Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Blockbuster Events of 2008.

Our top four picks for the most universe-disturbing* stories of the year:
  1. The massive deleveraging of the financial system, the huge devaluing of most financial assets, and the long-coming cardiac arrest of a credit-gorged economy. It was fun while it lasted, eh?
  2. President-Elect Barack Obama. Hooda thunk it?
  3. Success in Iraq. Although you could have missed it for the lack of news coverage.
  4. Turning 50, and the associated psychological seismic activity.

*And indeed there will be time

To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”

Time to turn back and descend the stair,

With a bald spot in the middle of my hair —
[They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”]

My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,

My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin — [They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”]

Do I dare Disturb the universe?

In a minute there is time

For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

- T.S. Eliot, from the Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock

Saturday, December 27, 2008


Isaiah 61:10

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
Have a Blessed Twelve Days of Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Fear Not!

It is only four months to Opening Day. In the meantime, let us tie.
Impressionable Elites.

This is the term used by Mark Penn, author of "Microtrends", to describe the very busy, wealthy and powerful who can no longer exploit information directly, but now rely on gut and impression, friends' views and opinions, and the judgement of others. Penn suggests that the behavior of this group was an essential catalyst for the Madoff debacle.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Motown, Y'all.

Newsweek tells the story of Detroit South.
The Pope Salutes Astronomy.

Pope Benedict XVI praised the work of scientists in commemoration of the International Year of Astronomy:

...If the heavens, in the beautiful words of the psalmist, 'tell of the glory of God', the laws of nature, which many scientists have studied over the years giving us an ever-better understanding of them, are a great incentive to contemplate the works of the Lord with gratitude".

We would not doubt that John Paul II and Galileo are now in a smiling embrace.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

"Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God."
Luke 1:26-38

Gabriel has told Mary what is to come to pass - she is to bear a son who will inherit the throne of David. Mary puts her trust in God and commits her life to his service. May we summon an epsilon of such faith and commitment to God.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Good News for Michigan Cigar Aficionados.

The Michigan Legislature failed to enact a total ban on smoking in bars, restaurants, cigar bars, and similar commercial private property. This legislation is now dead until the next Legislature is in session.
The organization Cigar Rights of America has been recently formed to help cigar smokers fight the creeping fascism of smoking bans and excessive tobacco taxes.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Academe' Now Squawking for Government Cheese.

Believe it or not, after a few decades of tuition increases well above the inflation rate, colleges and universities want even more money, claiming a hunk'o Uncle Sugar Daddy's Big Bailout Cheese Wheel.

Here's the ten year history of tuition for LSA students at Michigan:

  • 1999-2000 $6335
  • 2000-2001 $6515 (+2.8%)
  • 2001-2002 $6935 (+6.4%)
  • 2002-2003 $7485 (+7.9%)
  • 2003-2004 $7975 (+6.5%)
  • 2004-2005 $8200 (+2.8%)
  • 2005-2006 $9215 (+12.4%)
  • 2006-2007 $9725 (+5.5%)
  • 2007-2008 $10,445 (+7.4%)
  • 2008-2009 $11,035 (+5.6%)
  • 1999-2009 +$4700 (+7.4% APR)

When are the administrators of this institution going to face reality? Why do students and their families (or the rest of us, by way of government financial aid) bear the burden, year in and year out, of the academe's dreams of grandeur?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Artes, Scientia, Veritas.

The Ann Arbor News reports that a University of Michigan professor is under investigation for hiring a female UM law student to...well, to...you know...and it got a bit out of hand. Our hallowed alma mater has reassured us, however, that there are strict rules in place to govern faculty-student romantic relationships, such as the requirement to file a "Conflict of Interest" working plan with the appropriate departments. We are much reassured.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Were So Sorry, Guvna' Granholm...

Jennifer Granholm did not make the cut as Secretary of Energy for the Obama Administration, and alas, she must trudge back the Great Lakes State and complete her second term as our governor. It's too bad she was so busy auditioning for Team O; the Detroit Three really could have used her up on The Hill to provide political cover for them as they were pilloried by the many Moronic Congresscritters. In fact, she seems to have been nearly invisible during most of the recent Big Three Crisis.
So Be It.

Tom Brokaw chastised Mr. Obama for continuing to smoke cigarettes. We say: hike up your skirt Mrs. Brokaw, and mind your own business. If the man wants/needs a smoke - and he is an adult - then he is free to puff away. Yes, there are serious health risks, and it's not our choice but his (perhaps we'll encourage him to abandon the coffin nails with a box of Punch Rare Corojos).

Friday, December 05, 2008

Tying the TARP Down.

A recent summary of the confusion about how well TARP is working, where the money is actually going, and the nearly nonexistent oversight of the program. Jim Cramer has reported that AIG is using its wedge of Government Cheese to payoff foreign banks (for credit default swaps?).

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Trading Heroes for Ghosts.

Here is arguably the best song on the Golden Era of "Progressive Music". From the "Pulse" tour.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

House Democrats Pelosi and Waxman Unveil New Green Vehicle!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cheap Shots at Detroit?

In a recent column Tom Friedman blasted the "Big 2.5", re-treading the usual claims: vehicles not suited for the market, poor quality and fuel economy, poor management, and lack of innovation. He pines for an American automobile industry that works like Steve Jobs' Apple.

Let's look under the hood at some of Friedman's arguements:

Vehicles not suited for the market. The market for vehicles is complicated and fickle. It is not dictated by fuel economy alone, despite the recent panic caused by $4-a-gallon gasoline. The market is a convolution of product capability, quality, economy, safety, and style. In the early 1990s Detroit made an excellent decision about the automobile market: the SUV. A vehicle now nearly despised, the SUV met the needs of many consumers. It could carry several passengers (spouse, kids, grandma, dog) or could carry the bulky loads from trips from home improvement stores. Drivers valued the improved road visibility and the feeling of greater safety over a compact car (although "improved safety" was a dubious claim). And consumers were willing to pay the premium that SUVs imposed in fuel costs in order to acquire the benefits from the vehicle. Some of the aspects that attracted consumers to SUVs were shared by light trucks, which also enjoyed robust sales. The profit margin on trucks and SUVs was substantial, which was needed to subsidize the production of economy cars, needed to reach CAFE requirements.

The market decision to produce SUVs was so successful that the Japanese automakers, finding themselves out in the cold on trucks and SUVs, began producing these vehicles for the American market.

American cars have poor quality and fuel economy. The claim that American cars have lower quality is no longer true (for example, see this article), but the myth is now engrained into the media brain. As for fuel economy, American makers offer mid-sized cars with conventional power plants yielding 30+ mpg (highway), such as the Chevy Malibu, Saturn Aura, Pontiac G6, Chrysler Sebring, and Dodge Avenger (with the Ford Fusion at 29 mpg). American SUVs have improved fuel economy (the Chevy HHR with 30+ mpg; the Jeep Patriot and Compass in the high 20s).

Poor Management. Why then didn't the Big Three switch to a majority offering of small, fuel-efficient passenger cars as the price of oil rose? SUVs and trucks were required to offset the loss in making smaller cars - because of the 2:1 labor rate disadvantage that the Big Three have compared to the Japanese North American operations. During the SUV Salad Days, the UAW staked an uncontested claim to the "record profits": it was just a matter of choosing a strike target and getting it. The blithe notion for Detroit to produce a larger number econo-vehicles ignores the fact that they would lose money on every such car, while the Japanese builders would not.

Lack of Innovation. Please - hybrids are a Green Vanity Vehicle: even after six years of operation, a Toyota Prius will not recover its price premium through higher fuel economy. The Chevy Volt is likely to list for $35K, so it is also a Green Vanity Vehicle. For the short term it is more efficient to increase the fuel economy of the gasoline-powered engine than to plunge into a crash program to develop alternate fueled-vehicles. This is Ford's principal strategy for the next few years. One exception may be making the new fleets "flex-fuel", able to use either straight gasoline or 85% alcohol mixtures. The modifications to make most vehicles flex-fuel is quite cheap, a few hundred dollars.

Have Car CEOs be more like Steve Jobs. Lest we not forget Jobs' NeXT Cube: so innovative in hardware and software, yet so catastrophically uncompetitive in the PC market of the early '90s. Jobs has done well since then with consumers that will accept the stiff Apple price premium and its proprietary hardware and formats. There are analogies to Apple in the car industry: Cadillac, Lexus, Audi, Volkswagen, Mercedes, and other upscale brands, but to map Jobs' business plan onto car making for the general consumer market is naive.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

We Are A Bank!

We at Deaddrifts have decided that if you can't fight the lurch toward socialism of our economy, you might as well fight for your place in line for the Government Cheese. Therefore, we declare ourselves to be a bank and insist we are entitled to a handout. And if this doesn't work, we will consider building cars...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

But Just to Make it Perfectly Clear...

Mr. Obama will become our President, and we him success. He will need all of the support, good wishes, and prayers that Americans can muster; to quote Lincoln, "the occasion is piled high, and we must rise with the occasion." Where we find ourselves in opposition to the President, we will voice our opposition in a civil and intellectually honest manner. No brainless wailing of "Obama Taxed, Jobs Axed!" or the like will be found here. As of now it appears that ambition, namely, Mr. Obama's desire to be successful, is overriding ideology. But we shall see as the events transpire.
The Case of the Vanishing Iraq Policy Statement.

A few days ago, we mentioned the rather detailed plan that was unveiled for Iraq at Change.gov, Mr. Obama's official transition site. That page has now been removed. Amazing what a dose of reality (courtesy a presidential briefing) can bring about.

Note Bene: Wizbang reports that most of the lofty policy plans from the Obama campaign have now vanished from Change.gov. This risks making Mr. Soros angry. You don't want to make Mr. Soros angry.

No doubt over-zealous Obamites thought it was only reasonable to transcribe the campaign bombast to the honest-to-goodness we're-on-the-hook-for-this-now transition plans.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Combustible Courage.

Winston Churchill was derided by Lord Haw-Haw for possessing "liquid courage", i.e. bravery from a cognac decanter. If so, we few (we happy few?) might rally with a snifter of Remy Martin 1738. In the meantime, we have procured a good supply of Rocky Patel Rosado, Punch, Padron, and Arturo Fuente Churchills to soldier on through the winter.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Change Some Can Buy Into.

The background of some of Mr. Obama's economic advisers, and their substantial financial contributions to his campaign (found on Instapundit).

Friday, November 07, 2008

Some Restraint, Please!

We recognize that Mr. Obama is the President-Elect, and will become the new President in a few months. But that does not mean it's prudent nor tactful to establish a parallel government during the transition, complete with policy declarations. Yet, he has already done so, with pronouncements on issues that are not particularly supportive of the real United States Government.

The Parallel United States Government has articulated, in rather clear language, exactly what will transpire in Iraq in the first year: we will be skulking out, apparently without little realistic regard to the conditions on the ground:

...Immediately upon taking office, Obama will give his Secretary of Defense and military commanders a new mission in Iraq: ending the war. The removal of our troops will be responsible and phased, directed by military commanders on the ground and done in consultation with the Iraqi government. Military experts believe we can safely redeploy combat brigades from Iraq at a pace of 1 to 2 brigades a month that would remove them in 16 months. That would be the summer of 2010 – more than 7 years after the war began. Under the Obama-Biden plan, a residual force will remain in Iraq and in the region to conduct targeted counter-terrorism missions against al Qaeda in Iraq and to protect American diplomatic and civilian personnel. They will not build permanent bases in Iraq, but will continue efforts to train and support the Iraqi security forces as long as Iraqi leaders move toward political reconciliation and away from sectarianism...

There is also planned for plenty of opportunity for Iran and Syria to provide their constructive inputs.

Yes, elections have consequences, one of which is inheriting the responsibility supporting the present government while you plan for the new government. The early behavior of the "shadow government" does not exhibit this responsibility.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Sound Recall.

The Conservative Corps has been shattered on the field of November 2008. The corps' generals and their camp followers have skee-daddled. It's time to sound recall - not retreat, but regroup, carry our dead from the field, find brave and brilliant new officers, and refit to fight another day.

The enigmatic General Obama has carried the day. We salute his brilliant victory, and to the extent that his interests in governance are harmonious with our visions for the welfare of our land, we can cooperate. We'll now see whether his mind is governed more by ambition than ideology. Ambition may to temper his socialism to "socialism-lite". But how he will proceed in the details of Iraq is a total mystery.

Required reading around the campfires: "Ten Conservative Principles", by the late Russell Kirk.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Triumph of the Brain Dead.

Jay Nordlinger comments on the spirit of mindless zealotry of Obama supporters; it has manifested itself in Ann Arbor with the harassment of McCain supporters. One guesses the change justifies the means.
The Bell Lap.

It's almost here, our national political orgasm is imminent. And whatever the result of Election Night, on Wednesday morning the Sun will rise, the geese will honk as they fly south, babies will gurgle "good morning" in their cribs, the toast will pop, coffee will be poured, and America will go on*.

Of course, for the pathological types, Wednesday morning will kickoff the campaign cycle for 2012: the planning for acquring power, retaining power, hoarding power, expanding power, or to ingratiate themselves with the newly powerful. Many will forget the reasons why they sought power in the first place. Some will be awake from the religous ecstasy, and ask "now what?"

In David Lean's magnificient film version of Doctor Zhivago (arguably the greatest film ever made), Red Army General "Strelinkov" proclaims to Yuri Zhivago that "the personal life is dead" - that human existance is reduced to service to the Communist Party - and derisively asks Yuri what he intends to do by traveling to the rural backwater of Varikino. "Just live", Zhivago replies.

Whether under the rapturous beneficience of Obamism or not, we can't wait to "just live".

*Inspired by Lou Rukeyser's post 1987 Crash Pep Talk.

Friday, October 31, 2008

No Room on the Plane.

It is reported that McCain campaign has denied Maureen Dowd a seat on the campaign plane. However, the refusal was to make room for more journalists.

Too Little and Too Late?

Jake Tapper has a "wait a minute!" moment with Mr. Obama's ENORMOUS list of promises to the people. Looks like you'll be off "O-Force One", Jake; you can pick up your luggage at the Greyhound terminal.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Old Home Movies Found of Obama Baby Shower!

Look for George Soros giving the gift of gold and Saul Alinsky's gift of a copy of "Rules for Radicals!"

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

Thank Heavens You're Here!

The market has tanked, the economy is going south, socialism is knocking on the door, massteria is running amok, Democrats threaten us with unbridled power, and cats and dogs are in the streets. But there is one man who can save us in this desparate hour...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Obama, MoveOn, and Iraq.

Here is the audio of an April 2007 Q&A session on Iraq between members of MoveOn.org and Senator Obama. Its salient content: (i) Obama's declaration of the "failure" of the then-recent surge in Iraq, (ii) his insistance that US withdrawl from Iraq begin immediately (to be completed with a year), (iii) advocacy for a multilateral negotiations on the fate of Iraq between Iraqi Sunnis and Shias, Iran, and Syria, and (iv) appreciation and enthusiasm for MoveOn.org, the folks that brought you the infamous "General Betray Us" ad.

MoveOn endorsed Mr. Obama for the Presidency of the United States in early 2008 with 70% of its voting membership.

Lest we forget.
Barney Frank's Brave New World.

In an expansive and victorious mood, Congerscritter Frank describes his goals for an undivided government: a 25% spending cut for the DoD (forcing our hand in Iraq), expanded federal support of state spending programs, and higher taxes for The Rich® (from Commentary Magazine).

Thursday, October 23, 2008

An Ignored Story...

has been the explosive growth of the federal budget in non-defense related areas: consider the inflation-adjusted growth in the following catagories in the last eight years (courtesy WSJ):

  • Transportation +22%
  • Community Assistance +91%
  • Education +57%
  • Welfare +30%

Monday, October 20, 2008

Colin Powell's Endorsement.

The endorsement substantially hurts McCain, no doubt, but it was not a surprise. We wonder what Powell thought of Obama's earlier fellow traveling with MoveOn, who called General Petraeus, a brother in arms, "General Betray-Us"?

It's very clear that Obama has been building a firewall between himself and the Far Left organizations that provided early sustinence for his campaign. One wonders if such a wall will be demolished the day after Inauguration.
Founder's Quote for Today.

There are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of thepeople by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. - James Madison (speech to the Virginia Ratifying Convention,16 June 1788)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Poll: What Can We Expect?

The first few months of a new Administration is when the most politically incendiary decisions are made, counting on the short memory of the electorate.

Erbitux Is Not Aspirin.

Scott Gotlieb discusses in the WSJ about the risks to the developmental drug industry posed by government-forced cost controls on new drug therapies.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

An O for All!

The creepy Obama "O" has now mutated into a myriad of forms for the spectrum of Hyphenated-Americans. Is this guy comfortable with this idol worship? (hat tip to The People's Cube)

The Cult of Personality.

This clip sings for itself.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Feel Good Green.

The Instapundit noted the following article about a Tennessee man who converted his 1994 Chevy S-10 to electric power for a mere $12,000. The two dozen batteries that are used will need to be replaced in three years, at a cost of about $3000. His gasoline bill was about $5000 a year, so he breaks even in year four. He could have bought a new S-10 for less, with better gasoline fuel economy. Yes, we're being a green humbug, but this report has as much signficance to practical garage-based energy solutions as a that about a waterskiing squirrel.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Looking Fear in the Face.

Some months ago a friend recommended Minyanville for honest and fearless analysis of the markets and America's precarious financial condition. Todd Harrison, pundit-in-chief of Miyanville, has offered the following observation on the resolution of the Credit Default Swap Crisis - one that is never uttered on CNBC, CNN, or other places: "...there's not enough money to go around".

Somebodies are going to get screwed in the resolution of this mess, for very, very big sums of money. They will be left holding the bag. A member of the Harrison Think Tank speculates that the hedge funds - those with no real skin in the mortgage game but merely bought and sold lottery tickets on chance of mortage defaults will be the designated somebodies and could be done by Presidential fiat. Our sympathy for such gamblers evaporated with the recent 2000 point loss on the Dow, as the hedgers raised cash from the only source of liquidity - our 401(K)s.

Where Have You Gone, Lou?

The Great Mr. Rukeyser helped us regain our wits and morale in October 1987. We sure could use a pep talk from Heaven, Lou.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Incredible Events.

The Ford Motor Company today lost nearly 21% of its market value today. General Motors lost almost 11% of its value today.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Is Harry Shorting the Insurers?

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid helped foment sharp selling of insurance stocks with loose talk about a possible bankruptcy of a major insurer as he hawked the Bailout Bill. First, do no harm, Dr. Reid.

Senator Coburn Gets It.

Tom Coburn (R-OK) understands the conundrum of the "rescue" legislation:

Taxpayers deserve to know that there is no guarantee this plan will work, but there is a guarantee that we will face a financial catastrophe if we do nothing. If banks continue to fail and stop lending the average American could lose their job, be unable to secure a loan for a car, home or college education, and find their life savings and retirement in jeopardy. Our economy depends on having liquid assets available for credit and lending just as an automobile engine needs oil. If those liquid assets stop flowing, our economy will be seriously damaged and will require far more costly and lengthy repairs.

This bill does not represent a new and sudden departure from free market principles as much as it represents an emergency response to congressional actions that have ignored free market principles, and our Constitution, for decades. If anyone in Washington should offer their resignation it should be the members of Congress who peddled the fantasy of free home ownership without risk. No institution in our country is more responsible for the myth or borrowing without consequences than the United States Congress.

As much as members of Congress want to find scapegoats, the root of this problem is political greed in Congress. Members of Congress from both parties wanted short-term political credit for promoting home ownership even though they were putting our entire economy at risk by encouraging people to buy homes they couldn’t afford. Then, instead of conducting thorough oversight and correcting obvious problems with unstable entities like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, members of Congress chose to ignore the problem and distract themselves with unprecedented amounts of pork-barrel spending...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Profile in Partisanship.

Perhaps she just couldn't help herself. Perhaps Ms. Pelosi is just so partisan and doctrinaire in her marrow, that the opportunity to take cheap political shots with a national stage provided by the House vote on the "Bailout Bill" could not be refused. Whatever the reason, given the grave nature of the crisis that has been claimed and the need for political unity to insure passage of the bill, Pelosi made an extremely foolish choice in dogpiling on the GOP. It was a embarassing display of arrogance and a moronic misjudgement of human nature and behavior.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Revealing Character, or Lack Thereof.

It seems that in any Democrat congressional leader's discussion of the financial crisis is a required divestment of any responsibility of any Democrat for the mess. Their interpretation of the responsibility for the problem seems to coincide with the 2001 inauguration of George Bush, or with the rise of the GOP leglislative power in 1995 (but abruptly ending with the recovery of that power by Democrats in 2007).

One can easily excuse this revisionism as typical politics. But this excuse debases the justified anger that Americans feel toward the extraordinary negligence demonstrated by our government leaders, in both Congress and the White House, of both Republicans and Democrats. It demonstrates a lack of character, a clear lack of comprehension of the essentials of politcal leadership.

In other words, ladies and gentlemen, cut the crap and own the problem, and maybe history will bestow a scintilla of honor upon you.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Essential Reading.

Enormous spin is being applied by the Democrat Congressional Politburo on the "causes" of the Mortgage Meltdown. Investor's Business Daily has published a five-part history of the disaster, whose genesis can be traced as far back as the late '70s. It's a story of good intentions (expanding home ownership), employing delusional economic ideas (one can loan money to people who will likely default; marketing securities based on these risky mortages), and strong-arm partisan politics (the stonewalling of effective oversight by Fannie and Freddy through the purchase of political protection).

Brace yourself against the fierce winds that will be blowing, claiming that "the private sector got us in this mess, and government will get us out".* And read the IBD special reports.

*Recent discharge by Barney Frank.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Space is Becoming Redder.

The Chinese are advancing very quickly in space technology; their current manned mission included a brief spacewalk, developing essential skills for a future lunar landing. Funded by the massive transfer of wealth from the United States for the past two decades.

Friday, September 26, 2008

No Time to Talk?

The House Republicans had enough of Barney Frank yesterday afternoon. Frank and the other congressional Democrats, prime enablers for Fanny and Freddy Mac, now insist on conditions on the "financial rescue" that are outright corporatism: bestowing stock warrants on Uncle Sam for companies that participate in the program (which will lead to expanded meddling by the government into financial markets), regulating the compensation of their corporate officers (you can have your show trials later), compulsory modification of mortages held by the government ("foreclosure prevention"), and "oversight boards". The House GOP members (and Senator Shelby) refused to be railroaded into signing on to a plan without at least a serious discussion of alternative solutions that are less costly to the public and less intrusive on the free market, and perhaps have the financial industry solve most of their own problems. We at Deaddrifts do not presume that these alternatives are necessarily better solutions, but the people of the United States have the right to have their elected leaders consider their merit over the weekend.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Unneeded Partisanship.

The freezing of the credit markets is a deep and serious problem, and serious observers of financial issues know there is plenty of blame to heap on both Republican and Democrat administrations and congresses. Thus it is particularly sad and frustrating to see one of Michigan's delegates to the highest deliberative body in the United States, Senator Debbie Stabenow, use the crisis for partisan politics. Grow up, girl.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

What it Is, Ain't Football.

49ers 31, Lions 13. The Kitties have become a parody of a football team. Thank goodness the Lions games wasn't televised in Smell-O-Vision. The Millen/Marinelli Countdown Clock stands at 11:59:59 pm.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Covering Their Tracks.

...Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac - are not facing any kind of financial crisis...the more people exagerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing. - Barney Frank, D-MA, 2003.

The Investors Business Daily has a story about the principal obstacle to timely reform and oversight of Fanny and Freddy, namely, congressional Democrats who sought to use questionable loaning by the institutions for political patronage. IBD also names the congerscritters who received the largest political contributions from the two failed lending agencies. The top five are:
  • Christopher Dodd, D-CT, $133,900
  • John Kerry, D-MA, $111,000
  • Barack Obama, D-IL, $105,849
  • Hillary Clinton, D-NY, $75,550
  • Paul Kanjorski, D-PA, 65,500

It's unlikely that you will hear much of the role that either the Clinton Administration nor the Congers had in making Fanny-and-Freddy-stein. No, it will be blamed on BushMcCain.

Friday, September 19, 2008

A Momentous Week.

If Jim Cramer is correct, our country has narrowly escaped the complete seizure and meltdown of its financial system, and has avoided a Great Depression. For now. God grant great wisdom and courage to our leaders to put together an effective plan to clean this awful mess up.
It's A (30-1) Leveraged Life!

(Investment banker George Failey and his new bride Mary race back to his Fleecem Bros. office. There a frightened, angry mob has swarmed around his receptionist's desk. George smiles wanly at many of his friends in the mob.)

George: Hi Bob, Carrie, Ed...

Mob: We want to redeem our shares in the Ultra Plunge Mortgage Securities Fund!!

George: well, OK (looking at Ed), here's a form Ed. You fill that out and you'll get your redemption package in a month. You submit the package to the Fleecem Corporate Headquarters and they'll send a check after a review of your account and prorating the balance for current NAV and redemption administrative costs.

Ed: how long will that take??

George: About ninety days.

Ed: Ninety days?? I want my $100,000 now!

George: but Ed, when you signed the fund application after the reading the prospectus which said it may take from 90 to 12o days for redemptions...

Ed: I want my $100,000!

George: Ed, it doesn't work that way. Look, see Ernie over there? (points to a disheveled bearded man, who quickly dashes out the door) Well, part of your money is in Ernie's house!

Ed: What?? You gave that bum a mortgage?? He hasn't worked in two years! And that deadbeat owes me fifty bucks!

George: well, anyway...and look there's Carrie! Part of your money is in Carrie's Home Equity Loan! And she put that money right to work!

Carrie: Bought a really sick boat with it! Bastard Repo Man took it away last month...

Ed: Well, George, they can just pay you back and then you can pay me!

George: But Ed! You see that guy over there? (points to another bearded bum)

Ed: yeah?

George: We sold Ernie's and Carrie's loans to him. Twenty times. And he sold them to some British banker. Who sold them to a Russian guy. Who's in Argentina.

(Ed looks stupified)

George: but see what's happening here? We're panicking, and selling. But on the other side of town, the Chinese Government is buying!

(a hysterical man dashes into the office)

Man: Hey! The Chinese Government is giving me two cents on the dollar for my Fund shares! Come on! Let's go cash in! (the crowd moves toward the door, but George blocks their path)

Ed: well, Failey...

George: You might be able to catch Ernie and get your fifty bucks. Can you also fill out the customer survey form on our website? It'll help with my bonus.
He Can't Be All Bad?

Our "progressive" fisherfriends may become apoplectic to learn that Vice President Cheney is quite an avid and accomplished flyfisherman. Maybe it's just a clandestine program to scout out new drilling sites for Big Earl.
Financial Blackmail?

The Politico is reporting that the Dems will extract a heavy price for their "bipartisan" efforts on the Bad Debt Bailout Plan, and CNBC has reported that they are also considering the taking the plunge into corporatism - Uncle Sam taking equity shares in the distressed financial companies. So that they can be directed toward more beneficent behavior?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Lipstick on a Mortgage.

At this moment the Fed, Treasury, and Congressional leaders are meeting to put together a federal structure to assume much of the risk of the flood of bad debt associated with soured mortgages. The Treasury plan would sell T-Bills to holders of the mortage securities in exchange for them. The idea is that Uncle Sam can hold this bad debt for a long period of time until the housing market stabilizes. Taxpayers may see a profit from this move.

Unfortunately, the Dems are now circulating an alternate plan, and putting Obama's name on it (ghostwritten by Charles Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and Barney Frank). Preliminary reports suggest the Dem plan would have the government buy and manage the mortgages outright (like refinancing them directly with debtors). It smells like debt forgiveness for overextended homeowners. And what does Obama have to do with it? Other than he is running for President, and the Dems can use it to trumpet him as the "savior of the economy", probably nothing.

It is a sobering thought indeed to realize that at this minute the US financial system rallies or succumbs on the disposition of Barney Frank.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

That Winning Feeling.

Well, the Lions made it a game...for about 20 minutes.
The New Politics.

P.S. - the Atlantic article, "The Wars of John McCain", penned by Jeffery Goldberg, is quite informative and evenhanded. We recommend reading it. The cover caption for the story "Why War is His Answer", is histrionic and misleading.
The Fog Rolls In.

If you haven't formed at least a tentative decision for which presidential candidate to cast your ballot, you may have waited too long. A thick, blinding, anesthetizing fog is now descending on the election, as the political parties take control of the media communications. The gases of partisan half-truths, fibs, and whoppers, belched by an unending procession of party apparatchiks on the Meatpacker Networks, obscure the voter's vision needed to answer the "Core Questions" of the election. These questions are: what are the fundamental philosophies of governance of each candidate, and which candidate has the best record of judgement, leadership, experience, and ethics? It's a short list. The answers to these questions will shape the decision-making all the other nuts-and-bolts issues. Unfortunately, it may now be impossible to discern the answers to the Core Questions.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Return of Byrne and Eno.

One of the great albums of the late '70s was a collaboration between The Talking Heads and Brian Eno, Fear of Music. The album help to propel the Heads' to popular acclaim and to become one of the most influential musical forces of the late 20th century. David Byrne and Brian Eno have joined forces again to create Everything That Happens Will Happen Today. Wonderfully lyrical stuff.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A Proposal.

It's possible (probable?) that either GM or Ford (or both) will soon get in line for their helping of Goverment Cheese, i.e., federal bailout money. Would it be anti free-market to then require that 50% of their 2013 model year vehicle fleet be electric, hybrid, CNG, or E(M)85 powered, with an effective in-service fleet CAFE standard that would reduce gasoline consumption by 40% by 2020? There are tangible financial and strategic advantages for the government in achieving this (keeping petrodollars in the country and energy security), and consumers would not be forced to buy these vehicles. And they can pay us back over time, with E-Z terms.

Thoughts and comments are always cheerfully accepted.

Postscript: Well, Holman Jenkins strongly disagrees with such a proposal. His arguement - that CAFE standards forced the Big 3 to loses billions producing small cheap cars that consumers didn't want - makes sense to explain their problems in the '90s when oil was less than $20 per barrel. But at the current $100+ per barrel, consumers are ditching their lower mpg trucks and SUVs for higher fuel economy vehicles. The Ford Focus, for example, with 35 mpg is a hot seller right now, while F150 sales have dropped by nearly 25% this year. GM's Rick Wagner has announced that there has been a fundamental change in the market toward fuel economy, and that this change is more likely than not irreversible.

Perhaps $100 oil for the forseeable future will make CAFE standards irrelevant? A decline in fleet average fuel economy from 20 mpg to 16 mpg would cost consumers about $800 per year at $4 per gallon (based on 16,000 miles driven per year), or $4800 of additional operating expense over a six-year vehicle life. One wonders whether relaxing CAFE standards could result in a lower vehicle purchase price that would compensate for this increase in operating costs and still improve the automakers margins. Again, Jenkins' arguement does make sense in the world of $20 oil. Too bad we don't live that world.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Keith-O Gets His Comeuppance.

A big bucket of chum on the J.J. Hunsecker (well, one of the Hunseckers) of cable "news":

MSNBC tried a bold experiment this year by putting two politically
incendiary hosts,
Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews, in the anchor chair to lead the cable news channel’s coverage of the election.

That experiment appears to be over.

After months of accusations of political bias and simmering animosity between MSNBC and its parent network
NBC, the channel decided over the weekend that the NBC News correspondent and MSNBC host David Gregory would anchor news coverage of the coming debates and election night. Mr. Olbermann and Mr. Matthews will remain as analysts during the coverage...

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Friday, September 05, 2008

Detroit's Nightmare Over...For Now.

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has resigned, effective September 18. He acknowledged his wrong doing, but gave no apology for it. He angrily scolded Governor Granholm for his woes, very much in the manner a robber curses the cop for catching him. It would be unfair not to give Kilpatrick credit for his accomplishments, yet they also amplify the tragedy caused by his hubris. He has promised a comeback, but most Detroiters prefer to move on.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

On McCain's Reading List...

Should be this column by David Brooks.
Todd Palin's Snowmobile Adds to Global Warming.

Yet another issue that questions McCain's judgement in his VP pick.
When Did Sarah Palin Stop Beating Her Children?

We know there is no evidence for this accusation, but the fact that we have asked the question must indicate that McCain's vetting process for Palin was inadequate.

The most illuminating performance of the Mainstream Meatpackers since the Lindbergh Baby Kidnapping.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Can't Get The Stink Off.

In just the last 36 hours, here are some of the claims and accusations that have been leveled at Ms. Palin:

  • she violated Alaskan law by firing a state government employee for family interests
  • she's hired legal counsel to defend herself against the above charge
  • she wants to force schools to teach creationism in science classes
  • well, she doesn't want to force the teaching of creationism, but she believes in it
  • she wore a Pat Buchanan button and is therefore an anti-Semite
  • she wants to kill polar bears
  • her husband was arrested for DUI (more than twenty years ago)
  • she is a member of a kooky Alaskan successionist movement
  • if she isn't a member of a kooky Alaskan successionist movement, she at least delivered an address to them
  • the address was only 90 seconds long, was done by videotape, and was a generic "good luck with your convention" speech, but it's still controversial to do such a thing
  • she fished without a license
  • she changed her mind to oppose the "Bridge to Nowhere"
  • she selfishly works outside the home to the neglect of her children
  • she irresponsibly brought a Down's Syndrome child to term
  • she was irresponsible in her prenatal care for her infant son (not necessarily incompatible with the previous accusation)
  • actually, the infant is her daughter's
  • no, the infant is hers, but now her daughter is pregnant, therefore invalidating abstinence advocacy programs for Alaskan kids that the Governor foolishly supports
  • Palin is cruel to her daughter by running for VP knowing her daughter is pregnant
  • Wasilli, Alaska had a budget of only 12 million dollars
  • she likes petroleum
  • she didn't command her National Guard when they were deployed to Iraq
  • the fact that the Mainstream Meatpackers are gurgling about these "facts" indicate John McCain made a reckless decision in choosing Sarah Palin

Look at this list of crap. It's easy to see what this is all about: it's the textbook definition of mudslinging. You throw as much crap at your opponent as fast as you can to cover them in it before they can wipe it off.

Welcome to Washington, Ms. Palin. Hang in there.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Making of John McCain.

Michael Leahy of the Washington Post writes a fascinating and riveting account of Mac's pre-POW days, and the huge influence of his father, grandfather, and other mentors. Simply marvelous storytelling.

Friday, August 29, 2008

McCain's VP Choice.

Are we ecstatic by John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate? Ecstatic? Not really. Perhaps there were stronger, more experienced choices, but not very obvious ones. Mac's competitors for the nomination were all damaged goods, and all suffered the political liabilities of being white and male while Republican. Yes, the Zeitgeist has turned on The Man.

So what were McCain's goals in choosing a VP? Somebody that could step in to be President, but the wrong political choice for VP would render that concern moot. His choice would need to break GOP "tradition" (white male running mates) if there would be any chance to win the Presidency.

The dismantling of the Gingrinch Revolution of '94 (which truly sought to court minorities into the party) and the subsequent control of the GOP by the brain-dead (Hastert, McConnell) or the corrupt (Delay) has lost the party at least a decade in expanding the conservative movement to "non-traditional" groups. Thus, there are no African-American GOP members of House or Senate, and precious few Hispanic members.

The GOP women in the Senate are either a bit shopworn (Dole, Hutchison), too liberal for the party base (Snow, Collins), or otherwise unacceptable (Murkowski). Women Republican members of the House are a rather anonymous group (why is the subject of another conversation). Palin is one of a handful of women Republican governors. The reaction by the GOP base to her selection has been enthusiastic (Lieberman would have kept the base home on Election Day), and may - may - draw moderate women to the ticket. Politically, Palin was the best choice.

Palin has been been swimming with the sharks of Alaska politics - the Murkowskis, Ted Stevens, and Don Young - and has beaten them. She is quite knowledgable on energy issues, and as governor has experience in actually running a government. On these matters she is more qualified to be President that Mr. Obama , who has been running for President since his election to the US Senate in 2006, and has particpated in damned little real leglislation. That Mr. Obama has pulled off what he has does say something about his political and leadership skills (let us give credit where credit is due). The "experience" issue may have been a dead end for McCain anyway; a look back a previous popular Presidents can reveal some rather short resumes (TR, FDR, JFK).

Palin had better be a quick study on the national issues on which she is unfamiliar, and please let her not say anything stupid out of obligation to say something in which she is not knowledgable. Leave that to Mr. Obama.
Does Sarah Palin Hate Polar Bears?

During our return to The Estate this afternoon, we caught the first half-hour of NPR's All Things (Ill) Considered, in part to see how conflicted their hosts would be about McCain's choice for VP, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. After the typical NPR selective reporting on the event (for example, they noted the congratulatory message from the Obama/Biden 2008 office, but not the snarky statement made earlier by a spokescritter from Obama World Headquarters), the show turned to an in-depth story of the retreat of sea ice (supposedly caused by global warming, supposedly caused by human activity) in the Alaskan Arctic, and the mortal threat that this phenomenon was to polar bears.

We did not understand the connection between the two stories until reviewing Wizbang tonight, which featured an interview with the same Governor Palin by Glenn Beck made some weeks earlier. The topic was Governor Palin's lawsuit against Uncle Sam to keep the Endangered Species Act - which now extends its protective "rights" to the Polar Bear - from being used to block oil and gas production along the Alaskan Continental Shelf, ANWR, and the Alaska National Petroleum Reserve. These are the regions of Alaska where the Polar Bears of Alaskan Heritage are likely to be found.

Aha! NPR has made a link between Sarah Palin and the (potential) Ursacide of the Polar Bear: if the bears were now under pressure by losing their ice habitat, the (presumably) polar-bear-hating Palin would seek to destroy the rest of their living space for oil!

In fact, the Story of the Polar Bears, the Governor, and Big Oil has another bizarre twist: it seems the green-extremist organization Greenpeace does not want the Polar Bear listed on the current version of the Endangered Species List. This is because the revised version which included the Bear also provides that its endangered status cannot be based on global warming claims. Therefore such claims could not place other animals on the list, nor presumably force industries (read: Big Oil) to cut back on carbon emissions to (supposedly) slow global warming, which would (supposedly) help the threatened organism. Therefore, the ESA could not be used as a pretext to stop further oil and gas production by claiming that the oil and gas would increase global warming, even while the production activity in itself would pose no threat to endangered species. Thus, Greenpeace in a snit.

We really don't know know Ms. Palin's disposition toward the Polar Bear, although the photo above (from the Anchorage Daily News), indicates that she appreciates bearskin in general. We do, however, know her view of Moose: great in stew.
Note: No Polar Bears were harmed during the writing of this article.
Just Say Anything.

Oh a mighty winds a blowin’, it’s kickin’ up the sand,
It’s blowin’ out a message to every woman, child and man
Yes a mighty winds a blowin’, cross the land and cross the sea,

It’s blowin’ peace and freedom, it’s blowin’ equality.
Yes it’s blowin’ peace and freedom, it’s blowin’ you and me.

- A Mighty Wind

Give us some air, we have the vapors! What a show, what fireworks, what a speech! No national ill was not caused by BushMcCain, nor was it without an Obama cure. And those ills shall be healed because, well, because we want it to be so. And he wants to do it all for us, because this isn't about him, it's about us. Yes: the fireworks, the temple, the stadium, the motion picture soundtrack, the adoration of the multitude - that is for us.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Fool's Gold.

The 29th Olympiad in Beijing is drawing to a close. It's been a great success for the PRC, with the distractions of sports, celebrity, money, with a slick campaign to portray China with a Disney World like tidiness. The concerns for air pollution and violence by a deranged individual were the only blemishes on an otherwise perfect propaganda campaign. Cheery memories of the Beijing Olympics will in be in dissonance with the behavior of China's authoritarian regime, complete with brutal political and religous persecution and agressive regional ambitions. We will all no doubt find the happy Olympics image of China preferable to believe.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

With Success, Silence.

It is quite astounding how the TV press coverage of Iraq has dropped off; it's almost as if the war does not exist. Kudos to the New York Times and the Washington Post for their continued extensive coverage of Iraq. From a recent report from the Times as General Petraeus prepares to leave Iraq:

The arrival of the 30,000 extra soldiers, deployed to Baghdad’s neighborhoods around the clock, allowed the Americans to exploit a series of momentous events that had begun to unfold at roughly the same time: the splintering of Moktada al-Sadr’s militia, the Mahdi Army; the growing competence of the Iraqi Army; and most important, the about-face by leaders of the country’s Sunni minority, who suddenly stopped opposing the Americans and joined with them against Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia and other local extremist groups.

The surge, clearly, has worked, at least for now: violence, measured in the number of attacks against Americans and Iraqis each week, has dropped by 80 percent in the country since early 2007, according to figures the general provided. Civilian deaths, which peaked at more than 100 a day in late 2006, have also plunged. Car and suicide bombings, which stoked sectarian violence, have fallen from a total of 130 in March 2007 to fewer than 40 last month. In July, fewer Americans were killed in Iraq — 13 — than in any month since the war began.

The result, now visible in the streets, is a calm unlike any the country has seen since the American invasion toppled Saddam Hussein in April 2003. The signs — Iraqi families flooding into parks at sundown, merchants throwing open long-shuttered shops — are stunning to anyone who witnessed the country’s implosion in 2005 and 2006.

However, TV is the manner by which most Americans get their news, and relative silence on Iraq by the MSM networks when the violence has dropped so dramatically will produce a dated and skewed view of Iraq in advance of the November election.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Robama Hood.

Bill McGurn
itemizes Mr. Obama's mission to bring "fairness" to our society by (i) windfall-profits taxes on Big Oil to be redistributed as energy assistance payouts, (ii) having The Rich® pick up the tab for the escalating benefits of Social Security, and (iii) hitting The Rich® again with higher taxes to bring "balance" to the Force Tax Code. And if these actions result in lower government revenues? Hit The Rich® with an increase in capital gains taxes!

The Rich® is a registered trademark of the Barack Obama for President Campaign. To see who is currently included in this nefarious group, check the "Who's Rich?" thermometer graph at the Obama Campaign website. Updates are provided after every Obama campaign appearance or press interview.
The New Old Politics.

David Brooks writes that one of the most recalcitrant opponents to "a different politics" are the Mainstream Meatpackers, who prefer the easy stories of fad, conflict, controversy, and gotchas.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Question Is: Why?

Obama and the Dems are now replaying Clinton-speak on abortion: "legal, safe, and rare".

But this raises a question: if there is no moral significance to abortion - that the fetus does not have rights of protection as an independent being as the Left claims - why does reducing the number of abortions have any significance? Isn't it no more important than calling for the reduction in the number of appendectomies? Would advocating for reducing the number of abortions (40 million since Roe) be based only on reducing a number of such medical procedures that carry some residual amount of risk to patients, or to lower public health care costs?

Or is such a call for reducing abortions an tacit admission that there is a moral dimension to every one of them that cannot be removed with legalisms?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Michigan Football Preview.

Given the dignity and decorum of the past month's happenings in Michigan Football - the new Head Coach in court and the U's big buyout of his previous contract - we thought it would be instructive to see what Michigan's tens of millions is getting. Above is some video that was recently taken at a Wolverine scrimmage...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Russia and Georgia: The Big Picture.

Melik Kaylan writes in the Wall Street Journal about the strategic motives for Russia's pressure on Georgia. It is, of course, about controlling natural resources and projecting Russian power and influence in the Caucasus and the ultimately the Middle East. Yes, the game is on again, against a much more capable adversary.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

The Monster Strikes.

We went to the 2nd round of the PGA Championship at Oakland Hill CC. The course played brutally, featuring kudzu-like rough and unforgiving greens with tough hole placements. They will have to squeegee the blood from the 17th green (our base of operations for the late afternoon), with its only Friday birdie coming from Anthony Kim's chipshot. Sergio Garcia watched his teeshot to the left side of the green disintegrate with a four-putt five for the hole! The International Red Cross has intervened, and the course masters may acquiesce with more favorable hole locations for Saturday.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The Truth That Flows.

Jonah Goldberg thinks Mr. Obama is the Postmodern Candidate:

The Obama campaign has a postmodern feel to it because more than anything else, it seems to be about itself. Its relationship to reality is almost theoretical. Sure, the campaign has policy proposals, but they are props to advance the narrative of a grand movement existing in order to be a movement galvanized around the singular ideal of movement-ness. Obama's followers are, to borrow from David Hasselhoff — another American hugely popular in Germany — hooked on a feeling. "We are the ones we have been waiting for!" Well, of course you are.

Go watch The Candidate - we've seen this before!
A Fashion in Thinking.

Without censorship in the West, fashionable trends of thought and ideas are fastidiously separated from those that are not fashionable, and the latter, without ever being forbidden, have little chance of finding their way into periodicals or books or being heard in colleges. Your scholars are free in the legal sense, but they are hemmed in by the idols of the prevailing fad. There is no open violence, as in the East; however, a selection dictated by fashion and the need to accomodate mass standards frequently prevents the most independent-minded persons from contributing to public life and gives rise to dangerous herd instincts that block successful development.

- Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, "A World Split Apart", 1978.