October 31, 2011

Leftist ProPublica Questions Politico’s Decision to Publish Cain Sexual Harassment Allegations

For those who don’t know, ProPublica (bold is mine) “is an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. Our work focuses exclusively on truly important stories, stories with ‘moral force.’ We do this by producing journalism that shines a light on exploitation of the weak by the strong and on the failures of those with power to vindicate the trust placed in them.” It has received predominant funding from the Sandler Foundation (yeah, those Sandlers; Herbert Sandler is Chairman). Other contributors include George Soros’s Open Society Foundations. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (yeah, him) is also on ProPublica’s board.

Translation: They lean left. Nevertheless, the organization’s Stephen Engelberg (HT Instapundit) questions whether the Politico had enough information on sexual harassment allegations against Herman Cain to publish a story (bolds are mine):


Wes Pruden on Herman Cain’s ‘Awful Sin’

Filed under: Positivity,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:18 am

herman-cain_052111From the former take-no-prisoners editor of the Washington Times (bolds are mine):

Things have gone from bad to badder for the self-righteous artsy-fartsy elites, who for all their book-learning and self-regard just can’t figure out America.

The Herman Cain phenomenon is the latest puzzlement of those who think only they’re wise enough and entitled enough to tell the rest of us which fork to use. Mr. Cain’s sin is not that he doesn’t have the usual qualifications for president. Barack Obama established the precedent that presidents can attempt to do the job with on-the-job training. Mr. Cain’s sin is that he demonstrates, with considerable eloquence, that the notion that Republicans and other conservatives are mean-spirited bigots is the enormous lie of conventional media wisdom.

… (Cain) has changed attitudes and perceptions about what is possible. The most remarkable fact about the Cain phenomenon is that three years after Barack Obama’s incompetence began to reveal itself, the other party, painted in vivid color as benighted and bigoted, demonstrates that it will happily consider a black candidate, too. The prospect of a choice between a black Democrat and a black Republican is the tale that beggars anything Hollywood could imagine.

This reality owes nothing to the media, politicians of any stripe, or to the self-righteious elites. It owes everything to the ordinary men and women of the America that is great because America is good.

More than anything else, this explains the press’s intense attacks on the man (just a few of many examples in the past ten days are here, here, here, here, and here). They do not believe in their hearts that America is good. If they did, they would be focusing on how to improve it, not how to “transform” it.

Monday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (103111)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 7:00 am

Rules are here. Possible comment fodder follows. Other topics are also fair game.


Erick Ericksen — “On every significant issue of the past decade, Mitt Romney has managed to be on every side of each issue except one — he has consistently been in favor of government dictated and government managed healthcare.”

As appropriately expressed by Don Surber, here’s the basis for the claim five years ago that polar bears were going extinct: “[W]e have an expert on birds guessing that white blobs on a photo are drowned polar bears. That’s it. That’s the science.”

Victor Davis Hanson, in his latest “Read the whole thing” item at PJ Media (“Liberal Indulgences”) — “Today, liberalism puts a comparable burden on its elites: can one occupy Wall Street and still enjoy the luxury of that iPhone 4s? Did the university professor in Zuccotti Park worry about Wall Street when his TIAA-CREF account used to return 8% plus per annum? Can we still jet to Tuscany and worry about carbon footprints? Can we live in Chevy Chase, Malibu, or Woodside and be stalwarts on the barricades of racial integration and multiculturalism? How can we make $200,000 a year as assistant vice provost for diversity affairs, when a part-time lecturer gets 1/5 for the same class a full-time, top-step professor teaches?”

The Herman Cain sexual harassment innuendo hit piece at Politico with no meaningful specifics about what or may not have happened well over a dozen years ago should be viewed in the context of what has been noted about the Obama White House of the past few:The Washington Post reports former communications director Anita Dunn says in the book (by Ron Suskind) — quote – “This place would be in court for a hostile workplace because it actually fit all of the classic legal requirements for a genuinely hostile workplace to women.” Mao worshipper that she is, Dunn has denied saying something for which Suskind surely has proof — or this White House would have stopped the book’s publication.

Related to the previous item, from Roger Simon at PJ Media (“Politico and Cain: Return of the High-Tech Lynching”) –

It took the mainstream media nearly a year to catch up with the John Edwards Affair (and only after the National Enquirer made it impossible to ignore — Ed.), but only weeks into Herman Cain’s narrow frontrunner status for the GOP nomination, the goodfellas at Politico are letting the uppity black conservative have it.

One thing is certain, whatever Cain did (if anything), it certainly isn’t in the ballpark of using campaign funds to support a mistress and love child while your wife is dying of cancer or even inserting a cigar in the pudenda of an unpaid intern in the corridors of the Oval Office. Those are certainly more than five-figure infractions — more like eight-figure.

… As Glenn Reynolds points out, another black man ran for president and mainstream media has surfaced almost nothing about him after all these years.

At the WaPo, the item involved, which would have had “hostile workplace” in the headline if a Republican or conservative were involved, instead had these headlines: In the text, “In early Obama White House, female staffers felt frozen out”; in the browser window’s title, “Friction over women’s role in Obama White House was intense.” What tools.

I believe it’s no accident that the Politico is the outlet surfacing the allegations. The relatively disengaged don’t read it, so this crap can be rolled out during a possible general election campaign by the AP, the New York Times, and the TV networks as “new” if necessary.

Positivity: 40 Days for Life Sees 361 Moms Change Their Mind on Abortion

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 5:56 am

From Columbus, Georgia, in a multi-city rundown column by Shawn Carney at LifeNews.com:

10/24/11 10:01 AM

People praying at the 40 Days for Life vigil in Columbus had a bad feeling when a young woman arrived on an abortion day. They had seen her previously – and tried to convince her not to abort her child. But here she was once again.

She went in – but a short time later she left … calling out that she had changed her mind. The volunteers put her in touch with the local pregnancy help center and promised to keep her – and her baby – in their prayers.

Later that day, two teenagers drove in – but walked on in after refusing to take information from one of the pro-life counselors. An hour later, they walked out – and handed the volunteer a receipt. At first, she didn’t look at it.

One of the other vigil participants then called out, “They’ve changed their minds!”

Yes – they were BOTH there for abortions – and they BOTH chose life.

Go here for the rest of the story.

October 30, 2011

‘Solidarity Forever’? Try ‘Broke School Districts Forever’

Filed under: Education,Ohio Economy,Ohio Politics,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:53 pm

Watch (HT Bytor at BigGovernment.com and 3BP):

The “impact map” found here indicates that the average teacher’s salary in the Cleveland Municipal City School District was $65,518 in 2010, an 8% increase over five years earlier. The relatively nominal increase doesn’t consider the generous benefits described in the video, and still leaves the district paying at least 20% more than the statewide average ($51,343 in 2009).

Climategate II? ‘Science-Settling’ Study ‘Proving’ Global Warming Allegedly Shows None (See Update: ‘Hide the Lack of Increase’)

PolarBear1011A week ago (at BizzyBlog; at NewsBusters), I noted how Charleston Daily Mail blogger Don Surber quickly determined through all of a few minutes of Internet research that Berkeley professor Robert Muller, who convinced Washington Post Plumline blogger Brad Plumer that he was a “climate skeptic,” has been a believer in human-caused global warming since the early 1980s.

Muller’s pretense to have held beliefs differing from his true past may be the least of his problems. A story breaking in the UK contends that results obtained by the prof’s BEST (Berkeley Earth Surface Temperatures) project team, instead of “settling the debate” in favor of warmists, showed that global warming “has stopped.” If so, this is potentially as explosive as the “hide the decline” conspiracy uncovered almost two years ago when the Climategate emails surfaced.

The bombshell arrives via David Rose at the UK Daily Mail (HT to Benny Peiser’s indispensable daily CCNet email from the Global Warming Policy Foundation [GWPF]; internal BBC link added by me; bolds are mine):

Scientist who said climate change sceptics had been proved wrong accused of hiding truth by colleague

Professor Richard Muller, of Berkeley University in California, and his colleagues from the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperatures project team (BEST) claimed to have shown that the planet has warmed by almost a degree centigrade since 1950 and is warming continually.

Published last week ahead of a major United Nations climate summit in Durban, South Africa, next month, their work was cited around the world as irrefutable evidence that only the most stringent measures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions can save civilisation as we know it.

It was cited uncritically by, among others, reporters and commentators from the BBC, The Independent, The Guardian, The Economist and numerous media outlets in America.

The Washington Post said the BEST study had ‘settled the climate change debate’ and showed that anyone who remained a sceptic was committing a ‘cynical fraud’.

But today The Mail on Sunday can reveal that a leading member of Prof Muller’s team has accused him of trying to mislead the public by hiding the fact that BEST’s research shows global warming has stopped.

Prof Judith Curry, who chairs the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at America’s prestigious Georgia Institute of Technology, said that Prof Muller’s claim that he has proven global warming sceptics wrong was also a ‘huge mistake’, with no scientific basis.

Prof Curry is a distinguished climate researcher with more than 30 years experience and the second named co-author of the BEST project’s four research papers.

Her comments, in an exclusive interview with The Mail on Sunday, seem certain to ignite a furious academic row. She said this affair had to be compared to the notorious ‘Climategate’ scandal two years ago.

In fact, Prof Curry said, the project’s research data show there has been no increase in world temperatures since the end of the Nineties – a fact confirmed by a new analysis that The Mail on Sunday has obtained.

David Whitehouse at the GWPF (“BEST Confirms Global Temperature Standstill”) elaborates:

Professor Richard Muller, leader of the initiative, said (to the BBC) that the global temperature standstill of the past decade was not present in their data.

“In our data, which is only on the land we see no evidence of it having slowed down. Now the evidence which shows that it has been stopped is a combination of land and ocean data. The oceans do not heat as much as the land because it absorbs more of the heat and when the data are combined with the land data then the other groups have shown that when it does seem to be leveling off. We have not seen that in the land data.”

My first though would be that it would be remarkable if it was. The global temperature standstill of the past decade is obvious in HadCrut3 data which is a combination of land and sea surface data. Best is only land data from nearly 40,000 weather stations. Professor Muller says they “really get a good coverage of the globe.” The land is expected to have a fast response to the warming of the lower atmosphere caused by greenhouse gas forcing, unlike the oceans with their high thermal capacity and their decadal timescales for heating and cooling, though not forgetting the ENSO and la Nina.

Fig 1 shows the past ten years plotted from the monthly data from Best’s archives. (Click on the graphic to enlarge it in a new tab or window — Ed.)


It is a statistically perfect straight line of zero gradient. Indeed, most of the largest variations in it can be attributed to ENSO and la Nina effects. It is impossible to reconcile this with Professor Muller’s statement. Could it really be the case that Professor Muller has not looked at the data in an appropriate way to see the last ten years clearly?

Indeed Best seems to have worked hard to obscure it.

Read the whole thing.

So what will come first — Christmas Day or the “numerous media outlets in America” noting that, at a minimum, Muller’s work “settles” nothing, and at worst is a fraudulent as the “hide the decline” enterprise known as Climategate?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.


UPDATE: Prof. Curry has a blog post which appears to have gone up just before this post was drafted (but before graphics were completed). Excerpts –

“Hiding the truth” in the title is definitely misleading, I made it pretty clear that there was uncertainty in the data itself, but the bigger issues are to analyze the data and interpret it. I made it clear that this was not a straightforward and simple thing to do.

I told Rose that I was puzzled my Muller’s statements, particularly about “end of skepticism” and also “We see no evidence of global warming slowing down.”

I did not say that “the affair had to be compared to the notorious Climategate scandal two years ago,” this is indirectly attributed to me. … There is NO comparison of this situation to Climategate. Muller et al. have been very transparent in their methods and in making their data publicly available, which is highly commendable.

That still leaves Whitehouse’s assertion: “It is impossible to reconcile this (graph of the past decade above) with Professor Muller’s statement (‘we see no evidence of it having slowed down’).”

No, it’s not “hide the decline,” but it’s definitely “obscure the lack of increase.”

Sunday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (103011)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 7:45 am

Rules are here. Possible comment fodder follows. Other topics are also fair game.


Hot Air – “Flier at Occupy Phoenix asks, ‘When should you shoot a cop?’”

Daniel Halper at the Weekly Standard“There comes a point when a spokesman is spinning so hard one wonders if his wheels will come off. That happened today to White House press flack Jay Carney when he was questioned by Fox News reporter Ed Henry at the press briefing about President Obama’s connections to lobbyists.” Of course, he has taken contributions from them while pretending he hasn’t.

Robert Bluey at Heritage“Year After Obama Lifted Drilling Ban, Pace of Permitting Is Worse.” Specifically, “The Obama administration is approving only 37 percent of the deepwater drilling plans submitted this year — a figure that falls below even last year’s low approval rate. It’s also taking federal bureaucrats an average of 115 days to approve the plans, nearly double the historical average.” After a year of delays with no improvement, it’s long past time to abandon any belief that this is accidental, or merely the product of incompetence.

The point George Will is making in his WaPo column this morning (“Mitt Romney, the pretzel candidate”) bears frequent repetition — “(Mitt) Romney, supposedly the Republican most electable next November, is a recidivist reviser of his principles who is not only becoming less electable, he might damage GOP chances of capturing the Senate: Republican successes down the ticket will depend on the energies of the tea party and other conservatives, who will be deflated by a nominee whose blurry profile in caution communicates only calculated trimming. Republicans may have found their Michael Dukakis …” Read the whole thing.

Contrived“Occupy Wall Street Spreads to Iran.” Sure. Notice the “homemade” signs at the link.

“Occupy Madison Loses Permit” — Go to the third paragraph at the link to see why. Yeah, they’re just like the Tea Party (/sarc).

Positivity: Pope Benedict canonizes three new saints

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:01 am

From the Vatican:

Oct 23, 2011 / 04:37 pm

Pope Benedict XVI canonized three new saints at an Oct. 23 ceremony in St. Peter’s Square. He described the heavenly triumvirate as “a model for all believers.”

“Let us be attracted by their examples, let us be guided by their teachings, so that our whole existence becomes a witness of authentic love for God and neighbor,” the Pope Benedict said to tens of thousands of enthusiastic pilgrims Oct. 23.

The three new saints are Sister Bonifacia Rodriguez y Castro, Archbishop Guido Maria Conforti and Father Luigi Guanella.

Sr. Bonifacia was born in the Spanish city of Salamanca in 1837. She dedicated her life to the welfare of poor female workers. In 1874 she co-founded the Servants of St. Joseph, who offered work to poor unemployed women.

Archbishop Guido Maria Conforti was born near Parma in Italy in 1865. As a young man he dreamed of becoming a foreign missionary but his poor health caused various religious orders to turn him away. His solution was to found his own missionary order, the Xaverian Missionaries, in 1895. He also served as bishop of Ravenna and later of Parma.

Fr. Luigi Guanella was born in the Italian province of Como in 1842. He dedicated his life to the care of the poor and needy. He founded the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence in 1881 and Servants of Charity in 1908.

Drawing upon today’s Gospel in which Christ tells a Pharisee the second greatest commandment is to “love your neighbor as yourself,” the Pope said that “the visible sign that the Christian can show the world to witness to the love of God is the love of their brethren.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.

October 29, 2011

Jonathan Alter’s Blinders: ‘White House Free of Scandal’; Obama Asset Is That ‘He’s Honest’

JonathanAlterBloombergPic2011Jonathan Alter, who spent 28 years at Newsweek, has been a columnist at Bloomberg News since early this year. Just this year, the reliably and insufferably liberal Alter, among many other things, called the Republican House’s passage of Paul Ryan’s budget plan in April an attempt “to throw Granny in the snow,” and coldly calculated that in the wake of her shooting, Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was more valuable to Barack Obama’s reelection efforts alive than dead.

In early January, Alter, appearing on an MSNBC program, took great offense at Rep. Darrell Issa’s suggestion that the Obama White House is “one of the most corrupt administrations ever,” claiming that “there is zero evidence” of it. The Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney proceeded to identify seven such examples. Alter must have been saying “la-la I can’t hear you” during Carney’s chronicle, as his October 27 column was an exercise in sheer fantasy from beginning to end (bolds are mine throughout this post):

Obama Miracle is White House Free of Scandal

President Barack Obama goes into the 2012 with a weak economy that may doom his reelection. But he has one asset that hasn’t received much attention: He’s honest./p>

… Although it’s possible that the Solyndra LLC story will become a classic feeding frenzy, don’t bet on it. Providing $535 million in loan guarantees to a solar-panel maker that goes bankrupt was dumb, but so far not criminal or even unethical on the part of the administration. These kinds of stories are unlikely to derail Obama in 2012. If he loses, it will be because of the economy — period./p>

Even so, the president’s Teflon is intriguing. How did we end up in such a scandal-less state? After investigating the question for a recent Washington Monthly article, I’ve been developing some theories./p>

For starters, the tone is always set at the top. Obama puts a premium on personal integrity, and with a few exceptions (Tim Geithner’s tax problems in 2009) his administration tends to fire first and ask questions later./p>

… But the White House’s intense focus on scandal prevention has had mixed results. The almost proctological vetting process has ended up wounding Obama as much as prospective nominees. He gets cleaner but often less imaginative officials./p>

… The vigilance about wrongdoing has worked better when it comes to oversight of the $787 billion stimulus program. The money might not always have been spent on the right things. But a rigorous process supervised by Vice President Joe Biden, and made transparent with the help of recovery.gov, has prevented widespread fraud and abuse./p>

Every time Representative Darrell Issa, the Republican from California who leads a House investigative committee, calls the Obama administration “corrupt” without offering any evidence, he hurts his cause. It’s much harder to make a story register as a bona fide scandal when the political motivation is so obvious./p>

It’s also harder to find room for such stories when so much other news is breaking. Scandals like the Monica Lewinsky affair were almost a luxury of good times, when the nation could afford to obsess about a blue dress. Not these days./p>

…. According to a metric created by political scientist Brendan Nyhan, Obama set a record earlier this month for most days without a scandal of any president since 1977. The streak probably won’t last, especially if he gets a second term, where scandals are more common. But the impression of rectitude will be part of the voters’ assessment of him next year. He’ll need it.

Here’s Brendan Nyhan’s hysterical definition of a scandal:

Nyhan says that political scientists generally see The Washington Post as a solid indicator of elite opinion — so for his study, a problem officially curdles into a scandal once the S-word is used in a reporter’s own voice in a story that runs on the front page of the Post. Bush made it 34-months before he faced a scandal in the Post. And as of this morning, Obama has beaten that record.

You read that right. A scandal is a scandal when — and only when — the Washington Post says it’s a scandal, and only on its front page. For what it’s worth, the headline at Associated Press story (possibly supplied by the subscribing outlet) called Solyndra a scandal on September 17.

For the rest of us, here is what a scandal is:

1. a disgraceful or discreditable action, circumstance, etc.
2. an offense caused by a fault or misdeed.
3. damage to reputation; public disgrace.
4. defamatory talk; malicious gossip.
5. a person whose conduct brings disgrace or offense.

In advance of a column I wrote in September in response to American University history professor Allan Lichtman’s claim that the Obama administration had to that point been “scandal-free”, I compiled a by no means complete list of items which would fit one of the five areas just described. In the column itself, I added Solyndra, LightSquared, and Operation Fast and Furious. Scandal-free? It’s more like scandal fatigue.

As to Obama’s honesty, the contrived tale of his mother’s supposed lack of health insurance during the time leading up to his death will do for openers. There are roughly three dozen more arguable lies identified here since his term began. Honest, schmonest.

Jonathan Alter is of course entitled to his opinion, but he’s not entitled to his own comprehensive set of made-up facts. Bloomberg executive Washington editor Al Hunt should have laughed Alter’s column out of the building — but as another bondafide far-lefty, the odds are he thought it was brilliant journalism.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Picture of Alter at top right is from Bloomberg News.

Meltzer at WSJ on Keynesianism’s Failure

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:06 am

It has failed. Anyone arguing its success is in a delusion so deep they may be beyond help.

Allan Meltzer, in a Friday Wall Street Jounral op-ed, identifies the four reasons why the Pelosi-Obama-Reid Economy’s version of Keynesianism has failed so spectacularly, and so obviously (bolds are mine):

Those who heaped high praise on Keynesian policies have grown silent as government spending has failed to bring an economic recovery. Except for a few diehards who want still more government spending, and those who make the unverifiable claim that the economy would have collapsed without it, most now recognize that more than a trillion dollars of spending by the Bush and Obama administrations has left the economy in a slump and unemployment hovering above 9%.

Why is the economic response to increased government spending so different from the response predicted by Keynesian models? What is missing from the models that makes their forecasts so inaccurate? Those should be the questions asked by both proponents and opponents of more government spending. Allow me to suggest four major omissions from Keynesian models:

First, big increases in spending and government deficits raise the prospect of future tax increases. Many people understand that increased spending must be paid for sooner or later. Meanwhile, President Obama makes certain that many more will reach that conclusion by continuing to demand permanent tax increases. His demands are a deterrent for those who do most of the saving and investing. Concern over future tax rates is one of the main reasons for heightened uncertainty and reduced confidence. Potential investors hold cash and wait. …

Second, most of the government spending programs redistribute income from workers to the unemployed. This, Keynesians argue, increases the welfare of many hurt by the recession. What their models ignore, however, is the reduced productivity that follows a shift of resources toward redistribution and away from productive investment. …

Third, Keynesian models totally ignore the negative effects of the stream of costly new regulations that pour out of the Obama bureaucracy. Who can guess the size of the cost increases required by these programs? ObamaCare is not the only source of this uncertainty, though it makes a large contribution. We also have an excessively eager group of environmental regulators, protectors of labor unions, and financial regulators. Their decisions raise future costs and increase uncertainty.

Fourth, U.S. fiscal and monetary policies are mainly directed at getting a near-term result. The estimated cost of new jobs in President Obama’s latest jobs bill is at least $200,000 per job, based on administration estimates of the number of jobs and their cost.

Also, to a very real but tough-to-measure extent, such “stimulus” pumps up reported economic growth by unsustainably increasing consumption expenditures, which only indirectly measure after the fact what Gross Domestic Product really is, which is the value of what is produced, not consumed. Especially if seen as short-term, they do very little to promote permanent job growth and productivity-enhancing investment. This largely explains why we are where we are, which is in a funk not seen since the Great Depression, which not coincidentally is the last time extreme Keynesianism ran rampant.

Saturday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (102911)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 7:45 am

Rules are here. Possible comment fodder may follow later. Other topics are also fair game.


Positivity: Actor returns to hospital that saved his life

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:00 am

From Edmonton:


An Edmonton-born actor returned to the city Tuesday to raise the profile of a burn unit which he says saved his life.

Jade Carter was 12 years old when the tractor he was driving on his family’s farm flipped and trapped him underneath, severely burning his torso.

Now 35, Carter made a visit to the Firefighters’ Burn Treatment Unit at the University of Alberta Hospital where he received treatment 23 years ago.

Following his accident, he spent three months in hospital undergoing surgeries and skin grafts.

“If I was a staff member, I think it would be nice to see somebody come back and know they are doing well and that their work was appreciated and worthwhile,” Carter said.

Carter also made the rounds and took time to visit some of the patients in the unit.

“All I can do is relate my experience on the emotional roller-coaster. As burn survivors, that’s universal and something we all go through.”

Bringing those who have been through similar experiences helps boost the spirits of those who have suffered severe burn injuries.

Officials are hoping other burn victims will be inspired to share their experiences with others.

“Burn injuries are traumatic,” said Jackie Whitford, chair of the burn treatment unit’s psycho-social committee.

“We can help as health professionals, but people who have gone through the experience understand it the best.”

Carter has gone on to a relatively successful career in Hollywood, landing roles on the Young and the Restless, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and appearing more recently on House, Cold Case and General Hospital. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

October 28, 2011

AP on Which Vendors Get Paid in Ill.: Both Parties Supposedly Have Political Influence, But Item Cites Only Dems

IllinoisUnpaidBills1011The news item I will cite goes back over a week, but the problem surely remains. In light of the ongoing battles over public-sector wages and benefits as well as the taxes which pay for them, it deserves far more attention than it is currently receiving. It follows up on an October 15 post (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) where I noted, in reviewing an Associates Press story which originally appeared the previous day, that the State of Illinois’ financial inability to pay its vendors on time and the related hardships involved have been mostly getting the establishment press silent treatment, while efforts at fiscal balance in Ohio and Wisconsin largely involving collective-bargaining reforms have been national stories with mostly negative coverage.

An October 20 AP item by Political Writer John O’Connor informs us that who gets paid first is often driven by politicians’ pleas instead of place in line. Despite O’Connor’s claim that “Republican or Democrat” influence can be involved, he only cited examples involving Democratic lawmakers:

Bills get paid faster in Ill. with lawmakers’ help

If you plan on doing business with the state of Illinois, you’d better learn to beg – preferably to an influential politician.

With the state billions of dollars behind in paying its debt, collecting on unpaid bills can be a torturous, confusing process in which how fast you get paid may depend on who goes to bat for you.After receiving “hardship” appeals from businesses and community organizations awaiting payment from the state, Gov. Pat Quinn’s budget office asked to speed up the payment of $1.1 billion on more than 21,000 vouchers in the last 13 months. That’s an average of 83 each business day, according to an Associated Press analysis of state records.

Nearly 1,000 pages of emails and letters to the state, obtained by the AP under the Freedom of Information Act and supported by other documents and interviews, showed that businesses and nonprofits backed by lawmakers or others with clout – Democrat or Republican – often get paid more quickly than others.

But the rules for who gets paid and how quickly are not always followed. Even state Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, whose office is in charge of writing the checks, acknowledges the system isn’t fair.

“Is any of this fair? None of it is fair,” said Topinka, a Republican. “No matter what we do, we’re going to have to juggle.”

To help them determine who needs it the most, Topinka said her staff relies on what “a legislator or an agency director tells us. I don’t know another way to get at it.”

The legislators named in the rest of O’Connor’s piece include:

  • Illinois Senate President John Cullerton — Democrat
  • House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie — Democrat
  • Currie’s “Senate counterpart,” James Clayborne — Democrat
  • Rep. Anthony DeLuca — “D-Crete”
  • Sen. Linda Holmes and Rep. Linda Chapa La Via — Both are identified as Democrats from Aurora

Here’s an intensely annoying quote from Democratic Governor Quinn noted by O’Connor:

In an interview with the AP, Quinn expressed no dissatisfaction with a system he said predates his time in office.

“No dissatisfaction”? No desire to improve an awful? No remorse of problems which haven’t been resolved despite 67% and 46% increases in personal and business income taxes, respectively?

Oh, but state employees have done just fine:

… cost of living increases for AFSCME members have averaged 4.25 percent a year over the past five years. From 2007 to 2010, the resolution says, the consumer price index has increased an average of 1.95 percent a year.

With compounding, 4.25% per year for five years amounts to just over 23% — and wages were already way out of kilter compared to the private sector in 2008. If state employee raises had averaged half of that over all five years, it might have the money right now to get its vendors back to 30 days. The state may not even have “needed” to raise income taxes — and wouldn’t be playing a political winners and losers game which (surprise) appears to be tilted towards helping people connected with the majority party over who does and doesn’t get paid.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Obamacare’s Marriage Penalties: Been There …

Filed under: Economy,Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:48 am

… wrote a column on that — 19 months ago, in March 2010 (PJ Media; BizzyBlog).

It’s good to see Jim Angle at Fox News (HT to an emailer) covering it, but his calling it “a new wrinkle” is more than a little hard to take.

My column was based on what had to be weeks of work done by Robert Rector at the Heritage Foundation in January 2010. The Republican opposition’s failure to reference Rector’s work in opposition to Obamacare, aka “The Affordable Care Act,” was an epic strategic failure.

Here are a few paragraphs from Angle’s report today:

Obama’s Health Care Law Penalizes Marriage, Analysts Say

A new wrinkle has surfaced in the implementation of the federal health care law that critics argue will impose a significant penalty on women and marriage.

The law includes generous subsidies for the uninsured so they can afford to buy coverage in the new insurance exchanges that are part of the legislation.

But several analysts told Congress Thursday the nature of the subsidies has an odd effect.

“The way this bill is structured, there are disincentives for women to marry and disincentives for women to work,” said Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. “And for a bill that’s supposed to make Americans healthier, these disincentives are truly startling.”

Critics say that beginning in 2014, Americans will find it more advantageous to stay single than marry because it will be easier to afford health coverage.

It isn’t just “critics”; it’s the hard math, laid out in the table which follows:


I explained the table and its clear implications in March 2010 (bolds added now were not in original):

The orange boxes represent examples where the subsidy decrease amounts to almost 80% or more than 80% of a couple’s $5,000 increase in combined or joint income. After adding another 7.65% for Social Security and Medicare taxes on top of the typical 15% (or higher) marginal federal income tax rate, the extra $5,000 earned will cost the couple more than $5,000 — even before considering state and local income taxes.

Then there are the purple boxes, where subsidy loss alone amounts to more than $5,000, including one case where it’s more than double that, before considering any other taxes.

… There’s a term for a state that penalizes additional earnings on a dollar-for-dollar basis, and it surely isn’t “representative democracy.” I don’t think anyone has yet coined a word describing a political philosophy that is okay with taking more than that. Perhaps it should be “Obamism.” Note that this is far more extreme than virtually anything Europe’s most brazen socialists have attempted since World War II.

Given the disincentives, many and probably most lower- and middle-income Americans will conclude that there’s no point in accepting promotions, working overtime, getting a second job, or attempting any other form of financial self-improvement (except perhaps under the table). They will thus end up stuck where they are. The remarkable income mobility which is so critical to long-term economic growth and prosperity and which has marked this great nation as so unique for centuries will become a distant memory.

To update to reflect current news, Obamacare is perhaps the most effective mechanism ever invented for keeping the 99% right where they are.

Friday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (102811)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:00 am

Rules are here. Possible comment fodder follows. Other topics are also fair game.


Lee Stranahan at BigGovernment.com (“Banks Beware: #Occupy’s Next Targets Revealed”) — “The Occupy movement is planning to take ‘direct action’ against banks in the next several days, using a variety of tactics, according to video and email evidence compiled by Big Government. … The assault on banks appears to be the movement’s latest strategy and part of an overall scheme to ‘take over the banks, to nationalize them’, as one #OWS supporter said in a recent email revealed by BigGovernment.com.”

“Unemployment Fraud on the Rise ” — It’s an Alabama story, but it’s not an isolated problem.

Associated Press (“FBI: Hundreds of NY rail workers part of $1B fraud”) — “Hundreds of Long Island Rail Road employees may have cheated their way to big pensions through a $1 billion fraud by paying off doctors to say they were unable to work …” Note that the word “unionized” was conveniently missing from the headline, and that such a widespread fraud could not have been possible without the union representation and bargaining framework. LIRR has “17 … bargaining units represented by 10 different unions.”

Concentrating on the important stuff — “President Obama to locked-out NBA: It’s later than you think”

Fair is fair (HT Instapundit) — “The Richmond tea party is demanding a refund of about $10,000 from the city, claiming it unfairly charged them for rallies while allowing the Occupy protesters to use the same space for several weeks for free.” Good for them, but sadly, they probably won’t collect, and Occupy Richmond’s freeloaders probably won’t pay.

Michelle Malkin“Re-confirmed: John Murtha was a rotten corruptocrat.” Murtha, it must be recalled, the darling of “immediate withdrawal” leftist peaceniks everywhere during the Iraq War — in which, by the way, U.S. troops under the command of David Petraeus and George W. Bush were victorious — and the deserved target of OH-02 Congresswoman Jean Schmidt’s “Cowards cut and run, but Marines never do” comment on the House floor in 2005.

“There’s almost no vote fraud” update from Minnesota (Alternate headline: “Conclusive proof that Al Franken and Minnesota Democrats stole the 2008 Senate race”) — “113 convictions represent small fraction of total unlawful votes.” More broadly, “… most of the (over 2,800) suspects on Minnesota Majority’s original list did, in fact, vote while ineligible, but the standard for prosecution in Minnesota is ‘ineligible voter knowingly votes.’ If an ineligible voter claims not to have known they were breaking the law, it’s difficult for prosecutors to prove otherwise. In essence, to be convicted of voter fraud, the suspect must generally admit willful, knowing guilt.” Franken stole the election from Norm Coleman by 235 votes. And yes, I’m asserting based on years of evidence accumulated by John Fund that voting while ineligible — knowingly or “unknowingly” — is an overwhelmingly Democratic Party phenomenon.