ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Presidential Bubble

I read this post on how Obama is starting to dislike the bubble that is being established around him and found this paragraph to be very funny:

All presidents suffer culture shock when the office's lack of person freedom hits home. There's a reason that Bill Clinton whined that the White House was "the jewel of the federal prison system." Not being able to sneeze, jog, or choke on a pretzel without its being documented for historical purposes takes a toll on a body.

Yes, that's why Clinton wasn't fond of all the secret service guys around him - he didn't have enough privacy to sneeze, jog, or choke on a pretzel.

I think there were other activities that Clinton had on his mind when he complained about the lack of "alone" time.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Home prices

Glenn at Instapundit had the following yesterday:

HOUSE PRICES: Still too high? I think so, and I’m surprised at how unrealistic sellers still seem to be. I’m seeing people put houses on the market for 10-15% more than they paid two years ago, when those houses are probably worth 10-15% less. Or worse.

UPDATE: Reader Bob Molyneux writes:

Amen.

My wife and I are in the market for a house in the Duluth, Georgia area and we have seen a ton. So many are junked up–don’t you folks know what a garbage bag is? Are banks really that uninterested in selling foreclosed houses that they make it almost impossible? I don’t know about a buyers’ market but our credit rating is great and our current locked in interest rate is 4.97%, we have money in the bank, and this will be an oldie but goody: a “conventional” loan. Maybe we are picky but I would guess that you are right that the better houses are 10-20% high. The bad houses are 90% high.

Yeah, I think people are still in denial. Don’t know why the bankers aren’t better about prepping these houses for sale.

I don't have any personal knowledge of the business decisions that go on inside banks on these foreclosed properties, but from my experience with other businesses (especially "big" businesses), it seems to me that there's just no process at the bank to do the prep work.

The only person at the bank that actually looked at the house is most definitely someone with no authority at the bank (how many bank CEO's are doing property tours of their run-down assets?) So whoever actually looks at the dilapidated properties would have to convince someone at the bank to fork over money to sell an asset for which they have already lost money. That money would have to be accounted for at some point, and it would be entirely subjective. So there's no reward for the individuals in the bank to clean up the property.

There used to be a market for this sort of thing - speculators would buy up foreclosed properties, "flip them" and sell for a profit. But with the housing downturn, nobody wants to buy anything, and in addition, speculators can't get loans to do it.

So the buyer in Glenn's post is going to see a lot of really crappy, overvalued homes while looking. If he can get past the garbage and look at the house from a non-cosmetic standpoint, he might stand to make a heck of a deal in this market.

I agree with his consensus that prices are too high. People are in denial right now. Soon they will be moving to the anger side. That's when the federal government will be pressured to "step in". My only worry is that someone is going to make the case that vast swaths of housing will need to be bulldozed to drive down prices, in line with the fallacious "broken window" theory of economics.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: Brian

Cohen - Bursting Bush's Bubble from Inside His Own

Richard Cohen has this column today on Bush's reading list:

Reading Into Bush's Book List
By Richard Cohen
Tuesday, December 30, 2008; Page A15

In what without a doubt is the most astounding op-ed piece of the year, Karl Rove reveals that his friend and former boss, George W. Bush, has read probably hundreds of books over the course of his presidency. One of them was Albert Camus' "The Stranger," with its unforgettable opening lines: "Mother died today. Or perhaps it was yesterday, I don't know." After reading Rove's Wall Street Journal column, it's clear there's much we all don't know.
[...]
In his column, Rove says that Bush read 95 books in 2006 alone. In 2007, he read 51 books and as of last week, he had read 40 in 2008. The numbers are precise because Bush challenged Rove to a contest: who could read the most books. Rove always won, but Bush had the ready excuse that he was, as he put it, busy being "Leader of the Free World." This, though, is not an excuse. As Dwight Eisenhower once told me (I'm not making this up), he had more time as president to dabble in painting than he did in retirement. Such is the virtue of The Bubble.
[...]
Still, the fact remains that Bush is a prodigious, industrial reader, and this does not conform at all to his critics' idea of who he is. They [ed. meaning Richard Cohen] would prefer seeing him as a dolt, since that, as opposed to policy or ideological differences, is a briefer, more bloggish explanation of what went wrong. Still, in fairness to these critics (see Rove above), Bush himself has encouraged this approach. Aw shucks is an infuriating defense of a policy.
[...]
It is awfully late in the day for Rove -- and, presumably, Bush -- to assert the president's intellectual bona fides. Now feeling the hot breath of history, they are dropping the good ol' boy persona and picking up the ol' bifocals one. But the books themselves reveal -- actually, confirm -- something about Bush that maybe Rove did not intend. They are not the reading of a widely read man, but instead the books of a man who seeks -- and sees -- vindication in every page. Bush has always been the captive of fixed ideas. His books just support that.

The list Rove provides is long, but it is narrow. It lacks whole shelves of books on how and why the Iraq war was a mistake, one that metastasized into a debacle. Absent is Rajiv Chandrasekaran's "Imperial Life in the Emerald City," Tom Ricks's "Fiasco," George Packer's "The Assassins' Gate" or, on a related topic, Jane Mayer's "The Dark Side" about "extraordinary rendition" and other riffs on the Constitution. Absent too is Barton Gellman's "Angler," about Dick Cheney, the waterboarder in chief.
[...]
My hat is off to Bush for the sheer volume and, often, high quality of his reading. But his books reflect a man who is seeking to learn what he already knows. The caricature of Bush as unread died today -- or was it yesterday? But the reality of the intellectually insulated man endures.

Prof Matthew Franck has an excellent retort at NRO and I sent the following email to Richard Cohen myself.
Hi, Richard - Enjoyed your column ("Reading Into Bush's Book List," Tuesday, December 30, 2008; Page A15), although I think it's ridiculous for you to suggest that the arguments put forth in any of the books you recommended weren't considered by Bush, either through his own analysis or through the analysis of those in his administration.

One question: Can you share your reading list for 2008? I suspect that it would consist of fewer books than the President and at the same time be just as "narrow." I have no doubt that most of the books on your reading list for 2008 only reinforce your worldview and that you are just as captive to your fixed ideas.

I am not a cheerleader for George W. Bush, but anyone can see the bubble you're trapped inside by simply reading each of your columns.

Regards & Happy New Year!
The fact that Richard Cohen is surprised that Bush reads - books and everything!!! - is just amazing.

The oft-cited ridicule about the President being incurious because he does not read the New York Times every day is similarly amazing.

If the President is reading the New York Times to inform himself about the events in the world, than we have some serious problems.

If the left thinks that not reading the predictable opinions and columns in the New York Times and opting instead for the multitude of information sources available to him (both inside and outside of his administration) makes Bush incurious and unintellectual, I would counter that it is they who are insulated and unintellectual.

*** UPDATE ***
It would seem that others in the blogosphere had a similar reaction to Cohen's column.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Friday, December 26, 2008

Krugman: Barry Be Good

This column by Paul "Please Give Me A Position" Krugman is just laughable:

December 26, 2008
Op-Ed Columnist

Barack Be Good

By PAUL KRUGMAN

Times have changed. In 1996, President Bill Clinton, under siege from the right, declared that “the era of big government is over.” But President-elect Barack Obama, riding a wave of revulsion over what conservatism has wrought, has said that he wants to “make government cool again.”
Clinton was under siege because, well... the GOP took Congress in 1994 and held it in 1996, despite Clinton being re-elected - meaning that he had no coattails.

So, according to Paul, the voice of the people equates to a president being "under seige."

And he forgets to mention that the "era of big government" statement was simply a clintonian lie - unless you were part of the armed forces, since those were the only folks who got pink slips from the Feds.
Before Mr. Obama can make government cool, however, he has to make it good. Indeed, he has to be a goo-goo.

Goo-goo, in case you’re wondering, is a century-old term for “good government” types, reformers opposed to corruption and patronage. Franklin Roosevelt was a goo-goo extraordinaire. He simultaneously made government much bigger and much cleaner. Mr. Obama needs to do the same thing.
Yes, it really is a shame that the government has gotten so much smaller since FDR.

While Paul would want to give readers the impression that government spending hasn't grown since FDR, the facts paint a different picture. I gathered data from the Office of Management & Budget on the Federal Budget from 1930 to 2003 and put this nifty chart together (click the image to see the full-size version):


As a percentage of GDP, the Federal Government receipts have increased from approximately 5% in the 1930s to an average of 20% today. (The huge red spike in outlays corresponds with World War II.) Also note the meteoric rise in GDP and how the % of GDP that goes to government is relatively flat... that means that the federal budget is growing just as rapidly.

Back to the dork with the Nobel Prize.
Needless to say, the Bush administration offers a spectacular example of non-goo-gooism. But the Bushies didn’t have to worry about governing well and honestly. Even when they failed on the job (as they so often did), they could claim that very failure as vindication of their anti-government ideology, a demonstration that the public sector can’t do anything right.

Bush spent like crazy... he expanded the number of healthcare clinics.. he nearly doubled the federal budget from 1996.

Yeah.. he was a hard-core conservative, cutting government waste wherever he saw it.
The Obama administration, on the other hand, will find itself in a position very much like that facing the New Deal in the 1930s.

Like the New Deal, the incoming administration must greatly expand the role of government to rescue an ailing economy. But also like the New Deal, the Obama team faces political opponents who will seize on any signs of corruption or abuse — or invent them, if necessary — in an attempt to discredit the administration’s program.
Yeah, if there are any signs of corruption or abuse, it's just because the opponents are so nitpicky. It will have nothing to do with the fact that it is actual corruption - the very type of corruption for which Chicago pols are famous.
[...]
How did F.D.R. manage to make big government so clean?

A large part of the answer is that oversight was built into New Deal programs from the beginning. The Works Progress Administration, in particular, had a powerful, independent “division of progress investigation” devoted to investigating complaints of fraud. This division was so diligent that in 1940, when a Congressional subcommittee investigated the W.P.A., it couldn’t find a single serious irregularity that the division had missed.

F.D.R. also made sure that Congress didn’t stuff stimulus legislation with pork: there were no earmarks in the legislation that provided funding for the W.P.A. and other emergency measures.

Memo to Dr. Paul Krugman, in bold, large type:
The New Deal was not stuffed with pork because the entire thing was pork!!!

You can't stuff pork with more pork!

However, now that I think of it... a pork tenderloin stuffed with bacon does sound scrum-diddly-icious.

*Homer Simpson voice* mmmmm.... pork & bacon.... aaaarrrrggghhhh

Question: What is the difference between the Robert C. Byrd Lock & Dam and the various projects made by the WPA?

Answer: Nothing - it is all pork.

Perhaps it takes a PhD to lose any common sense.
Last but not least, F.D.R. built an emotional bond with working Americans, which helped carry his administration through the inevitable setbacks and failures that beset its attempts to fix the economy.

An emotional bond... yeah... that's one thing that Obama won't have any problem with, since he's already got an emotional bond with the media which covers him, what with all the tingling, crying, etc that's going on by our objective, professional journalists.

Continue reading Krugman's column... it is truly ridiculous, but entertaining as you watch yet another person with a Nobel prize make a complete ass out of himself.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Most Admired Man in America

From USA Today:

Poll: Obama is man Americans admire most
By Susan Page, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — A month before his inauguration, Americans choose Barack Obama as the man they admire most in the world, according to a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll. It's the first time a president-elect has topped the annual survey in more than a half-century.

President Bush falls to a distant second after seven years as the most-admired man.
[...]
Interesting that it took Obama's ascension to most-admired man before the MSM would mention that Bush happened to be the most-admired man for the past seven years.

I don't seem to recall any blaring headlines over the past seven years about Bush being the most admired man.

Here's the headline from 2007:
Hillary Edges Out Oprah as Most Admired Woman in ‘07
They get to the Most Admired Man going to Bush in the 10th paragraph.

Oh, and by the way.... what % do you think Clinton got in the Most Admired man poll in 2000? 6%, tied with Pope John Paul II and 1 point better than the then-Governor of Texas, George W. Bush.

Bush received 5% this year.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas



Thanks for this great link from Kip at Right Face.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

The Dealership Model, the Big Three, & Supply Chain Efficiency

Excellent analysis by Bob Krumm on another unsustainable factor in the US automobile market - the dealership concept.

A picture of the problem
Byline: bob | Category: Economy, Above the Fold | Posted at: 9:35 am

auto.jpg

This picture was above the fold at Drudge earlier today. It accompanied a story about the ever-evolving proposed auto-bailout. The picture, however, illustrates much of the problem, and contra-everything else you’ve read, it’s a problem that has nothing to do with the unions.

I have to say, the Supply Chain currently used by the Big Three - and in use for several decades - has been a traditional Push supply chain strategy: Build it and they will come.

The new mantra is all about transforming your supply chain to be Pull and to combine it with LEAN principles - originally developed by (surprise!) Toyota: Only build what your customer wants, when they want it.

In the go-go 90s, when the internets were just starting to be recognized as the transformational technology that it was, I argued that dealers should be put out of business and replaced with demo rooms with service facilities (owned & operated by the manufacturers). A customer would research their car on the web, select possible models of interest and schedule a test drive with the local demo room. They'd drive the car, kick the tires, etc and then place the order through the web, the Just-In-Time manufacturing process would kick in, and the car would be delivered to the buyer's door within a matter of days.

Benefits to the manufacturer? Control of the customer experience (which has devolved into one of the most painful experiences that people have when shopping) and elimination of an unnecessarily complex distribution system. It would also provide for a more efficient upstream supply chain, as only what is needed to meet actual customer demand is purchased, hired, etc.

Of course, this would hurt the dealers... and the unions, since there would be less labor required for the reduced (in reality, more efficient) demand. And, if one thing is clear from the entire Big Three debacle, it's that the management has a soft spot for the line workers, the dealer networks, and the status quo.

Also, pundits keep saying that there doesn't have to be a Big Three - there could be a Big Two. While their point is that some companies should be allowed to fail and the government shouldn't bail them out (which I agree with), I would counter that instead of a Big Two, there should be a Medium 20.

Innovation is the product of competition - the fiercer the better.

The coopetition that is taking place between the Big Three, Big Labor, and Big Government will doom the entire industry.

Unfortunately, we're going to Labor, Government, and Failed Business Models are all going to get a lot bigger in the near future - at the expense of the individual.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Governator Wants to be President

From his interview on CBS' 60 Minutes yesterday:

[...]
Running California means running the eighth largest economy in the world and with two years left as governor, Schwarzenegger will soon have to find an encore. Being born in Austria would seem to disqualify him from the next political step.

"Well, you're a man of no small ambition. If the Constitution was changed, you'd like to be president, wouldn't you?" Pelley asked.

"Yeah, absolutely," Schwarzenegger acknowledged. "I think that I am always a person that looks for the next big goal. And I love challenges. I always set goals that are so high, that are almost impossible to achieve. Because then, you're always hungry for climbing and climbing. Because it's always interesting. The climb is always interesting. When you get there you just have to pick another goal."
[...]

Well, at least he has one fan - himself.

Read the entire interview and see if this is a guy who should be talking about running for the presidency or dog catcher.

His understanding of the world is very shallow:
  1. he had a conversation with some guys in Detroit in 2000 about hydrogen cars and they said 5-10 years to get them to market; since they're not on the market, he think they lied to him.
  2. He thinks that solar panels in the Mojave desert is the answer to fossil fuels. While Mojave is a great place, there isn't enough energy given today's technology to make a dent in our base power requirements.
  3. he thinks global warming is to blame for the fires in California, not the spread of development into wildfire zones, the lack of controlled burns in the off-season due to environmental concerns, etc.

Let me ask our resident californian - Would you recommend Schwarzenegger to the presidency?

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Friday, December 19, 2008

Our Economic Solution - INFLATION!!!

This video from 1933 on the solution to the Great Depression, namely inflation.

I love the condescending tone throughout the video - you're too stupid to understand, so let me speak freely. And the belief that economic activity is controllable through just a few movement of the levers by those in power is just laughable.

My only question - Does Paul Krugman believe this bullsh!t?



H/T to Russell Roberts @ Cafe Hayek who provides this description:

This video from 1933 touts the virtues of inflation for ending the Great Depression. How will that work? When people see prices rising, they'll buy now before the prices go up. That will stimulate aggregate demand and the multiplier will kick in. Really. That's the argument. Along with some bizarre arguments along the way about high prices leading to higher incomes. Watch the video. It's good for some laughs and illustrates how hard it is to keep multiples things in mind at the same time. Thanks to Walter Williams for the pointer.

And if only the screenwriter, producer, and narrator could see into the future, this film would've never been created. As Mark Steyn often points out, only in the US do people refer to this time period as the Great Depression; elsewhere it's simply the depression.

If only they knew that there were 8 more years of economic disaster followed by years of death in World War II.

This is the same logic that saw entire herds of livestock slaughtered by the Fedsand left to decay in their pens. The same logic that saw wheat fields burned to the ground.

This fireside chat by FDR in 1938 only proves the point:
[...]
Five years ago we faced a very serious problem of economic and social recovery. For four and a half years that recovery proceeded apace. It is only in the past seven months that it has received a visible setback.

And it is only within the past two months, as we have waited patiently to see whether the forces of business itself would counteract it, that it has become apparent that government itself can no longer safely fail to take aggressive government steps to meet it.

This recession has not returned to us (to) the disasters and suffering of the beginning of 1933. Your money in the bank is safe; farmers are no longer in deep distress and have greater purchasing power; dangers of security speculation have been minimized; national income is almost 50% higher than it was in 1932; and government has an established and accepted responsibility for relief.

But I know that many of you have lost your jobs or have seen your friends or members of your families lose their jobs, and I do not propose that the Government shall pretend not to see these things. I know that the effect of our present difficulties has been uneven; that they have affected some groups and some localities seriously but that they have been scarcely felt in others. But I conceive the first duty of government is to protect the economic welfare of all the people in all sections and in all groups. I said in my Message opening the last session of the Congress that if private enterprise did not provide jobs this spring, government would take up the slack -- that I would not let the people down. We have all learned the lesson that government cannot afford to wait until it has lost the power to act.
[...]

Our innate desire to "fix" our problems through government action will doom us.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

For My Nephew Shawn Wilson Who Deploys to Iraq Next Month - We Are Proud of You

Well, we are getting close now, and the Wilson family is acutely aware of the troops this Christmas.

Hug your soldier, pray for him and his comrades.



A Christmas Poem

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.


The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.


The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know, Then the
sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.


Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.
A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.


"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"
For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..


To the window that danced with a warm fire's light
Then he sighed and he said "Its really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night."
"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.


No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at 'Pearl on a day in December,"
Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam',
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.


I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue... an American flag.
I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.


I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."


" So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."


Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."



Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC:MontereyJohn

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Bailout & The Aristrocracy of Pull

All news these days points to the ever growing Aristocracy of Pull. Read this OpEd in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review by Don Boudreaux. Here's an excerpt, but read the whole thing

Would you buy a new car from this company?
By Donald J. Boudreaux
Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Pay attention and you'll be impressed (or, rather, depressed) by how fast baseless claims for government intervention become accepted as monuments of wisdom and of incontrovertible truth.

A current example is the now-conventional wisdom that some "special" quality of GM, Ford and Chrysler make them deserving of a government bailout. That special quality is the fact that cars are long-term investments by consumers -- ones that require warranties, special servicing and parts available only from their original manufacturers.
[...]
Chapter 11 will remove the unsustainable debt, thus allowing the Big Three to return not only to efficient but also profitable operations. It will also send a signal that government will not coddle automakers, which will tell the world that these firms must survive by pleasing consumers rather than by genuflecting and pleading in the halls of government power.

A bailout, in contrast, will only sustain the problem, making Detroit's survival ever-more dependent upon the whims and fancies of politics.

Any consumer who doesn't want to buy a car from a shaky company would wisely avoid one living on the dole.

Personally, I can't get away from the simple fact that 2+2 really does equal 4. Some people truly believe that you can make things better by making this or that tweak in the system - always with the predictable result that government power will increase.

And, speaking of unsustainable, does anyone really think that the Federal Government has a sustainable business model?

I wish McCain would've lobbied against the TARP - I have no doubt that he would've increased his chances of winning on November 4th. But we know that McCain was always a Republican who thought that Washington could offer solutions to all of our ills.

It's a shame that we are so fearful of the short-term pain that we are willing to exacerbate the situation and let the wound fester and turn gangrenous.

The Big Three should be allowed to fail.. their current productive assets would be redeployed by people who are more proficient at using them.

As people complain about the level of lobbying, graft, corruption, and money that is involved in politics, I can only respond that it is that way because politics has become even more important to being successful. A free market would not require huge lobbying efforts because consumers - aka The People, aka The Market - would ensure that companies that cannot produce products or services that meet their customers' needs would go out of business.

If you hate corruption, lobbying, and influence peddling, there is an easy answer - reduce the size, scope, & power of government.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Friday, December 12, 2008

Saint, Call Your Office - Fine New Blog at "Right Face"

There is some fine new blogging available at Right Face provided by a rarity in this world, a REAL conservative journalist, a graduate of Northwestern of all places, Christopher J.(aka Kip) Allen.

Now for our readers to have access to this good writing, someone needs to wake up Saint, who has control over the bells and whistles here, and get him to add Right Face to our blogroll :)

Call your office, Saint!

*** UPDATE FROM THE SAINT ***
Ok, back from Houston. Had to go visit some of our co-conspirators in the petroleum industry... muuuwaahhaaahhaa (<--- Evil laugh that sends moonbats into a panic)

I've added Right Face to the blogroll (which needs to be reviewed & cleaned up). To our readers, we highly recommend you visit Kip Allen's RightFace. From Kip's blog description:

Right Face

I am a life-long conservative alarmed at the direction I see the country taking. I see the modern progressive movement as not so much an evolution of traditional liberalism, but an outgrowth of fascism. I will address this and other issues. Hopefully, there will be some lighthearted moments as well.

Enjoy!

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC:MontereyJohn

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Snow in New Orleans and Houston - Al Gore Call Your Office


What can I say? What needs to be said? I can't wait to hear the explanation for this.



Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC:MontereyJohn Photography

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Somali Pirates to Buy Citicorp

Stole, er ... borrowed this, from NRO Corner who got it at Option ARMageddon:

Somali Pirates to acquire CitigroupDecember 2, 2008 – 5:57 pm
(hat tip Walnuts)

November, 2008 (Bloomberg) — The Somali pirates, renegade Somalis known for hijacking ships for ransom in the Gulf of Aden, are negotiating a purchase of Citigroup.

The pirates would buy Citigroup with new debt and their existing cash stockpiles, earned from hijacking numerous ships, including most recently a $100 million Saudi Arabian oil tanker. The Somali pirates are offering up to $0.10 per share for Citigroup, pirate spokesman Sugule Ali said earlier today. The negotiations have entered the final stage, Ali said. ”You may not like our price, but we are not in the business of paying for things. Be happy we are in the mood to offer the shareholders anything,” said Ali.

The pirates will finance part of the purchase by selling new Pirate Ransom Backed Securities. The PRBS’s are backed by the cash flows from future ransom payments from hijackings in the Gulf of Aden. Moody’s and S&P have already issued a AAA investment grade rating for the PRBS’s.

Head pirate, Ubu Kalid Shandu, said “We need a bank so that we have a place to keep all of our ransom money. Thankfully, the dislocations in the capital markets have allowed us to purchase Citigroup at an attractive valuation and to take advantage of TARP capital to grow the business even faster.”

Shandu added, “We don’t call ourselves pirates. We are coast guards and this will just allow us to guard our coasts better.”

Bloomberg News 10:24 AM
CITI IN TALKS WITH SOMALI PIRATES FOR POSSIBLE CAPITAL INFUSION
WILL REQUIRE ALL CITI EMPLOYEES TO WEAR PATCH OVER ONE EYE
SOMALIAN PIRATES APPLY TO BECOME BANK TO ACCESS TARP
PAULSON: TARP PIRATE EQUITY IS AN “INVESTMENT”, WILL PAY OFF
KASHKARI SAYS “SOMALI PIRATES ARE ‘FUNDAMENTALLY SOUND’”
MOODY’S UPGRADE SOMALI PIRATES TO AAA
HUD SAYS SOMALI DHOW FORECLOSURE PROGRAM HAD “VERY LOW” PARTICPATION *
FED OFFICIALS: AGGRESSIVE EASING WOULD CUT SOMALI PIRATE RISK
FED AGREED TODAY TO TAKE “WHATEVER STEPS” NEEDED FOR SOMALI PIRATES
More on this topic (What's this?)
Citi in Talks With US to Create "Bad Bank"; CNBC Now Reports That Gov't is Cool (naked capitalism, 11/23/08)
Meredith Whitney Says Citi is a Goner; BBC Says Citi "Seeking 'Emergency Cash'" (naked capitalism, 11/23/08)
You Should Listen to Jim Rogers (World Beta - Engineering Targete..., 11/19/08) Read more on Citigroup at Wikinvest
Posted in funny


Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

House Inquiry as to What Happened at Freddie and Fannie

I have been watching Waxman's committee on C-Span which is conducting the inquiry into the meltdown at Freddie and Fannie tonight. Four previous CEOs of Freddie Mac were there as witnesses. It has been enlightening. I particularly appreciated Stephen Lynch (D-Ma). He suffered the fools (CEOs) not gladly at all. When former CEO Mudd repeatedly ducked and evaded, Lynch went right after him. He said that he really was feeling good about conservertorship after listening to Mudd's non-answers. At least these clowns were gone. Lynch did not sound like a Democrat at all.

One little item, if you call $16 million in salary and bonus to CEO Mudd "little," was the matter of the CEO's bonuses. Their answers could have come out of Uncle Remus (that might be a bit politically incorrect but extremely apt). "Who, me? We weren't in the room with the committee that set the goals. That was the independent directors etc etc etc blah blah blah." What baloney, do they really think anybody believes that? Of course they had a roll in setting their own goals and their own resulting huge bonuses and, more importantly, what drove those bonuses, you know, like buying up LOTS of subprime mortgages of folks who couldn't afford them, but gave the appearance of high profitability (at least until the defaults started) and thus driving that market

The situation at Fannie and Freddie, I think, lies at the root of what has happened to our enconomy in this year. I am going to follow these hearings as closely as I can. I think when the time comes for holding people accountable (it would have been nice if that happened BEFORE the election), this is going to be Ground Zero.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

Monday, December 08, 2008

The Idiotic Leftist

*ahem* check check *cough*

Is this thing on??? *tap tap feedback*

Sorry for the absence... the conspirators have been busy establishing blockades for our undisclosed location ever since the disaster of November 4th.

Anyway, ran across this cartoon from one Mr. Ted Rall and had to post on it. I may actually create a new series that focuses on the ridiculously stupid perspectives of the Left.



Can anyone point out what's wrong with his understanding of economics? My 6 year old son has a better grasp than him...

Post your answers in the comments.


Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Monday, November 24, 2008

Minnesota Recount

From the Politico:

Franken hopes turns on absentee issue
By: Daniel Libit
November 24, 2008 01:13 PM EST

One of the closest elections in U.S. Senate history is hurtling towards a critical juncture in its ongoing recount this week, as the campaign of Democratic challenger Al Franken opens a new legal front in its battle to break a virtual tie with Republican Sen. Norm Coleman.

On Wednesday, the Minnesota State Canvassing Board will hear arguments from Franken’s camp for why previously rejected absentee ballots should now be counted.

Coleman ended the initial count with an advantage of just 215 votes out of nearly 3 million cast, and has held a slim lead thus far in the recount.

“We’re 70 percent through [the recount] now,” Coleman Communications Director Mark Drake told Politico Sunday, “and a lot of the ballots that are looked at are in areas where Franken’s done well. We’re surprised he didn’t do better in terms of picking up more votes.”

Robert Hentges, a veteran Minnesota election law attorney not involved in this year’s recount, cautions that results rarely change in recounts of optical scan ballots, as are used in almost every county in the state, “Very few votes change,” he said, and “more often or not, for the winner on election night, the gap grows.”

While the conventional wisdom is that these recounted ballots should break the same way as the broader election results, Republicans fret that sloppy Democratic voters might mean Franken votes emerging as the recount continues.

“Democrats are [thought to be] more creative, free-spirited, so the idea is they’re more likely to make a mistake that the optical scan won’t pick up,” explains Hentges. “But when they recount the hard copy, those votes will be counted for Franken. If you talk to Republicans, they say it will be Franken’s advantage, because Democrats are stupid and will screw up ballots more often.”
[...]
Republicans are moderately confident that the canvassing board will reject the Franken line on absentees, based on the assessment encapsulated in a letter Minnesota Assistant Attorney General Ken Rashke wrote to Democratic Secretary of State Mark Ritchie. In it, he cited Minnesota statute 204C.35, which states: “Only the ballots cast in the election and the summary statements certified by the election judges may be considered in the recount process.”

In an opposing brief, Franken lawyers said that Raschke’s analysis “contains significant errors.”

“In fact,” the Franken team argued, “both state law and key decisions from other states require that improperly rejected absentee ballots be included in the recount in this election.”
Those absentee ballots that Franken is trying to count were "found" in the backseat of a Democratic election supervisor days after the election. The Immaculate Election!TM

continuing...
[...]
Presuming that he doesn’t catch up, Franken could hypothetically take a recount fight all the way to the floor US Senate, which according to the Constitution can involve itself in election certification. Some Republicans think Franken’s legal machinations now are more about creating political momentum for a long-winded pursuit.

“For right now, that is really putting the cart before the horse,” says Franken campaign spokeswoman Colleen Murray. “Right now, we’re still just trying to make sure where the ballots are counted. It really is too early to speculate.”

For a state abounding with civic pride, stupid is not something that anyone wants to look as the recount battle continues.

“This is part of the Minnesota pride in our elections process,” says Janecek. “It is a collegial process, because everybody agrees that we don’t want to be the laughing stock of the nation.”

Ummmm, I hate to inform Ms. Janecek, but the fact that Al Franken - let me repeat - AL FRANKEN ran statewide as a candidate to be your Senator in the United States Senate and nearly prevailed already makes you the laughingstock of the nation.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Change You Can Believe In!

From the WSJ today:

The Sidwell Choice
The Obama family leads by example.

Michelle and Barack Obama have settled on a Washington, D.C., school for their daughters, and you will not be surprised to learn it is not a public institution. Malia, age 10, and seven-year-old Sasha will attend the Sidwell Friends School, the private academy that educates the children of much of Washington's elite.

Vice President-elect Joe Biden's grandchildren attend Sidwell -- as did Chelsea Clinton -- where tuition is close to $30,000 a year. The Obama girls have been students at the private University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, where tuition runs above $21,000. "A number of great schools were considered," said Katie McCormick Lelyveld, a spokeswoman for Mrs. Obama. "In the end, the Obamas selected the school that was the best fit for what their daughters need right now."

Note the word "selected," as in made a choice. The Obamas are fortunate to have the means to send their daughters to private school, and no one begrudges them that choice given that Washington's public schools are among the worst in America.

Most D.C. parents would also love to be able to choose a better school for their child, but they lack the financial means to do so. The Washington Opportunity Scholarship Program each year offers up to $7,500 to some 1,900 kids to attend private schools, but Democrats in Congress want to kill it. Average family income for kids in the voucher program is about $22,000.

Mr. Obama says he opposes such vouchers, because "although it might benefit some kids at the top, what you're going to do is leave a lot of kids at the bottom." The example of his own children refutes that: The current system offers plenty of choice to kids "at the top" while abandoning those at the bottom.

Change you can believe in - unless it's change to our wonderful education system. We'll keep that just the way it is because
  1. The Teachers Union is very powerful and can really turn out the vote
  2. Indoctrination centers are important for the future of our country
  3. Actual learning which provides children with the faculties to think for themselves is dangerous to the republic
  4. How could we get elected in the future if students actually had the skills to become productive, self-sufficient citizens instead of serfs of the state?
That is all...

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Rachel Maddow: The New Center

This piece in Newsweak about Rachel Maddow is absolutely ridiculous.

Here's a snippet:

[...]
The times have suited her as well. Not only did her show launch in an electrifying election period, but it was also a moment when "the repressed political fervor" of the left had erupted, says Olbermann, who has also both benefited from and symbolized this mood. In this climate, MSNBC's commentary moved left, and now is often criticized for presenting a liberal alternative to the sharply partisan Fox. But Ariana Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post (and Maddow's fill-in host last week) says it is wrong to think of Maddow as a liberal riposte to Fox. "People were surprised by her success because they saw her as an anomaly, but she is the opposite. She has tapped into a zeitgeist where what was considered to be left wing is now mainstream." Like Obama, "she is representing the center." Or at least the center in Huffington's world view.
I have to point out that when Fox has a conservative on, they often balance that conservative with someone from the other side. With MSNBC, Olberman, Maddow, et al only interview leftist and occasionally Pat Buchanan (whose conservative bona fides expired when he left the GOP.
[...]
Maddow has her own fable. On Nov. 5, when the clock clicks 9 p.m. and "The Rachel Maddow Show" begins, her "tired and cranky staff" has either gone home or settled into their seats in the control room to monitor the broadcast. A calm and focused Maddow is made up and wearing one of her identical pantsuits (she refuses to say who the designer is for fear of "insulting them"). As an interview closes, she turns to a camera in the chilly, large, red-white-and-blue-splashed studio she broadcasts from and looks directly into the lens. This election, she says with a grin, has destroyed many archaic ideas. There is triumph in her voice: "The idea that America is too flawed, too scarred by racism to elect a black president? That idea is over. When Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran said back in April that neither a woman nor a black man could ever get elected in a country like this? How satisfying is it to prove that guy wrong? The idea that liberals can't succeed on television? That's over. Yes, we can." It's a fable for a new age.
Would anything closely resembling this be written about that pinhead Bill O'Reilly or Rush Limbaugh?

I think not.

However, it is good to know that Rachel can shoot an AR-15 with the best of them.... I just wonder what her position on gun control is - is she for it (as long as it only restricts AR-15s from the "little people?"

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Friday, November 21, 2008

This is the End.... my beautiful friend, The End

Excellent article in US News & World Report on how Obamacare will spell the end of any sort of conservative - nah, let me be more accurate - free market, classically liberal party in the United States.

How Tom Daschle Might Kill Conservatism
November 21, 2008 02:00 AM ET | James Pethokoukis

The GOP strategist had been joking about the upcoming presidential election and giving his humorous assessments of the candidates. Then he suddenly cut out the schtick and got scary serious. "Let me tell you something, if Democrats take the White House and pass a big-government healthcare plan, that's it. Game over. Government will dominate the economy like it does in Europe. Conservatives will spend the rest of their lives trying to turn things around and they will fail."

And it turns out that the fearsome harbinger of free-market doom is the mild-mannered ex-U.S. senator with the little, red glasses, Tom Daschle. He'll be the guy shepherding President Barack Obama's healthcare plan through Congress via his probable role as secretary of health and human services. At the core of Daschle's thinking on the subject is the creation of a "Federal Health Board that would resemble our current Federal Reserve Board" and ensure "harmonization across public programs of health-care protocols, benefits, and transparency." (Forget secretary of state, Hillary Clinton should shoot for chairman of Fed Health and run one seventh of the U.S. economy.) And the subject of that "harmonization" would be a $100 billion to $150 billion a year plan that would let individuals (and small businesses) buy insurance from private companies or from a government plan.

Daschle and the Obamacrats certainly have the momentum: a near-landslide presidential election victory, at least 58 Democratic votes in the Senate, and a nasty recession that will make many Americans yearn for economic security. Already the health insurance companies seem set back on their heels. The industry's trade organization now says it would accept new rules requiring them to cover pre-existing conditions as long as there was a universal mandate for all Americans to have health insurance. On top of all that, Obama clearly wants to make healthcare reform a priority in his first term, as evidenced by the selection of a heavy hitter like Daschle. And even if he wasn't interested, Congress sure is, with Max Baucus and Ted Kennedy readying a plan in the Senate. A few observations:

1) Passage would be a political gamechanger. Recently, I stumbled across this analysis of how nationalized healthcare in Great Britain affected the political environment there. As Norman Markowitz in Political Affairs, a journal of "Marxist thought," puts it: "After the Labor Party established the National Health Service after World War II, supposedly conservative workers and low-income people under religious and other influences who tended to support the Conservatives were much more likely to vote for the Labor Party when health care, social welfare, education and pro-working class policies were enacted by labor-supported governments."

Passing Obamacare would be like performing exactly the opposite function of turning people into investors. Whereas the Investor Class is more conservative than the rest of America, creating the Obamacare Class would pull America to the left. Michael Cannon of the Cato Institute, who first found that wonderful Markowitz quote, puts it succinctly in a recent blog post: "Blocking Obama's health plan is key to the GOP's survival."

2) Shrinking government would get exponentially tougher. Republicans would face the same problem with healthcare that they currently do with Social Security, persuading people to trade one in the hand (the current system) for two in the bush (a reformed system). And we see how well that has worked out. Combine Obamacare with plans to take away the tax-advantaged status of 401(k) plans and IRAs and you would end up with government responsible for both healthcare and retirement. The big-government constituency would grow and deepen. And remember that fewer and fewer people are paying the incomes taxes that would help pay for increased government services. That breakage of the linkage between taxes and government "benefits" creates toxic incentives for more of both — and an economy more shackled than ever by taxes, debt, and regulation.

3) Republicans better earn to competently talk healthcare. John McCain's healthcare plan was perhaps the most provocative policy proposal of the entire 2008 campaign. Too bad he could neither fully explain how it worked nor persuasively argue why it was better than Barack Obama's plan. Also too bad since his plan would have smartly reduced healthcare costs by getting companies out of the healthcare benefits business and empowering individuals to buy insurance on their own. This would have helped fix what economist Arnold Kling calls the insurance vs. insulation problem: "Insulation relieves the patient of the stress of making decisions about treatment. The patient also does not have to worry about shopping around for the best price. The problem with insulation is that it is not a sustainable form of healthcare finance."

Another interesting healthcare reform option is highlighted by Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam in the book Grand New Party. Uncle Sam would require individuals and families to put 15 percent of their income into health savings accounts. If you run out of money before year-end, the government steps in. If you don't, you get the money back or it rolls over into a retirement account. Of course, any conservative alternative would be easier to implement if it doesn't first have to kill an existing nationalized health plan. But thanks to Tom Daschle, that is just what might have to happen.

All I know is that my 3 year old (at the time) son understood the fact that Soshsecurity was an unsustainable Ponzi scheme, yet a majority of the electorate couldn't give a damn. (For all you leftards out there, asking current workers to pay for current retirees is a Ponzi scheme - without new workers, the house of cards (aka the pyramid) collapses.)

I also know that once socialized health care is passed, our public debates will no longer be about important topics, but rather the number of beds in the nationalized system, the average waiting time for certain procedures, etc, etc. I know, because I've watched these types of debates in Germany's Bundesrat, Britain's Parliament, etc, etc.

I for one am stoked about becoming 21st Century Serf.TM Doing business in America is just too cumbersome to make it a sane investment. Add up the regulations (cost of doing business), the taxation (cost of doing business), the federal and state mandated employee benefits (cost of doing business), and the out of control plaintiff's bar and you can understand why companies would seek to move elsewhere.

I suppose that my contribution will be, as William F. Buckley said, to "stand athwart history, yelling 'STOP!'"

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Aristocracy of Pull

One of my favorite phrases from Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged is "The Aristocracy of Pull." It was a phrase used by Dagny Taggart to describe what the world had become - where business and its leaders advanced not through merit or providing value to their customers, but by their political connections. Those without connections (or who refused to call in their favors) simply couldn't compete. And while those who made the back room deals thought they were setting themselves up for the future, in reality they were just delaying the inevitable decline - since there will always be someone else with greater influence who can undermine you with a sweeter deal.

I've had increasing opportunity to use it over the past year and it would seem that I'll continue to use the phrase for quite some time. This story in the New York Times only proves the point:

November 12, 2008
Lobbyists Swarm the Treasury for Piece of Bailout Pie
By MARK LANDLER and DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK

WASHINGTON — When the government said it would spend $700 billion to rescue the nation’s financial industry, it seemed to be an ocean of money. But after one of the biggest lobbying free-for-alls in memory, it suddenly looks like a dwindling pool.

Many new supplicants are lining up for an infusion of capital as billions of dollars are channeled to other beneficiaries like the American International Group, and possibly soon American Express.

Of the initial $350 billion that Congress freed up [...] the Treasury Department has committed all but $60 billion. The shrinking pie — and the growing uncertainty over who qualifies — has thrown Washington’s legal and lobbying establishment into a mad scramble.
When free money is available and when the gravy train gets started, everyone lines up at the station.

This is news?!?
The Treasury Department is under siege by an army of hired guns for banks, savings and loan associations and insurers — [...]

The lobbying frenzy worries many traditional bankers — the original targets of the rescue program — who fear that it could blur, or even undermine, the government’s effort to stabilize the financial system after its worst crisis since the 1930s.

[...]

“By the time they get to the community banks, there may not be enough money left,” said Edward L. Yingling, the president of the American Bankers Association. “The marketplace is looking at this so rapidly that those who have the money first may have some advantage.”
It would seem that the "pull" of community banks and their lobbyists in the ABA isn't as great as the "pull" of AIG, AmEx, GM, Ford, Chrysler, et al. Get in the back of the line!!!
[...]
Meanwhile, the list of candidates for a piece of the bailout keeps growing.

On Monday, the Treasury announced it would inject an additional $40 billion into A.I.G., amid signs that the government’s original bailout plan was putting too much strain on the company. American Express won approval Monday to transform itself into a bank holding company, making the giant marketer of credit cards eligible for an infusion.

Then there is the National Marine Manufacturers Association, which is asking whether boat financing companies might be eligible for aid to ensure that dealers have access to credit to stock their showrooms with boats — costs have gone up as the credit markets have calcified. Using much the same rationale, the National Automobile Dealers Association is pleading that car dealers get consideration, too.
So, the bailout may now be going to support pleasure boat dealers?!?!?!

Perhaps they didn't get the memo, but it's unlikely that people will be spending a boatload (pun intended) on luxury items like pleasure boats, yachts, etc.
“Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of good news for them individually,” said Jeb Mason, who as the Treasury’s liaison to the business community is the first port-of-call for lobbyists. “The government shouldn’t be in the business of picking winners and losers among industries.”
I'm sure Mr. Mason's replacement (hand-picked by Barry, no doubt) will be able to provide some good news for everyone.
Mr. Mason, 32, a lanky Texan in black cowboy boots who once worked in the White House for Karl Rove, shook his head over the dozens of phone calls and e-mail messages he gets every week. “I was telling a friend, ‘this must have been how the Politburo felt,’ ” he said.
First, it's critical that Mason used to work for Rove... wouldn't want to leave that important tidbit out. (It's hilarious to see ARC's 1st Law at work in the MSM.)

Second, yes... this is exactly how a politburo apparatchik would've felt. Welcome to the United Socialist States of America, komrade! Where is the line for toilet paper again?
[...] Under the terms of the $250 billion capital purchase program announced last month, cash infusions are available to “qualifying U.S. banks, savings associations, and certain bank and savings and loan holding companies, engaged only in financial activities.”

That definition has grown to include private banks and insurers like Allstate and MetLife, which own savings and loans. It may also encompass industrial lenders like GE Capital and GMAC, the financing arm of General Motors, provided they win approval to reclassify themselves as a bank or savings and loan holding company.

[...]

Law and lobbying firms that specialize in government contracting fired off dispatches to clients and potential clients explaining opportunities in the new program. Capitalizing on the surge of interest, several large firms, including Patton Boggs; Akin Gump; P & L Gates; Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson; and Alston & Bird, have set up financial rescue shops.
Urgent Memo: Would you like billions in free government money? Contact your representative at Patton Boggs immediately. For a small lobbying fee, you too could benefit from this important government program, regardless of need!!
Alston & Bird, for example, highlights its two biggest stars — former Senator Bob Dole and former Senator Tom Daschle. Mr. Dole “knows Hank Paulson very well” and has been “very helpful” with the financial rescue groups, said David E. Brown, an Alston & Bird partner involved in its effort.

“And of course, Senator Daschle is national co-chair of the Obama campaign,” Mr. Brown added, noting that because Mr. Daschle is not a registered lobbyist, his involvement is limited to “high level advisory and strategic advice.”

Not that there's any real difference between lobbying and high level advisory & strategic advice (aka back channel communications), but we have to say that, okay?
Ambac Financial Group [...] never needed lobbyists before, said Diana Adams, a managing director. But its clients persuaded the company to hire two Washington veterans — Edward Kutler and John T. O’Rourke — who helped arrange a recent meeting with Phillip L. Swagel, an assistant Treasury secretary. “We haven’t really asked for much in the past,” Ms. Adams said.
Well, Ms. Adams - Time to get your lobbying team staffed, because it will become the most strategic asset for your company over the next four years.
Initially, the banks reacted coolly to the prospect of the government taking direct stakes in them.
[...]

“The biggest surprise was how quickly it went from ‘I don’t need this,’ to ‘How do I get in?’ ” said Michele A. Davis, the head of public affairs at the Treasury, who is Mr. Mason’s boss.
If your competitors are getting free money, you pretty quickly realize that you'd better get your slice of the pie before you find yourself out of business.
Underscoring the many ways companies can take part in the rescue fund, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and other Hispanic business groups met with Mr. Paulson to push for minority contracts in asset management, legal, accounting, mortgage services and maintenance jobs, like plumbing and masonry.
[...]
Ah, yes... we must not leave out the other, tangential stakeholders who will all use their influence to get their little payout.
As the automakers have pushed for federal help, the trade groups for car dealerships and even boat dealerships are pressing their own cases. They argue that showrooms are feeling a squeeze between higher borrowing costs to finance their inventory and slowing consumer sales to move it out the door.

“We have been encouraged by reports that Secretary Paulson is looking to broaden the program,” said Mathew Dunn, head of government relations for the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

Translation: We've been lobbying hard and want to put a good spin on our conversations with Hank, just in case he's still on the fence. Pull and influence is so hard to gauge, you know?

On Friday, the automobile dealers sent Mr. Paulson a letter urging him to keep them in mind.

“A well-capitalized, financially sound dealer network is essential to the success of every automobile manufacturer,” wrote Annette Sykora, a car dealer in Slaton, Tex., and the chairwoman of the National Automobile Dealers Association. “Any government intervention should include provisions to preserve the viability of dealers.”
Actually, I would argue that the dealer network is an outdated relic that impairs the ability of automakers to directly control the quality of the distribution chain of their products. Compare the way people feel about going to a Best Buy to buy a flat panel TV for several thousand vs. going to a car dealership. I don't think the car dealers will get too many positive ratings.

But, we fear change, so the dealer network continues - and may soon be subsidized by the US taxpayer.

In other news, Best Buy, TJ Maxx, and Macy's are all future prospects for a government bailout.

Because no one - absolutely no one - should suffer in these economic times. (Unless you're a current or future taxpayer, of course.)

***UPDATE***
Yet more evidence of the Aristocracy of Pull (H/T Instapundit).

A car czar... just what we need! I just hope he has a Russian, Eastern European, or German accent... might as well get the full effect, right???

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

US Auto Industry, the UAW, and Washington

The US Auto Industry provides a simple demonstration of exactly what happens when major corporations, socialist labor leaders, and regulators (in the form of D.C.) get in bed together.

The socialist labor leaders lobby for (and get) uncompetitive wages.
Washington imposes regulations on fuel standards, but limit the companies' ability to meet them with cars already produced overseas.

The companies accept these "short-term" impositions because

  1. they understand that regulation in reality shields them from other small-fry competitors that may try to unseat them; and
  2. they think that the increased and uncompetitive labor costs won't impact them in the short term and, by the time they do snowball, the company will be so profitable that it won't have any impact
This excellent OpEd in the Wall Street Journal explains why Obama may run into difficulty before he's even sworn in.
Obama's Car Puzzle
By HOLMAN W. JENKINS, JR.

You have in GM's Volt a perfect car of the Age of Obama -- or at least the Honeymoon of Obama, before the reality principle kicks in.

Even as GM teeters toward bankruptcy and wheedles for billions in public aid, its forthcoming plug-in hybrid continues to absorb a big chunk of the company's product development budget. This is a car that, by GM's own admission, won't make money. It's a car that can't possibly provide a buyer with value commensurate with the resources and labor needed to build it. It's a car that will be unsalable without multiple handouts from government.

The first subsidy has already been written into law, with a $7,500 tax handout for every buyer. Another subsidy is in the works, in the form of a mileage rating of 100 mpg -- allowing GM to make and sell that many more low-mileage SUVs under the cockamamie "fleet average" mileage rules.

Even so, the Volt will still lose money for GM, which expects to price the car at up to $40,000.


We're talking about a headache of a car that will have to be recharged for six hours to give 40 miles of gasoline-free driving. What if you park on the street or in a public garage? Tough luck. The Volt also will have a small gas engine onboard to recharge the battery for trips of more than 40 miles. Don't believe press blather that it will get 50 mpg in this mode. Submarines and locomotives have operated on the same principle for a century. If it were so efficient in cars, they'd clog the roads by now. (That GM allows the 50 mpg myth to persist in the press, and even abets it, only testifies to the company's desperation.)

[...]

The media have been terrible in explaining how the homegrown car companies landed in their present fix, when other U.S. manufacturers (Boeing, GE, Caterpillar) manage to survive and thrive in global competition. Critics beat up Detroit for building SUVs and pickups (which earn profits) and scrimping on fuel-sippers (which don't). They call for management's head (fine -- but irrelevant).

[...]

Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi now want to bail out Detroit once more, while mandating that the Big Three build "green" cars. If consumers really wanted green cars, no mandate would be necessary. Washington here is just marching Detroit deeper into an unsustainable business model, requiring ever more interventions in the future.

The Detroit Three will not bounce back until they're free to buy labor in a competitive marketplace as their rivals do. In the meantime, private money, even in bankruptcy, almost certainly will not be available to refloat GM and colleagues. Nationalization, with or without a Chapter 11 filing, is probably inevitable -- but still won't make them competitive.

[...]

[Obama] ran a brilliant campaign, but his programmatic prescriptions amounted to handwaving designed to capture the presidency rather than tell voters what really to expect. This may have been a virtue in campaigning but it becomes a handicap in governing. The public now has no idea what to expect -- except miracles, reconciling all opposites, turning all hard choices into gauzy win-wins. Thanks to Detroit, his honeymoon is about to end before it begins.

That the MSM has allowed Obama to offer unicorns, change, and hope without getting him to lay out any specific details - at least details which are realistic - is a shame.

We've had several posts how the US auto industry has been crippled by big labor and its own incompetence, from labor's demands to continue the use of Rubber Rooms to the faux strikes that it holds to keep its workers in line to the lack of innovation (scroll down).

This chart from Carpe Diem blog is illustrates how it is impossible for our auto manufacturers to be competitive in this global economy. (This chart does not include management personnel for the Big Three or Toyota.)



***UPDATE***
Tom Friedman weighs in on the subject in today's New York Times. He lays the blame primarily on the automaker management (for everything from lack of innovation (agree) and caving in to union demands (agree, but where's the blame for the unions?).

Anyway, his analysis is good, until we get to an idiotic recommendation (originated by a reporter for the Wall Street Journal) on how to fix the mess:
[...]
O.K., now that I have all that off my chest, what do we do? I am as terrified as anyone of the domino effect on industry and workers if G.M. were to collapse. But if we are going to use taxpayer money to rescue Detroit, then it should be done along the lines proposed in The Wall Street Journal on Monday by Paul Ingrassia, a former Detroit bureau chief for that paper.

“In return for any direct government aid,” he wrote, “the board and the management [of G.M.] should go. Shareholders should lose their paltry remaining equity. And a government-appointed receiver — someone hard-nosed and nonpolitical — should have broad power to revamp G.M. with a viable business plan and return it to a private operation as soon as possible. That will mean tearing up existing contracts with unions, dealers and suppliers, closing some operations and selling others and downsizing the company ... Giving G.M. a blank check — which the company and the United Auto Workers union badly want, and which Washington will be tempted to grant — would be an enormous mistake.”
[...]

First, I should note that any "government-appointed receiver" will, by definition, be political.

And perhaps these people do not understand capitalism, but the whole point is that if you do not manage costs and provide sufficient innovation to address your customers' needs, you'll go out of business.

The truly free market response to the failure of GM, Chrysler, Ford to abide by free market principles (albeit with their hands tied behind their backs by the Feds and unions) is for those companies to cease to exist.

Instead of a government-appointed (and politicized) receiver taking over GM, it should be allowed to fail and then private industry could pick up the pieces and make the very difficult decisions which Friedman calls for with the goal of meeting consumer demand. Whether that's an entrepreneur in the US or in China, Japan, etc. is not something that the government can determine. It's for the American entrepreneur to determine.

And, let's assume that the government does assign a receiver with broad powers over decisions involving GM. Who in the hell do you think will be at his door every single day, attempting to influence this "non-political" receiver? Union bosses, shareholders, and government regulators... All will seek to influence any decision of this apparatchik.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Monday, November 10, 2008

Andrew Sullivan Undeterred by Election Results

He continues to investigate Sarah Palin's hoo-hah.

It would appear that my statement that one silver lining of electing Obama was that Andrew Sullivan would lay off Sarah Palin's hoo-hah was incorrect.

Brian's prediction was spot on - Sullivan would continue to investigate, since that hoo-hah was out there, plotting.

He will leave no stone unturned!!!!!!! He is a serious journalist!!!!!

Andrew Sullivan continues to demand evidence to refute the moonbat conspiracy theory that Trig Palin is actually Bristol Palin's son.

From his absolutely terrible blog at The Atlantic:

The Odd Lies Of Sarah Palin XXI: "Correcting The Record"

Just to get back to her looniness. A classic quote from the KTUU interview:
A. Regarding information regarding my record, that is now out there, much of it that was based on misinformation was a very, very frustrating thing to have to go through when the record was never corrected. And we would try to correct the record and too many in the media chose not to make those corrections. I felt too often that we were a bit defenseless, with so many things reported wrongly that could have easily been corrected based on facts.

Q. What misinformation are you talking about?

A. Some of the goofy things like who was Trig's mom. Well, I'm Trig's mom (raises her hand) and do you want to see my medical records to prove that? And days would go by before the mainstream media would even correct that ... well you know it's proven that she is is Trig's mom.
Proven? Where? And where in the MSM did anyone report that Trig was not her biological son? All I did was ask questions - and never received any proof of anything. In fact, there was virtually no attempt to correct the record with Palin's series of increasingly unhinged lies about her own record during the campaign - of all the lies I chronicled, not one was rebutted with facts from the McCain campaign. On the Trig question, I tried for two months to get some kind of basic, evidentiary proof. I asked publicly; I asked privately; the McCain campaign simply refused to give any actual records and attacked the press merely for asking questions. The quote above is therefore another total lie.
What is wrong with you???

Andy - You weren't given any information because your line of questioning is absolutely batsh!t-crazy.

There is no evidence to suggest that Trig is Bristol's son, other than some musing of an internet crackpot who has some serious flaws in character (link is not Safe For Work... seriously).

Again, let me again explain to you how hoo-hahs work, since you understandably have no clue.

You can't give birth to a baby and then get pregnant again in a few days or weeks. The whole birthing process is a little, ummmm, "disruptive" to the whole biology down there.

Imagine passing a cantelope out of your rectum.

Back to Andy
Give us some records of the last pregnancy: maybe a record of the amniocentesis, or doctor visits clearly about a pregnancy, or an interview with the doctor who delivered Trig, Catherine Baldwin-Johnson. Palin has a press avail on Wednesday. Ask for the records, please. She just asked if we wanted them. We do!
"Gimme Gimme Gimme... I demand!!! I will not be deterred from finding out if Trig is really Bristol's son!!!!"

Why should they give you anything? Who the @#%# cares besides some two-bit hack writing for the The Atlantic?

What evidence do you have that gives you the right to demand medical records from Governor Palin?

Stop, jackass. We thought you'd give this up after your last display of idiocy.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Friday, November 07, 2008

Education Indoctrination

This is why my child does not attend a public school.



It's a wonder that our kids learn anything.... I wouldn't damn any child to get an education from this woman. No doubt she's teach of the year in her school.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Good Dog! (First Dog Barney Bites Reuters Reporter)



Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Iowahawk's Exit Interviews - this is perfect!



At least conservatives have a sense of humor and can laugh in the face of loss.

Then I watched is all the way through, kind of sad.

Now there is nuance for you.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC:MontereyJohn

Musings from Instant Messaging

What do Saint and I talk about?

Saint Wendeler: One silver lining to the election being over? Andrew Sullivan won't have to obsess about Palin's hoo-ha anymore

Brian: but he will... he will...
Brian: that hoo-ha is out there somewhere
Brian: plotting

Saint Wendeler
: lol
Saint Wendeler: Iowahawk should do a detective dick series on that

Feel free, Mr. Hawk. Feel free.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: Brian