June 21, 2011

AP Miscasts NY State Same-Sex Marriage Bill Status, Calls Common Cause Official a ‘Good Government Advocate’

map-new-york-stateBizzyBlog-only Front-end Activism Note: Yours truly believes that legalizing same-sex marriage is an unwise, immoral, and dangerous societal choice, and that any attempts to legalize it should involve statewide general-election referenda. The issue is far too important to be left to the whims of state legislatures and agenda-driven (often personal agenda-driven) governors. Those who oppose the same-sex marriage legalization law New York State is attempting to pass should go to this post at the American Life League for information on who to contact and other actions to take.

While I’m on the topic, Mitt Romney’s unilateral imposition of same-sex marriage on the people of Massachusetts when he was Governor is why yours truly characterized him as objectively unfit in December 2007. Sensible, Constitution-loving conservatives need to know the story of what Romney did. He cannot be allowed to become the country’s next president.

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The headline at Michael Gormley’s Associated Press story on the status of New York State’s legislation legalizing same-sex marriage (“NY GOP tables gay marriage; showdown looms”) does not reflect the bill’s status in the legislative process as described in his underlying report.

Additionally, Gormley had either the ignorance or the gall to characterize an official with Common Cause, an organization whose leadership and national governing board comprise a virtual leftist Who’s Who, as a “good government advocate.” Gosh, the people at Heritage are also “good government advocates.” Does anyone think they’ll live to see an AP reporter describe any Heritage official in such terms? (To be clear, the wire service shouldn’t do that in describing leftist or conservative officials.)

Here are excerpts from from Gormley’s report (bolds and numbered tags are mine):

After a day of more closed-door negotiations, New York’s Senate left unsettled a bill to legalize gay marriage, setting up a pivotal showdown Wednesday as lawmakers look to end the legislative session and national groups look for a sign of things to come on the divisive issue.

The vote in the New York legislature is seen as a critical moment in the national debate over same-sex marriage. [1]

The Assembly has already passed Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s bill, and the issue appears to be one vote shy from approval in the Senate, if the Republican caucus which mostly opposes gay marriage allows the measure to the floor for a vote.

The effort to legalize same-sex marriage largely stalled two years ago when the state Senate voted it down. Since then, the movement has failed in Maryland, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. Advocates hope a “yes” vote in New York will jumpstart the effort.

Susan Lerner, a good government advocate from the group Common Cause, said this year’s debate has attracted more attention than any social issue since the abortion fights of the 1970s. [2]

… On Tuesday, Albany’s backroom dealing cleared the way for the possible Wednesday vote.
After an expected marathon session Tuesday to pass a mega deal involving tax, tuition and other issues, the Republican-led Senate now will be able to focus on whether to release a gay marriage bill to the floor for a vote. [3]

Negotiations continue over additional religious protections that some undecided Republicans have sought, and progress appears to have been made in closed-door talks.

… Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Iowa and the District of Columbia allow gay marriage. Of them, all but Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., allow at least limited religious exemptions.

Notes:

  • [1] — Gosh, dozens of states have had public referenda on the matter, and to my knowledge, every one has rejected legalizing same-sex marriage. This would include California, where the losers, as is the habit of leftist losers in the Golden State, are attempting to overturn the expressed will of the majority who cast ballots in 2010. Although I may have missed it, I don’t recall that an AP reporter has ever characterized any of those votes as “critical.”
  • [2] — The AP’s complimentary description of Common Cause is disgracefully biased and arguably inaccurate, at least if one believes that a “good government” is one that follows its nation’s Constitution. Common Cause is better described, as Chris Berg did at BigGovernment.com in April, as a “Free Speech for Me, But Not For Thee” group.

    The group bitterly opposed the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, where the Court’s majority ruled that “corporate funding of independent political broadcasts in candidate elections cannot be limited because of the First Amendment.”

    In February, at an event with which Common Cause was associated, protesters, as originally reported at BigGovernment.com and eventually carried at Politico, called “for the lynching of conservative Supreme Court justices,” and made “inflammatory and threatening comments about Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, as well as Thomas’s wife, Ginni Thomas.” Dan Riehl at Big Government noted that Common Cause’s after-the-fact attempts to distance itself from what was said ring hollow: “a review of the official event video proves that Common Cause actually worked to inspire such hate through the selection of official speakers. They cannot simply disown it now.”

  • [3] — How the above description of the legislation’s status can be twisted into the AP headline’s “GOP Tables Gay Marriage” is a complete mystery.

The AP’s headline and Gormley’s report seem to be more about making Republicans look bad and backward — after all, if Common Cause is for “good government,” the GOP and opponents of same-sex marriage in general must be for “bad government — than it is about covering what’s really happening in the Empire State’s legislature.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Another Obamacare ‘Twist,’ and Another AP Failure to Admit That Almost No One Read or Understood the Bill

ObamacareIn the run-up to the passage of Obamacare in March 2010, Nancy Pelosi infamously told a friendly audience: “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”

Fifteen months later, we still haven’t learned everything about a bill which no honest congressperson or senator can claim to have read and fully understood.

Today’s “discovery” is that some couples in their early 60s earning up to $64,000 a year can qualify for Medicaid. As has become establishment press custom since Obamacare’s passage, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar at the Associated Press reports on the “anomaly,” without getting to its root cause, namely that nobody who voted for the 2000-page legislation knew it was there:

President Barack Obama’s health care law would let several million middle-class people get nearly free insurance meant for the poor, a twist government number crunchers say they discovered only after the complex bill was signed.

The change would affect early retirees: A married couple could have an annual income of about $64,000 and still get Medicaid, said officials who make long-range cost estimates for the Health and Human Services department.

Up to 3 million more people could qualify for Medicaid in 2014 as a result of the anomaly. That’s because, in a major change from today, most of their Social Security benefits would no longer be counted as income for determining eligibility. It might be compared to allowing middle-class people to qualify for food stamps.

Readers will be displeased to know that some leftists and Democrats predictably consider this a feature, not a bug, as Alonso-Zaldivar later explains:

Indeed, administration officials and senior Democratic lawmakers say it’s not a loophole but the result of a well-meaning effort to simplify rules for deciding who will get help with insurance costs under the new health care law. Instead of a hodgepodge of rules, there will be one national policy.

“This simplification will stop people from falling into coverage gaps and may cause some to be newly eligible for Medicaid and others to no longer qualify,” said Brian Cook, spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

… Some early retirees who worked all their lives may not want to be associated with a health care program for the poor, but others might see it as a relatively painless way to satisfy the new law’s requirement that all Americans carry medical insurance starting in 2014. It would help tide them over until they turn 65 and qualify for Medicare.

… A spokeswoman for the Senate Finance Committee, which wrote much of the health care law, said if the situation does become a problem there’s plenty of time to fix it later.

“These changes don’t take effect until 2014, so we have time to review all possible cases to ensure Medicaid meets its mission of serving only the neediest Americans,” said Erin Shields.

Sure, Erin. I’m certain that we won’t hear a peep from any of the three million “inadvertently” eligible people who are about to board the gravy train. I’m sure AARP and other alleged representatives of seniors will let a repair bill pass without any objection whatsoever. Oh, and those “senior Democratic lawmakers” who in the story essentially said “Oops, but that’s good news for us, because it creates more dependents” will be the first on the repair bill bandwagon. (/sarc).

Everyone who voted for Obamacare should be asked by their constituents why they didn’t see this coming. The only honest answer is: “I didn’t know it was in there because I didn’t read it” — or, in rare instances, “I didn’t know it was in there because I didn’t understand it.” If you didn’t read it or understand what you read, you either shouldn’t have voted, or should have voted “no.”

The fact is that most Americans would agree with the idea that anyone who is willing to vote for pivotal legislation they have failed to read or understand should not be serving in public office, up to and including the aforementioned Ms. Pelosi. This explains why the AP and the rest of the establishment press will never, ever acknowledge how and why Obamacare passed.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Tom’s, Greg’s and dscott’s Links (062111, Afternoon)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 2:45 pm

(Links are mine unless otherwise noted; unquoted commentary is all mine)

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(via Greg) From Reuters: “Gates warns Congress not to cut off Libya funds.”

Telling excerpt (internal link added by me):

The New York Times reported in its Saturday editions that Obama rejected the views of top lawyers at the Pentagon and the Justice Department when he decided he had the legal authority to continue U.S. military involvement in Libya without congressional authorization.

According to the Times, Obama’s argument, which has thin support within the administration, is that:

… the United States military’s activities fell short of “hostilities.” Under that view, Mr. Obama needed no permission from Congress to continue the mission unchanged.

Geez, I hate what leftists do to the dictionary. Hostility means: “enmity; antagonism; unfriendliness.” Gaddafi of Libya is an enemy, and we have engaged military forces under NATO whose goal, however ineffectively pursued, is to oust him from power. If that doesn’t demonstrate “antagonism” and “unfriendliness,” I don’t know what does.

This this falls under the War Powers Act isn’t even a close call (the Act may be unconstitutional, but it hasn’t been declared as such, and until it is, it should either be heeded or challenged as unconstitutional; current challenges from Congress relate to whether it is applicable, which is a different issue).

As I asked several days ago, “Who’s the warmonger now?”

Related: Former Obama best bud and presumed still current best bud with Gaddafi Louis Farrakhan is not pleased.

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The Obama administration’s war on Texas is escalating.

Over 20 Texas Congressman signed a letter objecting to an EPA rule which “puts at risk the economic future of power generation and those dependent on affordable electricity in Texas.” Bryan Preston at the PJ Tatler tells us that the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) has objected to “the shutdown of coal-fired plants without any meaningful benefit to the environment.”

As Weasel Zippers says (HT Greg) — “The EPA Wants to Put Its Jackboot on the Neck of the Highly Successful Texas Economy.”

Oh, I almost forgot. Preston tells us that the Lone Star signatories comprise the entire Republican delegation. No Democratic congressman signed on, leading one to conclude that they must be content to be on the sidelines while their state does battle with the leviathan, and to see their constituents potentially suffer.

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Roger Simon at Pajamas Media“Will the Democratic Party Destroy Us All?” The sub-head at the home page: “We are en route to being a pathetic, powerless, overblown Greece, but unlike Greece there is no one who can bail us out.”

From the post: “Why can’t these people wake up? Don’t they have children, grandchildren? Don’t they realize we are going broke?” The answer, Roger, is that collapse would feed the politics of envy and state control like nothing you’ve ever seen — at least in this country.

If the House GOP doesn’t remember that it controls the pursestrings and start exercising its power like it’s do-or-die time — because is it — we’ll be sitting by helplessly hoping against hope that Simon’s question doesn’t answer itself in the next 19 months.

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Flop, Flop, Fizz, FizzAnn Althouse asks: “Whatever Happened to Walkerville?”

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(via Greg) Well-kept media secret: “Beijing battling protest fires on all fronts” — The headline is a bit overdone, but the linked item cites five significant incidents in the country President Barack Obama has often praised.

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California businesses are voting with their feet (HT Carpe Diem via dscott; bold is mine):

From Jan. 1 of this year through this morning, June 16, we (in California) have had 129 disinvestment events occur, an average of 5.4 per week.

  • For all of last year, we saw an average of 3.9 events per week.
  • Comparing this year thus far with 2009, when the total was 51 events, essentially averaging 1 per week, our rate today is more than 5 times what it was then.
  • The same tracking system has been in place throughout the three-year period.

Our losses are occurring at an accelerated rate. Also, no one knows the real level of activity because smaller companies are not required to file layoff notices with the state. A conservative estimate is that only 1 out of 5 company departures becomes public knowledge, which means California may suffer more than 1,000 disinvestment events this year. The capital directed to out-of-state or out-of-country, while difficult to calculate, is nonetheless in the billions of dollars. The top five destinations are (1) Texas, (2) Arizona, (3) Colorado, (4) Nevada and Utah tied; and (5) Virginia and North Carolina tied.

Memo to Ohio Governor John Kasich and Buckeye State development officials: Work of getting Ohio into the the top five.

Michelle Obama Is Shovel-Ready

Filed under: Education,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:06 am

I can’t let this picture go unposted:

http://i739.photobucket.com/albums/xx40/mmatters/MichelleObamaYellowShovel

Caption: “Michelle Obama gets stuck in as she helps to build a Kaboom! playground in Washington DC at Southeast Public Charter School earlier on Wednesday.”

I suspect that a few readers might be able to improve upon that caption.

Pic background: The Obama administration supports public charter schools, and “opposes the creation or expansion of private school voucher programs” in the District of Columbia.

Team Obama Tries to Dodge Blame by Revising History, Redefining ‘Normal’; IBD Refutes

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:22 am

Two of the most annoying aspects of the Obama administration’s economic spin are:

  • The claim that if it weren’t for what it did in early 2010 in passing the stimulus, we would have ended up in a depression.
  • Sympathizers’ assertions that because there has been some kind of fundamental structural change, the bars for such items as “zero unemployment” and achievable economic growth need to be set lower.

As to Item 1, the smart-aleck response would be that despite (or because of) the stimulus, we’re seeing Great Depression references in coverage of chronic/long-term unemployment and African-American joblessness (both links are to CBS News, which occasionally and to its credit seems to have lost the Obama “toe the line” memo) — almost two years after the recession as normal people define it ended.

But more specifically, the worst was over at the end of 2008. Yours truly suggested that this might be the case in mid-December of that year, based primarily on sub-$2 gas prices, historically low interest rates, and tame inflation.

In a Monday Investors Business Daily op-ed, John Merline looked back at what really happened 2-1/2 years ago, and confirmed yours truly’s instincts at the time:

… IBD reviewed records of economic forecasts made just before Obama signed the stimulus bill into law, as well as economic data and monthly stimulus spending data from around that time, and reviews of the stimulus bill itself.

The conclusion is that in claiming to have staved off a Depression, the White House and its supporters seem to be engaging in a bit of historical revisionism.

Economists weren’t predicting a Depression — White House economists forecast in January 2009 that, even without a stimulus, unemployment would top out at just 8.8% — well below the 10.8% peak during the 1981-82 recession, and nowhere near Depression-era unemployment levels.

The same month, the Congressional Budget Office predicted that, absent any stimulus, the recession would end in “the second half of 2009.” The recession officially ended in June 2009, suggesting that the stimulus did not have anything to do with it.

The data weren’t showing it, either — The argument is often made that the recession turned out to be far worse than anyone knew at the time. But various indicators show that the economy had pretty much hit bottom at the end of 2008 — a month before President Obama took office.

Monthly GDP, for example, stopped free-falling in December 2008, long before the stimulus kicked in, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research.

… The stimulus timing is off.

When the recession officially ended in June 2009, just 15% of the stimulus money had gone out the door. And that figure’s likely inflated, since almost a third of the money was in the form of grants to states, which some studies suggest they didn’t spend, but used to pay down debt.

Other programs Obama often touts — Cash for Clunkers, mortgage help, homebuyer tax credits, the auto rescue plans — either came as the recession had ended or was ending or were widely deemed to be busts.

Merline then veers off by claiming that “the stimulus wasn’t up to the task,” and offers arguments made by the insufferable Paul Krugman and (very disappointing) Martin Feldstein that it should have been larger. But then Merline essentially argues with himself by noting that the mid-2008 Bush tax-refund stimulus and a significant portion of TARP’s $700 billion were already in the pipeline, and didn’t accomplish much. Face it, Keynesians: No amount of “stimulus” would have been “up to the task,” because it was the wrong policy prescription in any amount. It depended on misguided estimates of a “multiplier effect” which (even in theory) would only work if unemployment was between 3.0% and 7.5%. It was already at 8.2% and climbing in February 2009.

Spin Item 2 is more irritating than Item 1, because it has the potential to permanently lower expectations and condemn the nation to permanently mediocre economic results. The spin is that unemployment won’t ever get below 6% again, and that it’s unrealistic to expect the economy to grow by 4% per year.

A Monday IBD house editorial took on the unemployment portion of the woe-is-us crowd’s argument:

Is 6% Unemployment As Low As We Can Go?

… Mark Zandi, the widely quoted chief economist at Moody’s Analytics and an adviser to President Obama on stimulus … (recently) estimated that “full employment” — the jobless rate below which inflation begins to rise — is now 6%. A few years ago, economists agreed it was 5% or less.

… this idea lets Washington off too easy.

To begin with, “full employment” — what economists call the Non-accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment, or NAIRU — doesn’t have a single, commonly agreed upon level. One economist thinks it’s 6%, another 7%, another maybe 4.5%. It’s a moving target.

What concerns us is that this will become the new normal. “Nothing can be done,” goes the mantra, “it’s a structural problem. We’ve done all we can.” Well, the “structural problems” were actually caused by bad policies. Zandi, a Democrat, should know this.

… the real reason we have high unemployment is because of Washington’s costly repeated mistakes, including $700 billion in TARP spending, a regulatory clampdown on banks and Wall Street, $830 billion in “stimulus” and $2 trillion in Fed money-printing.

Undo those mistakes, and the economy will get better, businesses will hire and that 6% “full employment” rate will magically shrink.

… So what can we do to end this structural impasse? Cut spending, for one. Our government now sucks up $1.5 trillion a year to fund its deficits — money that could be creating millions of new jobs in the private sector.

For another, costly regulations, new health care mandates and the possibility of much higher taxes have businesses feeling besieged. Stop the assault on profit makers and job creators and they’ll hire again.

America’s problems creating jobs aren’t a result of structural shifts in the economy that no one could foresee. They’re a result of bad policies, plain and simple.

I don’t see how anyone can think that the “NAIRU” rate is more than 4%. Twice in the past 15 years, the economy has had an unemployment rate at or barely above that level without significant inflation. In the 24 months that ended in November 2007, unemployment was less than 5%, with the lowest level reached being 4.4%. The same thing occurred during the 50 months that ended in August 2001; that era’s prosperity, largely driven by current Ohio governor/then- Congressman John Kasich, saw unemployment stay below 4.5% for 31 of those months. Why, other than the government getting in the way and screwing things up, is 4% unemployment no longer achievable?

The story is the same with economic growth. An annualized 4% should be the minimum acceptable during normal times; coming out of a recession, the minimum should be 5.5%. During six post-recession quarters under Ronald Reagan (Q1-1983 to Q2-1984), annualized GDP growth averaged over 7.5%. If Team Obama believes the country is going to accept annual growth of 1.5% – 3.0% as far as the eye can see (still) coming out of a recession, it’s deluded.

Positivity: Florida woman reflects on letters received from Mother Teresa

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:57 am

From St. Augustine, Florida:

Jun 19, 2011 / 01:15 pm (CNA).- Nearly 20 years ago, St. Augustine, Fla. resident Jean Hinson never imagined that something as simple as mailing a get well card would change her life. Yet the mere cost of a 29-cent postage stamp touched the life of the recipient of that card – Mother Teresa of Calcutta – so much that the two began exchanging letters over the next few months. Looking back on the experience, Jean, who is now 83, calls it “priceless.”

Jean knew Mother Teresa like most of the world – from afar, learning only bits and pieces about her life and ministry through books and articles. She had a great admiration for her tireless work with the poor and the sick.

On a rare visit to the United States in January 1992, Mother Teresa was hospitalized in La Jolla, Calf. with pneumonia and congestive heart failure. After reading the report in the St. Augustine Record, Jean felt she should mail a card to the hospital in La Jolla hoping to brighten the day of Mother Teresa. Less than a month later, Jean was nonetheless overjoyed when she received a reply and the first of several letters from her new “pen pal.”

“I thought to myself ‘I bet no person of her stature ever receives a get well card,’” said Jean. “People are sometimes hesitant to send anything to a person with celebrity-like status. But I found a card for her and wrote a short note telling her how much she meant to the world. I forgot about it and never dreamed I would hear from her.”

Jean almost threw the envelope away, dismissing it as another relief organization seeking money. But when she saw the Missionaries of Charity on the return address, she knew that someone from Mother Teresa’s religious order had seen the card. When she opened the letter, she got an even bigger surprise. …

Go here for the rest of the story.