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May 2007 Archives

May 8, 2007

Welcome ShopFloor.org Readers!

Hey, gang -- welcome to patcleary.com, and thanks for stopping by. Having started ShopFloor.org some two years ago, the thoughts of starting a new blog from scratch was a little daunting, but hey, we figure if even one of the two regular ShopFloor readers come over here, we'll have half of the traffic from the get-go.

Here in this space we'll be writing about all the issues near and dear to our hearts, about manufacturing, tax and economic issues, about unions and, of course, about Lou Dobbs. Might even throw in a Friday Follies every now and then as well. However, in addition, we'll be able to write about issues not germane to manufacturing or to the NAM's mission. God knows there are enough blogs about the war, but we may wander into various political imbroglios, just to keep the blood flowing. For example, had this blog been up & running during the Imus mash-up, we would have jumped into that fray, just for the heck of it. We will likely also be launching another business community blog along with some other allies, will post over on that one, too. Stay tuned for details.

So yes, we start with one regular reader (Hi, mom!), start from scratch as we did over two years ago. Drop us a note, tee up topics you want us to address or avoid, send us tid-bits. We are unfettered by any filter now (we can hear you exclaiming, "You had a filter?!?"), and are just out here pinging around the blogosphere.

Welcome to patcleary.com, be it ever so humble.

May 11, 2007

Political Correctness Run Amok

It's come to this....

The MPAA has announced it will factor smoking into its rating system, so films that depict smoking -- like every Humphrey Bogart film and very World War II movie -- will be considered for an "R" rating. "Clearly, smoking is increasingly an unacceptable behavior in our society," says MPAA chief and former Clintonista Dan Glickman in this article, "There is broad awareness of smoking as a unique public health concern due to nicotine's highly addictive nature, and no parent wants their child to take up the habit."

What's next? Trans-fats? Wearing white after Labor Day? Good Lord. Think about the wasteland that is prime time TV and the sex, profanity and violence that can be shown, unvarnished, to the world at large. It's apparently OK for our children to take up any of those habits, no problem. Just don't let anyone light up a cigarette. We have our standards, please.

Stand by for the the next inevitable "R"-rating trigger -- any film that depicts global warming.

May 15, 2007

Press Relations: AP Enviro Story Written by Spouse of Kerry Enviro Advisor

Did you catch this article on the AP wire? We just saw it on the front page of Google News. The by-line caught our eye, as we seemed to recall some controversy surrounding the bias of this reporter, Jennifer Loven. One quick Google search later, sure enough we turned up this gem. We are big PowerLine fans and recalled they had first identified this story way back in 2004.

Turns out, Loven's husband runs a lefty environmental group and was an adviser to both Bill Clinton and John Kerry's Presidential campaigns. He is also a pretty hefty contributor to Democrat causes. Just go to this FEC site and type in his name, Roger Ballentine (last name first), and you can see for yourself. Wouldn't AP want someone who has at least the patina of fairness to write this story? When you read it, you'll see it tilts to the left, not surprisingly.

You can drop AP a note by clicking here, tell 'em to try to find reporters whose spouses aren't advising past or current Presidential candidates, and whose partisanship isn't so blatant.

Continue reading "Press Relations: AP Enviro Story Written by Spouse of Kerry Enviro Advisor" »

Tony Snow's Graduation Speech

White House Spokesman Tony Snow was the graduation speaker here over the weekend at Catholic University. Thanks to Rich Weil for sending this along.

"First," says Snow, "Live boldly. Live a whole life. I have five tips for pulling this off and – let me warn you — they’ve all been road tested." His tips:

  • Number one, think.
  • Second recommendation: Go off-road.
  • Third: Commit.
  • Next, get out.
  • Finally, love.
  • In closing, Snow says, "And finally this: Wherever you are and whatever you do, never forget at this moment, and every moment forward, you have a precious blessing. You’ve got the breath of life. No matter how lousy things may seem, you’ve got the breath of life. And while God doesn’t promise tomorrow, he does promise eternity."

    The context here is important. It is by now well-known that Snow is battling a recurrence of cancer, a battle he won a few years ago and is now fighting anew. He is a smart and courageous guy, one of the most decent people in Washington.

    Here's a link to his full commencement address, a good read for graduates and citizens everywhere.

    May 17, 2007

    Help Hillary Pick a Theme Song

    Everybody needs a theme song, right? Y'know -- the song in your head when you're walking down the street (think John Travolta and "Stayin' Alive") or when you're introduced to an adoring crowd. Maybe it's the Allman Brothers "Whippin' Post," or Louis Armstrong's, "What a Wonderful World," or maybe even Charlie Pride's "Busted." Just gotta have a theme song.

    Turns out, even Presidential candidates need a theme song. On Hillary Clinton's website is actually a good-humored video from her, inviting the public's input in helping her pick a theme song. Here's a link to the list of songs and the site where you can vote. Or, click on "Comments" below to add your suggestions.

    And, let's hope she doesn't decide to sing.

    Continue reading "Help Hillary Pick a Theme Song" »

    May 24, 2007

    It's Raining Bad News For John Edwards

    Pity poor John Edwards, he of the "Two Americas" rant. We heard one wag remark recently that both Americas could live on his vast estate in North Carolina, but no matter.

    Here's a story from the not-very-conservative San Francisco Chronicle recounting some recent woes of Edwards:

  • Two $400 haircuts
  • A $500,000 paycheck from a hedge fund
  • A $55,000 speech to the University of California - Davis on -- what else? -- poverty. (Pause here for irony)
  • Well, the news for Edwards just got a little bit worse. Yesterday's Wall Street Journal featured this item (subscription required), noting a new Congressional Budget Office study that shows that, contrary to conventional wisdom, the poor are actually getting richer. Wow -- talk about wrecking a good political buzz. Says the Journal:

    CBO says the main causes of this low-income earnings surge have been a combination of welfare reform, expansion of the earned income tax credit and wage gains from a tight labor market, especially in the late stages of the 1990s expansion. Though cash welfare fell as a share of overall income (which includes government benefits), earnings from work climbed sharply as the 1996 welfare reform pushed at least one family breadwinner into the job market.

    The report also rebuts the claim, fashionable in some precincts on CNN, that the middle class is losing ground. The median family with children saw an 18% rise in earnings from the early 1990s through 2005. That's $8,500 more purchasing power after inflation. The wealthiest fifth made a 55% gain in earnings, but the key point is that every class saw significant gains in income.

    Of course all of this good news for the poor adds up to bad news for Edwards and the politics of division.

    The Voters Demand....Oversight?

    There were certainly many interpretations of last year's election results, most noting voter unhappiness with the Jack Abramoff and Mark Foley scandals, with the war in Iraq, with the status quo. We didn't see any polls that seemed to indicate that what the voters wanted was more oversight and investigations. In fact, quite the opposite. All polls pointed to the fact that voters -- Republicans, Democrats and Independents -- seemed fed up with the partisanship in Washington.

    Yet as The Politico reported in yesterday's editions, looks like the Dems have a healthy lineup of more oversight and investigations planned.

    "The Oversight Congress." That oughta thrill the voters.

    Mike Baroody and the Politics of Personal Destruction

    Yesterday, the Executive Vice President of the National Association of Manufacturers, Mike Baroody -- the President's nominee to to be the Chair of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) -- withdrew his name from nomination in the face of a sustained and withering ad hominem attack from the left.

    Beginning with his nomination last Fall, self-appointed "consumer protectors" (interested far less in consumers than in feathering their own nests) and trial lawyers waged a blistering, facts-be-damned campaign to stop his nomination. Along the way, we saw rational and logical positions that he took on behalf of the NAM stretched into ridiculous caricatures that hardly resembled the original positions. Stances for limiting frivolous lawsuits somehow turned into a war against widows and orphans. The vaunted New York Times editorialized against his nomination, taking issue with his position on asbestos litigation -- a position, by the way, that the Times had not only supported but made the topic of several editorials.

    Those who know Mike well know him to be not only brilliant but a man of great integrity. The US Department of Labor is not known to be a warehouse of conservative thought, but every career employee who had the honor of working with Mike during his tenure there would say that he was honest, fair and deliberative. Some even took the extraordinary step of writing to the Senate and expressing that exact view in support of his nomination.

    At the end of the day, however, the vicious personal attacks took their toll on this decent individual. Selective leaks of personal financial information from Democrat staffers in the Senate coupled with half-truths (and non-truths) from the left ultimately became too great a weight for even this great man to bear. "Watching this abuse of process," said NAM President John Engler in a statement, "Makes me wonder why any qualified citizen would submit to run today’s Senate gauntlet." Why indeed.

    Ultimately, Mike became collateral damage in the bitter partisan war that grips the Nation's Capitol. In the process, the country lost it's shot at a fair-minded and dedicated public servant. The venom merchants who dominated this debate have only guaranteed a further intensifying of the coarseness that replaced respect in this city many years ago.

    Long after Mike Baroody has settled back into a semblance of a normal life they will, of course, reap all they have sown.

    A Poultry Litter Idea

    Next time somebody describes one of your ideas as a, uh, chicken you-know-what, just remind them of this story, where "poultry litter" will be more or less turned into gold -- or at least energy.

    You can't make this stuff up.

    May 28, 2007

    Memorial Day, 2007

    Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day, a day reserved to honor soldiers who fell in service to the Nation. Graves were decorated on this day, and still are.

    Our friends at Touchstone Energy electrical cooperatives serve many military bases. They have worked hard to ensure that those who have had trouble making ends meet due to long deployments are accommodated. One of the bases they serve is Camp Pendleton, California. They asked for -- and were given -- special permission from the brass there to film a group of troops returning home from Iraq.

    The product of that effort can be seen in this 2-minute "Welcome Home" video, a brief but moving account of one very special day. We await and pray for the safe return of all our troops. And, by the way, if you see a Vietnam Vet today, remember to tell them "Welcome Home" as well, even if it's thirty years late.

    Please take a moment today to remember all those who have served and especially those who have given their lives in defense of freedom around the globe.

    May 30, 2007

    The Poor Get Richer

    Interesting piece in yesterday's WaPo echoing a piece we posted here last week, on a new CBO study showing that the poor apparently are getting richer. The rich did OK, too, mind you (that won't sit well with the income redistribution crowd) but the really good news is that the so-called "bottom fifth" (or bottom "quintile" in economists' parlance) are actually doing better as their earnings increased a whopping 80% since 1991, besting the other four quintiles.

    We predict as the campaign of 2008 bumps along that this will continue to be a well-kept secret. Once again, had the numbers gone the other way, it would have breathlessly led every mainstream media (MSM) news report and fishwrap. But as it is, good news about the poor actually doing better for some reason just doesn't make the front page cut.

    Here's a link to the CBO study that wrecks the "poor are getting poorer" buzz.

    'A Full Tank of Hypocrisy'

    Further to our post over on ShopFloor.org last week comes resident wise man Bob Samuelson today in an op-ed by the above title, calling BS on the Dems' alleged anti-price gouging legislation. His piece includes this line which made us laugh out loud:

    "It's a plausible-sounding theory whose major defect is the absence of supporting evidence."

    He goes on to repeat the heresy in Dem circles that "Today's higher gasoline prices mostly reflect supply and demand." Yeah, we knew that. If the Congress ever got their brains around that concept, they just might do something to increase domestic supply. Remember that we are alone in the world -- the laughingstock to most of our competitors -- in that we restrict access to our own natural resources. Smart ... not.

    So let the Congress pass pointless legislation wagging a finger at an imaginary foe. That'll make 'em feel better, won't do a damned thing for the consumer. The triumph of feelgood politics. Yeah, that's why we sent 'em to Washington.

    Prosperity's War on the Middle Class

    Incredible piece in today's WaPo by the reliably-liberal Steve Pearlstein, reporting on a new study by a similarly reliably-liberal Clintonista economist show ing that indeed the middle class is vanishing -- due to prosperity. Ack! Hide the children and let's hope the MSM doesn't get hold of it. Pay no attention to the man with the facts behind that curtain!

    OK, so here's the skinny: Liberal economist Stephen Rose does a periodic study entitled, "Social Stratification in the United States." it is intended to be a lefty foundation upon which to build all the class warfare "Two Americas" agenda. Only one problem -- this time around, the facts don't jibe with the rhetoric. The study, says Pearlstein, "Challenges the sky-is-falling rhetoric of the Democratic left." Doncha hate when that happens? Here's Pearlstein on Rose:

    "...[R]umors of the demise of the American middle class are greatly exaggerated. In fact, living standards for most Americans are improving. Not everyone is flipping hamburgers or working at Wal-Mart. To the degree that the middle class is shrinking, it is because more people are rising out of it than falling from it."

    Talk about wrecking a buzz! Somebody better go give Lou Dobbs a big hug. Don't tell him there's no Santa Claus, might be too much for the ol' boy to absorb in one day. A few more points, for good measure:

  • "It is often reported that the median household income in the US is $44,500. Of course, that takes in households of varying size, from singles to the Brady Bunch. Rose adjusts the data for household size and excludes those headed by people younger than 29 or older than 59 ...When he does, it turns out that the median income for the "typical American family" jumps to $63000, which in most parts of the country buys a pretty comfortable middle-class lifestyle."
  • "[F]rom 1979 to 2004, Rose calculates, the percentage of households in the "middle class" category -- those with incomes of $30,000 to $90,000 -- fell to 39 from 47 percent. But it would be hard to describe that as bad news when the proportion of well-off households -- those with incomes of more than $90,000 -- rose by nearly nine percentage points."
  • "One of the favorite liberal story lines is that the only way middle class families have been able to maintain their standard of living is by forcing mom to work more hours. But that, too, turns out to be an exaggeration. By looking just at married couples at various points in the income ladder, Rose found that for all but the poorest households, inflation-adjusted income was higher in 2004 than in 1979 even after factoring out any increase in spousal work hours."
  • "It is also a myth that the Great American Jobs Machine is producing mostly lousy, low-paying service jobs. [I]t turns out that the number of lousy, low-skilled jobs has been on a long, steady decline since 1979, while the number of "elite" jobs has been growing steadily."
  • There's even an accompanying graph that illustrates it all quite well. Again, this article is extraordinary for its source, as is the story. You'd expect an article like this from George Will about a study from the Heritage Foundation -- but not from Steve Pearlstein about a study from a liberal economist.

    And, sadly, you'll likely not hear much about this study, either. A middle class shrinking because of behemoth evil faceless "multinationals" is the stuff of daily TV. But a middle class shrinking because of good old-fashioned prosperity just doesn't make as good a story.


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    About May 2007

    This page contains all entries posted to Pat Cleary.com in May 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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