29 April 2009

What Happens When the Dog Catches the Car

An excellent lesson in civics and public policy:

The two parties that turned the Big Three into a perennially limping freak of unwritten industrial policy now will take formal ownership of their handiwork. The United Auto Workers (UAW) would own 39% of GM. The federal government would own 50%. The creditors will be shafted with just 10%. (In the Chrysler plan being discussed, labor would own 55%, making it effectively a subsidiary of the UAW.)

The day after any such settlement is finalized, the clock will start ticking down to the next collective-bargaining session between a monopoly UAW and what remains of the Big Three -- though now the UAW would be sitting on both sides of the table.

You built it, UAW; you also bought it. Now wear it.
Nearly 25 years ago, a Los Angeles Times reporter innocently and accurately invoked the "M" word in describing the domestic auto sector, noting that the arrival of Japanese auto plants was "threatening the UAW's traditional monopoly on labor in the domestic auto industry."

The erosion of the Big Three's market share since then has really been the erosion of the market for monopoly labor-produced cars. The UAW standard tactic, "pattern bargaining," which it pursues without embarrassment, would have gotten Bill Gates thrown in jail under the antitrust laws.
Prefect example of the Jekyll/Hyde of government regulation that never appears in the crap your representative mails to your home prior to election time. Speaking of election time:
Look closely and the hidden subsidies to keep the dismal beast alive have already started flowing -- tax credits for UAW retirees to make up for reduced health-care benefits, loans to help Detroit "invest in green cars." And plenty more will be needed to sustain Obama Motors on life support, at least through the 2012 election.
Yes sir, we have the best and brightest in Washington.

28 April 2009

The People You Meet on the Street

I'm not sure who I think is most loathsome:

(1) The guy I saw in the parts department at a Chevy dealership yesterday who was returning chrome exhaust tips. He was upset that he couldn't attach them to his "primo ride" using radiator hose clamps. Sorry champ; exhaust pipes aren't made out of radiator hose.

(2) The woman in the crummy Plymouth (does 'regular maintenance' mean anything to you?) on 494 this morning sporting a bumper sticker that said "January 20, 2009: The End of Terror." Yea, terrorism has been switched off like a light hasn't it.

(3) The radio talk show host who wishes "all cars sold today were just like mid-60's Pontiacs." Hey, I'm a fan of Pontiac too, but I also dig radial tires, fuel injection, airbags, anti-lock brakes and emissions control. Lately I've been stunned by the across-the-spectrum mix of ego and ignorance lately on talk radio. I know a bit about cars and dogs and heard some whoppers of misinformation about both over the weekend. What if they're just as wrong about everything else?

27 April 2009

Pandemic du Jour

Watch out America; here comes Bird Flu SARS Mad Cow Disease Swine Flu!

Rubberheads in the Editorial Offices

Hundreds of rowdy college students run through the streets, burn shit and turn over cars and the Strib plays the police brutality angle.

25 April 2009

What 100 Days Hath Wrought

We've had the near nationalization of private industry, the saddling of the citiznery with bazillions of future costs with no congressional filtering, and don't forget all the great appointees who are steering the ship.

But don't let any of this trivia get you down. As day 100 approaches, America's media watchdogs will be stampedeing each other to get their laurles and worship before the public's eyes:
(W)atch him walk. Listen to him talk. See the body language, the expressions, the clothes. He’s got attitude, rhythm, a sense of humor, contemporary tastes.

This much is clear: Whether dealing with the Wall Street mess, shifting troops from Iraq to Afghanistan or fumbling to fill his Cabinet, Obama leans heavily on personal panache to push political policies. Truth be told, his style is rooted in something elusive and hard to define. Pure and simple, it’s hip.
'Scuse me; I've got to go throw up my lunch.

Making & Breaking Myths

The best and the brightest:
When it comes to mythologies, (United States Secretary of Homeland Security) Janet Napolitano is a one-woman Greek play – a myth a minute. It's nearly 8 years since the crash of the twin towers, and she still doesn't know - still - that all of the hijackers that brought tragedy that day - came into the USA - through their own customs and immigration ---- not one came down through the great forests of Toronto or over the tundra of Montreal, not one of them got access to the US via what Ms Napolitano thinks of as "borderless" Canada.

What is Barack Obama doing appointing someone to head Homeland Security, who, eight years after the attacks, does not even now know where the hijackers came from and how they got into their country? Here, it’s not her ignorance about Canada which should be troubling. It’s her ignorance of the most publicized event in modern American history. How can anyone be head of Homeland Security and not know the history of the 19 men who killed nearly 3,000 Americans?
Can you imagine the hysteria had a Bush lackey made such a series of blunders? Alas, these are the New Times of Obama, where the sympathetic press scrubs the slate clean daily.

John Delorean & Bunike Knutson Begin to Spin

The bell is tolling:

(GM) will preserve the GMC truck line and drop its 83-year-old Pontiac brand as part of a government-led recalibration of its business plan, people familiar with the decision said.

The Detroit automaker, which received an additional $2 billion in federal assistance on April 22, will keep the GMC, Chevrolet, Cadillac and Buick brands, after a review that included profitability with the Obama administration’s automotive task force, said the people, who asked not to be named because the decisions have not been announced.

GM may reveal next week the end of the make that produced the Grand Prix, Bonneville and Firebirds, they said.

There you have the first chapter of the Obama legacy; the death of Pontiac. Sure GM is complicit in these events, but if they'd just run the bankruptcy play, instead of tossing the key to the Oval Office, Pontiac could have survived.

“I hate to see these brands go, they are a part of the American experience,” said John Wolkonowicz, a forecaster and auto historian at IHS Global Insight Inc. in Lexington,
Massachusetts. “Pontiac was the first real muscle car and the government doesn’t want muscle cars,” favoring fuel-efficient models, Wolkonowicz said. “I’m sad to see this brand go, it’s truly iconic.”
Wouldn't it be amazing if Pontiac went to the chopping block (as opposed to GMC or Buick) because it represented muscle cars and whatever soulless, bean-counting Obama toadies, who are now calling the shots at GM, are predisposed to loathe any non-appliance automobile and used only that bias in making this decision?

24 April 2009

Multiple Choice Question for Al Franken Voters

I was just wondering - on what grounds are you wishing Senator Norm Coleman to concede the election?
  • Like, ohmigod; this whole thing is taking like, forever.
  • I don't care about equal protection for those who didn't vote for my candidate.
  • Senator Coleman is totally a bad guy; I heard someone say something like that one time and I keep thinking about it.

For This, He Got Days of Glowing Press Coverage

With chests puffed out, the predictable chums in the news business touted the tough fiscal discipline of the Chosen One:

President Obama plans to convene his Cabinet for the first time today, and he will order its members to identify a combined $100 million in budget cuts over the next 90 days, according to a senior administration official.

Although the budget cuts would amount to a minuscule portion of federal spending, they are intended to signal the president's determination to cut spending and reform
government, the official said.

So, like, is $100 million a lot of money, right?

The thrifty measures Obama ordered for federal agencies are the equivalent of asking a family that spends $60,000 in a year to save $6. (The savings of) $100 million amounts to:

Less than one-quarter of the budget increase that Congress awarded to itself.

4 percent of the military aid the United States sends to Israel.

7 percent of the federal subsidy for the money-losing Amtrak passenger rail system.

Don't look at me; I voted for the old guy.

23 April 2009

Pork Stampede

As a griller and a smoker, I love and can work with nearly any part of the pig. Except when it's Government Pig:
Located outside a small Pennsylvania city, John Murtha airport may not see many passengers. But it's seen plenty of arrivals of tax dollars from Washington, most recently economic stimulus funds. Democratic Rep. John Murtha says it's his job to direct federal funds to his district in Pennsylvania.
This guy has an airport named after him? For what reason? What the hell is that all about?

Considered one of "the kings of pork" on Capitol Hill by taxpayer watchdog groups, the 19th-term Pennsylvania Democrat has piloted almost $200 million from Washington to Murtha airport. Much of the funding has come in the form of legislative earmarks that are attached to bills before Congress. "[Murtha's] dumped in nearly $200 million into this project that has virtually no passengers. It's practically a museum piece," said Steve Ellis with the Taxpayers for Common Sense.

Murtha declined CNN's request for an interview.
No shocker there; this clown won't even defend the place that's got his name over the door.

In December, Murtha made a direct appeal to the Federal Aviation Administration to fund the runway project. The request was rejected. At the time, the airport did not meet FAA criteria for funding because the facility had fewer than 10,000 passengers. But earlier this year, the FAA notified Murtha airport officials the facility had been approved for stimulus funding. The FAA said Murtha did not request the stimulus money.
I'm sure nothing under the table was going on to make that happen.

Steve Ellis with the Taxpayers for Common Sense added, "when you see deadbeat airports getting cash so they can do their second runway, it really feeds cynicism around the country about the stimulus and about the projects."

Murtha airport's manager said taxpayer money is going to waste at his facility, but not on the runway project. He points to an unstaffed $8 million air traffic radar system installed in 2004. "It's been sitting over there, and that radar has been spinning for all those years with no purpose. Just
sitting there," Voelker said.
Wonder where that money for that came from.

But wait; there's sadly so much more:

House Homeland Security chairman seeks millions of dollars of earmarks for small Mississippi college that he attended, although the school can not explain what the earmarks are for and does not have the capacity to provide the services for which it would receive the funding.

House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee chairman directing $31 million in earmarks to 10 companies that recently donated thousands of dollars to his re-election campaign.

Northern Mariana Islands seeks to spend stimulus funds on food stamps for non-U.S. citizens.

Professor who heads Stanford History Education Group stuns by admitting there is little evidence that the history program funded with $838,172,000 in federal funds that supports his program is effective.

Federal education grant paid to send 30 teachers on a junket to New York City; The group toured Yankee Stadium, went to a Mets baseball game, attended a taping of the David Letterman Show and a Broadway Musical, went shopping of Fifth Avenue, and took a dinner cruise which provided a view of the Statue of Liberty at night.
Don't worry, America; just stay in your coma and it'll all go on like this for the foreseeable future.

21 April 2009

Going Deeper than Rick Sanchez

The TGIFridays-grade media continues to not make the grade:
The memos refer to other classified documents -- including an "Effectiveness Memo" and an "IG Report," which explain how "the use of enhanced techniques in the interrogations of KSM, Zubaydah and others . . . has yielded critical information." Why didn't Obama officials release this information as well? Because they know that if the public could see the details of the techniques side by side with evidence that the program saved American lives, the vast majority would support continuing it.

Critics claim that enhanced techniques do not produce good intelligence because people will say anything to get the techniques to stop. But the memos note that, "as Abu Zubaydah himself explained with respect to enhanced techniques, 'brothers who are captured and interrogated are permitted by Allah to provide information when they believe they have reached the limit of their ability to withhold it in the face of psychological and physical hardship." In other words, the terrorists are called by their faith to resist as far as they can -- and once they have done so, they are free to tell everything they know. This is because of their belief that "Islam will ultimately dominate the world and that this victory is inevitable."

20 April 2009

I Hope He Didn't Celebrate THAT Way.

What's the ONE issue that will genertate bipartisanship in the Minnesota legislature? Hiding DWI records, of course:

Rep. Tom Emmer got three amendments on, most notably making DWI records private if an offender does not re-offend for ten years. Emmer had DWIs back in '91 and '81, which the press revealed and now wouldn't know about under this bill. Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher jokes that Emmer is "excused for the rest of
the day" to celebrate after getting his amendments passed.
Linda Pfeilsticker, Tom Rukavina, Jim Metzen, Tom Emmer & who knows who else I'm not recalling right now . . . what's with all the criminally pickled grabbing per diem in Saint Paul?

19 April 2009

Force-Fitting the Narritive

Your favorite celebrity is an idiot - part 1:

Dissent is great for my people but wrong for your people.

Part 2:

Not only did this FBN guy recognize that the Republicans share the blame, but he then gave an accurate definition of fascism. All of which The Daily Show edited out because it didn't fit their narrative.

Stop falling for it. Jon Stewart stinks.

18 April 2009

Hillary Clinton, Call Your Office

It would be an insult to kangaroos to refer to Iran's legal system narcissistic circus as a kangaroo court. The events of this story are simultaneous sad and hilarious.

An Iranian-American journalist branded a US spy has been jailed for eight years by Iran after a brief trial held behind closed doors.

Roxana Saberi, 31, who was arrested in January and went on trial this week, denies the charge and plans to go on hunger strike, her father said. Ms Saberi has reported for a number of foreign news organisations including the BBC, NPR radio and Fox News.

The journalist originally faced the less serious accusation of buying alcohol, and later of working as a journalist without a valid press card. Then, in a period of less than two weeks, the charge of spying was introduced, and she was tried by the Revolutionary Court and sentenced. No evidence of espionage was made public.

As usual, the United Nations has no teeth. Obama and Hillary are missing in action. Those who earn a living pointing out how women are second- or third-class citizens are silent. Where are the usual Hollywood crybabies?

All this crap; pirates, rockets, throwing people in jail for no reason, the world is clearly feeling out this Obama fellow.

17 April 2009

On Commuting by Zeppelin

and a few other things:

And now this morning, Obama was on the tube again, yapping about traffic jams. What the hell is going on here? The president of the freaking United States is talking about traffic jams? Then again, in grammar school we did all learn that part of George Washinton's Farewell Address where he warned against entangling alliances and the dread menace of highway jughandles and traffic circles. That Obama's big solution is, ta-da!, "high-speed rail" is simply one more sign that he is simply not serious about anything other than paying off 19th and 20th century legacy special interests. I look forward to tomorrow's press conference, when Obama trains his laser-beam brain on the question of whether Razzles is a candy or a gum.

Seriously, isn't there a Portugese water dog re-gifted from Ted Kennedy that we can and should be talking about? (And btw, the one non-negotiable in a pet or a mistress for the Duke of Chappaquidick is swimmability; who says we can't learn from our past mistakes?).

Question to the folks, including some of the libertarian persuasion (you fools!), who were bullish on Obama back when the alternative was John McCain, the Terri Schiavo of presidential candidates: When are you going to admit that Barry O stinks on ice? That for all his high-flying and studiously empty rhetoric he's got the biggest presidential vision deficit since George H.W. Bush puked on a Japanese prime minister (finally, revenge for that long run of Little League World Series losses in the '70s!). If you're the president of the United States and you're talking about goddamn traffic jams and you're proposing high-speed rail as anything other than an unapologetic boondoggle that will a) never get built and b) never get built to the gee-whiz specs it's supposed and c) be ridden by fewer people than commuted by zeppelin last year, you've got real problems, bub. And by extension, so do we all.

Oh - so good. Bravo Mr. Gillespie.

File Under "Deep Irony"

Reynoldsism du Jour: They told me that if I voted for John McCain, reporters would be arrested for questioning the establishment, and THEY WERE RIGHT!
When will Reporters Without Borders lodge a protest against the Annenberg School of Journalism for having journalists arrested? Would Walter Cronkite have approved of police locking up reporters for merely covering an event and walking on property that is very obviously open to the public in doing so?
Do you suppose any of the journalists inside, who were giving awards to journalists Katie Couric, bothered to notice or wonder why?

UPDATE: Of course Reynolds beat me to the punch; it's his gag.

Surveying the TIlted Landscape

Would you like your tea straight, or with a spin?

Agree or disagree with the estimated 250,000 people who showed up at Tea Parties across the country, they deserve respect, not abuse. Declared suspect by their own government, targeted for insults from the “unbiased” media, they still showed up. They organized. They spoke out. And they did it without any free-speech bailouts.

It was true democracy in action. And that’s why liberals find it so scary.


16 April 2009

Too Stupid to Know the Story

Not only does the articulate, principled guy (with the kid) know exactly why he's there and what he's talking about, he makes the grievous error of not sticking to tee vee lady's preloaded talking points. When he refuses to be led by the nose, Ms. Shitferbrains cuts him off and hectors him with Robert Gibbs-like boilerplate. When the crowd calls her out for being a professional joke, she runs crying into the arms of the old "Fox News is Evil" jive.

What an incredible chip Susan Roesgen has on her shoulder.

UPDATE: Ouch - today is really not a good news day for ol' Susan.

UPDATE 2: But wait, there's more!
CNN's Susan Roesgen went nuts on the air Wednesday at a Chicago tea party, blaming everything on Fox News. But maybe she was angry because Fox turned her down for a job—twice! Roesgen got snippy with a crazy interviewee while trying to cover the tea partiers, and the crowd turned on her. "I think you get the general tenor of this," she said. "It's anti-government, anti-CNN since this is highly promoted by the right-wing conservative network Fox."

13 April 2009

How to Consider Modern Piracy

This essay covers a lot and makes MSNBC's discussion look like schoolyard conjecture:
How could the United States—which remains the greatest naval power on earth—be thwarted, along with its allies, by piratical raiding parties of Somali fishermen in souped-up motor boats? The answer is astounding, and lays bare the West’s difficulties in irregular conflicts.

The European Union, India, China, Malaysia, Russia, Iran and the United States have sent naval vessels into the area, but the total flotilla is some twenty ships for a coastline more than 2,000 miles long. The feeble response is also caused by lawyers.

Responsible states can take robust action under Security Council authority if they want to. That is not what they are doing. Instead, the West is tangled in a postmodern confusion over the law of armed conflict, human rights law, solipsistic views of national criminal jurisdiction and, above all, a stunning lack of common sense.

This should arrest the attention of any legal historian. In the origins of international law, piracy was considered the gravest act against the good order of the state system. Any sovereign state could prosecute a pirate for robberies at sea, even if the ship, crew, cargo, pirate and location had no connection to the avenging state. American law reflected this understanding. Pirates are enemies of all mankind, hostis humanis generis, explained Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story in his 19th-century opinions. The first Congress passed a long-arm statute in 1790 allowing federal prosecution of any piracy committed on the “high seas.” This authority was frequently exercised, and it is still good law.

On December 25, 2008, Somali pirates swarmed the Wadi al-Arab, an Egyptian cargo vessel, and gunned down a sailor. A German naval helicopter from the frigate Karlsruhe came to the rescue, interrupting the attack and treating the wounded sailor. But in a televised “reality show” stunner, the pirates were then released and sent back to shore. EU task force commander Achim Winkler told a BBC reporter that Germany would detain pirates only when a German ship was itself attacked or German citizens were killed or injured. The BBC program was called, with no apparent irony, "Europe Today."
Read it all. You'll be smarter for it.

Only By Spinning Faster and Faster Does the Top Stay Upright

What if you kept increasing the number of people who could vote to put the tax burden on someone else? How long would that society last?
A very small number of taxpayers -- the 10% of the country that makes more than $92,400 a year -- pay 72.4% of the nation's income taxes. According to the CBO, those who made less than $44,300 in 2001 -- 60% of the country -- paid a paltry 3.3% of all income taxes. By 2005, almost all of them were excused from paying any income tax. They paid less than 1% of the income tax burden. Their share shrank even when taking into account the payroll tax. In 2001, the bottom 60% paid 16.3% of all taxes; by 2005 their share was down to 14.3%. All the while, this large group of voters made 25.8% of the nation's income.

When you make almost 26% of the income and you pay only 0.6% of the income tax, that's a good deal, courtesy of those who do pay income taxes. For the bottom 40%, the redistribution deal is even better. In 2001, these 43 million Americans, who earn less than $30,500, made 13.5% of the nation's income but paid no income tax. Instead, they received checks from their taxpaying neighbors worth $16.3 billion. By 2005, those checks totaled $33.3 billion.

The economic and moral problem is that when 50% of the country gets benefits without paying for them and an increasingly smaller number of taxpayers foot the bill, the spinning triangle will no longer be able to support itself. Eventually, it will spin so slowly that it falls down, especially when the economy is contracting and the number of wealthy taxpayers is in sharp decline.

Just Sayin' . . .

All hail Fabious Maximus:
1. The US Constitution. Article I, section 8: Congress shall have power … To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations.

2. Under U.S. Law, there is already authority for Civilian Mariners to defend against pirates and seize pirated vessels. 33 U.S.C. 383: Resistance of pirates by merchant vessels (source)The commander and crew of any merchant vessel of the United States, owned wholly, or in part, by a citizen thereof, may oppose and defend against any aggression, search, restraint, depredation, or seizure, which shall be attempted upon such vessel, or upon any other vessel so owned, by the commander or crew of any armed vessel whatsoever, not being a public armed vessel of some nation in amity with the United States, and may subdue and capture the same; and may also retake any vessel so owned which may have been captured by the commander or crew of any such armed vessel, and send the same into any port of the United States.

So Not the Time For the Stampede

I'm not sure if it's really getting lighter at the end of this economic tunnel, but some indicators are looking better. Some credit is starting to flow. Home sales in my metro area are up from last year. My many stocks are creeping away from 52-week lows. Not high cotton, but hope that the climate is slowly improving.

Remember when gasoline was $4 not too long ago? Well it managed to find it's way back to the $2 range by only market forces. While government clowns blustered and paraded, the situation really "fixed itself," at least for the time being. My dream is that our nation's economy gets back on track and shows tangible improvement before all of the preposterous government cash burning ever leaves the barn. Wouldn't it be neat if there was a popular cry to trash the stimulus s unnecessary? I'm not holding my breath:

Obama promises communal goals and a more widely shared prosperity. The trouble is that it may not work as well in practice as it does in Obama's speeches. Still, congressional Democrats press ahead to curb global warming and achieve near-universal health insurance. We should not be stampeded into far-reaching changes that have little to do with today's crisis.

Since the dawn of the Industrial Age, this has been simple: produce more with less. ("Productivity," in economic jargon.) Mass markets developed for clothes, cars, computers and much more because declining costs expanded production. Living standards rose. By contrast, the logic of the "post-material economy" is just the opposite: Spend more and get less.

What if U.S. cuts in greenhouse gases are offset by Chinese increases? What if more health insurance produces only modest gains in people's health? Obama and his allies have glossed over these questions. They've left the impression that somehow magical technological breakthroughs will produce clean energy that is also cheap. Perhaps that will happen; it hasn't yet. They've talked so often about the need to control wasteful health spending that they've implied they've actually found a way of doing so. Perhaps they will, but they haven't yet.

I always wonder how many of those who euphorically supported and voted for Obama are paying any sort of attention to what he's doing now.

12 April 2009

Thanks For the Memories

As a hockey fan and Wild season ticket holder since year two, I offer my sincere thanks to Jacques Lemaire, someone who, in making the Minnesota Wild always respectable, made the most of what he had every night:

"Jacques is a tremendous tactician,'' Nanne said. "He's extremely perceptive in evaluating a player. He's a great judge of a guy's strength or weakness. That allows him to use each player in the situations where he has the best chance to succeed.

"He doesn't motivate by getting you fired up. He motivates by instilling confidence in his players that, if they do what he tells them to do, they are going to win.''

Lemaire's genius was most on display in the spring of 2003, when he took a young star in Marian Gaborik and basically a ragtag collection of veterans to the Western Conference finals.
I, too, am surprised that, upon Jacques Lemaire's departure, I'd lean on the observations of Patrick Reusse when it came to a hockey item (would you read Cosmo for car reviews?) but, in this case, he's got the story straight.

07 April 2009

Is That a Knock on the Door?

They told me that If I voted for John McCain, armed police would be kicking down the doors of those who did not agree with the government establishment, and THEY WERE RIGHT!

Jeff Pataky’s home was raided by ten Phoenix police officers armed with a warrant last month. He was out of town, and his girlfriend was handcuffed for three hours while police conducted the raid. They seized computers, files and anything associated with Pataky’s website — are you ready for this? — Bad Phoenix Cops.

In justifying the raid, Phoenix Assistant Chief Andy Anderson called Pataky’s site “an unaccredited grassroots Web site.” Um, Chief Anderson, who “accredits” web sites? This is the most chilling part of the whole thing to me, because the police and the courts in Phoenix have taken it upon themselves to determine who qualifies as “the press.”

Reynoldsism; best thing in type since Gutenberg.

04 April 2009

Protocol, Schmotocol.

Scott Johnson @ Powerline
Americans do not bow to royalty. In my view, when the royal is the ruling tyrant of a despotic regime, the wrong is compounded.
Just another straw in the camel load of a very so-so international debut by the Big O.

03 April 2009

Quick Jab

Andrew Klavan:
Leftists have always confused their good intentions with actual virtue. The tyranny allowed to spread by left wing appeasement, the neighborhoods and families destroyed by their corrupt welfare programs, the millions of lives snuffed out by environmentalist hysteria—these don’t show up on their moral scorecards because they meant so very well. Indeed, so swathed are they in the warm glow of their purposes, any question about the actual results of their actions strikes them as shockingly cruel. A mere rough joke, an outrageous remark, the least untoward language from a conservative—and they reel back, appalled by the display of pure meanness.