January 23, 2012

AP Misstates Pro-Life Purpose of Rand Paul’s TSA-Caused Missed Flight to DC

A frequent emailer saw a silver lining in Rand Paul’s detention this morning in Nashville by the Transportation Safety Administration: “Best way to get the MSM to mention pro-life rally.”

Well, that’s largely true. The local Nashville TV station video posted at Real Clear Politics mentions Paul’s prolife purpose up-front, as does a commentary by James Fallows at the Atlantic (who incidentally described the rally as “mammoth”). But my emailer underestimated the lengths to which reporters at the Associated Press would go to keep anything pro-life out of a story. In their 750-word report (saved here for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes), Erik Schelzig and Eileen Sullivan completely misstated why Paul wanted to get on the flight he was not able to board — which also means that their story’s headline is incomplete:

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AP’s Rugaber Lowers the Bar For Unemployment Claims by Raising the ‘Strong Hiring’ Threshold

Two examples of poor press handling of what initially appeared to be fairly good news about initial unemployment claims last Thursday got lost in the pre-South Carolina primary hubbub.

The first and most obvious was in the writeup presented by the Associated Press’s Chris Rugaber. In his fourth paragraph, he raised the threshold below which a consistent level of weekly claims might be expected to move the unemployment rate downward by 15% from where it was less than 2-1/2 years ago:

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Iowa Dem’s ID Theft Arrest Targeting State’s SOS Still Not ‘Safe’ For National AP Coverage; Local Story Avoids Damning Details

This morning, P.J. Gladnick at NewsBusters pointed to how the Des Moines Register avoided identifying the employer of a “prominent member of a well known Democrat campaign consulting firm” who was also a “former Obama campaign staffer” until the firm, LINK Strategies, had a chance to fire him. Once Zachary Edwards was shown the door, it it became a “safe” story to cover, whereupon the Register ran the story as “Political consultants quickly fire arrested man.” But of course.

Though the story of Edwards’s arrest in connection with an attempt to steal Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz’s identity is nationally newsworthy, it appears that the Associated Press has not yet covered it that way, while avoiding the damning details in its local/regional story.

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Coulter Pinpoints and Excuses Mitt Romney’s Inexcusable Inability or Refusal to Defend and Explain Himself

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:28 am

Ann Coulter’s latest column is a fiery but likely flawed defense of Bain Capital’s record at Ampad.

She admirably and to my knowledge almost uniquely points out that Romney stalker Randy Johnson, who is habitually portrayed in the press as just another worker at the Marion, Indiana plant which Ampad closed after months of failed attempts to work out a union contract, was actually the head of that union. Yes, that’s pathetic, DNC-driven media bias. (Update: Geez Ann, I gave you too much credit. You may consider it quibbling, but Johnson is described as a “vice president” in the first two links contemporaneous to the time of the Marion, Indiana strike in 1994-1995 listed here. And yes, Ann, it matters. He could still have been the union “head” at the Marion plant as I described it if the local represented multiple locations, but it appears that he wasn’t the local’s “president” at the time.)

Coulter also does a generally good job of wading through Ampad’s history, but in my view blows the big picture:

Alas, people kept using those damn computers and shopping for discount paper at Staples and similar stores, and in 1999, Ampad had to file for bankruptcy protection.

Trouble is, the former isn’t true, and Ampad failed to adapt to the latter, despite the fact that the industry was still growing.

The implication Coulter wishes to convey is that paper consumption was in decline. It’s wasn’t. The graphic here, which goes from 1960 to 1995, shows that paper consumption (primary and recycled combined) was still rising in the mid-1990s. A presentation found here from the Georgia Institute of Technology notes that “U.S. Pulp and Paper industry consumption peaked circa 2000.” But if you take away a significant drop in newsprint production, the rest of the industry’s production was still rising, if slowly. “Printing and writing” production increased by 1.7% between 1990 and 2004 — obviously not spectacular, but not a decline.

Ampad declared bankruptcy in 2000 (according the linked Boston Globe graphic) after going public only four years earlier, and liquidated the next year.

Coulter’s conclusion: “Contrary to every single news report on Bain’s involvement with Ampad, Bain did not drive the company to bankruptcy by looting it. To the contrary, Bain built up the company, added other companies to it, turned it into a ‘profitable competitor’ that paid handsome dividends for a few years.”

Here’s Blumer’s alternate take: Bain’s nimbly orchestrated acquisitions and IPO went well. But in a stabilizing but still-growing market, Bainsters led by Romney who were really good at moving money around and structuring companies knew little to nothing about properly managing the operations of the enterprise it had assembled, failed to acquire the needed expertise, and stood by helplessly as their once-beautiful edifice unraveled (while still making sure they got theirs until shortly before the company hit the wall). This isn’t “looting,” of course, but it certainly pokes Swiss cheese-sized holes in Romney’s “great businessman” meme; one can certainly “drive a company into bankruptcy” without meaning to.

The truth about Ampad would seem to have implications which tie into a president’s ability to rein in that out-of-control entity known as the federal government.

So who’s right, Coulter or Blumer?

Only Mitt Romney can tell us, and it’s apparently beneath his dignity to explain what really happened in a manner the average person will understand.

Which is okay by Ann Coulter, who thinks that it’s an absolutely impossible task for Mitt Romney to explain the substance of his business career to the average person:

I don’t know how Mitt Romney is supposed to explain free market capitalism to career politicians, much less describe the intricacies of a thousand business decisions in two minutes during a debate.

If he can’t explain the history of even one Bain investment quickly and succinctly (as stated numerous times, he’s had 17 years since Ted Kennedy hit him over the head to do so, and hasn’t), how are we supposed to expect him to explain to the American people how to transform government, appropriately cut spending, reform the tax code, control the borders, maintain our military strength, etc. etc., in terms they will readily understand?

If Romney really can’t do that, he doesn’t deserve to be president.

If Romney won’t do it, he doesn’t deserve to be president.

Thanks for making that clear, Ann.

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UPDATE: Over at the Daily Bellwether, Bill Sloat has identified another Bain investment which arguably fits the “They bought it, but couldn’t run it” model. I suspect there’s a pattern here — even beyond what was identified in the New York Post a year ago.

UPDATE 2: Sloat’s post (and, I suspect, the sagas of other Bain investments) explains why any attempt by Romney to do what James Pethokoukis at the AEI’s Enterprise Blog suggests won’t work.

Pethokoukis’s suggestion:

Romney’s Big Argument, by contrast, could center around how crony capitalism created the housing and financial crisis (via Too Big To Fail and pro-housing policy/Fannie-Freddie) and saps growth by directing capital (via all manner of tax breaks and regulation) toward unproductive areas of the economy. Oh, and it’s bankrupting us. Time for free-market capitalism and less government. That could be a winning message.

Maybe, but not with this messenger (obviously, Gingrich also has some issues in this arena). Sloat’s post notes that Bain’s laundry machinery company got taxpayer economic development subsidies when it moved operations from Cincinnati to Florida, and again when it moved several years later from Florida to Wisconsin before the Bain sold the operation to another investment firm. While not directly “crony capitalism,” Bain’s history of using economic development funds weakens the “I’m here to stop the favor-granting merry-go-round” argument.

Monday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (012312)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 7:15 am

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

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In the course of a discussion about the recently “killed” (for now) Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), the intellectually superior (just ask him) Bill Maher “admitted that he has not read the proposed legislation” (HT Instapundit).

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Well, that was quick“Newt Gingrich leads Mitt Romney by eight points in Florida, according to a poll conducted the day after the former House speaker won the South Carolina primary.” In the previous four polls listed at Real Clear Politics, Gingrich trailed by an average of 22 points.

Update: Rasmussen has Gingrich up by 9% (HT The Hedgehog Report).

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Arrogance, condescension, you name it, relayed by Byron York at the Washington Examiner“members of Mitt Romney’s circle find it absurd — almost crazy — that the former House speaker has even a ghost of a chance of becoming the Republican Party’s presidential nominee.”

Here’s a hint guys: Look at your objectively unfit candidate. No premature e-celebration here, but the base has figured Romney out, is having its say, and rejecting Romney en masse. Let it continue.

Gingrich is far from perfect, but Romney is a walking, talking establishment-driven disaster. It will show up in the head-to-head Obama comparisons shortly.

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Wherein the candidate finally figures out after running for president for five years that he ought to do what every presidential candidate has done during about the past 40 years — “Romney to release tax returns Tuesday, calls delay ‘a mistake.’” Even now, he can’t be honest about what he’s doing, as his original intention was to not release them at all.

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air translates: “I can’t afford to lose three debates in a row.”

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Jeb Bush, when he served as Florida’s governor, was arguably the country’s best state chief executive. Last week he was rumored to be on the verge of endorsing Romney, but on Sunday he said he won’t endorse anyone. Guess who this doesn’t help?

Positivity: Pro-life ecumenism takes root in Oakland, Calif.

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 7:00 am

From Catholic News Agency:

Jan 14, 2012 / 01:04 pm

The Rev. Walter Hoye is preparing for his fifth annual Standing Up 4Life Walk in Oakland, Calif. The rally will begin at noon Jan. 20 in front of Oakland City Hall at 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza.

“The speakers want to come to Oakland,” said the Rev. Hoye, who thanked West Coast Walk for Life founders Eva Muntean and Dolores Meehan for their assistance.

“Eva and Dolores work together to get communities of color involved,” he said.

The focus of the Oakland event is the impact of abortion on the minority community. The Rev. Hoye is one of the nation’s leaders in framing the abortion debate as a matter of genocide.

Speakers at the rally, who will also attend a benefit dinner later that day, include Lori Hoye, the Rev. Hoye’s wife and partner in the Issues4Life Foundation.

“She is a product of rape,” the Rev. Hoye said. “It’s not the conversation that comes up normally. She will get a chance to talk about what her life has been like.”

Also scheduled to speak are the Rev. Clenard Childress, senior pastor of the New Calvary Baptist Church in New Jersey and founder of BlackGenocide.org; Dr. Vansen Wong, an obstetrician and gynecologist who will talk about his experiences as a former abortion provider; and Abby Brannan Johnson, author of “Unplanned,” her story of her move from Planned Parenthood employee to pro-life advocate.

Johnson spoke at last year’s Walk for Life in San Francisco.

“She’ll rally and walk with us and be with us at the cathedral,” Hoye said.

The hour-long rally in the Frank Ogawa Plaza in Oakland will be followed by a walk down Broadway to Eighth Street, and back up Martin Luther King Jr. Way, and across 14th Street back to the Frank Ogawa Plaza.

After the walk, leaders and speakers customarily gather for discussion. This year, they will gather at 4 p.m. at the parish hall at the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland for conversation and dinner.

“This is the first time as a benefit,” said John Watkins, who coordinates social justice programs at the Diocese of Oakland. Space will be available for about 120 to attend the conversation and dinner. Reservations are required. Tickets are available at $30 for general admission, $15 for students.

“We’re happy to get some young people to come,” said the Rev. Hoye. “They ask wonderful questions.”

The smaller venue will offer the opportunity for the public to talk with the speakers and leaders, the Rev. Hoye said. …

Go here for the rest of the story.