Sunday, November 30, 2008


Bail-in – a government subsidy that distorts markets. It encourages business ventures which subsequently fail.

On November 25th, Derek Melot's Lansing State Journal column asked: Will Mich. learn from ethanol?
The closing of the Woodbury ethanol plant west of Lansing means Michigan will have four corn ethanol production facilities left. And this is likely the high-water mark of an industry touted not long ago as "one of the best ways that we can add value to our vast agricultural resources and create good jobs in rural areas."

So said James Epolito of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. in 2007 in response to a proposal to build an ethanol plant in Corunna. State and local governments have bestowed their blessings and incentives on this proposal. The plant, though, hasn't been built.

Once again, Michigan has tried to pick a winner in the economic marketplace and the bet has come up a cropper.
On November 30th, former Lansing Mayor David Hollister, an ethanol proponent, gave an answer. Region needs bio alliance to propel economy
While we lack a national mandate to develop bio-products for our domestic autos, we do have incentives created by the lighter and cheaper bio-components and the public's demand for greener, more environmentally friendly cars.

A recent feasibility study of regional bio-manufacturing conducted by the Michigan State University Center for Community and Economic Development found that the tri-county region has unparalleled assets in advanced manufacturing, a skilled work force, diverse agriculture production and world-class bio-manufacturing research and development.
Now, it is fair to point out two things here. First, Hollister favored cellulosic ethanol over corn-based ethanol when he was a fan. Hard to tell if he still is. Second, his Sunday column promoted bio-tech more generally, not corn-based ethanol. Nonetheless, he did support corn-based ethanol as an interim step “to position Mid-Michigan as a world leader in the post-petroleum economy.”

It's also fair to say that it's a good thing that we don't have a national mandate, look what that did for ethanol: Over production leading to bankruptcy. Further, it may well be true that mid-Michigan has advantages in bio-tech. If so, we need government to get out of the way. That isn't happening, but we'll return to our Governor's next tactic a bit later. First, let's see what we know about ethanol – her previous “big thing.”

Currently, ethanol production consumes more energy than it produces. Even worse from the point of view of those distraught by the prospect of manmade global warming, ethanol production investments are not candidates for carbon offset credits any time soon: Iowa’s Ethanol Plants Create 15 Percent of its Emissions

The problem with the government picking winners and, by implication, losers is that government doesn't have to pay for the consequences. You do. In ethanol's case you are suffering from a 54 cent a gallon protectionist tariff on Brazilian ethanol, tax breaks and grants to the corporatist likes of Arthur Daniels Midland, and CAFE standards. If ethanol made sense economically, ethanol plants wouldn't be closing down when oil is “only” $55 a barrel because the government subsidies are no longer enough. If ethanol made so much sense environmentally, why would we impose tariffs on Brazilian imports? It's corporate welfare made easier because it lets bureaucrats feel good about stopping “global warming.”

This is not a bail-out, it's a “bail-in.” It sets up bankruptcy by means of a government distorted market.

In other news, the State of Michigan Biomass Energy Program wouldn't have spent $70,000 on a Biofuels Marketing Campaign: “With the objective to Increase biofuel marketing in Michigan through the development and utilization of branded marketing materials, educational resources, and advertising.”

Marketing just wasn't enough: What went wrong at VeraSun?

The industry is already somewhere between 12 billion and 13 billion gallons of capacity, which is well over the federal mandate of 9 billion gallons the oil industry is required to use this year under the Renewable Fuels Standard.

"We knew it was coming," [Dave] Nelson [board chairman of Midwest Grain processors] said. "I kind of raised a red flag a year ago. We`re just building too fast. We have two billion gallons of excess capacity."

With all that extra ethanol sloshing through the system, there`s little incentive to pay a lot for it. And the oil companies haven`t been.

"Ethanol should never have been a dollar under unleaded gasoline. We were under for most of this last year by 80 cents to a dollar," Nelson said. That`s a factor in ExxonMobil`s record profits this year, Nelson contends.
“Ethanol should never have been a dollar under unleaded gasoline.” Who said? If you produce too much of something the price goes down. Government incentives put ethanol production through the roof. Let's blame Big Oil for not paying more for your product. And, of course, comsumers for not paying more for it at the pump. Dave Nelson got his bail-in and now he's whining about it. Ethanol producer VeraSun files for bankruptcy

So, what are our Governor's plans to cope with this setback? Melot mentions the windpower craze and asks for better government performance this time around, though he doesn't seem to expect it.

Unfortunately, the same objections to government intervention apply to windpower, the promotion of which is the real indication that Michigan will not learn from ethanol. Governor Granholm thinks manufacturing windmills is the “next big thing.” The Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth is promoting it.

As is the Governor herself in photo-ops:
Photo gallery: Granholm in Muskegon to help launch wind-turbine business

On her blog:
The power of the wind

And in her latest predictions for new jobs:
Granholm Says Wind Energy Will Spur Economic Diversification, Job Growth

Lobbyists got on board:

And got mostly what they wanted:
Governor Granholm Signs Historic Energy Legislation


Perhaps this is what the Governor had in mind when she told us we'd be "blown away," unfortunately, wind power isn't all the Governor or T. Boone Pickens make it out to be: UK at 'real risk' of power shortages, report warns
The UK is at "real risk" of imminent power shortages as a result of attempts to shift to more environmentally friendly methods of electrictity production, a report has warned.

...The shortage has been caused by the increase in the level of demand for energy combined with a growing tendency to build wind turbines, at the expense of other, more reliable, electricity sources, it says.
In the recent election, California was smart enough to reject Proposition 10, an initiative to which Mr. Pickens' company, Clean Energy Fuels Corp., gave over 17 million dollars. He wanted to get taxpayers to agree to build infrastructure costing billions to make his natural gas holdings more profitable by building windmills instead of nuclear plants. He needs someone to pay for windmill power delivery infrastructure.

Michigan's Governor should get a clue from what's blowing in the wind, but what are the chances?

The bottom line is that government is generally very bad at picking economic winners. Jennifer Granholm is much worse than that. She should attract all kinds of business and entrepreneurs to Michigan by eliminating corporate taxes and getting right to work legislation passed. It would not take nearly as long here as it did in Ireland for spectacular results. She should take a lesson from Sir John Cowperthwaite, but he'd be her philosophical nemesis.

Update: 1-Dec-08 6:15PM
See also this Krauthammer piece:
Job One: Wean The Economy Off Of Politics

Monday, November 24, 2008

We had to hang pork chops on their necks to get the dogs to play with ignore them

I think we've found some replacement workers for those Islamic cashiers in Minneapolis who refuse to handle bacon, ham, pork chops or pepperoni pizza. These are replacements whose hiring cannot raise a question of religious discrimination by the employer.
Five Iraqi Muslims whose religion forbids them from contact with pork were caught trying to sneak illegally into Britain - in a lorryload of ham.

...A uk [sic] Border Agency spokeswoman said: "We use heartbeat and breath detectors, sniffer dogs and visual searches to find illegal immigrants. A million lorries were searched last year"
Emphasis mine.

Dogs are unclean, too, but playing with them is not really an issue if you are a Muslim hiding in the middle of tons of pork.

Allah apparently regards deceiving infidels as much different from being employed among them.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Why you should be reading Carpe Diem

Google Trends: Rising vs. Falling Gas Prices

State Unemployment Rates

Peter Schiff Opposes the Big Three Bailout

Consumers Have Benefitted [sic] From Car Competition

...It would save you having to click on all these links.

Two must reads - with teasers

By Internet standards, long and medium respectively, but recommended.

The Presidential Nomination Mess
James W. Caesar
The Claremont Institute
...the founders introduced a comprehensive way of looking at the selection process that continued to exercise a broad influence. One of their simplest but most important principles was to consider the presidential selection system a means to an end, not an end in itself. Its purpose was to elevate a meritorious person to the presidency, in a way that promoted the Constitution's design for the office. Their explanation of the system did not celebrate the process as a positive event in its own right, much less as the consummation of American democracy. They focused instead on the need to avoid the many potential problems and dangers attendant on the choice of a chief executive.

The principal objective was to choose a sound statesman, someone "pre-eminent for ability and virtue," in the words of The Federalist, by a method that satisfied republican standards of legitimacy. (The system, with electors to be chosen by the state legislatures or the public, was a remarkably democratic arrangement for its day.) How to identify a person of "virtue" was the crux of the issue. The best way would be a judgment based largely on the individual's record of public service, as determined finally by the electors. The founders' intent was above all to prevent having the decision turn on a demonstration of skill in the "popular arts" as displayed in a campaign. They were deeply fearful of leaders deploying popular oratory as the means of winning distinction; this would open the door to demagoguery, which, as the ancients had shown, was the greatest threat to the maintenance of moderate popular government. By demagoguery, the founders did not mean merely the fomenting of class envy, or harsh, angry appeals to regressive forces; they also had in mind the softer, more artful designs of a Pericles or a Caesar, who appealed to hopeful expectations, "those brilliant appearances of genius and patriotism, which, like transient meteors, sometimes mislead as well as dazzle" (Federalist 68). The greatest demagogues would be those who escaped the label altogether.
Ten Random, Politically Incorrect Thoughts
Victor Davis Hanson
Pajamas Media
...9. As I wrote earlier, the shrill Left is increasingly far more vicious these days than the conservative fringe, and about like the crude Right of the 1950s. Why? I am not exactly sure, other than the generic notion that utopians often believe that their anointed ends justify brutal means. Maybe it is that the Right already had its Reformation when Buckley and others purged the extremists—the Birchers, the neo-Confederates, racialists, the fluoride-in-the-water conspiracists, anti-Semites, and assorted nuts.—from the conservative ranks in a way the Left has never done with the 1960s radicals that now reappear in the form of Michael Moore, Bill Ayers, Cindy Sheehan,, the Daily Kos, etc. Not many Democrats excommunicated for its General Betray-Us ad. Most lined up to see the premier of Moore’s mythodrama. Barack Obama could subsidize a Rev. Wright or email a post-9/11 Bill Ayers in a way no conservative would even dare speak to a David Duke or Timothy McVeigh—and what Wright said was not all that different from what Duke spouts. What separated Ayers from McVeigh was chance; had the stars aligned, the Weathermen would have killed hundreds as they planned.

Rep. Tim Ryan wants to bergeron Honda, Hyundai & Toyota

Every day lately is like a page out of Atlas Shrugged. Here's a Democrat arguing that removing the right to a secret ballot in union organizing campaigns will help the Big 3 and the UAW by forcing unionization on Honda, Hyundai and Toyota plants.
One advantage the Honda and Hyundai plants in Alabama have over the General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford plants in Michigan is lower labor costs. That's because, in part, auto workers in Michigan are represented by the UAW and workers in Alabama aren’t.

...Rep. Tim Ryan, D- Ohio, said enactment of the Employee Free Choice Act “would level the playing field. Each facility would be competing on the same playing field.”
Translation: "Level playing field" means having Al Franken count the organizing votes so everyone is saddled with unsustainable costs. Good idea, Rep. Ryan, but here's a better one: How about we just add an additional tax to non-union auto-manufacturers and eliminate the middleman?

If you don't like that, we could pass a law requiring Toyota, Honda and Hyundai to build fuel-efficient cars. Oh, wait, they're already doing that. I guess we could force them to build overpriced unreliable gas guzzlers, instead. That would level the playing field, then they can ask for a bailout, too.

Harrison Bergeron

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Oh, the Meleagrisity!

As Mark Steyn says,
I didn't think I could like Sarah Palin more than I do, but the nancy boys at MSNBC bleating all over the screen about the Great Turkey Carnage is hilarious. This is a great caption:


I was going to ignore this, as it's been massively covered by the Maim Scream Media™, and is a source of outrage on all the best leftwing blogs, but the clueless angst is uproariously funny and I've talked to a couple of people who hadn't seen or heard about it. Nice roundup of moonbat reaction here.

The New York Times, all atwitter about where food comes from, offers a good example of the insanity. What were they THINKING by embedding the video though?
We’ve differed with Sarah Palin a great deal on substance. We don’t agree with her hardline approach to the Iraq War, her harsh anti-government rhetoric, and her style of negative campaigning.

But we also worry a bit about, how should we put it, the persona she has brought with her to national politics. We did not care at all for the swipe she took against community organizers at the Republican National Convention.

And then there’s this. You don’t have to be a huge animal lover to question why Governor Palin chose to be interviewed — while issuing a traditional seasonal pardon of a turkey — while turkeys were being executed in the background.
Turkeys being executed?! Where's lethal injection when you need it? (Isn't that how they make Butterball™ turkeys?) Obviously cruel and unusual punishment. It's Tofurkey for you on Turkey Day Tanksgiving, November 27th NYT.

Funny, I can't recall the Times expressing such sentiment about video of Daniel Pearl's beheading. Here and here the Times took a balanced and dispassionate, not to say amoral, look at others' use of images of Pearl's death.

November 22nd, VI Day

DNJ photo by Aaron Thompson

Updated to include the bloggers who participated. 11-24-08 :
Gateway Pundit
Little Green Footballs
Pat Dollard
Flopping Aces
Because No One Asked
Dog Opus Blog
Oh No, Another Conservative Blog
Who Is John Galt?
Gathering of Eagles (national)
Gathering of Eagles New York
Gathering of Eagles North Carolina
Stop the ACLU
The Surfing Conservative
Civilian Irregular Information Defense Group
The Wide Awake Cafe
The Foxhole
Lighthouse on the Right
Arming Liberty
Uncle Sam Ate My Baby
Down Is Up
Foreign and Domestic
WOT Daily
The Blog of Record
Serr8d's Cutting Edge
Army Wife: Rants from Ft. Livingroom
Hamilton, Madison, and Jay
Chandler's Watch
Rochester Conservative
The Daily Blogster
I Call BS!
Macker's World
Something should go here, maybe later
Nice Deb
The Bronze Blog
The Irascible Chef
Sharp Right Turn
Tman In Tennessee
Thunder Pig
Sith by Sithwest
Marooned in Marin
Thoughts Enroute
More Weight
The Jack Knows
Red State Rumblings
High Plains Blogger
Air Force Pundit
Fallback LGF
Liberty for USA
Diary of a Madman
The Rumbler Report
D.C. Thornton
Lock and Load
Fat Angie
Oedipal Beatdown
Conservative Action Network
A Herd of Turtles
Penny's Potpurri
Sayyad al Wahabiyya
Brain-Surgery With Spoons
American Syndicalist Party
Public Secrets
Toxic Taxation
Berman Post
The Inquisition
Pax Parabellum
CrossFit Camp Pendleton
Freedom Watch
American Truths
Destination OBX
Fearless Dream
Theodore's World
The Cool Blue Blog
Life With Monkeys
Woody's Place
Wild Weazel
The Atheist Conservative
King's Right Site
We are the Grizzwolds
E3 gazette
GunTrash's Multifarious Blog
mama winger's potluck
the "silent" majority no more!
The Working File
Habits Not Peculiar
Six Meat Buffet
Nobama Forum
The Spirit of Man
Alcove One
paradigm defenestration
The Weeks Review
9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America
Mage's Plane
The Liberator Today
Mount Virtus
Quoth the Raven
Jay Maynard
Armed and Dangerous
Chronicles of Wasted Time
Politically Incorrect
Confederate Yankee
The Jawa Report
Ed Driscoll
Facebook group for Victory in Iraq Day
Barking Moonbat Early Warning System
Exurban League
Noblesse Oblige
Protein Wisdom Pub
Black & Right
Johnson County Republican Party
Winefred's Well
Still Unbounded
The Liberty Boys
Atlanta ROFTers
This is Scooter Country
The Crescent Moon
From My Position...On the Way!
Letters to a Dying Dream
Blogs for Victory
Conservative Diggs
Erica Marceau
Pirate's Cove
Let's Get It Right
Cmblake6's Weblog
What Bubba Knows
Psycmeister's Ice Palace!
Stable of Zionist Hore #2
Conservative in Seattle
Right Side News
Karridine Delivers
Zim's View
I Am, Therefore I Think
Patriot Missive
USS Neverdock
Dan Cirucci
The Conservative Contessa
The Four Rs
Wake up America
The C-Square
Sarge Charlie
Red-Hot Right
Echoes in Eternity
American Infidel
supporting the troops
One Model Place
The Dumber Ox
The Lightning News
2nd Exposure
Lindy's Blog: Where Mom is Always Right
Comics Pundit
No Clever Pseudonym
Free Frank Warner
The Digital Hairshirt
The Blue Pelican
Nothing But the Facts
Environmental Republican
Irons in the Fire
no blood for sauerkraut!
The Individualizer
Nebulous Continuum
Take Our Country Back
The Conservative Radical
Zion Beckons
Soldiers' Angels Germany
Paul Ibrahim
jweaks on Squidoo
Marie's Two Cents
The Other Club
The Anchoress
Beyond the Veil
Michigan Taxes Too Much
Once More Into the Breach
Stix Blog
Freedom's Candle
Citizen Dain
Raja Rants
Papa Mike's Blog
Wheat & Weeds
Eye On The World
Eugene Rant
There and Back Again
The Minority Report
The Autopsy
All Those Wires!
Shadowcaste Center for Advanced Conservative Studies
E Maua Ola i Moku o Keawe
Defend America
McDonald 2012
Star Position
Infidels Are Cool
The Big Picture
What Is Hip

Friday, November 21, 2008

Bailing out the Big 3 - A Plan

Today Congress asked the Big 3 to come up with a plan for how they would use the $25 billion of taxpayers' money they are asking to be allowed to transfer to the UAW.

I do appreciate the whimsical entertainment these executives of, temporarily, billion dollar companies provided by going begging in Washington without a plan in the first place. I wonder if that's how they approve new car designs, without plans? I'm equally impressed by the fact that our elected representatives gave them dozens of hours of attention before raising the point. Still, just before they boarded their private jets to fly back to cloud-cuckoo land these captains of corporate welfare had the temerity to say, "We've all got our own strategies, you know, and there's only so much we can make public in view of the fact we're competitors."

The answer to this is, "It's obvious we don't care what your secret plans are, you dolts. If you could come up with any kind of coherent plan it would be news to all of us. The only planning we're interested in is how you will reduce the ruinous costs you incur as poorly run Health and Benefit Administration companies. Your secret plans for your sideline, building cars, are worth less than options on your stock.

Just to prevent confusion on your part, here's an example of what would constitute "A Plan" -

We will reduce our overall cost of labor and benefits to the levels of successful auto manufacturers. At minimum we will take a 30% across the board reduction in total compensation. That does not mean an average, that means every employee, executive, Board member and pensioner. We will further reduce executive perks by 75% and we're willing to let the UAW decide the specific reductions. Their leadership will similarly reduce their perks at our discretion. Money saved here will go directly to support pensioners' benefits.

Any and all contributions from the Big 3 and our Unions currently being made to political parties, PACs, "causes," or lobbyists - including the salaries of all employees engaged in lobbying - will redirected to sustaining our pensioners benefits. These payments will be maintained at current levels for 5 years, at which time we will ask Congress to review the necessity.

We propose that Congress redirect the $25 billion already approved to help us retool to meet Congress' draconian CAFE standards into annuities for our pensioners. Whatever exists in current pension accounts will be added to those annuities in addition to amounts mentioned above. Any shortfall in the required funding will be made up from perpetual options to buy our stock at 2 times the closing price on December 1st, 2008. We are sorry promises made to the people who built our companies cannot be better met, but this would be a deal superior to what they'll get if we liquidate. In any case, since they helped build this mess, they will have to help solve it.

Finally, should this plan fail, we ask that a further $25 billion be allocated to provide unemployment benefits and/or retraining on an equal dollar basis to all employees who would lose their jobs as a result of liquidation. That is to say, a lump sum payment to each employee to be used however the employee wishes. It's not that we expect the Federal government to do a good job administering this, but it would obviously, and sadly, be better than anything we could come up with.

Meanwhile, as the useful bits of our physical assets would then necessarily be parceled out to Honda and Toyota at even less than they'd bring now, and the replacement parts manufacture industry would explode, we urge those companies that benefit to learn from our example. Also, we beg forgiveness in advance from our stockholders and from the American people for destroying hundreds of billions of dollars of our societies' wealth.

In return we ask that Congress and all regulatory authorities allow us to build cars as we decide to build them. All regulation enacted since 2006 is frozen. We desire no turnback of safety, emission or mileage standards, simply that they will not be changed by government until at least 2018. If we are still capable of innovating, let us do so. If we are not, let us fail."

That would get my vote, and my assistance in a "structured bankruptcy" to bring it about. Otherwise they can have an unstructured bankruptcy.

VI Day

November 22nd is Victory in Iraq Day.
By every measure, The United States and coalition forces have conclusively defeated all enemies in Iraq, pacified the country, deposed the previous regime, successfully helped to establish a new functioning democratic government, and suppressed any lingering insurgencies. The war has come to an end. And we won.

What more indication do you need? An announcement from the outgoing Bush administration? It's not gonna happen. An announcement from the incoming Obama administration? That's really not gonna happen. A declaration of victory by the media? Please. Don't make me laugh. A concession of surrender by what few remaining insurgents remain in hiding? Forget about it.
Much more here.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

National Public Re-education

I listened to the whole "Tell me more" NPR interview with Bill Ayers and I extracted bits for direct rebuttal up until about 8:30. That's as much as I could listen to more than once (in order to transcribe) out of 21 minutes. I only listened to it at all because a friend asked me to. The comments following are based on that specific time-slice and then more general objections to Bill Ayers worldview.

NPR starts by calling the Weather Underground Organization a "radical anti-war group" while acknowledging that the WUO conducted "bombings and protests." That's as weaselly a conflation as you'll find in any revisionist history textbook. "Oh, they held some demonstrations and they bombed a dozen places. You know, radical."

And, I'd say calling the WUO a "radical anti-war group" is praising by faint damns.

Ayers denies that the Weather Underground was a terrorist organization, instead saying it was a militant one. He says, therefore, that bombing the Capitol Building, the Pentagon, the NYC Police Headquarters, a San Francisco Police Station and a judge’s home is not terrorism. A person, then a child, living at that home begs to differ.

This is not to mention that Ayers' friends died when the nail filled bomb they planned to set off at a dance at Fort Dix exploded while they were assembling it. In a normal criminal case Ayers would be charged with murder because his co-conspirators died in the course of attempted murder.

Ayers' wife was almost certainly directly responsible for the death of at least one policeman, blinding another and causing severe injury to more. Here and here.

Never mind that, says NPR, let's get to the question of Ayers keeping a low profile during the election. Everybody knows Ayers gave no interviews, for reasons as good as Jeremiah Wright's. Ayers, however, misconstrues the question to his advantage. NPR has no objection. Ayers: "I wasn't silent, I spoke to my students, I spoke to my classes, I spoke at Universities..." More's the pity that he stayed underground, merely polluting young minds, instead of making clandestine radio broadcasts about the need to destroy the government as did the WUO.

Ayers: "I have a capacity to dissociate myself from the kind of cartoon character that gets periodically, uh, created around me." This is true, depending on who you think is a cartoon character. That's exactly how he regarded those he was willing to slaughter in his WUO days; as cartoon characters. He can dissociate himself quite easily from normal human morality if you happen to disagree with his ideas. Ayers is an avowed Marxist who calmly plotted to place 25 million Americans in extermination camps after the US had been overthrown by his efforts and occupied by the Chinese and Soviets. The fact that he was delusional about the means doesn't change his motive - he just never got the opportunity.

"I've had decades of public's dishonest to turn me into this if I were some kind of a toxic agent..." Well, the 2001 picture of you wiping your feet on the flag, when added to your past words and actions, makes me willing to go there, sir.

Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn advocated the violent overthrow of the government of the United States, and they have blood on their hands from the attempt. NPR is participating in their national rehabilitation and attempting our re-education. I hate that I'm paying for NPR or any part of Ayers' salary or grant dispensations.

Bill Ayers is lying about his WUO past. When he prattles about his association with Barack Obama, "if you share a meeting or a take a bus downtown together, or have a cup of coffee together, somehow, then they are responsible for each other's behavior and politics," he's lying by answering a different question than has been asked.

Hell, he once thought the ChiComs would help him occupy America, why wouldn't he press his views on a wet-behind-the-ears community organizer? Obama knew Ayers' thoughts well. How could Professor Ayers have avoided the lectures? "It's a degraded part of political culture that you have to agree in order to talk." That reminds me greatly of someone else who glossed over murderous international disagreements as if they were just talk. The good news is that that was probably just talk.

NPR throws a puffball to Ayers, "The McCain campaign suggested that you are not only a terrorist, but an unrepentant one." Well, that's what I take as the plain meaning of Ayers claim that he wishes he had "done more" when asked about the bombings. Ayers claims he meant "didn't do enough to end the war," but he must count the disaster of the failed Fort Dix bombing and the unrealized extermination camps in there somewhere, too.

Ayers calls his activities "extreme vandalism against property." He says, "never did the Weather Underground target people, never did it hurt or harm or kill anyone" Bullshit. And bullshit. Extreme vandalism against property is flying airliners into the World Trade Center, it's just tough cookies there were some infidels in there at the time. Not at all like an NCO club dance at Fort Dix where the soldiers and their dates were the targets, not the building.

Ayers is also wrong about the United States being a state sponsor of terrorism now or in 1968. If the US was practicing terror in 1968, it was doing so on our own soldiers. I recommend "Dereliction of Duty" by H. R. McMaster as an illustration of how evil the government was. But not in the way Ayers thought.

Many people did oppose the Vietnam War. I was eventually among them. My reasons for opposing it; that we showed no will, intent or plan to WIN it, would never have occurred to Bill Ayers. I was not alone in this view or in condemning the draft as involuntary servitude, but Ayers counts all opposition to the War as agreement with his policies and practices. That was never even vaguely true.

I'll admit Ayers is good, especially if you accept his premises. Maybe he should be Press Secretary.

The character of anyone who would shake Bill Ayers' hand must come into serious doubt either in the case of judgment or, to put it politely, unbridled opportunism. I'm now tending to think it's the latter for our President-elect. That's an improvement over what I expected was the case. We will see.

In any case, one can hope Bill Ayers never sees the inside of the Lincoln bedroom.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Well, it's got the word "bank" in it, doesn't it?
-H. Paulson

From the Detroit News, Jobs bank programs -- 12,000 paid not to work
Ken Pool is making good money. On weekdays, he shows up at 7 a.m. at Ford Motor Co.'s Michigan Truck Plant in Wayne, signs in, and then starts working -- on a crossword puzzle. Pool hates the monotony, but the pay is good: more than $31 an hour, plus benefits.

"We just go in and play crossword puzzles, watch videos that someone brings in or read the newspaper," he says. "Otherwise, I've just sat."

Pool is one of more than 12,000 American autoworkers who, instead of installing windshields or bending sheet metal, spend their days counting the hours in a jobs bank set up by Detroit automakers and Delphi Corp. as part of an extraordinary job security agreement with the United Auto Workers union.

The jobs bank programs were the price the industry paid in the 1980s to win UAW support for controversial efforts to boost productivity through increased automation and more flexible manufacturing.

As part of its restructuring under bankruptcy, Delphi is actively pressing the union to give up the program.

With Wall Street wondering how automakers can afford to pay thousands of workers to do nothing as their market share withers, the union is likely to hear a similar message from the Big Three when their contracts with the UAW expire in 2007 -- if not sooner.

"It's an albatross around their necks," said Steven Szakaly, an economist with the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor. "It's a huge number of workers doing nothing. That has a very large effect on their future earnings outlook."

General Motors Corp. has roughly 5,000 workers in its jobs bank. Delphi has about 4,000 in its version of the same program. Some 2,100 workers are in DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group's job security program. Ford had 1,275 in its jobs bank as of Sept. 25. The pending closure of Ford's assembly plant in Loraine, Ohio, could add significantly to that total. Those numbers could swell in coming years as GM and Ford prepare to close more plants.

Detroit automakers declined to discuss the programs in detail or say exactly how much they are spending, but the four-year labor contracts they signed with the UAW in 2003 established contribution caps that give a good idea of the size of the expense.

According to those documents, GM agreed to contribute up to $2.1 billion over four years. DaimlerChrysler set aside $451 million for its program, along with another $50 million for salaried employees covered under the contract. Ford, which also maintained responsibility for Visteon Corp.'s UAW employees, agreed to contribute $944 million.

Delphi pledged to contribute $630 million. In August, however, Delphi Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Robert S. "Steve" Miller said the company spent more than $100 million on its jobs bank program in the second quarter alone.

..."The union probably realizes the money to pay for these programs probably doesn't exist," Szakaly said. "There's going to have to be some give on the jobs bank."

While the job banks may exemplify the sort of excesses that give unions a bad name, experts say it is wrong to cast all the blame in the direction of Solidarity House. He said the leaders of GM, Ford and Chrysler also bear some responsibility for the current problems.

"If these guys built cars people wanted, this wouldn't even be an issue," Szakaly said.
Really? If the Big 3 didn't forgo hundreds or thousands of dollars on every single car they built, this "wouldn't be an issue?" GM just has to build cars so much better than Honda and Toyota that consumers will pay a hefty premium for them? Good luck with that. RTWunbelievableT

The combined market cap of the Big 3 is now around $8 billion (GM 1.9, Ford 4.0, Chrysler is private, but let's guess 2.0). Who, in their right mind would "lend" 300%+ of market value to companies that pay people $31 an hour, plus Cadillac benefits, to do crossword puzzles?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Job applications

One question (of 63) Barack Obama is asking of all applicants for federal appointment under his administration:
"Do you or any members of your immediate family own a gun?" (page 7, question 59).
I would have to answer, "Yes, several, and I'm thinking about buying a high capacity semi-automatic "assault" rifle before January 20th. Just, you know, 'cause I don't want to be told later I can't."

It is hard to be certain what this question portends for spoils seekers, since it was apparently OK for Obama's new Veep, Joe "I'm the guy that originally wrote the "assault weapons" ban" Biden, to own 2 guns himself.

Given Obama's history, however, one suspects a "yes" answer to this question from lesser lights than Shotgunner Joe is unlikely to be positive for their prospects.
...[When] Obama was a state senator in Illinois, ... he supported increasing federal excise taxes on guns and ammunition by 500 percent, banning compact handguns, limiting the frequency of gun purchases, banning the sale of guns (except antiques) at gun shows, charging a person with a felony offense if his gun were stolen and used in a crime, prohibiting people under age 21 from possessing guns, increasing the gun dealer licensing fee, prohibiting dealers from conducting business at gun shows or within five miles of a school or park, and banning police agencies from selling old service firearms to generate funds to buy new firearms for their officers.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

No comment II

The following is Google's cache of , Barack Obama's policy Website.
Address Gun Violence in Cities: As president, Barack Obama would repeal the Tiahrt Amendment, which restricts the ability of local law enforcement to access important gun trace information, and give police officers across the nation the tools they need to solve gun crimes and fight the illegal arms trade. Obama and Biden also favor commonsense measures that respect the Second Amendment rights of gun owners, while keeping guns away from children and from criminals who shouldn't have them. They support closing the gun show loophole and making guns in this country childproof. They also support making the expired federal Assault Weapons Ban permanent, as such weapons belong on foreign battlefields and not on our streets.
Obama's entire Urban Policy Agenda page has been disappeared as of the moment. The NRA has a view.

Start bailing

If you were say, Prime Minister of the UK, Italy or Iraq: How would this leak strike you? For myself, I'd be thinking about preconditions before I spoke with Obama in confidence. Emphasis mine.
The 43rd president and the man who will be the 44th - and first black - commander in chief met alone in the Oval Office, with no handlers or staff. It was Obama's first time in the storied workspace, even though he had been to the White House previously for events.

...Neither the Bushes nor the Obamas spoke to reporters. Aides who described the discussion about the auto industry did so on grounds of anonymity, citing the private nature of the meeting.
The "private nature of the meeting?"

If I was Obama I'd either be wondering about my staff or smug in the knowledge I'd gotten away with this. I can't see an alternative.

The 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month - A Pittance of Time reprise

If we do not remember those who gave their lives to preserve our way of life, we are likely to lose that way of life by the worst possible means - the habit of thinking things had to be the way they are and not some other way. This lesson is not buried in some dusty tome; our grandparents know better. How could we forget?

Some of us understand that things are the way they are because some soldiers were - and are - so committed to liberty as to give their own lives in its defense. Sadly, the vast majority of us do not seem committed to remember this debt.

re is encouragement for this amnesia. We have many enemies, and putative friends, who desire that we forget past courage and honor. They desire that the remembrance of the justice of the causes of the past should slip away. They view even their own immediate ancestors - who rose to meet challenges of personal and cultural annihilation - as quaint throwbacks to an unenlightened age.

These enemies and self-declared friends are wrong. We must reject their idea that our enemies are simply people we haven't yet had the intelligence to recognize as our moral equivalents.

Remember Ypres, Belleau Wood and Dieppe. Do not forget Iwo Jima or The Bulge or the Chosen Reservoir or Khe Sanh.

And Khe Sanh is a good example of how an agenda of defeat twists logic: At Khe Sanh 205 Americans were killed, while the North Vietnamese lost between ten and fifteen thousand. The Western press portrayed Khe San as a defeat. Like Tet. Do not forget Tet, where Walter Cronkite surrendered, on our behalf, following our resounding victory.

Our enemies had these "victories" because, while our soldiers were annihilating them, we lost heart. We should certainly remember that.

What we remember will affect what we think. The ritual denigration of the US military continues to affect Associated Press headlines 40 years after Tet, as observed by TOC.

Veterans day is not an event that counters this defeatism, where will we find the will to win the war against Islamofascism? Respect for those who gave their lives on our behalf LAST WEEK is as necessary as respect for those who died in the Civil War and WWI and WWII and Korea and Viet Nam.

Without our continuing consciousness of their effort, those who have died and those who die tomorrow on behalf of our present freedom, are literally dust. You must not let that happen. They died for their homes and families and friends, and for a rule of law and traditions they cherished and a future they believed in; they died for you.

This truth was not a question until latter half of the 20th Century.

In 1918 Moina Belle Michael read a Canadian Army doctor's poem, In Flanders Fields, written about the horrors he saw in the Ypres salient.
In Flanders Fields

by John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep,
though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
This inspired Michael to write her own poem,We Shall Keep the Faith
We Shall Keep the Faith
by Moina Michael, November 1918

Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet - to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.

We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.

And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honor of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We'll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.
Moina Michael went on to campaign for the poppy as a national symbol of gratitude to those who had died in the war. She started the tradition of the poppy as a symbol of remembrance.

I have never had the opportunity to make a donation for a poppy in the United States, but I have kept one I contributed a few dollars for in Canada, where the Royal Canadian Legion offers them near Remembrance Day - November 11th.

The Royal Canadian Legion has some links to music appropriate to remembrance. here's one worth a listen on Memorial Day or Veterans Day: Terry Kelly comments on some anonymous individual who apparently couldn't observe 2 minutes of silence on the 11th Hour of the 11th day of the 11th month - A Pittance of Time. LISTEN TO IT.

It seems appropriate on a day of gratitude to fallen warriors and failing memories.

Monday, November 10, 2008

No comment

The New York Times tells us Jamie Gorelick is being considered as Obama's Attorney General. According to the Times she was:
Vice chairwoman at Fannie Mae, the giant mortgage lender, where she was paid a reported $25.6 million in salary and other compensation from 1998 to 2003.

...She has also drawn criticism for her role at the Justice Department, in which she allegedly created an intelligence “wall” that hindered counterterrorism agents in the years before the Sept. 11 attacks.

General Motors, Corporatist Giant

OK, what's better for GM in the long run, a bailout leaving the creditors and Union contracts in place or a Chapter 11 chance to reset?

Just asking. Seems like this is more a bailout of the UAW.

Update. 7:50PM From Carpe Diem:

Also read

Update. 8:10PM Professor Bainbridge - No Bailout for the Auto Industry

Semper Fi

Happy 233rd birthday, Marines.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

And don't forget who invented it!

Pompous windbag notes oceans ceasing to rise.
Former US vice president Al Gore said an Internet revolution carrying Barack Obama to the White House should now focus its power on stopping Earth's climate crisis.

The one-time presidential contender turned environmental champion told Web 2.0 Summit goers in San Francisco Friday that technology has provided tools to save the planet while creating jobs and stimulating the crippled economy.
What, illegal use of credit cards will save the planet? Maybe they're "carbon credit" cards.

Involuntary servitude

Well, they've done for the 1st Amendment, they're continually attacking the 2nd and they ignore the 10th. Next, they want to suspend the 13th Amendment:
Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime where of the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2. Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Obama's "community service" requirement, as originally stated, would impose involuntary servitude. Here's the original:
Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by developing a plan to require 50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college every year.
After the "requirement" was noticed, Obama's staff Changed it to:
Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by setting a goal that all middle school and high school students do 50 hours of community service a year and by developing a plan so that all college students who conduct 100 hours of community service receive a universal and fully refundable tax credit ensuring that the first $4,000 of their college education is completely free.
This bribe, with money looted from taxpayers, just doesn't seem "fair" to those who decline the offer. I suggest that we spread the community service, by creating an "hour bank" where deposits are made by those who do serve and given to those who don't based on need. Call it a community service cut.

Or, we could just split the money. That has the advantage of simpler accounting.

I wonder if you'll get extra credit as an unpaid ACORN volunteer?

: 11:36AM Check out Bizzyblog for a very good post on this.

Friday, November 07, 2008

US Economy to be guided by Jennifer Granholm

Serves 53% of the rest of the country right, I suppose. Maybe McCain should have left Bill Ayers alone and talked about Obama's association with Jennifer Granholm.

From the Detroit Free Press:
Granholm, Bonior join Obama's economic transition team
WASHINGTON -- Gov. Jennifer Granholm and former U.S. Rep. David Bonior will serve on a panel of financial luminaries and corporate experts advising President-elect Barack Obama on the nation’s hard-bitten economy, ensuring Michigan, its troubled auto industry and labor has [sic] a seat at the table.
Transition to WHAT, a Third World economy? The elimination of secret ballots? Even less ability to balance a budget? An approval rating in the 30s? Doubling down on recession? $50 billion in automotive industry corporate welfare? Government seizure of 401(k)s?

The burning question, though, is which does Obama consider Granholm to be, a "financial luminary" or a "corporate expert?" Inquiring minds want to know. After all, Obama claims it is his superior judgment that qualifies him for the Presidency - it obviously can't be learning from example. He should check out Robert Owen for that.

Maybe the theory is that if Granholm disagrees with you, you are on the right track. Maybe it's a Chicom plot to reduce US consumption (counter intuitive that they would say this, I know, but talking about it encourages the Green Party and damages America). Maybe Obama is considering offering Jennifer a cabinet post and this is a trial buffoon, though like her husband, I worry about her children should that come to pass. They should not be left alone with him for periods exceeding 30 minutes.

I hope, like card check, there are no secret ballots for the Politburo this committee.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Transformational reading II

FDR prolonged -- not ended -- great depression
Harold L. Cole and Lee E. Ohanian - UCLA economists

Atlas Shrugged

The Fountainhead
Ayn Rand
Start with The Fountainhead

The Vision of the Anointed
Race and Culture
Thomas Sowell

Economics in One Lesson
Henry Hazlitt

Robert Bork

These, and the readings mentioned here, will help you understand the next 4 years.

Update: Darcey makes a great suggestion:
Liberal Fascism
Jonah Goldberg

Update: Some more good reads from mitch (more info in the comments):

Amity Shlaes, "The Forgotten Man"

Mark Steyn, "America Alone"

Benjamin Graham "The Intelligent Investor"

Charles MacKay "Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds"

Eric Hoffer "The True Believer"

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The good news

1-This country demonstrated the ability to ignore the color of a person's skin, even while we are abysmally misjudging the content of his character.

2-There is an opportunity for the right not to act like MoveOn, Democrat Underground or The Daily Kos.

3-We're finally rid of the Clintons.

4-Campaign Finance is dead as we have known it.

5-Even Jesus could not satisfy all the expectations Obama has created.

6-The Democrats have to put up or shut up - but they are not smart enough to do either.

7-The Maim Scream Media™ lost all credibility, even with the uninformed.

8-To try and regain that credibility, the MSM will turn on Obama. (See 5 & 6).

9-The GOP got the thumping it so richly deserved, but the Dems didn't get to 60 Senate seats.

10-For the first time in over 100 years, Michigan voters elected a black Republican to the House of Representatives. Michigan, in fact, elected two black Republicans - Larry DeShazor and Paul Scott.

11-Affirmative action race-based preferences ought to be dead.

12-Sarah Palin will be back.

Transformational reading

The Constitution of the United States

The Road to Serfdom
- F. A. Hayek

Heaven on Earth
- Joshua Muravchik

Eat the Rich

- P. J. O'Rourke

Capitalism and Freedom

- Milton Friedman

Rules for Radicals
- Saul Alinsky

Monday, November 03, 2008

The Vice of Selflessness

I have no brief for John McCain. My praise to criticism ratio is probably similar to MSNBC's - around 1 to 1000. I expounded on McCain's "selflessness" here in 2006. You may find it of interest after reading the following.

John McCain's regard for his selfless image is his biggest single problem. It has damaged his campaign and distorted his responses to crises during that campaign. This narcissism, however, is of an entirely different order than Barack Obama's. I hope any undecided voter reading this may be persuaded that the difference is consequential.

McCain does not suffer from Obama's all-consuming narcissism - where the Presidency is simply a prop on the stage of Obama's ego. No, McCain is obviously humbled by the prospect of being President. He respects the office in ways Obama can't imagine: John McCain would never have presumed to design his own Presidential Seal or have faux-Greek styrofoam columns built for a convention acceptance speech. John McCain would never have delivered a speech in Berlin criticizing his own country, claiming to be a "citizen of the world," in a calculated move to bask in the reflected glory of John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, especially not as a barely one-term Senator who had spent most of that term campaigning for President. John McCain would never say of securing the Presidential nomination, "This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal."

Obama did say that. The evidence is overwhelming that he actually believes it. What is the Presidency in comparison?

Still, McCain does sometimes seems confused about core principles when he encounters a novel question: What he displays instead is situational moral outrage. Fortunately, he has been in so many situations we know what to expect. So, if "situational moral outrage" seems a scary characteristic for a Commander in Chief; remember, you KNOW infinitely more about McCain in this regard than you do about Obama (aside from Biden's guarantee of an International crisis).

You should only be frightened of McCain as CinC if you think we should have abandoned Iraq on Obama's timetable: In which case you haven't read this far. McCain is highly trustworthy as CinC, both because he is not naive about evil and because he has been intimately acquainted with the inside of War. Maybe that's redundant. Nevertheless, this is the area where Obama has clearly demonstrated the principles of a water-moccasin.

It is not personal glory with which John McCain is obsessed. His hubris is of a less malign sort. He is possessed of an internally defined moral certitude that can divert him from considering principle when the certitude is challenged. This is probably what makes you fear voting for McCain. It does me. I've simply recognized that Obama is far, far more to be feared.

The good news is that McCain has been around so long we've been exposed to 99.9% of the major mistakes of principle he will make - and he's demonstrated moral certitude that many of Obama's worst promises ARE mistakes. Insofar as we well know McCain, we can trust him to screw up in predictable ways.

Bottom line - Obama is far the more dangerous narcissist. He is a megalomaniac with insufficient respect for the office he seeks. He does have a better grip on his principles, perhaps, but since they derive from people like Saul Alinsky, I am afraid of what an Obama Presidency means for my grandson.

Updated & bumped 3-Nov 7:25 Reagan/Kennedy line added

It's not over until the polls close - Vote!

McCain for President
By Charles Krauthammer

McCain for President, Part II
By Charles Krauthammer

Ego and Mouth
by Thomas Sowell

A closing argument for John McCain
By John H. Hinderaker and Scott W. Johnson

By Neal Boortz

The comprehensive argument against Barack Obama
By Guy Benson and Mary Katharine Ham
Editor and Contributor, Ed Morrissey

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