February 26, 2007

Vilsack Withdraws: A Factor Conveniently Overlooked

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:45 pm

Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack’s brief presidential bid is over.

Last year (fifth item at link), I opined that Vilsack’s attempt would be brief and unsuccessful because of his total lack of respect for property rights. Though there’s no direct proof of my contention, I believe the fact that Iowa’s former governor wasn’t really gaining traction, even in his own state, has to have an explanation that goes beyond “no money.”

In early June 2006, Vilsack vetoed a bill passed by overwhelming legislative majorities that “restricts city and county government’s ability to seize private property for economic development projects.” Both branches of Iowa’s legislature overrode the veto in July, again by huge majorities (90-8 in the House and 41-8 in the Senate). Although there appeared to be some controversy over whether the legislature could vote to override in a special session, Vilsack declined to challenge the vote in court.

I believe you can count on other presidential candidates to give at least lip service to supporting property rights — something Tom Vilsack could no longer even pretend to believe in.

New York Sun: Accidental US Military Deaths in 1993-1996 Greater Than Iraq War Deaths Since 2003

No kidding (HT Rush Limbaugh’s show):

The total military dead in the Iraq war between 2003 and this month stands at about 3,133. This is tragic, as are all deaths due to war, and we are facing a cowardly enemy unlike any other in our past that hides behind innocent citizens. Each death is blazoned in the headlines of newspapers and Internet sites. What is never compared is the number of military deaths during the Clinton administration: 1,245 in 1993; 1,109 in 1994; 1,055 in 1995; 1,008 in 1996. That’s 4,417 deaths in peacetime but, of course, who’s counting?

Here’s some of Rush’s reaction (not linked, as it’s behind his subscription firewall by now; bold is mine):

If you look at this pdf (converted to JPEG by yours truly; you may have to enlarge it in your browser or take it to your desktop; yearly total at JPEG are slightly lower than those reported by the Sun — 1213, 1075, 1040, and 974; 4-year Total is 4302; no, I can’t explain the difference, which is relatively small — Ed.), you will find that in 1980, which was the last year of the Carter administration, there were far more military deaths in 1980 than in any year of the Bush administration. The death rate was also higher, and that’s because of differences in the care given the training and standards and so forth. The point here is that we’re fighting the Iraq war with lower casualties than casualties expected from training accidents during peacetime.

I mention this just to show you how out of proportion and agenda oriented the death count in Iraq is. We’ve mentioned this before, as a matter of theory and prophecy. But here it is documented, and these numbers are available to anybody. Any journalist can go to the Department of Defense site and take a look and find these numbers. There is no interest on the part of any journalist to do so, because it would confound the agenda and the purpose of tallying up these deaths because these 3,133 deaths form the basis, do they not, of “We’ve got to get out of there! This is out of control, why, 3,133 battlefield deaths, whoa, this is horrible! We support the troops. We gotta get ‘em out of harm’s way in a pointless, unjust war,” blah, blah, blah, blah, blah …..

Hard to argue. Facts are indeed stubborn things.

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UPDATE: Yes, I know that the Iraq War death toll has gone up to roughly 3,156 during the past week. The central point is unchanged.

UPDATE 2: Media Matters thinks they’ve fisked the Sun’s Alicia Colon and Limbaugh. No, they refuse to understand the central point. So let’s try again, shall we? — Fewer soldiers have died in the Iraq War than died from all accidents from 1993-1996. That statement is true, remains true, and is the only statement under discussion. Nobody’s misleading anybody — at least not here.

UPDATE 3: Dumb Looks Still Free/Jacksonian Party had a great post on this very topic last year, and went into a great deal more detail.

Ohio Is a ‘Taxation without Representation’ State; Akron Provides the Latest Example

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:16 am

The Akron Beacon Journal’s Bob Dyer notes that the City of Akron wants to raise its earnings tax by about 15% from 2.25% to 2.58% — and that many, if not most, of those paying the tax don’t even live in the city (HT Boring Made Dull):

In case you missed it, Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic recently announced yet another money grab. If he gets his way in May — in a vote open only to residents of Akron — this city will wind up with the second- highest income-tax rate in Ohio.

Only Youngstown, that model city to our east, will be higher than our 2.58 percent.

Plusquellic points out that he is asking for a mere 0.33 of a percentage point. What he isn’t pointing out is that raising the current 2.25 percent tax to 2.58 percent is a hike of 15 percent.

When’s the last time you got a 15 percent raise?

And this is only four years removed from an income-tax hike of 0.25 of a percentage point, enacted to help pay for new school buildings.

If this passes, in four years Akron’s income-tax rate will have risen 29 percent!

The sad fact is that many, if not most, of those affected by the tax increase won’t even get to vote on it, while many city residents will see the vote as an opportunity to stick one to the suburbanites.

How this outrage of taxation without representation ever passed legal muster and has continued to be constitutionally acceptable in Ohio for about the past 40 years is a complete mystery to me.

If the tax increases passes, the victory party will be short-lived. With passage, the Mayor can count on more businesses, individuals, and families leaving Akron, and many fewer moving in. You see, Akron, like Ohio’s other larger cities as far as income taxation is concerned, literally has you coming and going:

  • If you live outside Akron but work inside of it, you get socked with the entire brunt of the current 2.25% (soon possibly 2.58%) earnings tax.
  • If you live inside the city but work outside of the city, you owe the city the difference between the city’s current 2.25% and the income tax you pay to the municipality or township where you work (often zero, and almost always lower than a big city’s rate).

Given the above, exactly what would make someone want to live in Akron or any other of Ohio’s largest cities, almost all of which have earnings taxes of 2% or more? Rather than be caught coming and going, many people conclude that the best answer is simply to go away — and stay away.

This absurd situation goes a long way towards explaining why almost all of Ohio’s largest cities have lost huge percentages of their populations during the past 40 years. People are voting with their feet. When will Ohio’s big-city mayors get a grip on reality?

Confederate Yankee on Jamil ‘Hussein’; The AP’s Credibility is Shot

Those who want to pretend that this controversy went away, and that AP somehow prevailed with its honor and credibility intact, could not be more wrong:

The Associated Press lied about the identity of Jamil Hussein, and still persists in maintaining this fabrication.

As readers and consumers of news provided by the Associated Press, we deserve a full retraction of the deceptive January 4 Steven R. Hurst article, an investigation of how long this willful deception has been on-going, and a formal apology.

As I said at the end of this post on January 26 (para break added from original):

Jamil Hussein “exists” under another name, a fact NOT reported by AP as they used him under that undisclosed pseudonym (yet another instance of journalistic malpractice) at least 61 times, and then didn’t give his real name to military investigators attempting to locate him. Then when the misled searchers reported no record of him, the AP dishonestly crowed that they were vindicated, and revealed his true name.

What a load — Either AP had been deceived about Hussein’s real name all along and had failed to investigate Jamil’s bona fides, or they knowingly and deliberately misled and wasted the time of military investigators. If I were working at a big company and telling gullible reporters for years that my real name was Tom Cruise as I spread false stories, nobody at my employer would be able to find me either.

Bloggers right, AP wrong, AP won’t admit it’s wrong. AP’s credibility slowly but surely drips away.

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Previous Posts:
- Jan. 26 — The AP in Iraq — New Dog, Same Old Tricks
- Jan. 13 — Weekend Question 2: What About Jamil xxxx xxxx Hussein ‘Captain Tuttle’ (or ‘Major Murdock’) Skywalker?
- Jan. 12 — Go Ahead, Tony; Make My Day
- Jan. 9 — While Waiting for a Jamil – xxxxx – xxxxx – Hussein – Skywalker Resolution
- Jan. 5 — Jamil Hussein (Delegated) Update (Late PM: BizzyBlog Resumes Updates)
- Jan. 2, 2007 — I Can’t Believe I’m Reading This (Eason Jordan Calls Out AP on Jamil Hussein)
- Dec. 29, 2006 — Well, Well: Investors Business Daily Weighs in on Jamil ‘Captain Tuttle’ Hussein
- Dec. 12 — Quote of the Day: Why Jamil Hussein and the Fake Sources Story Really Matters
- Dec. 6 — Cute, Very Cute (Jamil Hussein Graphic)
- Dec. 4 — Quote of The Day: Mary Katharine Ham on Why ‘Police Captain’ Jamil Hussein Matters (Plus Other Updates)
- Nov. 30 — Tonight’s Jamil ‘Captain Tuttle’ Hussein and AP (Always Paranoid) Update
- Nov. 30 — Jamil Hussein Update
- Nov. 29 — Burning Six Update: Michelle Malkin Sums It Up
- Nov. 27 — The Burning Question (Figuratively and Literally): Is Reliance on Bogus and Compromised News Sources Slanting Iraq Coverage?

Eric Scheibeler Wins Major Victory in Amway-Quixtar Fight

This went virtually unnoticed, and it shouldn’t have:

Pennsylvania Court Denies Quixtar Arbitration in Scheibeler Case

On December 21, 2006 the court of Lycoming Pennsylvania in an order and opinion denied Quixtar arbitration in Quixtar’s claims of defamation against former Amway founder’s Emerald distributor and vocal Amway/Quixtar critic, Eric Scheibeler. Scheibeler had filed with the Pennsylvania court for a declaratory judgment to deny the arbitration claim.

In a stinging defeat for Quixtar’s premium outside counsel, Brinks Hofer and the attorney filing the arbitration demand, Robert Sobieraj, the court basically confirmed what was intuitively obvious at the beginning and that is that the arbitration agreement cannot be brought into force against a person who has been out of the Quixtar business for years. Judge Dorr issued his opinion that Quixtar’s arbitration process was unconscionable, anyone entering into arbitration with them can question whether they will even get a fair hearing.

The main points cited in the opinion denying arbitration were that Scheibeler has not been an Amway/Quixtar distributor for years and that the introduction of the Quixtar arbitration was made on a “take it or leave” basis. The opinion also stated that Amway/Quixtar/Alticor could take their complaints against Scheibeler in a public court if they wished to pursue the issue of defamation.

I have chronicled deep concerns about Amway Quixtar’s operations in the past because of the AQ connections of a “local” congressional candidate (here, here, here, and here, for starters), so there’s not point in rehashing the entire litany here.

Suffice it to say that an organization confident in its ethics and business practices wouldn’t force its members to agree to cult-like lifetime gag orders.

One would expect Amway Quixtar to attempt to “remedy” this situation by somehow making its agreement even more slanted against existing and potential new representatives. Anyone considering this “opportunity” should be totally aware of what they’re getting themselves into before signing their rights away.

Great Point: On Wendy’s Closing Its Original Store

Filed under: Biz Weak — Tom @ 6:01 am

Brian at One Oar points out the difference between how Wendy’s is handling sales at its original Columbus store (i.e., despite the emotional bond, they’re closing it) vs. the consistent failure of governments at all levels to weed out what isn’t working.

Positivity: Woman Gets Wallet Back after 60 Years

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:56 am

From Cedar Rapids, Iowa (HT FYI News):

Woman gets wallet back after 60 years
Wed Feb 7, 4:23 PM ET

Joan Martinek Barnes never imagined she would see her wallet again after she lost it at McKinley High School 60 years ago.

But the red alligator grain wallet turned up Monday when a building engineer tracked down a broken hot water pipe. It was found on top of an air duct in a basement storage room that once housed girls lockers.

Barnes, now 75 and living in San Antonio, said her wallet was lost when her coat was stolen during the winter of 1947-48.

“I don’t remember all those details,” Barnes said on Tuesday. “I just remember Mr. Paxson (the principal) got the coat back. I didn’t have many coats.”

The wallet didn’t have any cash in it when it was found, but did contain a $4 activity pass, a student ID card, and a membership card for the YMCA’s teen club.

It also contained two black-and-white photos — one of a girl who could be Barnes and another showing a young man in an Army Air Force uniform, possibly someone she was dating.

Barnes graduated from McKinley High School in 1949. The school is now a middle school.

Barnes married Alf Barnes in 1951 when he was on leave from the Navy. They settled in Texas and haven’t been back to Cedar Rapids in about 15 years, she said.

The school is mailing the wallet back to Barnes and she promises to return it for the school’s archives.