Free Markets, Free People

Monthly Archives: January 2011

Was it bias or lack of time that caused the NYT to get the Giffords story so wrong? Or both?

The New York Times public editor, Arthur Brisbane, engages in a little self-criticism of the Times.  It is about the Giffords shooting, and it highlights one of my critiques of the media for years.

That is, it feels the need to get the story out first rather than getting the story out right.  Or perhaps “feels the need” isn’t the right way to say that – the media has devolved into an industry where getting the story out first has become more of a priority than getting it out right.

The Giffords shooting and the Times give us the perfect case study.  First the premise:

JIM ROBERTS, the assistant managing editor who has helped create today’s NYTimes.com, likes to call it the 1440/7 news cycle — 1,440 minutes every day, seven days a week, each one of those minutes demanding news for delivery to a networked world.

In a word – wrong.

I don’t know about you, but as a consumer of news, what some might call a news junkie, I’m not demanding “news for delivery” in every one of those minutes.  Heck, I couldn’t absorb that much news – nor could anyone else.  What I want is factual, complete and comprehensive news delivered when it is ready to be delivered – i.e. confirmed and out of the realm of rumor.

In the case of the Giffords shooting the Times failed miserably at meeting my demand.  Brisbane details the failure.

A major breaking news event, occurring on a Saturday afternoon with a small staff on duty, with print deadlines to worry about and a Web site that needed to be fed as fast and as frequently as possible.

The Times’ first online posting came at 1:47 p.m., followed by two quick updates — at 1:53 and 2:16. These stories, pieced together from other news organizations that were on the ground in Tucson, reported the shootings and other basic facts, attributing word of the shooting to the congresswoman’s spokesman, C. J. Karamargin. At this point, her condition was described as “unclear.”

At 2:27, though, the story was revised to say Ms. Giffords had been shot and killed, attributing the information to Mr. Karamargin and “news reports.” Lower in the story, those news reports were identified as coming from NPR and CNN. As it turned out, the information was incorrect. The Times compounded the error by appearing to attribute it in part to Ms. Giffords’s own spokesman, who was not the source of the error.

Or said another way, the Times got it completely wrong and really didn’t know they had.  The question then is this – did anyone get on the phone to NPR and CNN or Rep. Giffords spokesperson and try to confirm the details?  Apparently not.

Enter the infamous “3 layers of editors”:

Here’s how the error was made. It was hectic in the newsroom with many news reports flowing in as Kathleen McElroy, the day Web news editor, was trying to decide whether The Times was ready to report Giffords’s death. She decided against it and was telling Web producers to hold off reporting it in a news alert when J. David Goodman, who was writing the story, told her he had a few changes he wanted to make.

Ms. McElroy said, “I should have looked at every change,” but she thought Mr. Goodman was referring to small stuff. Mr. Goodman told me he then erred by reporting Representative Giffords’s death in the lead as though The Times itself were standing behind the information. In any event, Ms. McElroy had said O.K. without seeing that change, so Mr. Goodman pushed the button.

And suddenly, the Times was reporting, unedited, the death of Giffords.

Brisbane entitles his critique, “Time, the enemy”.  I call BS.  It wasn’t time that was the enemy, it was the unspoken premise that says “it is more important to get it out first than to get it out right” that seems to have infiltrated the media.  Brisbane sort of admits to that in another paragraph:

The Tucson shootings afforded another, quite different illustration of the pressure of time in news coverage — not pressure measured in seconds and minutes, but pressure that news organizations feel to define the context of a story, to set up a frame for it, sometimes before the facts can be fully understood.

Note his choice of words.  “define the context of a story” – “to set up a frame for it”.  He claims that has to be done “sometimes before the facts can be fully understood’”.

Really?  How in the freakin’ world does one “define the context of a story” without knowing the facts?  Well, as it turns out, they’re reduced to making assumptions and those assumptions, in the case of Giffords, were wrong.

The Times’s day-one coverage in some of its Sunday print editions included a strong focus on the political climate in Arizona and the nation. For some readers — and I share this view to an extent — placing the violence in the broader political context was problematic.

It wasn’t “problematic”, it was, as one reader claimed “a rush to judgment”.  So what was that rush to judgment based on?

One would have to assume, given the Times admits it didn’t have all the facts, it was based in bias.  How else does one “set up a frame” for a story for which it admittedly doesn’t have all the facts or “before the facts can be fully understood”?  You go with what you believe to be true, that’s how.

And, apparently, that’s precisely what the NYT and a whole bunch of other news organizations, politicians, pundits and bloggers did.

So strong was this bias that the Times admits it missed even more facts available and germane to the story:

Meanwhile, opportunities were missed to pick up on evidence — quite apparent as early as that first day — that Jared Lee Loughner, who is charged with the shootings, had a mental disorder and might not have been motivated by politics at all.

Fancy that – with the story framed the way the bias dictated, the Times wasn’t looking for facts that might contradict or dispute their frame. 

Is that what happened?  Well, not according to Brisbane.  You see, it was a function of “framing protocols” developed “generations ago”.

My, my – you mean like this nonsense?  If this is the function of generational framing protocols it would seem to me media organizations would be taking a serious look at modifying them.

Jerry Ceppos, dean of the journalism school at the University of Nevada, Reno, said journalists’ impulse to quickly impose a frame on a story is “genetic.”

“Journalists developed automatic framing protocols generations ago because of the need to report quickly,” he said. “Today’s hyper-deadlines, requiring journalists to report all day long and all night long, made that genetic disposition even more dominant.”

Nonsense. It may be "genetic" to an organization, but it is hardly "genetic" in the real sense to reporters. It is what is demanded of them by the media organization. And when that is what is demanded, inaccurate stories and bias are what you will get. And that’s precisely what the Times got.

A self-imposed dictum of "publish or die" has overridden that of "get the facts, corroborate them and get the story right" that should be dominant in any media organization. This internal requirement to "get it out first" instead of "get it out right" has naturally led to short-cuts – like pre-conceived frames which can be imposed even "before all the facts are understood".

The editors simply make assumptions based on what they initially have heard and then select the "facts" that support those assumptions. In short, they establish a bias and then "support" it. Brisbane’s two pages of equivocation and "transparency" aside, that’s the short version of what happened.

~McQ

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Observations: The QandO Podcast for 16 Jan 11

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss the Gabby Giffords shooting and the response to it.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.

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What he said–Don Surber pretty much speaks for me

In fact, he nails it.  A wonderful excerpt, then go read the whole thing:

For a decade, from the election of Bush 43 forward, the Left has lied and cheated as it tried to return to power. Al Gore made a mockery out of the American electoral system by being a spoilsport over Florida, which Bush indeed won by 537 votes. Dan Rather forged a document to try to derail Bush’s re-election. Twice Democrats stole U.S. senators from the Republicans. After voting to support the war to get by the 2002 election, many Democrats quickly soured on the war. The profane protests were cheered by liberals who misattributed “dissent is the highest form of patriotism”to Thomas Jefferson; the words belong to the late historian Howard Zinn.

Once in power, liberals were the opposite of gracious.

For two years now, I have been called ignorant, racist, angry and violent by the left. The very foul-mouthed protesters of Bush dare to now label my words as “hate speech.”

Last week, the left quickly blamed the right for the national tragedy of a shooting spree by a madman who never watched Fox News, never listened to Rush Limbaugh and likely did not know who Sarah Palin is.

Fortunately, the American public rejected out of hand that idiotic notion that the right was responsible.

Rather than apologize, the left wants to change the tone of the political debate.

The left suddenly wants civil discourse.

Bite me.

The left wants to play games of semantics.

Bite me.

The left wants us to be civil — after being so uncivil for a decade.

Bite me.

I feel this great sense of release after reading Surber’s words and this overwhelming desire to yell “bite me!” into the night.   Because his post just answers the left’s "civil discourse" demand so well.  Surber very nicely nails the hypocrisy of the left as well as the tactic they attempt to employ when things aren’t quite going their way (see November and see the horrific misfire after the Giffords shooting) and they want to shut the other side up.

Yup … Surber’s right. If "civil discourse" means I have to write in a way acceptable to the left, then "I don’t want civil discourse" either.

~McQ

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Which Reagan has Alzheimer’s?

What’s up with Ron Reagan Jr’s claim that his father was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease in the White House (except as a hook to sell his book)?

What has he to back this claim up?

Apparently, not much. As an aside, if Ronald Reagan had Alzheimer’s during his presidency he still outperformed the vast majority of presidents I’ve seen in my life time.

Paul Bedard of US News takes on Ron Jr’s claims:

Let’s start with the Alzheimer’s diagnosis. It was announced in 1994. While it prompted some to suggest they knew Reagan had the disease as president, his four White House doctors said they saw no evidence of it. But Ron, who became a liberal and atheist, disappointing his dad, suggests he saw hints of confusion and "an out-of-touch president" during the 1984 campaign and again in 1986, when his father couldn’t recall the names of California canyons he was flying over. Arguing his case in the book, Ron adds that doctors today know that the disease can be in evidence before being recognized. "The question, then, of whether my father suffered from the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s while in office more or less answers itself," he writes.

Hmmm … believe 4 White House docs or Ron Jr.?  Yeah, not a toughie at all, is it?  In fact, in the article cited by Bedard, the physicians say:

But even with the hindsight of Mr. Reagan’s diagnosis, his four main White House doctors say they never detected any evidence that his forgetfulness was more than just that. His mental competence in office, they said in a series of recent interviews, was never in doubt. Indeed, they pointed out, tests of his mental status did not begin to show evidence of the disease until the summer of 1993, more than four years after he left the White House.

So the first indication of the disease didn’t show up until ‘93.  Forgetfulness, as anyone who is over the age of 60 will tell you, does not equal Alzheimer’s – which is apparently what amateur doctor Ron Jr. is attempting to conflate.  And, you know, it’s not like Presidents aren’t constantly checked and rechecked and monitored and checked again by medical personnel – often among the best.  4 doctors say, “no signs”.  Ron Jr. says, “signs”.   I go with the docs.

Not content with playing amateur doctor, Jr. decides to try to rewrite a little history.  I.e. an operation that no one else remembers or can find any record of:

Besides playing amateur doctor, Ron Reagan reveals, if true, brain surgery on his dad never before reported. He accurately reports that Reagan, after leaving the presidency, was bucked from a horse on July 4, 1989, while in Mexico. Ron tells of how his dad, after initially refusing medical help, was transported to a San Diego hospital. "Surgeons opening his skull to relieve pressure on the brain emerged from the operating room with the news that they had detected what they took to be probable signs of Alzheimer’s disease."

So when you open the skull, “probable signs of Alzheimer’s disease” are evident, eh?  Yeah, I don’t think so.  Not that it matters because everyone else says the operation never happened:

Several Reagan associates, however, say there was no surgery in San Diego.

What’s more there is no reporting about any San Diego operation on Reagan. News reports at the time of his fall say Reagan was flown to a hospital in Arizona, where he was treated for scrapes and bruises and released after five hours.

There were no reports of Reagan with a shaved head or skull stitches later that month when he served as a guest TV announcer at the July 11 baseball All-Star Game in Anaheim, Calif., or when he was inducted into the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City on July 21.

So 7 days later, a man who was supposed to have had brain surgery, or at least had his skull opened, was serving as a guest TV announcer and 17 days later was being inducted into a hall of fame.  

Reagan did actually have a procedure done at the Mayo Clinic  to drain fluid buildup on his brain as a result of the fall in September, two months after the fall.  Not mentioned by Jr.  However, Jr. does claim that Reagan went to the Mayo Clinic in 1990 for tests that “confirmed the initial suspicion of Alzheimer’s”.  Now note, this is important for Jr’s White House timeline.  The date of the ‘93 diagnosis just don’t serve his purpose.  Way too late in the game.

As for his ‘90 Mayo Clinic claim?  No record of such a visit. None. 

And his doctor from ‘84 through Reagan’s retirement told the NY Times that the former president showed no “tell-tale” signs of Alzheimer’s until ‘93.

Who to believe … who to believe. 

Look, Reagan stood up in ‘94 and did a tremendous thing – he announced he had the disease and gave it a visibility that it sorely needed.  It is another positive in an already outstanding legacy.  The topic of his Alzheimer’s and when it was evident enough to be diagnosed has been a topic for years and years.  We’ve been all over this ground.  People much more intimately informed about his medical condition (with the bona fides to reach such diagnostic conclusions) have said over and over again that the disease didn’t manifest itself until 1993.   Those that worked intimately with the man said they observed nothing that would validate Jr’s claims.   And we have the apparent made up nonsense about brain surgery in San Diego (when in fact he was treated and released in Arizona) to boot.

You have to wonder, given the seemingly incorrect facts and fiction of Jr’s account, who in the hell really has Alzheimer’s.  OK, I’m just kidding and Alzheimer’s isn’t anything to really kid about, but I personally find it disgusting that a son would do what appears to be a hatchet job on his father’s legacy.  Why?

Just as importantly, if in fact none of the events happened as he claims, how in the freakin’ world did he think he’d get away with claiming they did in his book? 

Questions which will most likely never be answered by the weasel we all know as Ron Reagan Jr. It’s also a good reason not to buy the book.

~McQ

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Lord save us from the nannies

Jacob Sullum at Reason brings us the following.  It just never ceases to amaze me (although given the proliferation of such legislation I suppose it should) what some people think the purpose of a legislature is:

The Food and Drug Administration can ban caffeinated alcoholic beverages such as Four Loko, but it cannot stop bartenders from mixing Red Bull with vodka, coffee with Irish whiskey, or cola with rum. Fortunately, Iowa state Sen. Brian Schoenjahn (D-Arlington) has proposed a bill that would close this dangerous gap by making it a misdemeanor for any business with a liquor license to "manufacture for sale, sell, offer or keep for sale, import, distribute, transport, or possess any caffeinated alcoholic beverage." The bill defines "caffeinated alcoholic beverage" as "any beverage containing more than one-half of one percent of alcohol by volume, including alcoholic liquor, wine, and beer, to which caffeine is added." Hence it apparently applies not only to drinks with a noticeable caffeine kick but also to coffee-flavored liqueurs with detectable amounts of the stimulant, such as Kahlua or Tia Maria, and any cocktails made with them, such as a Black Russian or a Mudslide. In addition to jail time and fines, violators would face revocation (not just suspension) of their liquor licenses, and therefore loss of their livelihoods—a pretty harsh penalty for following the instructions in a Mr. Boston book.

Another in a long line of those who would tell you what to eat, who you can love, what is “best” for you and remove all choices they find incompatible with their vision of how your life should be lived.  And they’re willing to put you in jail if you don’t agree.

Remember, freedom equals choice.

~McQ

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Irony alert – “Mean-spirited” Chancellor of UC Berkeley uses “hateful rhetoric” to attack political opponents

The LA Times brings us yet another example of the apparent immunity to irony most folks on the liberal side of the house tend to exhibit.  This time it is the Chancellor of UC Berkeley –  an institution probably considered the cherry on top of the sundae of liberal academia.

Apparently Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau sent out a campus-wide email in which he blamed the shooting of Rep. Giffords in Tucson on  Arizona’s crackdown on illegal immigrants and the failure to pass the DREAM act.  The email was sent out Monday.  Giffords was shot the previous Saturday.

In the email, Birgeneau said, "I believe that it is not a coincidence that this calamity has occurred in a state which has legislated discrimination against undocumented persons."

Well, as a matter of fact, it is a coincidence that it happened in Arizona regardless of anyone’s views on the immigration enforcement law the state passed.  In fact, it appears immigration wasn’t even on Loughner’s rather weirded-out radar screen.

Birgenau also made it clear he believed a "climate in which demonization of others goes unchallenged and hateful speech is tolerated" was also partly responsible for the shooting.  Subsequent revelations seem to pretty much debunk this theory.  0 for 2.

Speaking of demonization and hateful speech, Birgenau went on to say, "this same mean-spirited xenophobia played a major role in the defeat of the DREAM Act by legislators in Washington, leaving many exceptionally talented and deserving young people, including our own undocumented students, painfully in limbo with regard to their futures in this country,"

“Mean-spirited xenophobia”?  It couldn’t be that many who opposed the legislation saw it as giving an unfair advantage to those who had chosen to ignore our laws over those who were playing by the rules could it?  It couldn’t be that those who oppose the law have absolutely no problem with legal immigration and actually agree our system is broken and needs to be fixed, could it?

Nope, they must be “mean-spirited xenophobes” if they opposed the law.  The irony impaired say so.

By the way, this is also a great example of “projection” – another thing the left seems to be unable to spot.  Blame the other side for doing what you’re caught doing, i.e. using overgeneralizations, demonization and hateful speech to attack your opponent  – while in the middle of decrying it.

It just doesn’t get much better than this.

~McQ

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McCarthy – "no reason that these devices should be available to general public."

One of the reasons I repeat over and over again that "freedom is choice" is to give context to stories like the one that follows and to give the reader an idea of why I am usually against anything that limits choice.

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy’s (D-NY) bill would limit the magazine capacity for pistols. It is another "freedom traded for security" bill which limits choice simply because it makes some people uncomfortable for that choice to be available to you. They simply don’t believe you’re responsible enough to have it.

Here’s what she said:

“The only purpose for the existence of these devices is to be able to shoot as many people as possible as quickly as possible,” McCarthy wrote in a letter to her colleagues that accompanied the bill. “There is no reason that these devices should be available to the general public.”

For the sake of argument, let’s stipulate that’s true. That the only reason these high capacity magazines exist is to "shoot as many people as possible as quickly as possible". So what? As with most anything it can be used for a good purpose (defense) as well as a bad purpose (murder – in this case, mass murder). So on its face, shooting "as many people as possible as quickly as possible" can be a good or bad thing depending on the situation. McCarthy would like you to believe such a ban would only effect the "bad thing". Obviously, that’s not true.

But, that’s not the line I object too the most. I find "there is no reason that these devices should be available to the general public” to be something that should send chills down the spine of anyone who is concerned with growing government oppression.

Why? It’s an attitude that has gotten us in the shape we’re in today. What she is asking is for like minded legislators to agree with her premise that government should decide what the public can and can’t use responsibly.

Never mind that shoot-ups in Safeway parking lots involving members of Congress by deranged lunatics are as rare as hen’s teeth, Ms. McCarthy has decided that there is "no reason these devices should be available to the general public". She claims that should be government’s decision/choice – not yours.  This latest situation provides an excuse to attempt this power grab, not  a real reason.

So to you who’ve owned that Browning High Power for 20 years and have the original 13 round mag – she would make you a criminal upon passage of the bill (it would eliminate the exception for mags manufactured before ’94). If anyone finds out you have one and turns you in, you’re up for 10 years in the pokey.  The fact that you’ve responsibly had and used it for over 20 years means zip (although it does demonstrate the bankruptcy of her argument).

McCarthy’s reason for attempting to do this is personal:

Gun control is a personal matter for McCarthy, whose husband was murdered and son seriously injured in 1993, when a disturbed gunman opened fire on a Long Island commuter train. Like the alleged Arizona shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, the gunman who killed McCarthy’s husband also used a high-capacity magazine.

I’m sorry to hear that. However, it was the deranged killer that murdered her husband, not the high-capacity magazine. I’d love to hear the argument that says a deranged killer would have stopped firing after one 10 round mag if we’d just eliminate access to mags with capacity above that. Of course that’s nonsense. And changing a mag in a hand gun, with even minimal practice, is both quick and easy. It would be done before most realized it was happening.

As I’ve said many times, a free society is a messy society which entails risk. That is the price of freedom. But it also buys many more advantages than disadvantages. An authoritarian society is usually a tidy society with full jails and no choices in life. We’ve seen what they’re like.

Attitudes that say "we’ll decide what you can or can’t have or what should or shouldn’t be available to you" don’t belong in Congress or a free society. Not their job, although unfortunately that seems to be what it has devolved into.

We increasingly see government take more and more choice away from us. The attitude McCarthy enunciates isn’t uncommon at all. In fact it is quite common and reveals itself in much of the legislation that passes through Congress these days.

It is an attitude which we should demand be changed and changed quickly. Reducing choice and making otherwise law abiding citizens criminals with the stroke of a pen won’t change a thing in regards to deranged lunatics shooting up places with or without high-capacity mags. McCarthy’s bill isn’t about high-capacity mags, really – its about control, and not just gun control. And, as with most laws like this, it will only effect the law abiding as criminals and "deranged lunatics" will flat ignore it (and a thriving black market in high-capacity mag will establish itself and thrive).

“The United States Constitution guarantees to our citizens the right to keep and bear arms,” McCarthy wrote in a letter to her colleagues that accompanied the bill. “At the same time that we can all acknowledge this basic right, I believe that we should also be able to come together to develop reasonable laws designed to ensure that the right to bear arms is exercised safely and responsibly.”

That, Ms. McCarthy,is demonstrated by the responsible behavior of multi millions of gun owners in this nation daily. The law she wants passed won’t change that at all. And that’s the point.

It’s about more control and less choice, and for the most part, any proposed law of that sort should be resisted fiercely.

~McQ

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Illinois–dear tax payer we wasted all your money, now pay up!

Just phenomenal.  The state of Illinois – which spent itself into fiscal oblivion – has decided the way to make up the huge shortfall they’ve run up is to increase taxes for state taxpayers by 66%:

Democrats in the Illinois Legislature on Wednesday approved a 66 percent income-tax increase in a desperate and politically risky effort to end the state’s crippling budget crisis.

The increase now goes to Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, who supports the plan to temporarily raise the personal tax rate to 5 percent, a two-thirds increase from the current 3 percent rate. Corporate taxes also would climb as part of the effort to close a budget hole that could hit $15 billion this year.

Wonderful.  If I lived there, I’d certainly be considering a new state – border states must be happy as they can be over this.  And, of course, same with corporations.  But as grim as that is, here’s the laugh line:

It will be coupled with strict 2 percent limits on spending growth. If officials violate those limits, the tax increase will automatically be canceled. The plan’s supporters warned that rising pension and health care costs probably will eat up all the spending allowed by the caps, forcing cuts in other areas of government.

Question: why, in an era of little to no inflation is there any spending growth when you have a budget shortfall like that in IL?  The state shouldn’t be increasing spending  by even a single penny, for heaven sake.

In fact, it would make much more sense to keep it flat or, better yet, have it actual cuts (not “cut” in the sense politicians usually use the word) in spending by 2%?  Pensions?  Cut ‘em.  Health care costs?  Cut ‘em? Government employees?  Let ‘em go or furlough them.  You politicians got the state in the mess it’s in, now live with the consequences and face the music.

The state got itself in this mess by over promising and over committing.  Now the state should work itself out of the mess without again tapping taxpayers.  Instead, it chooses to take more money from its citizens to pay for its profligacy.   It penalizes them for something the state’s politicians willingly, irresponsibly and thoughtlessly did. 

And I’m sure the jobs picture is wonderful in IL.  It must be if the state can afford to throw some higher taxation at corporations there.

Because, you see, saying “no” to government employee unions and the like is much harder than slapping higher taxes on the masses and business.

However, all things considered, most should know that if you want to live in a blue state, these sorts of things are what you’re most likely going to have to suffer. 

The increase means an Illinois resident who now owes $1,000 in state income taxes will pay $1,666 at the new rate. After four years, the rate drops to 4 percent and that same taxpayer will then owe $1,333.

Any bets that before the 4 years are up the new rate becomes permanent?

"Based on this particular legislation the only businesses that will benefit are the moving companies that will be helping many of my members move out of this particular state," said Gregory Baise, head of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association.

"This is the nuclear bomb of jobs bills," said Sen. Dan Duffy, R-Lake Barrington.

Timing is everything, isn’t it?  So much for hiring that new employee on the margin.  He or she now has been replaced – before they were ever hired – with new taxes.

The usual Democrat answer?

Democrats countered that even with the increase, Illinois’ tax rate will be lower than in many neighboring states — Iowa’s top rate is 8.98 percent, Wisconsin’s is 7.75 percent. They also maintain that without more money, state government may not be able to pay employees by the end of the year. Major government services might have to be halted, they warn, and groups waiting for state payments will go under.

That’s right – scare tactics and the usual “our taxes still aren’t as high as others”.  Well here’s a clue IL Dems – nothing says they have to move to “neighboring states” does it?

~McQ

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Two credit rating services warn US about possible downgrade in rating – again

While all the angst and hang-wringing continue over the Giffords shooting and the false flag of “vitriolic rhetoric”, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s Corp have again warned the US it’s credit rating is in jeopardy:

Moody’s Investors Service said in a report that the U.S. will need to reverse an upward trajectory in the debt ratios to support its triple-A rating.

"We have become increasingly clear about the fact that if there are not offsetting measures to reverse the deterioration in negative fundamentals in the U.S., the likelihood of a negative outlook over the next two years will increase," said Sarah Carlson, senior analyst at Moody’s.

Standard & Poor’s Corp. also didn’t rule out changing the outlook for its U.S. sovereign-debt rating because of the recent deterioration of the country’s fiscal situation. The U.S. has a triple-A rating with a stable outlook at both raters.

"The view of markets is that the U.S. will continue to benefit from the exorbitant privilege linked to the U.S. dollar" to fund its deficits, Carol Sirou, head of S&P France, said at a conference in Paris on Thursday. "But that may change. We can’t rule out changing the outlook" on the U.S. sovereign debt rating in the future, she warned. She added the jobless nature of the U.S. recovery was one of the biggest threats to the U.S. economy. "No triple-A rating is forever," she said.

Note the line I emphasized.  That is the primary reason it hasn’t happened yet.   The dollar is the true benchmark currency of the world.  Or perhaps a better way of saying that is it is the benchmark currency of the world at least for the time being.  But busting through 14 trillion dollar debt ceilings and continuing uncontrolled spending is a very quick way to have other countries consider other currencies or perhaps a market basket of currencies to replace the dollar.

If that happens, our triple-A rating will disappear faster than a pizza at a Weight Watchers convention.  But even if it doesn’t, we’re well on the way to a downgrade anyway:

The most recent official figures show the ratio of federal debt to revenue averaging 397% of gross domestic product in the period to 2020, while the ratio of interest to revenue will rise to 17.6% by 2020, from 8.6% in the last fiscal year. "These figures are "quite high for an Aaa-rated country," Moody’s said.

Debt affordability is "very important to the rating process," Ms. Carlson said. U.S. general government debt affordability, including states and municipalities, is "rising over time to a high level for an Aaa-rated country," the report said.

Or said more succinctly, the only thing keeping us at the Aaa level is the fact that we are the home of the dollar.   Otherwise the ratios above would most likely have seen us downgraded already.

Comforting, no?

~McQ

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Palin, "blood libel", Krauthammer and the left–have we “completely lost our minds?”

What a mess. Watching the political world in the light of the Tucson tragedy has been disheartening and disgusting.

While the President’s speech last night was fine, the venue was awful. And T-shirts? Really? It wasn’t a pep rally, but it seemed like one (I’m primarily talking about crowd reaction). What a more somber Oval Office speech wasn’t proper enough?

And this Sarah Palin thing. Am I ever tired of Sarah Palin. That said, I’m even more tired of the left’s obsession with Sarah Palin. Now she’s in hot water in some oversensitive and uninformed quarters of the left for the use of the term “blood libel”, which apparently has been claimed as a “Jews only” term.

Nonsense. That’s like saying “holocaust” can’t be used except in reference to the horrific Nazi pogrom of WWII.  When you have fools on the left, like Jane Fonda, accusing Palin of having “blood on her hands” (talk about irony), then “blood libel” seems more than an appropriate term for the accusations.

I think Charles Krauthammer said it best (via Daily Caller):

“[T]he fact is that even the ADL, the Anti-Defamation League in expressing a mild rebuke to Palin for using this admitted itself in its statement that the term ‘blood libel’ has become part of English parlance to refer to someone falsely accused,” Krauthammer said. “Let’s step back for a second. Here we have a brilliant, intelligent, articulate, beautiful, wife, mother and congresswoman fighting for her life, in a hospital in Tucson, and we’re having a national debate over whether the term ‘blood libel’ can be used appropriately in a non-Jewish context? Have we completely lost our minds?”

Apparently some of us have.  Krauthammer also notes that given the unfounded and obvious political attacks by the left on Sarah Palin, she had every right to defend herself.  However, when she finally issued her defense, the left had already been soundly “refudiated”:

“I found her speech unobjectionable, unremarkable but unnecessary,” he said.  “Of course, anybody who is attacked as she was has the right to defend herself in public. However, it wasn’t as if others hadn’t counteracted the calumny about her and others being responsible in some way for the massacre in Tucson. By the time she had the video on her website, the debate was over. The left, which had launched the accusation, had been completely defeated, ‘refudiated’ if you like, and disgraced over this. There wasn’t a shred of evidence and the battle was over. I mean, it was a rout to make the Pickett’s Charge look like a draw.”

Palin is the left’s favorite target (there I go with that violent rhetoric again) and sometimes it’s just best – especially when it has been convincingly done – to let others fight the fight.  That said, it most likely wouldn’t matter a whole bunch.  She could just sigh loudly and someone on the left would object to her using more air than others.

I think what Krauthammer is trying to get across is if we’re serious about mourning those lost in Tucson and paying tribute to them, political attacks on others shouldn’t be occurring to begin with.

That said, the “politicization” horse left the gate long ago on this one.  In fact, almost immediately after the shooting in Tucson, some on the left were already accusing Palin of being responsible.  Then after stirring it all up, they had the temerity to accuse her of “it’s always all about Sarah”.

~McQ

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