I started off today thinking things were looking good. I have a good job, my wife loves me, had a great Easter service at church, and my friends Steve and Sally Gaer appeared to finally be done with their fight to be able to get cannibis oil treatments for their daughter Margaret who has seizures regularly due to epilepsy.
I could have done without the “Pot” reference in the headline, but I could let that go.
Seeing the article in the Register, after several conversations with Sally in the past few months, was incredibly encouraging. The bill that has been in the works, which was brought about after the funnel with help from both sides of the aisle, is very restrictive but is an important step in meeting the needs of some at this time… allowing Medical Marijuana in Oil form only (or at least decriminalizing it). One of the biggest opponents is helping write the bill. And even after sticking his foot in his mouth on this issue, the Governor has indicated he could sign this bill.
Everything appears set to go!
This evening I was informed that there appears to be some kind of stalemate between Republican Party leaders in the House and Senate. I don’t have any real details about this except that something is holding this up. Republican legislators have truly set themselves up as heroes, by showing they are there for the people on this issue by taking real action, but are hung up suddenly because the leaders can’t close the deal.
It’s like watching the end of an action movie where Good triumphs over Evil, only at the last minute Good steps back and lets Evil win.Â For no apparent reason.
I’m not in any way in favor of recreational use of marijuana. Nor am I in favor of recreational use of opiates, but I’m glad that I or anyone in my family can get Morphine and Codeine-based products after surgery or when afflicted with extreme pain.Â From a medical standpoint, I don’t see any difference between marijuana and opiates, so I fail to understand why we continue to treat them differently except for the hammering down on marijuana as evil and deadly over the past 50 years.
It’s time we evaluate our assumptions on this topic and speak truthfully instead of running a line that is meaningless. There is no intelligent reason to prohibit the use of marijuana and its derivatives as tools to heal. None. I’ve had conversations with numerous opponents on this and the only argument they can produce is that “it’s a gateway drug”.
So is alcohol.
The law should NOT be in place to prevent parents from providing their children with proven tools to alleviate their pain, seizures, or discomfort. Parents, husbands, wives, and children of those that suffer from any number of illnesses and side-effects from the drugs used for those illnesses should not be considered criminals for helping their loved ones.
There is something fundamentally wrong when society treats those in physical need as insignificant because they don’t have their own lobbyists. It’s bad enough that drug companies consider some diseases unworthy of cures because of the small number of sufferers, but we have the means to provide aid and comfort to those who suffer… why would we not?
If you agree, please contact your legislator.
The Des Moines Register’s editorial this morning provided a concise (for Democrats) explanation about why Iowans should not get their $800 million over-payment returned to them. Â It’s to be expected that now that there is extra revenue coming in, we see the Left drooling over the opportunity to spend our money.
It’s a wonder we managed to survive the past few years with so little money to spend.
But seriously, we did just fine. Â And that should be the point now. Â We’ve managed to do a great job of assessing where the government is spending money it doesn’t need to be spending, and cut some of it back (there’s more to cut, but we’ll leave that for another time). But even though we have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country and a surplus in the Treasury, doesn’t mean it’s okay for the state government to keep the extra money from Iowans from last year.
We don’t operate our state from savings, we operate it from revenue. Â Well, except for when we borrow, but let’s not quibble over that today.
The Register puts a number of items up for spending that are long-term expenses… they aren’t a leaky roof, as they try to relate it, but they are the lawn, the car upkeep, the utility bills. Â They may even be things we should do and pay for, but if we are going to expand our expenses (which should be questioned regardless), the money for those things should come from current revenue, not savings. Â Otherwise, we are making the same mistake we’ve made time and again in the past by paying for ongoing expenses with one-time resources. Â It’s a foolish mistake. Â It’s like taking your year-end bonus and paying the light bill and getting an oil change. Â If your budget doesn’t allow you to pay for those things from your existing income, you are not in good financial shape to begin with.
If the I-JOBS program of Culver’s last 2 years in office had waited until this money was available, I could accept the idea of spending it on that kind of a project. Â But alas, we were far too impatient and had to instead saddle our next generation with keeping the gambling enterprises alive in order to pay for this program.
And the Register can’t help but show how they have bought into the ridiculous notion that government jobs bring value. Â The only kind of jobs that bring value to the economy are those that contribute to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)… that is, jobs that actually generate income by creating products or services that people want to buy. Â Government jobs don’t do that, and instead are a drain on GDP.
We don’t really have a pressing one-time financial need in Iowa, aside perhaps for some infrastructure such as bridges and roads, that the state government needs to attend to, although I’m sure some think otherwise. Â There may be plenty of recurring expense needs that need attention (either to add or drop), but using this surplus to cover the lack of revenue for these items is foolish.
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I take a bit of exception to the idea that HF1 provide the people’s money back to them as a tax credit for 2013 taxes. Â I realize that the printing and mailing of checks is an expense, but the money needs to get to Iowans now, not a year from now. Â We’ve done it before, we can do it again. Â Mail out the checks.
Obviously, lawmakers want to keep the interest on that money, eh?
The Des Moines Register’s Editor, Rick Green, last night published some details around an interview that the Register’s editorial board held with President Obama Tuesday morning.Â An interview they could not, at first, talk about publicly.Â An off-the-record conversation that they say will contribute to their endorsement decision, and the conditions of which will not affect their decision. Â Since Rick’s original online post, the White House has released their own transcript of the conversation.
To his credit, Rick was clearly frustrated with the White House for putting such severe restrictions on the 30 minute telephone interview.Â He is convinced that Iowans need to hear what the President had to say, and that Iowans would be influenced positively by what Obama shared with the editorial board.Â The Register has been consistent in their effort to promote transparency in government, and should be applauded for their efforts.
Obviously, the President’s campaign (did we say “White House”? Â Are the two the same?) was sensitive to the impact that even a handful of words can have in the world of instant communication.Â But this administration has been a paragon of secrecy since moving into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and the 2008 campaign promise of transparency has proved not only to be a ruse, but largely ignored by both campaigns in 2012 and the mainstream media.
Rick’s comments attempt to provide an element of transparency at least to the Register’s process, but it’s unfortunate that he treats the President’s requirements for this interview as inevitable. Â Even though he challenged the decision, he said they “relented and took the call. Â How could we not?” Â I think the Des Moines Register’s influence is adequate enough that if they balked, it would have looked bad for the President and the White House eventually would relent because they would have to. Â How could the Register endorse the President without such a conversation?
But, given the idea that Obama is just so important and powerful a man that he should be listened to, the secondary piece of this was amazing to me. Â Rick stated later in his post that the “the White House’s decision won’t play a factor in our board’s final endorsement decision.” Â Perhaps that was a coded message to the Obama team that just the opposite was true. Â But it escapes credibility to believe that anyone in the Register’s position would not give serious consideration to this and other examples of the President’s opaqueness and attempts to control the messages going out so desperately. Â How the President of the United States tries to hide the most trivial information should have a substantial impact on the Editorial Board’s perception of this administration.
Looking back on this, before the White House released the transcripts, it is wildly crazy that there was any concern about the contents of the interview. Â The transcript was about as mundane as the first Presidential Debate. Â The sense is that the President has a cozy enough relationship with left-leaning media such as the Register that they can talk casually about how they will continue to change America in ways that the public doesn’t need to hear, but that the Register’s editors should hear in order to provide the “right” endorsement. Â Even though the Register apparently wants to avoid any such appearance, this sounds like a lot of back room dealing with members of “the team” to get the endorsement. Â Perhaps the White House figured out that the Register has more integrity than that. Â What concerns me is, what kind of off-the-record conversations are going on with other media organizations? Â We may never know.
By the way, the Register hasn’t actually stated that the transcript was accurate. Â I’m assuming they can tell us one way or the other, can’t they?
ImageÂ Â© Aaron Amat – Fotolia.com
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In a wildly under-reported story, last Monday the Des Moines Register uncovered a shocking factâ€”Leonard Boswell is a blue dog Democrat.
To anyone paying attention to politics, and familiar with Mr. Boswellâ€™s votes during his last term, this certainly comes as quite the revelation.Â The front page headline was written by Jennifer Jacobs and titled â€œOpinions vary on effectiveness of Blue Dog democrat Boswellâ€.
I am far less interested in the article itself than I am in the fact-like pronouncement that Leonard Boswell, especially recently, fits in the â€œblue dogâ€ pack.Â Though he is officially a member of a group of U.S House members called the â€œBlue Dog Coalitionâ€, his voting record puts him so clearly opposite of nearly every one of this coalitionâ€™s mission statements that itâ€™s truly laughable.
We will look at the record in a second, but let me first say that this is not the only time the Des Moines Register has been called out hereâ€”and technically it could happen almost daily.Â The reason this headline catches the eye is that with election season underway, characterizations and even subtle hints can go a long way in influence uninformed voters in November.Â Especially if advertising Boswell as someone who has been tight with the purse strings becomes a campaign strategy, which would be smart politics, this is a notion that has to be quickly and forcefully refuted.
The bottom line is that Leonard Boswell can call himself whatever he wants, and the Register can shrug off critical thinking and follow suitâ€” but that doesnâ€™t make it true.Â The fact is that if he is a blue dog, then Steve King is socially moderate and Kim Pearson and Tom Shaw â€œgo along to get alongâ€.Â Letâ€™s dig inâ€¦
For those unaware, a blue dog Democrat is a legislator in the House who is fiscally conservative and philosophically breaks with their party on the level of government spending and taxation that is appropriate, and by their own definition even moral.Â Though they recently are trying to branch out into other issues like energy and economic growth, by and large their purpose is to oppose overspending and battle fellow Democrats when need be.Â This being the case you would expect to see some sort of opposition from â€œblue dogâ€ Leonard Boswell to the direction the Country has swerved in following President Obamaâ€™s election.Â Instead, in the last three and a half years the national debt has increased $5 trillion dollarsâ€”and Mr. Boswell has cast â€œyeaâ€ votes all along the way.Â Here is the record.
The following are key votes the Congressman has taken on major tax and spend issues since 2009.
Voted in favor:
â€¢Â Economic Stimulus Billâ€”over $800 billion added to the national debt, more than a trillion dollars with interest included (passed the House 246-183 on Feb. 13, 2009).
â€¢Â Obamacareâ€”price tag of $900 billion over 10 years at passage, most recent CBO scoring nearly doubled this amount to $1.76 trillion (passed the House 219-212 on March 21, 2010).
â€¢Â Cash For Clunkers â€“cost of nearly $3 billion (passed the House 316-109 on July 31, 2009).
â€¢Â Extending Unemployment Benefitsâ€”April 15, 2010 (passed 289-112), May 28, 2010 (passed 215-204), and July 22, 2010 (passed 272-152).
â€¢Â Raising the debt ceilingâ€”passed the House 218-214 on December 16, 2009.
â€¢Â Cap and Tradeâ€”according to the Obama administration itself, would have cost Americans up to $200 billion a year (passed the House 219-212 on June 26, 2009).
â€¢Â Cut, Cap, and Balanceâ€”passed the House 234-190 on July 19th, 2011
â€¢Â Debt ceiling bill â€“ This is the John Boehner version that would have raised the debt ceiling in exchange for limits on discretionary spending (passed the House 218-210 on July 29, 2011).
â€¢Â Reducing spending to F.Y 2008 levelsâ€”passed the House 256-165 on July 25, 2011.
One can make many claims about Boswellâ€™s last term in Congress, but given this record it is hard to imagine how any fair-minded person could call him fiscally conservative.Â Besides the unbelievable amount of money he voted to add to our national debt, the other thing to note is how close many of these votes were.Â In particular, the Obamacare and Cap and Trade votes authorized borrowing hundreds of billions of dollars per yearâ€”and passed by a combined 14 votes. If there ever was a time a blue dog would stand up for their principles of responsible spending it would have been then.
Why It Matters
To bolster the claim that he is a centrist, the Register story uses a National Journal analysis of his votes in 2011 (right before an election year) which places him more liberal than 61.8% and more conservative than 38.2% of his fellow House members.Â While this point is highly arguable, any description of him as concerned with deficits and high taxes cannot be made with a straight face.Â In our current political climate of outrage over debt, the failure of the Stimulus Bill, and the GSO and Solyndra scandals, any distancing of himself from these issues would be a huge re-election assetâ€”and one he clearly has not earned.
What is really ironic here is the fact that this story follows a weekend in which the Des Moines Register published a piece telling their readers that they would soon be charging for online access to much of their content.Â This transition has many affiliated with the paper very nervous, as there is a high probability of it being a disaster.Â As long as they continue doing things like allowing Democratic politicians to self-identify themselves without publicly asking questions like â€œis Leonard Boswell truly a blue dog?â€â€”not only will their bottom line struggleâ€¦they will struggle to remain in operation.
Froma Harrop, is a syndicated columnist, born in New York City and a liberal writer and author. Her columns appear regularly in many major newspapers. She wrote the article â€œThe absence of a â€˜Humanity Clauseâ€™ at Bain Capitalâ€ published in the DSM Register on 1/13/2012
Ms. Harrop accurately states that Bain Capital bought majority control of Worldwide Grinding Systems (WGS) in 1993 for about $75 million. The rest of her story has the truth of a jigsaw puzzle with 10% of the parts showing.Â She neglects to inform us that the previous owner of WGS, Armco Inc., incurred a $40 million book loss on the sale of WGS to Bain. Obviously WGS was a troubled business or their owner would not have taken such a large loss to sell it. Healthy manufacturers normally sell for 4 to 5 times their book value.
Income for WGS operations averaged $11.5 million for the years 1991, 1992 and 1993 excluding a 1992 special charge of $19.1 for closing a foundry and reducing the work force. So, the workforce reductions were well underway before Bain Capital bought it.
Bainâ€™s purchase price of $75 million reflected a price/earnings ratio of about 6.5. Purchases are made on forward looking earnings estimates. With the growing competition from China in this type of manufacturing business, Bainâ€™s price appears to be fair or better than fair.
Equity in GSI (the parent set up to acquire WGS and other similar companies),:
11/11/93 $ 10.9,
12/31/93 $ 14.0 (post sale to Bain)
12/31/94 $ -29.9 (following dividend to investors noted in article)
12/31/95 $ 106.6 (restructuring with $132 million additional paid in capital)
12/31/96 $ 112.8
Conclusion, yes there was a large dividend paid to the investors who facilitated the acquisition from Armco and the refinancing of the new GSI entity that acquired the WGS assets as well as those of other companies. However, the capital structure moving forward after 1995 was adequate.
Roger Regulbrugge, referenced in the article, was Chairman and CEO after the Bain takeover and was compensated in 1996 about $ 1 million excluding stock options. Under his leadership GSI Cost of Product Sold averaged about 86% for 1994, 1995 and 1996. This is a pathetic ratio and is more to blame for the companyâ€™s failure than the debt to equity ratio, was a quite normal, 3.4 at the end of 1996.
Froma Harropâ€™s article appears to be another Progressive hack job on Capitalism, quoting a few facts without context. WGS was a distressed tired company under Armco, who happily sold it at $40 million loss to Bain Capital. Bain reorganized the business, acquired new financing and investment but could not overcome the productivity problems internally and the foreign competition externally.
Sources: Armco Inc. 10-k for 12/31/ 1993; GS Technologies Corporation 10-k405 3/18/97