February 13, 2008

AP’s Fournier, at Long Last, Lists Dem Groups Unhappy with the Clintons

After the Beltway primaries on Tuesday, the Associated Press’s Ron Fournier compiled a different kind of Clinton Enemies List.

No, not the people and groups Bill and Hillary consider to be their enemies.

Instead, in “Chickens Come Home to Roost,” Fournier listed the types of Democratic Convention superdelegates who have been unhappy with the Clintons for as many as 16 years:

….. they are not all super fans of the Clintons.

Some are labor leaders still angry that Bill Clinton championed the North American Free Trade Agreement as part of his centrist agenda.

Some are social activists who lobbied unsuccessfully to get him to veto welfare reform legislation, a talking point for his 1996 re-election campaign.

Some served in Congress when the Clintons dismissed their advice on health care reform in 1993. Some called her a bully at the time.

Some are DNC members who saw the party committee weakened under the Clintons and watched President Bush use the White House to build up the Republican National Committee.

Some are senators who had to defend Clinton for lying to the country about his affair with Monica Lewinsky.

Some are allies of former Vice President Al Gore who still believe the Lewinsky scandal cost him the presidency in 2000.

Fournier goes on to list still others, ultimately leading to a question he never asked — Is there anyone left who actually likes them?

Old Media reporters never seem to have a problem finding a disgruntled or dissident Republican when the need to find one arises.

So the obvious question for AP, Fournier, and the rest of Old Media is this: Why have we been conditioned to see the Clintons as Democratic royalty all these years, while rarely, if ever, hearing anything from the dissidents?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Superdelegate Ted Strickland (Update: And the Firmness of Superdelegate Numbers)

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:18 pm

Yes, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland is one of those “Democratic” superdelegates.

He is on this January 9 list of superdelegates committed to Mrs. Clinton.

He endorsed Hillary Clinton in November of last year. He has been very outspoken in his support of her since then.

Is Governor Strickland’s commitment to Hillary irrevocable? Is he going to stick with Mrs. Clinton even if (much more likely when, and in a big way) she loses the March 4 Ohio Presidential Primary to the candidate I often refer to as BOOHOO (Barack O-bomba Overseas Hussein “Obambi” Obama)?

What will the fallout be, especially inside the state Democratic Party, if he hangs in for Hillary in the face of Obamamentum?

_________________________________________________

UPDATE: This link looks to have a pretty current list, and indicates that the true list of “superdels” won’t be absolutely official until March 1, the filing deadline for each state party chair to submit their list. But if you go to the link, you’ll see that the definition of who can be a superdel is pretty clear.

The only other committed Ohio superdel I see on the list is Stephanie Tubbs Jones, who has declared for Hillary. Hmmm. I would not be surprised if she’s rethinking that endorsement right about now.

UPDATE 2: Which leads to this thought — I suspect that if superdels are allowed to change their preference even after they have publicly endorsed (and I don’t see why they couldn’t), Ms. Tubbs Jones isn’t the only one doing a rethink. I suspect that in the final analysis, the superdels will mostly go with the flow — the flow being how voters in their native states cast their ballots.

UPDATE 3: Interesting bit of trivia — Hillary, her husband, and Obama are superdelegates who have, of course, already declared.

UPDATE 4: Among others, comparing results thus far to the superdel endorsements list, it would appear that superdels who have endorsed Hillary in MD (Obama by 23%), GA (35%), WA (35% in a caucus), and MN (34% in a caucus) are on less-than-defensible ground. UPDATE 4A, Feb. 14: Well, whaddaya know. Georgia’s John Lewis has switched from Hillary to BOOHOO, saying “that as a superdelegate, he could not go against the wishes of the voters of his district, who overwhelmingly supported Mr. Obama.”

State Financials: Presentability (and Accountability?) ‘Pending’

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:01 am

I don’t know how you, if you were trying to control state spending, could do anything with something like this, just issued by the Ohio Office of Budget and Management (OBM):

StateSpending7Mos013108

The OBM page linking to the PDF of its February 10 report for January 2008 is here.

The red-boxed item (“Pending Payroll”) represents payroll costs in the amount of $397 million that have yet to be “spread” to the various state agencies (and to units within those agencies). Pending Payroll is being generated because of some type of accounting conversion that’s been taking place, if I recall correctly, since July 1, the beginning of the State’s fiscal year. The new system is apparently not always able to assign payroll costs to the proper departments as they occur; anything that can’t be assigned automatically is thrown into “Pending.” Someone then has to slog through the pending transactions manually and make accounting entries to get the costs to the right place.

January’s Pending Payroll is $17.6 million higher than the $380 million reported in December, so unclassified transactions are coming in faster than they are being processed out. The OBM report text indicates that the sloggers are about two months behind.

Because of the Pending Payroll situation, every department looks like it’s staying within budget. Most of them probably are, because overall spending is $168.5 million under budget.

But given that the state’s financial situation is projected to go in the wrong direction to the tune of between $733 million and $1.9 billion (second item at link) in the next 18 months, you would want to try further belt-tightening, even in departments that are already doing a good job of holding the line.

But if you don’t have “clean” numbers, where do you start?

Perhaps someone from Ohio’s Old Media will take it upon themselves to ask OBM Director J. Pari Sabety, or even her boss Ted Strickland, how the State’s finances can be effectively managed when an important accounting objective (each recorded transaction is properly classified) is clearly not being achieved on a timely basis, month after month.

The End of the Supply-Side Tax Boom

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:49 am

Here are key full-month figures from Uncle Sam’s Daily Treasury Statement for January 31, compared to the January 2007 statement (in millions):

TreasuryRecs013108

The decline in withholdings is illusory, and occurred only because January 2008 had four high-collection Mondays, while January 2007 had five.

But the message from the stagnation in the net amount of corporate income taxes, non-withhelds, and refunds is this: The engine of entrepreneurship is currently on idle.

The Monthly Treasury Statement released yesterday showed January tax receipts declining by 2.1% from a year ago:

Treasury4mosFY08.jpg

Both the January and year-to-date results tell us that the dramatic supply-side driven increases in tax collections driven by the 2003 Bush tax cuts (44% in the four years ended September 30, 2007) are almost definitely over.

Outlays, relative to the previous fiscal year, have increased by a percentage that is unsustainable.

I anticipate having a column up at Pajamas Media tomorrow that elaborates on this, and what Washington should (and isn’t) doing about it.

Couldn’t Help But Notice (021308)

A Hollywooder shows some spine:

Steven Spielberg has decided not to participate in this summer’s Beijing Olympic Games as an artistic adviser, citing China’s lack of progress in resolving the humanitarian crisis in Darfur.
His move is a public relations blow to the Chinese government, which is under pressure to force the government of Sudan to resolve the crisis in Darfur.

Spielberg’s worldwide profile could lead others involved in the Games to pull out and even lead sponsors to reconsider their roles in the event.

Let’s hope so.

________________________________________________

Speaking of China (HT Information Week via Techdirt), this is four months old, but it needs more notice than it has received:

A “Journey to the Heart of Internet censorship” on eve of party congress

In partnership with Reporters Without Borders and Chinese Human Rights Defenders, a Chinese Internet expert working in IT industry has produced an exclusive study on the key mechanism of the Chinese official system of online censorship, surveillance and propaganda. The author prefers to remain anonymous.

On the eve of the 17th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which opens this week in Beijing, Reporters Without Borders and the Chinese Human Rights Defenders call on the government to allow the Chinese to exercise their rights to freedom of press, expression and information.

“This system of censorship is unparalleled anywhere in the world and is an insult to the spirit of online freedom,” the two organisations said. “With less than a year to go before the Beijing Olympics, there is an urgent need for the government to stop blocking thousands of websites, censoring online news and imprisoning Internet activists.”

Good luck with that.

Techdirt describes the size and scope of the censorship machine:

Apparently, there are three agencies responsible for different aspects of online censorship: the Internet Propaganda Administrative Bureau, the Bureau of Information and Public Opinion, and the Internet Bureau. There’s also the Beijing Internet Information Administrative Bureau to handle all the internet firms located in Beijing. It’s all very organized. The Propaganda Agency is in charge of licensing news agencies — but the licenses aren’t to report news or do any, you know, reporting. The licenses are to report propaganda provided by the government. The Public Opinion group basically watches over what public opinion is saying and lets Party leaders know about it, so that a response can quickly be generated. The Internet Bureau, then, is where the real censorship takes place. As for the Beijing Internet organization, it meets with the big internet firms and tells them what news stories will be allowed or not allowed that week.

All with the assistance of members of the BizzyBlog Internet Wall of Shame. According to Information Week, three of whom (Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo!) called for, and got, the US State Department to form a task force last year “to investigate the problems posed to the Internet by repressive regimes” — that they are assisting.

___________________________________________________

A Cincinnati-area state rep has introduced a bill to make English the official language in the State of Ohio. This post from Virginia (HT Instapundit) is part of why it’s a good idea.

Positivity: Brain Implant ‘Rewires’ A Decade Of Trauma

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:15 am

From New London, CT (carried in full because stories at the source link become unavailable to non-subscribers after a week, and this one is too good to lose access to):

Published on 2/10/2008

To hold your right arm straight and steady doesn’t seem like a big deal to most people, but for Justin Matylewicz, being able to do just that on Jan. 24 was nothing short of a medical miracle.

Eleven years after a terrible car accident almost killed him, 25-year-old Justin Matylewicz has taken a bold next step in his long recovery.

His singular journey began when the traumatic brain injury caused by the accident put him into a coma for 31/2 months. Doctors, his mother Melissa recalled, suggested she and her husband consider taking him off life support, warning them that if he did wake up, the extent of the brain injury he had suffered could leave him severely disabled. Until then, he had been a typical 14-year-old, enjoying baseball, basketball and soccer.

“They said he’d have no quality of life,” Melissa Matylewicz said. While her son, the younger of her two children, was in the hospital, she read all she could about traumatic brain injury and how the brain can rewire and retrain itself through therapy.

After he awoke from the coma, he spent three more months at Bride Brook Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Niantic. Finally, he returned home to Montville, in a wheelchair, but was soon using a walker.

Years of physical, occupational and speech therapy gave him back his ability to walk and talk. He relearned everyday tasks such as holding a fork or glass and writing left-handed, though that remains difficult. He still struggles with short-term memory and balance problems and, until recently, the inability to use his right hand and arm, which has been enslaved by tremors that cause it to flail uncontrollably, limiting the young man’s lifelong job prospects.

View a slideshow of Justin.

He works two part-time jobs, one at the F.R.E.S.H. farm not far from his home, and the other stocking shelves, pricing and bagging bulk foods at a grocery co-op in Willimantic. Because he’s unable to drive, he gets rides to work from a special service for people disabled by brain injury. His long recovery, he said, separated him from his peer group. He longs for more friends his own age, and a girlfriend.

“He does get depressed and disgusted sometimes,” said his mother. “He has to work 10 times harder than anyone else to do anything. Everything he’s learned to do he’s had to retrain his brain.”

Despite setbacks and disappointments over the years, Matylewicz never wanted to give up finding a way to stop the arm tremors.

“The way I look at it,” he said, “I could live the rest of my life like this, but why? If there’s something better out there, why not give it a shot? I’ve always been a go-getter, so I go after what I want, and if I fail, I fail.

“You have to have the desire to be better,” he said, then looking across to his parents, added, “and you have to have somebody to help you.”
(more…)