June 8, 2009

Ginsburg Temporarily Stays Chrysler Sale to Fiat (Update: Supremes Won’t Hear Appeal)

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:32 pm

The Supremes wouldn’t DARE cross Dear Leader, would they?

Well, maybe (copied in full because the AP will certainly expand the report between now and when I can get back to this):

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has temporarily delayed Chrysler’s sale to Fiat.

Ginsburg says in an order Monday that the sale is “stayed pending further order.”

The action indicates that the delay may only be temporary.

Chrysler has said a delay could scuttle the deal.

A federal appeals court in New York had earlier approved the sale, but gave opponents until 4 p.m. EDT Monday to try to get the Supreme Court to intervene.

Ginsburg issued her order just before 4 p.m., when Chrysler would have been free to complete the sale of most of its assets to Fiat.

Ginsburg could decide on her own whether to extend the delay or ask the full court to decide. It is unclear when she or the court will act.

Tick tock. As noted last week, Fiat can walk away on June 15 if there is no deal.

That’s a “clever” sentence (“The action indicates that the delay may only be temporary”). How does Ginsburg’s action indicate anything? Given that Ginsburg didn’t have to grant a stay at all, it would seem to mean a bit more than nothing. The “clever” sentence also conveniently overlooks the fact that “One judge on the three-judge panel suggested the Supreme Court should have ‘a swing at this ball.’”

My guess is the AP’s framing is an attempt to tell the TV networks and others who might use this report that “Hey, this really isn’t that important. We don’t want readers and viewers to know that the Dear Leader’s Chrysler deal is shafting teachers and construction workers, and why it might get stopped. So don’t mention it, OK?”

Thought: I haven’t seen or heard of any of the usual “expert” suspects predict the outcome of this matter. Instinct: This would lead you to believe that an Obama victory here is not a slam-dunk.

Exit question: Will the administration be able to resist the urge to directly or indirectly contact (i.e., pressure and/or illegally tamper with) one or more of the justices?


UPDATE, June 9: dscott in comments has noticed Fiat saying it won’t walk away. Instinct: This is what you say when you believe the Supremes are going to give the matter due consideration and extend them to near, at, or past the June 15 deadline. Instinct II: “Don’t worry, Barry. We’ll hang with you” (said by Fiat’s biggies before booking one-way flights back to Turin). Overconfident Instinct III: Fiat may back out to SAVE Obama from what would be a disastrous ruling by the Supremes, who I think would probably then drop the case.

UPDATE, JUNE 9, 11:15 p.m.: The pension funds have lost

Late Tuesday, the Supreme Court turned down the opponents’ last-ditch bid. The court issued a brief, unsigned opinion explaining its action. To obtain a delay, or stay, someone must show that at least four of the nine justices find that the issue raised is serious enough to warrant hearing a full appeal and that a majority of the court will conclude the lower court decision was wrong.

“The applicants have not carried that burden,” the court said.

The court did not consider the merits of the opponents’ arguments, only whether to hear their full-blown appeal.

If there’s a silver lining, it’s that the failure by the litigants to “carry the burden” may be more related to the size of the funds in proportion to the total debt involved $42 million compared to $6.9 billion) than the substance of the case, and that a course with more dollars involved might have been heard. I would hope that GM debtholders will test that proposition. The continuation of contract law as we know it may depend on it.

Amazing: WaPo Gives Space to Gorbachev, Who Advocates Current Obama/Dem Policies

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:16 pm

Gorbachev.jpgIn the second half of his op-ed in the Washington Post today, former Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev entirely credits himself and fellow countrymen for the end of his country’s Communist dictatorship, and claims that it’s the Western capitalist model that is currently failing.

In the process, he espouses positions that seem to have been copied from the Democratic Party’s past few platforms, as well as from U.S. Dear Leader Barack Obama’s governing model.

Following Gobachev’s ridiculous rewrite of the Soviet Union’s final decade (you know it’s ridiculous because the name “Reagan” never appears; he doesn’t even believe that the break-up should have happened), here are key passages from the former dictator’s admonishments of the West (the most obvious direct lifts from Obama and Dems are in bold):

(After the fall and break-up of the Soviet Union) The “Washington Consensus,” the dogma of free markets, deregulation and balanced budgets at any cost, was force-fed to the rest of the world.

But then came the economic crisis of 2008 and 2009, and it became clear that the new Western model was an illusion that benefited chiefly the very rich. Statistics show that the poor and the middle class saw little or no benefit from the economic growth of the past decades.

The current global crisis demonstrates that the leaders of major powers, particularly the United States, had missed the signals that called for a perestroika. The result is a crisis that is not just financial and economic. It is political, too.

The model that emerged during the final decades of the 20th century has turned out to be unsustainable. It was based on a drive for super-profits and hyper-consumption for a few, on unrestrained exploitation of resources and on social and environmental irresponsibility.

….. The time has come for “creative construction,” for striking the right balance between the government and the market, for integrating social and environmental factors and demilitarizing the economy.

Washington will have to play a special role in this new perestroika, not just because the United States wields great economic, political and military power in today’s global world, but because America was the main architect, and America’s elite the main beneficiary, of the current world economic model. That model is now cracking and will, sooner or later, be replaced. That will be a complex and painful process for everyone, including the United States.

But if all the proposed solutions and action now come down to a mere rebranding of the old system, we are bound to see another, perhaps even greater upheaval down the road. The current model does not need adjusting; it needs replacing. I have no ready-made prescriptions. But I am convinced that a new model will emerge, one that will emphasize public needs and public goods, such as a cleaner environment, well-functioning infrastructure and public transportation, sound education and health systems and affordable housing.

….. In our time, we faced up to the main tasks of putting an end to the division of the world, winding down the nuclear arms race and defusing conflicts. We will cope with the new global challenges as well, but only if everyone understands the need for real, cardinal change — for a global perestroika.

Other points:

  • As to Gorbachev’s allegation of no poor or middle-class benefit from a quarter-century of capitalistic expansion, at least in the U.S. from 2003-2007, income inequality did not grow, and every economic quintile gained. With the onset during the second half of 2008 of the POR (Pelosi-Obma-Reid) Economy aka the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Recession as normal people define it, that may no longer be true, as the less-skilled have historically been more likely to lose their jobs. Gorby also somehow missed the growth during the past two decades of solid middle-class populations in India and China, to name just two.
  • “Unrestrained exploitation of resources” — we should be so lucky. The fact is that the U.S. has locked up trillions of dollars worth of oil and natural gas in the name of environmental purity. This refusal to use God-given resources, perhaps unprecedented in human history, has arguably contributed to worldwide economic instability.
  • “Environmental irresponsibility” — Please. The worst environmental offenses, from Chernobyl to seriously polluted rivers and streams, occurred in the Soviet Union, in a system that simply didn’t have the means to clean up after itself.

The media bias angle in all of this is seeing whether the Post gives anyone from the Reagan Era a chance to respond to Gorbachev’s massive assemblage of falsehoods and false prescriptions. I’ll bet not.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Yep, Bush’s Econ Folks Blew Their Predictions

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:47 am

The Lefty response to Friday’s Obamanomics Graph of the Day has been pathetic, even considering the sources.

Here is that graph, as a reminder (from Michael’s Comments; HT BizzyBlog commenter dscott):


The Left’s retort to the Obama administration’s utter failure to predict what has really happened thus far in response to their centerpiece “stimulus” is, in essence, “Well, the Bush team also blew their predictions in early 2008.”

Even if they’re right, it’s an immature, crybaby excuse (“Mommy, Billy was bad and he wasn’t punished. So I can be bad too, and you can’t punish me. Wahhhhh!”), but let’s go with it anyway.

Let’s admit it. The Left is correct on this one. The Bush team blew it. There’s no point in denying it.

Bush’s econ guys and gals utterly failed to consider the effect of all the factors that might influence the economy, such as these I cited in April. What follows rephrases, updates, and adds to them for current effect.

First, the Bush team failed to consider that starting in June 2008 and all the way through to Election Day, Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, and Harry Reid, the founders of the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy, would repeatedly tell the country that they were ready, willing, and would soon be able to starve the country of the conventional sources of energy it needs to keep its economic engines running, regardless of the consequences, bowing before what may be the greatest hoax in human history. They failed to foresee that enough high producers to make a difference would believe them, and that these high producers would abandon their previous guarded optimism.

Second, they failed to consider that starting in June and all the way through to Election Day, Pelosi, Obama, and Reid – but especially presidential nominee Obama — would tell the country that they were ready, willing, and would soon be able to punitively tax the 5% of the nation’s most productive, increasing their marginal tax rates by up to 17% (12.4% Social Security plus 4.6% federal income tax), so they could redistribute money to everyone else. Even in the fall, when it was clear that the economy was struggling, the POR Economy’s architects continued to bitterly cling to their tax-increase promises. Bush’s team failed to foresee that enough high producers to make a difference would believe them, and that these high producers would abandon their previous guarded optimism.

Third, they failed to anticipate that in September, the decades-in-the-making, Democratic Party-driven housing and mortgage-lending mess would come to a head at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and that Washington would then allow itself to be blackmailed into a series of financial sector bailouts. They didn’t foresee that the bailouts would expand to other industries, and that this money, often forced on recipients with a (figurative) gun to their heads, would contain shackles designed to prevent repayment and ensure government control of corporate decision-making, and in some cases control of the corporations themselves. They failed to foresee that enough high producers to make a difference would head for the lifeboats and stay there, abandoning what little optimism remained.

In sum, they failed to anticipate that enough high producers to make a difference would abandon their spring optimism, not because of then-current economic conditions, which were at worst mediocre, but because of their assessments of what economic conditions would be in the not too distant future, based on the perilous pronouncements of Pelosi, Obama, and Reid. They didn’t foresee that many of those who didn’t catch on during the summer would do so after observing the reckless September-October actions of the Washington establishment.

As a result, they failed to anticipate that businesspeople, entrepreneurs and investors would take steps they ordinarily take when a serious recession takes hold — not hiring, not expanding, letting people go and not replacing them, making worn-out equipment last longer instead of buying new, and others — before the serious recession took hold. The failed to foresee the deliberate downsizing that would take place in response to stated promises by powerful government officials Pelosi, Obama, and Reid to penalize and punish them, and the economy as a whole, if and when they gained power.

Finally, they failed to anticipate that at crunch time, with a serious recession staring them in the face, Pelosi, Obama, and Reid would ignore options that could have worked and historically have worked with near-immediate positive effect (tax cuts, opening up domestic drilling, etc.), in favor of an inherently time-delayed, ineffective “stimulus” plan that, like its historical predecessors in 1930s America and 1990s Japan, hasn’t stimulated anything.

How could the Bushies be so stupid? (/sarc)

The Bush Administration’s intrepid economic prognosticators didn’t anticipate that for the first time in American history a political party would take positions and actions destined to take down the economy in the name of electoral victory. The only question that remains is whether the named Democrats and their party did so out of ignorance, or did so deliberately. I lean strongly towards the latter.

On-the-Ground Observations on the Economy from Chicago’s North Side

Filed under: Economy,News from Other Sites,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:03 am

I saw this about 10 days ago, and have been meaning to get around to it since.

The excerpts are from HillBuzz (warning: R-rated content is at the linked page), a Hillary Clinton-supporting site that bitterly opposed Barack Obama after he won the Democratic nomination last year.

Though I obviously can’t vouch for it, what’s below  — but not necessarily the rest of the link’s content — contains observations that ring true based on what I’m also hearing, and seems too specific in its details to be made up (some paragraph breaks added by me):

The Economy Is Much, Much Worse Than Dr. Utopia Wants You to Realize

….. On the streets of Boystown and Andersonville (neighborhoods on the North Side — Ed.) in the last several days — we kid you not — we saw nicely dressed people, just a little dirty, but wild-eyed and desperate looking, digging through trash bins on the street or dumpsters behind restaurants.

One man yesterday looked like one of the random, slightly overweight, middle-management accountant types indigenous to every cubicle farm in America (and obsessed with red Swingline staplers on occasion).  He still had the ubiquitous nylon badge holder/key ring straight out of central casting dangling around his neck, the kind his ID used to be on when he swiped in at Aon every day (the name of the insurance giant on the nylon, given to him at orientation his first day or as some worthless prize at a training seminar or other event, we’re sure).

And, there he was, in The Golden Age of Hope and Change, in dirty khackis (sic), excited to find a styrofoam cup with a lid still on it in the trash outside Potbelly’s. Feral-like, he scooped that cup right up to his mouth and slurped up its contents, savoring it as the only food he’d had that day, most likely.

It was stunning and sickening and heartbreaking and TERRIFYING all at the same time, because when we were kids and asked our grandparents what the Great Depression was like and how they first realized there was inescapable trouble coming, THIS IS WHAT THEY SAID THEY NOTICED FIRST.

….. People who never heard the word “No” for anything are being rejected for jobs that are three or four levels below what they’d typically be paid fortunes for are being reduced to taking unpaid internships to diversify their resumes and make themselves more marketable.

Some people are just giving up on finding work and have moved back in with their parents while they go to law school or go get MBAs, deciding to ride out the new depression in school while the gilded world around us implodes on itself in this the most historic and excellent Golden Age of Hope and Change.

….. The MSM and White House continue to tell us, every day, how historic Dr. Utopia’s presidency is and how happy we all must be that we have a black president now.

….. Hope!


Middle-management slurping old chili out of the garbage!

People losing their homes!

Talented professionals going almost a year without finding jobs!

Welcome to Dr. Utopia’s America, people.

Lucid Links (060809, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 8:41 am

Noteworthy Net-Worthies:

The idea of “being more like Europe,” a favorite mantra of the Left, looks a bit more desirable this morning – ”Conservatives raced toward victory in some of Europe’s largest economies Sunday as initial results and exit polls showed voters punishing left-leaning parties in European parliament elections in France, Germany and elsewhere.”

Note the “clever” bias in this later sentence in the just-referenced AP report: “Fringe groups could use the EU parliament as a platform for their extreme views but were not expected to affect the assembly’s increasingly influential lawmaking on issues ranging from climate change to cell-phone roaming charges.” Sure, AP — Anyone who criticizes what may be the greatest hoax in human history is “fringe.” Plus the lawmaking isn’t “influential”; it’s “authoritarian.” Reporters Constant Brand and Robert Wielaard appear unhappy with the result. Too bad, so sad.

Related — In what the BBC called a “historic defeat,” Gordon Brown’s Labor Party got their butts kicked in the UK’s EU parliamentary elections. The UK Independence Party’s 17.4% share of the vote outdid Labour’s third-place share of 15.3%. This is first and foremost a pushback against globaloney, as Benny Peiser noted in his daily CCNet e-mail — “(The result) suggests that any party promoting unpopular climate policies and green taxes that will further increase the cost of energy, transport and travel for ordinary families risks being punished in future elections. As far as Britain is concerned, the Labour government and its green agenda is finished. Let that be a warning to President Obama and other would-be salvationists.”

Tapper Channels Allahpundit — It’s nine days old, but it’s too good to let go without notice. Jake Tapper, who may the only network news reporter not waving pompoms every time Dear Leader speaks, had a great headline at ABC’s Political Punch that instantly made a great point: “First President in US History to Have Voted to Filibuster a Supreme Court Nominee Now Hopes for Clean Process.” Ouch.

CBS’s expose of companies disguised as not-for-profits (big HT to an e-mailer) that have benefitted greatly from John Murtha’s ability to generate military contracts on their behalf never mentioned Murtha’s party in its audio, revealing his Democratic Party ID once in a caption that was visible for all of 3 seconds. The network’s text story at the link has a few “D-Pa” references, but no variation on “Democrat” is present. The brief intro by Katie Couric on the CBS Evening News — not visible at the CBS link, but visible here — also didn’t mention Murtha’s party. So the network got the party-ID thing partially right at best for thousands of online readers, and almost totally blew it for 5.5 million or so viewers. Big whoop. Real truth to power there, guys. Contrast that with the nine Republican references in the text of this 2006 CBS story about Jack Abramoff, who was not and is not an elected politician. The word “Republican” appears six times, along with three “R” affiliations. CBS’s interpid reporters were also able to find Democrat Howard Dean to criticize Abramoff in 2006, but “somehow” couldn’t find a Republican to criticize Murtha (oops — given the linguini spines seemingly dominating the national GOP, that may actually be possible).

Here’s Wesley Pruden, the take-no-prisoners editor emeritus and now occasional columnist at the Washington Timeson Barack Hussein Obama’s Cairo speech (transcript here; since Dear Leader mentioned his middle name there, I can assume I have his royal permission to do so as well) – “Mr. Obama’s revelation of his ‘inner Muslim’ in Cairo reveals much about who he is. He is our first president without an instinctive appreciation of the culture, history, tradition, common law and literature whence America sprang. The genetic imprint writ large in his 43 predecessors is missing from the Obama DNA.” Exactly.