June 27, 2011

Name That Party: Blago’s Dem Affiliation Left Out of Seven AP Stories (See Update)

namethatpartyEarlier today, a grand jury convicted former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat, on 17 of 20 counts of corruption. 11 of of the guilty verdicts related to attempts to profit from the “sale” of the U.S. Senate seat Barack Obama vacated when he became president.

At USA Today’s On Deadline blog (as of its 5:33 p.m. update), Michael Winter failed to identify Blagojevich or any other politician involved as a Democrat. Neither did the video found at Winter’s article. This is not surprising, because the video came from the “see no evil Democrat” Associated Press.

In six items all carrying today’s date found at the AP’s main site in a search on the former governor’s last name at 8:15 p.m. ET, the wire service not only failed to tag Blago as a Democrat, it failed to tag anyone as Democrat. Here’s the list:

APsearchOnBlago062711at815pm

Related links are here, here, here, here, here, and here. They are saved at my web host for fair use, future reference and discussion purposes here, here, here, here, here, and here. (Update: The 7:47 p.m. story above by Michael Tarm and Karen Hawkins was updated at 9:41 p.m., and now contains the following text at the eighth paragraph: “The 54-year-old Democrat, who has been free on bond since shortly after his arrest, spoke only briefly with reporters as he left the courthouse, saying he was disappointed and stunned by the verdict.” As far as I’m concerned, that’s way too little, way too late.)

In the second-most blatant example in the AP’s string of “Name That Party” failures (though the competition was fierce; wait until you see the most blatant example found in a seventh story which was not carried nationally), the item containing others’ comments on the verdict carries the following quotes from Illinois Senator Mark Kirk and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn:

APtagsKirkAsGOPbutNotQuinnAsDem062711

In mild surprises, both the New York Times and Reuters tagged Blagojevich as a Democrat in the first sentence of their respective stories’ second paragraph. Reuters’s description of Blago as a “two-term Democrat” isn’t correct, because he didn’t finish his second term, unlike others who routinely receive the description before their terms are up. “Twice-elected” is the proper term for Blago.

But let’s get back to the self-described Essential Global News Network. Illinois, with its sad history of bipartisan corruption, is an interesting test of the AP’s stated commitment to fairness, the consistency of that commitment over the years, and its claim to play no favorites.

Illinois has had three governors convicted of crimes both during and after their terms in office since the 1960s:

  • Otto Kerner, Democrat (1961-1969) — On February 19, 1973, four years after he left office but while he was serving as a federal judge, “Kerner was convicted on 17 counts of bribery, conspiracy, perjury, and related charges” relating to his time as governor.
  • Daniel Walker, Democrat (1969-1973) — “In 1987, he was convicted of improprieties related to the First American Savings & Loan Association of Oak Brook” unrelated to his time in office.
  • George Ryan, Republican (1999-2003) — On April 17, 2006, he was convicted on 20 of 22 counts of “racketeering, bribery, extortion, money laundering and tax fraud” which occurred while he was governor.

As to Kerner, the results of a Google News Archive search on “otto kerner convicted associated press democrat” (not in quotes) indicate that the AP’s coverage carried at the Wall Street Journal on February 20, 1973 at least used the word “Democrat”; it’s not possible to know whether Kerner was tagged, but it seems likely, especially since he was appointed to the Federal Appeals Court by Democratic president Lyndon Baines Johnson, and was “the first active member of the federal Court of Appeals ever to be convicted in criminal trial.” The New York Times’s coverage of Kerner’s conviction (a portion of which is shown here) noted in its very first sentence that until his conviction, he “had been unusual in the rough-and-tumble world of Illinois Democratic politics — a product of the Cook County machine who had never been touched by scandal.”

As to Walker, the AP’s unbylined coverage carried at the New York Times on August 6, 1987 tagged him as a Democrat in its third paragraph.

Ryan is an interesting case, because although a Republican, he gained much sympathy from the establishment press for his outspoken advocacy for ending the death penalty, and because, as the AP’s coverage of his conviction noted, just before leaving office in 2003 he “commuted the death sentences of 167 inmates to life in prison and pardoned four others.” One AP item by Michael Robinson tagged Ryan as “long one of the most powerful Republicans in Illinois” in its sixth paragraph, while another waited until the 24th of 26 paragraphs to label him as “the Republican governor (who) declared a moratorium on executions in Illinois.”

Now for the most blatant example of “Hide Blago’s Party” — In a a historical compilation (“Sorry history of Illinois governors”) of previous governors convicted of crimes which is apparently being published regionally (it’s not at the AP’s national site as of 10:00 p.m. ET), the wire service opens by saying that “Illinois governors have (a) long history of legal trouble. Rod Blagojevich is just the latest example.” It doesn’t tag Blago as a Democrat. The report then proceeds to list every other previously convicted governor — and his party.

As I have noted so many times, the AP’s Stylebook, at least as of 2008 (there’s no substantive reason why it should change), had the following to say about when and how to report a person’s political party affiliation:

Party Affiliation – 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.

The Associated Press has ignored its own guidance, from all appearances deliberately. These actions make a mockery of the wire service’s stated commitment to fairness, and its claim to play no favorites.

Accordingly, as I did in 2008 in connection with another “Name That Party” matter, I’m going to strongly suggest that the AP purge its current Stylebook guidance, and, as it relates to Democrats, replace it with something resembling the following:

Party Affiliation – To foster the impression that corruption, venality, and hypocrisy are at worst minor annoyances in the Democratic Party, and to minimize their long-term search engine visibility, the party affiliation of any Democratic politician or official facing legal or personal problems either should not be disclosed, or should be deferred until later paragraphs.

In those cases where disclosure of the affected Democrat’s party affiliation is unavoidable, the party reference should be made in a manner that is as vague, confusing, and/or misleading as possible.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Pethokoukis: Don’t Go Wobbly on Taxes, GOP (and the Real Answers No One Will Touch)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:35 pm

The Reuters blogger cites three reasons:

  1. The last thing the economy needs is a tax hike. If the economy was too weak to absorb a tax hike last December – when the White House and Congress agreed to extend all the Bush tax cuts for two more years – its health is even worse today.
  2. Tax revenue isn’t the problem. Spending is.
  3. The key to boosting tax revenue is faster economic growth.

Understanding the third reason is critical:

USadjAdtuals2007to2010andProj2011to2013

As seen in the chart, the economy generated about $2.6 trillion in tax collections in fiscal 2007 and fiscal 2008; fiscal 2008 would have been $100 billion or so higher if presidential candidate Barack Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid hadn’t initiated the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy during the final seven months of the year, deliberately tanking economic expectations and creating unbearable uncertainty with unprecedented election campaign threats of higher taxes, skyrocketing energy prices, and all manner of regulatory mischief.

Take away the uncertainty and regulatory tyranny (which would be the functional equivalent of a significant tax cut in the current circumstances) and at least hold the line on taxes, and 2012 or 2013 collections would at least recover to 2007 or so levels, and after that could possibly leap like a kangaroo on steroids, just like they did from 2003-2007, and from 1983-1991.

The problem is that even if you hold the line on taxes, this administration won’t let go of the induced uncertainty or regulatory tyranny, and the economy won’t generate anywhere the collections needed. The business community has totally lost confidence in the administration’s ability and willingness to let it do what is does best — grow and create jobs. Even if Obama and his administration underwent a complete top-to-bottom capitalism conversion experience, the business community would have a hard time believing it.

The Real Answers No One Will Touch – Because of this, if I were Boehner, I would inform the president that the only way to regain the confidence of the business community would be to agree to a complete rollback of all laws, regulations, and executive orders enacted since it took office, and a concurrent agreement to put in nothing new during the remainder of the president’s term. That includes ditching Obamacare, financial “deform,” all EPA rulings and regs … everything.

Then — and only then — would I agree to cut spending to about $2.9 – $3.0 trillion, about where it was in 2008 after acknowledging increased military, Medicare, and Social Security spending. This would match the kind of money the economy would generate if it weren’t being harassed into submission — and the economy would generate it if Boehner would hold firm on full legal and regulatory rollback. Otherwise, spending will have to be reduced instead to about $2.2 trillion. That’s because as long as the administration’s current mindset remains, $2.2 billion or so is about all the economy is going to generate, and tax increases while the economy is in such a depressed mode are utterly unacceptable (the fiscal 2012 and 2013 collections predictions above are sheer fantasy).

Sadly, there isn’t the political will for these obviously necessary remedies, meaning that we’re more than likely facing another 19 months of national mediocrity — if we survive it.

As Connecticut Nears 7,500 Layoffs, AP Nearly Ignores Over 75 Tax Hikes Effective July 1

ConnecticutSusan Haigh’s report Friday evening on the current status of budget negotiations between Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy and the state’s public-sector unions contains two glaring errors which mar the entire enterprise.

Haigh conveniently withheld the fact that the Nutmeg State’s legislature has already approved $2.6 billion in new taxes over two years until her report’s final paragraph, while giving voice in a much earlier paragraph to an absurd union demand that “big businesses and wealthy taxpayers would be asked to pay more if they agreed to givebacks.” Uh, the taxes have already happened, guys. She also dramatically understated the objections of state residents to the over 75(!) new taxes which have been imposed.

Here are excerpts from Haigh’s hijinks (bolds are mine):

Unions scuttle Conn. budget deal; layoffs eyed

A state employee union vote on Friday scuttled a labor-concessions package that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy was counting on to balance a two-year state budget, setting the stage for cuts that could include thousands of layoffs.

The new Democratic governor, who has prided himself on being more pro-union than some of his Republican colleagues across the country, had offered workers four years of no layoffs in return for a two-year wage freeze and changes to health and retirement benefits. But ultimately there was not enough support to clear the high bar set by union rules to make changes to a coveted, 20-year contract that’s not set to expire until 2017. [1]

With the deal rejected, Malloy said he had no choice but to begin issuing layoff notices to as many as 7,500 employees. He said the number could be higher if there’s a delay.

… The deal reached between Malloy and union leadership was supposed to save $1.6 billion in the two-year, $40.1 billion budget that takes effect on July 1 and covers a $3.3 billion deficit. Malloy has called the General Assembly back to the state Capitol for a special legislative session on Thursday to seek more budget-cutting authority to balance the plan and possibly make cuts.

As of Friday afternoon, more employees – at least 60 percent – had voted in favor of the tentative agreement than opposed it. But the deal died because of the union coalition’s rules, which requires 14 of the 15 unions to support any change to the retirement and health care benefits package that it negotiates. In this case, 11 unions had voted in favor of the agreement while two opposed it. [2] Two unions were still voting on Friday.

(Paragraph 15)

State employees had various issues with the deal, with some saying they wanted promises that big businesses and wealthy taxpayers would be asked to pay more if they agreed to givebacks. [3]

… Malloy, who received strong support from state employee unions during last year’s close gubernatorial election, has said for months that he didn’t want to lay anyone off and has made a point of talking about how he respects the workers’ collective bargaining rights. He often contrasted himself with the governors of Wisconsin, New Jersey and Ohio who have been at odds with organized labor.

(Paragraphs 19 and 20)

… Rejection of the labor deal is the latest political blow to Malloy, whose popularity has suffered because of his approach to solving the budget deficit. A Quinnipiac University Poll released last week shows that 38 percent of voters said they approve of the job Malloy is doing as governor while 44 percent disapprove.

Many voters have voiced concern over how the budget raises taxes by $1.4 billion in the first year and $1.2 billion in the second. Many of those tax hikes kick in on July 1.

Notes:

  • [1] — A 20-year contract? How can anyone have agreed to a 20-year deal in 1997? If this doesn’t prove that government involvement freezes the status quo, I don’t know what does. So this is how the state got to the point where its “debt-per-capita ratio is the highest in the country, according to Moody’s.” The fact that the 20-year monstrosity was consummated while ultimately disgraced Republican Governor John Rowland was in charge should not be overlooked.
  • [2] — So much for labor’s belief in “democracy.” The majority of workers are okay with the deal but if only two unions out of 15 aren’t, the deal doesn’t get done.
  • [3] — Some of the tax increases going into effect on July 1, according to one of the state’s representatives, include: Income tax increases in all brackets; Sales tax increase, from 6% to 6.35%; Clothing under $50 now subject to sales tax; New tax on non-prescription drugs, vitamins, manicures/pedicures, yoga; Increased taxes on hotel rooms, cigarettes, alcohol; Expansion of the gift and estate taxes; Conveyance tax increase; Real estate conveyance tax made permanent; Decrease of $200 in property tax credit; Diesel fuel tax increase from 26¢ to 29¢; Increase in driver’s license and vehicle registration fees; Hike in corporate surcharge tax. After perusing the Tax Foundation’s take on Connecticut even before the tax increases just noted, two words best describe the state’s tax system: “punitive” and “disastrous.”
  • [4] — Haigh’s notice of taxpayer “concern” over the state’s tax increases is a monumental understatement. On June 15, the Wall Street Journal’s Shelly Banjo reported on poll results showing that “More than half of Connecticut voters are angry over the way the governor handled the state budget, specifically in his choice to impose more than 75 new taxes.” Seventy-freaking-five? Is there anything left that isn’t taxed?

In a headier moment earlier this year, Governor Malloy described himself as the “anti-Christie,” pointedly mocking New Jersey’s Chris Christie for pursuing structural reform in the state’s financial and bargaining relationship with its public-sector unions. Malloy is learning the hard way that Christie’s approach works, and that depending on the unions to voluntarily give back anything doesn’t. Sadly, when push comes to shove, union leadership, especially in the public sector, is all too often okay with layoffs of less senior members if it will preserve the plush benefits — and perhaps increase the overtime — of those who remain.

I wonder how much news Connecticut’s layoffs, if they come to pass, will generate in comparison to the avalanche of coverage given to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s reforms, which “just so happen,” as far as I can tell, to have resulted in no mass layoffs?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Howler of the Day: Dems Whining About Ohio Redistricting While Outrageously Gerrymandering Illinois

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:34 pm

Oh, this is rich: According to ads placed by the Democratic Governors Association, John Kasich and the Tea Party are using Karl Rove-style tactics and engaging in a deep, dark conspiracy “to steal elections through unfair redistricting” (no, I’m not linking to it) –

DGAadOnOHredistricing0611

Tea Party devotees will be amused to see themselves mentioned in the same space as Karl Rove, who has done as much as anyone else I can name who is supposedly “on our side” to frustrate sensible conservatives from within during in the past seven years (e.g., supporting Arlen Specter over Pat Toomey in the 2004 Pennsylvania primary, comprehensive immigration reform aka amnesty, deliberately undercutting and refusing to support 2010 primary winners like Christine O’Donnell in Delaware, etc.). What’s almost as funny is the idea that “Tea Party Republicans” currently have anything more than minor influence on ORPINO (the Ohio Republican Party In Name Only).

To be clear, I’m not a big fan of opportunistic redistricting, otherwise known as gerrymandering. In an ideal world, every state would try to be like Iowa, which turns matters over to a impartial commission and organizes its districts almost logically.

But we don’t live in an ideal world. Instead, we live in one where hypocritical whiners in the DGA have member governors who gerrymander as blatantly as anyone on earth. Case in point: Governor Pat Quinn and his crew in Illinois:

IllinoisCongressionalDistricts2012ChicagoCongressionalDistricts2012

If it isn’t clear, the light-blue area in the Chicagoland map on the right is all one congressional district. In certain spots, it’s no more than a block or two wide. Its shape barely differs from what it was from 2002-2010, when Pajamas Media blogger Zombie named it “The Most Gerrymandered District in the U.S.” In early 2006, yours truly identified the existence of this district as exemplifying “why voters are cynical.”

Illinois Democrats’ Congressional district map is so outrageously gerrymandered that even the establishment press has been forced to recognize what the party is doing:

Illinois governor signs election law favoring Democrats

Illinois Democratic Governor Pat Quinn signed into law on Friday a new congressional district map that could reverse gains Republicans made in the state in 2010 midterm elections.

Democrats were able to leverage their control of the General Assembly and a Democratic governor to approve a new election map for 2012 that analysts said could help Democrats win at least three more congressional seats in the state.

The effects of the law, which Republicans or third-party interest groups may challenge in court, would be to pit strong Republicans against each other, extend Chicago Democratic incumbent districts into suburban Republican districts, and incorporate new voter blocs into Republican strongholds.

Quinn denied that the redistricting was a partisan ploy by Democrats.

Employing the DGA’s language, Illinois Democrats are “stealing” three congressional seats, making Pat Quinn a bleeping liar. As long as Democratic-driven maps like those in Illinois exist, the party of the donkey should shut its collective (and collectivist) pie hole.

As long as states like Illinois do what they do, I’m not going to object to Ohio engaging in similar but less aggressive tactics. That said, I will issue an advisory to those in both parties who indulge in the practice, though as I see it, what I will assert currently applies more to Illinois Democrats than Ohio Republicans.

The idea of creating just a few districts which will be won overwhelmingly by the opposition party, while leaving the rest with hopefully manageable majorities for your own party, is usually effective in a stable political climate. But we’re not in a stable political climate. I submit that Illinois Democrats should be more concerned about sensible conservatives overcoming those theoretically comfortable Democratic majorities than Ohio Republicans need to be worried about losing redrawn districts which currently lean right.

Latest Pajamas Media Column (‘Ohio’s Lost Decade, and Its New Hope’) Is Up

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:03 am

NoTaftNoStrickland0611kaisich_hope_thumbnail_6-24-11WeThePeopleLogoIt’s here.

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

_________________________

Related: John Michael Spinelli at Examiner.com has an item whose headline (“Ohio loses 18K jobs in three month period, new BLS report shows”) appears to refute the reality that Ohio’s economy is ticking upwards so far this year. He claims to have evidence that John Kasich “is starting to get a taste of the sour economic pie Gov. Strickland was forced to eat for years.”

Spinelli needs to get out of the kitchen:

  • The “18K” is the sum of initial unemployment claims relating to “mass layoffs” of 50 or more employees during March, April, and May.
  • If he’s looking for a trend in the numbers, May’s 5,170 is over 50% lower than April’s 11,082, despite May being hugely affected by a serious spike in gas prices.
  • The reality is that there have been significantly fewer mass layoffs in 2011 thus far, with far less negative impact. In the first quarter, “The 64 mass layoffs in the period that ended March 31 involved 9,615 jobs, down from the loss of 16,231 jobs (relating to 90 mass layoffs) in the first quarter of 2010.” That’s a 41% reduction in related job losses. April and May 2011 went the wrong way compared to 2010 (16,252 vs. 11,923), but fell way short of negating the first quarter’s year-over-year improvement.

Far more important is what has occurred when looking at all job additions less all job losses: Ohio under Kasich has added 70,000 seasonally adjusted jobs this year, which is the best performance in terms of percentage of job additions of any industrial state, and the best January-May in Ohio since 1994.

Also related: The column notes that during Ohio’s lost decade under Bob Taft, Ted Strickland, and ORPINO (the Republican Party In Name Only), the state lost jobs under Taft and even more jobs under Strickland. What I didn’t realize until getting a piece of mail from the folks at OneOhioUnited.com is that the state’s seasonally adjusted 551,000 lost jobs lost from January 2000 until January 2011 was, except for Michigan, the worst performance in the country. A table showing how all 50 states did from December 2000 to December 2010 (slightly different beginning and end points, but with virtually the same results), is here.

Oh, and one more thing: The column wraps as follows –

The state’s Tea Party adherents have been among the nation’s most active. To help sustain Kasich’s early momentum, they will need to redouble their efforts in the coming months and years. Fortunately, the movement’s leadership is aggressively acting to meet that challenge. Its “We the People” Convention in Columbus on July 1-2 promises to serve as Activism 101 for sensible conservatives, and to build an effective counter to the Alinsky-driven left. Buckeye State residents and out-of-staters who want to leave a free, solvent state and country to their children and grandchildren should seriously consider attending.

Yours truly and the esteemed proprietors at Weapons of Mass Discussion were reviewing the convention’s breakout sessions on Friday, and found that there are far more sessions we would like to attend than we physically can attend.

One session we definitely will attend is the final hour of the RightOnline presentation from 3-4 p.m. on Saturday, as we will be participating in a panel discussion during that time. We look forward to seeing many of our readers there.

Positivity: Three priest-martyrs of Nazis beatified in Germany

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:56 am

From Hamburg, Germany:

Jun 25, 2011 / 12:02 pm

Three Catholic martyrs executed under the Nazi regime were beatified in Germany today, June 25. The event was also noteworthy for its rememberance of their Lutheran companion.

Fathers Hermann Lange, Eduard Müller and Johannes Prassek, along with Lutheran pastor Karl Friedrich Stellbrink, were guillotined in a Hamburg prison in November 1943. The Nazi regime found them guilty of “defeatism, malice, favoring the enemy and listening to enemy broadcasts.”

At a ceremony in the northern German city of Lubeck, Cardinal Angelo Amato, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, declared the trio of Catholic clergy to be ‘blessed.’ He also expressed an ‘honorable remembrance’ for the priests’ fellow Christian martyr, Pastor Stellbrink.

“What distinguishes these four also is the fact that in the face of National-Socialist despotism they overcame the divide between the two faiths to find a common path to fight and act together,” says the official history which accompanied the ceremony.

It’s estimated that over 9,000 pilgrims – both Catholic and Protestant – attended today’s ceremony. Twenty Catholic and four Protestant bishops planned to attend.

On June 24 Lutheran Vespers were prayed for the martyrs at Lubeck’s Memorial Church. Former president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Walter Kasper, spoke at the ceremony.

The official history recounts that the men would copy and distribute the anti-Nazi sermons of Bishop Clemens August Graf von Galen of the Catholic Diocese of Munster.

“They felt, like many others, the liberating tone of these sermons, which broke the silence and proclaimed aloud the thoughts many had in their hearts, when the Nazi action for the ‘destruction of unworthy lives’ began, the euthanasia of innocent mentally retarded persons,” the history says.

The men’s last letters, written just hours before their deaths, have been preserved and were put on display this weekend. Father Johannes Prassek wrote his family:

“I am so happy, I can hardly explain how happy. God is so good to have given me several beautiful years in which to be his priest.

“Do not be sad! What is waiting for me is joy and good fortune, with which all the happiness and good fortune here on earth cannot compare.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.