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A debate on the death penalty will be featured this weekend on “The Real Story” on Fox CT.

The issue has generated plenty of publicity at the state Capitol recently as a bill to abolish capital punishment is moving through the judiciary committee.

A similar bill was passed by the legislature previously, but it was vetoed by then-Gov. M. Jodi Rell. By contrast, the new governor, Dannel P. Malloy, says he will sign a bill to eliminate the death penalty in all future cases.

The issue is highly controversial, and Malloy says it almost cost him the election.

Capitol Watch

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Former Watford defender Jay DeMerit rose to fame in England from the depths of a seventh-tier team all the way up to the Premier League during the 2006-2007 season. While Watford’s stay in the Premier League was short-lived, DeMerit went on to…

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EPL Talk

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Democrats try to create the impression that cutting budgets just can’t be done. They want people to throw up their hands and resign themselves to ever-escalating state and federal budgets and deficits. It is true, of course, that enacting any budget at all-let alone one that cuts spending-can be very difficult. This is because of Democratic obstructionism. The Democrats themselves create the problem that they tell us is too intractable to be solved.

Today, my home state of South Dakota became the first state this year to adopt a budget. It was sent to Governor Dennis Daugaard for his signature this afternoon. South Dakota’s budget is one that taxpayers in most states can only imagine. It eliminates a $ 127 million structural deficit. It cuts the budget of every Executive Branch agency by at least 10 percent. It also provides for small cuts in both K-12 education and Medicaid. It relies on no one-time spending fixes, and it includes zero tax increases.

How does South Dakota do it? Easy. Both houses of the legislature are overwhelmingly Republican; this year’s budget passed the House 46-23 and the Senate 28-6, “mostly on party lines.” And the Governor is a Republican too. Without Democratic obstruction, budgeting suddenly becomes manageable again.

I’m working on the lyrics to a new song. It’s going to go something like this:

Imagine there’s no Democrats
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to spend more money on
And no left-wingers too
Imagine all the people
Living life in solvency.

I like it! Now I just have to think of a catchy tune.

Power Line

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This news story in the business section of the Madison, Wisconsin Capital Times, is boring in the extreme. It reports on the fact that Wisconsin’s Public Service Commission is about to announce the selection of a Louisiana company, Shaw Environmental and Infrastructure Inc., a subsidiary of The Shaw Group, to manage the state’s Focus on Energy program. That’s a yawner, to say the least. Here is the lede:

The state Public Service Commission is poised Friday to approve selection of a Louisiana corporation with a history of environmental violations to manage Wisconsin’s popular Focus on Energy program.

Shaw Environmental and Infrastructure Inc., a subsidiary of the Baton Rouge-based Shaw Group, was selected by an evaluation committee that included four representatives of Wisconsin’s investor-owned utilities.

So far, so dull. But the Capital Times immediately gets to the good stuff:

Shaw also has some ties to Koch Industries, the Wichita, Kan., firm that has been a big booster of embattled Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. But there is no indication that Koch Industries would profit from the deal.

This drive-by reference is the only time Koch Industries is mentioned in the Capital Times article. Which makes sense: Koch has absolutely nothing to do with the story. Shaw won the contract; there is no suggestion that Koch bid on it or has anything whatsoever to do with it. So why is the Capital Times gratuitously dragging Koch into the story?

The only possible answer is that the Left is obsessed with Koch Industries. It is an article of faith that everything that happens somehow relates to Koch. So, if a particular story has nothing at all to do with Koch, it makes perfect sense to note, gratuitously, that “there is no indication that Koch Industries would profit from the deal.” Well, no: the deal went to The Shaw Group. The Capital Times could just as well have said that there is no indication that the state’s teachers’ union would profit from the contract.

This is complete lunacy, but lunacy with a purpose. The Capital Times is no doubt aware that, only a week or so ago, just about every liberal in America, from Paul Krugman on up, was peddling the silly claim that Governor Scott Walker’s budget was a clever ruse to enrich Koch Industries by selling the state’s heating and cooling plants to that company, cheap. Never mind, as we noted here, that the plants are unprofitable dogs that may have negative value, that Koch is not in the business of owning or running such plants, that the state will be lucky to find someone on whom to foist the creaky properties, or that Koch has publicly stated that it has no interest in them whatsoever. The Left was convinced that Governor Walker’s budget was all about a giveaway to Koch Industries.

So, back to the Capital Times. Its gratuitous reference to Koch Industries in the midst of a story about a contract being awarded to The Shaw Group-”there is no indication that Koch Industries would profit from the deal”-is exactly of a piece with the Left’s delusional obsession with Wisconsin’s power plants. By dragging Koch into a piece about a contract with Shaw, the Capital Times dutifully genuflected in the direction of the Left’s obsession du jour. The paper punched its ticket as a loyal member of the journalistic left. And if you were to ask the reporter, I suspect he would be proud of having done so.

Power Line

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John quotes Jason Sorens as writing:

Even when you control for overall state ideology (Democratic states have higher taxes, and really Democratic states have much higher taxes), union density increases tax rates. Increasing union density from 10% of the workforce, as in Nebraska, to 25%, as in Hawaii and New York, increases the tax burden by about one and a quarter percentage points of state personal income.

I’m bothered by the causal language here, the jump from a statistically significant regression coefficient to the claim that “union density increases tax rates.” What’s particularly scary here is that the causal leap is implicit. Sorens doesn’t write: Here’s a correlation, and one possible interpretation is causal. Rather, he reports the regression result as if it is direct evidence of causation.

John does it right. His headline is “Do unionized states have higher taxes?”, not “Does union density increase tax rates?”

You might say I’m being picky here-everyone knows that a regression does not in general directly answer a causal question (especially when you control for an intermediate outcome such as voting patterns). But . . . here’s what Sorens writes: “the evidence suggests that policies discouraging collective bargaining help a state reduce its tax burden in the long run . . .” He’s definitely giving a causal interpretation.

I agree that observational data are relevant to causal questions-much of my career would be a sham if I didn’t believe this-but I also think we’d do best, as social scientists, to clearly distinguish between evidence and speculation. In this case, the data show that states with higher taxes have higher rates of unionized workers. The speculation is that a state policy that changes the rate of unionization would have a certain expected effect on taxation. That’s the part I don’t see the evidence for.

I’m not trying to pick on Jason Sorens here. Gathering data, making graphs, and running regressions of historical data-telling us what’s happened in the past-is a contribution in itself. And then if you want to make some claims from there, go for it-but please separate these claims speculations from the hard data.

The Monkey Cage

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Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) was moved to tears today at Peter King’s hearings on radicalization in the American Muslim community, when telling the story a Muslim first responder who lost his life on September 11th, 2001.

Ellison, who is Muslim, has been opposed to the hearings’ focus on Muslims, and told TPM in December that it’s “legitimate” to have broad hearings on radicalization, but “just a bash session about ‘Muslims are the problem’ is not helpful.”



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Today, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) is holding hearings in the House Homeland Security Committee singling out the Muslim American community for supposedly aiding and abetting terrorism. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), Congress’s first elected Muslim, rebuked King’s unjustified focus on the Muslim community during his own remarks at the hearing. He reminded the hearing that a number of Muslims have worked to defend the United States from terrorism, and referenced the story of Muhammad Hamdami, a 23-year-old Muslim first responder who died on September 11th saving people trapped in the World Trade Center, and was later smeared due to his Islamic faith. The congressman broke down into tears by the end of his statement, moved by the story of Hamdami, who “was a fellow American who gave his life for other Americans”:

ELLISON: Let me close with a story, but remember that it’s only one of many American stories that could be told. Mohammed Salman Hamdani was a 23-year-old paramedic, a New York City police cadet and a Muslim American. He was one of those brave first responders who tragically lost their lives in the 9/11 terrorist attacks almost a decade ago. As The New York Times eulogized, “He wanted to be seen as an all-American kid.” […] Mr. Hamdani bravely sacrificed his life to try and help others on 9/11. After the tragedy some people tried to smear his character solely because of his Islamic faith. Some people spread false rumors and speculated that he was in league with the attackers only because he was Muslim. It was only when his remains were identified that these lies were fully exposed. Mohammed Salman Hamdani was a fellow American who gave his life for other Americans. His life should not be defined as a member of an ethnic group or a member of a religion, but as an American who gave everything for his fellow citizens. I yield back.

Watch it:

Hamdami’s mother, Talat Hamdani, is at the hearings today. She works with September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, which opposes the hearings.


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When James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas released their latest undercover video investigation targeting National Public Radio this morning, NPR was lightening fast with their response.  They denounced Vice President of Finance Ron Schiller’s comments and said they were “appalled” by them.  They also took great pains to point out that Mr. Schiller has already announced he was leaving the government-funded broadcaster — a move that was hastened today by NPR putting Mr. Schiller on “administrative leave.”

In the realm of damage control, this statement was pretty effective in it’s unambiguous denunciation and in its effort to isolate the damage just to Mr. Schiller.  So far so good.  However, NPR also took time in their statement to address the proposed $ 5 million gift from the phony organization set up to look like a Muslim Brotherhood front group by O’Keefe’s journalists.

The fraudulent organization represented in this video repeatedly pressed us to accept a $ 5 million check, with no strings attached, which we repeatedly refused to accept.

Also unambiguous.  However, according to NPR’s subsequent statement on the matter, it appears to be false.

NPR’s David Folkenflik reports that there were clear signs that the Muslim Education Action Center Trust was not a long-standing organization …

CEO Vivian Schiller tells David that NPR became aware of those peculiarities, and that NPR was vetting the organization. And he has obtained e-mails (not from an official NPR source, but which have been verified by NPR) showing that the network last week asked the fictitious Ibrahim Kasaam for, among other things, verification that the Muslim Education Action Center was qualified as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. It was not, of course.

As this story continues to unravel on NPR they are going to need to explain how the could definitively state to the public that they repeatedly refused the large, anonymous donation from MEAC yet at the same time, were “vetting” them.  Why would you vet an organization from which you were repeatedly refusing a donation?

If NPR’s position is that they first went through the vetting process and as soon as they discovered that the group was bogus, they then repeatedly refused their donation, they better look at their statement again.  According to NPR they were in contact with MEAC as recently as last week to discover their 501(c)(3) status.  How could they possibly have “repeatedly” refused MEAC’s donation if just last week they were asking them for their tax-free status qualifications.

NPR needs to re-group here and come up with one, coherent story  Otherwise we might just begin to think that the rest of their damage control is bogus as well — you know, the part where they claim Mr. Schiller’s elitist and derogatory statements about conservatives don’t reflect on their organization as a whole.

Big Journalism

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S.L. Price

S.L. Price

S.L. Price’s profile of John Calipari for Sports Illustrated will be in the magazine this week, and is on the web now.

Title: “Too Slick, Too Loud, Too Successful Why John Calipari Can’t Catch A Break”

Here’s a brief excerpt:

Calipari’s spin is so notorious-and the smoke swirling around him so thick-that few noticed a recent gesture of sportsmanship that would have burnished any other coach’s reputation. On Feb. 8, during a pulverizing win over Tennessee at Rupp Arena, Wildcats fans chanted, Bruce You Cheat-ed! at Volunteers coach Bruce Pearl, who was back after an eight-game suspension for lying to NCAA investigators about recruiting violations. Calipari and Pearl despise each other, but Calipari whirled on the students, glared and shook his head. “Stop!” he said, waving his arms. “There’s no place for that here.” The chant died, yet no laudatory ink flowed Calipari’s way.

Could it be that the slickness that has lifted him to the top of his profession also allows nothing good to stick? “We just roll out the balls here,” Calipari will say, but it’s not humility. It’s hurt. His rep as a recruiter and all the hand-wringing about one-and-dones have made it easy to ignore the fact that year in and year out, he gets players-especially those with one eye fixed on the mock-draft boards-to sacrifice their individual games for the team. And with six former assistants now Division I head coaches, Calipari’s coaching tree is second only to that of Arizona State’s Herb Sendek.

“People try to figure out, Why’s he do something? There’s an ulterior motive,” Calipari says. “They’re obsessed. And if you’re obsessed, you lose. The great news is, I’m not obsessed with them.”

It’s a long story, stretching nine web pages on the website. Price has talked to numerous coaches, Lee Todd, World Wide Wes, etc. And, of course, there is plenty from Calipari himself.

It’s also a fair story, covering all sides.


John Clay’s Sidelines

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Wadah Khanfar, the head of Al Jazeera, shares his optimism about revolutions in the Middle East:

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The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

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So it’s down to this, eh Mitt? Jesus, be some dignity… From the Los Angeles Times, a story that’s pretty much over after the first paragraph: Defying his reputation as a 1950s square, the new, more casual Mitt Romney is popping up around the country as he readies a second run for president. He’s going […]
The Reid Report

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The Bridgeport election controversy and the paid sick leave battle will be featured this Sunday on “The Real Story” on Fox CT.

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill – the former House majority leader from Storrs – will speak about the lessons learned from the voting-day chaos in Bridgeport, which tipped the balance in favor of Democrat Dannel Malloy. She will be interviewed by host Laurie Perez in the first segment.

In addition, Kia Murrell of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association will talk about the controversy over paid sick leave in the show’s second segment. The controversial bill, which would require paid sick leave for all businesses with more than 50 employees, passed this week in the labor committee on a 6 to 5 vote. The measure still requires approval by the full House of Representatives and the Senate.

Capitol Watch

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Having decided to detain Bradley Manning without trial in conditions likely to drive a man insane, it seems that at some point the US military had him stripped and left naked in his cell for seven hours on Wednesday. The good news is that his captors have a strong sense of Manning’s privacy rights:

“It would be inappropriate for me to explain it,” Lieutenant Villiard said. “I can confirm that it did happen, but I can’t explain it to you without violating the detainee’s privacy.”

So thoughtful…

(h/t Mark Kleiman).


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Hugo Lindgren, the new New York Times Magazine editor-in-chief, has already left his mark on the paper’s reputation by choosing an embarrassingly sympathetic portrait of convicted terrorist helper Lori Berenson as the cover story for the relaunch of the Sunday magazine. He compounds the error by hailing writer Jennifer Egan’s embrace of radical chic as “in every way a classic Times Magazine story,” in his self-congratulatory “Editor’s Letter” that will also appear in Sunday’s upcoming issue.

With even less excuse than Egan (the novelist who penned the 8,300-word cover story love letter to Berenson) Lindgren reveals his own lack of basic understanding of the case, showing the convinted collaborator as engaging in naive, youthful political hijinks, rather than knowingly and deceptively helping murderous left-wing terror group Tupac Amaru (abbreviated in Spanish as M.R.T.A.)

The New York Times Magazine is based on long-form narrative journalism, and this week’s cover article, by Jennifer Egan, is a prime example. It is about Lori Berenson, a New Yorker who moved to Latin America as a young adult, got mixed up in revolutionary politics in Peru and was promptly thrown in prison, where she spent the next 15 years before being paroled last year. Egan traveled to Lima, where Berenson must remain until 2015, and tells the story of a wounded but resilient woman struggling to sort out a place for herself in the world. It is in every way a classic Times Magazine story.

John Podhoretz laid out the actual facts of the case in Friday’s New York Post, who accuses the paper of “carrying water for a terrorist.”

Berenson was arrested and charged with treason in 1995, based on one unambiguous fact: She was the co-signer of the lease to a house in Lima that was a hideout and ammo dump for the Tupac Amaru.

She'd been posing as a credentialed journalist for far-left American publications, and had been reporting inside the Peruvian assembly with a photographer — a photographer who, it turned out, was married to a leading figure in the terrorist group. Peruvian officials claim they were staking out the parliament building to help the MRTA design a plan for its takeover.

Berenson defenders scoff at the claim, but offer no countervailing evidence. Nor can they explain why, if she had been a railroaded innocent, the Tupac Amaru would have included Berenson's name prominently on a list of prisoners it demanded the government free after it seized the Japanese Embassy in Lima a year after her arrest and held 70 people hostage for four months. blogs

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