November 29, 2011

Iranian Mob’s Storming, Sacking of British Embassy Not In AP World News Top 10 Stories

If you don’t hear much about the Iranian mob which stormed the British embassy earlier today in future news reports, you can probably at least partially blame the Associated Press, which considers the event so unimportant that it’s not even part of its U.S. main site’s top ten world stories as of 10:25 p.m. (saved here at host for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes).

For those who are curious as to the identification of the ten stories considered more important, here they are:

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Tea Party vs. the Occupy Movement Explained by Bill Whittle …

Filed under: Activism,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:56 pm

… who does his usual excellent job (HT Hot Air):

Conclusion: “The blunt truth is that the nation can no longer afford to hew to the progressive agenda on either matters of public finance or private arrangements.”

Fired Philly Supt. With $905K Buyout Applies For Unemployment Bennies; District Won’t Contest, But State Should

A story generating a lot of discussion today concerns how former Philadelphia Schools Superintendent Arlene Ackerman, who is receiving $905,000 in severance, has applied for unemployment benefits, and has been promised that the school district will not contest her claim.

Not so fast, people. I searched Google and Google News briefly, and found an interesting aspect of the situation which no one in the media apparently wants to consider. It relates to how Ackerman’s employment ended. One of many place where that ending is described came from Matt Petrillo at Philadelphia Weekly just three weeks ago. It began thusly: “It’s been 11 weeks since the School Reform Commission unanimously voted to fire public school boss lady Arlene Ackerman.” A quick visit to the relevant page at the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry would appear to indicate that Ackerman should not get unemployment benefits, and that it shouldn’t matter whether the district contests her claim:

Who Can File for Benefits

Any individual who has become unemployed may file an application for UC benefits. Eligibility to receive those benefits will be dependent on whether the worker meets the various requirements specified in the Pennsylvania UC Law.

To be Eligible to Receive Benefits

A worker may be eligible to receive benefits if the worker

- is unemployed through no fault of the worker;

So if you were fired, you can’t collect benefits, because it’s your fault (nebulous or not) that you don’t have a job.

The “Fire Arlene Ackerman” Facebook page identifies three reasons people wanted to fire her:

  • A $629 million deficit.
  • Higher property taxes.
  • Failing schools.

If Ms. Ackerman was brought in to fix those things and failed in any one of them, that would constitute valid grounds for the School Reform Commission to fire her. It should therefore constitute grounds for denying her unemployment benefits claim regardless of whether anyone contests it. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry does not work in a vacuum, and can’t ignore the widely reported fact of and reasons for Ackerman’s firing, up to and including Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter’s belief that, as a CBS Philly August headline stated (CBS’s words), “It was time for Ackerman to go.”

Separately, the money-grubbing for $573 a week in taxpayer-provided benefits by someone who has just received a buyout of over $900K is appalling, disgusting, and a whole lot of other adjectives I can’t use (apparently, about $400K of the buyout was raised privately, which itself must be an amazing story – Update: According to an Associated Press story tonight, the private donors “backed out after critics blasted the deal’s lack of transparency”).

Ms. Ackerman should be ashamed of herself for even thinking of it, let alone trying to get clearance from her former employer not to contest it. But I guess if a family with a paid-off $300,000 house, $80,000 in the bank, and nice cars can collect food stamp benefits in my home territory of Warren County, Ohio (yes, that did happen, and probably still happens throughout Ohio in similar circumstances without publicity), what’s another $2,300 a month or so for 26 or 99 weeks in unemployment to someone who may very well be a millionaire?

Remember this episode the next time someone dares to tell you that the problem with government finance is that people aren’t taxed enough. And yes, as offensive as a lot of golden parachutes in the private sector are, the story is and should be different when it involves public funds.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

AP Pair on Frank’s Retirement: ‘Gay Pioneer’ With ‘Legislative Triumph’

Anyone who made the easy prediction that the Associated Press would fail to bring up Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac in its fawning tribute to Barney Frank after his retirement announcement yesterday was correct. Anyone making the easy prediction that the AP would lionize him as a “gay pioneer” was also spot-on.

Also predictably, the wire service’s Bob Salsberg and David Espo failed to mention that Frank advocated abolishing Fan and Fred as a dishonest survival tactic during his final reelection campaign, and of course did nothing visible to make that happen this year. What’s really odious in this regard is that the AP pair gave him credit (pun intended) for how he “worked to expand affordable housing,” when the Community Reinvestment Act-driven subprime crisis Fan and Fred engendered has sent the housing market levels not seen since World War II. What follows are excerpts from the AP. After that I have a few contrary and clear-headed paragraphs from an Investor’s Business Daily editorial, and a little reminder of a 1999 “Present” vote which should have generated controversy, but didn’t:

Democratic Rep. Barney Frank, a gay pioneer in Congress and a Massachusetts liberal whose name as well and fingerprints are on last year’s sweeping bill regulating Wall Street, announced plans Monday to retire at the end of his current term, his 16th in Congress.

“There are other things I would like to do with my life,” the 71-year-old lawmaker said at a news conference. He added that his retirement plans were hastened by two years by reapportionment, which moved 325,000 new constituents into his district.

Frank’s career has traced an arc from early promise to near career-wrecking scandal to legislative triumph, accompanied by a quick-witted intelligence and an often partisan and frequently acerbic speaking style.

… his career nearly ran aground because of his personal life.

Two years after a voluntary 1987 disclosure that he is gay, Frank had to explain why he had hired as a personal aide a convicted drug user and male prostitute, Steve Gobie, who was also living in the lawmaker’s apartment. He said he always paid the aide out of personal funds, but the House ethics committee recommended Frank be censured for using his congressional status on behalf of the man, including seeking dismissal of 33 parking tickets.

… As a longtime member of the House committee that oversaw the banking and housing industries, he often worked to expand affordable housing and end redlining, a practice in which banks are accused of imposing onerous lending conditions on residents of inner cities and other poor neighborhoods.

As chairman in 2008, he was a lead Democrat in drafting $700 billion legislation that President George W. Bush supported to bail out financial institutions.

A year later, with Obama in the White House, he turned his attention to a far-reaching bill to overhaul regulations covering the banking and financial industries.

Investor’s Business Daily’s editorialists are having none of this, and appropriately place blame where it belongs:

Loved by media, Barney Frank Helped Cause Financial Crisis

Establishment media are swooning over the unexpected departure of ultraliberal Barney Frank. But this “champion of the little guy” actually helped cause the mortgage disaster, then kept the system broken.

‘Congress will now be a little dumber,” was the kind of nonsense we heard from the mainstream liberal media after Frank, D-Mass., former chairman of the House Banking Committee, said no to running for re-election next year.

… he wasn’t smart enough to realize that the politically correct poisoning of mortgages would lead to a calamity rivaling the Great Depression. “I, like many others, did not see the crisis coming,” Frank said Monday.

He sure didn’t. Back in 2003, what did he say when the Bush administration proposed what the New York Times described as “the most significant regulatory overhaul in the housing finance industry since the savings and loan crisis a decade ago,” including a new agency to supervise Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?

Frank said: “The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.”

… Manhattan Institute scholar and “After the Fall” author Nicole Gelinas warned before Dodd-Frank’s passage that the law “encourages wild risk-taking — and penalizes prudence” by making well-run banks pay to bail out poorly run ones.

… Making sense of Barney Frank’s departure isn’t hard. A once-powerful liberal who loved to make congressional witnesses look dumb, he leaves a legacy of failure that, with time, makes him look dumber and dumber.

As to the vote teased earlier, the year was 1999. Talk radio host Dr. Laura Schlessinger was deeply troubled by the American Psychological Association’s 1998 publication of a 30-page article in its prestigious Psychological Bulletin which in essence stated that pedophilia really wasn’t that bad and doesn’t really inflict the kind of negative outcomes on its underage participants we have come to believe. She, her listeners, and many others, in my view accurately sensing an attempt to begin “mainstreaming” pedophilia, got the attention of Congress, which drafted a resolution condemning the APA’s publication. The roll call vote was 355-0. Barney Frank and twelve other Democrats, including Congressman Ted Strickland, who would later become Ohio’s governor, voted present.

Unlike Strickland, who incredibly went to the floor of the house fifteen days later and in essence denounced 355 of his colleagues as liars for supporting the resolution (“One of those Commandments says, you ought not to bear false witness against your neighbor. When we say things about an organization or about an individual scientist that are untrue or unsubstantiated, in my judgment, we have violated that Commandment”), I found no record of Frank’s justification for his “Present” vote.

It would seem that a “gay pioneer” like Frank might have considered the implications of not taking a stand. As Mary Eberstadt wrote in the Weekly Standard in January 2001 (“Pedophilia Chic’ Reconsidered”):

… contemporary efforts to rationalize, legitimize, and justify pedophilia are about boys. … The reason why the public is being urged to reconsider boy pedophilia is that this “question,” settled though it may be in the opinions and laws of the rest of the country, is demonstrably not yet settled within certain parts of the gay rights movement. The more that movement has entered the mainstream, the more this “question” has bubbled forth from that previously distant realm into the public square. … many, many leaders and members of that movement draw a firm line at consenting adults, want no part of any such “debate,” and are in fact disgusted and appalled by it. Then there are other opinions.

Barney Frank had a clear chance to make sure everyone knew that he isn’t among those with “other opinions,” and didn’t. Was it lack of courage, silent agreement with Strickland that 355 of his colleagues were liars, or sympathy with those “other opinions”? I guess we’ll never know unless he deigns to tell us.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Occupy Update (112911)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:58 am

More links relating to the Obama-endorsed (proof hereherehere, and hereOccupy movement.

Hopefully, this somewhat tedious exercise will wind down tomorrow once the illegal Occupiers are routed from their final enclaves … but you never know.

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Portland, Oregon (HT JWF via Instapundit) –

Police have raided three vacant Northeast Portland homes taken over by anarchists who claimed they were part of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Police were tipped off about the situation Sunday. Responding officers found that the squatters had changed the locks on the homes. Police said it looked like the squatters were ready for battle.

Inside the homes, police found anarchist literature, drugs and weapons, including machetes.

“There’s the body armor in there, the bucket of projectiles: broken up concrete, rocks …”

Later in the article, a cop insists that “most of the protesters were non-violent.” No sir. As explained here, at a minimum those at the encampments are trespassing bullies prone to violence if they don’t get their way.

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At the Washington Post on Friday (HT Walter Russell Mead) — “A Fast Company survey last month found that African Americans, who are 12.6 percent of the U.S. population, make up only 1.6 percent of Occupy Wall Street.”

One WaPo commenter’s wry explanation: “I don’t know, maybe Blacks know the difference between a real social movement and a camping trip?”

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Charming, as reported at WorldNetDaily (HT OWS Exposed) — “Miami-protest spokesman led ‘Nuke Israel’ rally; Mohammad Malik was director of CAIR’s South Florida chapter”

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Gateway Pundit“The Oklahoma City Police Department shut down the #Occupy OKC squatters camp tonight after they discovered that only homeless people were camping there. It didn’t help that the hoboes all got drunk and beat their self-appointed security guard.”

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From Olympia, Washington (HT Gateway Pundit):

The Washington State Patrol began removing and arresting some of the hundreds of protesters who planted themselves inside the state Capitol building Monday night.

Protesters occupied the building’s rotunda most of the day, venting their frustration with proposed state budget cuts.

The state is “cutting” $2 billion (more than likely really “reducing projected spending which was on track to increase”) — but raising taxes by $1.4 billion. It’s never enough.

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The latest Maxine WatersThat’s Life, It Happens” counts:

  • From OWSexposed.com — seven deaths and 16 entries (definitely understated) concerning sexual assaults.
  • From John Nolte’s incomplete but nonetheless useful compilation at BigJournalism.com as of Monday — 348 incidents.
  • The total arrest count as of Friday was 4,752 (HT Thomas Lifson at American Thinker). There have been plenty of additional arrests in several cities (at least LA, Philly, Portland ME, Olympia WA and Oklahoma City) during the past several days which have not yet made the list.

Tuesday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (112911)

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

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

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Positivity: Amazing Grace

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:57 am

Really nice performance:

Positivity: Miracle survivor boy and family thankful for life’s blessings

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:57 am

From Spanaway, Washington (video, and previous stories about the boy’s rescue, are at the link):

Posted on November 24, 2011 at 5:47 PM
Updated Friday, Nov 25 at 4:46 PM

His family was told there was little hope, but a Pierce County boy and his family are counting their blessings this Thanksgiving.

Dale Ostrander, the 12-year-old boy who spent at least 25 minutes underwater when he was dragged out to sea by a rip tide last August, is making great progress every day.

He was rescued and resuscitated. Images of the moment he was pulled out were captured by a local photographer, and even appeared on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams.

“This Thanksgiving we’re not thankful for stuff. We’re thankful for each other,” said Dale’s father, Chad.

Ostrander’s family feared he was brain dead and doctors put him in a medically induced coma. But Ostrander defied the odds and survived.

“It’s been obvious that God is putting all the puzzle pieces together what the finished product will be, we don’t know yet.. but we know it’s going to be good,” said Dale’s mother, Kirsten. …

Go here for the rest of the story.