May 16, 2009

Friday Night News Dump: Lee Fisher’s Development Successor ‘Resigns’

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:22 am

“Resigns” is a dubious word, given that Mark Barbash is going back to his old job. “Won’t be promoted” would be a more accurate description of what has happened (bolds are mine):

Mark Barbash, interim Ohio development director, resigns over tax problems

May 15, 2009 21:45PM

Mark Barbash’s resignation Friday, May 15, as Ohio’s top development official was sudden, but the personal financial troubles that chased him from the job were no surprise to the governor’s administration.

Barbash quit as interim development director after a media report revealed his federal tax debts and court filings showed that his Columbus-area home is facing foreclosure.

He owes the Internal Revenue Service $146,313 in back taxes, penalties and fees for personal tax returns dating to 2000, according to court filings.

Barbash was hired in March 2007 as chief economic development officer by Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, who was then the director of the Ohio Department of Development, even though Fisher knew of Barbash’s tax troubles, the governor’s office confirmed.

Gov. Ted Strickland promoted Barbash in February to the top development post when Fisher gave it up to concentrate on seeking to become the Democratic Party’s U.S. Senate nominee in 2010.

Barbash had told the governor’s chief of staff, John Haseley, about the tax problems, but neither Haseley nor Fisher shared the information with the Democratic governor before he gave Barbash the Cabinet-level job, said Strickland spokeswoman Amanda Wurst.

….. Barbash told (Columbus) Business First (which broke the story) that the discrepancies center on his claiming a “married filing separately” status while the IRS says he should have claimed single status.

Barbash …. will return to the Development Department in the job he held before becoming director, chief economic development officer. His annual salary will remain $128,357.

….. The governor found out about Barbash’s troubles this week when Barbash told the administration he received the foreclosure notice, Wurst said.

….. But Wurst could not answer why no one told the governor about the problems before Barbash was promoted.

Ohio Republican Party Chairman Kevin DeWine isn’t buying that Strickland was unaware.

If Strickland was truly kept unaware, he should fire John Haseley and publicly rebuke Lee Fisher for failing to inform him, because they clearly owed him the relevant info on Barbash. As noted, this is a Cabinet-level position. Haseley’s and Fisher’s keeping Strickland in the dark, if that is what happened, is the rough equivalent of Rahm Emanuel withholding info from Barack Obama about Tax Cheat Tim Geithner’s problems until the day of Geithner’s nomination hearings (That Obama knew and promoted Geithner’s nomination anyway, and that he was still nominated, has already been identified as a disgrace).

If Strickland does neither of the two things just mentioned, you have to assume one of two things:

  • He really knew, but won’t own up to it.
  • He is not carrying out his executive duties at even the most minimal level — which would make accusations that Strickland is a caretaker governor almost seem like a compliment.

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UPDATE: Hmmm (HT to PD commenter INDEP1) –

BarbashContrib0507

This is a bit of a close call — But given Barbash’s serious financial difficulties, does anyone else think that PD reporter Reginald Fields should have reported this?

Obama Shocks the Elites

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:25 am

Note: This was originally published at Pajamas Media on Thursday.

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They thought they were investing in a charismatic left-of-centrist. They were wrong. They should have known.

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It would be funny if the stakes — the future direction of this country for many years to come — weren’t so high.

It’s still hard not to feel just a bit of schadenfreude watching many of Barack Obama’s supporters, particularly those who are among the well-positioned or financially well-off, fidget, whine, and moan as they discover what those of us who actually researched and studied the guy before the election knew about him.

Slowly but surely it is dawning on many of these elites that Obama is exactly what he was in rare unguarded moments during his presidential campaign, during his brief US Senate career as its most liberal member, during his time as an Illinois senator, and, to the extent we were able or allowed to learn it, during his life up to that point: a far-left, class-warfare, redistributionist demagogue. They are also learning that he is bound and determined to impose a radical agenda on the rest of the country, and that he has little interest in making exceptions for those who thought they were buying protection or favors with their campaign dollars.

To an extent, the fact that those affected have been caught flat-footed is understandable. Bill Clinton, the last Democratic President, was a draft-dodger and overseas war protester in his youth. Clinton’s campaign rhetoric had much of the class-warfare nonsense and ridiculous hyperbole — including calling the economy “the worst in 50 years” during a year when it grew by 3.3% — that has been the foundation of Democratic Party presidential campaigns for decades.

Though Clinton ultimately governed largely from the center, at least in appearance, it’s easy to forget that during his first two years, he reneged on his core promise of a middle-class tax cut; passed what still is, at least for the moment, the largest tax increase in history; and clumsily attempted, thankfully failing, to nationalize the healthcare industry. The Gingrich Revolution brought this nonsense to an abrupt halt, after which Clinton’s most important concern became remaining popular and in office at whatever financial, ideological, or national-security cost.

But the heavy hitters who thought that Barack Obama would end up being the second coming of Bill Clinton should have known better. First, due to large, unaccountable flows of money and an ideological determination not seen 16 years ago, the formal and informal organizations Obama and his handlers (not necessarily in that order) have built and maintained are far more sophisticated than anything Clinton, James Carville, and his other advisers ever assembled. More important, Obama’s core radicalism far exceeds that of even Clinton’s wife Hillary on her worst day. The fact that the media mostly covered up Obama’s extreme positions and associations to dumpster-dive in Alaska may excuse the ignorance of the masses; but it doesn’t excuse them.

Perhaps they thought they could go further in beginning, but the Clintons’ overall goal became to change the system and make it more “fair.” But Obama and his most dedicated acolytes don’t want an improved system; they want a different system.

Some of Obama’s supporters are just now recognizing this dreadful situation. They’re not liking what they’re seeing — and experiencing.

The UK Telegraph reported on May 10 that “Some of Barack Obama’s richest supporters fear they have elected a ‘class warrior’ to the White House, who will turn America’s freewheeling capitalism into a more regulated European system.” You don’t say. In fact, Obama has said that he wants the financial sector to play a much smaller future role in the economy. He actually wants to take government intervention further than European countries ever have. It looks like $3 million in campaign contributions doesn’t buy what it used to.

Tom Lauria, the lawyer who properly complained that Obama and his car guys used threats and intimidation to trample on the first-lien contractual rights of the non-TARP lenders he represented in Chrysler’s bankruptcy negotiations, gave $10,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Too bad for Mr. Lauria that there isn’t a lemon law for political contributions.

High-tech company execs, whose contributions to Obama and Democrats were far higher than those made to John McCain and Republicans, thought that their campaign money might cause a President Obama to let them do their innovative thing. After all, tech is the future growth engine of a struggling economy, right? Forget it. Obama’s proposed taxation of corporate profits on overseas operations would, if enacted, hurt them, and the economy, severely.

Now advertisers, a largely liberal bunch who named the Obama campaign Advertising Age’s 2008 Marketer of the Year, and who admired how he “killed Election Day,” are feeling the wrath of Dear Leader. You see, government-run Chrysler is spending too much on something, and it needs to be cut in half. That “something” is advertising. Telling Obama & Co. every day that they’re cool and hip didn’t work out too well.

These and many of the other elites who have thus far been affected, or soon will be, have plenty of excuses, but no valid justifications, for why they are where they are. They are supposed to be among the engaged. They have a vested interest in paying close attention to reality and getting past the campaign hype. Instead, they fell for it all, hook, line, and sinker.

Now the game has changed to “How can we play along with this guy and not get hurt, or at least not get hurt too badly?” Sadly, the only reason they may be spared is that they’re  lucky, not smart.

Positivity: Mechanic conquers vision loss with a keen ear for car trouble

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:00 am

From Independence, Missouri:

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Car mechanic Michael Satterwhite stands in a garage beside a blue 1980 Chevrolet Malibu, with its hood up and engine exposed.

Mr. Satterwhite frowns, holds up his left arm and reaches for the tool-cluttered wall for balance. With his other hand, he walks his fingers over a worktable searching for a bolt rack, eyes closed. He doesn’t know why he closes his eyes – maybe to concentrate.

Open or closed it doesn’t matter; he can’t see in either case.

Mr. Satterwhite, 48, was born with retinitis pigmentosa,a type of hereditary retinal disorder that leads to progressive visual loss. By the time he was 16, he could not see well at night. Today, he no longer sees out of his left eye. His right eye can detect only various shades of gray, depicting a shadowy world where everything swims before him in a fog.

“Where’d I put those sockets?” he asks himself.

He pauses and considers. A large man, Mr. Satterwhite wears muddy work boots, jeans and a black T-shirt. Since 1994, he has worked by himself in his pastor’s garage getting jobs from friends and through word of mouth. He long since stopped looking for work. No shop wants a blind car mechanic, Mr. Satterwhite says, adding that he assumes it comes down to liability. They think he will hurt himself.

He had his own shop once when he was 23. But three weeks after he opened, he was robbed and lost all his tools. He closed and worked for other people until he lost his vision completely, in 1984.

Now these many years later, he still has all his fingers and toes. Front wheel drive, rear wheel drive, he can do it all, detecting problems through touch and sound.

A click, clack or knocking sound can mean anything from a dropped valve to a rod out of place. Cars can be tricky: A cracked flex plate makes the same sound as a rod knocking. He listens carefully, head down and cocked to one side.

He feels for problems with his fingertips performing a slow delicate ballet turning his hands this way and that as he feels around an engine. He recently worked on a 1991 Ford F-150 four-wheel-drive pickup. The clutch no longer worked, and bolts had backed out of the crankshaft.

Mr. Satterwhite pulled the motor out and placed it on an engine stand. He put a new crankshaft in it and oil pump, no problem. Like two plus two. ….

Go here for the rest of the story.