March 21, 2012

While Housing Starts Languish, AP’s Kravitz Trumpets Increase in Permits as Evidence of Builder Optimism

You’ve got to admire the determination of Derek Kravitz at the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press, to find lemonade among the lemons known as the monthly new-home construction statistics from the Census Bureau. Why, he was even able to find a guy who said that “housing permits-not the starts” are more relevant in gauging the health of the market. Did it ever occur to these guys that builders might be piling up permits in the hope that economic conditions will change for the better for real once it’s clear that the country will have new leadership (which could conceivably happen even before the November general elections)?

Here are the first seven paragraphs from Kravitz’s report, followed by a fuller rundown of the relevant stats (bolds are mine):

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Not National News: 29 Wis. ‘Impartial’ Judges Sign Scott Walker Recall Petitions

If Scott Walker somehow loses his recall election in Wisconsin, will that be national news? Of course it will.

Well, if the Walker recall really is a national story, why isn’t it news that 29 judges who are supposed to be impartial in their rulings and who are under strict prohibitions against political activity were found by Gannett News to have signed petitions supporting Walker’s recall — including at least one who has ruled in a recall-related matter without bothering to disclose his action? Make such a story about Republican judges signing petitions to recall a Democratic governor, and it would be national news for sure. Here are several paragraphs from Eric Litke’s report:

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Can’t Make This Up: Minnesota Dem. Keith Ellison Channels ‘Animal House’

Filed under: National Security,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:10 am

Via Noel Sheppard at NewsBusters — Bill O’Reilly was interviewing Minnesota Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison on the Iran situation last night, and discussing the historically horrific costs of appeasement:

O’REILLY: … I will point to history. The same mindset was taken when dealing with Nazi Germany. We’re not going to go in aggressive action. We don’t believe they’re going to do this. We don’t believe they’re going to do that. And they absolutely did everything. So I think you’ve got to learn from history.

ELLISON: Let me tell you in World War II, in World War II they attacked Pearl Harbor. That would be enough.

Paging Senator Blutarsky:

Cue the Instapundit sarcasm: “Our country is in the very best of hands.”

Latest PJ Media Column (‘Obama’s Broken Window Company — And His Larger, More Serious Damage’) Is Up

SeriousEnergyReprieve022412It’s here.

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

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The main (but far from the only) point of the column is that, as I feared when it happened in December 2008, President-elect Barack Obama’s expressed solidarity with the workers who occupied Republic Windows — without calling out their lawlessness and demanding that they leave — sent a chilling message to the business community which has been confirmed time and time again since he has taken office, namely that hiring full-time employees is something to be avoided. When the country’s chief executive-in-waiting condones lawlessness (and then engages in it himself once installed), it brings — and has brought — terrible consequences for the entire nation.

The news which drove the column occurred in late February, when California-based Serious Energy, which bought the moribund Republic Windows plant a few months after the plant’s occupation, announced that it would close the Chicago plant once and for all. Naturally, workers — this time only about 60 instead of over 200 — occupied the plant again, and Serious promised to keep the plant open for 90 days and to try to find a buyer (I don’t wish them ill, but good luck with that). The few news accounts which were filed usually mentioned Joe Biden’s visit to the plant in April 2009, but none I read or saw mentioned Barack Obama’s chilling “I think they’re absolutely right” December 2008 statement, which was a clearly far more relevant turning point.

There is so much more to the Republic Windows/Serious Energy story than I could possibly have squeezed into an already overstuffed column that I will get to some of it here.

The Pigford Effect

As the column notes, the administration’s $5 billion weatherization program “has been an epic fail, accurately characterized as a “a complete cesspool of waste” by the conservative fiscal watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste.”

An emailer made a very pertinent point about this, which ties back to the Pigford debacle, where a few probably valid claims of discrimination against black farmers decades ago turned into a class action lawsuit with more far more participants than ever engaged in farming, really on two levels.

The emailer noted that “Pigford attracted fraudulent claims because the government opened their checkbook. So fake black farmers came out of the wood work and claimed they had been wronged.”

The emailer, upon learning that the Federal Trade Commission obtained a consent agreement in February from Serious and four other window makers for making wildly exaggerated claims of energy savings from installing their windows (up to 40%-50% vs. a reality of 7%-15%), noted that “Green energy window companies made up fraudulent claims of green energy savings to the consumer because they knew the government was footing the bill,” and that “Private investors or venture capital folks would have tested the claims by Serious and others.”

True enough. Another aspect to this, borne out in the massive complaints about the quality of the work done under the program in several states which likely barely scratch the surface, is that the weatherization program also attracted fly-by-night and crooked contractors who either didn’t know what they were doing or deliberately cut corners and did shoddy work knowing that the government was footing the bill. The charitable and not-for-profit groups who were given the money for the program were in many cases woefully inexperienced to manage such an enterprise.

Cronyism

Serious’s Chairman Kevin Surace was named Inc. Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year in 2009; based on the related write-up, the selection looks comes off as a suck-up to the Obama regime. Though he has received other, less tainted accolades, the FTC complaint certainly mars Surace and his company’s reputation. I should also note that Serious has been refashioning itself as a “developer of cloud-based energy management software” and de-emphasizing its manufacturing (though plants in PA and CA remain open).

Surace gave $5,000 to Obama for America in September 2011. I didn’t find evidence of other political contributions by Serious execs.

The company’s board has at least one obvious Democrat ringer: Reed Hundt, former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, who habitually imagines that there must be a “right-wing power grab” going on whenever the topic of deregulation comes up.

Lots of hype, little in results results

The company definitely over-promised what it would do for the Chicago plant’s workers; as the column notes, it “never hired back more than 75″ of the plant’s 200-250 workers. That certainly isn’t the impression Joe Biden had in 2009:

Wow. In retrospect, the horse manure in Biden’s speech was neck-deep. “600 workers on three shifts”?

Kevin DeWine Roundup

Filed under: Ohio Politics,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:26 am

Maggie Thurber — “When did the LCRP (Lucas Co. Republican Party) decide to demand DeWine’s resignation?”

Matt at Weapons of Mass Discussion — “ORP Civil War Update”

Both Maggie and Matt raise valid points in questioning the presumptive authority of the signers of the letter posted here last night to speak for “hundreds of thousands of loyal Republican activists, elected officials, candidates, donors and voters in Ohio.” Then of course there’s the “small” matter of who DeWine’s replacement would be.

On Sunday, Bytor at Third Base Politics took DeWine’s announcement that he would resign at the end of this year as an admission that he no longer has the support of a majority of Central Committee members. Two days earlier, he posted the content of an email from Tea Party leader Jim Woods of Medina listing specific grievances and calling for DeWine’s immediate resignation.

Also, at GOHP Blog – “It’s Time To Step Down, Mr. Chairman”

Establishment press coverage:

Wednesday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (032112)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 7:40 am

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

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Positivity: Religious freedom rallies planned in over 120 locations

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:30 am

From Chicago:

Mar 21, 2012 / 02:05 am

On March 23, more than 120 cities and towns across the U.S. will hear a demand to stop the Obama administration’s contraception mandate and restore the freedom of religious institutions and believers.

“The buzz is incredible,” said Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-Life Action League, who is organizing the Nationwide Rally for Religious Freedom along with Citizens for a Pro-Life Society.

“I’m getting phone calls from people all over the country.”

When CNA last spoke with Scheidler, on Feb. 29, protests were being planned in around 50 cities. Since then, the administration has refused to withdraw or change its contraception insurance mandate – and the scope of the national protest movement has more than doubled.

“New cities and towns are still coming on to the rally every single day,” Scheidler said on March 20. “We went into the weekend with 110, we came out of the weekend with over 120.”

“The number of blog posts, and stories, and chatter on Facebook is another sign,” he noted. Based on these indications in both new and traditional media, he expects “a huge turnout across the country,” possibly reaching into the tens-of-thousands.

The March 23 protests, taking place at historic sites and government buildings, are scheduled for the Friday before the Church’s Feast of the Annunciation. That date also happens to be the anniversary of Patrick Henry’s 1775 “Give me liberty, or give me death” speech.

Scheidler says the protests are part of a movement that will not stop until it secures the free exercise of faith.

“At no point has the Obama administration ever taken seriously the conscience concerns, the moral objections, or the religious objections, of the American people to this mandate,” he observed.

“Until they allow all employers to opt out of providing contraceptives, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs – which are not ‘preventive care’ for anything, because pregnancy is not a disease – we will continue to fight this mandate.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.