Patterico's Pontifications

10/10/2008

On The Bright Side — Oil Closed Below $78 A Barrel Today

Filed under: General — WLS @ 3:38 pm

[Posted by WLS]

Recall that back in July when President Bush lifted the Executive Order banning off-shore drilling, oil was trading near $145 a barrel. Today’s price is nearly a 50% reduction off that high.

It clearly reflects a belief in lessening demand for oil in the coming months/years as fear of a world-wide slowdown in manufacturing and consumption begins to take root.

Or does it?

The fact is that speculation had been a huge catalyst for the run-up in oil prices, and so long as there was no prospect for increased supply to pop the oil price bubble, the price rise continued to defy gravity. Once the air started to come out of the balloon, it came out in a hurry.

So, what does this portend for the economy? Well, it’s like a huge tax cut. The price of a gallon of gas in my neighborhood dropped $0.25 overnight from Wednesday to Thursday morning. I know, I filled up Wednesday night at $3.74 a gallon, and when I went past the same station the next day they had re-set the price at $3.49.

A couple months ago it cost me nearly $70 to fill up my tank. On Wednesday I did so for $49. That’s $20 a tank, about a tank a week, for $80 a month, $960 a year — assuming the price doesn’t continue to drop, which it will.

Because petroleum is so pervasive throughout the economy, this price drop will begin to get priced into all manner of things that have seen nothing but price increases lately. All of that works to put money back into a consumer’s pocketbook.

And not just the “rich” — but at all income levels. This money is better than a $600 check from the government because it involves no loss of tax revenue to the government to make it happen.

— WLS

Connecticut Supreme Court Rules Gays can Marry

Filed under: 2008 Election,Law — DRJ @ 3:06 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Like previous court decisions in Massachusetts and California, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled today that gay couples have the right to marry:

“Gov. M. Jodi Rell said she disagreed with the ruling.

“The Supreme Court has spoken,” she said. “I do not believe their voice reflects the majority of the people of Connecticut. However, I am also firmly convinced that attempts to reverse this decision – either legislatively or by amending the state Constitution – will not meet with success.”

State Sen. Michael Lawlor, chairman of the legislature’s Judiciary Committee, said he expects the General Assembly will pass a gay marriage law next year codifying the Supreme Court ruling.

“It’s important that both the legislature and the court weigh in,” he said. “The court is saying that it’s a constitutional requirement that marriage should be equally available to gays and straights and the legislature should weigh in saying whether or not it’s constitutionally required, it’s the right thing to do.”

The court was sharply divided in the decision, with three justices issuing separate dissenting opinions.”

As if this election wasn’t dramatic enough already.

— DRJ

My Letter to the Readers’ Rep About the L.A. Times’s Quotation of an Inaccurate Transcript

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 1:29 pm

I just sent this to the Readers’ Rep:

Jamie,

A story I saw on the Times‘s website yesterday contains the following passage:

Palin told Fox’s Sean Hannity, in a transcript provided by the network: “And — not only those terrorist activities that Bill Ayers was involved in, but the questions need to be asked, I believe, when did Barack Obama know of these activities? We’ve heard so many confliction stories and flip-flop answers about when he knew the guy, did he realize that he knocked off his political career in the guy’s living room?”

http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-na-mccain9-2008oct09,0,4409350.story

Wow, Sarah Palin really sounds inarticulate there. It’s almost enough to make you wonder whether she actually sounded that silly.

Turns out she didn’t.

Had reporter Peter Nicholas bothered to watch the segment, he would have seen that this transcript is completely inaccurate. Those seemingly inarticulate quotes about “confliction stories” and how Obama “knocked off” his political career in Ayers’s living room — they never happened. Those words did not come out of Sarah Palin’s mouth. I watched the segment. It’s Part 3 at this Web address:

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,435901,00.html

Here is what Palin actually said:

And — not only those atrocious activities that Bill Ayers was involved in, but the questions need to be asked, I believe, when did Barack Obama know of his activities? We’ve heard so many conflicting stories and flip-flopped answers about when he knew the guy, did he realize that he kicked off his political career in the guy’s living room, first it was yes and then it was no . . .

Here are the differences:

And — not only those terrorist atrocious activities that Bill Ayers was involved in, but the questions need to be asked, I believe, when did Barack Obama know of these his activities? We’ve heard so many confliction conflicting stories and flip-flop flip-flopped answers about when he knew the guy, did he realize that he knocked off kicked off his political career in the guy’s living room, first it was yes and then it was no . . .

It was easy for reporter Nicholas to dismiss Palin’s actual allegations by giving the seemingly inarticulate quote — the silliness of it seemingly speaks for itself! — and then giving a one-line characterization of a New York Times article about the relationship. Nicholas’s article would have been better if he had actually watched the segment, given the accurate quote, and then explored whether Palin was right. For balance, he could also have quoted CNN, which recently ran a segment in which the reporter said, and I quote, “the relationship between Obama and Ayers went much deeper, ran much longer, and was much more political than Obama said.” Nicholas could have pointed out that Obama’s camp initially claimed Obama had met Ayers at that coming-out at Ayers’s home — a claim that Obama later had to acknowledge was false, due to the emergence of documents unearthed in the interim.

But never mind that; I almost never write you to complain about pro-Democratic spin, or I’d be writing you much more often than I do. As you know, I generally bother you only when your paper gets facts wrong. Here, the quote is just wrong. Palin didn’t say the words that your newspaper attributed to her.

And yes, I know that your reporter accurately quoted the transcript. Please tell me that accurately quoting an inaccurate transcript does not meet your standards.

It would be really nice if you guys could correct this quickly. It’s quite simple: click the link, listen to the video, read what your reporter claimed Palin said, read what I’m telling you she actually said, and see who’s right. You could run a correction tomorrow.

Yours truly,

Patrick Frey
http://patterico.com

But of course, they won’t.

Marginal Tax Rates and the Middle Class

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 10:41 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Robert Carroll at the Tax Foundation compares the candidates’ tax plans and notices a difference between the statutory tax rates Obama’s plan promises and the effective marginal tax rates his plan will actually produce:

“To the surprise of some, even though Senator Obama’s tax plan lowers taxes for the bottom four quintiles, marginal tax rates would fall only for the very lowest-income couples. Taking both income and payroll taxes into account, those at the very bottom of the income distribution would see their effective marginal tax rates fall from 27.4 percent to minus 58.6 percent due to proposed changes to the earned income tax credit and Senator Obama’s new “Making Work Pay” credit.

Most low- and moderate-income couples would see their effective marginal tax rates rise, in some cases, significantly. Indeed, some low- and moderate-income taxpayers will see their marginal rates rise to more than 50 percent.

Here’s an example:

“The combination of the phase-out of the EITC, the “Making Work Pay” credit, and the child and dependent care credit pushes the effective marginal tax rate to as high as 51.7 percent. That is, the taxpayer who benefits from all these provisions at a lower income discovers that he gets to keep less than one half of every additional dollar of earnings in the roughly $30,000-to-$43,000 range.

That should wake up blue-collar voters. Too bad no one will tell them.

— DRJ

L.A. Times Leaves Out a Few Facts on Ayers

Filed under: 2008 Election,Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 7:19 am

There’s so much I could say about this L.A. Times article, with its vivid portrayal of McCain and his followers as angry nutcases, and its references to McCain’s audiences as “angry” and “surly.” I may do a more complete dissection tomorrow, but let me make one observation:

But in an interview with Fox News, Palin cited Ayers as reason to question Obama’s “judgment.”

Palin told Fox’s Sean Hannity, in a transcript provided by the network: “And — not only those terrorist activities that Bill Ayers was involved in, but the questions need to be asked, I believe, when did Barack Obama know of these activities? We’ve heard so many confliction stories and flip-flop answers about when he knew the guy, did he realize that he knocked off his political career in the guy’s living room?”

A recent article about Ayers in the New York Times said the two men were not close.

[UPDATE: The transcript is completely inaccurate, and the slugs at the L.A. Times should have watched the damn segment. See UPDATE below.]

Yes, and a recent CNN segment on the issue, a CNN reporter said that “the relationship between Obama and Ayers went much deeper, ran much longer, and was much more political than Obama said.”

I wonder why the New York Times article was mentioned, but this segment (and the facts it discloses) wasn’t. In fact, citing the New York Times article is all the L.A. Times says about Palin’s accusations.

Oh — and in the New York Times article itself, we learned that Obama’s camp had previously been less than truthful about when Obama met Ayers. I’ll turn over the mike to Andrew McCarthy:

You might think the Times would be more curious. After all, the Democrats’ presidential nominee has already lied to the Gray Lady about the origins of his relationship with Weather Underground terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn. Back in May, in a cheery profile of Obama’s early Chicago days, the Times claimed (emphasis is mine):

Mr. Obama also fit in at Hyde Park’s fringes, among university faculty members like Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, unrepentant members of the radical Weather Underground that bombed the United States Capitol and the Pentagon to protest the Vietnam War. Mr. Obama was introduced to the couple in 1995 at a meet-and-greet they held for him at their home, aides said.

Now look, anyone who gave five seconds of thought to that passage smelled a rat. Ayers and Dohrn are passionate radical activists who lived as fugitives for a decade. There’s no way they held a political coming-out party for someone who was unknown to them. Obviously, they already knew him well enough by then to feel very comfortable. They might have been sympathetic to a relative stranger, but sponsoring such a gathering in one’s living room is a strong endorsement.

And now, even the Times now knows it’s been had. In this past weekend’s transparent whitewashing of the Obama/Ayers tie, the paper claimed that the pair first met earlier in 1995, “at a lunchtime meeting about school reform in a Chicago skyscraper[.]” That storyline is preposterous too, but it is also a marked revision of the paper’s prior account (which, naturally, reporter Scott Shane fails to mention).

Why the change? The tacit concession was forced by Stanley Kurtz and Steve Diamond — whom the Times chooses not to acknowledge but who hover over Shane’s sunny narrative like a dark cloud.

Funny how none of this comes up in the L.A. Times story.

P.S. Regarding the quote by Palin in the Hannity interview: it’s interesting to note that the L.A. Times apparently doesn’t think it’s necessary to actually watch the show to see if the transcript is accurate. Does anyone have the video to see if it is?

UPDATE: Peter Nicholas, the reporter, obviously included the transcript of Palin’s remarks in order to mock Palin’s wording — which, as it reads in the transcript, sounds garbled and inarticulate. But the transcript is inaccurate, as Nicholas would have learned if he had bothered to watch the segment itself (click on Part 3; thanks to DRJ for the link). Here is what Palin actually said; I’ll cross out the incorrect words that the L.A. Times reported and include the real wording so you can compare the two:

And — not only those terrorist atrocious activities that Bill Ayers was involved in, but the questions need to be asked, I believe, when did Barack Obama know of these his activities? We’ve heard so many confliction conflicting stories and flip-flop flip-flopped answers about when he knew the guy, did he realize that he knocked off kicked off his political career in the guy’s living room, first it was yes and then it was no . . .

(The “first it was yes and then it was no” phrase was also omitted by the paper.)

The transcript made Palin sound ridiculous, talking “confliction stories” and Obama “knocking off” a political career at Ayers’s house. And the paper quoted the transcript purely to make Palin sound stupid, when her actual words sound just fine.

Unbelievable. I’ll be writing the Readers’ Representative about this.

What do you want to bet she defends it by saying that they quoted the transcript accurately, regardless of what she actually said?

UPDATE x2: Here is my letter.

Obama Interfered with Bush’s Negotiations About Iraq

Filed under: 2008 Election — Patterico @ 6:57 am

Via Drudge, we learn that Obama interfered with President Bush’s negotiations with Iraqi officials about the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq:

At the same time the Bush administration was negotiating a still elusive agreement to keep the U.S. military in Iraq, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama tried to convince Iraqi leaders in private conversations that the president shouldn’t be allowed to enact the deal without congressional approval.

Mr. Obama’s conversations with the Iraqi leaders, confirmed to The Washington Times by his campaign aides, began just two weeks after he clinched the Democratic presidential nomination in June and stirred controversy over the appropriateness of a White House candidate’s contacts with foreign governments while the sitting president is conducting a war.

Some of the specifics of the conversations remain the subject of dispute. Iraqi leaders purported to The Times that Mr. Obama urged Baghdad to delay an agreement with Mr. Bush until next year when a new president will be in office – a charge the Democratic campaign denies.

Will Big Media pick up on this? They should, but I predict they won’t — at least, not as a legitimate issue. If McCain raises it, they may do their shtick where they say “McCain told an angry crowd that Obama had interfered with the negotiations, but Obama denied it.” That’s about all you’ll see.

John Cole: McCain Is a “Coward”

Filed under: 2008 Election — Patterico @ 6:51 am

Joe Biden says:

“All of the things they said about Barack Obama in the TV, on the TV, at their rallies, and now on YouTube … John McCain could not bring himself to look Barack Obama in the eye and say the same things to him,”

War hero John Cole goes so far as to call McCain a “coward” for failing to bring up the Ayers issue to Obama directly in a debate.

I’d love to see that too. As WLS points out, that might not be the best strategy for Obama. But I’d like to see it.

But you know what else? I’d love to see Obama say some of the stuff his campaign has said about McCain to his face.

I’d love to see Obama mock McCain to his face for not being able to use a computer — and have McCain point out that this is due to his severe war injuries.

But even more than that, I’d love to see war hero John Cole call McCain a “coward” to his face. In front of a crowd of a few thousand veterans.

That’s what I’d like to see.


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