March 31, 2011

Bill Whittle: Eat the Rich

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:01 pm

Building on a great post by Iowahawk (direct YouTube link), Whittle delivers an objectively irrefutable body blow to arch-leftist and world-class hypocrite Michael Moore:

Reich Touts FDR’s Mid-1930s Depression-Era Growth, Ignores Reagan’s Record

Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich, in a column appearing at Business Insider, says that we’re heading in the direction of a “double-dip” — and though he doesn’t follow it with the word “recession,” it’s obvious he’s not talking about an ice-cream cone. It’s also obvious that he’s less than pleased with the media spin that things are really okay.

Along the way, Reich had to go back to the mid-1930s, the era of Frankline Delano Roosevelt’s ongoing economic depression (at least as far as employment was concerned), to exemplify what a supposedly good recovery from an economic trauma looks. He was clearly desperate to avoid saying anything nice about the more historically relevant and objectively more impressive recovery and subsequent prosperity that occurred under Ronald Reagan. This is also true of the establishment press.

The failure to compare the current recovery to the recovery from the last serious recession the U.S. encountered has become a nasty establishment press habit, for a drop-dead obvious reason: Despite the fact that his challenges were arguably greater — 13% inflation, 20%-plus prime interest rates, and high unemployment — Reagan’s tax-cut and regulatory relief-driven economy boomed. By contrast, Barack Obama’s stimulus-laden, gimmick-dominated, fossil fule-hostile, uncertainty-driven economy isn’t impressing anyone.

Here are several paragraphs from Reich’s Thursday morning column (“The Truth About The Economy: We’re Heading Back Toward A Double Dip”):

Why aren’t Americans being told the truth about the economy? We’re heading in the direction of a double dip – but you’d never know it if you listened to the upbeat messages coming out of Wall Street and Washington.

… The Reuters/University of Michigan survey shows a 10 point decline in March – the tenth largest drop on record. Part of that drop is attributable to rising fuel and food prices. A separate Conference Board’s index of consumer confidence, just released, shows consumer confidence at a five-month low — and a large part is due to expectations of fewer jobs and lower wages in the months ahead.

… But isn’t the economy growing again – by an estimated 2.5 to 2.9 percent this year? Yes, but that’s even less than peanuts. The deeper the economic hole, the faster the growth needed to get back on track. By this point we’d expect growth of 4 to 6 percent. In 1934, emerging from the deepest hole of the Great Depression, the economy grew 7.7 percent. The next year it grew over 8 percent. In 1936 it grew a whopping 14.1 percent.

Add to these data two other ominous signs: Real hourly wages continue to fall, and housing prices continue to drop. Hourly wages are falling because with unemployment so high, most people have no bargaining power and will take whatever they can get. Houses are the biggest asset most Americans own, so as home prices drop most Americans feel even poorer.

Reich inexplicably fails to cite accurate mid-1930s growth figures, but the actual numbers seen here for 1934-1936 (10.9%, 8.9%, and 13.0%, respectively) still look pretty good. But c’mon: If we’re to believe the government’s data from the 1930s, the economy at the end of 1940 was 63% bigger than the economy at the end of 1933. I question how could that be if unemployment never got below 12%. But even if it’s accurate, it’s obvious that whatever growth occurred failed to reach an awful lot of people who wanted to work.

By contrast, once his policy prescriptions were finally in place, the post-1980s recession Reagan economy recovered exceptionally well and quickly, both in terms of GDP growth and employment. Here’s how the Reagan post-recession record compares to Obama’s in both metrics (through six quarters for GDP growth and 20 months for employment; click on the second graphic to enlarge and open in a separate window):

ReaganomicsVsObamanomicsThru6Qtrs032511 ReaganVsObamaAllJobsThru20mos

The post-recession economy under Reagan grew 9.9% (with compounding) in its first six quarters. Obama’s post-recession economy has grown 4.5%. Reagan’s economy created over 4.9 million jobs during its first 20 post-recession months. Believe it or not Obama’s economy went positive at a whopping 22,000 jobs just last month.

No wonder Reich didn’t want to make a comparison. It would imply the need for policy prescriptions he doesn’t like, virtually regardless of whether they will work. The same generally goes for the establishment press in their supposedly “objective” news reports.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

AP Uses Economist’s Dubious ‘Undeniable’ Improvement Assertion to Frame Tepid Unemployment Claims Report (See Update)

UPDATE, April 1: Joshua Shapiro, who is “quoted” in the AP article covered in this post, has emailed me and informed me of the following —

  • Christopher Rugaber did not speak with him, but instead used text from “a written note that I (Shapiro) produced after the jobless claims report was released.”
  • Shapiro is unhappy at my making it appear that he is fooled by establishment press reports. Although I framed my assertions in “if” and “might” to make it clear that I really didn’t know, I regret implying that possibility, though of course I had no idea that Rugaber didn’t even speak to him.

By using the word “said” without contextualizing it, Rugaber gave readers every reason to believe he spoke with Shapiro. Per Shapiro, he didn’t. Rugaber used information that Shapiro framed in a much longer-term context to make current news appear better than it really is. Rugaber’s AP report is even more risible than indicated in the post which follows.

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This morning, the Associated Press’s Christopher Rugaber, in his 9:14 a.m. coverage (saved here at my web host in case it’s revised, as well as for fair use and discussion purposes) of today’s weekly unemployment claims release by the Department of Labor, found an economist whose reaction was to get all pumped up about the job market:

“The downtrend … is undeniable,” Joshua Shapiro, chief economist at MFR Financial Inc., said. “We believe that this improvement will continue in the weeks and months ahead.”

While one of course hopes for improvement in the coming weeks and months, the existence of an “undeniable” downward trend is questionable, as seen below:

WeeklyInitiClaimsTo032611

(Source data: March 24; March 17; March 10; figures going back more than three weeks can be found using the tool at this DOL web page.)

Perhaps other readers have better eyesight than yours truly, because if there’s an “undeniable” trend in the direction of “improvement,” I’m having a hard time seeing it.

That noted, it’s easy to see how Mr. Shapiro might be fooled, as the press has reported that unemployment claims have dropped during each of the past three weeks, while failing to notice that the revision of last week’s number from a seasonally adjusted 382,000 to 394,000 changed what had been a decline into an increase. So if Shapiro is only internalizing initial press reports without going through each week’s numbers in detail, he would of course believe that the situation has been consistently getting better. Trouble is, it hasn’t been. I should note that DOL incorporated changes in its seasonal adjustment factors going back four years into today’s report, and that those changes were responsible for about two-thirds of the 382K to 394K change; but regardless of the source, last week’s initial claims figure changed by a lot, and in the wrong direction.

Based on DOL’s record of upwardly revising initial week reports, it’s more than a little likely that today’s reported week-over week decrease will also turn into a week-over-week increase.

The AP’s Rugaber was among those failing to explicitly notice last week’s swing from positive to negative in his report today, saying only the following about today’s: “That’s the second decline in three weeks.” He did note an uptick in the moving four-week average, but not its degree (up 3,250 to 394,250, a number close enough to 400,000 that Rugaber might have wanted to avoid revealing it).

CNNMoney’s Ben Rooney noted the degree of the revision to last week (“Last week’s total, for example, was revised up by 12,000″), but failed to note that it turned what had been a decrease into an increase. So did this Reuters “Instant View.” Experts consulted by Reuters were far more muted in their enthusiasm (“a marginally weaker report for the labor market”; “we’re just not at the kind of pace we need in order to get employment back to normalized levels”).

Speaking of “normalized levels,” AP’s Rugaber seems to have lowered the bar for real improvement, especially when one compares it to the standard of an expert quoted at Reuters:

  • Rugaber — “Applications near 375,000 or below are consistent with a sustained increase in hiring.”
  • Michael Mullaney, quoted at Reuters — ” one thing we’ve been looking at is that we have to get claims in the 250,000 area to be considered normal again.”

That’s a very big difference. It seems that Rugaber, like other AP business and economics reporters, is trying to define a decidedly non-ambitious “new normal.”

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Social Security: Obama and Dems Dodge Their Debris

Filed under: Economy,Soc. Sec. & Retirement,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:59 am

SocSecBrokeCard0309They still claim “there is no crisis.”

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Note: This column, absent the reference to Victor Davis Hanson, went up at Pajamas Media and was teased here at BizzyBlog on Tuesday.

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“Debt is now the father of us all. In some sense, every cruise missile fired, every Social Security check cashed, ever NPR show aired is done so in part with borrowed money.”

– Victor Davis Hanson, March 20

Annually for well over a decade, the Social Security system’s trustees have been telling the public in polite words that a) its “Trust Funds” (Old Age and Disability) represent an accounting fiction, and b) that the time when yearly benefits paid would exceed tax collections is not all that far away.

In 2000, at Page 338 in a report (large PDF) originating from its Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Clinton White House also acknowledged those verities. Specifically, as the Washington Post’s Charles Krauthammer noted a few weeks ago (bolds are mine), OMB analysts wrote:

These balances are available to finance future benefit payments and other trust fund expenditures—but only in a bookkeeping sense. These funds are not set up to be pension funds, like the funds of private pension plans. They do not consist of real economic assets that can be drawn down in the future to fund benefits. Instead, they are claims on the Treasury that, when redeemed, will have to be financed by raising taxes, borrowing from the public, or reducing benefits or other expenditures. The existence of large trust fund balances, therefore, does not, by itself, have any impact on the Government’s ability to pay benefits.

Jacob (“Jack”) Lew was Bill Clinton’s OMB Director at the time of that 2000 report. He has held the same job under President Obama since late last year.

For most of the decade which followed, the Trustees told us that the Social Security system would begin running cash deficits in the mid- to late-2010s. Then, in the late spring of 2008, along came what I have since been calling the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) economy. The four-quarter recession as normal people define it which Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, Harry Reid, and their party caused, followed by the awful policy choices they made once they gained full control over the executive and legislative branches of government, have led to a “recovery” so anemic that, in the words of Mort Zuckerman, the economy “is neither certifiably dead nor robustly alive.”

That pathetic “recovery,” accompanied by heavy doses of administration-induced economic uncertainty, has caused unemployment to remain historically high. The 21-month string of seasonally adjusted unemployment rates of 9.0% or higher which finally ended in February is the longest such streak in the 62 years such records have been kept. The government’s Household Survey used to determine the unemployment rate tells us that only 875,000 more Americans were working in February 2011 compared to a year earlier. The Establishment Survey used to report jobs added or lost shows about 1.25 million jobs added; but its figures have been retroactively adjusted downward by hundreds of thousands of jobs in each of the past two years (378,000 in February 2011; 902,000 a year earlier).

The payroll tax receipts on which Social Security depends have plummeted, and remain depressed. Such collections, which amounted to $193.9 billion during the fourth quarter of 2008, came in 6.9% short of that mark at only $180.5 billion in the fourth quarter of 2010, six quarters after the recession ended.

The most recent Social Security Trustees’ report, issued last year based on the situation at the end of 2009, told us the following:

Social Security expenditures are expected to exceed tax receipts this year for the first time since 1983. … This deficit is expected to shrink substantially for 2011 and to return to small surpluses for years 2012-2014 due to the improving economy.

As already seen, the economy in 2010 did not improve in a way that would have helped the Social Security system retain its last shreds of solvency. As a result, the Congressional Budget Office now projects Social Security cash deficits as far as the eye can see, rising from over $40 billion in 2011 to over $100 billion by 2021. The estimable Victor Davis Hanson quoted at the beginning of this column is absolutely correct, even about Social Security. Until recently, today’s workers were funding the retirements of today’s retirees. Now generations yet unborn have also been conscripted for that same purpose.

Yet the Obama administration, including the aforementioned and now about-facing Jack Lew, insists that Social Security must be off-limits in any deficit discussions because, as Lew wrote in response to a USA Today editorial, “Social Security benefits are entirely self-financing.” Suddenly, the “Trust Fund” which Lew’s 2000 OMB wrote “do(es) not consist of economic assets” is what will in 2011 and beyond enable the system to “have adequate resources to pay full benefits for the next 26 years.”

The 2000 version of Jack Lew was right. Politicians raided Social Security for decades by “borrowing” its surpluses and squandering over $2 trillion. But that wasn’t enough. Except for a brief, primarily Republican-inspired period around the turn of the century, Democratic and Republican administrations have continually added to the nation’s debt load. The Obama administration has taken it to a horrifying new level. By September 2011, it will have rung up over $4 trillion in additional deficits in three fiscal years (it gets responsibility for fiscal 2009 because, as noted earlier, Democrats created the POR economy before that fiscal year began). It has also increased the national debt by roughly $5 trillion.

So, if we’re to believe Team Obama, the 2011 version of Jack Lew, and Harry Reid — who doesn’t see a need to deal with Social Security for 20 years — a government whose nonpublic debt is projected to be within a whisker of what many experts believe is the code-red level of 90% of GDP in 10 years is automatically going to be able to continue to fund Social Security’s cash deficits for the next 26 years. Horse manure.

These people know the truth, and they’re deliberately dodging it. They’re cynically hoping to ride a wave of ginned-up opposition to any and all entitlement reform in hopes of getting across the finish line in the 2012 elections. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a more cynical strategy on a problem so important in my lifetime.

I hope they fail.

Ford to Surpass GM in March Sales?

Filed under: Business Moves,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:22 am

Note: This was originally posted shortly after midnight and has been carried to the top.

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The ultimate source is Edmunds, as carried at AutoObserver.com (HT Doug Ross):

… while it is no sure bet just yet, Ford Motor Co. has a shot at beating General Motors Co. for U.S. sales leadership in March, a month in which the Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) of sales is expected to be 13.1 million vehicles. Ford will sell 210,400 vehicles in March to GM’s 208,400, according to Edmunds.com’s forecast released Thursday. However, as demonstrated dramatically of late, much can happen in the last week of the month and especially in this environment of rising gas prices, a catastrophe in Japan and turmoil in the Middle East.

The race between Ford and GM this month surely will be neck-and-neck. A number of factors — a last-minute sales drive, inventory issues, a fleet order – could decisively shift the advantage. If Ford does beat GM in sales, it would be the first time since February, 2010. Before that, Ford hadn’t surpassed GM since 1998, according to Edmunds.com’s records.

I’ll believe it when I see it — but I really didn’t think Ford was going to come close to getting even with GM for quite a while.

The guess here is that someone in the General Services Administration is going to be told on Thursday morning to place a really big order — and to somehow take delivery or otherwise do whatever it takes to make a sale.

You guys at Edmunds better not be playing with us on this.

Wow.

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UPDATE: The original news goes back to Sunday March 24. The gut says that there’s no way Obama Motors lets 2nd place happen — and if it still happens, it will be a spectacular failure, simply because they had so much warning.

Positivity: As beatification nears, memories of John Paul II surface

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 9:21 am

From Rome:

Mar 30, 2011 / 01:24 am

With the May 1 beatification of Pope John Paul II fast approaching, those who knew and loved the late pontiff are speaking out about the imprint he left on the Church and the world.

Archbishop Piero Marini remembered the “almost father-son relationship” he enjoyed with the Pope while serving as his master of liturgical ceremonies. In a Vatican Radio broadcast on March 28, he said that the beatification is a way for all people to once again “re-encounter this friend of humanity” by getting to know him, his love for evangelization and his strong witness.

Archbishop Marini remembered that the “greatest gift” the Pope ever gave him was in reminding him of the everyday quality of holiness. “Each of us … must build sanctity responding to the vocation that the Lord has given us in our life with humility and simplicity as John Paul II did. He spent his entire life announcing the Gospel to create unity.”

By going out to meet the people where they were, proclaiming God’s Word and celebrating the Eucharist and sacraments, the Pope was able “to create around himself, around the person of the Pope, truly the unity of the Church,” said the archbishop.

Cardinal Roberto Tucci, who planned the Pope’s lengthy and frequent trips to international destinations, remembered the Pope for his “spontaneity.”

He was present at a press conference last week to launch Italian journalist Angela Ambrogetti’s new book, “Travel Companions,” examining previously unedited comments and conversations the Pope had with reporters on his trips abroad.

Cardinal Tucci called the book a “rare and efficient testimony of the personality and the ideas of Pope Wojtyla which comes across with great freshness – as it was – with his extraordinary spontaneity and freedom of expression, with his kindness and bluntness before others, also to that special kind of humanity that are journalists.”

Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi, and veteran Vatican analysts Gian Franco Svidercoschi and Paloma Gomez Borrero recounted anecdotes of their personal experiences with the pontiff on the numerous papal flights. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

March 30, 2011

30 Years Ago, Some Children Cheered Reagan Assassination Attempt

As a reminder that leftists have been poisoning the wells of civility and basic human decency for a very, very long time, I present these two items from the Associated Press and United Press International on April 1 and 2, 1981, respectively:

  • Via AP, dateline Tulsa — “Teachers Stunned as Children Cheer Reagan Shooting”
  • More generalized coverage from UPI — “Children Cheer News President Was Shot”

Details are after the jump.

(more…)

ADP: Private Sector Added 201,000 Jobs in March; What Was Reagan’s Number?

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:11 pm

Continued decent news from ADP:

Private-sector employment increased by 201,000 from February to March on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the latest ADP National Employment Report® released today. The estimated change of employment from January 2011 to February 2011 was revised down to 208,000 from the previously reported increase of 217,000. This month’s ADP National Employment Report removes any remaining doubt that private nonfarm payroll employment accelerated heading into 2011. The increase of 201,000 is in line with the consensus expectation both for today’s report and for Friday’s jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That’s nice, and it beats the heck out of what we were seeing throughout 2009 and 2010.

But how was the economy under Ronald Reagan doing at a similar point?

Much better:

ReaganVsObamaJobs21mos

In June 1984, the 21st month after the 1980s recession ended, the economy under Ronald Reagan added 355,000 private-sector jobs. Population-adjusted with some tempering for aging demographics, that would be the same as adding about 420,000 jobs today. Additionally, the Reaganomics number brought that era’s 21-month total of private-sector jobs added to 5,086,000; population- and demographics-adjusted, that would be the same as adding about 6.5 million jobs today.

In the 20 post-recession months from July 2009 to February 2011 under Obamanomics, the economy has added 362,000 private-sector jobs — and that’s if future comprehensive revisions don’t knock the number down by a few hundred thousand or so, as has been the case during each of the past two years (for all jobs, 378,000 in February 2011; 902,000 a year earlier).

Thus, while it will be somewhat welcome news if the Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us on Friday that the economy added about 200,000 jobs in the private sector, in historical context it will not in any way, shape, or form represent an impressive result — not even if it’s 300,000.

Illinois’ Arrogant, Ignorant Governor

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:22 am

To say that Illinois Governor Pat Quinn doesn’t get it fails to describe the depth of the man’s ignorance.

Here’s a recent statement he made about the possibility that one of the state’s marquee employers might leave the state — a statement which, after brief news search, I could only find in a Tuesday evening Investors Business Daily editorial:

Caterpillar is not leaving Illinois. They have well-skilled workers who know how to get the job done. They just signed an agreement with the United Auto Workers, I think for six years. I don’t think we should get in a panic at all.”

Even if Cat keeps its headquarters in Peoria and doesn’t reduce its existing Illinois blue- or white-collar workforce, it will be a hollow victory. Earth to Quinn: it isn’t just about keeping what you have, which Illinois is barely doing — maybe. It’s about capturing the new facilities growing companies like Cat build.

On that front, as Rich Miller at Capitol Fax details, Illinois has missed out on the following recent Caterpillar expansions, most if not all of which might have been reasonable prospects for the state if it didn’t have such a punishing business climate made worse recently by additional income tax hikes:

* Dec 18, 2008: Cat announces new plant in Texas …
* January 5, 2009: Caterpillar plant, 600 jobs bound for North Little Rock
* Jul 30, 2010: Cat announces new North Carolina plant – 850,000-square-foot facility will be used for axle assemblies
* October, 2010: Caterpillar Selects Victoria, TX, For New Hydraulic Excavator Facility

If an Illinois-based company like Caterpillar won’t even think about expanding in Illinois, it’s reasonable to believe that other Illinois-based companies are acting similarly, and that few out-of-state companies looking to expand are giving Illinois serious consideration.

The IBD editorial elaborates further, reminding the governor that the company didn’t just spring up out of the Illinois cornfields:

According to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation: “The (Illinois) corporate income tax will rise from 7.3% to 10.9%, a 49% increase and (making Illinois’) the highest state corporate income tax in the United States and the highest combined national-local corporate income tax in the industrialized world.”

In other words, anyplace Caterpillar moves — and that means anywhere — the tax situation will be an improvement on what it faces in Illinois.

Before he pooh-poohs the possibility of losing Caterpillar, Gov. Quinn might review the company’s history. Cat got its start not in Illinois, but in California in 1883 as the Stockton Wheel Co. After various incarnations and acquisitions through much of the 20th century, it became Caterpillar.

In 1967, the company moved its headquarters from Stockton to Peoria, where it now employs 23,000 of the 100,000 workers who make those gigantic yellow construction and mining machines that are among the best in the world, if not the best.

… Until the governor recognizes that businesses operate on real-world accounting, not the government’s big-tax approach to business, he’s looking at the migration of not only Caterpillar, but other big home-based enterprises — State Farm maybe, or McDonald’s — to states where entrepreneurs and world-class companies are treated as precious resources, not strip-mined for taxes to pay for unsustainable and inefficient government.

Caterpillar, of course, is lucky. It can move. Unfortunately, small towns that rely on business with Caterpillar workers will go under. So will many small businesses that aren’t able to move after such tax hikes.

If Quinn doesn’t think Caterpillar has given him reason to panic, he’d better think again.

Pat Quinn will not recognize that people — and companies — can and do vote with their feet. Caterpillar did so when it planted its headquarters in Illinois 44 years ago. It can do so again. So can other Illinois companies.

Positivity: Despite controversy in NYC, pro-life billboards coming to Chicago

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 9:20 am

Chicago_Leader_billboard_CNA_US_Catholic_News_3_28_11From Austin, Texas:

Mar 29, 2011 / 06:15 am

A pro-life group plans to continue their billboard campaign in Chicago after a recent ad was pulled in New York City following complaints.

Life Always, the organization behind ads claiming the abortion industry targets America’s black community, will launch a new billboard in Chicago on March 29, featuring an image of President Obama.

The billboard reads: “Every 21 minutes, our next possible leader is aborted.” In the ad, President Obama is shown next to the word “leader,” and viewers are also directed to visit thatsabortion.com.

“Our hope at Life Always is to call attention to the devastation that abortion is causing in America,” Marissa Gabrysch, group spokeswoman, told CNA March 28.

“By using a likeness of our President, we hope to draw attention to the fact that our next generation of leaders is in jeopardy because of abortion,” Gabrysch said.

The organization says it plans to unveil over 30 billboards in South Chicago to draw attention to the disproportionate number of abortions among African Americans in the U.S. Life Always cites Census data and Center for Disease Control reports which show that although African Americans comprise less than 13 percent of the population, they account for 36 percent of the entire country’s abortions.

The plans to launch the Chicago ads follow the removal of the group’s prominent billboard in New York City. A 29 feet high and 16 feet wide billboard – unveiled on Feb. 22 and taken down within days – depicted a young black girl beneath the phrase “The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb.”

“The New York billboard generated strong reactions, which was the goal,” Gabrysch said. “We all need to react.”

Pete Costanza, the general manager for Lamar Advertising, said the billboard was removed because an objector to the billboard harassed the waiters and waitresses in the Mexican restaurant below the sign.

The restaurant has no affiliation with the billboard company or the pro-life group.

Dr. Alveda King – niece of civil rights legend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – told CNA that despite being removed, the New York billboard “opened up dialogue across the country.”

“I’ve been able to have many conversations since the billboard went up and came right back down,” she said, “about how African American women and their children are victims and how we have been targeted by genocide.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.

March 29, 2011

SB 5 and Me: It’s Personal (Robert Roll Column)

Filed under: Economy,Education,Taxes & Government — Rob Roll @ 9:24 am

The fight over Senate Bill 5 here in Ohio and the collective bargaining rights for public sector unions nationwide got personal for me last week. The school district that I attended for thirteen years of my life, Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools, was forced to lay off 32 teachers. Honestly, I knew this was coming. The dreadful economy has depressed property tax revenue, which is by far the largest revenue stream for the district. In addition to that the voters in my school district have turned down levies in the past two election cycles. You really cannot fault the voters for turning down a tax increase in the middle of a recession. Given those facts, I was not surprised when the headline of my local paper, The Rocky Fork Enterprise, which read: “Gahanna School Board Approves Teacher Cuts for 2011-12.” As I somberly read the article, which included the names of the teachers that will be laid off, four of which I had in class or knew on a personal level, I could not help but feel sad that some quality, hard-working teachers had to be let go.

That sadness turned to anger when I read the twelfth paragraph of the article. The paragraph said, “(Superintendent Mark) White said reductions are determined through seniority and programming”. To confirm the impression that teacher reductions were based only on seniority and programming, meaning that teacher performance was not taken into account, I called Matt Cygnor, the Director of Human Resources of the Gahanna-Jefferson School District. According to Mr. Cygnor, teacher performance was not taken into account because the union contract does not allow the district to look at teacher performance when determining pay or personnel decisions. In short, the union contract protects incompetent teachers who have managed to subsist long enough to get tenure at the expense of good, young teachers who are just starting out. What is happening in my school district is exactly why the SB 5 must be passed and signed into law.

Senate Bill 5 would prohibit teachers from collectively bargaining and replace that process with a system of merit pay. With merit pay, good teachers will finally be paid what they are worth and bad teachers will be given the boot. SB 5 will ensure that good, young teachers will not be let go just because they were the last ones hired.

I attribute much of what I have been able to accomplish in my short life to the great education I received as a pupil in the Gahanna-Jefferson School District. I received a great education because I had good teachers. In order for those who are following me in the school district to receive the same quality of education that I got, the Gahanna-Jefferson School District needs to retain quality teachers. The current union contracts prevent that from occurring. That needs to change, and SB 5 will change it.

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Robert Roll is a freshman majoring in Finance at Ohio Northern University, and the blog owner’s nephew.

The link within Rob’s column was added by me.

Brief Interruption

Filed under: General — Tom @ 6:33 am

Critical work commitments will prevent blogging until sometime this evening, if then. Fortunately, a Robert Roll item will appear later this morning to pick up some of the slack.

Work commitments have been doing the crowd-out thing for a while, the best/worst example being that last Friday’s final GDP revision (press release; full release with tables) to an annualized +3.1% for the fourth quarter of 2010 (up from the previous revision of +2.8%) blew right past me. Yikes. We need to more and/or better help around here.

The GDP news is pretty decent (though by no means Reaganesque), and beats the trend of downward revisions we’ve generally seen in previous quarters. I hope to dig deeper at some point, but given the circumstances, I can’t be sure that I will.

Latest Pajamas Media Column (‘Social Security: Obama and the Democrats Dodge Their Debris’) Is Up

Filed under: Soc. Sec. & Retirement,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:15 am

It’s here.

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

March 28, 2011

Doug Patton Nails Newt Gingrich’s Unfitness to Be President

Filed under: Activism,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:24 pm

NoToNewt2012From his latest column:

Let me say that I was once a fan of the former House Speaker. I even have a photo of myself with him in 1994 from one of the times I met him during my own political career. I was actually proud of having that photo on my wall at the time. Not so much anymore.

Until Gingrich’s recent interview on the Christian Broadcasting Network, the number one lame excuse of all time had to be “the dog ate my homework,” followed, of course by, “I did not inhale.” But Newt’s doozy has taken political spin into a whole new universe. It goes like this: “There’s no question at times of my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate.”

That is exactly what Gingrich told CBN’s David Brody concerning his adultery with his current wife, Callista, which occurred while he was still married to his second wife, Marianne — with whom, incidentally, he cheated while still wed to wife number one, Jackie, who had been his high school geometry teacher and who claims Gingrich dumped her while she was recuperating from cancer surgery.

Newt married Jackie in 1962. He was 19, she was 26. In the spring of 1980, after 18 years of marriage, he walked into her hospital room and announced that he was leaving her for Marianne. Eighteen years later, he did the same thing to Marianne, informing her he was marrying Callista, who was his congressional aide at the time and who is 23 years his junior. …

… it is axiomatic that trust begins at home, and men like Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich are not trustworthy.

… Gingrich is shoveling a boatload of horse manure at Evangelical Christians (apparently the last group to care about such things) when he says he committed adultery because of his great love of America. As Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace told the former Speaker, “My wife would never buy that one.”

I believe fervently in forgiveness and in redemption, but Newt has it all backward.

… As my wise-beyond-his-years younger son says, “Any man who would deliberately cheat on the person in this world whom he supposedly cares for most will not think twice about cheating on me, whom he has never met.”

All he had to sincerely say was, “I was wrong, I am sorry,” and he might have had a chance with sensible conservatives (a usually redundant term). But because of his disgusting excuse-making, Newt Gingrich is simply unacceptable. Period.

So now it’s “Not This Mitt Again,” and “Not This Newt — Ever.”

Next …

We’re not looking for “simply unacceptable.” We’d prefer “Simply Irresistible” (in a political sense; good song, too-suggestive video).

Establishment Press Virtually Ignores Lautenberg’s ‘These People Don’t Deserve the Freedoms’ Comment

On Friday, Steven Ertelt at Life News, with video backup provided by prolife protesters who were on hand, relayed something New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg said at a pro-Planned Parenthood rally in Englewood, New Jersey in response to the protesters:

They want other people not to be able to have their own opinions. These people (referring to the pro-life advocates) don’t deserve the freedoms in the Constitution, but we’ll give it to them anyway.

So how did the establishment press cover Lautenberg’s tyranny-supportive remarks?

I found three reporters for two news organizations who appear to have been on hand for Lautenberg’s appearance. Two of those reporters did not report the above remarks. One relayed “these people don’t deserve the freedoms in the Constitution,” and framed it as applying to “Tea Party Republicans.”

An unbylined report at New York City’s CBS radio affiliate WINS (“Lautenberg Leads Rally Supporting Federal Funds For Planned Parenthood”) carried the following:

Dueling protests brought out passionate pro-life advocates and Planned Parenthood supporters to Englewood, New Jersey Tuesday morning.

Decked out in pink, proponents of Planned Parenthood demanded that funding for the organization continue. They were led by Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who in a news release said he was “committed to leading the charge in the Senate to protect women from the Republicans in Congress who are trying to take away their access to health care services.”

… Sen. Lautenberg, booed by protesters against funding for Planned Parenthood, egged on his opponents, who he characterized as “Tea Party Republicans” with an “extremist ideology.”

“Let’s hear their boos against cancer screening — hey where are they so quiet,” Lautenberg said. “Taken an Aspirin, think about this and maybe you’ll feel better in the morning.”

How dignified. (/sarc)

At New Jersey Media Group’s NJ.com on Wednesday (“Battle over Planned Parenthood”), Staff Writer Mary Jo Layton’s reported that the groundswell of support for the organization was less than overwhelming, and cast pro-lifers as the bad guys:

U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg and other Planned Parenthood supporters urged Congress to continue federal funding for the organization at a spirited rally in Englewood where abortion foes tried to shout down several speakers.

The rally drew nearly 100 supporters, who wore pink shirts and stood in front of a pink megabus, part of a national “Truth Tour” launched by the nation’s largest provider of reproductive health care to battle the budget cuts.

About 40 antiabortion protesters shouted “baby killers” and “lies, lies” as people spoke.

“Planned Parenthood is under attack by Tea Party Republicans who have put their extremist ideology above women’s health,” Lautenberg said while several antiabortion protesters booed him and shouted “Shame on you, Lautenberg.”

Planned Parenthood does not spend federal money on abortion services, said Michele Jaker, executive director of the Planned Parenthood Affiliates of New Jersey. Abortions are provided at three of the 29 Planned Parenthood clinics in New Jersey. The organization does not provide abortions in North Jersey. (Sidebar: “Clinics” are not part of the “organization”? If it’s even so, why does it matter? — Ed.)

Other North Jersey legislators who spoke in support of Planned Parenthood were state Sen. Robert Gordon, D-Fair Lawn, Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, D-Englewood, and Assemblywoman Connie Wagner, D-Paramus.

A separate NJ.com report by Mike Curley (“Senator leads rally for Planned Parenthood in Englewood”) captured one of Lautenberg’s most controversial statements, as well as a couple of others (bolds are mine):

Sen. Frank Lautenberg led a rally on Tuesday morning along with other officials, including Assembly Woman Valerie Huttle, to support Planned Parenthood and to urge Congress to continue providing federal funding for women’s health services.

… More than 100 people gathered outside the Planned Parenthood office on North Van Brunt Street, many in support, while others came out to protest.

Those in support waved pink signs, focusing on the organization’s services for women’s health, including cancer screenings, breast exams and birth control. Those in opposition held signs decrying the center’s abortion services. The critics shouted throughout the rally, accusing the speakers of lying and demanding they “stop killing babies.”

Huttle responding to the protestors, said, “I can scream louder than you, gentlemen.”

She thanked Lautenberg for bringing attention to the “assault on family planning.”

Lautenberg, who spoke after Huttle, said that the Tea Party movement has “declared war on women,” adding they were lying when they said the issue was about the budget. He said the Tea Party Republicans “don’t deserve the rights in the constitution.”

Lautenberg said they were putting ideologies above women’s health, and he was counting on the peoples’ support to “defeat the toxic Tea Republicans in the War on Women.”

It seems that Democrats believe it’s preferable to tag opponents, in this case pro-life protesters, as “Tea Party Republicans” — no matter what their cause or possible party affiliation.

Thus, two of the three reports cited above ignored Lautenberg’s most toxic comment, while the third ignored Lautenberg’s intensely arrogant “but we’ll give it to them anyway.” Last time I checked, freedom wasn’t something Lautenberg, Democrats, or abortion supporters can give or take away.

What Curley did capture should have made the establishment press’s newsworthiness cut; it hasn’t. They don’t even have the excuse that only non-media people captured what Lautenberg said. Searches on Lautenberg’s last name at the Associated Press’s home site, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times return no relevant results. A March 21-28 Google News search, sorted by date, on “Lautenberg Planned Parenthood” (not in quotes) returned seven results at about 1:00 p.m. ET (an eighth listing was written in advance of Lautenberg’s appearance). Besides the four already cited above, there are posts at American Thinker and FavStocks which captured the senator’s “don’t deserve the freedoms” remark, and a link to a comment page at Mary Jo Layton’s NJ.com article. Not captured in the search: Real Clear Politics is carrying the video.

Lautenberg’s remarks, if instead said by a Republican or conservative about his or her opponents, would have become prominent national news in less than a millisecond.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.