Sunday, May 31, 2009

Can you say "Smoot-Hawley?"

The "stimulus" bill's “Buy America" provisions are having negative effects on international trade. Our trading partners are suffering, as are we, through higher costs and lower efficiency.

Adding injury to insult, President Obama's budget posits a massive tax increase on American corporations with foreign operations. As this Cato Institute video notes, the advantages foreign corporations already enjoy as a result of US tax policy will increase.



Tax increases cost jobs. A targeted American tax increase targets American jobs. Such jobs will not be "exported," they will just disappear. The world only needs so many people who can assemble a computer or fasten a lugnut. These jobs will only be available where free employers can profitably provide them. Government, as a pseudo-employer, can only provide them by incurring ever increasing debt.

Given Obama's demonstrated preference for union ownership of the means of production, his astounding ignorance of economics and his aforementioned protectionist tendencies, his tax increase will lead to demands for higher tariffs - to "level the playing field."

These tariffs will have been unnecessary except for American policy. Remember that when your job disappears, or if you contemplate asking for a subsidy or tariff to preserve it.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

My biases are better than yours

"I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”
- Sonia Sotomayor


A better conclusion about what? For whom? On what basis? Lived whose life? For how long? Are we talking about Jennifer Lopez? Eva Peron? Comandante Ramona? "Ugly Betty"? Bill Dana in drag?

Well, Sonia Sotomayor is the person Sonia Sotomayor is calling wise and rich in experience, but it seems a stretch in light of her 'isms. I would hope that a white male of moderate experience and average IQ would have a higher aversion to sexism, racism and narcissism than does Ms Sotomayor. She is, by her own lights, of the proper ethnicity and sex. Her statement, however, makes clear that she's spent too much time in a leftist bubble for her experience to be called rich. She has been too long isolated from the meaning of the term "rule of law."

Law. Not men. Or women. Whatever their wisdom or ethnicity.

If such nonsense had been uttered by a prominent white male judge, with roles reversed, he'd have been impeached.

Perhaps she could be asked during her nomination hearings for a complete ranking of judicial superiority by ethnicity and sex so we'll know in future how to judge people on this basis. Are Asians better or worse than Hispanics, or is sex most important? Does this apply to transgendered persons and does the direction of their sex change matter? Please elaborate on how rich experience is superior for a Latina, with emphasis on how it contributes to wisdom? What could a white male do to equal this?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Coincidence?

Probably, but it would not be surprising if true.

RED ALERT: Did anti-Obama campaign contributions dictate which Chrysler dealers were shuttered?
A cursory review ... showed that many of the Chrysler dealers on the closing list were heavy Republican donors.

To quickly review the situation, I took all dealer owners whose names appeared more than once in the list. And, of those who contributed to political campaigns, every single one had donated almost exclusively to GOP candidates. While this isn't an exhaustive review, it does have some ominous implications if it can be verified.
More here.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Why not Harriet Miers?

Sonia Sotomayor will be the new Supreme Court Justice.

Here's a sentence I never imagined I'd write: Jennifer Granholm would have been preferable.

This appointment does not stoop - quite - to the level of Dubya's nomination of Harriet Miers in one sense: Sonia Sotomayor is not an immediate crony of Barack Obama's. It does share some characteristics, however. Sotomayor is hardly the most qualified appointee. Sotomayor is a female.

Otherwise, it is a much worse appointment. While it avoids a dubious, even reckless, emphasis on personal loyalty, it is solely political pandering. Personal loyalty is no reason to nominate a person as a Justice of the Supreme Court, calculated cynicism is not a justification for anything.

Live by identity politics. Rise through identity politics. Sotomayor will be confirmed, but there is some fun to be had with the prospect. Two questions decided by Sotomayor as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit are currently on the docket of the Supreme Court.

Ricci v. DeStefano, is a reverse discrimination case summarily, actually insultingly, rejected in an opinion joined by Ms Sotomayor. This article is worth reading in full. Here's a significant bit, but there's more good stuff at the link:
...firefighters in New Haven, Conn., who say they passed an exam for a job promotion only to have the test results thrown out because no African-American candidate received a high enough score to also be considered for promotion.

City officials said they wanted to add diversity to management ranks within the fire department. They made special efforts to design a test process that would reduce any bias that might disadvantage minority candidates.

But when no blacks and only two Hispanic applicants qualified for consideration for the management jobs, the city decided to scrap the entire test.
It should be noted that Frank Ricci is dyslexic and prepared for the test by studying 8 or more hours every day. He spent over $1,000 on books and tutoring.

This decision of Judge Sotomayor's is particularly interesting given her ruling in Bartlett v. New York State Board of Law Examiners that a law school graduate with a reading and learning disability was entitled to extra time in taking bar exams. On appeal, the Supreme Court ruled that the Americans With Disabilities Act did not apply because Bartlett's condition could be managed with glasses and medication. Ordered to retry the case, Sotomayor rejected the SCOTUS opinion, coming to the same conclusion she had made earlier.

The plaintiff was Dr. Marilyn J Bartlett. Her bio is here, these are the degrees listed:
  • B.S., State College at Worcester, Massachusetts, in Early Childhood Education -1970;
  • M.S.Ed., Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, in Special Education -1976;
  • Ph.D., New York University, in Organizational and Administrative Studies -1982;
  • J.D., Vermont Law School -1991
Dr. Bartlett attempted the New York State bar exam 5 times and claims she was never given appropriate "accommodation." One wonders if she was simply a Disability Advocate looking for trouble and how much accommodation her degrees required (beyond glasses and medication). She is said to "decode" at a 4th grade level. Whatever that means, it doesn't sound like she could get a Ph.D, without studying a lot and probably with a great deal of assistance. I wonder if she paid for the assistance?

Judge Sotomayor wrote:
“Marilyn Bartlett suffers from a learning deficit that evinces itself as a difficulty in reading the speed, fluency, and automaticity of an individual with her background and level of intellectual ability. Despite this impairment, plaintiff obtained a Ph.D. in educational administration and a law degree. By virtue of superior effort and not a
small amount of courage, Marilyn Bartlett has been able to succeed academically and professionally despite the limitations that her impairment has placed upon her.
There's no information on what level Frank Ricci "decodes," but asking him about Sotomayor's empathy might produce an interesting response. Maybe if he'd gotten a Ph.D. first...

The second case, Croll v. Croll, presents the same question as Abbott v. Abbott (the case presently before SCOTUS). These cases are about child custody and involve interpretation of the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction. Judge Sotomayor dissented from the opinion of the Second Circuit, citing the manner in which foreign courts had interpreted the question.

Judge Sotomayor argued that a broader interpretation of "custody" was more in line with the "object and purpose" of the Convention, and that this was how foreign courts had considered the issue.
Perhaps judge Sotomayor will score with this one. Not, I suspect, with Justice Scalia, however.

In other news,

Sotomayor asserts (Maloney v. Cuomo) that the Second Amendment only applies to the federal government. In so doing she explicitly rejected District of Columbia v. Heller, preferring earlier SCOTUS decisions (Presser v. Illinois, 1886) to underpin her decision. Here, she appears willing - again - to overrule SCOTUS. This case appears likely to be appealed. It will bring the incorporation clause of the 14th Amendment into focus if SCOTUS takes it.

The Supreme Court reversed Judge Sotomayor in Malesko v. Correctional Services Corporation

And overturned her decision in Entergy Corp. v. Riverkeeper, Inc.

On the two Sotomayor cases presently before SCOTUS, you might think delaying a decision on them would be preferable to the Obama administration so that Sotomayor might not be embarrassed by being overturned twice more while confirmation hearings are in progress. OTOH, you would think (wouldn't you?) that she will have to recuse herself if she is confirmed before these cases are determined. This would seem to increase the likelihood she'll be overturned while a sitting Justice.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Hiram Ulysses Grant

Without this great soldier, our nation would not exist in anything like its current form. It is certain that absent Grant, the civil war would have ended differently. He was a modest man with a modest intellect and modest ambition. But his character was beyond reproach and his courage magnificent. He embodied not just physical courage, though he had that, but emotional courage as well. He was willing to risk failure to advance his objective; he took responsibility for failure when it visited him. In financial matters it was seemingly omnipresent; in military matters it was rare, and he always learned from it.

He always looked after the troops. He disliked making them undergo hardship unnecessarily. And he took care that they had equipment, food, and clothing having learned the importance of logistics while serving under Zach Taylor in Mexico. After Shiloh he ordered wagons to come to the aid of the some wounded he had encountered. When he noticed that only the Union troops were being aided, he ordered that the enemy wounded also be evacuated to the field hospital.

His troops loved him, but in a different way than did Lee's. When he passed, rather than the cheering that would greet his counterpart, the troops greeted Grant with casual greetings such as befit two friends meeting on the street: "Good morning, general", "a pleasant day, general". At Chattanooga while surveying the front on horseback, he came upon the Union pickets who called out "form up for the commanding general". Across the creek from them was heard "form up for the commanding general, General Grant"; the Confederate troops lined up and saluted him and he returned it. After another battle he was riding across a bridge with several union officers when they came upon bedraggled confederate prisoners crossing in the other direction. Grant alone among the officers raised his hat as he encountered the first prisoner and kept it raised until he had passed the last of them. Before what was to become the Wilderness campaign he had to make a crucial strategic decision whether to attack around Lee's left toward the Shenandoah or his right toward the Wilderness. He chose the latter in no small part becasue he would have several north south waterways to quickly evacuate the wounded.

He will be remembered for his unconditional surrender demand at Fort Donnelson. He will be remembered for his brilliant Vicksburg Campaign which is still studied today. He will be remembered for the relief of Chattanooga. He will be remembered for forcing Lee to the defensive and pursuing him relentlessly until he was defeated. He will be remembered for his magnanimous surrender terms at Appomattox.

But let us also remember General Grant for his last loving act on this earth. While dying of cancer, he worked tirelessly to write his memoirs in order to pay his debts and to provide for his wife, Julia. He wrote the last page just before he died. Today they are widely regarded as the greatest military memoirs ever written in the English language.

On this Memorial Day, I remember and I thank General Ulysses Grant.






Remember our fallen warriors




Thursday, May 21, 2009

Jackson, Michigan - inclusive community, or else

The Jackson Human Relations Commission would like to categorize most Jacksonians as thought criminals.
[T]he Jackson Human Relations Commission, says no person shall be denied equal protection of the law, their civil or political rights or be discriminated against because of "actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, height, weight, condition of pregnancy, marital status, physical or mental limitation, source of income, family responsibilities or status, educational association, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or HIV status."

HRC Chairwoman Kathleen Conley said if the City Council approves the ordinance it would send a message that Jackson is an open, inclusive community.
And, doubt not, it does send a message that the city has used taxpayer funds to deputize a snarl of moral relativists who are dedicated to making sure everybody else's brain perceives precisely as does theirs. And I mean that collectively.

I will be sure to keep a handle on my perceptions while in the vicinity of Jackson, an occurrence now likely to be less frequent. One never knows if a frown directed at a dope dealer might be construed as expressing the perception that the man's source of income deserves approbation, or that a sniff of irritation directed at a pedophile might be taken as disapproval of the woman's sexual orientation, or that outright criticism of a person I perceive to be a Papist might invite Ms Conley's moral indignation. I mean, "What was I thinking!?"

If this is too subtle, think of it this way. When Perez Hilton went all moonbat about Carrie Prejean's answer to the question of how she felt about gay marriage, which of them would be charged under the Jackson Human Relations Commission's proposed ordinance? Hint, While Ms Prejean's civil answer was exactly the same as our President's answer, Hilton called her names. Carrie Prejean is perceived as the offender by people like Kathleen Conley. We can't even ask, without risking charges under the proposed ordinance, what business this dissipated poofter has judging female pulchritude in the first place. See? There I go perceiving again, and I'm quite sure I perceive Ms Prejean differently than does Mr. Hilton.

This is precisely the kind of ordinance one might expect to win government approval in Berkeley, California. Let us hope that the city where the Republican party was founded can resist the invitation to squishy mindedness they have extended to themselves by appointing a useless collective of neo-puritans with too much time on their hands.

Kathleen Conley says she is ".. kind of excited. I'm just waiting to see what happens next."

Me too.

H/T J. Taranto

Friday, May 15, 2009

The last best hope?

US Senate Panel Roundtable Debates Govt Health-Care Option

I don't know. I'm afraid the debate is over. Here's the chief industry lobbyist:
Karen Ignagni, president and chief executive of the America's Health Insurance Plans industry group, argued that the private insurance marketplace needs new rules - but not necessarily a public competitor. Major insurers in the AHIP trade group include Aetna Inc. (AET), Humana Inc. (HUM), Cigna Corp. (CI) and UnitedHealth Group (UNH).

"We're not asking any individual to trust us," Ignagni said. "We're asking them to trust the government."
Of course. Trust the government which created the financial miracle of Medicare and Medicaid. The health insurance industry thinks that's our best option.

I do agree trusting the government will cement the future revenues of the largest health care insurers as corporatist welfare bums at the expense of competition, innovation, and quality of and access to care. I also admit that if an industry spokesperson makes such a comment, the government is ipso facto relatively more trustworthy than are her constituents.

On the whole, though, I'd prefer more options. On their records, the coupling of the biggest health insurance companies with the biggest government bureaucracy just doesn't jump out at me as the obvious cost-effective solution.

And it's not as if there isn't a private industry example upon which to draw. Couldn't Obama at least take advantage of Rick Waggoner's expertise in running a health care administration company? I hear Rick is available.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

More than a tincture

Documents Confirm Treasury Bullied Banks

Why not? It was practice for bullying secured creditors at Chrysler and overturning contracts in California.


Tincture of Lawlessness
The Obama administration is bold. It also is careless regarding constitutional values and is acquiring a tincture of lawlessness.

...In February, California's Democratic-controlled Legislature, faced with a $42 billion budget deficit, trimmed $74 million (1.4 percent) from one of the state's fastest-growing programs, which provides care for low-income and incapacitated elderly people and which cost the state $5.42 billion last year. The Los Angeles Times reports that "loose oversight and bureaucratic inertia have allowed fraud to fester."

But the Service Employees International Union collects nearly $5 million a month from 223,000 caregivers who are members. And the Obama administration has told California that unless the $74 million in cuts are rescinded, it will deny the state $6.8 billion in stimulus money.

...The SEIU says the cuts violate contracts negotiated with counties. California officials say the state required the contracts to contain clauses allowing pay to be reduced if state funding is.
Rule of law? Not so much.

Favored parties? In California and at Chrysler - unions. Our President didn't describe the SEIU as “refusing to sacrifice like everyone else” and as wanting “to hold out for the prospect of an unjustified taxpayer-funded bailout.” That's what he called Chrysler's secured creditors.

Guess what will happen with GM.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Hey big spender...

CNSNews is reporting that in 2008 Wayne State University received a $2.6 million grant to:
...develop, implement, and evaluate a venue-based alcohol use and HIV risk reduction intervention focusing on both environmental and individual factors among venue-based FSWs in China,"
"FSWs" are "female sex workers" so, as CNSNews clarifies, that academy-speak project description means the general government has agreed to pay Wayne State University to "train Chinese prostitutes to drink responsibly on the job," in order to reduce AIDS infections in China. I think we must add that "venue-based" precludes street-walkers. Chinese prostitutes have to operate from a fixed address in order to qualify for US taxpayer funded abstinence training.

You'd think an incurable disease epidemic serious enough to attract the attention of the United States at the behest of Wayne State University might be serious enough to attract funding from the approximately 1 trillion in US$ reserves held by the Chinese government. However, I think maybe they're not so concerned about it as we are. They demonstrate this in many ways.

For example, Cinese coal miners are 117 times more likely to die in a mining accident than are American miners. Ten Chinese miners die every day. Free health care for those seriously injured is practically non-existent.

More generally, the Chinese government has a one child policy, and they enforce that policy via involuntary abortion. The Chinese government will put a bullet in the back of your head if you are convicted of tax evasion - but they apparently tolerate prostitution and welcome foreign researchers dedicated to improving the health of prostitutes.

The question remains; if China, why are we assisting besotted prostitutes instead of coal miners? And if prostitutes, why pick Guangxi, instead of Detroit? Detroit has a sufficiency of safe-sex ignorant prostitutes who are prone to the abuse of alcohol, the travel costs would be much lower, and you don't face criticism for outsourcing the jobs. So, I'm guessing Detroit was rejected because it's too dangerous for the researchers.

The next obvious domestic locale, Nevada, has prostitutes who are likely already too well educated (for the purposes of this research) in the dangers of unsafe-sex, mitigating the effect of alcohol abuse on the spread of HIV. But you can't get a grant to study in Las Vegas, I suppose, that would be a profilgate use of taxpayers' money. "Shovel ready" would be an insult to Nevadan hookers, as well.

Wayne State describes NIH funding for three ongoing

HIV-related projects totaling $4,484,482 in grants in China. One involves assessing psychosocial needs among children affected by AIDS in Henan Province. Another consists of a behavioral HIV prevention intervention program among rural-to-urban migrants in Beijing. The third, a subcontract from Old Dominion University, involves behavioral HIV prevention among female entertainment workers in Shanghai."
We can surmise from the descriptions of these other research projects that China has a large population of ignorant young female peasants recently introduced to prostitution. So, again, why China? Because, if you want to show positive results from training people pick a simple subject and teach to ignorant, but not stupid (perhaps another reason to avoid Detroit), people. If at all possible, find a jurisdiction indifferent to suffering of its ignoramuses and that covets US$.

The particular grant in question here, "Venue-based HIV and alcohol use risk reduction among female sex workers in China" NIAAA Grant number R01AA018090-01, shows an expenditure of $469,903.00 in FY2008. The fiscal year for the general government runs from October to September, so FY2008 started in October 2007.

This is a policy decision of bureaucrats under the Bush administration. Most of them are still working for Obama. They must be very happy.

H/T The ROUGBLOG

Monday, May 11, 2009

Straight out of Atlas Shrugged

The future of the auto industry, from ProfessorBainbridge.com:
The [Wall Street] Journal report quotes one anonymous -- but asinine -- Obama administration official as opining that:
"You don't need banks and bondholders to make cars," said one administration official.
...that official -- who's probably never run any business more complicated than a lemonade stand -- will soon discover just how wrong s/he was. It's called CAPITALism for a reason, after all.

...If creditors get tired of getting screwed, the Chrysler debacle and the looming repeat at GM may mark a major shift in the ability of American business to finance operations and growth.
At least if there is union or government involvement.

RTWT and don't skip the comments.

Friday, May 08, 2009

What’s Bad for General Motors...


In November of 1996 the UAW and GM negotiated a new 3-year contract. I spoke with a GM executive at the time and observed the deal had been reached without the threatened nationwide strike. I’ll never forget his words: “Of course not. We gave them the company; why would they strike?”

The pattern for that contract had been first negotiated with Ford. It provided “lifetime employment” and the now famous 95% guarantee. This damaged GM out of proportion to Ford, because GM’s labor costs were more bloated and in need of downsizing.

It now appears that the UAW will, not just figuratively, but officially own GM. The plan being pushed by the Obama administration will have the general government owning about half and the UAW the other half with maybe a small percentage remaining in private hands.

Under this partnership one can expect GM to continue receiving lucre from the minority of Americans who still pay taxes. The cash infusions to date are but a down payment. Directly or indirectly, GM’s obligations to provide high wages, retirement benefits, and health care are going to become obligations of the general government.

Socialism is now out of the closet in the USA.

But the history of government and/or union run companies could not be clearer. Unless they have a monopoly, they fail. Viz. post war England prior to Thatcher; 20th century Russia; Argentina under Peron. The list goes on. The Postal System “works” if one wants to call it that, only because of its monopoly. (A penny postcard goes up to 28 cents on Monday.)

Will GM build good cars efficiently, and will people buy them? Is it cynical to believe that the Gettlefinger/Obama management team will come up short in competing with Toyota and Tata? Oh, they might muck along in the U.S. where laws can be passed giving them advantages over private companies, but who really believes the post office can compete successfully with the likes of Honda.

John F. Smith “gave them the company” in 1996 to avoid a crippling strike. Rick Waggoner fought to limit the extent of the gift, so Barrack Obama fired him. Now lackeys like Fritz Henderson dance as Ron Gettlefinger pulls the strings at a once proud American icon.

Are the new owners good for GM? Hardly. Moreover, the converse of Engine Charlie Wilson’s words haunt America. What’s bad for General Motors is bad for the nation.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Palazzo Braschi

Lawless bully

The man whose stylized likeness appeared on this building in 1934 combated an economic recession by encouraging donations of gold jewelery to government officials in exchange for steel wristbands. His wife even donated her wedding ring. The gold was melted into bars, which were then distributed to the national banks.

We can at least admire Mussolini for making his program voluntary. We may even wonder if the gold standard should be reinstated. The Chinese are losing "faith and trust" in US dollars. Should we maintain ours?

By 1935, Mussolini claimed that three quarters of Italian businesses were under state control. That same year, he issued several edicts to further control the economy, including forcing all banks, businesses, and private citizens to give up all their foreign-issued stocks and bonds to the central bank.

Tell me how this differs from Obama's attempt to force his will on Chrysler investors? Note: That the UAW is receiving the spoils, and is not a bank, is not a sufficient differentiator.

The CEO of General Motors was fired by our President. Our President has called out those who defend their contractual fiduciary responsibilities as enemies of the state, and has threatened to ruin their reputations using the lap-dog White House Press Corps. He has refused to allow banks to pay back loans from taxpayers, after forcing some of them to take the loans over the objections of many taxpayers. He has done this so that the general government may maintain control over those banks. His policy and budget proposals imply, and his minions acknowledge, that he intends to control the health care and energy industries, and to "improve" public education to the specifications of unions who say they'll respect children when children start paying union dues.

The Chicago Way, writ large?

Update: 7-May
Link added to larger picture of the 1934 building appearance.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

The Enchanted Press Corp

Is the White House Press Corp beyond enchantment? Do they actually take marching orders from the president. This audio clip from WJR is a very informative ~10 minute interview of the attorney who represents the hedge fund vultures in the Chrysler bankruptcy.

War crimes

"Comedian" John Stewart recently deemed Harry Truman a war criminal because of the atomic bombs Truman ordered dropped on Japan. In context of the discussion Mr. Stewart had little choice, since he contends George Bush and Dick Cheney, et. al. should be prosecuted for war crimes for waterboarding.

I highly recommend this response to Mr. Stewart's ignorant moral preening.

Please watch it, it is well worth 17 minutes of your time. You will benefit from the recounting of the actual history. You will gain insight into the moral qualifications of those who reflexively blame America first, and who revise history to support their contempt.