February 10, 2011

LiveAction’s Planned Parenthood Stings: Now It’s Seven Locations in Three States Plus DC

Filed under: Life-Based News,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:14 pm

Well now, can we get past “isolated” yet?

Here’s full audio from LiveAction.org’s undercover visit to a Planned Parenthood “clinic” in DC:

Here’s a key excerpt from the full transcript (modified to make it clear that the “PP Worker” is the same person throughout):

PP Worker: Push it (the door)

Prostitute: That’s a heavy door, that’s a heavy door, yeah, um, ok, so here’s- I’m, I’m a sex worker.

PP Worker: M’hm.

Prostitute: So, being a sex worker, I have to, you know, make sure I’m ok-

PP Worker: M’hm.

Prostitute: And then I have some girls that I manage.

PP Worker: M’hm

Prostitute: And they’re, they’re like 14, 15-

PP Worker: M’hm.

Prostitute: And they’re, they’re like, they need the same thing. So I was kind of wondering what you guys could do to help us out. You know, like maybe bring ‘em in, get them on like some good birth control, and like even, you know, STD testing also for them.

PP Worker: Ok.

Prostitute: Yeah, what do you think?

PP Worker: Ok, so what you’re saying really like even make an appointment or something, it’s better to make an appointment, because there’s a law saying that you can’t come in without-

Prostitute: Okay.

PP Worker: -saying cause they’re might be a lot of people-

Prostitute: Yeah

PP: Um, but I would recommend them come in all alone with this I mean, it doesn’t matter if it’s on the same day, their slots-

Prostitute: Ok.

PP Worker: just make them appointments, and if they don’t have insurance-

Prostitute: M’hm.

PP Worker: Because they’re teens, we’ll put them under the teen thing –

PP Worker: Yeah and we’ll waive like a $5 or $10 donation with them.

Prostitute: Oh, ok

Huffington’s Heist

Hundreds of millions, on the backs of free help. Imagine the outcry if a conservative site did that.

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Note: this column went up at Pajamas Media and was teased here at BizzyBlog on Tuesday.

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On Monday, AOL Inc. announced that it will buy The Huffington Post for $315 million. Paul Farhi at the Washington Post writes: “In effect, (Arianna) Huffington is taking over AOL.”

A Reuters story by Anthony Boadle and Jennifer Saba properly questions the deal’s wisdom:

The move … comes at a hefty premium. AOL is estimated to be paying 32 times earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization for The Huffington Post, said Benchmark Co. analyst Clayton Moran.

Similar content deals, such as Hellman & Friedman’s acquisition of Internet Brands in September 2010, typically go for eight to 12 times earnings, said Moran.

Based on conventional metrics, AOL is overpaying by roughly $200 million. Why?

Perhaps it’s because this deal looks like a bargain compared to other clunkers in AOL’s past. In 2000, AOL bought Time Warner for $162 billion. Today, after a near-total unwinding of that deal and more business missteps than can be counted, the company is worth $2.34 billion. Oops, make that $2.26 billion, as the stock fell 3.4% on Monday on news of the HuffPo acquisition. In June of last year, AOL sold the social network Bebo, an $850 million 2008 acquisition, for the princely sum of $10 million. These guys still know how to pick ‘em, don’t they?

Matt Drudge is trying to make an issue of the fact that HuffPo’s backers “had sought an exit.” Well of course they did. That’s what venture investors do, either by taking a company public or by selling out to a larger firm. There’s nothing unusual in that.

What is unusual is that AOL, which has been telling the public that it has “built a news operation that relies far less on wire reports and focuses instead on original reporting, analysis and commentary,” would want to associate itself with:

  • An entity which, along with its principals, has been sued by a pair of former Democratic Party consultants who claim that Huffington and business partner Ken Lerer “stole their business idea.” It would be easy to dismiss the legal action as a money grab, but progressive co-plaintiffs Peter Daou and James Boyce are not minor actors, and at least on the surface their arguments seem credible.
  • A CEO who “has been accused of lifting portions of a number of her books from other authors, and in one case had to dole out a 5-figure settlement to put plagiarism charges to rest.”
  • Someone who appears to have started up her enterprise on false pretenses. Envirozealot Laurie David, a good friend of Arianna, has said that before the business began, “everybody was talking about the antidote to the Drudge Report, and from the very beginning she was thinking of that and so much more.” That’s interesting, because “in her initial blanket e-mail to recruit bloggers to the site, she promised it ‘won’t be left wing or right wing; indeed, it will punch holes in that very stale way of looking at the world.’” Late Monday evening, HuffPo’s home page featured very, very stale offerings from the left-wing likes of American Prospect co-founder Robert Kuttner, Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research Dean Baker, Democratic Congressmen Dennis Kucinich and Mike Honda, the aforementioned Ms. David, Brady Campaign President Paul Helmke, and “special admirer” of Bill Clinton Nina Burleigh. The only item I located coming from a clearly sensible conservative perspective was one co-authored by Reason’s Nick Gillespie and Cato’s Veronique de Rugy.
  • An astroturfing activist chief executive who on impulse spent an estimated $250,000 so that 100 buses full of New Yorkers could attend Jon Stewart’s laughably misnamed “Rally to Restore Sanity” in Washington last October.

The guess here is that it was HuffPo and not personal money which paid for those buses. Arianna, who is a millionaire many times over thanks to a divorce settlement from her previous marriage, has nonetheless been remarkably proficient at keeping money from leaving her personal pockets, and just about as effective at keeping company cash locked in the vault.

At inception, Huffington’s investment consisted entirely of sweat equity; she “did not invest but brought in others who did …”

Her operation has been a pink-collar sweatshop from the beginning. In 2005, shortly after start-up, she told a Business Week blogger that the operation was suffering from a serious logjam (bold is mine):

Arianna Huffington tells me that HuffingtonPost, the meta blog she established in May, has a backlog of 15,000 comments to the site’s 400-odd blogs. She says that volunteers are wading through the comments and posting as many as they can. But they can’t keep up.

It must be nice to screw up your initial business planning and not have it cost you anything.

To the extent that some of the backroom folks still aren’t getting paid (according to Wikipedia, the operation has about 60 employees), they have lots of company. Since start-up, HuffPo hasn’t paid its bloggers either, despite getting $1 million, $5 million, $5 million, and $25 million, respectively, in angel, first-stage, second-stage, and third-stage funding, and achieving revenues of about $30 million. Even beyond the financial considerations noted earlier, AOL is gambling that HuffPo’s apparently across-the-board gratis arrangement with its content providers, who as of mid-2009 numbered about 4,000, will continue. Why in the world should it?

If an already well-heeled conservative or even a political agnostic built such a business model and allowed it to continue even after handsomely cashing out, news outlets would be ripping him or her limb from limb for serial exploitation of the naive. But because she holds politically correct views, and because her operation opportunistically serves as one of the left’s more ruthless and far from civil attack dogs, I expect that almost no one in the establishment press will even raise the issue. This column will probably be one of the few places where you will see anyone question how Arianna Huffington and her investors can sleep at night with even more millions of dollars stashed safely away, knowing that they achieved their gains largely on the backs of free, starry-eyed help.

On Egypt, ‘Save That Soundbite’? Count on It (See Updates)

Filed under: National Security,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:42 pm

From Kathryn Lopez at the Corner, speaking with Barry Rubin (links added by me):

LOPEZ: How might you beg the Obama administration to respond (to Mubarak’s apparently imminent step-down — well, maybe not)?

RUBIN: I think it has already responded, with rejoicing about how people power has brought a transition to democracy. Save that sound bite (Specifically, “It’s a moment of transformation that is taking place because the people of Egypt are calling for change” — Ed.) — it might come back to haunt him in the future. Unless the situation in Egypt turns out really well, he’s going to look very bad.

As a registered Democrat, I hate to say it, but he sounded more like a community organizer than a president in his response. There was no trace of a national-interests approach, or any caution, or any sense of how this would damage U.S. allies.

On this same day, the highest-ranking U.S. intelligence official in Senate testimony described the Muslim Brotherhood as a largely secular organization that eschews violence. Most people will focus on the first stupidity but it is the second that is really incredible. After all, the Brotherhood advocates murdering Americans in Iraq and its leader has called for jihad against America.

The level of leadership and the knowledge base of the executive branch is so low as to be shocking. I’ve been talking to people from different countries who say things like, “How can Americans be so naïve?”

Our country is (not) in the best of hands. If this works out well, it will from all appearances come from pure luck.

Related, from yesterday: “Major Media Miss: Muslim Brotherhood’s Stated Goal Has Long Been ‘To Seize U.S.’

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UPDATE: The reason to save that soundbite has gone current; Mubarak is saying he isn’t going anywhere (he may not ultimately have a choice), or at least doesn’t intend to. So Obama’s claimed “moment of transformation” has all the immediate prescience of “Dewey Defeats Truman.” It may of course end up that Mubarak goes earlier, but that doesn’t change the foolishnes of what Obama said today, and never will.

Other assessments: “ouch,” “oops,” “yikes,” and “played.”

UPDATE 2, Feb. 11 — Now he was staying, now he’s not. The idea that this is a day of “liberation” is way premature, unless you think Iran is also “liberated.”

TIB Radio Preview: AG DeWine and the Federal Court Ruling Voiding Obamacare

Filed under: Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:08 pm

I had a chance to speak with the contact person in this January 31 press release from Mike DeWine’s office.

Unfortunately, she told me that she did not receive my voicemail message on Monday. That said, her response reaction (Feb. 11 clarification — to be clear not an official response, which she promised me she would get after I told her my phone number and e-mail address) to my inquiry about what Mr. DeWine would do to enforce Judge Vinson’s ruling voiding Obamacare was revealing. I will share that, and any other information that comes to my attention between now and tomorrow, with TIB Radio listeners on Friday evening’s broadcast.

In the meantime, if anyone from the AG’s office happens to stop by, they might consider listening to the following audio from “Liberty and Tyranny” and “Men in Black” author Mark Levin from the opening of his Tuesday, February 8 evening show (first 2:15 of YouTube audio after the show intro; full podcast available here):

This is Day 8 — Day 8 of the Obama administration’s contempt of a federal court ruling. And why no state has … challenged this yet, I don’t know. But they’re working furiously in the bureaucracy to institute a law that is now void. And by the way, the ignorance of the propagandist (Robert) Gibbs … saying, “Oh, we have two judges who’ve said it’s okay and two (others)” — it doesn’t work that way.

As I’ve explained repeatedly, it’s the judge who rules your actions unconstitutional who you have to listen to. That’s why they sent their lawyers into that courtroom to try and win that case, because they didn’t want to lose that case. Well they did lose the case. And it appears … that I am the only one in the country with a microphone who is stunned and disgusted by this and isn’t going to let it go.

So (it’s) Day 8 of the Obama administration’s contempt of court, contempt of the Constitution, and contempt of the American people.

So the question should be asked: “Why do we have to follow the law if he doesn’t?” Seriously.

Levin’s take on Day 3 of the ruling is at this previous BizzyBlog post.

He noted in that broadcast that:

… the states of Wisconsin and Florida, it appears, have decided that there’s no law for them to implement any longer. And they are in fact correct, since the last position of the law as it applies to Obamacare is that there is no law. And so the states should stop implementing this statute until there is a different ruling from a higher court. If the Obama administration wants to continue to violate the Constitution, to defy a federal judge, and play rope-a dope, then you states have no responsibility whatsoever to comply.

That’s exactly what Wisconsin’s AG is saying:

In a statement yesterday, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, a Republican opposed to the law and a participant in the Florida lawsuit, said he doesn’t believe the federal statute needs to be enforced following Vinson’s ruling.

“For Wisconsin, the federal health-care law is dead — unless and until it is revived by an appellate court,” Van Hollen said. “Wisconsin was relieved of any obligations or duties that were created under terms of the federal health-care law.”

Does Mike DeWine agree (or not), and if he does (or doesn’t), why hasn’t he said so?

And what is he going to do about the Obama administration’s open “implementation will continue” defiance of Judge Vinson’s ruling?

As the state’s chief law enforcement official, Mike DeWines owes Ohioans answers — oh, and he has NOT kept his core campaign promise (saved here in case of a take-down) to be “fighting for our rights and protecting every Ohioan” in this matter.

Mike DeWine is the one who said: “I will not sit on the sidelines.” As far as anyone in the Buckeye State can tell, that’s exactly what he and his office are doing.

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UPDATE: As someone who “knows people,” Matt Hurley, one-half of the dynamic duo operating Weapons of Mass Discussion, the home base of the TIB Radio broadcasts, and who also posted on what I may start calling “the Silence of DeWine” on Monday, may be able to supplement what the relatively unconnected yours truly is able to learn.

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Previous Post, February 7: — “Mike DeWine’s Core Campaign Promise to Fight ObamaCare Remains Unkept (UPDATE: AG’s Response Requested)”

Laffer’s WSJ Op-Ed: Lots of Great Points About Reagan, Wrong About What Preceded Him

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:26 am

This is not pleasant, but it is necessary.

Arthur Laffer’s op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal is great — after its first 15 words.

Those first 15 words are utter nonsense, the kind of thing you hope is the result of a typo and not intentional. But what follows it in the supply-side economist’s first sentence indicates that it’s not:

For 16 years prior to Ronald Reagan’s presidency, the U.S. economy was in a tailspin—a result of bipartisan ignorance that resulted in tax increases, dollar devaluations, wage and price controls, minimum-wage hikes, misguided spending, pandering to unions, protectionist measures and other policy mistakes.

Anyone deciding to tune Laffer out after the first 15 words can be forgiven.

Did all of the things he described happen during the previous 16 years? Yes. Were they detrimental to the economy, keeping it from being as good as it could have been? Absolutely.

But was the economy in a “tailspin” (“a sudden and helpless collapse into failure, confusion, or the like”) from the beginning of 1965 until the end of 1980? Give me a break, Arthur; absolutely not. Was it mediocre and underperforming during the eight or ten years before Reagan’s arrival (with the final four truly awful)? Absolutely so.

Some metrics:

  • From 1964 to 1969, the economy, buoyed by the Kennedy tax cuts of 1964, the economy grew at an average real annual rate of 4.8%. The average of 6.2% during the first three years in that period averaging was better than that of the last three (3.5%), but certainly not a “tailspin.”
  • The unemployment rate was extremely low during that same period. Look it up here; seasonally adjusted it was 4.0% or lower for a 50-month period (December 1965 through January 1970).
  • Inflation started creeping into the picture much earlier. December to December inflation went from 1.0% in 1964 to 6.2% in 1969, mellowed into the low 3s in 1971 and 1972, and then ranged from totally unacceptable to almost disastrous during the next eight years, until the effects of Fed Chairman Paul Volcker’s tightening finally got it to a barely acceptable level in 1982 and kept it there for the rest of the decade.

Laffer’s opening is too bad, because he makes many great points about the Reagan era (bolds are mine):

What the Reagan Revolution did was to move America toward lower, flatter tax rates, sound money, freer trade and less regulation. The key to Reaganomics was to change people’s behavior with respect to working, investing and producing. To do this, personal income tax rates not only decreased significantly, but they were also indexed for inflation in 1985. The highest tax rate on “unearned” (i.e., non-wage) income dropped to 28% from 70%. The corporate tax rate also fell to 34% from 46%. And tax brackets were pushed out, so that taxpayers wouldn’t cross the threshold until their incomes were far higher.

Changing tax rates changed behavior, and changed behavior affected tax revenues. Reagan understood that lowering tax rates led to static revenue losses. But he also understood that lowering tax rates also increased taxable income, whether by increasing output or by causing less use of tax shelters and less tax cheating.

Moreover, Reagan knew from personal experience in making movies that once he was in the highest tax bracket, he’d stop making movies for the rest of the year. In other words, a lower tax rate could increase revenues. And so it was with his tax cuts. The highest 1% of income earners paid more in taxes as a share of GDP in 1988 at lower tax rates than they had in 1980 at higher tax rates. To Reagan, what’s been called the “Laffer Curve” (a concept that originated centuries ago and which I had been using without the name in my classes at the University of Chicago) was pure common sense.

… On the regulatory front, the number of pages in the Federal Register dropped to less than 48,000 in 1986 from over 80,000 in 1980. With no increase in the minimum wage over his full eight years in office, the negative impact of this price floor on employment was lessened.

And, of course, there was the decontrol of oil markets. Price controls at gas stations were lifted in January 1981, as were well-head price controls for domestic oil producers. Domestic output increased and prices fell.

The results of the Reagan era? From December 1982 to June 1990, Reaganomics created over 21 million jobs—more jobs than have been added since. Union membership and man-hours lost due to strikes tumbled. The stock market went through the roof. From July 1982 through August 2000, the S&P 500 stock price index grew at an average annual real rate of over 12%. The unfunded liabilities of the Social Security system declined as a share of GDP, and the “misery index” fell to under 10%.

… The true lesson to be learned from the Reagan presidency is that good economics isn’t Republican or Democrat, right-wing or left-wing, liberal or conservative. It’s simply good economics.

The guy in the Oval Office who’s trying to pretend that he’s learning from Reagan should actually try doing what Reagan did. But he won’t.

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Related — Laffer also engaged in off-putting hyperbole in a June 6, 2010 WSJ op-ed (“Tax Hikes and the 2011 Economic Collapse”). June 11, 2010My take at the time: “I think Laffer’s prediction that ‘The economy will collapse in 2011′ is intemperate, not consistent with his ‘best guess’ that we will see a severe double-dip recession, and therefore inappropriate.” His “collapse” prediction assumed that Congress would sit by and let federal tax rates go up this year. Fortunately, it didn’t.

Positivity: Wake coach says kidney donation a ‘no-brainer’

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:59 am

From Atlanta:

Feb 9, 7:21 PM EST

There they sat, side by side, the baseball coach and his freshman outfielder, adorned in matching black-and-gold warm-up suits.

Thankfully, the attire wasn’t their only match.

Even though his right side was still tender and sore, Kevin Jordan hasn’t felt this good since last February, when a mysterious illness began sapping his strength and eventually caused his kidneys to shut down.

To his right was Wake Forest coach Tom Walter, who has always considered his players to be like family. No one will ever doubt the sincerity of those words. Not after he gave up one of his healthy kidneys so the 19-year-old Jordan would have a shot at a normal, healthy life.

“I’m just really thankful,” the teenager said at a news conference Wednesday, two days after the coach’s kidney was transplanted in him at Emory University Hospital. “This is as good as it gets. I don’t have words for it right now.”

Walter had volunteered to be tested after he learned of Jordan’s illness, which forced Jordan to hook up to a dialysis machine for nine hours each night. As it became more likely Walter’s kidney might be needed, the Wake Forest compliance officer checked with the NCAA to make sure there were no violations of the extra benefits rule.

Not that Walter would have let the threat of probation stop him.

“I talked it over with our athletic director (Ron Wellman), and he probably said it best when he said we were answering to a higher calling on this one,” Walter said.

Jordan’s mother and brother weren’t compatible for a transplant, and his father wasn’t even eligible because he has high blood pressure. Walter, it turned out, was a match. When he got the news last month, he never wavered on his decision to give up a part of himself so Jordan would have a chance at a long, healthy life.

“I didn’t want Kevin to wait one more day if I could help it,” Walter said. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

Too Useful to Check: Us Magazine Falls For Fake Palin-Aguilera Story

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance — Tom @ 1:01 am

B-Us-ted.

GossipCop.com reports that Us Weekly just did something extraordinarily dumb (bolds, italics, and link are in original):

Whoops! Us Weekly Publishes Sarah Palin/Christina Aguilera Spoof as Fact

This is really bad.

Us Weekly has published what it claims are comments made by Sarah Palin, in which the former vice presidential candidate blasts Christina Aguilera’s performance of the national anthem at Super Bowl XLV.

Except the over-the-top “quotes,” which Us Weekly attributes to a Monday radio interview with Sean Hannity, were actually written for a satire website.

Again: Palin’s Aguilera comments are fabricated.

What follows is a Google result showing a bit of the text in the now removed piece, along with what appears to be part of an immature reader comment, followed by Gossip Cop’s screen grab of the item (note the unflattering picture of Palin):

FakePalinSlamsAguilera020911

Sarah-Palin-379x400

Gossip Cop’s final two paragraphs on the matter:

It boggles the mind that a major outlet could read these obviously satirical, fake quotes and treat them as the real deal.

However badly Aguilera botched the anthem last Sunday, Us Weekly just did a hundred times worse.

After 2-1/2 years of “Who’s Trig’s real mom?” and similar garbage from people who consider themselves respectable (but aren’t), this just shows that quite a few people in supposedly responsible positions are willing to believe anything thrown out there about Sarah Palin, and run with it without checking.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.