May 25, 2011

My Sentiments Exactly

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:18 pm

Captured at Patterico’s Place, this thought from Aaron Worthing on the gaffe of the year so far:

PattericoOnObamaSigning2008

Let’s not limit it to women. Let’s add “or Tim Pawlenty, or Herman Cain, or any other Republican or conservative with a pulse.”

More here.

It’s 2011, not 2008, bud. Jet lag is not a legitimate excuse for that. I’d rather not imagine what is.

____________________________________________

UPDATE: The competition for Gaffe of the Year is intense, as this one from yesterday demonstrates. John Kerry “botches jokes,” Barack Obama botches toasts:

If Bush had done what Obama did, the press would be treating it as an international scandal.

Somebody also need to tell me when bare-shouldered dresses made of what might as well be opaque cellophane became all the rage in formal company. (And wouldn’t you like to know what Michelle Obama was thinking at the moment captured in the graphic?)

More Evidence That Cain Is Able

From the Daily Caller (links were in original):

Fresh off his presidential campaign announcement Sunday, Herman Cain sought to push back against criticism from some prominent GOP opinion leaders. Karl Rove, for example, called him a “talk radio guy” and Charles Krauthammer said his candidacy was for “entertainment.”

“Karl Rove, I respect. Krauthammer, I have a lot of respect for — he’s one of the thoughtful conservatives out there,” Cain told The Daily Caller.  “My response is … I’m not running to become president of the establishment. I am running to become president of the people of the United States of America.”

Perfect. Response.

It’s sad that after two years of the Tea Party movement, establishment people like Rove (who has worked to co-opt instead of advance the movement) and conservative establishment commentators like Krauthammer (who, when it comes to assessing political candidates has acquired a serious case of Beltaway disease) still don’t get it.

If a non-establishment candidate becomes the nominee, history will never, ever forgive either of these two if they choose to undermine that person in the general election.

Name That Party: AP Fails to Tag Nearly Indicted John Edwards as a Dem (UPDATE: AP Appears to Have Tagged and Pulled; Also See BB Updates)

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:15 pm

namethatpartyUPDATE: As seen here, the very earliest AP reports appear to have identified Edwards as a Democrat (the age of the item may not correspond with when the AP subscriber actually received it), but the latest ones, including this item found at AP’s home site (as of 12:59 p.m.), do not.

___________________________________

In their 11:29 a.m. report (saved here in case it gets updated, and for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes) on the apparently imminent indictment of 2004 and 2008 Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, Associated Press reporters Mike Baker and Gary D. Robertson did not identify Edwards as a Democrat, nor did they identify any of his campaign associates (e.g., Andrew Young, Fred Baron) as Democrats. No form of the word “Democrat” appears in the report as it was posted at 11:29 a.m.

Here are the first seven paragraphs of the AP pair’s effort:

AP source: Edwards could be indicted within days

Federal prosecutors have completed a wide-ranging investigation into John Edwards’ political dealings and could indict the two-time presidential candidate within days, a person familiar with the matter said Wednesday.

Edwards could still strike a plea deal to avoid an indictment, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the case’s sensitivity.

Federal investigators have been probing Edwards for two more than years. Their interest has spanned much of Edwards’ political career, looking into issues such as whether he did anything improper during his time in the U.S. Senate. And it looked into a network of organizations connected to Edwards, including a nonprofit, political action committees and a so-called 527 political group.

Much of the investigation, however, focused on money that eventually went to keep mistress Rielle Hunter in hiding along with former campaign aide Andrew Young, who claimed paternity of Hunter’s child in 2007 so that Edwards could continue his White House campaign without the affair tarnishing his reputation. Investigators have been looking at whether those funds should have been considered campaign donations since they arguably aided his presidential bid.

Justice Department officials in Washington had been reviewing the case in recent weeks.

The U.S. attorney in Raleigh declined to comment Wednesday. An Edwards spokeswoman did not immediately return a message seeking comment, though his attorneys have said they are confident the former North Carolina senator did not violate campaign finance laws.

Young has said that Edwards agreed in the middle of 2007 to solicit money directly from Rachel “Bunny” Mellon, the 100-year-old widow of banking heir Paul Mellon. Young has said he received hundreds of thousands of dollars in checks from Mellon, some of them hidden in boxes of chocolate.

A few hours earlier, though it did take them a while, and they did so a bit cryptically, ABC News at least tagged Edwards as a Democrat in their report’s fifth paragraph when they referred to “his pursuit of the 2008 Democratic nomination for president.” They could easily have done so in the report’s first sentence (“The United States Department of Justice has green-lighted the prosecution of former presidential candidate John Edwards for alleged violations of campaign laws while he tried to cover up an extra-marital affair, ABC News has learned”).

Baker and Robertson have blatantly and inarguably violated of AP’s stylebook standard (cited here and on several other occasions) for identification of party affiliation, which states:

Let relevance be the guide in determining whether to include a political figure’s party affiliation in a story. Party affiliation is pointless in some stories, such as an account of a governor accepting a button from a poster child.

It will occur naturally in many political stories. For stories between these extremes, include party affiliation if readers need it for understanding or are likely to be curious about what it is.

For the excuse-makers: Don’t try the “everybody knows” garbage around here. Even if that’s true now, part of the reason for failing to tag Edwards as a Dem would appear to be the hope that as time goes by, he’ll be forgotten, and future researchers into political crime and corruption won’t cite him as a Democratic Party, example because they won’t find him in related Internet searches.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

__________________________________

BizzyBlog Update: I can’t prove it with screen shots, but an earlier version of the first paragraph at this Google AP item referred to Edwards as “the two-time Democratic presidential candidate.” When I refreshed the item, the word “Democratic” disappeared from view.

BizzyBlog Update 2: To those who argue that Edwards’s picture caption IDs him as a Democrat — sorry, that doesn’t compensate for the non-presence of any variation of the word “Democrat” in the hundreds of words in Baker and Robertson’s story as it is currently being carried.

BizzyBlog Update 3: As just before 3:00 p.m., these searches brought forth the following results –

  • Google Web, in quotes, “the two-time Democratic presidential candidate within days” — 470 results.
  • Google Web, in quotes “the two-time presidential candidate within days” — 1,210 results.
  • Google News, in quotes, “the two-time Democratic presidential candidate within days” — 64 results (I should also note that the vast majority of the news sources are Canadian).
  • Google News, in quotes “the two-time presidential candidate within days” — 166 results.

Your results will vary if you look at these searches much later than 3 p.m. on Wednesday. I intend to come back to this later this evening and see if/how the balance has shifted.

Also, I believe readers will find that the actual stories found at many if not most of the Google Web and News results containing the word “Democratic” do not now contain the word, i.e., the AP has scrubbed the word, but they can’t change how the items originally appeared when Google’s web and news crawlers first found them.

BizzyBlog Update 4: Well now, that’s somwhat better

APonEdwardsImpendingIndictment052511at655pm

It’s weird how they go back to 2004 in the second paragraph without bringing up 2008.

Yours truly won’t take credit for the change, but … it is a heckuva coincidence.

Gangster Government and Its Economic Shadow

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:55 am

“Gangster Government.”

God bless Michael Barone for formulating the term when he saw what was done to certain disfavored creditors during Chrysler’s bankruptcy proceeding, and continuing to call it out when he sees it.

He sees it again in Obamacare’s waivers, the IRS’s sudden application of gift tax laws to political contributions, and the National Labor Relations Board’s unprecedented action against Boeing for daring to want to expand in South Carolina instead of Washington State:

In his new book “The Origins of Political Order,” Francis Fukuyama identifies the chief building blocks of liberal democracy as a strong central state, a society strong enough to hold the state accountable and — equally crucial — the rule of law.

One basic principle of the rule of law is that laws apply to everybody. If the sign says “No Parking,” you’re not supposed to park there even if you’re a pal of the alderman.

Another principle of the rule of law is that government can’t make up new rules to help its cronies and hurt its adversaries except through due process, such as getting a legislature to pass a new law.

The Obamacare waiver process appears to violate that first rule. Two other recent Obama administration actions appear to violate the second.

One example is the National Labor Relations Board general counsel’s action to prevent Boeing from building a $2 billion assembly plant for the 787 Dreamliner in South Carolina, which has a right-to-work law barring compulsory union membership. The NLRB says Boeing has to assemble the planes in non-right-to-work Washington state.

“I don’t agree,” says William Gould IV, NLRB chairman during the Clinton years. “The Boeing case is unprecedented.”

The other example is the Internal Revenue Service’s attempt to levy a gift tax on donors to certain 501(c)(4) organizations that just happen to have spent money to elect Republicans.

They look like examples of crony capitalism, bailout favoritism and gangster government.

One thing they don’t look like is the rule of law.

That’s because they’re not. The three examples cited and so many other examples of Gangter Government largely explain what economist left-leaning economist Robert Samuelson somehow cannot comprehend. Samuelson doesn’t understand why, with so many positive factors in place (I think he exaggerates, but work with me on this), the economy isn’t growing faster. In a syndicated Washington Post op-ed this past weekend, he wrapped with the following paragraphs:

The greatest barrier to recovery now could be psychology — stubborn gloom — which conditions household and business spending decisions.

There is a curious role reversal. Foolish optimism led to the financial crisis and recession by assuming things would work out for the best.

Now, reflexive pessimism weakens growth by ignoring good news or believing it can’t last.

Some of “the reflexive pessimism” is surely related to tangible problems like high energy costs and the potential inflationary monster Ben Bernanke may be creating. But those Keynesian, consumption-based explanations are far too narrow.

I maintain that the bulk of the “reflexive pessimism” is on the supply side of the equation.

It’s there when employers decide to hire temporary instead of permanent help, or decide not to hire at all, because (among many other potentially negative factors) they don’t know when an arbitrary government action or bureaucratic decision will come along which will either punish them, reward a competitor, or do both.

It’s there when firms’ owners and/or their potential/current investors decide not to launch a new idea or product line because its market acceptance might run afoul of a currently entrenched, crony capitalism-favored firm. Imagine you have an idea for an energy-saving light bulb that will eliminate the hazardous waste problems with current CFL bulbs. It’s hard enough to beat General Electric on a level playing field. When you also realize that your invention will cause you to run afoul of the special relationship between GE’s Jeff Inmelt and Barack Obama, you’re likely to say, “Never mind.”

It’s there when you want to expand your business if you operate in a high-cost, union-contract situation. If you can’t make money or achieve the kind of return on investment shareholders who are risking their capital desire in your home state, are you going to try to expand into a state where labor costs and management flexibility are greater and risk butting heads with the NLRB? Chances are, you won’t — and you’ll decide not to expand.

A government descending ever more deeply into lawlessness and abuse of the law freezes an economy’s players in place. Rather than set their sights high, its players muddle through and keep their heads down, hoping to escape the notice of those with the power to harm them. What Samuelson is really seeing when he cites “stubborn gloom” and “reflexive pessimism” is really something I’ll call “the Gangster Government” effect, which for starters I’ll define, with etymological credit to frequent commenter Joe C (who has defined “the Democratic Effect“), as “the rational response by firms and individuals to a business environment featuring government hostility and lawlessness, arbitrary and virtually insurmountable regulation, litigation, and current and/or threatened punitive taxation.”

The only way to get the kind of growth Samuelson and everyone else would like to see is to rein in this country’s Gangster Government. More than likely, that will involve removing the gangsters from power.

____________________________________________

UPDATE: The results of Gangster Government can be seen in a term which is frequently employed around here — The POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy.

Positivity: Pope’s speech to space station shows human side of space exploration

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:58 am

From Vatican City:

May 21, 2011 / 04:02 am

Pope Benedict XVI’s planned satellite address to the crew of the International Space Station is a reminder of the humanity of astronauts and of the God-given curiosity that drives mankind to explore, Vatican astronomer Br. Guy Consolmagno, S.J., said.

“The astronauts are not just robots collecting data; they are people, people like us. And we human beings are motivated to study the universe, and to live and explore in new and exciting places, precisely because of our very human desire to know about and enjoy this creation,” Br. Consolmagno told CNA on May 20.

The Pope’s address reminds us of “the wonderful human side” of exploring astronomy and space, he added.

Pope Benedict will address the space station at 7:11 a.m. Eastern Time on May 21. He will particularly address the two Italian astronauts, Paolo Nespoli and Roberto Vittori. Vittori arrived at the station on the U.S. space shuttle Endeavour, which launched its final mission on May 16.

The event will be streamed live on the internet at the Vatican Radio-CTV website.

Br. Consolmagno said the broadcast had precedent in Pope Paul VI’s direct television linkup to the Apollo 11 astronauts who landed on the moon in 1969.

Though the Vatican astronomer was unsure whether the message was delivered directly to the astronauts, the Pope’s speech read:

“Honor, greetings, and blessings to you, conquerors of the Moon, pale lamp of our nights and our dreams! Bring to her, with your living presence, the voice of the Spirit, a hymn to God our Creator and our Father.

“We are close to you, with our good wishes and all our prayers. Together with the whole Catholic Church, Pope Paul the Sixth greets you.”

The Jesuit astronomer noted Pope Benedict has previously discussed his predecessor, Sylvester II, an astronomer and notable mathematician of the tenth century. Sylvester introduced much Arabic knowledge into the Christian world, including Arabic numerals, the abacus and the armillary sphere.

Br. Consolmagno explained that the desire to know and explore is at its base “a hunger for God.”

“Curiosity is a gift of God, and the ability to satisfy that curiosity with our ability to do science is a particularly human gift,” he said. “St. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Romans that from the beginning of time, God reveals Himself to us in the things he has created. …

Go here for the rest of the story.