Archives for: December 2011

Drive Angry

I always thought the electric car would create new and exciting jobs. I just didn’t think that the jobs it would be create would be in the fire-fighting and home rebuilding industries:

An electric vehicle manufacturer that received a $529 million loan from the Energy Department is recalling 239 vehicles.

The Transportation Department’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said Thursday that the company, Fisker Automotive, will recall its Karma vehicles made between July 1, 2011, and Nov. 3, 2011, because of a faulty electric battery component that could cause a fire.

Oh yeah, about those jobs:

The administration has come under fire for issuing the loan after ABC News reported in October that Fisker is making its vehicles in Finland because it could not find a contractor in America to manufacture them.

But the Energy Department has countered that the loan was intended to help Fisker develop the vehicles, which the company did in the United States.

Look, electric vehicles are new technology. We’ve had over a century to develop gas-powered cars to the point where the most dangerous part is the sack of meat behind the wheel. So it’s not surprising that electric cars have problems, although the spectacular nature of the problems is a bit shocking. And maybe Fisker will recover and become the next century’s Ford.

But did we need to loan half a billion dollars for this? They couldn’t find some private lender like Warren Buffet (now ridiculously called the fifth most admired man in America because 2% of Americans said so)? The government should not be financing speculative technology; especially not at the cost of basic fundamental research.

Pull the plug on this whole program, guys.

Barry on 2011

Dave Barry reviews 2011, which was a pretty crappy but probably less crappy than previous years. I mean, it can’t be all bad when bin, Laden Gadhafi and Lil’ Kim all went to that Great Torture Chamber Down Below. Still it takes someone like Dave Barry to make us laugh at it.

But all of these developments, unfortunate as they were, would not by themselves have made 2011 truly awful. What made it truly awful was the economy, which, for what felt like the 17th straight year, continued to stagger around like a zombie on crack. Nothing seemed to help. President Obama, whose instinctive reaction to pretty much everything that happens, including sunrise, is to deliver a nationally televised address, delivered numerous nationally televised addresses on the economy, but somehow these did not do the trick. Neither did the approximately 37 million words emitted by the approximately 249 Republican-presidential-contender televised debates, out of which the single most memorable statement made was, quote: “Oops.”

Barry’s takes on the debt, the Casey Anthony case, Anthony Wiener and OWS and just as good.

Back in May, I titled 2011 the Year of False Hopes, for very personal reasons. Hope for a Grand Bargain on the budget was for naught. Hope for a sane Presidential race was for naught (and it’s now taking two years, God help us). Hope for Europe was … Jesus Christ, I don’t even want to look. Is Europe stil there? Tsunamis, earthquakes, cats and dogs living together.

But … we made it to 2012. Here’s hoping you and all of us have a much better year.

Fixing The Safety Net

Viewer warning, the below video is NSFDS (not safe for delicate sensibilities), but it has to be told. Sometimes shock value is needed to prove a point, but these are actors, not real people, that should take the sting out of the tragedy:

Clearly, this escalator was not union built.

Our infrastructure is crumbling and more tax revenue is needed. If only those snooty rich people would pay their fair share, those dependent would not have to suffer in such a manner. Here, two citizens must pay the price of an obstructionist Republican Party who just can’t grasp the vision our president has for our great nation.

This is worse then a lost EBT card, or a misplaced unemployment check, these people are trying to do the right thing by charging on their already maxed out charge card. Now they are stuck, idle, and useless, and will miss their SEIU meeting where that all important Walker recall petition is circulating. This is not the kind of nation I want to live in.

Obama’s New Best Friend?

Before I get into the meat of the post, a quick question, does anyone really think Iowa means dick? All this hand ringing going on about the cataclysmic effects if Paul wins Iowa, who cares? Santorum is surging in Iowa, who cares? Bachmann won the Iowa straw poll, who cares? Huckabee won in the last go around, now he has a show on Fox, hardly a springboard for success or a momentum builder. Iowans have the pulse of America about as much as Cambridge liberals, and offer equal insight (or lack there of) on where the country is at.

Now, on to Gary Johnson deciding to bolt the GOP and run as a third party candidate on the libertarian ticket:

Frankly, I have been deeply disappointed by the treatment I received in the Republican nomination process,” Johnson said in a statement released by his presidential campaign. He named GOP candidates Herman Cain, Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman, saying they have “no national name identification” yet are allowed to participate in debates.

He has a point in his obvious short shrifting in the debates, and counters all that nonsense I’ve been reading here of late on how Fox News is soooooooooo bias, considering that Fox was the only hosting network that included Johnson in their debate. You can’t gain traction without exposure and you can’t get exposure if you are not included in the debates, he was doomed at the outset, pity.

Personally, I am conflicted about the notion of a third party in general. I am as disaffected with out current two political parties as anyone, and taken as a whole they comport themselves pretty much birds of the same feather. Platforms aside, it is not what they say but what they do and both have been poor stewards of the people’s welfare, and which crys out even louder for term limits and the infusion of fresh blood on a regular basis. If more choices present more freedom then a third party, or even a fourth or fifth, should provide the folks a better megaphone for what they want. But reality tells us different. Yes, Ralph Nader does provide us with an example of how a third party can shape an election (I can still here the wailing and weeping from 2000) but has it ever happened before or since? Maybe Teddy with his second go around with his Bull Moose Party, costing Taft the election against Woodrow Wilson. Maybe Ross Perot, OK, maybe there are a few examples, but seriously, how bad can Johnson’s third party bid hurt the GOP?

On the flip side, if anyone here has followed elections in Israel or other nations that have multiple parties, do we really want a president who had the support of 38% of the nation? Multiple party national elections often end up this way, the guy with the highest percentage wins and most often it comes down to plurality over majority, yuck. Sometimes it can work if two or more minority parties lobby together to weld their power and influence over the plurality party, but that can’t happen here, Congress is still run by two parties.

Historically, Libertarian candidates haven’t made enough of a dent to spoil the chances of a major-party candidate, but they tend to “disproportionately hurt Republicans,” says Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

True, but Green, Progressive and Communist Party candidates siphon from the left. The fact of the matter is that Gary Johnson’s bid will hurt the GOP candidate, no doubt about it, to what degree though? Even the most optimistic of GOP prognosticators admit, begrudgingly, that with their best man running his best race and bringing his A game, it will be a close election, with the headwinds pointing towards which ever way the economy is going. And even with their best man, that man will have to hoist an apathetic party on his back and carry them. Most Republicans, much like with McCain last year, will hold their nose and vote GOP, if only because 4 more years of Obama is too gruesome to even entertain, But if my sentiment is reflective of many, getting me on board and wildly enthusiastic is going to be an uphill battle. It is never a good sign when your constituents are rooting for a brokered convention and many are.

Unexpectedly – oh, I can’t even joke about this anymore..

Belated holidays to all. I sure as hell enjoyed mine. Was sad to know so many unfortunates that didn’t however and it is finally dawning on some of them that their golden “unicorn” is to blame. Hope you are all well. So back to some fun.

Unless you are one of those Cro-Magnon idiots that watches Fox News and avoids the leftard media, you would likely have no clue that John Corazine, a democrat, senator & governor, CEO of Sachs, and one of the richest people out there, recently “misplaced” $1.2 billion from his investor’s money. For some “inexplicable” reason, the LSM seems unconcerned that a democrat basically stole $1.2 billion dollars and feel he doesn’t deserve the same treatment they gave Madoff, for much less. Of course, Madoff helped them create that whole “he was in bed with republicans, so republicans are crooks” meme, and well, Corazine, doesn’t lend himself to that kind of propaganda, so that explains the lack of interest just as an election year in which their guy faces a damning 3+ year track record of destructive & insane collectivist nanny-state policies, pops up, I guess. And even when they are compelled to report it is fluff like this. But thanks to organizations that are not part of the LSM, some of us “uninformed conspiracists” can find out about things like this:

During two days of recent congressional hearings into how as much as $1.2 billion disappeared from MF Global customer accounts, the chief operating officer of the imploding investment firm responded again and again that he did not know.

Yet as the House and Senate interrogated Bradley I. Abelow and other top executives at MF Global Holdings Ltd., lawmakers did not mention Mr. Abelow’s role as a financial adviser for the Environmental Protection Agency, which as of Tuesday listed him as the chairman of its financial advisory board.

Even as he finds himself the public face of a bankruptcy and admitted to lawmakers that he had no idea how client funds disappeared, Congress and the administration have voiced no public concern about Mr. Abelow’s role advising the $8.6 billion government agency on its finances.

“EPA relying on Wall Street for financial guidance is like the blind leading the blind,” said Jeff Ruch, president of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a nonprofit environmental advocacy group based in Washington.

NO WAY!

How unexpected! Another connected democrat that can say he has no clue where $1.2 billion of other people’s money went and still get a pass from the LSM, is one of the key advisors at one of our most rogue, nanny-state organizations? And by rogue I mean they ignore the real law and implement leftist bullshit they could not pass in congress while idiots defend this power grab by claiming there is a mandate for this kind of power usurpation. It is no wonder that Corazine’s team ran Global MF like the democrats run all those socialist programs that suck money and waste it? Things are in great hands, aren’t they?

Let All the Poisons That Lurk in the Mud Hatch Out

In probably the most foreseeable political development of the last month, the Ron Paul newsletters have moved front and center in news coverage of the Republican primary. We discussed this issue extensively four years ago and I’ll just repeat what I said then: the content of the newsletters is deplorable; I believe Ron Paul when he says he didn’t write them; but he owes the voters a much more thorough response than he has provided if he wants to be a serious presidential candidate. Ultimately, you are responsible for what goes out under your name. This is an entirely legitimate issue.

Of course, now that this cat has come out of the bag, the entire litter of Ron Paul baggage is following: his association with and occasional indulgence in conspiracy theories; the contributions he’s gotten from a few neo-Nazis; his association with the Birchers, etc., etc. The consensus — at least among Lefties — is that Ron Paul is the kookiest of kooks, a radical racist fascist anti-semitic lunatic: a characterization that sounds ridiculous to anyone has actually listened to him. Only in the alternate reality of a political campaign could that description have credibility.

Getting to brass tacks, let me address the last part first: the association with racists and other loons and the support — political and monetary — from some members of Stormfront and other fringe groups. I despise guilt by association arguments and Ron Paul is a good illustration of why. His critics can not point to a single policy point that is fascist. They can not point to a policy that reflects white supremacy, anti-semitism or racism. Well, they’ll claim cutting off support for Israel — as part of ending all foreign aide — is anti-semitic. But most thinking people won’t buy that.

So what’s a slime merchant to do? Use guilt by association. Point out that some racists or affiliated scumbags support Paul and darkly intone, “what does that tell you?” What it tells me is that racial hate-mongers are such idiots they are supporting a candidate who, if he had his way, would make their dreams of a powerful leviathan state impossible.

In this country, people are free to support any candidate they choose. The candidates are not responsible for who supports them or votes for them (although I wouldn’t object if they returned their money). The same people blasting Paul because a few racists support him would not blast Obama if some communists or Black Panthers supported him. Politicians are responsible for their views, their votes and their policies. Getting support from the American Family Association means nothing; supporting their anti-gay agenda does. Getting support from PETA means nothing; supporting their animal rights kookery does. Does Paul support the agenda of the racial hate-mongers? I don’t think so.

It’s not like Paul has a dearth of controversial views. But to the Paul bashers, it’s not enough until they’ve tied him to something truly vile, no matter how many degrees of separation are needed.

Now, to address the more serious point about the newsletters and his buddying with conspiracy theorists and racially-amped paleo-conservatives like Lew Rockwell: this does bother me and is one of the reasons, as I explained here, why I can not support Paul for president.

But tar-brushing has simply gotten out of hand. To be sure, some of the views Paul has advocated and is advocating are extreme or even nutty.

But…

Let’s pause for a moment remind ourselves of some of the things that “mainstream politicians” believe.

  • That Medicare, which wastes one in five dollars on fraud and has tens of trillions in unfunded future liabilities is a model for healthcare reform (most liberals) or should be preserved at all costs (both parties).
  • That the government can and should prevent people from getting high (both parties).
  • That government’s various regulatory, anti-terror and anti-crime efforts should be advanced with things like asset forfeiture, no-knock raids, gag orders on critics and shoving aside Constitutional liberties (both parties).
  • That there is no problem with a tax and regulatory structure so complex that the enforcement agencies don’t understand them. That’s it’s perfectly reasonable to jail or financially ruin people who violate these codes without a trace of mens rea (all Democrats; far too may Republicans)
  • That Iraq had WMD’s (both parties).
  • That we should start a war with Iran (the neocons, several GOP nominees).
  • That homosexuality can be cured (Bachman), that gay sex should be outlawed and kids taken away from gay families (Santorum).
  • That you can balance the budget without cutting Medicare and Social Security (most Democrats, many Republicans.)
  • That you can balance the budget while cutting taxes and increasing defense spending (numerous Republicans and almost all Presidential nominees).
  • That the cap and trade disaster in Europe is a model for dealing with global warming (many liberals).
  • That we should mandate increased use of expensive and destructive corn ethanol (members of both parties).
  • I would submit that the above — all of which are considered respectable beliefs in the political establishment — are far more insidious and dangerous than anything Ron Paul believes. I don’t go to bed worrying that someone thinks the government participated in or provoked terrorist attacks. The danger of Stormfront or other racist groups does not keep me up at night (and as a Jewish astrophysicist married to a foreigner, I’d be near the top of their hit list). But the War on Terror, the War on Drugs, the crippling of civil liberties, the expansion of the welfare state and our burgeoning debt do worry me. And from what I can tell, all the mainstream sensible non-conspiratorial candidates support all or most of the whack-job ideas that are ruining this country. Ron Paul may be in bed with kooks, but the mainstream candidates are in bed with entire industries.

    Some of Ron Paul’s ideas are dangerous. Ending the Federal Reserve or going back to the gold standard or whatever. But the President’s powers are limited. And they would be especially limited under someone who is already isolated within his own party and is running on a platform of decreasing his own power.

    Remember my view of checks and balances: our system is not intended to allow a majority to gang up on the individual; it is intended to allow any of our three branches to derail stupid, foolish, reckless, destructive or unconstitutional behavior. Paul is the only remaining candidate who is even dimly aware of this.

    If Ron Paul is a crazy candidate, it’s because we live in crazy times. It’s because he suddenly sounds a whole lot less crazy than many of our mainstream political figures and almost all of the ones running for the GOP nomination (Huntsman excepted).

    Personally, I wish the enthusiasm for Ron Paul were directed toward someone like Gary Johnson, who is just as libertarian but has an established and massively successful track record as governor of New Mexico and lacks Paul’s considerable baggage. However, for better or for worse — probably for worse — the libertarian wing of the GOP is rallying around Paul. And the focus on areas where he is a little batty has taken away the focus from where it should be — the issues on which he is the least insane man on the stage.

    I don’t think the GOP should nominate Ron Paul. But I do think they should listen to him. Because — dirty laundry or no — he’s talking sense on a number of critical issues.

    FM and FM Reloaded

    A couple off weeks ago, the SEC indicted a number of executives from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for fraud. A detailed look at the indictment is here. Money quote is a long one, but I think you have to read it:

    The SEC’s complaint against the former Fannie Mae executives alleges that, when Fannie Mae began reporting its exposure to subprime loans in 2007, it broadly described the loans as those “made to borrowers with weaker credit histories,” and then reported — with the knowledge, support, and approval of Mudd, Dallavecchia, and Lund — less than one-tenth of its loans that met that description. Fannie Mae reported that its 2006 year-end Single Family exposure to subprime loans was just 0.2 percent, or approximately $4.8 billion, of its Single Family loan portfolio. Investors were not told that in calculating the Company’s reported exposure to subprime loans, Fannie Mae did not include loan products specifically targeted by Fannie Mae towards borrowers with weaker credit histories, including more than $43 billion of Expanded Approval, or “EA” loans.

    Fannie Mae’s executives also knew and approved of the decision to underreport Fannie Mae’s Alt-A loan exposure, the SEC alleged. Fannie Mae disclosed that its March 31, 2007 exposure to Alt-A loans was 11 percent of its portfolio of Single Family loans. In reality, Fannie Mae’s Alt-A exposure at that time was approximately 18 percent of its Single Family loan holdings.

    The misleading disclosures were made as Fannie Mae’s executives were seeking to increase the Company’s market share through increased purchases of subprime and Alt-A loans, and gave false comfort to investors about the extent of Fannie Mae’s exposure to high-risk loans, the SEC alleged.

    In the complaint against the former Freddie Mac executives, the SEC alleged that they and Freddie Mac led investors to believe that the firm used a broad definition of subprime loans and was disclosing all of its Single-Family subprime loan exposure. Syron and Cook reinforced the misleading perception when they each publicly proclaimed that the Single Family business had “basically no subprime exposure.” Unbeknown to investors, as of December 31, 2006, Freddie Mac’s Single Family business was exposed to approximately $141 billion of loans internally referred to as “subprime” or “subprime like,” accounting for 10 percent of the portfolio, and grew to approximately $244 billion, or 14 percent of the portfolio, as of June 30, 2008.

    There’s a handy-dandy chart included. The two GSE’s claimed they had about $14 billion in subprime exposure. The SEC is alleging that the actual exposure was $360 billion. I know this must be shocking to the Left. We all know that government and its supported enterprises only lie when Republicans want to start a war. But there it is in black and white.

    It has become an article of faith that Fannie and Freddie did not cause the financial crisis and the allegation they did is all part of a big Republican government hating lie (read here, here and here). And, to some extent, I agree. They didn’t “cause” the problem. But those analyses were based on numbers from FM-squared that turned out to be complete and total fabrications. Now, I agree that the financial crisis had multiple and complex causes. But even Krugman will have to admit that, at the absolute minimum, the GSE’s throwing hundreds of billions into subprime mortgages was adding serious fuel to the fire. FM2 may not have caused the crisis, but they made it a hell of a lot worse. And, seriously, what planet do you have to live on to have claimed, even before this came out, that the agencies guaranteeing half of the mortgages in the country had no culpability for the bubble?

    But here’s the thing: let’s allow that FM2 were more of a “me-too” player, coming late to the subprime party. When you think about it, that’s almost worse. They couldn’t even time a bubble properly. They were the last sucker in the ponzi pyramid that was our national housing market. They gambled hundreds of billions — a bet the taxpayers ended up having to stand for — at the worst possible time. And saps like Krugman think they’re a model for healthcare?

    And even if you don’t blame FM2 for the financial crisis, we can blame them for over a hundred billion in bailouts. We can blame them for paying for $100 million in executive salaries. We can blame them for lying their asses off by a factor of 25 in how exposed they were.

    This isn’t a little deal. As Joe Biden would say, this is a Big Fucking Deal. But do you see the media screaming about it? Do you see a tenth of the outrage we see when some Wall Street asshole gets a $10 million golden parachute? Do you see all the FM2 defenders acknowledging that they were lied to? FM2 lost tens of billion of our money trying to buy into housing right before it collapsed. Shouldn’t that piss off someone on the Left?

    The Friend Zone

    It’s been fun the last few days being somewhat off the grid. But I’ll ease back into things before I go for the heavy shit. This video circulated about a week ago and I’m guessing the heavy (if not entirely) male tilt of our audience will make this a well-discussed video.

    While the video is tongue-in-cheek, I think the gist is right, especially for young guys who have yet to learn that once you’re friends with a woman, the likelihood of the relationship up ending in the sack is … well, not zero, but low. I’ve often heard women describe a relationship where there is unresolved sexual tension as a good thing; I have rarely heard a man say this. At least, not an unmarried one.

    Obama and the democrats win political victory

    But Americans are the ones that lose out. That seems to be a recurring theme. Whenever the democrats win political battles, Americans and America loses out. The LSM loves the story. At least they admit employers will just see this all as more uncertainty and this will create about zero private sector jobs. Anyone arguing otherwise is a fucking moron. A lying moron, too. These leftist twits are fantasizing that this 2 month extension that will cause the SS administration a ton of money and problems to do for just 2 months and the LSM is carrying water for them. I have been watching the people that actually create jobs discuss this, and not a single one of them says this piddly $33 billion is going to create one damned job that is worth it.

    Anyway, you can try to defend this and make excuses for yet another instance where Obama and the democrats score a political victory and America & Americans lose yet again. The solution isn’t to keep people on employment permanently: it is to unshackle the economy. However democrats want to control the economy, pick the winners and the losers, in the name of all that “social justice” or “green” shit, and if this is how they do it, hurting millions, then so be it. Whenever you hear a democrat talk about creating jobs, know you are hearing someone that thinks government is or should be the only vehicle for that. Even when history proves them wrong every time.