April 28, 2014

HBO’s John Oliver Ridicules Cover Oregon’s Complete Failure

This is so good that I have to suspend this site’s PG-13 rating for this one post (warming: some profane language; HT Powerline):

Larry Ellison of Oracle, the company which spearheaded the failed effort, was apparently unavailable for comment.

June 30, 2013

Facebook Blocks, Restores ‘Politically Incorrect’ Post of Fox Radio’s Todd Starnes

Filed under: Business Moves,Corporate Outrage — Tom @ 10:09 am

Any doubt that there is a serious problem with leftists imitating the Thought Police in George Orwell’s 1984 and scouring the Internet to silence free expression pretty much disappears once you see what they were able to have temporarily removed from the Facebook page of Fox Radio’s Todd Starnes. And while it’s a relief that the post has been restored, consider how many others without the Fox host’s visibility may be having their posts removed with far less recourse.

Full text of the post, which has since been restored, along with the takedown notice Starnes reports he received, follow the jump (HT Fire Andrea Mitchell via I Hate the Media; click to enlarge in a separate tab or window):

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May 22, 2012

Unacceptable: NYT’s ‘Correction’ to Op-ed Writer’s Incurably False ‘Wall Street Psychopaths’ Op-Ed

The New York Times apparently wants us to believe that it has done its journalistic duty by issuing a “correction,” the text of which will follow the jump, to an especially odious May 12 op-ed (“Fables of Wealth”) written by William Deresiewicz.

The author, who describes himself as “An essayist, critic and the author of ‘A Jane Austen Education,’” originally claimed, as quoted at the Media Research Center’s TimesWatch, that “A recent study found that 10 percent of people who work on Wall Street are ‘clinical psychopaths’ … (The proportion at large is 1 percent.).” Uh, not exactly (bolds are mine throughout this post):

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April 28, 2012

The Election Should Be All About Barack Obama’s Record

Three likely stark reminders of just how bad it is will arrive just before Election Day.

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On April 13, at Swampland, a blog at what’s left of Time magazine, Joe Klein took Bill Galston at the New Republic to task for daring to write that Barack Obama’s successful reelection will be difficult “if the people don’t approve of his record.”

That’s about as non-controversial as it gets — but not for good ol’ Joe, who called Galston’s assertion “political science mythology.” Klein proceeded to offer three elections (2008, 1988, and 1976) which supposedly showed that a president’s record in office doesn’t matter. Readers can and should be forgiven for wondering why he chose those three campaigns, given that none of them involved incumbents seeking reelection.

In the interest of bringing Klein up to speed, let me remind him of the three of the four most obvious relatively recent instances when the incumbent president’s record was of the utmost importance (the fourth is Bill Clinton’s defeat of Bush 41 in 1992, which was built on Clinton’s lie about “the worst economy in the past 50 years,” Bush’s breaking of his “no new taxes pledge,” and most critically the quixotic candidacy of Ross Perot).

In 1980, Jimmy Carter was seeking reelection against challenger Ronald Reagan. Carter’s administration was busily producing inflation, unemployment, and high interest rates all at once, a trifecta once thought impossible. It wasn’t the “killer rabbit” that did Carter in, just as it won’t be Obama’s youthful penchant for eating dog meat; it was the brutal economy. Despite a third-party effort by John Anderson which probably pulled more votes away from Reagan than Carter, Reagan won in a landslide.

In 1984, Reagan was the incumbent. All the Gipper needed to do to win against the hapless Walter Mondale was:

  • Demonstrate that his age wasn’t an issue — which he did, while wisecracking that he wouldn’t hold his opponents’ youth and inexperience against him.
  • Plaintively ask: “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” For the vast majority of Americans, the answer was a resounding “Yes.”

What resulted was a 49-state Electoral College rout.

In 2004, George W. Bush sought reelection against John Kerry. While the challenger had many shortcomings, not the least of which was his failure to remember who was president in December 1968 (Kerry referenced something said by Dick Nixon, but the president at the time was still lame duck Lyndon Baines Johnson, making his “Christmas in Cambodia” story an obvious fable), the election was really about Bush’s record on the economy, his prosecutions of the Iraq War, and progress in the overall War on Terror. The country was very divided on the matter, but Bush prevailed.

So while it would be nice from Joe Klein’s and Barack Obama’s perspective if the 2012 campaign were about, oh, I don’t know, Obama’s well-recited movie introductions, Michelle Obama’s frequent TV appearances, and their kids’ vacations (oops, we’re not allowed to talk about that), the 2012 campaign  – like it or not, guys — will be primarily about what Obama has and hasn’t done during his first term.

The central problem with Barack Obama’s presidential record is that it is chock full of records — almost all of them painful, harmful, or both. What follows are just a few of them, focusing in the interest of space on the economy and the federal government’s finances.

Most trillion-dollar annual deficits rung up (as well as the only ones): 4.

The deficit during the last eight months of the fiscal year which ended on September 30, 2009, the first eight full months of Obama’s presidency, was $1.02 trillion. That was followed by full fiscal-year deficits of just under $1.3 trillion in 2010 and 2011. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that fiscal 2012′s full-year deficit will be $1.2 trillion. Unless David Axelrod’s Ministry of Information Management (otherwise known as the Obama For America campaign) intervenes, the Treasury Department will release final results for fiscal 2012 in mid-October, right in the middle of early voting and about three weeks before Election Day.

Most consecutive months of seasonally adjusted unemployment above 8%: 38, and counting.

Every single full month of Obama’s presidency has seen an unemployment rate at least that high. Other related records are far too numerous to specifically mention, but there is no reasonable doubt that the pain inflicted on the long-term unemployed during the barely noticeable to non-existent recovery has been far more severe than at any time since the Great Depression, and markedly worse than what we saw for a relatively brief time during the early 1980s. The recent surge in jobless claims and March’s disappointing job creation make it fairly likely that the unemployment rate won’t fall below 8% before Election Day — and even if it does, the shocking shrinkage in the workforce during Obama’s term will render such a result completely unimpressive.

Unless it also gets the ax from Axelrod, the Bureau of Labor Statistics will issue the October employment report on November 2, the Friday before Election Day.

Number of post-recession quarters required for a post-World War II economy to return to its pre-recession size: 9.

Believe it or not, the previous record was three. And since Obama’s best buddy these days seems to be Warren Buffett, I should note that based on the personal benchmark of the billion-dollar ower of Omaha, we’re far from achieving a true recovery, which he defines as when “real per capita GDP gets back to where it was before.”

The government’s last report on economic growth will arrive on October 26; I don’t think David Axelrod will have the nerve to try to delay that one, no matter what it says. That’s eleven days before Election Day. There’s no good reason to believe it will be anywhere near the 4%-plus annualized growth needed for meaningful job creation coming out of a recession (or in this case, out of a barely noticeable to non-existent recovery). Forecasts for full-year growth in 2012 tell us that attaining even the 3% needed to claim anything resembling acceptability will be difficult.

No president since World War II has a poorer record of economic and fiscal stewardship than Barack Obama. The frightening tax hikes on the horizon for January 2013, increases he will almost certainly allow to take effect once he’s reelected, will make his first term seem like a picnic. His only hope appears to be to pretend that it’s 1936 and, as Franklin Delano Roosevelt did that year, make the election about demonizing the successful and convincing the disengaged that it is noble to confiscate and redistribute their income and wealth.

The world has changed quite a bit in the past 76 years, and a president’s ability to hide the truth from the public is nowhere near what it was when FDR reigned supreme but presided over a tragically underperforming economy. But I wouldn’t rule out Obama’s ability to successfully play the envy and class warfare cards, especially given the Republican Party’s decidedly non-conservative nominee. Heaven help the American people if a majority of us let him get away with it.

March 21, 2012

Latest PJ Media Column (‘Obama’s Broken Window Company — And His Larger, More Serious Damage’) Is Up

SeriousEnergyReprieve022412It’s here.

It will go up here at BizzyBlog on Friday (link won’t work until then) after the blackout expires.

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The main (but far from the only) point of the column is that, as I feared when it happened in December 2008, President-elect Barack Obama’s expressed solidarity with the workers who occupied Republic Windows — without calling out their lawlessness and demanding that they leave — sent a chilling message to the business community which has been confirmed time and time again since he has taken office, namely that hiring full-time employees is something to be avoided. When the country’s chief executive-in-waiting condones lawlessness (and then engages in it himself once installed), it brings — and has brought — terrible consequences for the entire nation.

The news which drove the column occurred in late February, when California-based Serious Energy, which bought the moribund Republic Windows plant a few months after the plant’s occupation, announced that it would close the Chicago plant once and for all. Naturally, workers — this time only about 60 instead of over 200 — occupied the plant again, and Serious promised to keep the plant open for 90 days and to try to find a buyer (I don’t wish them ill, but good luck with that). The few news accounts which were filed usually mentioned Joe Biden’s visit to the plant in April 2009, but none I read or saw mentioned Barack Obama’s chilling “I think they’re absolutely right” December 2008 statement, which was a clearly far more relevant turning point.

There is so much more to the Republic Windows/Serious Energy story than I could possibly have squeezed into an already overstuffed column that I will get to some of it here.

The Pigford Effect

As the column notes, the administration’s $5 billion weatherization program “has been an epic fail, accurately characterized as a “a complete cesspool of waste” by the conservative fiscal watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste.”

An emailer made a very pertinent point about this, which ties back to the Pigford debacle, where a few probably valid claims of discrimination against black farmers decades ago turned into a class action lawsuit with more far more participants than ever engaged in farming, really on two levels.

The emailer noted that “Pigford attracted fraudulent claims because the government opened their checkbook. So fake black farmers came out of the wood work and claimed they had been wronged.”

The emailer, upon learning that the Federal Trade Commission obtained a consent agreement in February from Serious and four other window makers for making wildly exaggerated claims of energy savings from installing their windows (up to 40%-50% vs. a reality of 7%-15%), noted that “Green energy window companies made up fraudulent claims of green energy savings to the consumer because they knew the government was footing the bill,” and that “Private investors or venture capital folks would have tested the claims by Serious and others.”

True enough. Another aspect to this, borne out in the massive complaints about the quality of the work done under the program in several states which likely barely scratch the surface, is that the weatherization program also attracted fly-by-night and crooked contractors who either didn’t know what they were doing or deliberately cut corners and did shoddy work knowing that the government was footing the bill. The charitable and not-for-profit groups who were given the money for the program were in many cases woefully inexperienced to manage such an enterprise.

Cronyism

Serious’s Chairman Kevin Surace was named Inc. Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year in 2009; based on the related write-up, the selection looks comes off as a suck-up to the Obama regime. Though he has received other, less tainted accolades, the FTC complaint certainly mars Surace and his company’s reputation. I should also note that Serious has been refashioning itself as a “developer of cloud-based energy management software” and de-emphasizing its manufacturing (though plants in PA and CA remain open).

Surace gave $5,000 to Obama for America in September 2011. I didn’t find evidence of other political contributions by Serious execs.

The company’s board has at least one obvious Democrat ringer: Reed Hundt, former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, who habitually imagines that there must be a “right-wing power grab” going on whenever the topic of deregulation comes up.

Lots of hype, little in results results

The company definitely over-promised what it would do for the Chicago plant’s workers; as the column notes, it “never hired back more than 75″ of the plant’s 200-250 workers. That certainly isn’t the impression Joe Biden had in 2009:

Wow. In retrospect, the horse manure in Biden’s speech was neck-deep. “600 workers on three shifts”?

February 29, 2012

Slow ‘Recovery,’ Dire Consequences

What’s being sold as impressive and “normal” is unacceptable.

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Note: This column went up at Pajamas Media and was teased here at BizzyBlog on Monday.

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In December 2009, an Associated Press headline told us that the top business story of the year was “Recovery From Great Recession.” Readers of its text were informed that the previous year had seen the “Economy’s Fall — And Rebound.”

Twenty-six months later, the question I asked in response still resonates: “Rebound? What rebound?” Even though the American press has mostly pretended that they don’t exist, the unforgivable length of the post-recession malaise has caused an unprecedented growth in problems not seen since decades before most Americans were born.

If you’re looking for “good” news, the following sentence represents its full extent. For the first time in the ten quarters since the recession officially ended in June 2009, the private sector’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was larger than it was at its pre-recession peak, whether you define the recession’s beginning the way normal people do (two or more consecutive quarters of contraction, in this case beginning with the third quarter of 2008) or as the academics at the National Bureau of Economic Research whimsically determined it (December 2007):

GDPallVsPrivate4Q11asOfJan2012

IBDrecoveryGraphicUpdatedJan2012That’s nice, but as seen at the right in an updated version of a graphic originally posted at Investor’s Business Daily last year, even the overall recovery in GDP (including the government sector) which occurred during the third quarter of last year took three times as long as any recovery from any downturn since World War II.

Demonstrating that he may need to employ a ghostwriter to compose his personal correspondence in order to prevent him from going off-message, President Barack Obama informed a Maine constituent in June of last year that “It will probably take another year or two to fully dig our way out of this hole.”

This demonstrates that despite the public posturing, Obama knows full well that this nation hasn’t attained an economic recovery, and is in fact far from it.

Other benchmarks indicate how bad things really are, starting with per capita GDP. By Obama buddy Warren Buffett’s reckoning in September 2010, before the Oracle of Omaha decided to become the full-time Klingon of class warfare, we were still in a recession, and would stay in one “until real per capita GDP gets back to where it was before.” We’re probably at least a year from that threshold:

PerCapitaGDPchart4Q07to4Q11

Thus, we will have endured a half-decade of Buffett-defined recession.

The other major indicator that we have had a failure to recover is shown in the jobs numbers — not the ones relating to the overall picture, which are bad enough, but the ones breaking down part-time versus full-time employment. The following chart shows what has happened in those categories since what I have been calling the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy began at roughly May’s end in 2008. This was the point when decision-making investors, entrepreneurs, and businesspeople began running for cover as the ominous prospect that Obama might actually win the presidency and have a lapdog House Speaker and Senate Majority Leader at his beck and call became a likelihood:

JobLossesMay2008toJan2012

On the current trajectory, while Obama and his administration brag about the wonders they’ve supposedly achieved in the employment growth in the since early 2010, the economy is at least four years away from recovering the full-time jobs lost since the POR Economy began, even before considering population growth. If ObamaCare somehow survives Supreme Court challenges and congressional repeal efforts, we may see full-time employment plateau barely above where it is now.

The slow non-recovery is having dire consequences which will be felt for years. The establishment press, which fabricated the fiction that the truly roaring economy under Ronald Reagan in the 1980s was supposedly creating jobs for hamburger flippers and not much else, is virtually ignoring the frightening human cost of the worst economy since FDR dragged the country through the needlessly long-lasting depression of the 1930s. Instead, they play a colossally fraudulent game of “Let’s pretend things are just fine” with the Obama economy.

In mid-February, there was a press report about “tent cities.” No, not those erected by the pathetic losers and criminal trespassers of the Obama-endorsed Occupy movement, but places where one will find the desperately poor:

Tent cities have sprung up in and around at least 55 American cities – they represent the bleak reality of America’s poverty crisis.

… One of the largest tented camps is in Florida and is now home to around 300 people. Others have sprung up in New Jersey and Portland.

The media outlet which reported this phenomenon clearly broke ranks with the predominant press indifference. There’s a high likelihood that you never heard a word about this report, because it came from the BBC. Does anyone think that the U.S. media, which is so completely vested in Obama’s reelection that it might as well be an arm of Obama for America, is going to cover the tent city phenomenon and risk seeing them referred to as they should be, i.e., as “Obamavilles,” the 21st century incarnation of the Depression-era Hoovervilles?

Homeless advocacy groups have also gotten into the cover-up act, as illustrated in this paragraph from the 2012 The State of Homelessness in America report:

Chronic homelessness decreased by 3 percent from 110,911 in 2009 to 107,148 in 2011. The chronically homeless population has decreased by 13 percent since 2007. The decrease is associated with an increase in the number of permanent supportive housing beds from 188,636 in 2007 to 266,968 in 2011. Permanent supportive housing ends chronic homelessness.

Clever, eh? You wouldn’t know it from the excerpted paragraph, but “permanent supportive housing” is still a form of homelessness. Digging into the report to find comparable numbers, one finds that both kinds of homelessness combined have increased by over 9% during the past two years. What’s more, “The ‘doubled up’ population (people who live with friends, family or other nonrelatives for economic reasons) increased by 13 percent from 6 million in 2009 to 6.8 million in 2010.”

Meanwhile, millions of the long-term unemployed are seeing the skills which earned them middle-class standards of living dangerously erode in what is perhaps the greatest destruction of human capital this nation has ever seen. That doesn’t seem to be a problem to Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, who positively gushes over how government unemployment checks stimulate the economy.

A slowly recovering economy means that real estate values, which declined steeply during the downturn, are just staying there. If it weren’t for the administration’s failed housing market interventions, the homebuilding and resale industries, instead of treading water near their bottom, would be coming back quickly enough to justify a meaningful rebound in home values. That’s not happening, and it’s seriously harming the financial positions of millions of individuals and families.

A president with the gall to brag about the set of conditions just described and who wants us to believe, with press assistance, that this is the “new normal,” it’s the best we can hope for, and that we’d better get used to it, is one who deserves to be electorally thrown out of office on his insecure, oversized ears.

September 22, 2011

From ‘Scandal-Free’ to Near Scandal Fatigue in Three Weeks

“Squeaky clean” no more — as if they ever were.

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Note: This column went up at Pajamas Media and was teased here at BizzyBlog on Tuesday.

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On August 30, concerning President Barack Obama’s reelection prospects, Allan Lichtman, an American University history professor and author of The Keys to the White House: A Surefire Guide to Predicting the Next President, told US News: “I don’t see how Obama can lose.”

Lichtman’s presidential election success formula, which has correctly predicted the winner of the popular vote in every contest since 1984, requires that the party currently holding the White House prevail on eight of thirteen “keys.” Lichtman contended that Obama was winning nine of them, with a tenth, whether the economy is in recession during the campaign, pegged as “undecided.”

What a difference three weeks makes.

Lichtman’s undecided key was questionable from the get-go. Even if the economy isn’t in recession as normally defined next year, almost everyone agrees that it will feel like one. The White House’s “alternative economic forecast” predicts that the unemployment rate will be at or above 9% throughout next year. The Congressional Budget Office hedges just a little, projecting “close to 9 percent through the end of 2012.” Both may be overly optimistic. Another month or two of job reports showing zero job gains or even job losses will almost certainly push the unemployment rate higher; if they don’t, it will only mean that “going Galt” has become more widespread. No incumbent president since World War II has won reelection with a jobless reading above 7.2%.

Lichtman believed, and probably still does, that Obama has met the first of his two “foreign/military” keys requiring “a major success in foreign or military affairs” because of Osama bin Laden’s assassination. While very important, whether it’s electorally “major” is debatable, especially considering the event’s subsequent mishandling. Even conceding bin Laden, an Islamist-dominated Libya or Egypt, each of which is quite possible by next fall, could ruin Lichtman’s other “foreign/military” key requiring no significant failures.

He also felt that Obama was winning the “scandal” key, which requires that “The incumbent administration is untainted by major scandal.” He then revealed that he’s not a close follower of the news beyond the Associated Press, the New York Times, and the ABC-CBS-NBC axis when he said: “This administration has been squeaky clean.”

Before readers double over in spasms of laughter, note that the presence or absence of “taint” is in the eyes of voters and depends heavily on whether scandals, to the extent they exist, have penetrated public perception. One dictionary definition of “scandal” calls it “a disgraceful or discreditable action, circumstance, etc.,” but another requires “damage to reputation; public disgrace.”

Concerning the latter definition, Lichtman’s own ignorance demonstrated that he was probably right about his scandal key at the end of August, despite at least the following unreported or underreported items listed here which have arguably met the former.

Then came Solyndra, LightSquared, and Gunwalker.

Solyndra’s collapse contains so many disgraceful elements that the press can’t get away with totally ignoring it (though, as seen here and here, they’re still trying mightily, and distorting things whenever they can). The amount of taxpayer loss involved, at over $500 million for just one deal, is huge. The quid pro quo of campaign contributions and the lobbying for favorable treatment could hardly be more obvious. Reelection-related considerations clearly intruded to override dire warnings that the company couldn’t possibly succeed. Finally, as Andy McCarthy noted at National Review on September 17, the Department of Energy’s agreement to allow private investors repayment priority ahead of the government clearly broke the law.

McCarthy correctly went much further:

The Solyndra debacle is not just Obama-style crony socialism as usual. It is a criminal fraud.

… Solyndra … was using its government loans as a springboard to go public. When the sale of securities is involved, federal law criminalizes fraudulent schemes, false statements of material fact, and statements that omit any “material fact necessary in order to make the statements made . . . not misleading.”

… That’s exactly what President Obama did on May 26, 2010, with his Solyndra friends about to launch their initial public offering of stock.

As president, Obama had a fiduciary responsibility to be forthright about Solyndra’s grim prospects — in speaking to the American taxpayers whose money he had redistributed, and to the American investors who were about to be solicited for even more funding.

… The president looked us in the eye and averred that, when it came to channeling public funds into private hands, “We can see the positive impacts right here at Solyndra.”

… The word for such schemes is fraud.

The LightSquared mess, in addition to having many of the element of Solyndra, adds a national security-endangering angle, as described by Richard Pollock, to predictable cronyism:

(LightSquared’s) new wireless system could interfere with aviation safety, disrupt military and rescue operations, and interfere with high-tech farming equipment and consumer navigation devices.

Speaking of security and defense, the Gunwalker scandal’s body count continues to grow, and its scope has spread to include Gangwalker in the Midwest, Operation Castaway out of Tampa, and incidents traced to Texas. Bob Owens has shown that the multiple enterprises almost have to involve coordination from the highest levels of government, with possible motivations ranging from creating a pretext for circumventing the Second Amendment to causing illegal immigrants fleeing destabilized Central American nations to flood into the U.S.

No wonder the administration and its backers have become desperate to discredit Congressman Darrell Issa and his Gunwalker investigation — so desperate that a leftist front group has filed an ethics complaint against him based on a New York Times Issa hit piece which has been corrected three times and contains ten other alleged factual errors.

Any one of these three scandals would probably have brought down or at least seriously crippled a Republican or conservative administration by now.

Thus, we have gone from Allan Lichtman’s “squeaky clean, scandal-free” fantasy to virtual scandal fatigue in three weeks, and from “I don’t see how he can lose” to worries about Obama’s eroding base and even a call for him to withdraw.

By now, it should be clear that objectively written history will not be kind to those who were seduced by “hope and change.” In November 2012, voters must permanently reject all who are linked to it.

November 20, 2008

Latest Pajamas Media Column (‘That Giant SUCKUP Sound in Washington’) Is Up

It’s here.

Subheadline:

The Seemingly Unlimited Cash Kitty Under Paulson (SUCKUP) is essentially deposing free-market capitalism. Where is the outrage?

It will appear Saturday morning at BizzyBlog (link won’t work until then) under the title “That Giant SUCKUP Sound.”

Linkback: The post refers to a mid-October exchange on CNBC that I commented on at the time about how Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson foisted money on the large banks — even ones that didn’t want the money and said they didn’t need it. Maybe it’s just me, but when a TV commentator talks nonchalantly (in fact, almost happily) about how a country’s Treasury Secretary “put a gun to their heads” to force them to do his bidding (figuratively, of course, but surely with a lot of consequences threatened), I think we’ve turned a dangerous corner.

Also: Roger Simon at PJM has a hard time with the Big 3 auto execs, whose companies’ already-approved loan guarantees are supposed to be for so-called “green” vehicles, flying to Washington on private jets to beg for operating capital. Personally, I’m not as troubled by the “green” hypocrisy as I am by the ugly spectacle of supposed captains of industry, whose companies have failed for at least 30 years to deal with their structural cost problems, putting their hands out to cover for, and perpetuate, those failures.

Related: Smaller scale, big lesson, and actually good historical-perspective journalism from the New York Times (bold is mine) –

British Leyland, a car company that went through £11 billion of inflation-adjusted British taxpayer money, or $16.5 billion, in the ’70s and ’80s before going out of business. All that is left of the company now are memories of cars like the Triumph, and a painful lesson in the limited effectiveness of bailouts.

“It’s all too evocative,” said Leon Brittan, a top official in the government of Margaret Thatcher, the free-market-minded prime minister who nevertheless backed the rescue. “I’m not telling the U.S. what to do, but the lessons of the British experience is don’t throw good money after bad. British Leyland carried on for a few more years, but they’re not there now, are they?”

More: Jim Lindgren at Volokh makes an Econ 101 point

Making bad, uneconomic investments in failing industries does not, on balance, preserve jobs; it tends to destroy more jobs – and more good jobs – than it saves.

October 2, 2008

Latest Pajamas Media Post (‘U.S. Auto Industry Crashes; Taxpayers Serve as Airbag’) Is Up

It’s here. Nice job by PJM on the title.

It will appear at BizzyBlog on Saturday (link won’t work until then) after the blackout expires.

PJM’s subhead is also good, and accurate:

“Paulson’s big bailout has distracted us from yet another that is possibly even less deserved.”

July 23, 2008

A VP Pick Worse Than Romney (Politically)

Filed under: Business Moves,Corporate Outrage,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:53 pm

Didn’t think that was possible, did you?

Mitt Romney is an objectively worse and totally unfit VP pick for the future of the country for all the reasons identified in the recent four-part series (here, here, here, and here), and because of all that was noted during the primary season. But the damage caused by picking this other person would be immediate, serious, and likely fatal to McCain’s candidacy.

John McCain has railed against excessive CEO pay and perks — sometimes inadvisedly, because many highly-paid CEOs earn it.

McCain may never have mentioned unmerited golden parachutes and severance packages on the stump, but he doesn’t have to. Anyone criticizing CEO pay goes after these, and should. It’s the money that failed leaders like Ford’s Jack Nasser, Home Depot’s Bob Nardelli, Mattel’s Jill Barad, and others have taken with them as they walk out the door that drives even many ardent supporters of capitalism, including yours truly, to distraction.

Carly Fiorina was one of those recipients of ridiculously excessive and totally undeserved booty 3-1/2 years ago. Those, including Fiorina, who claim that HP turned around under her successor because things she had initiated during her tenure finally came to fruition are indulging in fantasy.

This woman is a poster babe for undeserved, overly generous send-offs. I don’t even like the fact that she’s a McCain campaign spokesperson, but as long as she does only what a spokesperson is supposed to do, her presence is (barely) tolerable.

John McCain’s selection of Fiorina as Veep would be a massive injection of political cyanide.

June 4, 2008

Couldn’t Help But Comment (060408)

Car Carnage in May:
- GM – down 28%.
- Ford – down 16%.
- Chrysler – down 25%. Has Bob Nardelli beaten Chrysler down to the point where nobody will want it?
- Toyota – down 4%. Even with the slide, the company came within 9,300 vehicles of beating out GM for #1 in unit sales.
- Honda – up 16%.
- Nissan – up 8%.

If you think this is bad, see what will happen if Chris Pummer of MarketWatch gets his wish and gas goes to $8 a a gallon. Chris says we should rejoice if that happens.

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This got lost in the shuffle last week, but it deserves a mention (HT Say Uncle via Instapundit):

Police: 3 dead in Nevada bar shooting that may have stemmed from feud
May 25, 2008 9:15 PM ET

WINNEMUCCA (AP) – Police say three men were fatally shot and two other people were injured early this morning at a bar in Winnemucca, and the shootings may have stemmed from a longstanding feud between several local families.

Winnemucca Police Chief Bob Davidson says a man entered Players Bar and Grill and fatally shot two members of a rival family before he was shot and killed by a patron. All three were pronounced dead at the scene.

Better headline: Possible Massacre Averted.

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Here’s another one of those “unexpected” good-news econ reports:

April U.S. factory orders unexpectedly jump 1.1%

U.S. factory orders unexpectedly jumped 1.1% in April 2008, the U.S. Commerce Department announced Tuesday, primarily due to increased prices for gasoline and other petroleum products.

Economists surveyed by Bloomberg News had expected April 2008 factory orders to decline 0.1%. Factory orders increased 1.5% in March 2008.

Excluding a 7.9% decline in transportation goods, factory orders rose 2.6% April 2008.

The Census Bureau’s original is here.

Related, from AP’s Martin Crutsinger:

Orders for iron and steel were up by 5.5 percent. Orders for mining and oil field equipment jumped 48.6 percent and orders for electrical equipment and appliances surged 28.1 percent.

Orders for nondurable goods rose by 2.8 percent.

If you go to Crutsinger’s second paragraph at the link, you’ll see a drop-dead obvious mistake:

The Commerce Department reported Tuesday that orders were up 1.1 percent in April following a 1.5 percent increase in March. Those gains followed big declines in January and March that raised concerns …..

Zheesh.

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California also had a primary yesterday for all relevant offices except president.

Good news for fiscal conservatives: It looks like Tom McClintock, “admired for his unyielding opposition to tax hikes,” is going to be a congressman.

Cindy Sheehan? Not so much (HT Instapundit).

To be fair, Sheehan is running for Congress against Nancy Pelosi as an Independent and wasn’t on yesterday’s ballot. Trouble is, as the link indicates, she needs 10,198 signatures, presumably of people in the congressional district, to get on the ballot in November. Rots of ruck, babe.

If she were serious instead of grabbing for one last shot at relevance, Sheehan would have run against Pelosi as a Democrat in yesterday’s primary, where she might have had a chance in a far-far-left district in a very low turnout election with a strong grass-roots/nutroots effort. Now, even if she miraculously collects enough signatures to qualify in November, she’ll get clobbered.

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Per a tip from reader Dan — RomneyCare’s fines hit home:

Nearly 100,000 Massachusetts taxpayers have been fined for failing to obtain health insurance, even as a major survey concludes the effort to create near-universal coverage in the state is meeting key goals.

Five percent of taxpayers failed to obtain health coverage last year, and more than half of those – about 97,000 – were forced to forfeit their personal exemption – worth $219 – after it was determined they could have afforded health care.

Do the math: That’s $21.2 million.

This year (collected on tax returns to be filed next year) the fines will increase to as much as $912. I would expect that one other thing will increase: the number of people leaving the People’s Republic of RomneyCare.

April 9, 2008

Couldn’t Help But Comment (040908)

Here’s a site to check out – UCC Truths.

The United Church of Christ is the supposedly “mainstream” denomination the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s Trinity United Church of Christ (TUCC) is a part of. TUCC is the church which the objectively unfit presidential candidate (second item at link) I refer to as BOOHOO (Barack O-bomba Overseas Hussein “Obambi” Obama) insists he and his family will continue to attend, despite its new pastor’s refusal to renounce Wright’s extensively documented poisonous rhetoric and “black liberation theology” beliefs.

So why anyone be surprised that, at the national level, UCC isn’t really “mainstream”? At least the last time I checked, promoting FALN terrorists as freedom fighters (the Puerto Rican group’s name is translated as “Armed Forces of National Liberation”) was not a “mainstream” cause.

Here’s an “oh by the way” from Wiki which makes the FALN a twofer, as it also negatively affects the other Democratic presidential aspirant (paragraphing added by me):

On August 11, 1999, Bill Clinton commuted the sentences of sixteen members of FALN that set off bombs several times in New York City and Chicago, convicted for conspiracies to commit robbery, bomb-making, and sedition, as well as for firearms and explosives violations.

None of the sixteen were convicted of bombings or any crime which injured another person, and all of the sixteen had served nineteen years or longer in prison, which was a longer sentence than such crimes typically received, according to the White House. Clinton offered clemency, on condition that the prisoners renounce violence, at the appeal of 10 Nobel Peace Prize laureates, President Jimmy Carter, the Cardinal of New York, and the Archbishop of Puerto Rico.

The commutation was opposed by U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons and criticised by many including former victims of FALN terrorist activities, the Fraternal Order of Police, and members of Congress. Hillary Clinton in her campaign for Senator also criticised the commutation, although she had earlier been supportive.

In other words, the presidential candidate I refer to as HR4C (Hillary Rodham Cackling Crying Complaining Clinton) was for it, before she was against it.

This UCC Truths link describes those activities of those whose sentences were commuted, and claims that they did not really renounce violence as a condition of their release.

Jeffrey Lord at the American Spectator has more.

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A lot of people don’t want to think about planning for retirement:

Planning for retirement is only slightly higher on the groan scale than dieting or starting a workout routine, according to findings from a survey of 1,000 Americans released April 1, 2008.

Whether it’s financial or physical fitness, it’s tough getting started.

Only one in three people surveyed is on track with retirement planning, and about one-fourth haven’t started planning at all. Nearly one-third view retirement planning as slightly more difficult than starting a workout regimen (29 percent) or a diet (28 percent).

….. Obstacles to retirement planning for many Americans, the survey found, include the following:
• Difficulty knowing what types of investments they should make, 42 percent.
• How much they will need to retire comfortably, 40 percent.
• When to retire, 33 percent.
• Where to begin in the planning process, 32 percent.

The federal government, which is in the process, like it or not, of trying to “get by” on a shrinking annual surplus from Social Security that it has become accustomed to gobbling up to paper over more serious deficits than those reported, doesn’t help in the retirement planning department. It’s way too late for anyone over 50 or so without a big stash to think about getting by with a much lower level of Social Security benefits than today’s retirees are receiving. Yet, despite all the denials made by politicians, the possibility exists that they will have to figure out how to do just that — if not during their early years of retirement, then in their later years, when it will be too late for many to even think about going back to work.

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Enviros are unhappy with the World Bank:

Developing countries and environmental groups accused the World Bank on Friday of trying to seize control of the billions of dollars of aid that will be used to tackle climate change in the next four decades.

“The World Bank’s foray into climate change has gone down like a lead balloon,” Friends of the Earth campaigner Tom Picken said at the end of a major climate change conference in the Thai capital.

“Many countries and civil society have expressed outrage at the World Bank’s attempted hijacking of real efforts to fund climate change efforts,” he said.

….. developing countries want climate change cash to be administered through the existing United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), which they feel is much less under the control of the Group of 8 (G8) richest countries.

Likely translation: We’re really mad that the World Bank won’t just give the money to the corrupt kleptocrats at the UN, so they can give some of the money to corrupt governments in the developing world.

(Aside: What in the bleep is Reuters doing quoting a spokesperson for far-left eco-harrassers and possible terrorist collaborators [scroll down to "WALHI's Strange Bedfellows" at link] like Friends of the Earth?)

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Karl at Protein Wisdom caught the so-called “Moderate Voice” blogger calling Phil Gramm a terrorist (sorry, no link to garbage such as that), because Gramm supported financial deregulation in the late 1990s. Far-lefties are very good at ruining words with plain meanings, aren’t they?

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This is really over the top (HT Hot Air Headlines):

DURHAM – Members of the 2006 Duke University lacrosse team are objecting to the city’s request to shut down a Web site that chronicles the legal proceedings in the players’ federal lawsuit.

….. Lawyers for Duke and the city claim the statements could prejudice a jury.

The more Duke and Durham lawyers keep this kind of arrogance up, the more likely it is that 2006 lacrosse team members will own the school and the town lock, stock, and barrel.