Sunday, December 28, 2008

Nguzo Saba The 7 Principles of Blackness

Kwanzaa may be fading into obscurity, but the Lansing State Journal apparently didn't get the memo: African-American celebration brings community together
Lansing resident Lucy Stevenson was introduced to Kwanzaa when she joined St. Stephen's Community Church five years ago.

Since then, she's learned about the holiday's principles of responsibility and unity.

Stevenson said she considers Kwanzaa's message a lifestyle.

"It's about loving one another," she said. "Love covers it all."

...Kwanzaa is a seven-day observance that begins the day after Christmas.

...Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Ron Karenga, an African-American scholar.
That African-American scholar, aka Ron Everett and Maulana Karenga, served 4 years in California State Prison for felony sexual assault and false imprisonment. While leader of the racist "United Slaves" organization he and his friends assaulted and tortured Deborah Jones and Gail Davis for two days. The Los Angeles Times reported that, "Deborah Jones, who once was given the title of an African queen, said she and Gail Davis were whipped with an electrical cord and beaten with a karate baton after being ordered to remove their clothes. She testified that a hot soldering iron was placed in Miss Davis' mouth and placed against Miss Davis' face and that one of her own big toes was tightened in a vice. Karenga, head of US, also put detergent and running hoses in their mouths, she said".

Not precisely what you'd expect from a moralist exhorting blacks to "leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it". Some people can look past this, however,
"We stress the seven principles of Kwanzaa. It's not just an event, but a way of life," said Renee Boyd of Lansing. "Things are definitely improving."
When Kalenga founded Kwanzaa he called these principles "The 7 Principles of Blackness." Here's the complete list:
  1. Umoja (Unity): "to strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race"
  2. Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): "to define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves"
  3. Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): "to build and maintain our community together and make our brother's and sister's problems our problems and to solve them together"
  4. Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): "to build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together"
  5. Nia (Purpose): "to make our collective vocation the building and development of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness"
  6. Kuumba (Creativity): "to do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it"
  7. Imani (Faith): "to believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle"
Here's how principle number 4 is perceived in Lansing:
Bennie Boyd said one of Kwanzaa's principles, cooperative economics, is a vital cog for the black community.

"If black people don't support black businesses, there won't be any," he said.
In fact, Ujamaa is what Julius Nyerere, the socialist leader of Tanzania, called his disastrous policy of putting tens of thousands of Tanzanians on collective farms. By following that principle there wouldn't be any black owned businesses to support, they'd all belong to the government.

So, celebrate any set of principles you want, but let's not pretend Karenga's "7 Principles of Blackness" are about loving one another. Nor as
Karenga explained in his 1977 Kwanzaa: Origin, Concepts, Practice, 'Kwanzaa is not an imitation, but an alternative, in fact, an oppositional alternative to the spookism, mysticism and non-earth based practices which plague us as a people and encourage our withdrawal from social life rather than our bold confrontation with it.'
...appropriate for celebration in a Christian church.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tales from the Line

In the summer of 1965 I worked as a "Sweeper" on the assembly line at the Fisher Body plant in Lansing, Michigan. I found that my job required less than 3 hours actual work in an 8 hour shift. Being a guy who liked to read, I would spend much of the 5 hours I had no work sequestered in various nooks and crannies with a book.

One day, I was reading Atlas Shrugged while sitting on a box of parts about 8 feet off the floor. This height proved insufficient to avoid the notice of the General Foreman, and he reamed me from stern to stem. What I gathered from this was that I should not appear idle, even if the job more or less implied idleness for an able bodied adult.

This seemed just bizarre until the end of the shift, then it got yet a bit more curious. As I punched out, the guys doing the same job before and behind my section of the line gestured me over. They were leaning on their brooms as they held a discussion as if I were not there. They discussed what it looked like if someone didn't pretend to have 8 hours work as a sweeper, and how that could screw up everybody's life - mostly the life of the guy who couldn't dawdle through 8 hours while accomplishing 3 hours of work.

I said, "You know, if you don't like the way I do the job you could complain to the General Foreman. In any case, I can do your jobs on top of mine and I'd do it for only double the pay. Should I ask about the possibility?" This drew a string of expletives and threats that I probably should have taken more seriously. In any event, 2 months later I was at the very beginning of the process of flunking out of the University of Michigan. The veteran sweepers (and there has to be an oxymoron there) didn't have me to think about kicking around any more.

After a year at UofM, where I learned much of value - but little of it from classes - I returned to working at Fisher Body in the spring of 1966.

Later that year I was working "extra board," basically I could do all the jobs on my section of the line and filled in for absentees, or I provided "relief" breaks by doing someone's job for 12 minutes at a time. I was often lent out to other departments where I had to pick up a new job on the fly. I was paid an additional dime an hour for this flexibility.

1967 was the year a few line workers had an extra task added to their job. That was to apply a sticker to the inside frame of the driver side door.

This is the sticker.

The small type at the bottom says "MARK OF EXCELLENCE".

I observed the first half-dozen jobs to go down the small car line (the bigger 98's had a completely separate line from 88's and F-85's) with this sticker applied upside down. It was not an accident. It was a protest based on a perverted understanding of "work rules," and a complete misunderstanding of the importance of customers. It was a naked statement of entitlement.

I thought UAW/GM had improved since then. Until Ron Gettelfinger's comments rejecting UAW "targets" (not "requirements") for George Bush's UAW bailout, I had assumed the UAW had gained some small understanding of their members' relationship to people who buy cars. Obviously, I was wrong.

Perhaps less wrong than Gettelfinger, however.

Who’s Losing the U.S. Car Business?

Who Is at Fault for the Decline of the Big Three?

Shock: Al Sharpton Takes on the Unions

Baby, Who's Your Stakeholder Now?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What's the statute of limitations on conspiracy to commit murder?

The Associated Press reports on a thwarted plot to kill soldiers at Fort Dix:
5 convicted of plotting to kill Fort Dix soldiers
Five Muslim immigrants were convicted Monday [Dec 22nd] of plotting to massacre U.S. soldiers at Fort Dix in a case that tested the FBI's post-Sept. 11 strategy of infiltrating and breaking up terrorist conspiracies in their earliest stages. The men could get life in prison when they are sentenced in April.

The five, who lived in and around Philadelphia for years, were found guilty of conspiring to kill U.S. military personnel. But they were acquitted of attempted murder, after prosecutors acknowledged the men were probably months away from an attack and did not necessarily have a specific plan.
This brings to mind a similar plot that was specific and quite well developed: The bombing of a dance at Fort Dix in 1970. It was intended to kill civilians as well as soldiers, and a second bomb was supposed to go off after rescuers had arrived. Fortunately, that bomb exploded prematurely, killing Weather Underground Organization members Diana Oughton, Ted Gold, and Terry Robbins. These associates and friends of Bill Ayers (Diana Oughton was his lover, with whom he had been living for 2 years) would likely have been charged with attempted murder had they not died. Their plan was quite concrete.

Ayers, co-founder and leader of the WUO, should have been charged with conspiracy to commit murder and with murder, since people died in the course of committing a crime. Instead, University of Chicago professor Ayers is writing revisionist Op-Eds in the New York Times.
I never killed or injured anyone. I did join the civil rights movement in the mid-1960s, and later resisted the draft and was arrested in nonviolent demonstrations. I became a full-time antiwar organizer for Students for a Democratic Society. In 1970, I co-founded the Weather Underground, an organization that was created after an accidental explosion that claimed the lives of three of our comrades in Greenwich Village. The Weather Underground went on to take responsibility for placing several small bombs in empty offices — the ones at the Pentagon and the United States Capitol were the most notorious — as an illegal and unpopular war consumed the nation.

The Weather Underground crossed lines of legality, of propriety and perhaps even of common sense. Our effectiveness can be — and still is being — debated. We did carry out symbolic acts of extreme vandalism directed at monuments to war and racism, and the attacks on property, never on people, were meant to respect human life and convey outrage and determination to end the Vietnam war.
Bob Owens notes in a post titled The Op-Ed the New York Times Wouldn’t Run, that:
Ayers would like to claim he participated in non-violent protests. But he omits the fact he helped organize and participated in the 1969 “Days of Rage,” which left innocents and police officers hospitalized and one man permanently crippled, a maiming his fellow Weathermen mocked with the crude lyrics of “Lay Elrod Lay.” One of the participants in the violence noted that the thugs armed themselves with “steel pipes and slingshots, chains, clubs, mace, and rolls of pennies to add weight to a punch.” The participant quoted was Bill Ayers describing the event he helped create in his own book, Fugitive Days.

The Greenwich Village blast Ayers pathologically claims was the catalyst that led to forming the Weather Underground was actually his group’s third botched attempt at mass murder. Ayers personally ordered mass murder attempts at the Detroit Police Benevolent Association and Detroit Police Precinct 13 in February 1970, using bombs comprised of 44 sticks of dynamite. It was only the Weathermen’s incompetence at constructing fuses that kept these blasts from going off and creating dozens of casualties.

Weeks later the Greenwich Village blast occurred when a terrorist cell of the Weather Underground accidentally detonated anti-personnel bombs they were assembling for an attack against soldiers and their dates at a non-commissioned officers dance at nearby Fort Dix that evening. Had the plot succeeded, the planned attack would likely have been the worst terrorist attack on American soil prior to the Oklahoma City bombing.

Bill Ayers would like to use the fog of time to plead his case that he was just another protester against the Vietnam war, a point that the Times is perhaps willing to let him make considering his longtime association with the president-elect they so nakedly support. No amount of inspired fantasy, however, can omit the simple truth that there is only one significant difference between Bill Ayers and Timothy McVeigh.

Read the whole thing, but here's a link to the 2nd page of Owen's post wherein a response to Ayers by Larry Grathwohl, who infiltrated the Weather Underground for the FBI, can be found. “Response to ‘The Real Bill Ayers’”.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Must read

The Washington Times recounts some of the things Bush and Cheney have done to support our military. You haven't heard much about this, because Bush and Cheny wanted it that way. Read it here:

EXCLUSIVE: Bush, Cheney comforted troops privately

George Bush has been more than disappointing, but he has displayed a humble gratitude toward America's military that has only been equaled by Ronald Reagan among modern Presidents. Kennedy doesn't count because Vietnam presented few decisions about American soldiers to him, though his betrayal of Diem reflects badly in many ways on the likelihood he would have used American lives with respect.

Johnson treated troops as cannon-fodder in a War he saw as a distraction to his domestic agenda, and in any case had no intention of winning. Nixon followed a similar policy, treating US soldiers as merely expendable. Carter and Clinton disdained the American military; as did Democrat nominees Gore - and especially Kerry - who betrayed his country by vilifying Vietnam vets, throwing someone else's medals over the White House fence and claiming only mentally challenged people become soldiers today. Kerry wanted to be SecState, an appointment that would have precipitated a revolution prior to 1860.

Bush has even done better than Reagan in the matter of resisting terror. Reagan did not do the right thing after the Marines were bombed in Beirut. I do not doubt he would have been equal to 9-11, however. The threat was then manifest to a man of conscience, though not necessarily to men of "intellect" such as Carter, Clinton, Gore and Kerry. Johnson personally fails to make the list on the point of intellect, quotes or no quotes. Still, he depended on men like Robert McNamara to supply the intellectual juices.

We are told Obama is also Democrat of "intellect." We have heard Obama claim American troops indiscriminately bombed Afghan villages. Since this is wrong, we can hope it was simply the unprincipled, uber-pragmatic, far-left campaign rhetoric he needed to defeat Hillary. Unfortunately, that interpretation implies that he will check which way the polling wind is blowing when he decides the fate of our soldiers.

I will miss the clarity of George Bush on this war. Even though he invited CAIR to the White House and can't actually bring himself to name the enemy, he truly respects the troops and can see we have to smash Islamic fascism.

He also didn't try to make his respect a political advantage. What I fear is the return to using disrespect for the troops as a political advantage.

Keep the presses rolling

Fred Thompson explains why we must print and spend.


Sunday, December 14, 2008


Megan McCardle, in The Atlantic:
I'm hearing the truly bizarre argument that the UAW didn't scuttle the negotiations; it was the Republicans unreasonable insistence that they cut their wages to levels comparable to that of their competition. After all, the UAW was perfectly willing to negotiate their compensation package--in 2011, when their current contract expires.

And I think that's perfectly reasonable. We'll just wait until 2011 to give them the money, then.

If you know why that's stupid, then you know why the other argument is stupid, too. GM is losing money now. It needs to cut its labor costs (and its other costs) now, not in 2011.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Note to UAW and Jennifer G

Don't trust your "allies."

Enough Republicans voted "Yea" for the Senate Democrats to have passed the auto industry bailout. But it failed because too many Democrats voted "Nay," or didn't show up to vote at all.

The vote was 52 to 35, with 10 Republicans voting "Yea." 4 Democrats voted "Nay," and 4 did not vote. One Democrat seat, from Illinois, is not occupied. Whose fault is that? Even so, 52+8=60.

Harry Reid voted "Nay" procedurally, but Baucus (D-MT), Tester (D-MT) and Lincoln (D-AR) who voted "Nay" with no such excuse, and Biden (D-DE), Kennedy (D-MA), Kerry (D-MA), and Wyden (D-OR) who could not bother to vote, are obviously "un-American" by the lights of Michigan's Governor, and they must be trying to "pierce the heart of organized labor" according to the UAW President.

Apparently, only 10 Republicans are not enough political cover.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Writing today in the Detroit News, Senators to UAW: It's payback time, Daniel Howes detects a conspiracy afoot:
Now a federal bailout for Detroit's automakers appears close to dead, delivering a crushing blow to a Michigan economy reeling from high unemployment, skyrocketing home foreclosures and sagging tax revenue. The obstructionists: southern Republicans determined to use a financial crisis to rework corporate balance sheets and rewrite collective bargaining agreements on their terms and timetables.

...Stripped bare and put in the regional context of union vs. nonunion and domestic vs. foreign, the toughened conditions pushed by Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., are legislative cruise missiles aimed directly at Detroit's business model, the UAW's Solidarity House and 70 years of Big Three bargaining tradition.

...That's tough-minded business, to be sure. Understandable, too, given Detroit's glacial pace of change. It's also a naked attempt to use the credit-induced crisis swallowing the Detroit Three to radically restructure their bloated labor costs, rework their debt-laden balance sheets in 60 days or less and, perhaps, put one or more of them into bankruptcy, if not liquidation.
"[N]aked attempt to use the credit-induced crisis?" "[D]etermined to use a financial crisis ... to rewrite collective bargaining agreements?" "Detroit's business model" is a victim of GOP Senators?

Is this a problem? According to Mr. Howes, "Detroit's business model" is "bloated labor costs," "debt-laden balance sheets," and the "glacial pace of change" inherent in "70 years of Big Three bargaining tradition".

So. If you think the "bloated labor costs" and "debt-laden balance sheets" that were the product of a "glacial pace of change" represented by "70 years of Big Three bargaining tradition" are how one defines "credit crisis," AND you agree that business as usual for the UAW should be subsidized by taxpayers, AND it's true that such subsidy would change the basic economics of the Big 3 without immediate, major UAW concessions... you may even think Mr. Howes had reason to write a column wherein he twice suggests the Big 3 are victims of an economic downturn - rather than of their decades long simpering collusion with the UAW.

It's not as if the fundamental business problems of the Big 3 can be described as a surprise suddenly revealed by a recession. It's a gigantic unsurprise, as Paladin pointed out in these pages 3 years ago. To say the credit crisis caused failure for the Big 3 is to say Rome fell precisely when the first rampaging Vandal set foot in the Coliseum - 45 years after Rome had been sacked by Visigoths. There can be tsunamis of looters, or a slow continuous lapping.

As it stands, without the provisions demanded by the GOP no bailout can rescue the Big 3. Apparently, this will not stop George Bush from agreeing to Nancy Pelosi's demand to take the money from the $700B allocated for other bailout purposes.

Mr. Howes, unsatisfied with merely excusing the blindered incompetence of the UAW/Big3 Axis, goes on to speculate about payback for the "payback."
The president-elect and the congressional Democrats all have signaled a willingness to pass labor's top legislative priority -- the so-called "card check" legislation, which would essentially abolish secret ballots and make organizing easier. Everywhere.

If it passes, I'm betting the first stops on the UAW's southern swing will be auto plants in Shelby's Alabama and Corker's Tennessee, soon to be home to Volkswagen AG's first U.S. plant in a generation.

Let the paybacks begin.
Let's assume this is likely. Let's assume the UAW gets away with using taxpayer funding to finance the effort. Let's further assume that after observing the results of UAW practices, non-UAW autoworkers will sign up for a union in full public view. (It's not just union officials that get to know whether you signed a card, right? That's not secret. They publish a list. Right??) What would result? The slow strangulation of automobile manufacturing capability in the United States.

I'd call that un-american, and even George McGovern agrees.

Since the UAW won't make timely, rational concessions, I propose this bailout plan: The Feds will supply however many dollars represent the difference between the total cost per FTE (full time equivalent) Big 3 UAW automobile manufacturing employee compared to non-UAW auto manufacturing employees in the United States for a period of one year, and one year only. The monthly cumulative amount of this clear and direct subsidy to the UAW will be reported monthly on the upper right front page of every newspaper in the nation. (It's a mild and temporary nationalization of print media.) At the end of a year it's sink or swim for the Big 3/UAW. This might, at least, get the UAW to acknowledge the true differential cost, since their subsidy amount would depend on it.

In related developments, we have Jennifer Granholm calling the refusal to bailout the UAW/Big 3 Axis "un-american." So, of course, is the nationalization which is her preferred alternative.

In any event, Granholm concisely regurgitates the talking points Mr. Howes gave us:
“It is such an unbelievable stab at workers across the country,” Granholm added. “You give this big bailout to these financial institutions–don’t ask a single question, they can do what they want–and then you lay the blame for the auto industry, which is a victim of this financial meltdown, on the backs of the people who are working on the line.”
Ms Granholm is more economic of words than Mr. Howes in casting the Big 3 as victims of the "financial meltdown" - and much better at ignoring the fact that the Big 3 have been melting independently of the rest of the economy for decades and couldn't make money even when the economy was booming. She invokes a more blatant class warfare meme.

OTOH, Mr. Howes' "Michigan economy reeling from high unemployment, skyrocketing home foreclosures and sagging tax revenue" are all things that happened on Ms Granholm's watch BEFORE the financial crisis.

A separate Reality

The "Reality" Coalition has been running a television ad lately claiming that clean coal technology does not exist. Discover magazine will show you that this claim is disingenuous. Can Coal Come Clean?

Only if you define clean coal as requiring sequestration of carbon dioxide is this ad "reality." Of course, the necessity of such sequestration depends on defining CO2 as a pollutant and acceptance of anthropomorphic global warming as fact. Despite what Al Gore and the UN tell you, the science behind that theory is deeply flawed. Many scientists reject it
“Since I am no longer affiliated with any organization nor receiving any funding, I can speak quite frankly….As a scientist I remain skeptical. “The main basis of the claim that man’s release of greenhouse gases is the cause of the warming is based almost entirely upon climate models. We all know the frailty of models concerning the air-surface system” - Atmospheric Scientist Dr. Joanne Simpson, the first woman in the world to receive a PhD in meteorology, and formerly of NASA, who has authored more than 190 studies and has been called “among the most preeminent scientists of the last 100 years.”

Warming fears are the “worst scientific scandal in the history…When people come to know what the truth is, they will feel deceived by science and scientists.” - UN IPCC Japanese Scientist Dr. Kiminori Itoh, an award-winning PhD environmental physical chemist.

“The IPCC has actually become a closed circuit; it doesn’t listen to others. It doesn’t have open minds… I am really amazed that the Nobel Peace Prize has been given on scientifically incorrect conclusions by people who are not geologists,” - Indian geologist Dr. Arun D. Ahluwalia at Punjab University and a board member of the UN-supported International Year of the Planet.

“So far, real measurements give no ground for concern about a catastrophic future warming.” - Scientist Dr. Jarl R. Ahlbeck, a chemical engineer at Abo Akademi University in Finland, author of 200 scientific publications and former Greenpeace member.

“Anyone who claims that the debate is over and the conclusions are firm has a fundamentally unscientific approach to one of the most momentous issues of our time.”
- Solar physicist Dr. Pal Brekke, senior advisor to the Norwegian Space Centre in Oslo. Brekke has published more than 40 peer-reviewed scientific articles on the sun and solar interaction with the Earth.

“The models and forecasts of the UN IPCC "are incorrect because they only are based on mathematical models and presented results at scenarios that do not include, for example, solar activity.” - Victor Manuel Velasco Herrera, a researcher at the Institute of Geophysics of the National Autonomous University of Mexico

“It is a blatant lie put forth in the media that makes it seem there is only a fringe of scientists who don’t buy into anthropogenic global warming.”
- U.S Government Atmospheric Scientist Stanley B. Goldenberg of the Hurricane Research Division of NOAA.

“CO2 emissions make absolutely no difference one way or another….Every scientist knows this, but it doesn’t pay to say so…Global warming, as a political vehicle, keeps Europeans in the driver’s seat and developing nations walking barefoot.” - Dr. Takeda Kunihiko, vice-chancellor of the Institute of Science and Technology Research at Chubu University in Japan.
There are more scientists' comments at the link above.

The Reality Coalition is a joint project of the Alliance for Climate Protection (Al Gore), League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council, National Wildlife Federation and the Sierra Club.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Creative destruction is necessary

Bankruptcy Doesn't Equal Death
Chairman of the George Mason University department of economics.
The spectacle of corporate magnates from Detroit pleading to be on Uncle Sam's dole is a sordid one. So why aren't more Americans appalled? One reason is widespread misunderstanding -- much of it sowed by these auto makers -- about the size of their firms. The Big Three, we are told, are "too big to be allowed to fail."

This myth begins with the idea that GM, Ford and Chrysler are so huge that if they go belly-up, the livelihoods of a disproportionately large number of workers and suppliers would be affected. At once, the market for their services and products would close. Therefore, the argument concludes, government must prevent any such failures.


Bankruptcy doesn't make assets -- such as factories, machines, contractual options to buy raw materials, workers' skills -- disappear. If markets still exist for products produced by these firms, Chapter 11 is the best way to discover this. Some workers might lose their jobs and some suppliers might lose their markets, but there would be no industry-wide collapse of the sort portrayed by the bailout's cheerleaders.

But what if refusal to bail out these firms results in their complete failure? Even then -- especially then -- the case for a bailout crashes. Really big firms such as GM, Ford and Chrysler are really big users of productive inputs, like rubber and steel. Almost all of these inputs have alternative uses and could be used by other firms or in other industries.
Read The Rest. Really worth it.

Tax increase passed by Michigan House

Michigan (D) raises taxes.
The House Just Voted to Increase Taxes
Dec 11, 2008 at 5:53PM

You wouldn't think the Legislature would even consider raising taxes in this difficult economy. Guess again. As I write this, the House is passing a package of tax increases to fund roads.
Read the regressive way Michigan calculates the tax.

Check out the history of House Bill 4577.

Get ready to pay 50% more for your license plate.

H/T Jack Hoogendyk

: 8:00PM

Moments ago, I sent out a short letter regarding HB 4577. The original intent of the bill was to increase vehicle registration fees by 50%. Now that we are in lame duck, things can happen rather quickly. Most bills have some time to be vetted and run through the committee process. But in lame duck, that is often not the case. HB 4577 was substituted just today with new language. It did not go through committee. It is, as some describe it, a "vehicle bill." The bill as passed, completely repeals all vehicle registration taxes.

Obviously, that cannot be the final resolution. The purpose for this action, in my opinion is to provide the vehicle for a re-write of automobile registration taxes. We also passed a bill to repeal the gasoline tax completely. My question to the savvy taxpayer is, what will come next?

Plans are already in place for replacement taxes. I am willing to bet you that it won't be pretty.

But, to be technically accurate, the bills we passed today are actually tax decreases.
To be continued...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Who, then, is Pangloss?

If Voltaire wrote Candide today, he would have to title it Barack.

Obama is a Chicago politician who was willing to befriend Tony Rezko for political advantage and, for his trouble, also gained a bit of extra land next to his house. He was close with Michael Pfleger, William Ayers and Jeremiah Wright for political purposes. His initial sponsor was Alice J. Palmer, an Illinois State Senator who wrote about the wonderful time she had at the 27th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Obama directed funds to the educational projects of Michael Klonsky, former head of the Chinese wing of the Communist Party in the United States. He worked to promote ACORN's agenda because it got him political contacts.

None of this proves anything about Barack Obama and corruption, except maybe he can't recognize it when he's swimming through it.

Still, Obama's soon to be senior White House Advisor, David Axelrod, felt he had to recant saying that Obama had talked directly with soon to be felon Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich about a Senate appointment involving Obama's vacant seat. Blagojevich was selling it.
As a former campaign consultant to Blagojevich, it is likely Axelrod knew whereof he spoke.

recantation is strange, and seemingly unnecessary, because it would be perfectly natural for a President elect to discuss a Senate appointment with a Governor from his own State and party. But absolutely nothing can be allowed to sully "the one."

This is his glaring weakness. It's not that Barack is committedly corrupt like Hot Rod, it's that he lacks a moral compass to manage his potentially fatal narcissism, and his sole virtue is that he is perfect. A thing of Greek tragedy.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Generous Motors - Bumped

This post was one of the first at TOC. I linked to it yesterday, and on reflection thought it deserved more prominence.

From Paladin,
March 27, 2005:

Did you read the good news regarding GM this past week?

Of course we all heard and read plenty of bad news on the subject of GM. The catalyst was the March 16th announcement by GM that it would post a loss of some $850 million in the current quarter. It went on to say that profits for the full year would be much less than previously thought and cash flow for the full year would be negative. The debt rating agencies like Standard and Poor’s reacted swiftly, posting a negative outlook on GM and threatening to reduce its credit rating to “junk” status. The stock market reacted severely, as well, marking the shares down 17% on the week. General Electric Capital poured salt in the wounds on the 21st by canceling a $2,000 million credit facility.

And the reaction in the press has been universally tough. Just about every writer with an editor or a blog has now registered their opinion of how GM has been mismanaged and/or what GM needs to do going forward.

Highly respected news organizations like Barron’s, The New York Sun, The Financial Times of London, and Forbes have weighed-in mightily. Under the heading “The General Motors Mess” Jonathon Laing in Barron’s outlined a draconian seven step plan and suggests that if not accomplished GM “might have no alternative but to enter Chapter 11”. The Sun agrees in a well-reasoned editorial stating “unless GM manages to change its underlying cost structure, it will be forced into bankruptcy”. John Gapper in the Financial Times writes that GM CEO Rick Waggoner has “lead GM to a calamitous state”. And venerable auto industry observer, Jeremy Flint, writing in Forbes under the headline “GM, It’s Worse Than You Thought” states “GM seems to be in a state of organizational chaos.”

Some of the hail of arrows miss the mark or were launched from bows aimed long ago. On MSN Money Peter DeLorenzo re-makes some cogent arguments, but puts the overall blame on GM’s management for cheapening its brands with rebates and incentives. He suggests a reduction in the number of models, nameplates, dealers, and divisions. As good as such advice might be from a marketing standpoint, it ignores the underlying fundamental economic problem. Unless a company has some other sustainable competitive advantage, it must be a cost-leader in order to prosper. And GM is anything but a cost-leader.

Imagine that you run a company which pays its workers a 100 gold coins per week for building cars, but that you are required to pay these same workers 95 gold coins per week for staying home or going fishing. With ground rules such as these, who could blame you if you felt obligated to keep the factories humming by offering incentives to potential buyers. That is the situation that GM finds itself in after tuning over the company to the UAW a decade ago.

But it is even worse. Imagine that you also have to pay retirement benefits and health care costs for two-and-one-half retirees for every worker. And what if the number of these retirees is reflective of days when your company market share was 40%, but that now it is only 25%. And suppose further that the health care costs are rising at astronomical rates. And just to really make it challenging, suppose your foreign competitors have no such demographic and social economic disadvantages. Now are you going to fight for market share, or not? GM can trim its excess brands, dealers, and so forth, but this does nothing to stem the rising costs of supporting all the retirees. The pensions and the cost of medical care, now $1,600 per car, would simply be spread over fewer vehicles sold.

The UAW used its monopoly power to win wages, benefits, and pensions for its members that were beyond what could have been supported in a free market. And who can blame them? The auto companies, for their part, bought peace with the UAW by giving away the store, no doubt influenced by some poor assumptions regarding future medical costs.

Now all are threatened. The companies’ face the threat of bankruptcy. Current worker’s jobs are threatened. And the retiree’s pensions and benefits are at risk of disappearing.

So where is the good news?

All four of the big influential publications mentioned earlier, along with many others, now argue that something needs to be done about the cost disadvantage that U.S. manufacturers are saddled with. Recognition of this underlying economic problem is a necessary first step to fixing it. Perhaps now both the companies and the UAW will summon the political will to solve this long-term problem.

Either something is done to reduce the costs of GM and other UAW manufacturers or everyone loses - and loses big.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Not like the banks

Professor Bainbridge makes several good points about bailing out the Big3/UAW axis. Here is one of them:
7. As I’ve said before, in assessing the merits of a government bailout of the automobile industry, it’s important to understand the distinction between the problems experienced by the financial sector and those being experienced by the automobile industry. Financial institutions were faced with a situation in which too many of their assets had either declined in value or simply had no known value. As a result, many financial institutions had negative equity positions or, at best, severely impaired equity. This made banks unwilling to lend, because banks are required by law—and good practice—to maintain an equity cushion on their balance sheet. In other words, they have to retain positive net assets in order to function. Injecting capital into the banks increased their assets, while holding their liabilities constant, which resulted in an increase in their equity. In effect, it increased their inventory.

The automobile makers face a very different set of problems. Their problem is not a shortage of capital. Their problem is that they are spending way more money than they are bringing in, “at a rate of least $4.9 billion a month”!

Injecting capital into the automobile makers does not address the underlying structural problems faced by this industry. It does nothing to give them leaner bureaucracies, less expensive legacy health and pension costs, more flexible work rules, less restrictive and costly union contracts, and, to put it bluntly, products somebody would want to buy. All it does is delay the inevitable by giving them more money to burn through.

Bush and the surviving GOPers in Congress should just say no.
Read the rest here. Read the post directly after this one. And, if you're interested in more, check out:

Generous Motors
Sunday, March 27, 2005

Unions busting you
Thursday, October 25, 2007

General Motors, Corporatist Giant

Monday, November 10, 2008

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

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bailing out the Big 3 - A Plan
Friday, November 21, 2008

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

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The natural function of a trade union and the one for which it was historically conceived is to represent those employees who want collective representation in bargaining with their employers over terms of employment. But note that this function is perverted the moment a union claims the right to represent employees who do not want representation, or conducts activities that have nothing to do with terms of employment (e.g. political activities), or tries to deal with an industry as a whole instead of with individual employers.
- Barry Goldwater, The Conscience of a Conservative

Sunday, December 07, 2008

...if only the UAW...

In May, TOC noted that the future of manufacturing automobiles can be seen in Brazil. At that time a link was provided to the embedded video, below, from the Detroit News. It seems worthwhile to make it more easily accessible as we are regaled by Rod Gettelfinger, and the usual suspects writing letters to the editor of the LSJ, about the significant concessions the UAW has already made.
The Lansing area UAW just finished a month-long local strike here in the economically worst performing state in the Union. American Axle workers in Hamtramck are voting on whether to end an 87 day strike. The UAW is also just coming off a strike in Kansas.

In the mid 60s I worked on the line at the GM Fisher Body plant in Lansing, building Oldsmobile F-85, 88 and 98 chassis on two different assembly lines. When our chassis [should have said "bodies" -DH] rolled off the end of the line they were transported to a different plant by truck to be mated with the drive-train and frame. The engines were built in a third facility. Times have changed, more so where the UAW does not hold sway.

This: Ford's most advanced assembly plant operates in rural Brazil, is a good example of why Michigan needs a right to work law. It's also a good example of why manufacturing is a dead-end in Michigan otherwise.

Seems like Ford, at least, already knows how to make cars at a profit. Too bad the people actually running Ford operations in the US, i.e., the UAW, don't get it. I mean, we're supposed to be impressed they're going to gradually dismantle the Jobs Bank?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

UN fritters, Indian Muslims make a statement

Days before the Mumbai massacre, UN voted to disassociate Islam from terrorism
Just days before the Mumbai attack, a United Nations Committee passed a resolution entitled “Combating Defamation of Religions”, which will be going to the General Assembly for approval in mid-December. It is one in a series of such resolutions pushed by the Organization of Islamic Conference. While ostensibly applying to all religions, it refers only to Islam by name. The text “expresses deep concern … that Islam is frequently and wrongly associated with human rights violations and terrorism.”
Of course. When what is actually needed is to have "Religions Combat Defamation of their Faith," the UN will vote for exactly the opposite.

Really, you guys, what we want to do is disassociate terrorists from Islam. Like these Indian Muslims in Mumbai are doing: Muslims refuse to bury militants
Indian Muslims say they do not want the gunmen killed by the security forces during the attacks in Mumbai to be buried in Muslim graveyards.

Community leaders believe the militants cannot be called Muslims because they went against the teachings of Islam and killed innocent civilians.

One leader said the militants had "defamed" the religion.
It also wouldn't hurt if we could disassociate the Beeb (Reuters, CNN, AP, AFP, etc., etc., etc., Keith Olberman) from excusing indiscriminate murderers, vicious torturers and fanatic animals by calling them "militants," but that's asking even more than giving the UN a clue.

My profound thanks to Ibrahim Tai, the president of the Indian Muslim Council. His is a fine example, and by the way, one we haven't seen matched in this country.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Franklin, Tim, Jim and Barney the Purple Guarantor

It's your money in the "government cash infusion," and it's your house value they artificially inflated and then artificially crashed. It's also your 401k that's in the tank because of these guys. From the WaPo. Emphasis mine.
Fannie Mae, the District-based mortgage finance giant taken over by the government in September, yesterday reported a loss of $29 billion ($13 a share). That compared with a loss of $1.4 billion ($1.56) in the corresponding period in 2007.

...The losses sliced the company's overall value -- assets minus liabilities -- from $41.4 billion on June 30 to $9.4 billion on Sept. 30.

The company estimated that home prices this year would decline about 9 percent.

"If current trends in the housing and financial markets continue or worsen, and we have a significant net loss in the fourth quarter of 2008, we may have a negative" value at the end of the year, the company said. That would prompt a government cash infusion.
What's sickening is how many millions Franklin Raines, Tim Howard and Jim Johnson bilked the taxpayers for in salaries and bonuses, and how much of this nation's wealth they helped destroy. Their actions are at least as evil as anything Enron did.

These guys should be sharing a jail cell with Barney Frank. Instead, 2 of them have been Obama advisors.