March 20, 2012

Mitt Romney Wins Illinois …

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:58 pm

… the one state where the Republican presidential nominee will almost definitely lose in November.

B … F … D — and, as has usually been the case in the Romney-won states, with a record low turnout.

Even Walter Mondale managed to hold his home state of Minnesota in 1984.

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Update, March 25: Gosh, I just saw this at another link, and decided to go to the detail. Romney only won Illinois by 12 points (early returns had him up by far, far more; I want to say it was as much as 28 points). On Saturday, Rick Santorum stomped Romney by 22 points in Louisiana. I know which result I believe is more significant.

In Cincy, Here We Are Again, With $4 a Gallon Gas at Many Stations

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:23 pm

I saw $3.999 at a station in Blue Ash tonight, and much of Mason is at $3.959.

During the past few hours in Greater Cincinnati, there’s been a virtual stampede to $3.999 (the average is still $3.86, but it’s trending upward):

CincyHighGasPrices032012at11pm

If it’s not an isolated blip — and it sure doesn’t seem like it — this is very different from last year, on two levels:

  1. If the average hits $4 in the next several days, it will come about a month earlier than it did last year (when $4 sightings commenced on about April 25), and as noted after the employment report earlier this month, it comes at peak on-the-ground hiring time.
  2. It comes while demand is already unusually low (and it has been for some time).

Thus, it doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of potential for a big pullback, and reason to be quite concerned that we’ve only just begun to see gas prices bust through all previous records — and then some.

As I said last year in introducing the very same video which follows — “One may question how much responsibility Obama’s administration has for current prices — I maintain that it’s more than minor — but no one can question whether he believes that $4 and higher gas is inherently desirable. He does, and it’s not arguable”:

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UPDATE, March 21, 10:30 a.m.: The Cincy area average is up to $3.91. That’s five cents in 10 hours. The Ohio average is over $3.94.

When You’ve Lost Ohio’s Urban (i.e., Not That Conservative) Counties, It’s Probably Over

Filed under: Ohio Politics,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:44 pm

And Kevin DeWine has lost Ohio’s urban county party chairmen — all seven of them.

I received the following attached to an email tonight:

Dear Chairman DeWine:

As the Chairmen of seven of the largest county Republican Party organizations in the State of Ohio, we represent hundreds of thousands of loyal Republican activists, elected officials, candidates, donors and voters in Ohio. In fact, our seven counties represent nearly half of Ohio’s voting population, and our organizations, together with the Ohio Republican Party, must be focused on reaching those voters in order to win the important elections that are at stake this year.

For the past few months it has been apparent that the contentious relationship between top ORP leadership and the party’s elected officials is untenable and irreconcilable. For reasons unknown to us, you have been either unable or unwilling to find common ground to facilitate an effective and trusting relationship with our elected officials.

Your recent announcement that you will not seek re-election as ORP Chairman is an acknowledgement that new party leadership is needed, and we recognize how difficult a decision this must have been for you. Although we respect your current decision on this matter, we believe that it does not provide the necessary resolution to the situation.

You have admitted that the situation is unsustainable, yet you ask to sustain the status quo for 10 more months in a critical year for this party, state, and nation. We believe that it is fruitless to continue the finger pointing and unnecessary public airing of differences that has occurred.

Since the Primary Election earlier this month, it has become objectively clear to us that a majority of the incoming State Central Committee is intent upon new leadership at the state party. Now is the time for the party to unite under party leadership that can work with all of our elected officials and nominees; however, a majority of your Committee does not believe that you have the capacity to provide that unified leadership.

Therefore, it is with deep regret that we ask you to resign as chairman of the Ohio Republican Party immediately. It is our hope that, as you have already done with your announcement this past weekend, you will continue to demonstrate your commitment to the Republican Party and do what is right for the institution for which you have such great respect.

Sincerely,

Rob Frost, Chairman Cuyahoga County Republican Party
Mark Munroe, Chairman Mahoning County Republican Party
Doug Preisse, Chairman Franklin County Republican Party
Alex Triantafilou, Chairman Hamilton County Republican Party
Jon Stainbrook, Chairman Lucas County Republican Party
Greg Gantt, Chairman Montgomery County Republican Party
Alex Arshinkoff, Chairman Summit County Republican Party

Kevin DeWine has only himself to blame, going all the way back to the “Tea Party Values” primary debacle of 2010. He has squandered party resources in defense of his position at the expense of the party, while thinking that the two are one and the same. They aren’t. As I’ve said for many months, he has to go.

Why Paul Ryan’s Budget Makes Me Think of Jean Schmidt

Filed under: Economy,OH-02 US House,Ohio Politics,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:16 pm

Here’s a graphical depiction of Paul Ryan’s budget, introduced today (found at James Pethokoukis’s blog):

ObamaVsRyan

It is fully thought through, well-presented, understandable, and of course necessary.

It’s perfectly obvious that any sensible conservative (redundant term) would be positively thrilled to have fiscal hero Paul Ryan as their Congressperson, right? Why, if COAST, Anderson Township Republicans, and local Tea Party groups found out that Ryan was moving into Ohio’s Second District, they’d have an all-day parade on Beechmont Avenue, insist on clearing the GOP primary field for him, and work tirelessly on his campaign.

So why does this make me think of Jean Schmidt? I mean, after all, she’s just been a RINO all these years, posing as a conservative while betraying us in Washington, right?

Then someone needs to explain this:

  • Club for Growth 2011 Scorecard: Schmidt 80%, Ryan … (wait for it) 73%.
  • Club for Growth 2010 Scorecard: Schmidt 100%, Ryan 97%.
  • Club for Growth 2009 Scorecard: Schmidt 91%, Ryan 93%.

Since the year of the TARP vote over which lots of people gave Jean Schmidt endless grief (full disclosure: including for a time yours truly, who voted for her challenger in the 2010 primary — a vote that in hindsight was mistaken), Jean Schmidt has scored higher than conservative icon Paul Ryan twice, and barely trailed him in 2009.

Look, I get that Schmidt didn’t do a good job of defending herself against the smears (and they WERE smears, some of them disgracefully and inexcusably misogynist and all of them fundamentally dishonest), that her public-speaking skills seemed to deteriorate (she was so much better at the candidates’ forum in June 2005 than she was at Rick Santorum’s February 2012 Brown County visit that I began wondering if I was watching the same person), and that she may have paid disproportionate attention to the district’s rural counties, especially after redistricting gave her a lot of new ground in Hamilton. So yes, she gets about half the blame for her defeat.

But the other half goes to people who would feel like they died and went to heaven if Paul Ryan were their congressperson, and who simply refused to recognize Schmidt’s genuine conservatism.

That includes COAST and ARTC, who never got over years-old grudges. Unfortunately, I expected that. But I didn’t expect the Ohio Liberty Council to endorse her opponent and completely ignore the facts. But they did. Most of those who supported her opponent don’t live in the district and from what I can tell were relying on her 2005 Saturday Night Live caricature far more than on anything substantive. So, although it took over six years, it looks like the liberal media and entertainment industry won again. You guys should be embarrassed. Wenstrup v. Schmidt was NOT a victory for Tea Party conservatism.

Oh, and I almost forgot (no, not really, this is my argument-ending closer) — Guess who voted for both TARP AND the initial GM-Chrysler bailout loans in 2008?

Answer: Paul Ryan, and not Jean Schmidt (full 2008 CFG scorecard) –

SchmidtPaulRyanTARPautoVotes2008

Schmidt voted for TARP, but so did Ryan. Schmidt voted against the auto bailout, but Ryan voted for it. And Jean Schmidt’s supposed to be the villainess.

When people say that Tea Party activists are losing their way, their endorsement of Brad Wenstrup over Jean Schmidt is Exhibit A. Y’all should be ashamed of yourselves, folks, for not even doing the most basic homework, and for ignoring drop-dead obvious red flags and serious flaws in Brad Wenstrup’s record.

Based on her record during the past three years, the Second District has lost a proven conservative congressperson. Whether one will arrive in her place is yet to be seen — but if he does, we can virtually guarantee that he won’t be more conservative in his votes — which at the end of the day is the most important thing a congressperson does — than Jean Schmidt has been.

Obama Has Run Up More Debt Than Bush 43 in Less Than 40% of the Time …

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:57 am

… and that’s not anywhere near the full story.

From CBS News:

The National Debt has now increased more during President Obama’s three years and two months in office than it did during 8 years of the George W. Bush presidency.

The Debt rose $4.899 trillion during the two terms of the Bush presidency. It has now gone up $4.939 trillion since President Obama took office.

The latest posting from the Bureau of Public Debt at the Treasury Department shows the National Debt now stands at $15.566 trillion. It was $10.626 trillion on President Bush’s last day in office, which coincided with President Obama’s first day.

Here’s the CBS graphic:

NationalDebt2008to0312viaCBS

Here are the numbers for certain key dates (all obtainable here):

  • $5.728 trillion — Jan. 19, 2001 (last business day before George W. Bush inaugurated)
  • $9.008 trillion — Sept. 30, 2007 (end of last budget year impacted by GOP-controlled Congress)
  • $10.625 trillion — Jan. 20, 2009 (Barack Obama inaugurated)
  • $15.567 trillion — March 16, 2012 (latest reading available); Obama was in office 1,151 days at this point, less than 40% of Bush 43′s 2,922 days as President.

Now that we have those figures, we can calculate that the national debt:

  • Increased by $1.34 billion per day while Bush 43 was President with budgets passed by a GOP-controlled Congress.
  • Increased by $3.38 billion per day while Bush 43 was President with budgets passed by a Democrat-controlled Congress.
  • Has increased by $4.29 billion per day since Barack Obama has been President.

Or, as rendered for the “must have charts” crowd:

DailyNationalDebtIncreases031612

If the national debt continues to increase by “just” $3.63 billion per calendar day from Friday forward — about 15% less than the average of the past three-plus years — the federal treasury will hit its currently legislated $16.394 trillion debt ceiling on October 30, a week before Election Day.

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UPDATE: Taking another look at the likelihood of hitting the ceiling before Election Day, let’s look at how much the national debt has increased during the past three years between March 16 and October 30. This is a better drill-down because the time period includes three months (April, June, and September) of relatively strong federal receipts.

So, here goes:

  • March 16 to October 30, 2009 — The national debt increased by $860 billion (from $11.033 tril to $11.893 tril).
  • March 16 to October 30, 2010 — The increase was $1.025 trillion (from $12.644 tril to $13.669 tril).
  • March 16 to October 30, 2011 — The increase was $705 billion (from $14.233 tril to $14.938 tril).

As of Friday, the national debt was $827 billion below the $16.394 trillion ceiling.

On the on-budget side, whether the nation hits the limit depends heavily on whether the economy can continue to limp along at its current mediocre pace, or if high gas prices and other negative factors weigh it down further.

Then there’s the “off-budget” side, where the government increases the debt for a wide variety of reasons (e.g., Social Security cash shortfalls, housing initiatives, etc.) which don’t get included in the routine deficit reporting, over which there is relatively little scrutiny — and a relatively great deal of opportunity for arbitrary mischief.

I wouldn’t bet against the government hitting the ceiling before Election Day.

UPDATE 2: About the current trajectory of the debt, here’s are the debt increases during the first 5-1/2 months of the past four fiscal years –

  • October 1, 2008 to March 16, 2009 — $1.008 trillion (from $10.025 tril to $11.033 tril).
  • October 1, 2009 to March 16, 2010 – $733 billion (from $11.910 tril to $12.643 tril).
  • October 1, 2010 to March 16, 2011 – $671 billion (from $13.562 tril to $14.233 tril).
  • October 1, 2011 to March 16, 2012 – $877 billion (from $14.790 tril to $15.567 tril).

The trajectory of the increase in the national debt has increased so far this year.

Again — I wouldn’t bet against the government hitting the ceiling before Election Day.

Tuesday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (032012)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 8:15 am

Rules are here. Possible comment fodder may follow later. Other topics are also fair game.

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Positivity: Dickson Electric System Workers Save Toddler

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 8:10 am

From Dickson, Tennessee (video at link):

Posted: Mar 19, 2012 7:20 PM EDT
Updated: Mar 19, 2012 7:35 PM EDT

Four employees with Dickson Electric System are being called heroes and good Samaritans, after stopping to help a family seriously injured in a car accident.

It happened on Highway 70, not far from the Dickson County line.

“We’d been in Kingston Springs and we were coming down Highway 70, and we came up on it,” said lineman Jesse Curtis. “It was a mother, the child, the young child, and then another teenage girl.”

Curtis and three of his co-workers say they knew instantly that the youngest in the car, a three-year-old named Briana, was in bad shape. She wasn’t breathing, and they couldn’t find a heartbeat.

“The little girl, her lips had done turned blue and everything, by the time we got her out of the vehicle,” said Mike Pearson.

Two of them started performing CPR on her, while the other two steered traffic away from the accident scene.

“I mean, we hope everyone else would do the same thing,” said Buddy Dotson, another lineman. “I was praying and praying and praying.”

They were able to get her breathing again by the time emergency responders got to the scene.

Amiee Williams and her two young daughters, who are three-year-old and 17-years-old, were lifeflighted to Vanderbilt after the accident.

News Channel 5 spoke with the family on Monday afternoon. They tell me little Briana’s injuries were the most serious, and she still has a long recovery ahead of her, but they are so incredibly grateful to the workers who saved her life. …

Go here for the rest of the story.