May 29, 2009

An Open Letter to John Kasich

Filed under: Activism,Economy,OH-02 US House,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:56 pm

Note: This post has been carried to the top and will stay until early tomorrow morning because of the importance of the topic.

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Hey John,

I understand you’ve got an announcement coming up on Monday. Assuming that you’re going to formalize your run for governor, congratulations on your decision. Ohio needs someone with a proven record of controlling government spending and balancing budgets.

Of course, assuming you win the GOP primary next May, you’ll be running against Governor Ted Strickland.

But to be successful, you also have to run against the way the Republican Party governed this state for at least a dozen years prior to Strickland’s arrival at the Statehouse. As you well know, the sad fact is that your beloved Buckeye State has been run economically like a blue state since the mid-1990s. This is why Ohio has gone from economic leader to economic laggard during that time.

Having seen you speak last year and having followed your efforts since, it is clear that you realize the need to make a clean break from a deeply flawed past. You also surely know that the 2010 Republican statewide ticket must unequivocally make that break, and that if it doesn’t, it will be unnecessarily courting failure.

Fortunately, the ticket as it is currently shaping up is mostly heading decisively in that the right direction. Incumbent Auditor Mary Taylor has been a shining star as a consummate but outspoken professional. Treasurer candidate Josh Mandel redefines “breath of fresh air.” Dave Yost looks to be the kind of no-nonsense, no-cronyism leader that the tarnished Attorney General’s office desperately needs.

That brings us to the one glaring exception. His name is Jon Husted.

Let’s not kid ourselves. Jon Husted does not belong on the GOP’s statewide ticket. Almost everyone except Jon Husted and the Ohio Republican Party instinctively knows this.

It is not arguable that Husted violates at least the first and last items in Chairman Kevin DeWine’s “10-point plan for building a new Ohio Republican Party.”

Jon Husted does not have “conservative credibility” (Point 1). He voted for Bob Taft’s 2003 tax increases, the largest in Ohio’s history, and has to my knowledge has never expressed remorse for having done so. Six years later, I’d say it’s too late for believable mea culpas. By contrast, a courageous state representative was kicked off of a House committee for voting against that tax increase. That representative was Mary Taylor.

The ORP’s silence and inaction on Husted’s residency problem – even though he “admits spending most of his time in his Upper Arlington residence, outside of his district, as opposed to his home in Kettering” –- is a clear breach of the Party’s alleged “zero-tolerance policy” (Point 10). The idea that the person running to be the enforcer of the state’s election laws has himself more than likely violated election laws (and definitely has violated their spirit) is simply intolerable. Again, almost everyone except Jon Husted and the Ohio Republican Party instinctively knows this.

In fact, if anyone but Jon Husted with Jon Husted’s record and baggage attempted to run statewide, the Ohio Republican Party would be working night and day to marginalize him. Instead (and let’s not kid ourselves), there is plenty of evidence that the ORP is promoting him. If they weren’t, why am I hearing that so many speakers at Lincoln Day dinners throughout the state, many of whom have barely shaken hands with the guy, are going out of their way to tell their audiences what a great candidate Husted is, and that people should get behind him?

You, John Kasich, should not be expected to swallow hard and accept or even quietly ignore Jon Husted. His presence on the statewide ticket would tarnish the so-far correct perception that you will leave no stone unturned to reform this state. His residency problem is a ticking time bomb.

What should you do about Husted? Well, you’re the one running for governor. I can only suggest that how you deal with this cancerous situation will be an important early test of your leadership, and that Ohioans will be watching.

Be assured that there are many of us in Ohio’s center-right, sensible conservative blogosphere who will fight just as hard to keep Jon Husted off the November 2010 ballot as some of us in Southwestern Ohio worked in 2005 and 2006 to keep Bob McEwen — another deeply flawed candidate with a record of illegal voting -– from returning to Congress. Also be assured that we will not hesitate to express our disappointment at any indication that you are willing to accept a Secretary of State candidate who is clearly unacceptable.

Ohio’s center-right, sensible conservative bloggers would rather not spend our limited energies defeating Husted. We’d prefer to deal with other, more positive things, like how to bring Ohio back to its former greatness. That’s where you come in.

Latest Pajamas Media Column (‘Federal Deficit Becomes Nearly Indecipherable’) Is Up

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:42 pm

It’s here.

It will go up here at BizzBlog on Sunday morning (link won’t work until then) when the blackout expires.

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UPDATE: To illustrate how crazy the Treasury Department’s “Net Present Value” (NPV) accounting is, and how subject to political manipulation it is and will be, let’s look what James Pethokoukis at Reuters calls Pete Davis’s 96-word sitrep at the Capital Gains and Games blog (paragraph breaks added by me):

Yesterday, President Obama’s auto team anonymously briefed key reporters on the impending takeover of GM. Uncle Sam will become a 70% shareholder, the UAW will become a 20% shareholder, and bondholders and other creditors will share the rest.

This is not going to come to a happy end for taxpayers for several reasons. First, the taxpayers will not get back all of $19.4 b. they’ve already “invested” in GM, nor all of $30 b. in loans they’re about to be saddled with.

Second, auto parts firms will soon need additional funds as well. Third, the collateral damage to Ford and other companies making cars in the U.S. will not be small. Finally, despite Administration assurances that they will be “reluctant owners,” eager to sell, it will take a long time to extricate ourselves from this mess.

Under true cash flow accounting, which in essence tells financial statement users what happened in an entity’s checkbook during the period in question, all of the roughly $50 billion Uncle Sam has sent to GM ($30 bil + $19.4 bil above) would be treated as outlays, and would of course add to the deficit. This has the distinct advantage of being crystal clear and easily understood by the average person.

But under NPV accounting, whatever the government thinks it can recover from the roughly $50 billion ladled over to GM thus far will be carried as an “investment,” and will reduce the reported deficit below what normal cash-flow accounting will tell us.

But what is the value of the GM investment? Arguably, right now it’s zero. If/when it emerges from bankruptcy, the value of the stock might be 70% of the company’s market value as determined in day-to-day stock trading. But anyone who owns 70% of a company can’t just up and sell it all and get their value out without causing the price to tank (Bill Gates can’t just up and sell all of his remaining Microsoft stock in one fell swoop for the same reason). So how do you adjust for that?

As to money lent to GM, who’s to judge whether it’s collectible when the company will not have even proven that it can generate significant cash flow?

Properly valuing the investment in GM will require politicians to make fair, objective, and accurate judgments. Excuse me if I doubt their ability to do that. Even if they give it their best efforts, opponents will be there attempting to make hay political hay out of those judgments.

And here’s the kicker: Any valuation-based reduction in the value of the investment in GM increases the deficit, so the politicians will have a vested interest in keeping that value artificially and unrealistically high.

NPV accounting in the hands of angels is problematic enough, but NPV accounting in the hands of politicians with vested interests in the outcome is a recipe for the creation of billions of dollars in zombie assets — ones that will appear on the surface to have value but will have really no real life once you scratch below that surface.

One thing doesn’t change: The national debt continues to grow, no matter how many tricks and gimmicks are used to play around with reported monthly and annual deficits.

Positivity: Arkansas Student Meets Bone Marrow Donor

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Harrison, Arkansas, and somewhere in Indiana:

Story Published: May 22, 2009 at 9:48 PM CDT

A Harrison, Arkansas student is celebrating her high school graduation with a woman she never met — until her graduation day.

Graduating senior Amanda Baston credits Wendy Hibbs with saving her life.

“I wanted to present this to you, thank you for saving my life, and giving me a second chance,” Baston said to Hibbs as she presented her with a gift during a dinner in Harrison just hours before she graduated.

But it was Hibbs who gave Baston a gift that helped her get to this special day. Hibbs is Baston’s bone marrow donor. And the transplant has helped Baston beat a chronic type of leukemia that she acquired three years ago.

Friday was the first time the two met in person.

“I didn’t know what part of the country she was in. They couldn’t even tell me if she was in the country,” explained Hibbs.

“I had some ideas, because I have her DNA, I kind of took on some of her characteristics,” said Baston about the speculation.

Baston had the transplant in July 2007, but because of medical rules, no contact is allowed between the donor and recipient for at least a year in case something goes wrong. But shortly after that, Baston sent an email to Hibbs.

She invited her to a special night for all high school seniors — graduation.

“I think it’s cool she’s able to see the finished product, like what her bone marrow’s done,” said Baston.

Hibbs came all the way from Indiana to celebrate her graduation, and she’s still a bit overwhelmed that a procedure she calls “easy and not that painful” could mean so much to a stranger hundreds of miles away. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.

WH Press Secretary Goes After British Press; Can Clintonian Conspiracy Theories Be Far Behind?

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:22 am

Gibbs0509Those of us seeking truth in reporting, especially the inconvenient truths about a Democratic presidential administration, are re-learning the lessons of the Clinton Era:

  • First, that the “newspapers of record,” the Associated Press, and the major TV networks (except Fox) are usually the last places you want to go to learn what’s really going on, and the first place to visit if you want a rendition of the Democratic-left wing party line.
  • Second, that some of the best reporting and fact-checking can be found in editorials at the Wall Street Journal and Investors Business Daily.
  • Third, that the many of the British papers will dig up and expose administration-embarrassing news most of America’s newsprint apparatchiks will bury if they find them, and ignore if they can.

In 2009, there is a fourth lesson, which is that much of the investigative reporting vacuum created by the establishment media is being filled by the center-right blogosphere.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs is very upset that Lesson Three is again in force, and made his displeasure known (HT Politico) in reaction to a UK Telegraph report alleging that photos from the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq “include images of apparent rape and sexual abuse”:

“That news organization has completely mischaracterized the images,” Whitman had said. “None of the photos in question depict the images that are described in that article.”

Gibbs also cautioned reporters against the reliability of the British press. “I want to speak generally about some of reports I’ve witnessed over the past few years in the British media and in some ways I’m surprised it filtered down,” Gibbs said.

“Let’s just say that if I wanted to look up, if I wanted to read a writeup today of how Manchester United fared last night in the Champions League Cup, I might open up a British newspaper,” he continued.

“If I was looking for something that bordered on truthful news, I’m not sure that would be the first stack of clips I picked up.”

In the Telegraph story, Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, who conducted an investigation of the treatment of detainees at Iraq’s American-run Abu Ghraib prison, is quoted as saying, “These pictures show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency” and supporting the president’s decision not to release them.

Gibbs didn’t have to go anywhere near as far as he did to swat down the story. He was so comprehensive in his response that it makes you wonder if vast right-wing media conspiracy theories are beginning to take hold in another Democratic White House.

In January 1997, as described at the time by Rupert Cromwell at the UK Independent World, the Clinton administration released a hysterical 331-page report “purporting to show how allegations of White House skulduggery and scandal find their way from obscure thinktanks to the mainstream media.” The conspiracy mongers believe that the think tanks “feed their fantasies through British tabloids and conservative United States papers to the New York Times and the Washington Post.”

This report from January 1997 says that “The White House singled out Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of The Sunday Telegraph as a participant in what it said was a well-organised ‘media food chain’ of events.”

Yeah, and as you recall, it worked so well during impeachment (/sarcasm).

So how long will it be before Gibbs and Company resurrect the vast right-wing conspiracy — and throw center-right bloggers into a new variant of their paranoid mix?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.