December 15, 2011

Ten Months Later, AP’s Scott Bauer Still Contradicting Himself, Misstating Wis. Collective-Bargaining Law

WisWalkerMustGo0211In February, yours truly sensed a misstatement of reality on the part of Associated Press reporter Scott Bauer in his description of the budget repair law the Wisconsin Legislature was then considering. At the beginning of his report, Bauer wrote that the law would “end a half-century of collectively bargaining,” but later wrote that “unions could still represent workers” (That doesn’t exactly signal an “end,” does it?). In several other subsequent reports (examples here and here), Bauer insisted on incorrectly describing the law as “ending” or “eliminating” collective bargaining. It does neither.

Tonight, in reporting on the progress of the Badger State effort to recall Republican Governor Scott Walker, Bauer slightly rephrased his false claim, glossed over the current controversy over validation of petitioners’ names and registration status, again contradicted himself, and made little effort at hiding his overt partisanship (bolds are mine throughout this post):

Wis. group nears mark for forcing recall election

Organizers of an effort to kick Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker out of office said Thursday they’ve collected nearly enough signatures to force a recall election, though their financial backing is far behind the Republican governor’s fundraising.

The state Democratic Party, unions and disgruntled citizens started organizing amid growing anger over Walker’s polarizing measure approved in March that effectively ended collective bargaining rights for public workers. Now, the United Wisconsin coalition reports that it collected 507,533 in 28 days; the group must submit 540,208 signatures by Jan. 17 to force the recall.

“The people of Wisconsin have said enough is enough,” Democratic Party chairman Mike Tate said.

But the coalition and Democrats have raised roughly $1.4 million since July, compared to the $5.1 million that Walker raised over the same period, according to reports from both sides Thursday.

Republicans also pushed back with a lawsuit Thursday challenging the state board that oversees elections in Wisconsin, saying it doesn’t do enough to make sure the names on recall petitions are valid.

The Government Accountability Board will review the petitions to ensure there are enough signatures to trigger recall contests, but it will only verify that the names are accompanied by a Wisconsin address and dated within the recall period. It’s up to the targeted office holder or other challengers to contest the validity of signatures and ferret out any duplicates.

If public-sector unions still have the right to represent workers (and they do), Bauer’s statement that the budget repair law “effectively ended collective bargaining rights” remains incorrect.

In the last two excerpted paragraphs, Bauer uses clever language to say that the Board won’t do anything at all to verify the names on recall petitions. It will instead wave through every signature submitted containing a name and address. “Mickey Mouse” gets a free pass from the Board, as long as the Mickster lists a Wisconsin address (which also is apparently not going to be validated). This makes the whole process vulnerable to massive fraud. As of now, it will be up to opponents to do what should be the Board’s work. Walker’s lawyers are attempting to force the Board to do what it should do.

As happened in his initial report back in February, Bauer contradicted himself tonight about the status of collective-barganing rights near the end of his report:

Walker has defended the collective bargaining changes, and other moves such as cutting public education aid, as necessary to bring the state’s budget back into balance at a time when it faced a $3.6 billion shortfall.

Oh, so now they’re only collective bargaining “changes,” meaning that collective bargaining rights really haven’t been “effectively ended.”

What Bauer is doing, consistent with his February methodology, is ensuring that news readers, listeners, and viewers around the country who are fed the AP’s copy at subscribing outlets tonight and tomorrow will get a false impression that the dispute in Wisconsin is still all about completely ending union representation of all public-sector employees. It ain’t so — but almost no one will get to Paragraph 21 to find out. Deceitful mission accomplished, I guess.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Breaking: Congressman Geoff Davis (KY-4) Will Not Run for Reelection

GeoffDavis2011From AP:

Republican U.S. Rep. Geoff Davis says he won’t seek re-election to Congress.

In a statement Thursday he said he’s leaving so he can spend more time with his family.

The fiscal and social conservative has served a district that stretches along the top of Kentucky from the Louisville suburbs to the West Virginia border since 2005.

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions said Kentucky is losing an “influential” and “exemplary” representative.

Initial reactions: I don’t think Davis has been anywhere near scandal or ethical problems during his tenure, but you never know, especially with what I think is the suddenness of the announcement. This should be a district a Republican successor can hold.

Full statement at Davis’s web site:

Congressman Geoff Davis [KY-4] made the following statement today:

“In order to devote more time to my family, I have decided not to seek re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives.

“It is an honor to have the trust and confidence of the citizens of Kentucky’s Fourth Congressional District.

“I have been blessed with an exceptionally competent staff who have helped thousands of Kentuckians over the years. Moreover, together we have passed critical pieces of legislation and enacted laws to reform our government, strengthen our national security, protect our veterans and service members, create economic revival and energy independence, and improve transparency and accountability of the government.

“As Chairman of the Ways and Means’ Subcommittee on Human Resources, we have set a new tone that combines genuine concern for the least among us, with pragmatic process reforms that are both compassionate and conservative. That attitude and focus have produced real results and proactive bi-partisan legislation, despite the negative partisan climate in Washington. Indeed, we have proven that people of diverse world views can find common ground and produce meaningful results.

“I thank the people of Kentucky’s Fourth District for this honor and look forward to continued service to our community and to our Republic in other capacities as I return to the private sector. I also want to thank my friend and mentor, former Senator Jim Bunning, for his example of steadfast character and unimpeachable integrity in service.

“Most of all, I thank my wonderful wife Pat and our children for their unfailing love, grace under pressure, and tireless encouragement in answering this call to serve.

“I am grateful that I live in a country where a boy like me, growing up with little hope, could walk a path by God’s grace that has allowed me to encounter His peace, the joy of true love, and service at the highest levels of our elected national government. Truly, we are blessed in this Republic.”

I definitely want to take one last opportunity to thank Mr. Davis, whose district includes Northern Kentucky across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, for his military and congressional service.

Media Ignoring Expanded Childishness of Obama’s ‘Taunt a Republican While Giving’ Effort

ObamaFA2012On Tuesday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted an email I received from Obama For America — I forgot to mention the subject line, which was “In honor of the GOP” — that encouraged readers to give $3 or more to Barack Obama’s reelection campaign and become entered to win dinner with the president and his wife. The email also promised donors that OFA would taunt (my word) a Republican acquaintance on their behalf with the fact that they just gave if they provided an email address to which to send the taunt. As will be shown later, establishment press coverage of this uniquely odious twist in campaign financing and conduct has been virtually non-existent.

In his commentary on the Obama campaign’s childishness, the Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto revealed that he had been forwarded a related OFA email targeting Facebook and Twitter users with another intensely annoying nuance. It reads as follows (bolds are mine throughout this post):

(more…)

I Don’t Want to Hear Another Bleepin’ Word About ‘Reckless Policies of the Past’

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:51 am

James Pethokoukis calculates that America could be out $1 trillion if the euro zone collapses — a possibility that is far from remote:

IMF lending commitments already made to Greece, Ireland, and Portugal total over US$ 100 billion. Considering that the US has a 17 ¾ percent share in the IMF, this lending puts the US taxpayer at risk for almost US$20 billion.

… Considering that the IMF’s combined lending commitment to Italy and Spain could be of the order of US$1.3 trillion, the US taxpayers’ eventual exposure could be of the order of US$220 billion. (17% of $1.3 tril — Ed.)

… In assessing the potential risk to the US taxpayer from IMF lending to the European periphery, one has to consider that the risk of an unraveling of the Euro is a distinct possibility.

… U.S. taxpayer exposure is $220 billion via the IMF. That’s scary enough. But then you have the Fed. (The American Enterprise Institute’s Desmond) Lachman notes that the counterparty to the (Fed’s) potential $600 billion in swaps is the ECB and that “one must suppose that the European Central Bank would be able to buy whatever quantity of US dollars that it might need to repay the Federal Reserve.” Unless there is a complete euro collapse and then there might not be a ECB to repay anybody. So in addition to a global depression and 20 percent U.S. unemployment, America would be (out) nearly $1 trillion.

Almost no one in America would approve of this reckless assumption of risk if asked. Yet it goes ahead anyway.

Initial Unemployment Claims: 366K SA (Lowest in 3-1/2 Years Pending Revision), 433K NSA

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:07 am

From the Department of Labor:

SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

In the week ending December 10, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 366,000, a decrease of 19,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 385,000. The 4-week moving average was 387,750, a decrease of 6,500 from the previous week’s revised average of 394,250.

UNADJUSTED DATA

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 433,287 in the week ending December 10, a decrease of 95,506 from the previous week. There were 491,776 initial claims in the comparable week in 2010.

Business Insider’s email predicted 390K. Same with Bloomberg.

Pending the inevitable upward revision next week (upward revisions in the past 40 weeks have averaged just a bit over 4,000), it’s the lowest figure since the week of May 31, 2008.

Let’s hope it’s really the good news most will believe it is. Lefties are going to call it snark, but it’s quite legitimate, after 3-1/2 years of the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy, to wonder if companies aren’t running out of people to lay off who would be eligible for benefits.

Also in the mix: So much of the pick-up in employment since the recession ended is part-time in nature. When part-timers get laid off, they are rarely eligible for unemployment benefits.

Government stats tell us that only 417,000 full-time jobs have been added since the recession officially ended in June 2009:

FTemployment2006toNov11

Also note that until two months ago, the net change since June 2009 was negative. On the bright side, the 744,000 added to the full-time employment rolls in the past two months is a really nice sign after 27 previously miserable months.

The comparable figure during the first 29 months after the Reagan-era recession was 6.893 million (difference between Feb. 1985 and Sept. 1982 at linked pic).

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UPDATE: Zero Hedge notes that a net of 332,000 more of the unemployed began receiving extended benefits, “an unprecedent large number for a weekly change.”

Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (121511)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 7:30 am

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

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At NewsBusters yesterday“Matthews Apologizes for MSNBC’s KKK Smear of Romney: ‘Appalling Lack of Judgment.’” Matthews had compared “a Mitt Romney campaign slogan to the Ku Klux Klan. The Hardball host conceded, “It was irresponsible and incendiary of us to do this, and it showed an appalling lack of judgment. We apologize, we really do, to the Romney campaign.”

Matthews was so full of remorse that “About thirty minutes after host Chris Matthews apologized for his network’s pathetic Ku Klux Klan smear of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, he disgustingly attacked former House Speaker Newt Gingrich saying, ‘You don’t give WMD to someone known even by his old former allies to be in a crunch, or even whenever things get edgy, to be himself a weapon of mass destruction.”

The good news is that twice as many total viewers watch Fox News during his time slots (example here).

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Spengler explains a lot about Team Obama and its regime of uncertainty: “Severing reward from accomplishment is just as important to autocrats as separating punishment from crime. To wield arbitrary power, the king/dictator/CEO must wield power arbitrarily.”

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Mood-altering narrative“This slump won’t end until 2031.” If we let authoritarians and statists instead of free markets rule, that’s not impossible.

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At the College Conservative (HT Instapundit) — “My Time at Walmart: Why We Need Serious Welfare Reform.” I’ll bet there are thousands of stories just like it around the country. Make that “I’m certain.”

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Economic Bellwethers? — First, Best Buy:

Best Buy 3rd-quarter profit falls, shares skid

Electronics retailer Best Buy said Tuesday that its third-quarter net income fell 29 percent as it cut prices in popular categories such as tablets and TVs to drive sales and traffic during the busy holiday season.

Its adjusted earnings missed analysts’ expectations, and its shares sank more than 15 percent.

You would think that Best Buy, which basically owns the brick-and-mortar portion of the electronics and appliance markets and is aggressively building its online presence, could do well no matter what.

Well, maybe it’s because its Internet competitors, principally Amazon, are eating into its business in a profitable way.

Nope:

Amazon.com Inc shares dropped to levels not seen since March Wednesday on concern that big spending and aggressive pricing by the No. 1 Internet retailer will hit profit during the crucial holiday season and well into next year.

My take is that both outfits are deeply discounting because the goods won’t move if they don’t. That runs against the robust holiday spending meme the establishment press is attempting to build and doesn’t bode well for the post-Christmas letdown/employment shakeout in retail.

Finally, there’s this at the AP from Christopher Rugaber, who just a day earlier was trying to put smiley-faces on retail numbers with which almost everyone else was disappointed:

CEOs of big companies foresee no pickup in hiring

Two-thirds of chief executives of the largest U.S. companies say they don’t plan to increase hiring or will cut staff in the next six months, mainly because of sluggish growth in the United States and financial turmoil in Europe.

Okay, large companies usually don’t drive employment during recoveries, but not at all? It’s still not looking good out there.

Positivity: Freed Colombian girl thanks Pope for her release

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:59 am

From Rome:

Dec 14, 2011 / 01:50 pm

Nhora Valentina Munoz, the 10-year-old girl who was kidnapped by a Colombian rebel group last October, said she is now free thanks to the prayers of Pope Benedict XVI.

Munoz told CNA that seeing the Pope “means a lot to me, because Pope Benedict XVI prayed for me when I was kidnapped, and thanks to him I am free.”

The girl was in Rome with her family to participate in a Mass for Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 12.

After hearing of the girl’s capture, the Pope began offering prayers for her immediate release and “for all those kidnapped in Colombia.”

Munoz said she was “very happy” to represent Colombia at the Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on Monday. She was among dozens of young people who each carried the flag of their respective country.

Juan Sebastian Lozada, 25, who was kidnapped for three years by Colombian rebels together with his mother and brother, also attended the Mass. He said the experience was “very exciting” and that “to see first-hand what the Holy Father conveys is always a reason for admiration and pride.”

Lozada’s mother, Gloria Polanco, is a former congresswoman and the widow of the former governor of the province of Huila, Jaime Lozada. She was kidnapped by the Marxist rebel group FARC, along with her husband and two sons on July 26, 2001. …

Go here for the rest of the story.