March 3, 2008

Pre-Primary Prattle (030308)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:42 pm

Ohio 35th District candidate John Rabenold is advertising himself as a Republican.

He is not a real Republican. The truth is that he is an opportunistic current lobbyist for and former executive in the payday lending “industry.” This is a business that preys on the poor and ignorant in ways old-style robber barons and loan sharks could only dream of, and has little, if any, redeeming social value.

The Cincinnati Enquirer’s Peter Bronson reports that 40% of Rabenold’s substantial war chest comes from his co-workers at Check ‘n Go.

John “Check ‘n Go” Rabenold’s “industry” surely does not deserve a seat at the legislative table, and, as I opined in September, he does not deserve anyone’s vote. If he wins election in November, Republicans in Columbus should seriously consider not allowing him to caucus or otherwise meet with them, lest the opposition tar them all by being associated with him. If he is given legitimacy, the state’s GOP will deserve all the related grief thrown its way.

The person who appears to be Rabenold’s main opponent, Ron Maag, is advertising himself as a Conservative. Maag’s campaign web site indicates that he generally has the right positions with none of the baggage.

Grace Kendrick is the third candidate, but I know nothing about her other than the nice quotes in Bronson’s article. Though it may be out there somewhere, I could not find her campaign web site. At some point a candidate has to make himself or herself visible.

Pre-Rabenold favorite Eric Minamyer is not on the ballot.

I am voting for Maag, and encourage others in the District to do the same. Realistically, it appears that it will take more than prayer can accomplish for him to beat Rabenold, but, paraphrasing Chris Berman, that’s why they hold the elections.

The idea that I will be represented by John Rabenold’s ilk is truly offensive.

_________________________________________

Speaking of offensive, I understand from Watchdog Matt at Weapons of Mass Discussion that Bill Cunningham’s favored candidate for 12th District Judge, Mary McElwee, doesn’t live in the district — unless you count paying rent on a recently leased apartment in Clinton County while still maintaining her principal residence outside the district.

I don’t. That’s a good old-fashioned BizzyBlog Dealbreaker. I agree with WMD’s endorsement of her opponent.

_________________________________________

I have just downloaded Warren County’s sample ballot, and I encourage all Ohioans to download their party ballot for their country of residence, and to avoid just winging it in the voting booth. I see I have a bit of homework to do myself.

AP Writer Miscasts Housing Measurements to Portray Home-Value ‘Crisis’

On Wednesday, Associated Press Business Writer J.W. Elphinstone used a curious definition of “narrow” to emphasize the importance of a home-price measurement index that only looks at the country’s largest metro areas, while minimizing the significance of one that catalogs virtually the entire USA — all apparently done to create an overwrought portrayal of home values as being “in freefall.”

Here is how Elphinstone’s report began:

No end in sight: Housing in freefall until credit loosens and supply recedes, experts say

House prices may still have a long way to fall.

Across much of the nation, home values are dropping — even those backed by solid mortgages — and banks are repossessing more every day. Most experts say the dive won’t hit bottom for another year and only after excess inventory is sharply reduced and credit markets improve.

More government intervention may be needed, too, if the free market system doesn’t work quick enough. (should read “quickly enough” — Ed.)

“The housing value crisis is spreading and deepening,” said David Abromowitz, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. “It has gone way beyond subprime borrowers stretched too far with bad loans and now has clearly extended into the housing markets more broadly.”

U.S. home prices dropped 8.9 percent in the final quarter of 2007 compared with a year ago, according to the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home price index released Tuesday. That marked the steepest decline in the index’s 20-year history.

Meanwhile, the narrower Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight said Tuesday that nationwide prices dipped 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter, the first annual decline in 16 years. Eleven states posted declines in values for the year, while prices in nine states appreciated more than 5 percent.

The OFHEO index is calculated using mortgages of $417,000 or less that are bought or backed by government-sponsored mortgage companies Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. That excludes properties bought with some of the riskier types of home loans or homes in more expensive markets like California and the Northeast.

The AP reporter’s description of price drops was at best very vague. For both Case-Shiller and OFHEO, the reality is that the price drops occurred over a period of a full year (four quarters). That is not at all clear in the way Elphinstone wrote it up; for both indices, the changes are described as taking place “in the quarter.” Here’s a better writeup for one of the two, provided by yours truly at no charge: “The S&P/Case-Shiller index shows that fourth-quarter 2007 home prices in the 20 cities it measured were 8.9% lower than they were in the fourth quarter of 2006.”

Oh, did I say “20 cities”? Yes I did. Elphinstone’s characterization of OFHEO’s index as “narrower,” and his implication that Case-Shiller’s measurement is “nationwide,” were both flat-out wrong.

Here is how OFHEO describes its House Price Index (bold is mine):

The HPI is a broad measure of the movement of single-family house prices.

….. The HPI serves as a timely, accurate indicator of house price trends at various geographic levels. Because of the breadth of the sample, it provides more information than is available in other house price indexes.

The HPI includes house price figures for the nine Census Bureau divisions, for the 50 states and the District of Columbia, and for Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) and Divisions.

This related story at the Rocky Mountain News last week noted the true scope of the two indices:

(The) Case Shiller report shows a 9.1 percent decline for 20 U.S. cities last year.

The OFHEO report tracks 291 metropolitan areas across the country.

(Note: The Rocky Mountain News’s 9.1% decline is Case-Shiller’s reported December 2007 to December 2006 comparison, while the AP’s 8.9% drop is Case-Shiller’s fourth quarter 2007 vs. fourth quarter 2006 result.)

For Elphinstone, a measurement of 291 metro areas in all 50 states is “narrower” than one that looks at 20 in only 17.

Not around here, pal.

Is it a mere coincidence that the truly narrower Case-Shiller report is the one Elphinstone used to paint a picture of a comprehensive (and now correctly hyphenated) “free-fall“?

While the AP writer correctly noted that OFHEO only looks at mortgages of $417,000 or less, its reported results undermines the “crisis” mentality and the supposed need for government intervention.

Activity in higher-priced homes significantly affects the S&P/Case-Shiller index. This is especially the case in the six California and Northeast markets it tracks (Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, New York, Boston, and Washington).

It’s likely, based on the comparative results (Case-Shiller down 8.9% in 12 months in 20 relatively high-cost urban areas; OFHEO down only 0.3% in the entire country), that the “free-fall,” which less hysterical observers would describe as a “drop” or “correction,” is largely occurring in the higher end of the market.

If that’s the case, you’ll have to excuse me if I wonder why more government intervention is needed because relatively well-to-do folks are seeing their home values decline — and why an AP reporter would speculate about the need for more intervention in a supposedly “objective” yet clearly incomplete and misleading report.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Ohio Primary: Why I’m Voting for Fred Thompson Tomorrow

It’s tempting to ask for a Democratic ballot on Tuesday to vote for the candidate I refer to as BOOHOO (Barack O-bomba Overseas Hussein “Obambi” Obama). That would help ensure that the candidacy of the person I refer to as HR4C (Hillary Rodham Cackling Crying Complaining Clinton) is not merely dead, but really most sincerely dead.

The problem is that if Obama wins in November, and his presidency turns out to be as bad or worse than currently indicated, I would have to own up to having contributed to it. I cannot, and will not, bear that responsibility.

So I’ll stay on the GOP side for the time being. Now what?

The candidate I refer to as JS3M3 (John Sidney the Mad Maverick McCain III) will not get my Ohio primary vote.

He hasn’t earned it. He needs to understand that he hasn’t earned it.

In fact, he seems to care very little whether he gets my vote.

He has done little since he became the presumptive nominee on Super Tuesday to bridge the divide he has built over the last decade between himself and mainstream conservatives.

His “repudiation” of Bill Cunningham for daring to use Obama’s middle name should not have been a public rebuke. Take your pick — It demonstrates shocking tone-deafness or callous indifference to what should be his base. McCain, who feels that Obama’s real middle name shouldn’t be used (heaven forbid) because it is somehow provocative (a position I totally disagree with), should have advised Cunningham of the impropriety either after-the-fact to the press or in private.

McCain will come perilously close to losing my vote if what Bob Novak has written comes to pass:

Former White House political guru Karl Rove is urging that Sen. John McCain pick Mitt Romney as his running mate, writes veteran Washington columnist Robert Novak.

According to Novak, Rove and other GOP bigwigs want Romney in the No. 2 spot despite the bad blood that exists between the former Massachusetts governor and McCain, an enmity that grew out of their heated rivalry during the Republican presidential primaries.

Despite the hype about his alleged conservatism, Objectively Unfit Mitt Romney is more liberal than John McCain. A McCain-Romney ticket combines an all-too-likely failure to control illegal immigration; a total surrender on social issues (based on what Romney has done, which is infinitely more important than what he has said); increases the chances that McCain would give in to the taxoholic-spendaholics in Washington; puts a person from a culture that gives little heed to national sovereignty one heartbeat away from the presidency; and sets the table for inflicting the scourge of RomneyCare on the entire nation.

If the Global War on Terror weren’t in progress, and the other party’s candidates so pitifully weak on national security, a McCain-Romney ticket would be a bridge too far to cross. I hope against hope that McCain has the sense not to do what Rove suggests.

Voting for Mike Huckabee could have been a legitimate temptation. After all, he’s the one still running. But in the two months-plus since it was revealed, no one that I know of has tried to claim that the story of Huckabee receiving hundreds of thousands in consulting and speaking fees while governor is wrong, or explain why it’s okay. Without any kind of attempt to defend it, the presumption has to be that it’s indefensible. Team Huckabee seems to think the whole thing doesn’t even deserve a defense. Fine: Mike Huckabee doesn’t deserve my vote. With a BizzyBlog Dealbreaker like this, I don’t even waste my time looking into where a candidate stands on the issues, because it doesn’t matter.

That leaves the only other GOP candidate who maintained his viability up to South Carolina. He is also the only candidate who had both a solidly sensible platform and a track record showing that he actually believed in it.

Fred Thompson gets my vote on Tuesday, because no active candidate has done more to earn it up to and including today than Thompson did through January 19.

I strongly suggest that anyone receiving a Republican ballot tomorrow who doesn’t think John McCain gets it yet send Mr. Maverick a message. Vote for Fred Thompson.

Couldn’t Help But Notice (030308)

Redefining chutzpah, Duke University’s administration is attempting legal action to shut down the information web site of the lacrosse players suing the university.

K.C. Johnson explains the obvious as to why the university has no case, and should know that it has no case.

It takes a lot for me to get to the point of suggesting that parents not send their kids to a particular university. The disgraceful two-year pattern of behavior at Duke in this case has me at that point.

__________________________________________________

Angelina Jolie, in the Washington Post, last Thursday:

As for the question of whether the surge is working, I can only state what I witnessed: U.N. staff and those of non-governmental organizations seem to feel they have the right set of circumstances to attempt to scale up their (humanitarian) programs. And when I asked the troops if they wanted to go home as soon as possible, they said that they miss home but feel invested in Iraq. They have lost many friends and want to be a part of the humanitarian progress they now feel is possible.

It seems to me that now is the moment to address the humanitarian side of this situation. Without the right support, we could miss an opportunity to do some of the good we always stated we intended to do.

Rush, on Friday:

She makes more sense than Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama or anybody on the Democrat side about this. It’s stunning.

Taranto at Best of the Web, on Friday:

(Jolie’s attitude is) quite a contrast with the attitude of Democratic presidential front-runner Barack Obama, who said last summer that even preventing genocide was not a sufficient reason for a continuing presence in Iraq. What does it say about the Democratic Party that it seems poised to nominate someone who, on the most pressing concern of the day, is less morally serious than a Hollywood starlet?

________________________________________________

A great question from Tom Maguire for Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama, who on Thursday said that “they” used the “fear bomb” of her husband’s middle name (which, in case you didn’t know, is “Hussein”) against him in his 2004 Senate run:

OK, who is “they”? Today’s ChiTrib advised us that Alan Keyes, Obama’s final Senate opponent, never used “Hussein” …..

FWIW, the Chi Trib’s archive first kicks out a “Barack Hussein Obama” in Dec 2006.

So, again, who were “they” in 2004, Michelle?

______________________________________________

I said here that I might have to modify the names I use for the three remaining presidential candidates if circumstances warrant.

In one case, they do.

Thanks to stories such as this one, the lone remaining female presidential contender’s name has been upgraded from HR3C to HR4C (Hillary Rodham Cackling Crying Complaining Clinton).

_____________________________________________

The globalarmists who believe in man-made global warming have suffered a serious setback: “Twelve-month long drop in world temperatures wipes out a century of warming.”

I don’t recall any big reduction in driving or worldwide industrial output in the past year that would “explain” th drop, do you?

You know that globaloney, the term used around here to describe the belief that humans have a meaningful influence on climate and weather patterns, is well on its way to being intellectually routed when the New York Times does a defensive article like this one.

____________________________________________

Florida Governor Charlie Crist has a message for Democrats who want a “do-over” of the Florida Primary (my interpretation): “Go ahead, guys, make fools of yourselves before the entire country. The State of Florida will be glad to sponsor the spectacle.”

Positivity: An American Hero

Filed under: Positivity,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 5:56 am

From Parris Island (HT Hot Air Headlines):

Friday, February 29, 2008 was a sad day for the Marine Corps. It was a clear and sunny afternoon at Parris Island, much like the day thirty years earlier when Private Eddie S. Ray stood proudly at attention on the parade deck just down the street. Today, Colonel Eddie S. Ray stood at attention under the watchful eye of “Iron Mike.” This time Colonel Ray stood alone, in front of family and friends.

Eddie Ray’s retirement ceremony was modest, yet touching. Major General (sel) Paul E. Lefebvre presided, presenting two more awards to Colonel Ray and letters of thanks from the Commandant of the Marine Corps and the President of the United States. After the presentations, General Lefebvre spoke of Colonel Ray’s contribution to the Marine Corps. Then, Eddie stood to speak.

It was inspiring to hear one of the Corps greatest modern-day warfighters. Not once did he speak of himself. He spent several minutes talking about those assembled. He did, however, leave us with a gem of leadership. He told us that he learned early that the key to success was to do your job well and to encourage all around you to do their jobs to the best of their ability.

Colonel Eddie Ray is a true American hero. He was awarded the Navy Cross for valor in Operation Desert Storm and, as a Lieutenant Colonel, led the charge to Baghdad in 2003. It is not often that you will find a fierce warfighter, leader and nurturer in a single package. He is the embodiment of the modern-day Marine Corps. Today, there is a tremendous void in the Corps. Eddie Ray’s spot will not be filled easily. But, the legend of Eddie Ray will live on. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.