November 21, 2010

Name That Party: In Iowa, With Lame Duck Raise-Granting Dem Governor, Drudge Does, Des Moines Register Doesn’t

namethatpartyThe seemingly endless variety of “name that party” stunts has yet another wrinkle.

In this case, Matt Drudge is currently linking to a Des Moines Register story (“Culver OKs state pay raises”; also saved here at host for future reference) about how outgoing Iowa Governor Chet Culver has decided to rush through union contracts granting thousands of state employees 3% raises (before considering “step” raises that occur with seniority) in each of the next two years before Republican Governor Terry Bransted takes over in January.

The headline for Drudge’s link is “Lame duck Dem governor in Iowa OKs $100 million in raises for state workers.” Actually, it’s $100 million a year for the next two years. But the linked Register article by Jason Clayworth never identifies Culver’s Democratic Party affiliation, even though he tags the governor’s opposition as Republican twice in the first two paragraphs. In other words, not that it was difficult to show that Culver is a Dem, but Drudge had to figure it out and tell his readers — and we thank him for that.

Here are excerpts from Clayworth’s clunker:

Gov. Chet Culver’s administration agreed Friday to offer pay increases for state employees that will cost taxpayers more than $200 million, despite Republican requests that the decisions be delayed until Terry Branstad becomes governor in January.

A Branstad spokesman called the deal “reckless,” and House Republican Leader Kraig Paulsen said it would likely lead to layoffs.

But Culver defended the decision, noting that most state employees took at least five unpaid days in the past year along with suspension of employer deferred compensation contributions.

… Union members will formally meet to accept or reject the state’s offer later this month, but Danny Homan, president of Council 61 for AFSCME, said: “In my mind, this is done.”

The wage hike plan would give members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, better known as AFSCME, two raises in each of the next two fiscal years.

Those employees would receive a 2 percent wage increase on July 1, 2011, and another 1 percent the following Jan. 1. They would receive identical raises in the following year.

In addition, many union members who are not at the top of their pay grade would receive an additional 4.5 percent raise, known as a step increase, for certain professional milestones or for job longevity and other career advancements.

The total cost of the contract is estimated at around $200 million over two years, based on previous data released by the state department of management.

“The state accepted the union’s proposal,” said Homan. “I believe that probably ends this process.”

How nice.

Clayworth goes on to note that some employees will see raises as high as 15% in the next two years, and that “Iowa is one of only six states to offer free health insurance to state government employees and their families.” He also failed to give readers a picture of Iowa’s fiscal situation, which is not as good it first appears, according to this report two weeks ago from Rod Boshart, reporting from Des Moines for the Mason City (IA) Globe Gazette:

Newly named Iowa House Republican leaders said Monday they plan to reopen the current state budget when they take power in January with an eye on cutting “several hundred million dollars” slated to be spent by June 30.

“We’re going to look for opportunities to reduce spending in the current year’s budget and we’ll be doing that on day one,” said Rep. Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha, who was elected to be the next House speaker by the incoming 60-member GOP majority. “I think there is several hundred million dollars in the current year’s budget of marginal or no value to Iowans.”

… Paulsen said the message his caucus received from voters in the Nov. 2 election was that Democrats who held full control of state government spent too much money and its time to scale back government. He said the list probably would include ongoing Gov. Chet Culver’s Power Fund initiative and a number of other proposed cuts that GOP legislators previously offered but were rejected by majority Democrats.

… Last month Paulsen requested Culver instruct state department directors to freeze all discretionary state spending pending a budget review by lawmakers when they convene Jan. 10. Paulsen said he was concerned the current budget is built on more than $700 million in one-time funding sources, but Culver administration officials said the governor did not have the authority to impose a freeze on program funding unless the state had a budget deficit and current projections call for the state to end the fiscal year June 30 with a sizable surplus.

Paulsen said he was disappointed by the response, saying “I took it as a signal that Gov. Culver wanted to continue spending money at the same rate.”

Boshart also didn’t directly tag Culver as a Democrat, but he made it clear that Democrats “had full control of state government” until the November 2 elections occurred, which is good enough in the circumstances.

The same can’t be said for Jason Clayworth and the Register, who were too busy making sure readers know that meanie Republicans don’t want to hand out raises to bother telling readers that the lame-duck governor who is spending money the state won’t have is a Democrat. If Bransted is forced into layoffs, does anyone think that the Register will fail to remind readers that he’s a Republican?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

WSJ: Drilling Ban Was ‘Pure Politics’

From a Saturday Wall Street Journal editorial:

Science and the Drilling Ban
An inspector general’s report shows science played little role in the moratorium.

President Obama famously declared in 2009 that under his Administration the “days of science taking a backseat to ideology are over.” Except, apparently, when the Administration wanted to justify its Gulf of Mexico drilling ban this summer.

The White House dropped its deep water drilling ban last month, ending months of government-imposed pain on a Gulf region hit by the BP oil spill. But only last week did the Department of Interior’s acting inspector general, Mary Kendall, issue her findings on the moratorium’s controversial beginnings. Lackluster though her investigation was, the report confirms that the moratorium never had any basis in science or safety. It was pure politics.

The IG report examines Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s May 27 claim that “The recommendations contained in this report have been peer-reviewed by seven experts identified by the National Academy of Engineering.” Those experts soon claimed the Interior draft they had reviewed did not include a moratorium and that Mr. Salazar had inappropriately used their names “to justify his political decisions.”

Ms. Kendall—who is waiting to see if the White House nominates her as official IG—contented herself with stating that White House energy czar Carol Browner’s office had edited the report in a way that “led to the implication that the moratorium recommendation had been peer reviewed by the experts.” All officials had denied it was “their intention to imply” the moratorium had been peer-reviewed. They had merely meant to say the peer-reviewers had signed off on other safety measures, and the problem was, er, “rushed editing.” Uh-huh.

the IG says they still wonder why they weren’t consulted on the drilling ban. For example, Bob Bea of the University of California “questioned why [Interior] would not peer review such an important, far-reaching decision,” given the attention paid to more minor recommendations.

Allow us to guess: White House aides knew a moratorium was unjustifiable, and they didn’t want to disclose their plans to peer-reviewers whom they knew would object. The Administration was by late May already taking political heat for its handling of the spill and perhaps it felt a moratorium would help make it look tough on the oil industry. In other words, thousands of Gulf Coast jobs may have been sacrificed as a way to deflect political blame from the White House and onto industry.

I think the Journal would have been perfectly fine deleting the word “may” from the final excerpted sentence.

Political manipulation on this level during Bush 43′s admin would have brought calls for impeachment. At a minimum, this conduct should cause Ken Salazar’s and Carol Browner’s involvement with the government in any way, shape, or form to end. Sadly, it probably won’t.

Positivity: Pope Benedict advocates right sexuality, not condom use, in fight against HIV

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance,Positivity — Tom @ 6:52 am

From Vatican City:

Nov 20, 2010 / 07:39 pm

Excerpts of Pope Benedict XVI’s new book are already causing a stir. Though some media reports claim he offers a change in papal teaching about condom use, Pope Benedict in fact says that a humanized sexuality, not condoms, is the right response to HIV.

The Nov. 21 edition of the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano (LOR) will release excerpts of the pontiff’s book “Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times.”

The book contains the Pope’s responses to questions from Peter Seewald, a German reporter who spoke with him over a week last summer about the most sensitive and important questions in Church life today.

The themes treated in the book are edgy and the reception of the Pope’s words is likely to be varied, but his answers offer a unique look into his teachings and his perspective on the Church and the world.

In the excerpts offered in LOR, just two brief paragraphs provide the Pope’s response to a question on sexuality in the world today. He says that concentrating on the use of the condom only serves to trivialize sexuality.

This trivialization leads many people to no longer see sex as an expression of love, but as a self-administered drug. The fight against the banalization of sexuality is part of a great effort to change this view to a more positive one.

According to one much-commented excerpt printed in L’Osservatore Romano, the Pope concedes that there can be single cases in which the use of a condom may be justified.

He uses the example of prostitutes who might use prophylactics as a first step toward moralization, that is, becoming moral. In such a case, condom use might be their first act of responsibility to redevelop their consciousness of the fact that not everything is permitted and that one cannot do everything one wants.

While secular outlets such as Time Magazine (actually, an Associated Press report carried at Time — Ed.) characterized this remark as “a stunning turnaround” for the Church, Pope Benedict goes on to explain that this is not the true and proper way to defeat HIV. Instead what is necessary is the humanization of sexuality.

Elsewhere in the excerpts from the forthcoming book, the pontiff speaks of the footprint of Judaism, Islam and Christianity in the modern world.

He also expresses his shock at the extent of the sexual abuse of minors in the Church and the evident wish of mass media to discredit the Church for these abuses rather than purely to investigate the truth. …

Go here for the rest of the story.