November 18, 2010

Defeated Ohio Gov. Strickland’s ‘Shadow Government’ Comment Ignored by Ohio Papers

StricklandUnhingedSept2010

In a Tuesday item, the Politico’s David Catanese reported on the results of an interview he had (HT to Third Base Politics) with outgoing Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, who was defeated by Republican John Kasich earlier this month.

It was billed as “his first one-on-one interview since his loss,” the first for a sitting Ohio governor in 36 years, so you would think anything particularly controversial Strickland might have to say would be news elseswhere.

Well, here’s an obviously newsworthy comment (in bold), especially considering what came just before and after it:

“We have to keep our team together to see how to keep the Ohio Democratic Party the best-organized, best-funded party in the country,” he said, adding that part of his role would be to monitor the new administration “really, really closely.”

“I wouldn’t call what we’re contemplating a shadow government, but you might,” he said with a laugh.

“I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me. I think we all do. We’re going to make sure the incoming administration adheres to high ethical standards. We’re going to continue to fight.”

3BP reacted in a follow-up post:

I can’t think of any time where a sitting Governor has gone so far as to state his willingness to set-up a shadow government after he left office.

Neither can I, and I’ve been around a few years — make that quite a few years — longer than the recently married 3BP.

Given what he said just before and after the “shadow government” statement and how he conducted himself in the final months of his campaign, it seems highly likely that Strickland wasn’t merely blowing off bitter electoral steam.

Recall that on Labor Day, in a story the Ohio and national media almost totally ignored, Strickland said the following in a speech to a union picnic audience (blanks are present because audio at the link is difficult to hear):

The Republican Party has been overtaken by the zealots, by the extremists, by the radicals, by the _____, and they don’t seem to like Ohio very much, and quite frankly, they act as if they don’t like America very much.

They want to change our Constitution, they want to change Medicare, they want to change ___, they want to change this country …. and we say to them, “Hell no, we won’t …”

And so I ask you: Are you read to fight …. against the extremists? Are you ready to fight the Tea Party radicals? … Are you ready to fight John Kasich?

So someone’s going to have to explain to me why Strickland’s statement isn’t news at the following Ohio newspapers, at least based on the non-results of searches on “Strickland shadow government” (not in quotes) at each paper’s web site:

No search at any of the six papers returned anything relevant to Strickland’s comment at the Politico.

Oddly enough, the Politico item does not show up in a search on “Strickland shadow government” (again, not in quotes) at Google News or Yahoo! News (though it does appear in regular Yahoo! and regular Google web searches).

Somehow, I think that if a losing Republican governor promised to set up a “shadow government” after leaving office, it would be making just a little bit more news right about now.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Myth Busted: ‘Historically Low Corporate Tax Receipts’

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:48 am

Political Calculations has done some brilliant work on the so-called “decline of corporate tax revenues,” which I wish to supplement.

PoliCalc quotes a 2003 report from the leftist thought-free “think tank” known as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

… corporate revenues will remain at historically low levels even after the economy recovers, and even if the large new corporate tax breaks enacted in 2002 and 2003 are allowed to expire on schedule.

It didn’t exactly turn out that way.

Here is how corporate income tax receipts have come in during the past nine fiscal years, along with their respective percentages of all government receipts, graphically illustrated for the benefit of commenter dscott and other “must have charts” devotees (from Table 3 at about the fourth page of the September Monthly Treasury Statement for each year involved):

The collections numbers for 2005, 2006, and 2007 were all-time records for corporate income-tax collections. The previous record was $207.3 billion in 2000.

PoliCalc also points out that the leftists conveniently ignore the fact that all kinds of other taxes have been imposed on corporations during the past decades (state income, local income, excise, gross receipts, etc.) that have swelled government coffers (which they have proceeded to empty with reckless abandon) and which have made the corporate income tax, despite its substantial haul during good times, a less important element of overall government receipts than it used to be.

Readers will note that in the middle of calendar 2008 (the final 3-4 months of the fiscal year that ended on September 30), something happened that caused corporate income tax receipts to begin a steep decline that has only partially been recovered. That event, of course, was the inception of the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy, in whose statist-oriented grip we remain.

Great Moments in Islamic Tolerance

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:10 am

Death for blasphemy? Sounds like something those dastardly “Christianists” would do if they had half a chance. (/sarc)

Death for blasphemy is a state-supported sentence in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

From the Catholic News Agency:

Pope appeals for release of Pakistani Christian mother facing death for blasphemy

Nov 17, 2010 / 05:47 pm

Rarely does Pope Benedict XVI make appeals on behalf of individuals. But the Pope broke from custom Nov. 17, when he ended his weekly general audience with a plea for Pakistani officials to free a Christian mother recently sentenced to death.

Asia Bibi, a 45-year-old mother of four, was convicted of blasphemy against the prophet Muhammad and sentenced to death by hanging in the town of Sheikhupura, near the capital city, Lahore.

Bibi has said she is being persecuted for defending her faith to Muslim co-workers who claimed that Christianity was a “false religion.” She was jailed days later, brought to trial and convicted for blasphemy, a crime punishable by death in Pakistan, which is a self-professed Islamic Republic where the rights of religious minorities are sharply restricted.

The Pope said Pakistan should grant Bibi “complete freedom … as soon as possible.” He added a pointed reference to the lack of religious freedom in the country. He also expressed “great concern” for Christians there, “who are often victims of violence or discrimination.”

In his appeal, Pope Benedict expressed his “spiritual closesness” to Bibi and her family.

Bishop Andrew Francis of Multan, Pakistan was quick to respond to the Pope’s appeal.

He expressed gratitude for the Pope’s support of Bibi and for his recognition of the “sufferings of Christians in Pakistan and our rights,” he told the Vatican missionary news agency Fides.

The Pope also prayed for all peoples in situations similar to Bibi’s, urging that “their human dignity and fundamental rights may be fully respected.”

… (a signature) campaign has generated more than 75,000 signatures demanding repeal of the country’s blasphemy laws.

Pakistan is a nation of 173 million people, 95%-97% of whom are Muslims. The estimated worldwide Muslim population is 1.57 billion.

The breezy mantra that “The vast majority of Muslims are moderate and tolerant” may need a little work.

Positivity: Bystander saves woman from sinking car

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:50 am

From Ocean City, Maryland:

NOVEMBER 18, 2010

Police say a 23-year-old Fenwick Island woman who was driving drunk careened into a bayside canal, sinking her car, and would have drowned if a bystander hadn’t rescued her.

“He no doubt, in my mind, saved her life,” said Ocean City Police spokeswoman Jessica Waters. “When you look up hero in the dictionary, that’s what you find. Thank goodness he was there.”

Police said it was about 2 a.m. on Nov. 15 when Taylor Cole Vanderhook drove across the parking lot of Macky’s Bayside Grill at 54th Street, bumped a pontoon boat on blocks, then drove into a canal behind a Candy Kitchen and Chauncey’s Surf Shop.

Coming to her rescue was Chris Sullivan, the general manager of the adjacent Yang’s Palace restaurant, who said he suffered a sleepless night after pulling her from her sinking car.

“I felt like the girl had died,” he said. “She came so close. I wonder if she knew; she was pretty drunk. I wonder how close to death she came. It haunts me even now. It’s surreal.”

In an interview, Sullivan said he was staying in an apartment above the restaurant when he was awoken by the grating sound of a rimless tire on her Toyota Camry. He looked out the window because she made so much noise pulling in, and watched her drive into the canal.

He came down to the ground in an effort to help. He said he could hear Vanderhook talking to someone on a phone, and that she was not coherent enough to open her passenger windows to escape. He watched as the water filled the cabin, leaving 6-10 inches of air, and sought an object large enough to break the glass. He dove three times into the water, looking for ways to get her out.

Finding nothing, he ran back toward his restaurant for help — and tripped on a wooden plank. That’s what he finally used to bust open the vehicle’s rear windshield, giving Vanderhook an opening to escape the sinking car.

“She said, ‘Dude, I’m gonna kill you — you broke my car!’ I said, ‘Darling, you gotta get out, or you’re going to die,” Sullivan said. “Once I got her up on the shoreline and the car sank… she said, ‘Where’s my car?’ I said, it’s gone!” …

Go here for the rest of the story.

Psst! Housing Market News Was Really Bad Wednesday; To AP, That Means It Was Really Good

Gosh, what’s a bigger story — that to the extent it was ever happening at all the housing recovery “seems to have been aborted,” or that according to the government there was very little inflation in October?

Readers probably didn’t hear much about the Census Bureau’s terrible reports Wednesday about what happened in the U.S. housing market in October. There’s a reason for that, which is that the Associated Press, on which the nation over-relies for business news, paid very little heed to the Bureau’s reports, and in fact co-opted their awfulness to pat Ben Bernanke on the back for his quantitative easing efforts.

The AP might counter with the excuse that the news about inflation was (supposedly) more important. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today that prices rose 0.2% in October, and were flat except for food and energy. Even if we concede its relative significance (which I don’t), are we supposed to believe that the Essential Global News Network’s business reporters can’t provide detailed coverage of more than one big story at a time?

There is no story specifically dedicated to the housing news at the AP’s main site, as illustrated in the graphic that follows. It shows the results of a search on “housing,” and lists all stories that have appeared or have been updated since 8:30 this morning, when the Census Bureau issued its report about housing starts and building permits:

APsearchOnHousing111710at11PM

Here is what Marty Crutsinger and Chris Rugaber had to say about inflation and the housing news in the “Tame inflation gives Fed ammo for bond-buying plan” listed above:

Consumer prices barely changed for the third straight month, strengthening the Federal Reserve’s hand at a time when it is defending a plan to boost the economy by buying more government debt.

Extraordinarily low inflation was a major impetus for the Fed program to spend $600 billion buying Treasury bonds. A report Wednesday from the Labor Department showed that inflation remains super-low.

A steep rise in gasoline prices drove the consumer price index up 0.2 percent in October, the fourth straight monthly increase. But excluding volatile food and energy costs, core consumer prices were unchanged for the third straight month.

… the Commerce Department said construction of new homes and apartments sank 11.7 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 519,000 units. That was mainly because apartment construction, which represents less than 20 percent of the housing market, fell by more than 40 percent. The much larger single-family home category fell 1.1 percent.

Still, the drop reduced the pace of home construction to its weakest point since April 2009, when it reached the lowest level on records dating to 1959.

… “The data is definitely in the Fed’s camp today and should help keep the Fed’s critics at bay,” said Christopher Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubish. “There is nothing in this data that would push the Fed off its course of continuing to buy government securities. Inflation is getting closer to becoming deflation and the recovery in housing seems to have been aborted.”

A troublesome sign in the October report were price declines on new cars and clothing.

While flat prices may seem like a good thing for shoppers, the Fed would like to see prices rise more quickly to keep deflation at bay.

Crutsinger and Rugaber really wrote that inflation isn’t just low, it’s “super-low.” I guess if next month’s CPI adjustment is near zero, it will be “super-duper low.” Zheesh.

As to housing, here is how bad it really is, using not seasonally adjusted, or NSA, numbers (i.e., what really happened):

  • The number of NSA housing starts (long PDF here) in October 2010 (44,300) was the lowest on record for any October since records have been kept. October 2009, a terrible month, was barely higher (44,500). October 2008 (68,200) was the third-worst. No other October going back to 1959 came in below 75,000, and the vast majority have been well over 100,000.
  • The NSA number of single-family housing starts in October 2010 (36,400) was down 7.6% from October 2009 (39,400), and is another all-time low since records have been kept.
  • Meanwhile, actual starts for dwellings of 5 units or more jumped over 50% from October of last year (4,700) to this year (7,100). These are still historically poor numbers, but even worse they may be an indication that there may be a possibly permanent move towards multi-unit dwellings and away from single-family units.
  • The news in building permits is just as bad (long PDF here). The October 2010 NSA total (43,700) came in almost 9% lower than October 2009 (47,900); the single-family decline was worse (from 38,600 to 31,900, or -17%). Both numbers are all-time October lows since records have been kept. The mix of permits also leaned more towards 5-plus unit dwellings.

Actual housing starts on the whole have trailed last year’s awful levels in four of the past five months; as far as single-family homes are concerned, the current losing streak compared to last year is five months in a row. The re-collapse in housing is far more significant news than the fact that inflation came in as expected.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.