Monday, November 30, 2009

Would-Be Oregon "Green" Plant Deep in Red

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick lured Evergreen Solar from building its first US solar panel manufacturing plant in Oregon with a subsidy package eventually totaling $58.6 million.
Before Patrick took office, Evergreen was considering building its first US manufacturing facility in a state such as Oregon or New Mexico that offers hefty incentives to clean energy companies, [Evergreen President Richard] Feldt said. But during his gubernatorial campaign, Patrick visited Evergreen's Marlborough headquarters to try to persuade it to construct its plant in Massachusetts, according to Feldt.
Despite nearly $60 million in Massachusetts subsidies, Evergreen Solar's 2009 financial woes are five times worse than last year. The company lost $33.6 million in the first nine months of 2008. Losses for the first nine months of 2009 are $167 million.

Evergreen's stock, which hit a high of $18.84 per share in 2007, sells now for a fraction of that--under $1.50 per share.

To reduce labor and manufacturing costs Evergreen is transferring its panel assembly operations to China.

That's bad news for Massachusetts' hopes to offset the state's job losses by a growing "green" jobs sector. Nearly half of Evergreen's 800 solar plant jobs are currently involved in the panel assembly operations being moved to China.
About half of the 577 full-time and 230 contract employees at the Devens factory are involved in putting the panels together. However Evergreen declined to say about how many of those jobs would disappear with the scheduled transfer next year to China, where it is expanding because of lower costs.
Massachusetts' $60 million bet on "green" jobs has not turned out well. Will Oregon's political leaders learn from the Massachusetts experience?

H/T Ian Murray

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Palin Second Highest Sales in History--Obama a Dim Fourth

The above chart is from the Nielsen blog. It shows just how astonishing Governor Sarah Palin's success with Going Rogue is.

Palin has out hit every other major political hitter except President Bill Clinton, and his success came after two terms as President of the United States. She also out sold Senator/Secretary of State Hillary Clinton--though it was close. No one else is even in the same ball park with those three. To put it numerically:

Bill Clinton - 100%
Sarah Palin - 77%
Hillary Clinton - 73%

and way in the back:

Barack Obama - 11%
John McCain and Joe Biden - 1%

Obama autographing books - November 15, 2009

Palin in Cincinnati - November 20, 2009

Or in baseball terms, the top three are jockeying to see who will be Babe Ruth and who will be Lou Gehrig. Everyone else is, well . . ., all the rest.

Palin is doing it in her rookie year. Hillary Clinton did it in her prime, and Bill Clinton did it at the end of his career.

It's an amazing success for someone who, though holding the highest state office--governor, has never held national office. (Not to mention that Palin has been a person both the media and political opponents have done everything possible to squash.)

The old saying seems apt: He who laughs last, laughs best.

Congratulations, Governor Palin! I have a feeling we ain't seen nothing yet.

H/T Conservatives4Palin

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Oregonians Split on Approval/Disapproval of Obama

Supposedly Liberal Oregon is conflicted about President Obama's job performance.

After giving Obama an almost 16% electoral spread in 2008*, support has fallen significantly. Currently only 47% of Oregonians approve of the President's job performance while an equal 47% disapprove. Six percent are not sure.

A good guess is that the falling approval rate has something to do with Oregon's 7th highest unemployment rate in the nation--with no respite in sight.

If Oregon becomes a toss up state, that's not good news for Democrats or the Left.
*2008 Oregon election results:
Obama - 54.7%
McCain - 39.2%

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Obama More Polarizing than Bush; Ties with Palin

Political analyst Matthew Dowd points out some interesting political dynamics in President Obama's and Governor Palin's approval ratings.

First, Obama is more polarizing than George W. Bush.
"While Democrats love Obama, Republicans look on him with real disfavor. The gap between Obama's approval rating among Democrats and among Republicans is nearly 70 percentage points -- a higher partisan divide than either Bill Clinton or George W. Bush experienced. Obama's agenda and actions this year, and some mistakes, have solidified this divide."
Second, Obama and Palin are equally polarizing.
"Polls show that Palin's favorability numbers are a mirror image of those of Obama. She is respected and loved by the Republican base, while Democrats despise her."
Third, both Obama and Palin have hurdles to overcome in a 2012 election.

For Palin it revolves around independent voters and winning early primary states.
"Granted, independent voters have significant reservations about her capability to be president, and this would be a hurdle in the general election. But to win the Republican nomination, Palin needs only to get enough support from the base to win early key states. Already, in nearly every poll today, she has a level of support that makes her a viable primary candidate. Just look at the crowds and the buzz her book tour is drawing."
For Obama the key is bringing up his approval rating.
". . . Gallup polls over the past 60 years show that no president with an approval rating under 47 percent has won reelection, and no president with an approval rating above 51 percent has lost reelection. (George W. Bush's approval rating in the weeks before the 2004 election hovered around 50 percent.) The 2012 election will be primarily about our current president and whether voters are satisfied with the country's direction.

"Who the Republican candidate is, and his or her qualifications and abilities, will matter only if Obama's approval rating is between 47 and 51 percent going into the fall of 2012. Interestingly, in the latest Gallup poll Obama's approval rating was at a precarious 49 percent."

Jackie Mason: The Morality of Trying to Destroy an "Idiot"

Mason on Sarah Palin: "I love her."

Me too, Jackie.

Watch the snarling dogs wheel and turn on you too. You've got courage.

Monday, November 23, 2009

AP Layoff Total "about 90"

AP reports:
"The moves are part of a larger restructuring throughout the AP, as the company made cuts to reduce annual payroll costs by 10 percent. The company used attrition, buyouts and about 90 layoffs — about 2 percent of the work force — to reach that goal. An undisclosed number in other departments were cut earlier."
[emphasis added]

LA Times: Palin and Obama Approval Ratings Within a Few Points

From the Los Angeles Times:
"But Sarah Palin's poll numbers are strengthening.

"And President Obama's are sliding.

"Guess what? They're about to meet in the 40s.

"Depending, of course, on which recent set of numbers you peruse and how the questions are phrased, 307 days into his allotted 1,461, the 44th president's approval rating among Americans has slid to 49% or 48%, showing no popularity bounce from his many happy trips, foreign and domestic.

"Riding the wave of immense publicity and symbiotic media interest over her new book, "Going Rogue," and the accompanying promotional tour, Palin's favorable ratings are now at 43%, according to ABC. That's up from 40% in July.

"One poll even gives her a 47% favorable."

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Why We Don't Subscribe to the Oregonian

It isn't the price. It's the content.

The Oregonian is not trustworthy.

Too many articles are factually inaccurate or misleading.  Too often the reports that I initially say "That can't be right" about end up, with a little research, to be shown either fudging facts, leaving out crucial facts, or using facts to imply a conclusion that they don't support.

Take the case of the front page story in last Wednesday's edition: "Your insurance bills soar as state nods". The article by Bill Graves begins:
"State regulators have approved every rate increase by Oregon's largest health insurance companies over the past three years, trimming the requests in only seven of 40 cases, records obtained by The Oregonian show."
Maybe the precise facts quoted are true, but the spin about what those facts mean doesn't match what I know to be fact.

I read the headline and first part of the article and said, "That can't be true." I know what my health insurance rates have been in the last three years, and they have not "soar"ed.  Grimes goes on:
The result of Oregon's regulatory oversight: Average premiums for individuals and small businesses have climbed by more than 140 percent in seven years.
Even allowing for Grimes' expansion of the period to seven years, my rates increased 55% during that time (under 8% a year) not the 140% (20% a year) he claims as average.*

Maybe I'm just lucky and have found the Oregon wonder rate**--though my plan is one of the seven that the Oregonian lists in its charts.

Included is a chart of some family rates from four Oregon health insurance companies for the last three years. As can be seen from the chart, ODS's rates have actually gone down and Kaiser's have been basically flat for the last three years.  Providence premiums have gone up, but only 4% a year. That's not "soar"ing in my book.  Clear Choice has had a 9% a year increase.

Clear Choice's increase looks kind of bad until you compare it to Oregon's major, state-subsidized universities.  Portland State University's tuition fees increased an average of 11.8% a year and University of Oregon's tuition fees increased about 12.7% a year for the same period 2007-2010.  One assumes that Oregon universities aren't trying to gouge students to raise salaries (which is one implication of this article with its executive pay chart***).

Even agreeing that 9% is high--that's less than half of what it takes each year to get to the "soar"ing 140% over a 7 year period.

I don't have a financial interest in any health insurance company. I don't own stock in one and never worked for one.  However, I personally pay the monthly health insurance premium rather than having it paid invisibly by an employer. So, I know what the rate is and what it has been for the last three years and more. Further, because I can change my health insurance, I know what it has been for a few other major plans as well as the one I have chosen. The figures are nowhere near the Oregonian's 140%.

Why is the Oregonian spinning this story and putting it on the front page? Maybe to make the following points?
"Rocketing medical costs and insurance premiums combined with their impact on consumers and the economy is at the center of the fierce congressional debate on how to overhaul the nation's health care system.

"In Oregon, insurance premium increases are forcing small businesses and individuals to join the growing ranks of the uninsured. The number of Oregonians covered by commercial insurance dropped by 88,000 between early 2008 and last summer, many of whom joined the estimated 614,000 residents already without insurance."
[Emphasis added]

Could it be that the 88,000 increase in Oregonians not covered by commercial insurance has something to do with Oregon's high unemployment rate that more than doubled "between early 2008 [4.9% in January, 2008] and last summer [12.2% in August, 2009]"? The role played by Oregon having over 113,000 more unemployed in August, 2009 than in January, 2008 was a question the Oregonian obviously didn't consider when trying to figure out why 88,000 people were dropped from coverage during the same period.

It's not only a waste of money but a waste of time to read material that has to be constantly fact checked and put in a larger context by the reader himself.  That's why we don't subscribe to the Oregonian.
*Later in the article Grimes claims that rates for the four year period 2004 to 2008 went up 48% for individuals and 59% for small businesses. That's more than half the seven year period in which rates supposedly increased 140% but the increases are significantly less than half of the 140% increase.

**The individual rate for the Hutchins sisters quoted in the article is about a third lower than the individual rate in my plan.

***Even the most egregious one year pay increase (Kaiser's $257,000) plays out to an increase of less than $2.50 per month for each plan member. For a family of four that equals 8/100ths of 1% (0.0008) of their monthly premium. Not even a speck in a supposed 20% per year increase. So why make such a big deal about executive salary? It's a question the Oregonian never even considers.

Saturday, November 21, 2009 Ramps Up the Health Care Debate

Oregonian to Lose 70 More Jobs

Even though the Oregonian has shed a third of its work force in the past two years, there is more to come.

Falling circulation (down 12% last year alone) and declining advertising revenue have taken their toll.

The Oregonian's Managing Editor Sandy Rowe says that 31 employees have accepted a buy out. But, because of falling revenue the paper is looking to cut around 70 positions total out of a work force of 850. So, layoffs are coming.
"This is where we stand now: 25 full-time staffers and 6 part-time have either accepted the buyout offer or have indicated to us they are going to sign the paperwork."
. . .
"Understandably, throughout this difficult process you wanted to know the number of positions we need to reduce. Early on in this process, we had hoped the number would be lower than it now can be, given our revenue. I now know that will be about 70 positions, or within one or two of that depending on the PT and FT distribution."

MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell Debates Highschooler

Seems like MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell thinks it's cool to debate kids. But, O'Donnell needs to do research and use note cards the kid doesn't have available in order to pull it off.

Here's 17 year old Jackie's account of O'Donnell's interview.
I was first approached by a New York Times writer who wrote what my shirt said and then asked me a couple questions. She asked me what it was I liked about Sarah Palin. I said, “As a young female she is someone I can look up to, before her the only prominent female in politics I had known about was Hilary Clinton, whom I respect don’t get me wrong, I respect her but when you don’t agree with someone it’s hard to really look up to them. I like how Sarah Palin will speak her mind, regardless of what the media will say about it.” After that I just stood in line eagerly waiting for Sarah Palin to arrive. I then see Norah O’Donnell approach a man all decked out in Palin garb. She asked him a few questions (camera not rolling) then said she’d like to have a woman in the shot. She asked a woman who refused then pointed at me and said “Hey talk to her” So I walked over. I knew I was walking into hot water with MSNBC- thought I was prepared….Seconds later I met her… One of the many faces of liberal media bias. She asked me my name and then before going on air asked me why I liked Sarah Palin, I repeated what I told the NYT reporter. Norah didn’t seem to like that much. So what did she do? I mean she couldn’t ask me that question on television, heaven forbid her not have a biting response.. I noticed her look down at my shirt then, she turned around blackberry in hand spoke to a man, thumbs tapping the blackberry (I don’t remember if she called or not, she may have. But she was on her blackberry), then jotted down a quick note. Little did I know that note would be used against me. She told us she’d be walking up to us. You know like she just stumbled upon us. The shot began… I kept telling myself answer her question well, don’t freak out. Well, I thought she’d ask me the same question. She asked the man beside me (who by the way is NOT my dad) the same question she had before we went on air. Myself on the other hand, not the same story. She had me read my shirt and then proceeded to ask me “Did you know Sarah Palin supported the bailout” to be 100% honest I was like, are you kidding me? She is trying to use my shirt against me. I was so shocked by the craftiness she had that I was truly stumped. I asked her where she got her fact and she read her little note. Then she asked me what I liked about Sarah, and I talked about the Constitution. Immediately after the interview I said to my dad “Oh man, I have so many great responses now about my shirt” I could have said, well my shirt doesn’t say anything about Sarah Palin supporting the bailout or “Hey Norah, have you read the book? She talks about how during her debate prep she was handed a list of note cards that had questions and ‘non-answers’” Of course they told Sarah Palin to support everything McCain did. Call me crazy but it would have looked pretty bad had Sarah Palin been against something John McCain was against while they were running together. Norah also claims I told her I voted (on her twitter). That is not true. She never asked my age or if I voted. I’m 17 I couldn’t have voted…and I don’t live in an ACORN district so I didn’t have a chance to even register illegally. Making that statement by Norah completely false.
I think Jackie did great--and without notes or being able to think ahead of time about content or phrasing.

H/T NW Republican

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Editor & Publisher Doesn't Get the Internet Age

Editor & Publisher's Mark Fitzgerald has a short piece about what Sarah Palin reads. It's mostly quotation but in its own way proves Palin's point about the importance of having "many, many sources".
"'I read Newsmax and the Frontiersman and The Wall Street Journal and everything online,' Palin said Wednesday night in an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity. 'I absorb the news through many, many sources.'
. . .
"Palin had a snappier answer for Hannity than she had on Sept. 24, 2008 in a pre-election interview with Couric."
[emphasis added]
It may be a "snappier" answer in the sense of shorter, but the standard of having a "few" major sources is pre-internet and stupid. Fitzgerald of all people should know that. Editor & Publisher is one of more than 70 sources listed on my sidebar. If I had to choose three sources, E&P wouldn't make the cut and wouldn't be on my daily read list. (see previous post) But, I don't have to choose three. And only a very dull person would consider limiting their world to "a few"--even to pose a sound bite question.

The meat of Palin's current response in the Hannity interview is the same as given in Palin's original answer: Palin uses lots of sources.
"Couric: And when it comes to establishing your worldview, I was curious, what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this to stay informed and to understand the world?

"Palin: I've read most of them, again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media.

"Couric: What, specifically?

"Palin: Um, all of them, any of them that have been in front of me all these years.*

"Couric: Can you name a few?

Palin: I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news, too. Alaska isn't a foreign country, where it's kind of suggested, "Wow, how could you keep in touch with what the rest of Washington, D.C., may be thinking when you live up there in Alaska?" Believe me, Alaska is like a microcosm of America.
[emphasis added]
I, too, use a vast variety of sources. Which is why I regularly read Editor & Publisher, including this Mark Fitzgerald piece which unfortunately indicates that he doesn't seem to get the news implications of the internet age.
*Note the "Um" left in. CBS and Couric edited out all of Barack Obama's "uh"s from the transcript of her July 22, 2008, interview with him. The video version has five Obama "uhs" before the start of his third sentence.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Newspapers Are Really in Good Shape?

One of my must reads is Editor & Publisher's site. Today is particularly rich--though with contradictory indications.

There are three stories about Associated Press layoffs.

One reported 57 layoffs--"33 newspersons, 19 editorial assistants, and five photographers". These were layoffs not buyouts.

Another story told of 8 AP photographers let go including national photo editor Victor Vaughan "one of the AP’s highest ranking journalists of color". Others cut were Texas-based Harry Cabluck (who had been with AP 40 years) and Donna McWilliam in Texas, Al Grillo in Anchorage (probably an obvious choice considering Sarah Palin's shift to the lower 48), Chitose Suzuki in Hanoi, Mary Ann Chastain in South Carolina, and Winslow Townsend and Lisa Poole in Boston.

A third* was AP's own story on the layoffs. AP expected this year's revenue to come in around $700 million--a 6% drop from $748 million in 2008. AP also noted that though its target was a 10% cut in salary pay outs that would not necessarily mean 400 of AP's 4,000 employees would be let go because some salaries are higher than others. All this comes despite a tripling of AP's revenue from a decade ago. Currently, however, AP's revenue trend is declining with expected cuts to total $75 million--$30 million this year and $45 million more next year.

On the positive side there is an E&P report on "Healthy Newspaper Readership". A recent Scarborough Research study shows that 74% of Americans read a print or online newspaper each week. Scarborough explains the difference in its positive figures as opposed to the Audit Bureau of Circulations September report of a 10.6% drop in daily newspaper circulation by noting that readership is not the same as circulation.

Finally, E&P has a long piece on the benefits of raising subscription rates.

Historically circulation revenue has accounted for 20% of total revenue. The new model increases circulation revenue to 30%-35% to offset declines in advertising. One of the strategies to deflect loss of customers because of higher pricing is to give discounts to new subscribers or to those thinking of leaving but charge full price to loyal subscribers.

Are the positive reports whistling in the dark?

If 74% of Americans really do read newspapers, why is AP laying off people and expecting a 10% decrease in revenue? The only thing I can figure is that 74% of Americans might read a news story from a newspaper each week, but that's just an article here and there and probably from many sources--think Yahoo, AOL and other linking venues like Drudge. (That's why Katie Couric's question about naming two or three sources you get your news from is laughable. My sidebar alone has over 70 sources important to me and most of those link to other important sources.) Even if 74% of Americans read a newspaper weekly only a fraction of them are currently interested in paying a newspaper for the privilege of reading it.

Increasing the subscription and single copy rate might be a fix if the circulation decrease is at or near bottom. But newspaper circulation declined 10.6% this year, significantly worse than the 4.6% decrease the year before, or the 2.5% decrease the year before that. The circulation decrease has more or less doubled each of the last two years. That can wipe out any gains from subscription hikes. As Jerry Kackley, an adviser to newspapers on subscription pricing, points out:
"'Let's say you increase the subscription price in the range of 25% . . . . If you lose 10% of your circulation, you will basically be flat in terms of revenue once you add in the impact on advertising. . . . No matter how smart you do it, when you look at circulation increases of 25% to 30% like you're seeing around the country, it doesn't take a lot of circulation losses to zero out that revenue increase' . . . ."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Continetti Up; Will and Brooks Down

It's interesting to watch the up and comers overtake the old guard.

Matthew Continetti, associate editor of The Weekly Standard, besides writing long, thoughtful pieces there, has just penned a new book (The Persecution of Sarah Palin: How the Elite Media Tried to Bring Down a Rising Star). He was also the guy The Washington Post asked to write the conservative side in reviewing Sarah Palin's Going Rogue.*

You can tell Continetti is on the rise not only by the above accomplishments but by recent snarky comments made by rival conservative writers old enough to be his father and grandfather, David Brooks and George Will. Both Will and Brooks appeared on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulis. Both made odd allusions to Sarah Palin being like William Jennings Bryan.
[WILL:] "Some conservatives think they have found in Sarah Palin a Republican William Jennings Bryan. Now, why they would want someone who lost the presidency three times, I do not know."
. . .
[BROOKS:] "But if you look at the sort of populism that has won in this country, it's not William Jennings populism, which is hostile and negative, which Sarah Palin sometimes is. It is the populism that is Ronald Reaganesque, which is simply we're for small towns, but we're not angry at the big cities. The anger turns people off. Representing small towns is fine. But what she does, which is turning into a hostility towards intellectuals in general, that just doesn't work."
Where did the out-of-left-field comments on William Jennings Bryan come from? One rarely hears political commentary about Bryan. Rightly so. The comments might work in a talk to political science professors, but almost none of the This Week audience would know Bryan well enough to use him as a reference point. They would almost all know about Reagan and a reasonable percentage about Andrew Jackson, but William Jennings Bryan? So, why bring Bryan up?

Well, Matthew Continetti wrote a long (4,700 word) semi-scholarly article published last week in The Weekly Standard comparing Sarah Palin's political appeal to that of the populist strain in Andrew Jackson, Ronald Reagan, and, yes, William Jennings Bryan. Along the way, Continetti gave numerous examples showing common themes in Reagan's, Jackson's and Bryan's populism and linking those with Palin's views.

Will and Brooks obviously read Continetti's article and were not pleased with Continetti's case for Palin's mainstream (Reagan, Andrew Jackson, William Jennings Bryan) populist connection.

The question is why puzzle the audience by using William Jennings Bryan in their criticism? Because, as is clear from Will's comment about "[s]ome conservatives", the criticism was a slap specifically at Continetti--a rising young commentator who is gaining status among conservatives. Worse still, not only is he persuasive to more and more conservatives, major left leaning outlets are also treating him as a serious conservative voice.

Is this jealousy rearing its head? Even more unhappily for Will and Brooks, jealousy with cause?
*(Kudos to The Washington Post for realizing that fairness required two views.)

UPDATE: Here's the entire discussion. Note how the men completely disregard Gwen Ifill, and Bob Woodward even disses Ifill's observation that Palin's "story" is powerful politically with women. Woodward apparently assumes he knows more about how women think than Ifill! Talk about a slap in the face to Ifill. Not only does Woodward imply that she is clueless politically, but she can't even get female identity politics right and needs instruction from Woodward on what women think.

The men on this panel think pretty much alike that Palin isn't a serious political force or contender. So they interact with each other, but don't interact seriously with Ifill's views on Palin or women. Thus, proving Ifill's point that they need help in understanding how women feel in seeing another woman unfairly dissed--whether it's Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin or Gwen Ifill.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk about Sarah Palin right now. We shared a little bit of Barbara Walters. Here was Sarah Palin on "Oprah."


OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: That was seminal defining moment for you, that interview.

PALIN: The campaign said, right on, good, you're showing your independence. This is what America needs to see. And it was a good interview. And of course, I'm thinking, if you thought that was a good interview, I don't know what a bad interview was.


STEPHANOPOULOS: A little bit of bluntness there from Sarah Palin. The book is out, 415 pages. David Brooks, it looks like it's a fair amount of score settling and the combat with the McCain campaign aides has continued straight through the weekend.

BROOKS: Yes, she's a joke. I mean, I just can't take her seriously. We've got serious problems in the country. Barack Obama is trying to handle a war. We just had a guy elected Virginia governor who's probably the model for the future of the Republican Party, Bob McDonnell. Pretty serious guy, pragmatic, calm, kind of boring. The idea that this potential talk show host is considered seriously for the Republican nomination, believe me, it will never happen. Voters, Republican primary voters are just not going to elect a talk show host.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Rudy Giuliani is taking her seriously this morning.

IFILL: Well, Rudy...


IFILL: Where do we go with this? I think he has no choice but to take her seriously. Everyone at this stage in the process is trying to appeal to everyone else. Lamar Alexander was quoted in the paper this morning as saying, well, she's interesting. And that's what Bob McDonnell does not have. She's interesting. She's the current -- politics' current example of the shining, flashing thing. You know, the balloon boy. It's something that we're into at this moment.

And you know what, she's interesting. And she does represent a lot of people who normally are not interested in politics, and therefore, she can't be ignored.

CORN: She may represent a threat to the Republican Party. If she's... IFILL: In your dreams.

CORN: No, no, I'm listening to David Brooks here.


CORN: If she's a joke, if the Republican Party is serious about a joke, that will reflect not so well upon itself.

There's a Palin gap. 76 percent of Republicans say they'd like to see her be a national figure. Only 45 percent of all Americans believe that. There's a 31-point gap there. Up to 71 percent of people polled don't believe she's qualified to be president. So the more seriously she's taken by Lamar Alexander, Rudy Giuliani, and anybody who's out there that's a Republican, it's not going to reflect well on the party itself.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The question, though, is can she use this book tour, George Will, to bring that number down, the number of people who say she just can't be taken seriously as a presidential candidate?

WILL: How big is the undecided element about Sarah Palin at this point? I mean, what are you working with here? If conservatives of a sort are looking for a populist, they have got Mike Huckabee, who's mounting a big campaign and is far ahead of Sarah Palin among those, at this early stage, expressing a preference. Some conservatives think they have found in Sarah Palin a Republican William Jennings Bryan. Now, why they would want someone who lost the presidency three times, I do not know.


WOODWARD: You know, I think that she should have her say. I don't think anyone ever got elected president because of a book. And I agree with David on this. You talk to Republicans, and they say they voted for Obama because Sarah Palin was John McCain's pick. That was John McCain's justification. And I have heard it and I think you have heard it from Republicans time and time again, so I don't think she will work in the Republican Party. But, you know -- she's going to give it a try. I think she -- I think the book sales are going to be astronomical.

IFILL: Of course, but let's just point out, as the girl at the table, I feel like I can just say you cannot underestimate the degree to which women will be drawn to her story. And that's who she's speaking to. These are people who are ignored, who nobody counts into their thinking. That's why she's appealing to Hillary Clinton. It's why -- when she made her own announcement, remember, she talked -- she used the term glass ceiling back in the summer? Don't underestimate that factor.

WOODWARD: Sure, but you can be drawn to somebody's story and buy their book and read their book. That doesn't mean you want them to be president.

(CROSSTALK) WOODWARD: ... to lead. I think those are two different realms for people.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But David, why don't you take on David Corn's question about whether this is taking away from her the personality, this whole Palinism that we have seen. What impact does that have on the party going forward?

BROOKS: Well, there's a populism in both the Democratic and the Republican parties, which is against Wall Street, against intellectuals, against Washington, against New York, against the coasts. But if you look at the sort of populism that has won in this country, it's not William Jennings populism, which is hostile and negative, which Sarah Palin sometimes is. It is the populism that is Ronald Reaganesque, which is simply we're for small towns, but we're not angry at the big cities. The anger turns people off. Representing small towns is fine. But what she does, which is turning into a hostility towards intellectuals in general, that just doesn't work.

CORN: The question is whether, you know, Americans want a rogue president. Mitt Romney has a book coming out -- it probably won't sell as much -- in the spring. It's called "The Case for American Greatness." Do we want to elect...

STEPHANOPOULOS: He's going to try to pick up on David Brooks' themes there.

CORN: Obviously. Maybe you helped him, I don't know...


CORN: ... but maybe you can reveal that when you want to. But you know, Sarah Palin is indeed promoting herself. And this idea that she's not just even a maverick, she's beyond maverickness. She's going for rogueness. And I think that's not a very settling sentiment for a lot of people in this country. It may be good for talk shows and to debate, but she doesn't really have I think the steady hand that people are going to want to see in a president anytime in the near future.

WILL: Two years from now, we'll be up to our eyeballs in the Iowa caucuses. And I don't think that, at that point, when we have a real, rich array of Republican candidates, that she's going to loom large. This is what happens in a vacuum of a third year out.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And that's the last word for now. You guys continue this in the green room.
[emphasis added]

Associated Press Cutting 10% of Staff

Editor & Publisher reports:
Gawker reported earlier today that one estimate had at least 80 jobs being cut, adding that its sources contend they have already started.
. . .
Paul Colford, AP director of media relations, declined to comment to E&P on the layoff expectations. But he reiterated the news cooperative's announcement from last year that it planned to reduce payroll count by 10% by the end of 2009.
. . .
Last summer, about 100 jobs were cut through voluntary buyouts that ended in July. AP currently has about 4,000 employees worldwide.
Incompetence comes with a price.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Associated Press Incompetence Again--This Time with Eleven(!) Reporters

Joke: How many AP reporters does it take to change a light bulb? Eleven. One to screw it in and the other ten to turn the ladder.

AP is living out the joke but in reporting rather than changing light bulbs. The Associated Press recently assigned eleven (count 'em, eleven) reporters to a big news project. Mark Steyn explains:
If you wonder why American newspapering is dying, consider this sign-off:
AP writers Matt Apuzzo, Sharon Theimer, Tom Raum, Rita Beamish, Beth Fouhy, H. Josef Hebert, Justin D. Pritchard, Garance Burke, Dan Joling and Lewis Shaine contributed to this report.
Wow. That's ten "AP writers" plus Calvin Woodward, the AP writer whose twinkling pen honed the above contributions into the turgid sludge of the actual report. That's 11 writers for a 695-word report. What on? Obamacare? The Iranian nuke program? The upcoming trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?

No, the Associated Press assigned 11 writers to "fact-check" Sarah Palin's new book, and in return the 11 fact-checkers triumphantly unearthed six errors. That's 1.8333333 writers for each error.
As Steyn points out, it took almost two AP reporters to unearth each "error". But, it turns out that a cursory read through shows a third of them aren't errors.

The first cited error is self-refuting on the AP's own terms. The AP Eleven make a big deal of Palin saying she didn't "often" stay at more expensive hotels. They then give one example when she did.
PALIN: Says she made frugality a point when traveling on state business as Alaska governor, asking "only" for reasonably priced rooms and not "often" going for the "high-end, robe-and-slippers" hotels.

THE FACTS: Although she usually opted for less-pricey hotels while governor, Palin and daughter Bristol stayed five days and four nights at the $707.29-per-night Essex House luxury hotel (robes and slippers come standard) for a five-hour women's leadership conference in New York in October 2007. With air fare, the cost to Alaska was well over $3,000.
Uh, Calvin Woodard, Matt Apuzzo, Sharon Theimer, Tom Raum, Rita Beamish, Beth Fouhy, H. Josef Hebert, Justin D. Pritchard, Garance Burke, Dan Joling and Lewis Shaine, last time I checked one hotel stay is the same as (maybe even less than) “not ‘often’”.

Some actually relevant facts the AP Eleven had problems unearthing:
[Palin’s family] travel was processed by the Administrative Services Department, whose director served under the previous governor. Governor Palin followed the same protocol that past governors had followed. The one obvious difference, however, is that Governor Palin and her family spent less than her two predecessors. In fact, she spent over $913,000 less on personal expenses in her first two years than former Governor Frank Murkowski did his last two years.
Another AP Eleven assertion is not about facts but opinion about Palin's political motivation.
PALIN: "Was it ambition? I didn't think so. Ambition drives; purpose beckons." Throughout the book, Palin cites altruistic reasons for running for office, and for leaving early as Alaska governor.

THE FACTS: Few politicians own up to wanting high office for the power and prestige of it, and in this respect, Palin fits the conventional mold. But "Going Rogue" has all the characteristics of a pre-campaign manifesto, the requisite autobiography of the future candidate.
This isn't THE FACTS. This is opinion. There are no FACTS cited from Palin's time in office as either city councillor, mayor or governor (more than a decade in office). The only fact given is that Palin has written an autobiographical book (Going Rogue). The book was written after Palin left office. Even if it is a "pre-campaign manifesto" (again, no facts given in support) how does that show motivation for her previous time in office (which is what the fact check is supposedly about)?

For a debunking of the other four AP Eleven fact check errors see Power Line and for an in depth, fact-filled treatment see Conservatives 4 Palin.

Friday, November 13, 2009

MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan Combines Ineptness + Sexism

In a “fun” look at “What is it about Palin that drives America wild?”, Dylan Ratigan of MSNBC has trouble separating fantasy from reality. The segment shows a photo-shopped fake of Palin in a bikini with a rifle alongside a real photo of former Vice President Cheney with a rifle.

The charitable interpretation is that Ratigan and MSNBC staffers are so inept and clueless they don’t know the photo is a fake.

The more realistic take is that MSNBC is out to demean and squash Palin in a “fun” way. Sort of like how fun it would be to show a photo-shopped picture of President Obama's head on the body of some guy in a bikini. A real barrel of laughs.

Or how about a photo-shopped picture of Hillary in a bikini alongside a real image of Joe Biden in a suit? One might even think it sexist. Isn't it just good fun to show scantily clad female politicians juxtaposed to "serious" male politicans in suits?

There is evidence for the ineptness explanation.  Ratigan doesn't even know the correct name of his guests.  He introduces Time's Jay Newton-Small as "Jay Small-Newton"

There's an appropriateness to the mistake.  Newton-Small proves herself to be a rather small person in smirking about Ratigan's jokes aimed at Palin including Levi Johnston's tabloid-like behavior.  And Contessa Brewer brings in Levi's posing for Playgirl.  Johnston, of course, has as much to do with Palin as Billy Carter's failings had to do with his brother Jimmy's political career and presidency.  You don't get to pick your family connections.

But, as Ratigan, Newton-Small, and Contessa Brewer point out, "She has family drama that makes you feel better about your own."  More to the point: these three have ineptness, lack of class and sexism that make pretty much everyone in the nation feel better about whatever their own failings are.

H/T Scott Whitlock of Newsbusters

UPDATE: Dylan Ratigan apologizes for using fake photos of Sarah Palin.

From Scott Whitlock of Newsbusters:
A transcript of the November 16 apology, which aired at 9:18am EST, follows:
DYLAN RATIGAN: Before we begin this one, I want to apologize to Governor Palin and all of our viewers. On Friday, in a very misguided attempt to have some fun in advance of Sarah Palin’s upcoming book Going Rogue, our staff mistakenly used some clearly photoshopped images of Ms. Palin without any acknowledgment. And on behalf of the show, I would like to say that this was completely unacceptable. We should have never used those photos in the first place and you can rest assured we spent the weekend and Friday afternoon taking measures to make sure it will never happen again. I apologize.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Al Gore: Oops! Methane and Soot (Not CO2) the Big Threat

From Tim Blair:
Next, something that – if true – should be front-page news:
Gore explored new studies - published only last week - that show methane and black carbon or soot had a far greater impact on global warming than previously thought. Carbon dioxide – while the focus of the politics of climate change – produces around 40% of the actual warming.?Gore acknowledged to Newsweek that the findings could complicate efforts to build a political consensus around the need to limit carbon emissions.
So CO2 accounts for less than half of the warming that isn’t happening anyway. Yes, this could complicate things. It could complicate things a great deal.
“Over the years I have been among those who focused most of all on CO2, and I think that’s still justified,” he told the magazine. “But a comprehensive plan to solve the climate crisis has to widen the focus to encompass strategies for all” of the greenhouse culprits identified in the Nasa study.
The encompassing strategy to deal with soot should be interesting. Big Soot won’t stand idly by and let Gore get away with it, of course. I say this as someone who is obviously in the pay of Big Soot.
On Saturday, he told the German newspaper, Der Spiegel, he was “almost certain” Obama would attend the [Hopenchangen] negotiations.
Well, Gore’s call on CO2 was accurate enough. Maybe if enough interfaith prayer is involved, Obama will materialise for the climate talks.

CNN Poll: Obama and Palin Tie

Tommy Report of Conservatives4Palin points out that a CNN poll taken in mid-October found that 48% of Americans feel that Sarah Palin "Generally agrees with you on issues you care about". In the same poll 48% said that Barack Obama agrees with the issues they most care about. A tie!

It is telling that people identify with the positions of both Palin and Obama at the same level despite Obama's massively favorable and Palin's massively unfavorable press coverage and Obama's prestige as president. And it looks like Palin's candidates are going to be the winners in the elections today in New York and Virginia and maybe even New Jersey.

Not bad for a "quitter".

Hmm. I haven't seen anybody outraged that Scozzafava quit the NY-23 race three days before the election. The New York Times was very understanding about the heavy toll on Scozzafava of conservative attacks on her in the short three and a half month campaign:
Exhausted and emotionally drained by the attacks from conservatives seeking to paint her as a liberal who was disloyal to the Republican Party, Ms. Scozzafava said she needed time to decide whether she could endorse Mr. Owens, said one person with knowledge of the meeting, who spoke requested anonymity in order to reveal details of private conversations.
Leading Democrats, including White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, were courting Scozzafava's endorsement.
Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., was among those who urged Dierdre K. Scozzafava to endorse Democratic congressional candidate William L. Owens, the senator's spokesman said Saturday.

The spokesman, Maxwell Young, said the senator called a number of north country political leaders after Ms. Scozzafava suspended her campaign and had more than one conversation with the Republican candidate ahead of her announcement. He said the senator also called other Democratic leaders about the situation, including White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

Mr. Owens said he was “honored” by the endorsement.

“Over the course of her career, Dede has always committed to serving the people of Upstate New York before serving a partisan agenda,” he said in a statement. “Now more than ever we need bipartisan solutions to help bring jobs to Upstate New York to get our economy back on track and move our country forward. Those are the kinds of priorities I will fight for in Congress because that's the kind of leadership Upstate New York needs right now.”

Death Panels?