Gift of a gun from military son keeps Michigan mom safe

From Fox News.


Media Matters founder David Brock makes statements that should put his tax exempt status in danger

To be tax exempt, one can't engage in direct political activity. Yet, David Brock sees Media Matters' goal as reforming the Democratic party. He also sees it as involved in Democrat party fundraising. These seem like unabashedly direct political activities. From Doug Schoen:

Brock was compelling in arguing that he would like to see the Democratic Party develop a different, more inclusive message for the 2012 election, recognizing that the Party in large part, had failed in 2010 because they did not present a positive and affirmative case to the electorate-- an argument that I could only agree with.

Brock also made clear that he saw his mission to try to the best of his ability to counteract Republican fundraising efforts, that had frankly exceeded in substance and sophistication, those of the Democrats. . . .

Brock also made it clear to me that his focus was on the party, and providing and creating a level playing field for it and its advocates, rather than positioning himself as exclusively or even primarily as a media critic. . . .


Media keeps on pushing notion that there is substantial anti-Mormonism

The Los Angeles Times reports:

With one Mormon leading the pack for the Republican presidential nomination and another scheduled to announce his candidacy on Tuesday, a significant bloc of American voters continues to oppose followers of that religion, according to a Gallup poll released Monday.

About one in five Republicans, or 18%, said they would not vote for a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the official name of the Mormon church. About the same proportion of independents said they would oppose a Mormon while a larger number of Democrats, about 27%, said they were opposed, according to the poll. . . .

It is good to see that the LA Times acknowledges that polls show greater anti-Mormonism among Democrats, but the question of anti-Mormonism among Republicans really can't be too bad for a simple reason: the probability that a Republican nominee will Mormon is close to 50%, indeed it is according to Intrade it is 45.5% and that is despite the fact that both Romney and Huntsman have real flaws. Romney not only have Romneycare and a very long list of flip-flops to defend, but Huntsman had a poor campaign launch and was Obama's Ambassador to China.

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Politifact's Truth-O-Meter says Jon Stewart's claim about Fox News is "False"

Politifact's discussion is available here.

On the June 19, 2011, edition of Fox News Sunday, comedian Jon Stewart -- host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central -- sat down for an interview with Chris Wallace. Many readers asked us to review one of his claims.

"Who are the most consistently misinformed media viewers?" Stewart asked Wallace. "The most consistently misinformed? Fox, Fox viewers, consistently, every poll." . . .

So we have three Pew studies that superficially rank Fox viewers low on the well-informed list, but in several of the surveys, Fox isn’t the lowest, and other general-interest media outlets -- such as network news shows, network morning shows and even the other cable news networks -- often score similarly low. Meanwhile, particular Fox shows -- such as The O’Reilly Factor and Sean Hannity’s show -- actually score consistently well, occasionally even outpacing Stewart’s own audience.

Meanwhile, the other set of knowledge surveys, from worldpublicopinion.org, offer mixed support for Stewart. The 2003 survey strikes us as pretty solid, but the 2010 survey has been critiqued for its methodology.

The way Stewart phrased the comment, it’s not enough to show a sliver of evidence that Fox News’ audience is ill-informed. The evidence needs to support the view that the data shows they are "consistently" misinformed -- a term he used not once but three times. It’s simply not true that "every poll" shows that result. So we rate his claim False.

Jon Stewart can't leave things alone and said that Politifact corrected him by saying that "it is just most" polls that shows that Fox News viewers are the most misinformed. My read of the above Politifact article is that they said that there was one poll that supported Stewart's claim and Politifact said that there were methodological problems with the survey.

David Zurawik at the Baltimore Sun has this discussion:

In that interview, he lied about Fox News viewers being the "most consistently misinformed" of news consumers and then he compounded the false charge by saying "every poll" shows this to be true. And if you look at the video tape, you will see he makes the claim not once but twice - almost spitting the words "consistently misinformed" in Wallace's face. PolitiFact, the Pulitzer-Prize-winning fact checking operation, labeled Stewart's statements false. . . .

Honestly, what happened Monday night on "The Daily Show" in the Fox interview re-play isn't comedy, it feels more like neurosis. And its time for the adults at Comedy Central to call Little Mister Can't Be Wrong into the glass office and tell him it is time to admit his mistake, turn the page and move on without whining -- the way most of the journalists he so likes to mock do every day. . . .

David Zurawik's piece has lots of useful links in it. Finally, Greg Gutfeld has this.


Voters view reporters as trying to help candidates that they support

From Rasmussen Reports:

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 67% of Likely U.S. Voters believe that most reporters, when covering a politician campaign, try to help the candidate they want to win. Only 21% think most reporters put the emphasis instead on trying to offer unbiased coverage. Twelve percent (12%) are not sure.
Forty-eight percent (48%) also believe that most reporters would hide any damaging information they learned to help the candidate they wanted to win. Twenty-nine percent (29%) disagree and 23% are not sure. . . .

Voters believe that reporters are trying to help Obama.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 61% of Likely U.S. Voters are at least somewhat angry at the media, with 26% who are Very Angry. Thirty-six percent (36%) don’t share that anger, including 13% who are Not At All Angry at the media. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
This is only slightly less anger than voters expressed in June of last year as the midterm election season was heating up. It’s down a bit, too, from the 69% who express anger at the current policies of the federal government.
Thirty-eight percent (38%) of voters believe that when most reporters write or talk about Obama, they are trying to help him pass his agenda. That’s down from 48% a year ago. Just 20% think most reporters are trying to block the president from passing his agenda, while 26% say they are merely interested in reporting the news in an unbiased manner. These last two findings are basically unchanged from last June, but now 15% are undecided. . . .

Finally, Michelle Obama also thinks that the media supports her husband.

CNN reporter: "How's the family ready for this [the election]? It's going to be quite vicious, isn't it? How do you prepare for that?"

First Lady Michelle Obama: "You know, it's … we're ready, you know. Our children, you know, could care less about what we're doing. We work hard to do that. Fortunately, we have help from the media. I have to say this: I'm very grateful for the support and kindness that we've gotten. People have respected their privacy and in that way, I think, you know, no matter what people may feel about my husband's policies or what have you, they care about children and that's been good to see."

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This high denial rate among mortgage lenders is a result of Obama's policies

The government forces mortgage lenders to make loans that they didn't want to make, now the government wants them to repurchase these loans if they look "iffy." In this environment, who wants to make a new mortgage?

The percentage of mortgage applications rejected by the nation's largest lenders increased last year, spotlighting how banks' cautious lending practices are hampering the nascent housing market recovery.

In all, the nation's 10 largest mortgage lenders denied 26.8% of loan applications in 2010, an increase from 23.5% in 2009, according to an analysis by The Wall Street Journal of mortgage data filed with banking regulators.

Although lenders were expected to pull back from the freewheeling conditions that helped inflate the housing bubble, some economists argue they are now too conservative, and say that with the U.S. economy still wobbly, mortgages need to be easier to obtain for qualified borrowers, not harder.

"As the noose on credit availability tightens, credit is being choked off at a time when the housing market is extremely fragile," says Laurie Goodman, senior managing director at Amherst Securities Group LP. . . .

In past economic cycles, lending standards tended to ease within the first year of an economic recovery, and the OCC survey showed that banks have eased underwriting standards for commercial loans over the 12-month period ended in February.

But in the current cycle, lenders have kept standards tight for home loans even though the economy is growing. "There's no question that accessible credit is a problem," says David Stevens, chief executive of the Mortgage Bankers Association, an industry group.

Mr. Stevens, who headed the Federal Housing Administration for two years until March, says a key factor in banks' reluctance to lend more freely is the aggressive effort by Fannie and Freddie to force banks to repurchase loans if they go bad. . . .

Here is an older article that elaborates on the risks mortgage lenders face.

While repurchases are typically requested of defaulted or seriously delinquent loans, Fannie and Freddie are scrutinizing loans much more closely these days as they try to shore up their own loan books in the face of outsized losses in the wake of the recession. Not all of the loans being requested for repurchase are nonperforming -- some just look iffy -- all are single-family residential loans with vast majority of those currently being questioned classified as prime loans, observers say. . . .


Obama's "evolving" positions on homosexual marriage

Here is a WSJ story on how Obama promised to oppose homosexual marriage during the 2008 campaign. Now his position has "evolved." I am linking this in part because I assume that for someone else who changed their position would be given a lot more grief. Suppose that someone had gone the other way on this promise. Or suppose that it was someone other than Obama. Now Obama makes a statement on same sex marriage without using the term "marriage" but doing so in a way that makes those in this heavily same sex audience believe that he has changed his position.

"I believe that gay couples deserve the same legal rights as everybody else in this country," Mr. Obama said Thursday night at a campaign fund-raiser with gay and lesbian supporters, saying nonetheless the issue was best left for states to decide. "Slowly but surely we find the way forward. That's how we will achieve change that is lasting."

The president's position on gay marriage has been murky throughout his political rise. When he was running for the Illinois state Senate in 1996, he signed a questionnaire saying he supports gay marriage.

In the 2008 election, he supported civil unions and domestic-partnership rights, but said marriage should be between a man and a woman. He has also said the decision to legalize gay marriage should be left up to the states.

The president stuck with that position until last fall when he said he struggled with the gay-marriage issue and that his views were "evolving."

Mr. Obama's top aides spent the days leading up to Thursday's event discussing how he should approach the same-sex marriage issue when he addressed about 600 guests, who paid up to $35,800 a ticket. It was the first gay and lesbian gala for the president, who has been a subject of frustration for gay and lesbian activists. . . .


"Taxpayer-Funded Billboard Boondoggle?"

It would have been useful to provide a sentence or two on the bureaucrat's claim of large savings, though I suppose ABC believes that it has summarized the report by just saying that it reprints some pictures.



Bernanke: "We don't have a precise read on why this slower pace of growth is persisting"

From the Associated Press:

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke told reporters Wednesday that the central bank had been caught off guard by recent signs of deterioration in the economy. And he said the troubles could continue into next year.
"We don't have a precise read on why this slower pace of growth is persisting," Bernanke said. He said the weak housing market and problems in the banking system might be "more persistent than we thought."
It was the Fed chief's most explicit warning yet that the economy will face serious challenges next year. For several months, he had said the factors working against economic growth appeared to be "transitory."
The Fed cut its forecast for economic growth this year to a range of 2.7 percent to 2.9 percent from an April forecast of 3.1 percent to 3.3 percent. It also cut its forecast for next year to a range of 3.3 percent to 3.7 percent from an earlier 3.5 percent to 4.2 percent. The Fed also said unemployment would stay higher than it had expected earlier.
In a policy statement issued at the end of a two-day meeting, the Fed blamed the worsening economic outlook in part on higher energy prices and the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, which slowed production of cars and other products.
But at a press conference afterward, the second of what the Fed says will be regular question-and-answer sessions with reporters, Bernanke conceded the economy's troubles are more puzzling and potentially more long-lasting than a pair of temporary shocks. . . .

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Geithner explains why we need to increase taxes on small businesses to reduce the deficit

Growth will be increased by raising taxes on small businesses because reducing the debt would help growth more than the higher taxes on small businesses would hurt growth. From CNS:

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told the House Small Business Committee on Wednesday that the Obama administration believes taxes on small business must increase so the administration does not have to “shrink the overall size of government programs.”
The administration’s plan to raise the tax rate on small businesses is part of its plan to raise taxes on all Americans who make more than $250,000 per year—including businesses that file taxes the same way individuals and families do. . . .
“No, that's right. I agree with that,” said Geithner. “But just to put it in perspective, it's important to recognize why are we doing this. You know, our deficits are 10 percent of GDP, higher than they've been since any time in the postwar period really. We have a big hole to dig out of, and we have to figure out how to do that in a way that's balanced, good for growth, fair to people as a whole.”
Geithner, continuing, argued that if the administration did not extract a trillion dollars in new revenue from its plan to increase taxes on people earning more than $250,000, including small businesses, the government would in effect “finance” what he called a “tax benefit” for those people. . . .

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Comedy Central discusses BAFTE gun walker case

Not once does Jon Stewart actually mention that this operation was run by the Obama administration and it would have been very helpful if he gave an accurate description of how many Mexican crime guns actually come from the US, but still this is a useful video.

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New Fox News piece: Greece Needs to Pay Off Debts While It Still Has a Chance

My newest Fox News piece starts this way:

Tuesday night the Greek government survived a no confidence vote, with relative ease, thus allowing the Greek government to go forward negotiating a new bailout. The government faces a vote over "new austerity" measures, but there is no more reason to believe that Greece will keep its promises to sell assets and cut spending this time than it has over the past year.
Last year's mammoth €110 billion ($157 billion) European Union and International Monetary Fund bailout was supposed to cover Greece's financial problems for three years. But just one year later Greece is seeking another €100 billion.
The G-7 countries and major banks met well into Monday morning but failed to reach an agreement on any more than a temporary bridge loan.
Despite Greece's promises, government spending is up over last year's already bloated levels, the deficit is bigger than ever, and it has utterly failed to meet the promised sell-off of some government assets. Not a single public bureaucrat has been laid off so far. . . .

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CBO predicts huge increase in debt over next couple of decades under current path

Government health care spending is out of control. Even with revenue as a constant share of national income, the deficit is going to surge with the increase rising costs of government health care programs.
debt held by the public would exceed 100 percent of GDP by 2021. After that, the growing imbalance between revenues and spending, combined with spiraling interest payments, would swiftly push debt to higher and higher levels. Debt as a share of GDP would exceed its historical peak of 109 percent by 2023 and would approach 190 percent in 2035 . . . .

So what do the Democrats want? Reuters reports that they want a new "Stimulus" plan.

Democrats call for new stimulus . . .

Democratic leaders called on Wednesday for new spending and tax cuts to boost the sluggish U.S. economy, setting up a fresh hurdle for bipartisan efforts to head off a government debt default this summer.

At the same time, a new report warned that the country could face a European-style debt crisis unless Washington cuts spending or raises taxes.

The report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office adds urgency to the work of negotiators, led by Vice President Joe Biden, who are trying to find trillions of dollars in savings as part of a deal that would allow Congress to sign off on new government borrowing before the U.S. runs out of money to pay its bills.

As the group faces competing demands for stimulus and austerity, some have suggested that it may not be able to get a deal done in time to head off a debt default in early August. . . .


Texas Woman bravely tries to stop men from stealing from Wal-Mart

It is nice to know that there are a few people who feel so strongly about right and wrong.

Disgusted with all the "lawlessness" these days, a brave Texas woman chased three men who tried to steal a few cases of beer from a Walmart, the Houston Chronicle reported. Ironically, the heroine's name is Monique Lawless.
On Sunday, she watched three men walk out of the store without paying for the cases of beers they had in tow. Determined to stop them, Lawless told the clerk to watch her purse.
The 5-foot-nothing, 125-pound woman followed the men into the parking lot, jumped on their car’s hood and tried to kick the windshield in, while yelling, “You punks, you are not going to get away with this,” the paper reported.
The men, all brothers ranging from 19-to-21-years-old, laughed and allegedly hit the gas, causing her to fall off the car -- but not before she grabbed the driver's side door handle and was dragged along the pavement, according to the Chronicle. . . .


"NASA Scientist Accused of Using Celeb Status Among Environmental Groups to Enrich Himself"

The amount of money that Hansen seems to have gotten improperly seems to be quite large

The NASA scientist who once claimed the Bush administration tried to "silence" his global warming claims is now accused of receiving more than $1.2 million from the very environmental organizations whose agenda he advocated.
In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Washington, D.C., a group claims NASA is withholding documents that show James Hansen failed to comply with ethics rules and financial disclosures regarding substantial compensation he earned outside his $180,000 taxpayer-paid position as director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies. . . . .
Gifts, speaking fees, prizes and consulting compensation include:
-- A shared $1 million prize from the Dan David Foundation for his "profound contribution to humanity." Hansen's cut ranged from $333,000 to $500,000, Horner said, adding that the precise amount is not known because Hansen's publicly available financial disclosure form only shows the prize was "an amount in excess of $5,000."
-- The 2010 Blue Planet prize worth $550,000 from the Asahi Glass Foundation, which recognizes efforts to solve environmental issues.
-- The Sophie Prize for his "political activism," worth $100,000. The Sophie Prize is meant to "inspire people working towards a sustainable future." . . . .
Federal rules prohibit government employees from receiving certain types of income outside their job. Employees are required to file Form 17-60 in writing before any outside activity. And annually, they're required to submit Form SF 278, after receiving outside compensation. . . . .

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Mistake in Obamacare accidentally extended Medicaid to up to 3 million

Does anyone still believe the original cost estimates of Obamacare? 3 million times $10,000 is $30 billion per year, say well over $300 billion over 10 years (actually much, much more because these costs will rise over time) ($13,770 for family coverage in 2010). The Associated Press has the story here:

President Barack Obama's health care law would let several million middle-class people get nearly free insurance meant for the poor, a twist government number crunchers say they discovered only after the complex bill was signed.
The change would affect early retirees: A married couple could have an annual income of about $64,000 and still get Medicaid, said officials who make long-range cost estimates for the Health and Human Services department.
After initially downplaying any concern, the Obama administration said late Tuesday it would look for a fix.
Up to 3 million more people could qualify for Medicaid in 2014 as a result of the anomaly. That's because, in a major change from today, most of their Social Security benefits would no longer be counted as income for determining eligibility. It might be compared to allowing middle-class people to qualify for food stamps. . . . .

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Wisconsin Assembly passes Concealed Carry Law, close to being 49th State

Opponents are again claiming that there will be shootouts by permit holders. We will see that within a year all these claims will again be forgotten. Here is the Associated Press story:

Supporters of the measure, which passed Wisconsin's GOP-controlled Legislature with bipartisan support, said the fact that none of 48 other states with similar laws have had to repeal them shows opponents' fears about concealed carry are unwarranted. . . .

Under the bill, people who obtain a permit and go through training will be allowed to carry concealed weapons in most public buildings, including the state Capitol and city halls, unless there is a sign posted saying they are not permitted. The weapons would be barred anywhere within 1,000 feet of school grounds, police stations, jails and prisons, courthouses, secure mental health facilities, and beyond airport security checkpoints.

Current law would be loosened when it comes to keeping guns in cars. Under the bill, permit holders could keep loaded, uncased guns in their cars. Guns are currently only allowed in cars if they are unloaded and in a case.

The measure cleared the state Senate 25-8 last week, with six Democrats voting in its favor. It passed the Assembly 68-27 on Tuesday, with 11 Democrats and one independent joining 56 Republicans in support. One Republican, Rep. Don Pridemore of Hartford, voted against the measure.

Wisconsin's new law will take effect in either October or November, depending on when Walker signs the measure. Passage of the bill, which was heavily lobbied by the National Rifle Association, came after Republicans were blocked through vetoes in 2003 and 2005 by Walker's predecessor, Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle. . . . .

Permits would only be given to Wisconsin residents over age 21 who go through the required training and clear background checks that show they are not felons or otherwise not allowed to carry guns. The permits would cost no more than $50 and be good for five years, with a $25 renewing fee. . . .


"Why the Jobs Situation is Worse than it Looks"

I have been making this point time after time in my op-ed pieces, but it is nice to see that others have begun making similar points. That said, I think that this piece by Mortimer Zuckerman is unfair to the extent that it makes comparisons without always taking into account how the number of people in the country has changed.

The real job losses are greater than the estimate of 7.5 million. They are closer to 10.5 million, as 3 million people have stopped looking for work. Equally troublesome is the lower labor participation rate; some 5 million jobs have vanished from manufacturing, long America's greatest strength. Just think: Total payrolls today amount to 131 million, but this figure is lower than it was at the beginning of the year 2000, even though our population has grown by nearly 30 million.

The most recent statistics are unsettling and dismaying, despite the increase of 54,000 jobs in the May numbers. Nonagricultural full-time employment actually fell by 142,000, on top of the 291,000 decline the preceding month. Half of the new jobs created are in temporary help agencies, as firms resist hiring full-time workers. . . .

Today, over 14 million people are unemployed. We now have more idle men and women than at any time since the Great Depression. Nearly seven people in the labor pool compete for every job opening. Hiring announcements have plunged to 10,248 in May, down from 59,648 in April. Hiring is now 17 percent lower than the lowest level in the 2001-02 downturn. One fifth of all men of prime working age are not getting up and going to work. Equally disturbing is that the number of people unemployed for six months or longer grew 361,000 to 6.2 million, increasing their share of the unemployed to 45.1 percent. We face the specter that long-term unemployment is becoming structural and not just cyclical, raising the risk that the jobless will lose their skills and become permanently unemployable.

Don't pay too much attention to the headline unemployment rate of 9.1 percent. It is scary enough, but it is a gloss on the reality. These numbers do not include the millions who have stopped looking for a job or who are working part time but would work full time if a position were available. And they count only those people who have actively applied for a job within the last four weeks.

Include those others and the real number is a nasty 16 percent. The 16 percent includes 8.5 million part-timers who want to work full time (which is double the historical norm) and those who have applied for a job within the last six months, including many of the long-term unemployed. And this 16 percent does not take into account the discouraged workers who have left the labor force. The fact is that the longer duration of six months is the more relevant testing period since the mean duration of unemployment is now 39.7 weeks, an increase from 37.1 weeks in February. . . .


Michele Bachmann takes lead in new Zogby poll

Rep. Michele Bachmann now leads the field of Republican presidential candidates in a new Zogby poll of Republican primary voters. Bachmann is at 24 percent. Cain and Romney are at 15 percent each.


Gov. Rick Perry won three elections as a Democrat and served as state chair of Al Gore's 1988 presidential campaign

Presumably this provides Perry with some protection against being called an extremist.

He first ran for and won statewide office in 1990, just as Republicans were beginning their historic takeover of Texas state government. As lieutenant governor, he was able to move into the Governor’s Mansion when George W. Bush won the 2000 presidential election. Now the Lone Star State’s longest-serving governor, he has the potential to join a winnowing field of GOP presidential aspirants as a serious contender. . . .

Perry, after all, entered the Texas House in 1984 as a Democrat. He won reelection as a Democrat in 1986 and 1988, the same year he served as state chairman of Al Gore’s presidential campaign.

Whether Perry left the Democratic Party or the Democratic Party left him, to borrow a phrase from Ronald Reagan, is immaterial. He perceived the long term trend of rising GOP political power in Texas. He also spotted an opportunity to capitalize on that trend by running in 1990 as a Republican against a nationally recognized figure of liberal Democratic politics — Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower. . . .


House sales down 15.3% for year, 3.8% over last month

Remember how bad things were in the housing market a year ago? Well, house sales have fallen by over 15 percent from that level.

Sales of existing homes fell in May, as severe weather and high gas prices weighed on the shaky housing market.
Home sales fell 3.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.81 million, down from a revised rate of 5 million in April, the National Association of Realtors said Tuesday.
Sales were more than 15% lower than in May 2010. . . .


Britain looking smart for not bailing out Greece

From today's WSJ Political Diary.

While the big nations of Europe and the International Monetary Fund scramble to rescue Greece, there's one notable exception: Britain. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne may have attended EU bailout talks in Luxembourg Monday but he's not coughing up any money. Prime Minister David Cameron told the Times of London Monday that he was "absolutely determined" to avoid British involvement in any bailout.

The government's rationale is simple: Britain isn't part of the eurozone ("thank God," Mr. Cameron says) and isn't bound to rescue the currency of which it enjoys no benefit. London didn't participate in the first Greek bailout last year, which cost creditors €110 billion, so why should it now?

London's reticence is looking smarter by the day. Since last year's bailout, Greece has done little to curb its runaway spending, shed public-sector workers or privatize state-owned assets. Instead, the Socialist government looks ever-shakier and public resistance to reform is growing. Germany and France are pushing for another bailout but not because that will solve Athens's gaping debt hole -- German and French banks are Greece's biggest creditors. . . .


How can people think that Wisconsin's new labor rules are unfair when even New Jersey is making similar changes?

With Massachusetts and New Jersey Democrats passing these bills, how Republicans be demonized on the union issue?

The move to stabilize New Jersey's underfunded pension and health care systems by requiring public workers to pay sharply more for the benefits while suspending bargaining over health care was fast-tracked through the Legislature Monday, after Democrats joined with Republicans to buck the powerful public employee unions. . . .
Public-sector unions remain vehemently opposed to the legislation, in part, because it limits collective bargaining over health care. . . .
The effort to limit public employees' collective bargaining rights has gained momentum in other states. The GOP-led effort in Wisconsin calls for public workers to pay more for health and pension benefits beginning in late August unless a lawsuit by a coalition of unions is successful.
In Ohio, Gov. John Kasich in March signed a law limiting bargaining rights, which has yet to go into effect. And in Michigan, the Republican state Senate has passed measures to require most public employees to cover at least 20 percent of the cost of buying their health insurance coverage, with some flexibility for local bargaining units.
The Massachusetts House passed a bill in late April stripping public-sector unions of the right to bargain over health care.



UVA won't release university emails from climatologist Michael Mann

There does seem to be a double standard on all this.

Blogger Glenn Reynolds recently circulated a comment that highlights yet another glaring inconsistency among the establishment media.

Major organs of the press have been so eager to air the dirty laundry from Sarah Palin's emails — obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request — that they have turned to "crowdsourcing" to expedite the job. In other words, they're disseminating the material to the general readership so they can find the juicy bits faster.

Contrast that with the vitriol and scorn heaped on conservatives who have requested that the University of Virginia divulge emails written by climatologist Michael Mann when he was employed there. The very idea that anyone would request such private material is an atrocious assault on privacy and academic freedom, is the general view — at least inside liberal echo chambers.

True, Palin and Mann are differently situated. Although both are now private citizens and although all the emails in question were written on the government dime, he has never run for public office, while she has. But the differences are not nearly so great as the manner in which the two cases — or, for that matter, the earlier Climategate email controversy — have been treated. . . .

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Do high fees help prevent poor people from getting guns for protection?

High fees to obtain a gun prevent poor people from getting guns. I have pointed to panel evidence of this not only in my book, More Guns, Less Crime, but in cross-sectional data (see for example this data from Texas). Here is some new evidence for Chicago from the Chicago Reader. The panel data allows for better controls for the different reasons that people own guns, but, at least in this case, the cross-sectional data is still consistent.

John Lott, an economist who argues that gun control laws like Chicago's actually lead to higher crime, says the cost of meeting the gun application's training and registration requirements essentially discriminates against low-income black communities. In Chicago, the training and permit fees cost about $250 on top of the price of the gun.

"Those who are most likely to be victims of crime benefit the most from owning guns, and unfortunately, that is one very well defined group in our country, poor blacks who live in high crime urban areas such as Chicago," Lott wrote in an e-mail. "But these white, middle class areas can much more easily afford the fees to register their guns and to go through the training requirements."

Roderick Sawyer, alderman of the Sixth Ward, is skeptical of that theory. "It's like buying a car," he says. "If you want one you'll find a way to do it."

A surveys of readers on the question "Does the city's gun registration law discriminate against low-income residents?" is available at ChicagoNow.

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Obama breaks promise to Hispanics

This might not be the most important promise, but it does add to a very long list.

Leaders of a national Hispanic organization are criticizing President Barack Obama for skipping their annual conference for the third consecutive year after he promised as a candidate in 2008 that he would return as president. . . .



Housing prices strongest around military bases, public university towns, and federal employment areas

Well at least someone is doing well. The WSJ has a useful discussion here.


Is the solution to undercapitalized European banks to lower capital requirements?

Irwin Stelzer has this warning in the WSJ. Personally, I would rather just let private standards govern these rules, but then you can't have the promise of government protecting everyone from default. Yet, there is a bit of an inconsistency in government policy weakening capital requirements when banks can't meet them.

Not only about Greece. Worry, too, about:
• the undercapitalized banks of Germany, with €23 billion in Greek debt on their books;
• the American municipalities that are seeing their interest rates rise in response to nervousness about the soundness of Dexia SA, the Belgian-French bank that backs municipal bonds but is exposed to Greek sovereign debt;
• the money funds in America that provide liquidity for European banks that have stacks of Greek debt on their balance sheets;
• the French banks, three major ones already threatened with ratings downgrades, that have €15 billion in Greek debt on their books;
• the exposure of world financial institutions to the almost-inevitable Portuguese and Irish defaults, with Spain and Italy possibly next in line.

But fear not. Germany, France, Austria, Luxembourg and Denmark have a solution. They are urging European Commissioner Michel Barnier to water down the Basel III Accord that increases capital requirements imposed on all banks. Their motto: "If all else fails, lower your standards."

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Obama administration considering nominating Andrew Traver as acting head of BATFE

Andrew Traver is strongly anti-private gun ownership, and the Obama administration risks getting a lot of people upset if they make him the acting director.

In November, President Barack Obama nominated Andrew Traver, the head of the ATF's Chicago office, as permanent ATF director. The nomination stalled in the Senate after the National Rifle Association said Mr. Traver had a "demonstrated hostility" to the rights of gun owners.

Mr. Traver is set to travel to Washington on Tuesday to meet with Attorney General Eric Holder and Deputy Attorney General James Cole, the people said. The administration is weighing whether to name Mr. Traver as acting director or choose another interim chief while awaiting Senate action on his nomination, they said. . . .


Is it really possible that there are more than three times as many PR people as journalists?

I suppose that given that there is so much at stake it isn't surprising that people will spend so much to influence the news.

In their recent book, "The Death and Life of American Journalism," Robert McChesney and John Nichols tracked the number of people working in journalism since 1980 and compared it to the numbers for public relations. Using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, they found that the number of journalists has fallen drastically while public relations people have multiplied at an even faster rate. In 1980, there were about .45 PR workers per 100,000 population compared with .36 journalists. In 2008, there were .90 PR people per 100,000 compared to .25 journalists. That's a ratio of more than three-to-one, better equipped, better financed.

How much better?

The researcher who worked with McChesney and Nichols, R. Jamil Jonna, used census data to track revenues at public relations agencies between 1997 and 2007. He found that revenues went from $3.5 billion to $8.75 billion. Over the same period, paid employees at the agencies went from 38,735 to 50,499, a healthy 30 percent growth in jobs. And those figures include only independent public relations agencies -- they don't include PR people who work for big companies, lobbying outfits, advertising agencies, non-profits, or government. . . .

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Gov. Rick Perry gives a great speech

This guy could beat Obama. You can watch his speech here.

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