at over 40,000 words (full text here), is right there at its beginning (bold is mine):

An Act — To create the Small Business Lending Fund Program to direct the Secretary of the Treasury to make capital investments in eligible institutions in order to increase the availability of credit for small businesses, to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide tax incentives for small business job creation, and for other purposes.

This is not very different from what ended up happening with the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) enacted two years ago. In fact, two lawyers writing on the law’s potential impact describe it as a “mini-TARP.” You’d never know that from Gogoi’s report (one cryptic reference to the underlying state control involved is in bold):

President Barack Obama’s $30 billion small community business lending program faces one big challenge: many of the community banks and businesses it’s supposed to help don’t want it.

The lending program is part of a bill that passed the House of Representatives on Thursday and now awaits the president’s signature. The legislation contains a mix of tax cuts and credits aimed at helping small businesses. The centerpiece of the bill is an effort to make billions of dollars available to community banks for loans to small businesses.

It seems like a simple effort to unclog a credit pipeline that has been blocked since the financial meltdown two years ago. But interviews with seven community bankers, as well as small business owners, show a reluctance to participate.

Bank executives say their customers don’t want loans, even at low interest rates, because the sluggish economy has chilled expansion plans. Some say the federal money isn’t worth it because they fear it will come with too much regulatory oversight.

“We have taken a strategic decision not to have our primary regulator, the government, also be a partner in our bank,” said William Chase Jr., CEO of Triumph Bank in Memphis.

Chase said the bank already has enough capital to meet the paltry demand for loans. “Our business customers are mired in uncertainty and are reluctant to invest in their businesses,” Chase said.

Ninety-one percent of small business owners surveyed in August by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) said all their credit needs were met. Only 4 percent cited a lack of financing as their top business problem. Plans for capital spending were at a 35-year low.

As to “regulatory oversight,” let’s look at just one requirement present in the bill:

(Part of Section 3005 — “APPROVING STATE CAPITAL ACCESS PROGRAMS”)

At the time that a State applies to the Secretary to have the State capital access program approved as eligible for Federal contributions, the State shall deliver to the Secretary a report stating how the State plans to use the Federal contributions to the reserve fund to provide access to capital for small businesses in low- and moderate-income, minority, and other underserved communities, including women- and minority-owned small businesses.

The states will have their hands in this enterprise, and will be under pressure to ensure that loan decisions are based on race, gender, or other “underserved” status, not on their economic merits. Imagine that.

Then there’s this item, which, briefly translated, is a mandate that participating institutions work with their local “community organizers”:

OUTREACH TO MINORITIES, WOMEN, AND VETERANS- The Secretary shall require eligible institutions receiving capital investments under the Program to provide linguistically and culturally appropriate outreach and advertising in the applicant pool describing the availability and application process of receiving loans from the eligible institution that are made possible by the Program through the use of print, radio, television or electronic media outlets which target organizations, trade associations, and individuals that–
(A) represent or work within or are members of minority communities;
(B) represent or work with or are women; and
(C) represent or work with or are veterans.

I don’t recall the fact that the government will be taking partial ownership stakes in participating financial institutions as a precondition of their participation getting any kind of establishment media coverage. Gigoi’s failure to note it is just one small example of a much larger epic media fail.

P.S. Here’s a more detailed description of what is involved in “capital investment”:

(b) Use of Fund-
(1) IN GENERAL- Subject to paragraph (2), the Fund shall be available to the Secretary, without further appropriation or fiscal year limitation, for the costs of purchases (including commitments to purchase), and modifications of such purchases, of preferred stock and other financial instruments from eligible institutions on such terms and conditions as are determined by the Secretary in accordance with this subtitle.

Original graphic was found here.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Media Bistro’s Shister: CNN Under Klein Failed Despite ‘Non-Partisan Programming’

JON-KLEINAt Media Bistro on Friday, Gail Shister transcribed Jonathan Klein’s post-mortem spin on why he was let go from CNN/US. You see, Klein’s problem was that he “was unable to stop the prime-time bleeding with non-partisan programming.”

In case any readers here might be tempted to take Klein’s contention or Shister’s transcription seriously, here are NewsBusters links to posts about Rick Sanchez, Larry King, CNN Headline’s Joy Behar, Christiane Amanpour (before she went to ABC), and Aaron Brown, who left CNN in late 2005.

Here are several paragraphs of Shister’s schtick (bolds are mine), which you’ll see at least has an inadvertently accurate title:

CNN Shift: Jon Klein on his dismissal: ‘It came out of left field’

Getting shot as a way of being fired isn’t always a bad thing, says Jonathan Klein.

“It’s like a sudden ’Sopranos’ ending to your job,” says Klein, who earlier today had compared his sudden departure as CNN/U.S. president to getting shot.

“There’s something to be said for quick and painless. It was surprising, but certainly quick. There was no rancor associated it.”

During his six-year run, Klein was unable to stop the prime-time bleeding with non-partisan programming. Conversely, his replacement, HLN’s Ken Jautz, found great success by wrangling big-buzz opinion-makers Nancy Grace and Glenn Beck.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, Klein says it is still possible for a cable news network to succeed in prime time without having a political spin a la Fox (right) or MSNBC (left). The key is in finding the right talent.

“Other networks might be amusing or entertaining, but how many are truly essential viewing,” Klein says. “The challenge is to be interesting when you follow that non-partisan path and you really nail it. Then you become essential, like ’60 Minutes.’”

“You need the right people in the right format. When CNN was at its best, we were essential viewing.”

CNN remains committed to non-partisan programming, Klein says. Otherwise, management would have made its move earlier, before the new schedule was locked in, he explains.

Klein’s citation of ’60 Minutes’ as ‘non-partisan’ is about as ridiculous as it gets (here’s a link to previous NewsBusters posts about “60 Minutes,” which contains over 200 entries, the vast majority of which are not complimentary), and Klein of all people should know it.

In September 2004, shortly before he joined CNN, Klein, who left CBS after 17 years in 1999, went on Fox’s O’Reilly Factor to defend a ’60 Minutes’ report on George W. Bush’s Texas Air National Guard (TANG) service. During that interview Klein criticized bloggers and others in the alternative media who had exposed clearly fraudulent documents used in that report, saying that “you couldn’t have a starker contrast between the multiple layers of checks and balances, and a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas writing what he thinks.”

Klein’s reference to “60 Minutes” in the above excerpt would appear to indicate that he hasn’t gotten the message that the guys in pajamas were proven right, CBS was proven wrong, and the substance-free Bush-TANG report was a blatantly partisan pre-election hit piece.

That kool-aid Klein is drinking must be really powerful stuff. A commenter at Shister’s Media Bistro post responds to Klein’s claims of non-partisanship thusly: “Just saying it over and over has never made it true and saying it now as you’re walking out the door is hilarious.”

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Positivity: Saint Jerome, pioneer and patron of scripture studies, to be remembered September 30

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 8:05 am

From the Catholic News Agency:

Sep 26, 2010 / 04:41 am

Saint Jerome, the priest, monk and Doctor of the Church renowned for his extraordinary depth of learning and translations of the Bible into Latin in the Vulgate, will be celebrated by the Church with his memorial on September 30.

Besides his contributions as a Church Father and patronage of subsequent Catholic scholarship, Jerome is also regarded as a patron of people with difficult personalities—owing to the sometimes extreme approach which he took in articulating his scholarly opinions and the teaching of the Church. He is also notable for his devotion to the ascetic life, and for his insistence on the importance of Hebrew scholarship for Christians.

Born around 340 as Eusebius Hieronymous Sophronius in present-day Croatia, Jerome received Christian instruction from his father, who sent him to Rome for instruction in rhetoric and classical literature. His youth was thus dominated by a struggle between worldly pursuits –which brought him into many types of temptation– and the inclination to a life of faith, a feeling evoked by regular trips to the Roman catacombs with his friends in the city.

Baptized in 360 by Pope Liberius, Jerome traveled widely among the monastic and intellectual centers of the newly Christian empire. Upon returning to the city of his birth, following the end of a local crisis caused by the Arian heresy, he worked closely with two other future saints, Chromatius and Heliodorus, who were outstanding teachers of orthodox theology.

Seeking a life more akin to the first generation of “desert fathers,” Jerome left the Adriatic and traveled east to Syria, visiting several Greek cities of civil and ecclesiastical importance on the way to his real destination: “a wild and stony desert … to which, through fear or hell, I had voluntarily condemned myself, with no other company but scorpions and wild beasts.”

Jerome’s letters vividly chronicle the temptations and trials he endured during several years as a desert hermit. Nevertheless, after his ordination by the bishop of Antioch, followed by periods of study in Constantinople and service at Rome to Pope Damasus I, Jerome opted permanently for a solitary and ascetic life in the city of Bethlehem from the mid-380s.

Go here for the rest of the story.