December 31, 2005

Holiday Blog Break

Filed under: General — Tom @ 1:00 pm

Except for already prepared Positivity posts, I’ll be on a blog break until sometime in the afternoon on January 2.

Happy New Year, everybody!

Does Paul Krugman of the New York Times Read His Own Newspaper?

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance — Tom @ 11:01 am

New York Time economist Paul Krugman continually wails about how real incomes are declining, the middle class is disappearing, and “woe is us,” to the point that you want to make sure you’re in a ground-floor building whenever you’re reading his columns.

What Krugman claims about declining incomes can’t be true if housing is more affordable than ever, and if the percentage of Americans who own their own homes continuing to climb, both of which are the case, as reported in his own newspaper (HT Cafe Hayek):

Despite a widespread sense that real estate has never been more expensive, families in the vast majority of the country can still buy a house for a smaller share of their income than they could have a generation ago.

A sharp fall in mortgage rates since the early 1980′s, a decline in mortgage fees and a rise in incomes have more than made up for rising house prices in almost every place outside of New York, Washington, Miami and along the coast in California. These often-overlooked changes are a major reason that most economists do not expect a broad drop in prices in 2006, even though many once-booming markets on the coasts have started weakening.

The long-term decline in housing costs also helps explain why the homeownership rate remains near a record of almost 69 percent, up from 65 percent a decade ago.

Nationwide, a family earning the median income – the exact middle of all incomes – would have to spend 22 percent of its pretax pay this year on mortgage payments to buy the median-priced house, according to an analysis by Moody’s Economy.com, a research company.

The share has increased since 1998, when it hit a low of 17 percent before house prices began rising sharply in many places. Although the overall level has reached its highest point since 1989, it remains well below the levels of the early 1980′s, when it topped 30 percent.

I’ll add something I believe The Times missed. People are spending a higher percentage of their income on housing now than they were seven years ago because they want more bells and whistles on their houses. Builders are responding, and building them, making the median price go up.

As to Krugman’s central complaint, Jim Glassman of TCS Daily (formerly Tech Central Station) notes the reality:

Stephen Moore of the Wall Street Journal and Lincoln Anderson of LPL Financial Services recently pointed out that the latest Census data show that, far from shrinking or losing ground, the middle class in America has become a good deal richer.

“Back in 1967,” they write, “the income range for the middle class [that is, the third of five quintiles] was between $28,800 and $39,000 (in today’s dollars). Now that income range is between $38,000 and $59,000.” In 1967, one family in ten had an income of more than $75,000 (in 2004 dollars); today, it’s one in four.

The only partially-valid counterargrument is that it takes more income-earners per household to achieve the higher real incomes. Without a doubt, there are more income earners per household now than there were 40 years ago, and there is of course a heated debate over whether many of these two-income choices have been good ones. But for this post the point is that the “real incomes are falling” argument is just not valid, and Paul Krugman needs to get over it.
_____________________________

UPDATE, Jan. 3, 2006: Independent Sources points to a publicly available post of the full Stephen Moore-Lincoln Anderson piece at the John Batchelor Show web site.

Exit Strategy Accomplished–After 60 Years

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:24 am

A US Air Force Base in Germany Closes (HT American Thinker):

The U.S. Air Force on Friday handed over the keys to Rhein-Main Air Base to the operator of Frankfurt International Airport, the last step in closing the base that hosted American forces for 60 years.

The 120 buildings on the base are to be bulldozed to make way for a third terminal for Frankfurt’s sprawling civilian airport — continental Europe’s busiest. It officially becomes German property on Saturday.

The ceremony, at which Brig. Gen. Mike Snodgrass gave the keys of the base’s buildings and main gate to Manfred Schoelch of airport operator Fraport AG, followed Rhein-Main’s formal closing in October.

….. Rhein-Main was once a hub of activity for American forces facing Soviet bloc forces and tensions in the Middle East. It saw a steady stream of planes fly supplies to West Berliners in the late 1940s during the Soviet blockade of the city.

No complaint was heard from Congressman John Murtha about how long the pullout took.

This Weekend’s Unanswered Questions (123105)

Another installment in a nearly-regular series of mysteries and pseudo-mysteries (usually 3-4) this inquiring mind would like to have answers for (some links included may require free registration):

QUESTION 1: Will the security nightmares end when (if?) Microsoft’s new Vista operating system is released?

The latest exploit is so bad, it may, and probably should, mean the death of a file format (also, a very serious warning to Google Desktop users; link was included in original article):

Opinion: How bad is the new WMF bug? Research suggests that the WMF format has been officially ruined.

Microsoft really has improved the security of its code over the last few years. The fact that every now and then a bug like the new WMF bug still comes along just goes to show how careless the old code is.

The problem with the WMF (Windows Metafile) file format turns out to be one of those careless things Microsoft did years ago with little or no consideration for the security consequences.

Almost all exploits you read about are buffer overflows of some kind, but not this one. WMF files are allowed to register a callback function, meaning that they are allowed to execute code, and this is what is being exploited in the WMF bug.

As a result, it is surprisingly easy to get hit with this attack, even if you are being careful. I’ve heard stories of experienced researchers being hit while researching the attack.

One way this might have happened, and it’s a good example of how easy it is, is through Google Desktop. F-Secure has demonstrated that Google Desktop users can become infected simply by downloading an infected file. When Google Desktop indexes the file it launches the exploit.

Imagine how much further along the economy could be if so many billions of dollars weren’t being spent fighting viruses and other malware. Let’s hope Vista is a cure, and not just another cause of yet more disease.

QUESTION 2: Will Delta or Northwest fail to emerge from bankruptcy in 2006?

Delta lost $182 million ($164 million excluding reorganization costs) in November on revenue of $1.3 billion, and had $2 billion in cash. Since then, the company has won some concessions from pilots, but needs more from them and others. It seems that Delta will require airfare increases at least as much as cost-cutting to survive. Given the competition, I don’t see big domestic fare increases sticking without a big upward spike in overall travel traffic.

Meanwhile, Northwest lost $129 million (second item at link; $64 million excluding reorganization costs) on revenue of $947 million, and had $1.5 billion in cash. Their mechanics, who have been on strike since before the September bankruptcy filing, rejected the latest offer from the company, which has been using replacement-worker mechanics since the strike began. From here, it seems Northwest is in better shape than Delta because of its more profitable Asian routes, and because the Japanese economy appears to be on a serious roll for the first time in about 15 years.

Both companies must be praying for a travel boom in 2006.

QUESTION 3: How is this going to keep from falling, let alone get built?

The coming New Year is time for optimism. Even so, this report from a few weeks ago is taking “Can you top this?” to an unfathomable extreme (HT Wasp Allergies):

Blueprints for a kilometre-tall skyscraper have been drawn up by UK architects, who hope to see the record-breaking structure commissioned in Kuwait.

At 1001 metres, the enormous tower would be almost twice the height of the world’s tallest building today, the Taipei 101 in Taiwan, which stands at 509 metres. The new building would also dwarf the Burj Dubai, a building under construction in Dubai that is expected to stand 700-800 metres tall once completed in 2008.

Architecture firm Eric Kuhne and Associates, based in London, UK, has drawn up plans for the skyscraper. Although the designs have yet to be made public, the company is reported to be in talks with the Kuwaiti government about construction.

Representatives told the Architects’ Journal that the Kuwaiti government is considering commissioning the building for a city called Madinat al-Hareer, or the “City of Silk”. The skyscraper could house 7000 people, but would cost an estimated £84bn to construct and could take 25 years to complete.

File the towers that will be done in 2008 under “marvels.” File the “Kilometer Tower” under “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

Positivity: College Coach, #1 on Wins List, Does It Right

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:10 am

Chances are you haven’t heard of him (Harry who?), which is just fine, as far as he’s concerned (but we need more like him in all walks of life):

(more…)

December 30, 2005

An Insider’s Assessment of Medical Journals and Peer Review

The author, Thomas Stossel, is American Cancer Society Professor at Harvard Medical School and co-director of the division of hematology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. This is an excerpt of his column in the December 30 Wall Street Journal (requires subscription). It confirms the “passes the smell test (maybe)” perception that “peer review” deserves discussed at this previous post (“What Does ‘Peer Review’ Mean?”), and notes that the term does not deserve the high ground it currently holds:

The (media) message in all this is clear: Medical academics are saints — devoted selflessly to patient care — and corporate people are sinners, morally blinded by greed. But having worked in academic medicine for over 35 years and consulted for companies, this Manichean duality is inconsistent with my experience and a woeful distortion of reality. In a Sept. 8 article in the New England Journal of Medicine, I reported that no systematic evidence exists that corporate sponsorship of academic research contributes to misconduct, bias, public mistrust or poor research quality.

….. But unbeknownst to the media, the journals at the top got there because of herd behavior by researchers, not because they are better than lower-tier journals at vetting research quality. Here’s why: Researchers submit their best work to the top journals, which can therefore afford to maintain their prestige by rejecting, not publishing, many high quality papers. That’s brand creation — not science. Most of their editorial effort goes into deciding which submitted papers are sufficiently newsworthy. Anonymous peer review by jealous competitors has its merits, but it has a tendency to select for fashionable if relatively unoriginal and inoffensive papers. Top medical journals compete for papers describing large clinical trials reporting small effects of treatments for diseases affecting many people, although these reports often do not substantively advance scientific knowledge, and many subsequently are invalidated.

And no description of medical research in a medical journal comes close to the detail level or intense scrutiny imposed by the FDA on companies’ documentation of drug or device development before approval. Space constraints for readability and cost-savings preclude journals from publishing detailed information on the order of what companies file with the FDA, and unpaid journal peer reviewers, not to mention practicing doctors, would never read it anyway. The recent Korean cloning fiasco, in which the leading science journals published blatantly fraudulent papers, wasn’t the first such incident to afflict prestige journals, and it could never happen under conditions of FDA review. Indeed, doctors should take all studies published in “prominent medical journals” with “skeptical caution.”

The lower stringency of journals compared to the FDA is a good thing, because academic biomedical research would come to a screeching halt if subjected to anything even approximating FDA examination. Scientific knowledge advances reasonably efficiently, and new technologies emerge, despite the looseness of journals. And researchers’ craving for prestige goads them to greater efforts.

If reporters understood that journals are magazines, not Holy Scripture, we might not be witnessing ever more onerous regulations inhibiting interactions between academic and industry science. Prestigious biomedical journals are good for our health — provided they stick to their core business of facilitating imperfect communication between researchers. Leave drug and device monitoring to the FDA — and theology to theologians.

Quote of the Day: On the Threats of Obesity Regulations and Lawsuits

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:22 pm

From OpinionJournal.com (should be a free link):

Under normal circumstances, most grown-ups would resent the implication that they are morons. But there seems to be an appeal to blaming one’s ballooning weight on a corporate plot rather than on weak self-discipline.

….. Every few years we herald another FDA food pyramid or the news that some hitherto overlooked ingredient will be added to the labels on the back of our frozen dinners. (Starting next month, calorie counts must be printed in larger type.) But none of this matters: The poundage is still pachydermical. So tomorrow, when it comes time to make our New Year’s weight-loss resolutions, why don’t we resolve to leave Uncle Sam out of it?

Shameless Hustlers Preying on the Financially Troubled: Guess Who?

Filed under: Consumer Outrage,Economy — Tom @ 10:20 am

Item:
A few weeks ago, Al Sharpton (I was thinking of what to call him but couldn’t come up with anything nice) was hired to do commercials for LoanMax, an outfit thought by many to be an at least “opportunistic,” if not outright predatory, lender. LoanMax attempted to defend itself and Mr. Sharpton in a press release.

Follow-up:
Two weeks later, Sharpton withdrew from the ad campaign, which was to have paid him $20,000 a month for a year.

History repeats itself:
This is not the first time a “respected African-American leader” supposedly representing “oppressed people” has gotten in bed with a questionable lender. Six years ago, there was this doozy:

August 30, 1999
Auto Dealer Has an Offer for Drivers With Bad Credit, but There’s a Catch

DETROIT — A car dealer here is making a big push into leasing used cars to poor people with no credit or bad credit. But the deals come with streetwise terms: Miss a payment and the car won’t start.

The dealer, Mel Farr, the former Detroit Lions football player, leases the cars to anyone who can come up with at least $50 a week. The catch is that a payment is due every Friday night, and customers must pay up each week to get the code they need to punch into a device attached to the dashboard. Otherwise, the car stays parked.

So, does that make Farr an angel for making cars available to those who otherwise couldn’t afford them, for giving people a reliable way to get to work and an opportunity to reestablish their credit? Doing business with him isn’t cheap: Car buyers who qualify for bank loans can borrow at about 9 percent, and Farr charges more than twice that on comparable leases to customers with the coded device. So, does that make him a vulture getting top dollar for old, beat-up cars by preying on those who have nowhere else to turn?

It depends on whom you talk to. Farr, the owner of the Mel Farr Automotive Group, said the unusual arrangement is a boon to inner-city residents who might otherwise have to rely on spotty public transportation — or their feet. Customers seem to be generally satisfied, though two have filed a lawsuit contending that their engines shut down as they were driving the cars.

Farr’s biggest supporters are the country’s political and economic elite. Prodded by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Wall Street recently showered Farr’s company, the biggest African-American-owned business in the United States, with $36.5 million in new financing that enables him to expand in urban markets. And, in a public-relations coup last month, President Clinton publicly thanked him for bringing cars “to every community in this country.”

Some critics, though, portray Farr less as a do-gooder than an exploiter. “It is a no-fault system of consumer oppression by an auto dealer who should know better,” said Ralph Nader, the consumer advocate. “It is an electronic form of consumer servitude.”

Follow-up on Farr:
What happened to Farr shouldn’t surprise anyone who has followed stories like these (about halfway through link; notice the generally positive tone of article):

….. he inked an impressive $36.5 million expansion deal on Wall Street, only to default on it within months. In a fatal blow to Farr’s auto superstore empire, the very strategy of his business relied on – offering loans to sub-prime borrowers with sketchy credit ratings – had backfired with brutal consequences. His business faced an uncertain future with a high loan-default rate, huge unpaid balances to creditors and a strained relationship with his largest partner, Ford. By the end of 2000, he had shut down a large number of his dealerships, including expansion sites in Baltimore and Houston and some of his largest outlets in Ohio and Michigan. In 2002 his last two dealerships closed and Ford began to auction out his fixture and equipment stores amid pleas (and threats) from Farr’s friends and admirers, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson. At that point, his slow but certain downward spiral had reached rock bottom.

I guess we should be thankful Mr. Sharpton severed his relationship with LoanMax before he tried to raise capital for them.

It’s astounding how people like Sharpton and Jackson seem to suffer no negative long-term consequences to their standing as alleged heroes for financial relationships like these.

If you’re curious: Car-shutoff arrangements like these have withstood legal challenges (about halfway through article at link) and are in use in some parts of the country. In May 2004, Mel Farr married Linda Johnson Rice, president and CEO of Johnson Publishing Co., publisher of Jet and Ebony Magazines. He is now President of a company called Triple M Acceptance, about which little information is available online. The couple is definitely High Society.
_______________________________

UPDATE, Jan. 11, 2006: Based on this item about a Bill Clinton “New Markets Tour” of East St. Louis, IL in July 1999, Triple M Acceptance appears to have been the financing arm of Farr’s operation while he was a car dealer. I haven’t been able to learn what it does now that he is, from all appearances, not a car dealer.

Bizzy’s AM Coffee Biz-Econ Links (123005)

Biz Weak: “A Rough New Year for Consumers”

At MSNBC’s web site, Business Week (or Biz Weak, as I prefer to call it) paints a gloomy picture of all the things that are going up in price this year. It names consumer staples (including toilet paper-I kid you not), credit, health care, and utility bills, and attempts to portray rises in these items as reasons why the consumer confidence numbers, and consumer spending itself, may contract.

Most of the items they noted were already known by consumers when the confidence surveys were taken. Sorry, Biz Weak, you ‘re going to have to make a stronger case than that–just stay out of the way if you’re going to be a bunch of mopes.

City of Springfield, Mass. Near Bankruptcy

Now to a legitimate crisis which could go by the name “Win a lawsuit, lose your jobs”–The Bay State city appears to be near financial ruin:

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. –Springfield officials say bankruptcy and more than 1,000 layoffs are likely if the state refuses to give the city more money to avoid a deficit that could balloon to $70 million in the next six years.
“Does the state want us to lay off people and let the city collapse, or do they want to give us the money and the chance to fix the problems?” said city councilor Timothy Rooke.
Rooke’s year-long term on the control board overseeing Springfield’s finances expires next week. He said the city could be forced to hand pink slips to as many as 500 teachers and another 800 city employees during the next several years.
He and other officials say the layoffs could be necessary to pay city employees what they’re owed in frozen raises.
A recent ruling by Superior Court Judge Constance Sweeney found that Springfield illegally withheld raises for teachers three years ago. Sweeney is expected to decide next month exactly how much the city owes its teachers, who say they’re entitled to all negotiated raises that have been frozen since the 2004 fiscal year.
City officials fear that her ruling could entitle firefighters and police officers — who have also had their wages frozen — to millions of dollars in back pay.
“If that worst-case scenario goes through, it would collapse the system,” Rooke said.
Lawmakers have repeatedly said the city is not likely to receive more state aid.
If it doesn’t, “bankruptcy is inevitable,” Ryan said. The mayor met Thursday with Thomas Trimarco, Gov. Mitt Romney’s budget chief and a former member of the city’s financial control board.

Given the number of layoffs proposed for a city with a population of about 150,000, and besides the obvious back pay problem, this looks like the result of having way too many people on the payroll for way too many years.

The Rodney Dangerfield “No Respect” Economy has a Weak Spot in Washington

OpinionJournal.com (this article requires free registration) the litany of good news chronicled here and elsewhere on jobs, consumer spending, growth in real incomes, and the like. The article serves as a ready resource for reciting how well things are going.

There is an exception to the good news–out-of-control federal spending:

The most conspicuous blemish on the 2005 economic scorecard was frenetic federal spending, estimated to be up another $180 billion, or 8%. If Congress were to cut that spending growth rate in half, and if the economy continues to spin off tax revenue dividends as in 2005, the budget deficit would fall in half by this time next year. And, then, who knows, the pessimists may run out of things to complain about and this expansion might finally get the respect it deserves.

I happen to think that an allegedly Republican Congress facing the voters this year, coupled with a bit of newfound vigilance in the blogosphere, might actually bring some sanity back to fiscal policy in Washington. It’s always easy be an optimist as the New Year approaches–unless you write for Biz Weak.

Positivity: 10 Deacons Ordained as Priests in Basra, Iraq

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:12 am

Even though this is a three week-old story, I’m posting it because it is a sign of the country’s religious pluralism:

(more…)

December 29, 2005

Election Law Complaint Filed Against Bob McEwen

Filed under: OH-02 US House,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 5:27 pm

In the late 1970s, a rock group named Jefferson Starship, progeny of the pioneering 1960s band Jefferson Airplane, released an album that a Rolling Stone Magazine reviewer trashed mercilessly.

In the next issue of the magazine, there was a two-sentence letter to the editor from Starship leader Paul (“If you can remember anything about the sixties, you weren’t really there“) Kantner:

We do what we want.
Bleeeeeeeeeep you.

(of course, Rolling Stone published the actual word for “bleep”)

It seemed a “clever” response and otherwise unimportant at the time, but the incident has grown on me. It’s a microcosm of the difference between The Greatest Generation and The Baby Boom Generation that followed it. The former grew up in The Depression, won World War II, saved most of Korea, and in its final act won The Cold War. Their theme, summed up in a few words, was (and for those who are still with us, remains) a polite “We Do What We Must.” Unfortunately, the Baby Boomers’ theme is largely Mr. Kantner’s “We Do What We Want” (often accompanied by expletives if somone raises the smallest objection).

“We Do What We Want” has insinuated itself into the Baby Boom Generation on both sides of the political divide. Perhaps it’s more obvious on the left, from the collective temper tantrum that lost Vietnam through today’s middle-aged ANSWER men and women, but you’d have to be in wholesale denial to claim that it is absent on the right. After all, Ohio’s sitting “Republican” governor has been convicted of ethics violations, has refused to resign, and in the process has received full immunity from any violations discovered in the future. A congress controlled by “conservatives” has wasted money on what they Want (pork) while dithering on matters they Must address (Social Security, Medicare, etc.) if we are to remain a financially viable nation.

On the scale of the two issues mentioned in the previous paragraph, the topic of this post may not be as compelling or significant, but especially in Ohio, it should be important: A Baby Boomer who hasn’t been in Congress since January of 1993 “does what he Wants,” and presents himself in a manner that might make people think he is still there.

During Ohio’s Second District congressional primary in Spring 2005, candidate Bob McEwen referred to himself in campaign literature, and had others refer to him in radio and print ads, as “Congressman.” Such a reference is clearly against the rules of etiquette. Big deal, right? Boomers and their successors have long since discarded manners.

But I believe it’s also against the law. Ohio Revised Code Section 3517.21 says the following, in part (bolds are mine, and form a complete sentence that describes the violation):

(B) No person, during the course of any campaign for nomination or election to public office or office of a political party, by means of campaign materials, including sample ballots, an advertisement on radio or television or in a newspaper or periodical, a public speech, press release, or otherwise, shall knowingly and with intent to affect the outcome of such campaign do any of the following:
(1) Use the title of an office not currently held by a candidate in a manner that implies that the candidate does currently hold that office or use the term “re-elect” when the candidate has never been elected at a primary, general, or special election to the office for which he or she is a candidate …..

It is clear to me that Bob McEwen violated this provision of Ohio Election Law frequently and continuously during last spring’s primary.

The June 1 report by Cincinnati’s WLW-T Channel 5 on Bob McEwen’s use of “Congressman” to describe himself gave me the impression, especially in the portion of the report where Hamilton County Democratic Party Chairman Tim Burke was interviewed, that an opposing candidate could raise a complaint to The Ohio Elections Commission (OEC) on this matter, while an ordinary citizen could not.

Earlier this month, I called The OEC to see if any candidate had filed an after-the-fact complaint, as there had been no announced complaint before the election. To my surprise, I learned that a complaint was actually filed before the election, and by an “ordinary citizen.” It was filed on June 9, and a probable cause hearing took place on Primary Election Day, June 14, at 4:30 PM.

I obtained the June complaint from the OEC earlier this month, and after reviewing it, spoke with the person who filed it. He informed me that he withdrew the complaint on the date of the hearing after presenting his initial testimony, when the former congressman’s attorney promised during a requested recess that former congressman McEwen would henceforth comply with the law. Documentation available from OEC indeed shows that the matter was withdrawn, and that no on-the-record resolution took place. As far as the OEC is concerned, no complaint relating to this matter has ever been fully adjudicated.

Despite this close call, Bob McEwen’s conduct since his June loss up to the present day has convinced me that, should he decide to run for office again, he intends to “Do What He Wants” (continue to call himself a “Congressman”) and not what I believe he Must (follow Ohio Election Law and refer to himself as a former congressman).

There are four indications that I am aware of that support my belief about his intent:

  • The first is McEwen’s bio page at his lobbying firm’s web site. Though its heading at the top refers to “former congressmen,” it still refers to McEwen himself as “Congressman McEwen” in its detail no fewer than eight times.
  • The second is the November 16 press release announcing McEwen’s appearance as a speaker at the Guidance Software-sponsored Computer Enterprise and Investigations Conference (CEIC) on May 3-6, 2006 in Las Vegas. The release’s headline, “Former Member of House Select Committee on Intelligence to Address CEIC,” avoids reference to him as a congressman. But the release’s subheadline does refer to him as “Congressman,” as does the detailed text of the release three other times.
  • Thirdly, Guidance’s December 13 press release, entitled “Congressman Bob McEwen Joins Guidance Software Advisory Committee,” refers to him as “congressman” five separate times in its text.
  • Finally, McEwen’s own revived campaign web site links to that December 13 press release with a post dated December 15, the very same date as his exploratory committee announcement!

If Bob McEwen was planning to comply with Ohio Election Law in an upcoming campaign, don’t you think he would want to get some practice at doing so? Instead, he appears to be brazenly (“We do what we Want”) going in the opposite direction. Based on what I have detailed, it seems that Mr. McEwen has learned nothing about how he is allowed to describe himself from last spring’s primary campaign, and that he does not intend to change his conduct in any upcoming campaign. I believe Mr. McEwen violated Ohio Election Law last spring, and I intend to prevent future violations of the law by Mr. McEwen from occurring. The only way I know of to achieve that outcome is to once again place his previous actions in front of The OEC, and this time bring the matter to a conclusion.

Accordingly, I have filed a complaint with The OEC relating to Bob McEwen’s conduct during the 2005 Second District primary campaign. It was received today (Thursday) at The OEC. PDF files of the Complaint (without signature) and of the Affidavit (without signature, notarization, and exhibits) can be downloaded or viewed, depending on your browser’s capabilities, here and here, respectively. I have been told that the next scheduled probable cause hearing date is January 11, 2006; I will receive formal notification from The OEC through the mail in the next few days informing me if my filing was in order (I believe it was), and assuming that is so, when the complaint will be heard.

I hope to achieve the following results from this complaint:

  1. I want it officially, and legally, on the record that Bob McEwen, his campaign officials, and the campaign itself violated Ohio election laws in this past spring’s Second District Congressional primary.
  2. I expect McEwen, his campaign officials, and the McEwen campaign itself, to suffer whatever punishment should ordinarly be meted out under Ohio law for violating Ohio election laws in the manner indicated (go to Item C at the bottom of this page for a vague description of the possibilities).
  3. I want to spare the voters of The Second Congressional District, or the State of Ohio, should McEwen run for any statewide office, three or four months of hearing a candidate who has not held elective office for 13 years present himself as if he still does. Former congressman McEwen, the Second District already has a congressperson, and her name is Jean Schmidt. She is known as “the incumbent” (this is a statement of fact, and not an endorsement–Ed.). Mr. McEwen, you, and all other potential challengers, are not.
  4. I want anyone who is still stewing over McEwen’s loss this past spring to understand that Paul Hackett, anyone associated with him, or for that matter any one of the millions of adults in Ohio, could, and likely would, have filed an election law complaint against McEwen, as I now have, if McEwen had won the primary, once they learned that the June 9 complaint was withdrawn before being acted on. Anyone who thinks that the fallout from such a complaint, combined with Hackett’s clever (but dishonest) campaign strategy, would not have defeated Bob McEwen, and badly, has a heavy burden of proof that in my opinion cannot be met.

And while I’m at it, anyone who thinks that this May’s Democrat nominee in The Second District, anyone associated with him or her, or any one of the thousands of Democrat voters in the District (or millions in the state) won’t do what I have done during a 2006 general election campaign if McEwen runs and wins the primary while staying on his current course, is engaging in wishful thinking.

If Bob McEwen runs for Congress in The Second District, or for any other elective office in Ohio, he should not just do whatever he Wants, but what he Must: place the word “former” before “congressman” every time the latter word is used.

Every bleeeeeeeeeeping time.
_____________________

Other notes:

  • Those who followed my posts during and just after the primary should understand that had I known that I had the ability to file a complaint with The OEC as a citizen, I would have done so shortly after Memorial Day. Of course, we’ll never know when it would have been heard, or what impact, if any, it would have had on the GOP primary results.
  • No one except family and a couple of select others knew that I was going to file this complaint, and no candidate or potential candidate influenced me in any way to file it.
  • I have done a limited inquiry concerning the person who filed the original complaint, and have no reason to believe that he is or was associated with any of the candidates who campaigned in Spring 2005′s Second District primary. Not that it affects the validity of the content of my complaint, but I’m sure someone will inform me if I am wrong.
  • I am not going to blog on or approve comments (slight change–other than trackbacks) relating in any way to Ohio politics (including in this post) until this matter is resolved (except perhaps to note when the hearing will take place, or to clarify the previous item if such a clarification should be necessary), nor will I comment on Ohio politics at other blogs until that occurs. I will read comments you submit, but will not post them; if there are too many, I will have to consider deleting them. If you want me to have a record of your comment on this post, I suggest you e-mail me directly. I will save them for possible inclusion in any post-resolution entry.

_________________________________

Case Progression Posts:
- Jan. 3 — Probable Cause Hearing Scheduled
- Jan. 11 — Probable Cause Hearing Held
- Jan. 17 — Probable Cause Finding Letter
________________________________

UPDATE: S.O.B. Alliance member and Honorary Packrat of the Month Viking Spirit has reached into the attic of his hard drive and posted two radio ads (MP3 format) and two TV ads (RM format) from McEwen’s primary campaign.

The WSJ Totally Blows It (Yet Again) on Illegal Immigration

Yesterday, The Wall Street Journal may have let the man who is probably America’s preeminent living historian speak his mind on the topic.

Today, The Journal’s editorial board, in this OpinionJournal.com piece, showed that they weren’t moved in any way by his logic:

For the past two decades, border enforcement has been the main focus of immigration policy…

Horse, manure.

The bill would make it incumbent on employers to establish the immigration status of all hires and empower local police to enforce federal immigration laws.

The Journal is complaining here. These two ideas are so obviously sensible that they should be beyond debate. If I’m a local cop and find out in the course of ordinary police work that you’re here illegally, why do I need to wait for the feds to show up to arrest you?

Perhaps the bill’s most revealing feature is the one that makes it a criminal offense, rather than a civil violation, to be in the country illegally.

Anyone want to name another country, even in the free world, where being there illegally is NOT a criminal violation?

If a bill with this anti-guest-worker provision ever became law, millions of otherwise well-behaved people who have become integral parts of thousands of U.S. communities would have every incentive to stay in the shadows lest they be deported.

As if millions are not already “in the shadows.”

Read the whole thing — if you can stand it — to see the tortured “logic” The Open Borders Journal has to engage in to justify itself.

Victor Davis Hanson Nails the Illegal Immigration Issue

Filed under: Economy,Immigration,MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:03 am

I wanted to find this somewhere other than The Wall Street Journal (requires subscription) because Hanson’s column is a definite “must save.” I will add a link later if I do.

The fact that this column ran at all in The WSJ is a near shocker — enough to make you wonder if the paper’s editorial board is rethinking its knee-jerk open-borders advocacy.

Hanson totally “gets it,” and adds a couple of interesting insights:

The allusions to the Berlin Wall made by aggrieved Mexican politicians miss the irony: The communists tried to keep their own people in, not illegal aliens out. More embarrassing still, the comparison boomerangs on Mexico, since it, and not the U.S., most resembles East Germany in alienating its own citizens to the point that they flee at any cost. If anything might be termed stupid, underhanded or xenophobic in the illegal immigration debacle, it is the conduct of the Mexican government.

“Stupid” characterizes a government that sits atop vast mineral and petroleum reserves, enjoys a long coastline, temperate climate, rich agricultural plains — and either cannot or will not make the necessary political and economic reforms to feed and house its own people. The election of Vicente Fox, Nafta and cosmetic changes in banking and jurisprudence have not stopped the corruption or stemmed the exodus of millions of Mexicans.

….. Mexico receives between $10 and $15 billion in annual remittances from illegal aliens in the U.S., a subsidy that not only masks political failure at home, but comes at great cost to its expatriates abroad. After all, such massive transfers of capital must be made up from somewhere. Poor workers who send half their wages to kin are forced to make do in a high-priced U.S. through two exigencies — they lower their standard of living here while often depending on state and local governments for supplemental housing, education, medical and food aid.

Rarely in the great debate over illegal immigration do we frame the issue in such moral terms: If life back home is improving thanks to money wired back, first-generation Mexican enclaves in the U.S. remain chronically poor, not investing where they live and work.

Mexico senses that the longer its poor are away from Mexico, the more likely they are to grow sentimental about a homeland that they can visit but need not return to. In short, the growing Mexican expatriate community offers valuable political leverage with the U.S.

….. How did we get to this impasse — where Americans would embrace such a retrograde solution as building a fence, or Mexico would routinely slander its northern neighbor? The answer is the vast size of the illegal population — now over 10 million — and the inability or unwillingness of the U.S. government to sanction employers or deploy sufficient resources to enforce the border. Sheer numbers has evolved the debate far beyond the old, “We need labor” and “They have workers,” to something like, “Can the U.S. remain a sovereign nation with borders at all?”

….. But somewhere around the year 2000 a tipping point was reached. The dialogue changed when the number of illegals outnumbered the population of entire states. There also began a moral transformation in the controversy, with the ethical tables turned on the proponents of de facto open borders.

Employers were no longer seen as helping either the U.S. economy or poor immigrants, but rather as being party to exploitation that made a mockery of the law, ossified the real minimum wage, undermined unions and hurt poorer American citizens. The American consumer discovered that illegal immigration was a fool’s bargain — reaping the benefits of cheap labor upfront, but paying far more later on through increased subsidies for often ill-housed and poorly educated laborers who had no benefits.

Nor is the evolving debate framed so much any more as left-versus-right, but as the more privileged at odds with the middle and lower classes. On one side are the elite print media, the courts and a few politicians fronting for employer and ethnic interests; on the other are the far more numerous, and raucous, talk-radio listeners, bloggers and cable news watchers, the ballot propositions, and populist state legislators who better reflect the angry pulse of the country.

….. So the world is upside down. The once liberal notion of ignoring illegal immigration is now seen as cynically illiberal. And taking drastic steps to enforce the law — including something seemingly as absurd as a vast fence — is now seen as more ethical than the current subterfuge that undermines the legal system of the nation.

Like I said, the fact that The Journal ran this is remarkable. Next thing you know, they’ll be letting sane immigration policy advocate Michelle Malkin grace their pages again.
_______________________

UPDATE: It’s nice that The Journal is allowing sane views on illegal immigration to be printed on its pages, but their editorial board’s open-borders obsession continues unabated in an OpinionJournal.com piece commented on here.

Bizzy’s AM Coffee Biz-Econ Links (122905)

Filed under: Corporate Outrage,Privacy/ID Theft,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:00 am

Where There’s Smoking, You Get Fired

I first saw this in The Wall Street Journal, but I sat on it because I wanted to find an external link everyone could get to:

Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. says employees who smoke at work or at home next year risk losing their jobs, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The company has set a deadline of next fall for smokers to quit. The company tells the newspaper that it will begin testing workers in October in states with no law prohibiting employers from making employment decisions based on whether a worker smokes.

While no federal law protects smokers, 29 states and the District of Columbia have passed some form of smoker-protection legislation. Minnesota , for example, bars employers from discriminating against a job applicant or employee because the person uses any “lawful product,” including tobacco, away from the workplace and during nonworking hours.

The answer is obviously for the other 21 states to get off their duffs and protect smokers from this madness. That is, unless you’re okay with your company next recording where you went for lunch everyday and what you ate (have to protect against those obesity-related healthcare costs, doncha know).

(Full disclosure: I grew up in a household where my father, who lived to age 75, smoked just under a pack a day and quit in the 1980s. I had childhood asthma, but “somehow” managed to compete in track and eventually run about 20 marathons. I think the attempt to link second-hand smoke to disease is nonsense not supported by science, but support laws that protect people in public places except businesses that allow it from enduring its unpleasantness.)

In the UK, Your Private Life Is Almost Over

Tammy Bruce reminds us by linking to an article about what will happen in the UK very soon:

UK will be first to monitor every car journey

Britain is to become the first country in the world where the movements of all vehicles on the roads are recorded. A new national surveillance system will hold the records for at least two years.

Using a network of cameras that can automatically read every passing number plate, the plan is to build a huge database of vehicle movements so that the police and security services can analyse any journey a driver has made over several years.

The network will incorporate thousands of existing CCTV cameras which are being converted to read number plates automatically night and day to provide 24/7 coverage of all motorways and main roads, as well as towns, cities, ports and petrol-station forecourts.

By next March a central database installed alongside the Police National Computer in Hendon, north London, will store the details of 35 million number-plate “reads” per day. These will include time, date and precise location, with camera sites monitored by global positioning satellites.

Already there are plans to extend the database by increasing the storage period to five years and by linking thousands of additional cameras so that details of up to 100 million number plates can be fed each day into the central databank.

More is planned, eventually including facial recognition.

Bruce thinks Brits have allowed it to happen because “England, like most of the rest of Europe, is socialist or leftist. This kind pf program is the hallmark and inevitable result of leftist leadership that believes it is God and the citizen is a nuisance which must be protected from itself. And if you think it can’t happen here, it already is. Oregon and California are considering taxing people by how many miles they drive. And for some reason they would need to use a GPS system to connect with your car to be able to do that.”

She has valid points (CA and OR are probably the two most socialist-leaning states in the union), but the right is perfectly capable of engaging in tracking tactics too. I’m beginning to worry that the high-tech freight train running away with our privacy can’t be stopped.

IBD Rips Kyoto Treaty and Montreal Charade

And deservedly so:

Kyoto Hypocrites

When world leaders met in Montreal earlier this month to discuss global warming, one idea won near-universal agreement: Because it refuses to sign or live by Kyoto, the U.S. is a villain.

The reigning mythology goes like this: Europe and Canada have heroically struggled to save the planet by acting responsibly to cut greenhouse gases, while an economically rapacious U.S. does as it pleases and leaves the cleanup to others.

Turns out neither is true — a point we made at the time of the Montreal meetings, and which has been reinforced by a new report showing how out of whack global-warming rhetoric has gotten.

The study shows the U.S. is not the villain in Kyoto. It also shows that Canada and the EU appear to be guilty of massive hypocrisy. Conducted by the Institute for Public Policy Research, it found that Britain and Sweden are the only European countries living up to their commitments under Kyoto. The other 13 countries in the EU are not, and neither is Canada.

Yet during the Montreal conference, Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin had the nerve to accuse the U.S. of lacking a “global conscience.”

The reality is very different. Kyoto’s goal was to get rich nations by 2012 to cut their output of greenhouse gases by 8% from their levels in 1990. Yet Canada’s output has actually increased by 24%, Spain’s by 41.7%, Ireland’s by 25.6%, Austria’s by 16.5% and so on.

The U.S., by comparison, is up 13.3%.

….. Europe hopes a new scheme of tradeable pollution permits will make cutting easier. But recent research from the International Council for Capital Formation says meeting Kyoto’s goals could cost the EU from 1.5% to 4% of its GDP and kill over a million jobs.

Europe won’t incur those costs. It doesn’t have to. It’s found instead it’s far cheaper — and more effective — to bash the U.S.

This is the hypocrisy of Kyoto laid bare. Europe, Canada and their developing world allies never intended to make any of the sacrifices they routinely ask of the U.S.

But US-bashing beats the heck out of doing real work.

Positivity: Dispatcher Talks Trapped Children Through Survival in Fire

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:14 am

A dispatcher in Knoxville kept them alive until firefighters arrived (link requires registration):

(more…)