Come for the Politics, Stay for the Pathologies

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Government Motors: Can We Revisit the Thesis?

Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.                                          Alexis de Tocqueville

Yes, I know what you were all thinking when I wrote about the nationalization of GM and Chrysler back in 2009: “There you go again, Dewey, with the hyperbole and the bloviating. Obama is not going to take over the car companies, dictate what kind of cars they have to build, violate bond holders legal rights in order to give the confiscated proceeds to his union supporters. That’s just crazy.”

But shortly after the appointment of Car Czar #1,  Steven L. Rattner, (who the NYT described as  “…  a founder of the Quadrangle Group, whose Fifth Avenue living room was a critical conduit between Wall Street and Democratic candidates in the years before Mr. Rattner joined the Obama administration to help restructure the auto industry.”)  all this, and more, came to pass.

That the President is now claiming that the auto bailouts have been repaid is phony-boloney. The real cost to taxpayers of the  GM/Chrysler bailouts is pegged somewhere between 12 and 14 billion dollars.

When the debt of gratitude is that big, is it any surprise that GM’s (hand selected) CEO would come out in favor of increasing gasoline by $1 a gallon in order to sell more electric cars? Which the administration approves of as long as they’re recharged using electricity generated by solar, wind or mice on treadmills – anything other than those dirty coal generation plants.

One wonders whether GM has taken the lead on higher gas taxes because its bailout ties to the feds have created a more government-oriented corporate culture. But regardless of that, when carmakers push to raise the cost of the very substance that fuels their products, we have a serious problem. They’re serving the government rather than the public — and that does not bode well either for the vehicles they’ll be producing or for the policies they’ll be pushing.

No, seriously; one does not have to wonder. Just connect the dots. Just looky here. You’ll see that when you like a company so much that you buy it, you pretty much get to call all the shots:

Republican Reps. Dan Burton and Mike Turner say that during the GM bailout, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner decided to cut pensions for salaried non-union employees at Delphi, a GM spinoff, to expedite GM’s emergence from bankruptcy.

…The key point of the Wednesday hearing was to show that the Obama administration advised GM on how to eliminate the Delphi workers’ pensions. The evidence suggests Geithner’s team played a significant role in that process, despite claims to the contrary.

Surprise! The Obama administration lied when they said that the Treasury Department would avoid “intervening in the day-to-day management” of General Motors’ post-auto bailout. Who could have called that one? That’s nearly as shocking as the Obama Administration’s handpicked  GM CEO supporting a $1 per gallon tax hike to shore up big government’s coffers and force Americans to buy unpopular and unprofitable Chevy Volt hybrids. That’s a twofer for GM: pushing zero margin vehicles while simultaneously undermining sales of larger cars and SUVs with much greater profit margins. There’s a formula  for Winning The Future (WTF), no?

Making business decisions against self interest seems inherently anti-capitalistic. Self destructive. Nihilistic, even.

Crony capitalism - simply another name for socialism – is the primary problem with capitalism these days: it has taken the capitalists our of capitalism.  Obama may say that “everyone needs to have some skin in the game” but his regime has rigged it so that the “everyone” is  just the taxpayer.  Businesses are growing increasingly like the citizenry who’s been trained to think the government should provide them with the capital they need instead of requiring them to rely on their own resources and initiative to rustle it up. 

So what part of “government-owned car company” don’t you understand? The socialism part, or the nationalism part?

wtc and lady liberty

If you love liberty, but hate capitalism, you might wish to revisit your thesis.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Blogger: It’s Free, But It Sucks




I would like to offer my apologies to those of you who’ve been kind enough to comment over the past few weeks, but didn’t get your comment posted.

I don’t moderate, but apparently Google does. They’ve - unknown to most of us who blog on Google – installed a non-optional spam filter for comments. That means they determine what comments are spam and put them in a spam folder which I didn’t, until today, know existed. So,theoretically, I can go to that spam file and release the comments that are not spam to post. Except I can’t. Worse, I can’t even post comments to my own damn blog! This is, according to Google, a problem unrelated to their new spam system. Yeah, right.

No wonder Professor William A. Jacobson at Legal Insurrection has ditched Blogger. It’s only a matter of time before I do as well.

Again, sorry about your comments, and sorry that I haven’t been able to respond to the ones that did get through for the past few weeks.

Blogger. It’s free. As you know, you get what you pay for.

PS. File this under “irony:” spam comments are still getting through and posted.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Another Reason it Would be Fun to be Chris Christie for a Day

Here’s a little Friday night Chris Christie porn, per Allah Pundit and via Hot Air:

OK, we tried civility, it didn’t work (it’s always one sided). It just empowered them. We tried reason, it didn’t work (they don’t teach that in public school any more). It just infuriates them. We even tried co-opting their demands, it didn’t work (remember that, 2012 Republican candidates). That just made us look foolish.

So now comes Chris Christie: he has a more direct approach. He calls BS. Then he shovels it back in their faces. It works. It’s easy to do. It puts these smug, self-righteous, gotcha hecklers back in the self-interest hole they climbed out of.

And you don’t have to worry about losing votes: they weren’t ever going to vote for you anyway.

Real men. We’ll take them in every size they come in.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Let’s Get the Party Started



Yesterday the stock market took a dive, amid bad U.S. economic signals. The financial press primarily blamed it on an impending Greek debt default (which we’ve only known about for a year now). Here’s how the story goes: U. S. investors are nervous because Moody’s said it is likely to downgrade the paper of major European banks holding Greek notes.

Today, U.S. economic signals were “unexpectedly” better than expected - for a change - and the early market is on the rise again. No mention of Greek default, Greek riots or European bank downgradings as a contributing factor.

So maybe, just maybe, the U.S. stock market is more sensitive to U.S. economic news than to Moody’s downgrading EU bank notes or rioting in the streets of Athens?

Is it possible that even the WSJ is covering Obama’s rear end on the economy now? It’s either that, or they have no more clue as to what drives the stock market that Eddie in the mailroom. Is it any wonder the citizens grow more cynical by the day?

Besides, if Greece wants to avoid defaulting on its loans, they should just follow Moody’s excellent advice to the U. S. government on default risk, and raise their debt limit!

So kids, now do you see how the world of finance works? Just like politics.


I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to get woozy.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Last Abediener Weiner Story

Well, then; it’s official. Anthony Weiner will be checking his dirty laundry into the “Famous People’s Sex Clinic for Horndogs.”

But before “Weiner” becomes just another “Politicians Acting Badly”Wikipedia entry, I would like to share one last story which is only peripherally related to the Anthony Weiner “affair.” It’s actually about his wife’s name: the Abedin part.

You see, ever since I read that the lovely Huma Abedin Weiner, was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan my brain fired up it’s “irrelevant pattern recognition” synapse sequencing program.

The next thing you know, “Kalamazoo” had me thinking about Grand Rapids, which you now know to be my “birth city.” This in turn caused me to reflect on my formative years, one of which was spent at Aberdeen Elementary School which happens to sound, oddly, like Huma’s  “birth name”: “Abedin.”

Stop me if I’ve already told you this story…

Back in the 1950’s, when birth control was not so advanced, nuclear families were all the rage, especially among Catholics. Our local parish, Blessed Sacrament, was unable to keep up with the burgeoning classroom space demands of its prolific flock. In order to provide additional space, the funds originally set aside build a church for the newly formed parish were re-allocated for  additional classrooms and the “church” itself was housed in what was originally designed to be the gym and auditorium. The plan was for the real church to be built as soon as funds became available; which turned out to be some 30 years later.

Even so, Blessed Sacrament’s school, while already sprawling with add-on classrooms, was still inadequate to handle all the little boomers.


FireShot Pro capture #004 - 'Blessed Sacrament School, Diamond Avenue Northeast, Grand Rapids, Michigan - Google Maps' - maps_google_com_maps_hl=en&tab=wl

Blessed Sacrament, looking surprisingly the same as it did in the 50’s, only with trees.

The lack of facilities required the forced bussing (way ahead of its time) of whole classes to St. John’s Home, a medieval orphanage miles away housing dank dungeon-like classrooms.

FireShot Pro capture #009 - 'St_ John's Orphan Asylum - Lafayette & Leonard - Constructed in 1889 I Flickr - Photo Sharing!' - www_flickr_com_photos_grnow_493821154

It’s basement was a terrifying labyrinth of catacomb-like cells and  huge belching boilers where students were dispatched  in the event of a tornado warning. Not conducive to learning, by today’s standards.

In addition to the required shipping out of several older classes, the parish school also lacked space for a kindergarten, so the wee Catholic children found themselves beginning their wondrous world of education in the care of  what was thought by Catholic parents to be a vastly inferior, and Godless, public school.

So while my older siblings marched off to the “good” school each morning, I was forced to walk to school with the majority of kids in the neighborhood to the inferior Aberdeen Elementary.


The gates to hell: main entrance to Aberdeen Elementary

Here I spent half days for a year learning the finer points of finger painting, marching while playing a triangle, standing in line and nap studies. This apartheid education system was the source of my year from hell: the 2 schools were separated by just 2 long blocks or one large softball field, but they may as well have been on different planets.




Being the only child in the family (so far) required to attend a school of lessor pedigree had already taken it’s toll on my self esteem. But the cruel taunts that I was subjected to  every day – sometimes by my own siblings! – scarred me for life. Here I was, simply a victim of life’s circumstance, being demeaned for something that was clearly not my choice: Aber-deener Weiner!”

You’ve no idea how hurtful bullies’ taunts are until you are the victim. Each day it was the same:  the sing-songy, humiliating insult hurled at me in that taunting way that kids have: Aber-deener Weiner!” I can still hear it as though it were yesterday.  And, of course, it was always the kids from Blessed Sacrament – whom you might have expected better from – making us feel small.


I learned at a very early age that Catholics, even the one’s you’re related to, can be very judgmental.

Aber-deener Weiner! Aber-deener Weiner!”  Day-in, day-out and replayed again in my dreams.  Children can be so cruel.

So filled with fear and loathing were my days as an Aberdeener Weiner that to this day the mention of  “Aberdeen” in any context automatically triggers a replay of that school-yard chant.

2767263-highland-cow-just-south-of-aberdeen-scotlandAberdeen Shetland Angus

Even a homophone, like Huma, nee Abedin’s name is enough to set it off: “Aber-deener Weiner!” Some memories you simply can’t erase.

So, when I saw last summer that  Huma Abedin was marrying Rep. Weiner, thereby becoming Mrs. Huma Abedin-Weiner, I knew immediately it was a bad sign.

Had she asked me, I would have waved her off. Some times the universe tries to send you warnings. Ignore them at your own peril, Huma.


939 oaklawn

I found my old house on Google Earth. It too, looks surprisingly similar to itself in the 50’s. Only without trees. Imagine a HUGE climbing friendly Maple tree to the left, in front of the sun room, and a once beautiful elm tree to the right of the stairs.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

This Made My Sunday Morning Brighter

I HOPE it makes your Sunday a little brighter too.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Grand Rapids Revisited: Longer Gone Than Old When I Left

This is a video made in my hometown, Grand Rapids, Michigan. It’s a medium sized city situated as far west of the abscess and abyss of Detroit as you can get without falling into Lake Michigan.

It seems the citizens of Grand Rapids objected to Newsweek’s relegation of their little metropolis to #10 on the list of America’s dying cities, and not because they thought it should have been rated higher. Seriously, why does anyone give any credibility to a failed news publication that sold for $1 plus debt anyway?

Grand Rapidians (yes, that is correct) aren’t accustomed to being dissed, and hence they banded together to produce a street rebuttal. I think you’ll like it:



I love this, but confess to being a bit perplexed by the selection of  American Pie as the anthem to dispute the Newsweak designation. Apparently I am not alone, as Rob Bliss, Director & Executive Producer of the video, explains - sort of:

“We felt Don McLean's "American Pie," a song about death, was in the end, triumphant and filled to the brim with life and hope.”

Which still doesn’t make any sense to me. But not to quibble; the video is lots of fun, and highly recommended for heading into the weekend. Just accept the fact that American Pie is “filled to the brim with life and hope” and not a song about the demise of an American icon and that should do it for you.

But seriously, with so many other songs to choose from, what were they they thinking? Why not Colorful written by West Michigan’s own Brian Vander Ark for the West Michigan band Verve Pipe? The lyrics are perfect:

The show is over, close the story book
There will be no encore
And all the random hands that I have shook
Well they're reaching for the door
I watch their backs as they leave single file
But you stood stubborn, cheering all the while

I know I can be colorful
I know I can be gray
But I know this loser's living fortunate
'Cause I know you will love me either way…

Most were being good for goodness sake
But you wouldn't pantomime
You are more beautiful when you awake
Than most are in a lifetime
Through the haze that is my memory, well
You stayed for drama though you paid for a comedy

I know I can be colorful
I know I can be gray
But I know this loser's living fortunate
And I know you will love me either way

Look ahead as far as far as you can see
We'll live in drama but we'll die in a comedy
I know I can be colorful
I know I can be gray
But I know this loser's living fortunate
And I know you will love me either way

The tune although not “filled to the brim with life and hope” is pretty awesome too:



That would have been my choice; for the symbolism, for the reality.

Those who love this city on the banks of the Grand River will always love it and always believe in its greatness, beauty and future potential, regardless of  Newsweak’s  designation.

But that’s just me. I’ll grant you that “Filled to the brim with life and hope” is much more upbeat.

Maybe I’ve been gone too long; longer gone than old when I left.

I guess Thomas Wolfe was right.

h/t Vanderleun and  Sondrakistan

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Detroit: Some Disassembly Required


619Ifa9xMHL__SL500_AA300_Photo Credit: Andrew Moore

Well look at you, little Timmy Geithner! All grown up and writing misleading editorials for the Washington Post instead of just forgetting to pay your taxes.

Let’s just cut to the chase: Geithner’s claim:

While it remains unacceptably high, Detroit’s unemployment has fallen nearly one-third over the past two years. The car companies are leading a comeback in American manufacturing. And while we will not get back all of our investments in the industry, we will recover much more than most predicted, and far sooner.

The reality, explained by Ed Morrissey:

Well, that’s true … as far as it goes.  The jobless rate for Detroit spiked to 15.9% in September 2009 before settling down to April’s 11.3%.  However, Detroit unemployment was 12.3% in January 2009, when Obama took office, so the actual delta for his entire term is one percentage point.  Over a two-year period — the time frame Geithner uses — it dropped about three percentage points (from 14.5%), which would be more like a fifth than a third.

But that’s still deceptive.  Geithner uses these numbers to claim some sort of hiring renaissance in Detroit, but the employment numbers tell a different story.  When Obama took office, there were 713,300 jobs in metropolitan Detroit.  That bottomed out to 680,900 in June 2009, after the politically-machinated bankruptcies pushed by the Obama administration.  The latest figures for April 2011 show 695,200 jobs in Detroit, an overall drop of 18,000 jobs.  For the wider Detroit area, the job level started at 1.7822 million in January 2009, and now stands at 1.7398 million in April 2011, a drop of more than 43,000 jobs.  Statewide, jobs declined from 3.9488 million in January 2009 to 3.9119 in April 2009.

As you can see, those of us stuck in Michigan are way ahead of Obama’s Winning the Future curve. That’s WTF to you, chumps.


Detroit: Made in America, disassembled in Washington.