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“Some analysts say Obama’s proposals are almost radical.”

Saturday, February 28, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Thus sayeth CBS News. No analysts are mentioned, but they should be. Two of the president’s proposals to cripple the charitable and mortgage interest deductions are indeed “radical” as they are squarely aimed not just at high income families who will see their deductions slashed but also at the churches, charities, schools and every not-for-profit that will be greatly damaged if the charitable deduction is reduced, and at every single homeowner in America, especially the retirees, who need their houses to grow in value not diminish. Reducing the value of the mortgage interest deduction reduces the value of every home in America, not just the incomes of those in the highest brackets.

A non-radical proposal would be a straight-forward demand to raise the top rate to 42 or 45%. That would be a transparent attempt to cost-shift, and consistent with standard liberal economics. But a stealth rate-hike that deeply damages the country’s charitable and faith-based sectors as well as every homeowner is indeed radical. No Republican who supports either idea should be supported, and no Democrat who does so can ever legitimately claim to be a “moderate” again.

Declaring even a covert war on churches and home-ownership isn’t remotely “liberal.” It is radical.

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Kindle and the Future of Newspapers

Saturday, February 28, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

A couple of posts below I wrote about the accelerating collapse of newspapers, and thereafter sat down to load up my new Kindle 2 –which is every bit as amazing as advertised and will revolutionize many industries even as the iPod and iPhone have. Jeff Bezos and his team should get a Pulitzer because they are going to save at least a couple of newspapers from the pyre.

I quickly accepted the free trial offers of the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and Politico –and nothing else from among the offerings. I’ll probably drop the Times when the offer concludes, but the Sunday sections are worth having, so we’ll see. (Note to Amazon.com: There are many people who would subscribe to the D.C. Examiner and The Washington Times but not to any other newspaper. You should add them. And HughHewitt.com and Townhall.com, btw, to the blog feeds.)

The point is no reader needs anything other than at most the two big liberal papers and the Journal, except for the two alternatives to MSM papers noted. This is why the first big old brand that shifts to the D.C. Examiner/Washington Times model will win and survive. The best bet to make that shift is the Los Angeles Times because it also has the West Coast, Pacific Rim, and Hollywood beats to itself. Maybe this is what Rupert Murdoch sees.

Finally, ESPN and SI need to figure out a daily Kindle-gram full of hundreds of stories.

ARRA’s Section 1611

Saturday, February 28, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Angelo Paparelli is one of the country’s leading immigration lawyers, a partner in Seyfarth Shaw in New York, NY and Irvine, Calif., and President of the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers. Angelo has written extensively on the protectionist provision of the porkulus bill that invites other nations to restrict the use of American expertise within their borders while simultaneously raising the cost of doing business during the recession. A second, even more detailed look at the law by Angelo is here with co-author Ted J. Chiappari.

The porkulus is full of stink bombs that continue to appear and which would not have survived even a couple of weeks scrutiny. Senators Collins, Snowe and Specter might have voted for the bill anyway, but they ought to have at least negotiated for a full airing of the text before throwing in the rush to bad law and economics.

Newspapers and The Party Of Big Government

Saturday, February 28, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Powerline’s John Hinderaker has one of the more important blog posts of recent memory. It uses the editorials of the New York Times from 2003 forward to make the crucial points that the spending already sought and gained by President Obama as well as that he is reaching for in the outyears dwarfs all that President Bush presided over throughout his presidency. John hammers the hapless and failing Times for its lack of integrity or even memory, but the key is not the intellectual dishonesty of the paper, but the vast deficits and tax hikes being sought by the new president and a hard left Congress. Hinderaker’s piece is top quality opinion journalism built on careful attention to the facts of the tax and spending plans of the new president and his Congressional allies. It is the sort of reporting and analysis which ought to be in every newspaper in the country but which appears only in the Wall Street Journal.

The newspaper industry is indeed failing before our eyes, and a great deal of that failure has to be because of the widespread and justified alienation of news consumers who do not trust the legions of “journalists” working in MSM to be critical of the party of government. Yes, the move to the internet has crushed advertising, but this shift was preceded by decades of steady attrition of subscribers who simply grew disgusted with the bias of the papers’ staffs from top to bottom. I wonder what would be the fate of the struggling Los Angeles Times if it consciously adopted a conservative opinion voice and a posture of searching criticism towards Los Angeles (facing a billion dollar budget shortfall because of pension obligations) Sacramento and the Obama Administration. This would require significant restaffing because there are simply not many reporters and editors out there who are even aware of their deep biases much less great numbers of serious center-right professionals to replace the lefties, but I think center-right independents and conservatives across the California and perhaps the country would rally to such a project if it was begun. The D.C. Examiner and the Washington Times are both valuable contributors to the project of serious scrutiny of the Obama agenda, but an old media brand on the West Coast that took on the newly empowered D.C. elite while also bringing accountability to the massively dysfunctional state and local governments of the Golden State would find that the audience its agenda journalism drove away over decades is still there, waiting for an honest newspaper to serve the public interest.

The story on the L.A. deficit is from the Los Angeles Times, btw, and is appeared exactly four days before what is essentially an uncontested reelection for Mayor Villaraigosa. The Times has made no serious, sustained attempt to alert the public to this tidal wave of red ink headed towards the city. Neither did the paper present serious reporting on alternatives to the massive state tax hikes that will cripple the state’s economic recovery, nor is it reporting on the growing tax revolt that could well defeat even the massively funded ballot measures in May that will enable the party of government to sail through tough times without serious pain. Like most MSM, the Times is just a tame, kept newsletter for government-centric interest groups and the government itself. If new ownership turned it into a real newspaper with genuine hostility to the deeply entrenched power of California’s party of government, it could prosper again.

Newspapers don’t have to die. But suicide is the right term for continuing to try and package liberalism as news.

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