November 29, 2007

Quote of the Day: Gregg Jackson on Mitt Romney (with Index, Links, and Cliff’s Notes for ‘Romney, the Courts, and the Constitutions’ Posts)

Filed under: Health Care,Life-Based News,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:05 pm

In today’s Washington Times, the author of “Conservative Comeback to Liberal Lies,” co-host of Pundit Review Radio, co-blogger at Pundit Review, and consultant to yours truly on Romney matters (not necessarily in that order :–>), nails it (“Romney’s bigotry crusade”; column co-authored by Paul Dinger):

When we published an expose on Mr. Romney on Townhall.com showing his governor’s record reveals him to be nearly as liberal as Ted Kennedy, Romniacs descended in droves clutching a large suitcase of evidence showing we were completely wrong. Just kidding. They called us “bigots.”

Though it’s probably on the way, I’ve managed to avoid the b-word epithet thus far, presumably because my arguments against Romney have nothing to do with religion, and everything to do with his performance, actions, and utterances relating to government-subsidized abortion services and same-sex marriage during his tenure as Massachusetts governor.

I am otherwise in the same position as Gregg, waiting for the “large suitcase of evidence” proving me completely wrong. So far, nothing. That is because I believe that Romniacs have nothing — except hopes that either we’ll go away or we won’t be heard.

Well, we’re not going away, and I suspect we’re already being heard. Rasmussen reported the following yesterday (link probably good for a few days at most):

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of the Iowa caucus finds former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee with 28% of the vote, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney with 25% support, and everyone else far behind.

Y’all would be well-advised to belly up with some kind of defense, if you have any. Otherwise I’ll assume you don’t.

UPDATE: Life News adds this:

Compared to the last survey, Huckabee’s 28% support represents a twelve point increase from a Rasmussen Reports poll conducted earlier in the month. Romney is down four points while Giuliani and Thompson are each down three points from the previous survey.

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Here’s the complete index to the “Romney, the Courts, and the Constitutions” series:

- Nov. 21 — Part 1: Abortion Coverage in RomneyCare
- Nov. 21 — Part 2: Mitt Romney and Same-Sex Marriage
- Nov. 23 — Part 3: Various Excerpts, Statements, and Comments
- Nov. 24 — Part 4: What’s Beck Got to Do with It?
- Nov. 25 — Part 5: The Next President and the Courts

For those who insist on the Cliff’s Notes versions of the above posts, here they are (Part 3 is excluded because it “only” has excerpts and quotes from elsewhere):

  • (Part 1) Mitt Romney did nothing to stop or restrict state-subsidized abortion in Massachusetts, and with the institution of RomneyCare, definitely expanded its scope, and may even have enshrined it into Massachusetts law for the first time. Also see Part 1 for links to the underlying columns, blog posts, and background info from Gregg Jackson, Kevin Whelan, and John Haskins.
  • (Part 2) The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage in the Goodridge case was legally absurd and in and of itself against Massachusetts’ law and constitution. Even setting aside that point, an SJC ruling in Massachusetts requires that either legislation or a constitutional amendment be enacted for implementation to legally take place. No legislation or constitutional amendment was ever enacted, yet Mitt Romney implemented Goodridge anyway. He had no legislative direction, so he in fact did not have the authorization to go ahead with implementation. By doing so, he violated his own oath of office to uphold the Bay State’s constitution.
  • (Part 4) A 1988 US Supreme Court ruling in a labor-law and free-speech case shows that rulings by the Supremes are often not automatic without enabling legislation. Only a few states have implemented the ruling involved (Communications Workers of America v. Beck). Congress has passed no legislation, meaning not only that our president can refuse to carry out the ruling, in point of fact he must refuse.
  • (Part 5) The next president may have to defy Supreme Court rulings that unconstitutionally rely on foreign law or that are clearly and obviously in violation of the clear meaning of the Constitution itself. I believe that any of the Democrat nominees would, if elected president, handle such situations opportunistically, opting to enforce the ones they like (in violation of their oath of office), and refusing to enforce the ones they don’t. I hold hope ranging from a little to a lot that four of the five major contenders for the GOP presidential nomination might take up this likely crucial challenge. Based on his record in Massachusetts as described above and in the detail of these posts, I hold out no such hope for Mitt Romney.

I have brought back a BizzyBlog term from previous elections, namely the BizzyBlog Dealbreaker. A Dealbreaker is “something that completely justifies a person not voting for you, regardless of your party or your current stands on the issues.” Romney’s handling of the subsidized abortion and same-sex marriage issues are each Dealbreakers. As such, absent satisfactory explanations, I believe that he is unfit to be president.

Carnival Barking (112907)

Filed under: General — Tom @ 2:32 pm

The 93rd Carnival of Ohio Politics, assembled by Ben Keeler of the Keeler Political Report, is here.

OFHEO: National Home Prices Dipped 0.4% in Quarter, Up 1.8% in Past Year

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:16 pm

The quarterly report on home prices issued by the government’s Office for Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) is the most comprehensive and most reliable measure available of what is happening in the housing market.

Here is how today’s OFHEO press release describing results for the third quarter of this year started off (bolds are in original):

For the first time in nearly thirteen years, U.S. home prices experienced a quarterly decline. The OFHEO House Price Index (HPI), which is based on data from sales and refinance transactions, was 0.4 percent lower in the third quarter than in the second quarter of 2007. This is similar to the quarterly decline of 0.3 percent (seasonally-adjusted) shown in the purchase-only index. The annual price change, comparing the third quarter of 2007 to the same period last year showed an increase of 1.8 percent, the lowest four-quarter increase since 1995. OFHEO’s purchase-only index, which is based solely on purchase price data, indicates the same rate of appreciation over the last year.

The full OFHEO report (PDF) is here.

The quarterly dip was the first since the fourth quarter of 1994. It was the worst quarterly drop since the fourth quarter of 1990, when prices fell 0.40%.

From 1995-2006, home prices nationally went up 117%, while inflation during that period was 36% (a complete historical inflation table is here). From 2002-2006, home prices went up 52%, vs. inflation of 15%.

In fact, I still say, “Bubble, schmubble.” If gas prices come down 25 cents a gallon in the next week, that will be a drop of about 8% — 20 times greater than the home-price drop just reported. I don’t expect to see any reports of a gas-price “bubble” any time soon.

Even conceding that after inflation, the current quarter’s 0.36% drop (rounded to -0.4% in the press release) represents about a 0.7% real decline (July – September inflation including food and energy was +0.3%), and that the latest four-quarter appreciation of 1.79% (rounded to +1.8% in the press release) is also less than inflation (3.5% during the period including food and energy), excuse me if I resist the urge to join the “Oh, the humanity” chorus.

The press release from OFHEO also makes these points that you won’t see covered much in the business press:

  • Home-price declines are not pervasive throughout the nation — “Of the 287 cities on OFHEO’s list of “ranked” MSAs, 204 had positive four-quarter appreciation and 83 had price declines.”
  • In fact, the big problems are relatively limited in geographic scope — “Seventeen of the 20 cities having the most depreciation were in Florida and California. The other three were in Michigan.” Even in Cali, which otherwise had lots of negative numbers, four-quarter price changes in the three large metro areas of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Jose came in about even at -0.07%, +0.93%, and +0.64%.

Moderate Mainstream contended that “the (housing price) numbers, they be lyin’” several weeks ago. She has a point, as I don’t doubt that most cities reporting overall steady prices have at least a few neighborhoods experiencing declines. I don’t doubt for a minute that there is more than a little suffering going on as a result of it. I also happen to believe that the so-called “Bankruptcy Reform” law passed in 2005 may be making the problem worse. It would not surprise me if many of those who might have been able to hang on to their homes under the old bankruptcy regime are losing them to foreclosure today. Perhaps unlike many readers, if more people are losing their homes as a side-effect of “bankruptcy reform,” I do not consider that a desirable result.

But today’s OFHEO report tells me that the housing market can and will, if left alone, mostly work itself out of its current difficulties; Moderate Mainstream essentially agrees. The situation surely is not one that calls for the massive, litigation-creating rewrite of mortgage lending law that Barney Frank and others in Congress are proposing.

The results today also don’t support the contentions of mass criminality asserted or implied by the likes of New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann. Yet, so far, there appears to be little media skepticism over Cuomo’s or Dann’s motives, which appear to be more about creating a recession, or the appearance of a recession, than they are about fixing whatever legitimate problems there are in housing and mortgage lending.

I expect Old Media coverage of the OFHEO report to be light, and not to be seen outside of the business pages and posts. Though it’s the best and most comprehensive info available, the reported decline isn’t big enough for Old Media’s taste, and won’t sufficiently promote their apparent agenda of talking down the economy. It’s much better to treat the relatively narrow (but well-done within its scope) Case-Schiller report as the gospel, and to pretend OFHEO’s number don’t exist.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Jumpin’ GDP: Revised Third Quarter Growth is 4.9%

This of course explains why a Google News search I just did on “recession” has hundreds and hundreds of articles talking about a possible recession, including 481 in the first 20 listings (/sarc).

The Bureau of Economic Analysis announcement is here.

Key excerpts (bolds are mine):

The increase in real GDP in the third quarter primarily reflected positive contributions from exports, personal consumption expenditures (PCE), private inventory investment, equipment and software, federal government spending, nonresidential structures, and state and local government spending that were partly offset by a negative contribution from residential fixed investment. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.

….. The real change in private inventories added 0.98 percentage point to the third-quarter change in real GDP, after adding 0.22 percentage point to the second-quarter change. Private businesses increased inventories $32.9 billion in the third quarter, following an increase of $5.8 billion in the second quarter and an increase of $0.1 billion in the first.

Ever since the fourth quarter of 2006, when there was a big downward revision to GDP because of inventory reductions, I have been wondering when the reverse was going to occur, because it almost had to. Now it has.

I don’t expect this revision to break out of the business pages. The expectations that built up in the past week were barely news. 5.0% would have been tougher to ignore. We’ll see.

Two tidbits you may not see reported elsewhere (source info from BEA is here):

  • If it holds, and I believe it will, this is the best quarter since 3Q03, and the second best since 2Q-2000.
  • Again if it holds, the combined 2nd and 3rd quarter total of 8.7% (after the 2nd quarter’s 3.8%; quarterly percentages are presented in annualized form) is the highest since the 3Q03 and 4Q03′s 10.2%. 2Q03 and 3Q03 were a combined 11.0%.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Couldn’t Help But Notice (112907)

Keith Kerr and his slip through CNN’s poor pre-screening at last night’s GOP debate is THE story of the moment. He is the Hillary supporter (scroll down) who is a member of her “LGBT Americans For Hillary Steering Committee,” a member of the anti-”Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Servicemembers’ Legal Defense Network’s advisory council, and, per Wizbang, part of the National Veterans for Kerry Steering Committee in 2004 (scroll down in alpha order).

Not exactly an “independent” voter.

This is the kind of stuff, especially following similar verified Clinton campaign question-planting stories, that could very well break out past the involved 15% and become more widely known — if it hasn’t already.

The larger point here is that Hillary and her acolytes, including her husband, are trying to win a 2007-2008 campaign using tactics that worked in 1992 and 1996. How dumb is Bill to think no one would check this? Even the usually Clinton-friendly Ron Fournier of the Associated Press wouldn’t cover for him.

It’s a totally different media environment, Clintonistas. Your friends in Old Media may try to cover for you, but while they still dominate, they don’t have the ironclad control the news cycle they once did (even Fournier recognizes there are new limits).

If Mrs. Clinton and her husband keep this up, she will lose — if not the nomination, the general election. It may even be (emphasis may) that the ship has already taken on too much water, but that we (and they) just don’t recognize it yet.

Joe Biden’s 1988 presidential campaign ended with a controversy over one plagiarized speech. In a world with a fair and balanced Old Media campaign press corps, the accumulation of the planting stories would be ending Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy right about now.

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Speaking of old tactics not working (bold is mine):

November 26 (BBC) — Iraq journalist’s family killed

An Iraqi journalist who lives in Jordan has said that 11 members of his family have been killed by Shia gunmen in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.

Dia al-Kawwaz said his two sisters, their husbands, and seven children were shot at the family home on Sunday.

The police in Baghdad have not confirmed the attack, but one officer told the BBC the killings had occurred.

+++++++++++++++++++

November 28 (AFP) — Family blasts Iraqi newsman over claims they were killed

So the BBC has its own Jamil Hussein.

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This isn’t necessarily victory (HT Don Surber, who thinks it is, via Instapundit). But it sure as bleep means Harry “The War Is Lost” Reid was wrong, and remains wrong.

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In advance of today’s government report on Gross Domestic Product, which is expected to report that third-quarter growth was over 4.5%, instead of the 3.9% originally estimated a month ago, the New York Times-owned International Herald Tribune stokes the recession talk.

Bloomberg (last para at link) expects 4.9%.

Positivity: Landscaper Thanks Rescuers Who Saved His Life

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:59 am

From Littleton, Colorado (video is at link):

Nov 18, 2007 10:00 pm US/Mountain

A landscape worker who was seriously injured last month while doing lawn work at a home in Littleton when a driver lost control of a van and eventually hit the worker was released from the hospital Friday and thanked the emergency workers who saved his life.

Victor Soto, 20, was dragged under the van Oct. 3, across the yard and finally came to a stop against a house with him pinned underneath the vehicle near University Boulevard and Easter Avenue.

Soto was badly injured and near death when emergency crews reached him.

Rescuers didn’t wait for air bags to lift the van off of him. They were able to quickly get him out from a very small space under the van and on his way to Swedish Hospital in 5 minutes.

Soto has been hospitalized at Swedish since.

“To see him do this well is great, in all honesty when he first came in I had my doubts,” Dr. Burt Katubig said.

Before leaving the hospital Friday, he thanked the doctors and paramedics who treated him. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.