Monday, August 31, 2009

Rethinking vacation destinations

OK. Let’s move out in a slightly different direction. The First Family is currently wrapping up their first vacation out on famed Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts and considering the stress of the presidency of the United States, we sincerely wish it was a relaxing and enjoyable time for the Obamas although with the death of Ted Kennedy it probably didn’t pan out quite as they hoped.

Now, having said that, we think they can do better than Martha’s Vineyard. Forgive us for thinking that the locale is a tad old school but for our young President and his family, it represents the very epitome of East Coast establishment and “business as usual”. And yes, the reach for the Kennedy/Camelot mystique thing appears forced and contrived, especially when President Obama has Hawai’i connections. We’re supposed to believe that President Obama would rather be lounging around on white Adirondack chairs, sipping martinis in a tweed jacket than boogie boarding with his two daughters in the Hawai’ian surf?

We realize there are basic logistic and security problems with some of the places we would prefer but that’s not going to stop us from soliciting suggestions from BwD nation for some alternative locales to be enjoyed by the First Family. The suggestion box is open.

P.S.We know it’s only a photograph – an instantaneous snapshot in time that may or may not reveal the larger narrative but doesn’t the picture kind of sum up the Obama’s first vacation.

The president is slumped at the shoulders and is wearing a wan smile. Hey, sorry about that, gang… I’ll make it up to everybody next year. The girls definitely don’t look happy to be returning and the First Lady…? Hijole! Dead Senator or not, I’m not tolerating any interrupted damn vacation next year, pal.

Manufacturing consent

Everybody In? Nobody Out?

Is that a threat or a promise?

Goodness. Whatever happened to that noble liberal battle cry from days gone by: Keep your politics off my body?

Here’s an email from an attendee of Congressman, Ed Permutter's um, townhall event in Denver over the weekend:

“I just returned from a rally for health care reform held at North High School in Denver. As Erin and I were entering the staging area we were approached by people carrying clipboards. We were told we could not enter without signing our name and address on the form. I asked why they needed this information and was told they must know who was entering the area.This was a tax payer supported high school property hosting public speakers and I was being denied entry unless the clipboard form was completed. I was very uncomfortable with this request and remained outside the chain link fence to listen to the speakers.

The first speaker was my very own repesentative, Ed Permutter who thanked all who had signed the clipboard form and stated that all these signatures would go on to to Washington showing support of the Obama Health Care Plan. I could not believe what I heard. Never was it stated that this form was a support of the health care plan. I just wonder how many people were dooped into signing this when they do not support the bill or do not know enough about it to make a decision.People carrying signs supporting the bill were permitted entry with their signs, those opposing had to remain outside.

Read more about this event, here.

Not a real bright idea

“Government did us in,” says Dwayne Madigan, whose job will terminate when General Electric closes its factory next July.

Madigan makes a product that will soon be illegal to sell in the U.S. - a regular incandescent bulb. Two years ago, his employer, GE, lobbied in favor of the law that will outlaw the bulbs.

Madigan’s colleagues, waiting for their evening shift to begin, all know that GE is replacing the incandescents for now with compact fluorescents bulbs, which GE manufactures in China.

That would be mercury-containing fluorescents for those of you scoring at home. Publicly, G.E. states the reason they are shutting down the Winchester Bulb Plant (200 jobs lost) which is 80 miles west of D.C. is that their hand was forced by environmental regulations that phase-out the use of incandescent bulbs in favor of the fluorescents.

However, the dirty little secret is that G.E. lobbied for these regulatory changes contained within the 2007 Energy bill. The opportunity to mandate that consumers buy the more expensive fluorescents with the additional benefit of having them manufactured on the cheap in China was one that G.E. was not going to pass up.

So to recap: More expensive bulbs? Check. Bulbs that cost American jobs? Check. Bulbs that contain an element, Mercury, that is on every banned-list that we are aware of, including the construction program we are currently working on? Check. Bulbs that allow G.E. some back-slapping smuggery that they are doin’ it, doin’ it, doin’t, yea, for the environment? Double-check.

And don’t be at all surprised if at this very moment, G.E. is working on a patent for curbside pick-up of those mercury-containing light bulbs to be disposed of in a proper fashion. For a small fee, of course.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Living it (UPDATED!)

(UPDATE #1):Congratulations to the Chula Vista Little League team who laid claim to the Little League World Series championship by beating the Taiwanese team this afternoon, 6-3. They rallied from a 3-0 deficit and did it by not hitting a homerun which had become their signature and something of legendary (and record-breaking) status.

Being honored at Padre and Charger games looks to be confirmed and a visit to the White House is a possibility from the buzz surrounding the team after the game.

We’ve watched more baseball these past couple of weeks than we have in years as it’s been an absolute joy to watch these young kids perform at the highest level on the biggest stage and overcoming adversity with poise and confidence as two of their last 3 games were come-from-behind affairs.

After the whirl-wind that these next few weeks will be back home for the boys, we hope that everyone will keep in mind they are only 12 and 13 yr.-olds with homework to do for school and chores to do around the house and that the spectacular success they've worked for and enjoyed to date is by no means any guarantee for future spectacular success on the ballfield or anywhere else for that matter.

(here endeth the update)

“Kids dream of playing at Williamsport. Sometimes I go to bed at night and pinch myself.”

That from Bulla Graft of Park View, Chula Vista before yesterday’s 12-2 victory over San Antonio in the championship game of the U.S. side of the bracket.

The dream lives on today as the blue bombers (they now hold the record for most homeruns in a Little League World Series with 19, besting Tokyo’s 15 set in ’03) take on Taoyuan, Taiwan at noon Pacific today for the LLWS championship.

We are a single degree of separation from several kids on this team from a community just south of us here in San Diego. We jumped on this train two weeks ago at the Regional Finals against Granite Bay, California and indeed it seems all of San Diego has been swept up in the excitement of Park View’s late summer run (We were at Hoffer’s for Thursday night’s thriller against Warner-Robins, Georgia and the place was going absolutely bonkers).

So to Bulla, Andy, Luke (Ramirez, pictured), Kiko, Oscar, Seth and the rest of the guys, good luck! The unbridled enthusiasm you guys have displayed combined with your sportsmanship has been a breath of fresh air.

Sharing it.

Two posts we read back-to-back that speak to our American exceptionalism that we wanted to share:

Americans, to me, are special people overall because they do say what they believe in, they take a stand, they zig when others zag whether it is throwing tea in Boston Harbor, rebuilding Europe after WWII, or pardoning a former president because it was the best interest of the nation to put things behind us. America is a place where you can screw up and make mistakes but if you come clean about things and change your behavior people will give you a second, third, or even forth chance if you are “that good.”

Read the rest here from Harrison.

And this from B-Daddy:
But then came the health care issue (or health finance issue, if you prefer). I posted earlier that this was the one initiative that we should make an all out effort to stop, because of its potential damage. I am proud that so many citizens felt the same way; that common sense over the vast intrusion against our liberty aroused huge portions of the population into action. This fight certainly isn't over, but that it is a fight affirms my faith in our Republic.

And what are we proud of? It may be small potatoes to some but we’re proud that about 30 of us at Hoffer’s the other night could’ve cared less that Michael Vick was making his endlessly-hyped return to football for the Philadelphia Eagles on T.V. that night and instead chose to root on some local 12-yr. olds in the Little League World Series. Talk about a palate-cleanser.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


So, how to square that whole nagging Mary Jo Kopechne thing?

Decades of blissfully liberal legislation: Thanks, Mary Jo!!!

Yet, ironically, following this nadir in his life/ career, Ted Kennedy seemed to have genuinely refashioned himself as a serious, idealistic, tirelessly energetic liberal Democrat in the mold of 1960s/1970s American liberalism, arguably the greatest Democratic senator of the 20th century. His tireless advocacy of civil rights, rights for disabled Americans, health care, voting reform, his courageous vote against the Iraq war (when numerous Democrats including Hillary Clinton voted for it) suggest that there are not only "second acts" in American lives, but that the Renaissance concept of the "fortunate fall" may be relevant here: one "falls" as Adam and Eve "fell"; one sins and repents and is forgiven, provided that one remakes one's life.

Yet if one weighs the life of a single young woman against the accomplishments of the man President Obama has called the greatest Democratic senator in history, what is one to think?

and this:

Mary Jo wasn't a right-wing talking point or a negative campaign slogan. She was a dedicated civil rights activist and political talent with a bright future -- granted, whenever someone dies young, people sermonize about how he had a "bright future" ahead of him -- but she actually did. She wasn't afraid to defy convention (28 and unmarried, oh the horror!) or create her own career path based on her talents. She lived in Georgetown (where I grew up) and loved the Red Sox (we'll forgive her for that). Then she got in a car driven by a 36-year-old senator with an alcohol problem and a cauldron full of demons, and wound up a controversial footnote in a dynasty.

We don't know how much Kennedy was affected by her death, or what she'd have thought about arguably being a catalyst for the most successful Senate career in history.

Who knows -- maybe she'd feel it was worth it.

The eulogies have been rolling in and they have been, uh…. telling. One can see the value that the liberal-Left places on life especially when seen in the context of achieving politcal ends.

Mark Steyn contends that Mary Jo Kopechne has been “airbrushed” from history. Quite the contrary. She has achieved celebrity status in some circles because without Mary Jo there would be no Lion of the Senate.

Mary Jo, you see, had to pay with her life so that greatest legislator of our time could be allowed to touch so many other lives. Perhaps there are now two Marys that have been responsible for berthing miracles.

As great as Kennedy’s career was, one has to wonder just how much greater it might have been were there another young lady or two in that car.

H/T: Hot Air

Do share

As of this posting, it is 104 degrees outside.

Sooooooo.... we were just curious if our newspaper delivery person knew something we didn't this morning.

Not leaving ill enough alone

The administration continues its amateurish, petty and overall deplorable handling of the situation in Honduras. Even as interim president, Roberto Micheletti has made a generous offer to restore order to his country which entails ousted President Manuel Zelaya a return to the country on the condition that he renounce claims to the presidency, the administration is moving towards cutting off aid to the country.

U.S. State Department staff have recommended that the ouster of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya be declared a "military coup," a U.S. official said on Thursday, a step that could cut off as much as $150 million in U.S. funding to the impoverished Central American nation.

The ultimate decision will reside with Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

This is on top of the restriction of visa for Hondurans to visit the U.S. and the $18 million that has already been suspended after the June 28th ouster of Zelaya as well as the balance of grant funding from the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation ($139 million) that is also in jeopardy depending on Clinton’s decision.

This administration has had every opportunity to get on the right side of this situation but has instead used every opportunity to get in line behind the likes Hugo Chavez and Daniel Ortega in meddling in the affairs of a foreign country and refusing to acknowledge the rule of law in that country.

Wild card alert! Wild card alert!

Lanny Davis, a prominent Washington attorney who represents the Honduran Latin American Business Council, said the new proposal "shows Mr. Micheletti is not concerned about power -- he is offering to resign entirely from public life. ... The question is, does Mr. Zelaya acknowledge that no one, even the president, is above the law?"

Article completely drops the ball in neglecting to acknowlege that Lanny Davis is a Clintonista that served in the Clinton White House as special counsel and actively campaigned for Hillary Clinton in the primaries. This might get interesting.

P.S. For you college hoops junkies out there, Davis is the father of Seth Davis, CBS' studio analyst for NCAA basketball.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Radio KBwD is on the air

They’ll be here at Street Scene in San Diego this weekend but we will be unable to see them or perhaps more correctly, unwilling, as the event is every much the goat rope that you would expect a music festival in the cramped quarters of downtown to be. Undaunted, though, we present them to you here.

Ladies and Gentlemen, from the dusty, southwestern back roads of your psyche, it’s Calexico performing “Crystal Frontier”

Continuing to peel back the layers of the onion

Guess who wants a gander at your tax returns? The Health Choices Administration, that’s who.

From Section 431 of H.R. 3200:

`(A) IN GENERAL- The Secretary, upon written request from the Health Choices Commissioner or the head of a State-based health insurance exchange approved for operation under section 208 of the America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, shall disclose to officers and employees of the Health Choices Administration or such State-based health insurance exchange, as the case may be, return information of any taxpayer whose income is relevant in determining any affordability credit described in subtitle C of title II of the America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009. Such return information shall be limited to--

(italics, ours)

Now, why oh why would the feds want to know what your tax returns look like with respect to healthcare? Especially when it involves some entity called the Health Choices Administration and which is linked to some Obamacare commodity, affordability credits.

Against the backdrop of "We are God's partners in matters of life and death," and the notion that destroying functioning resources is good for the economy, it is not unfair at all to play connect-the-dots to see where this may lead.

This speaks directly to the existence or lack thereof with respect to “death panels”. It simply re-enforces our argument that provisions like this and the vague and weasel-wording of other provisions like that contained in section 1233 make the arguments of whether “death panels” actually exist and if rationing will be the end-state of Obama-care, moot points. It’s all moot because the apparatus exists within the bill to effect the same unsavory results as would an actual “death panel” or the explicit goal of rationing healthcare.

It's been said that the administration has bungled the pitch for healthcare. To an extent, there have been tactical errors made but how can one effectively pitch a plan that is this horrible?

We will note that as recently as a few weeks ago, H.R. 3200 was available only in .pdf form. Any transcribing to a blog like this had to be done by hand. Now, it's been "translated" and sections of the entire bill can be cut'n'pasted to the preferred vehicle of information dissemination.

Bottom line: the word is out and the indefensible only becomes more so with the passage of time.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Take your number and wait to be called

And now, Henry Rollins of Black Flag would like his turn at the podium.

Sorry. With all this good will and tripping all over ourselves, it had to be

Just a leanin' on this here post

So, what happens when a visitor wanders over to your site and starts using somewhat intemperate and objectionable language?

You get about the most concise yet comprehensive defense of the free market with respect to healthcare reform that you will find anywhere.

To the woodshed... with B-Daddy!

We forgot one

Proving that Cash for Clunkers is the gift that keeps on giving…

But many of those cashing in on the clunkers program are surprised when they get to the treasurer's office windows. That's because the government's rebate of up to $4500 dollars for every clunker is taxable.

"They didn't realize that would be taxable. A lot of people don't realize that. So they're not happy and kind of surprised when they find that out," Nelson said.

That $4500 isn’t quite so $4500 anymore, now is it?

It just never seems to end – the unintended and unrealized consequences of C4C keep churning out and will do so for years.

Taking (and securing) some liberties

"Please allow us to introduce yourselves to a document containing a wealth of restraint."

Next time you hear any whining about a particular political party being obstructionist or being the Party of "No", remember that our Constitution and specifically, the Bill of Rights is the Document of "No".

It’s a delightful cornucopia of Nos, No persons, No soldiers and shall nots. No, No, No and hell No.

So, it is against this backdrop and understanding the tone and intent of the Bill of Rights, one has to ask oneself, can the government force me to buy health insurance?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Quote of the Day

So, two Irishmen walk into the Cato Institute...

“While others talked of free enterprise, it was the Democratic Party that acted and we ended excessive regulation in the airline and trucking industry, and we restored competition to the marketplace, and I take some satisfaction that this deregulation legislation that I sponsored and passed in the Congress of the United States.”

That from Ted Kennedy in his “The Dream Shall Never Die” speech at the 1980 Democratic National Convention that he made just after losing his fight for the party’s nomination. And while the balance of his legislative achievements were between horrid and atrocious, we’ll focus on the positive today because Kennedy was spot-on in that action in the defense of free enterprise in the form of co-sponsoring the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 and being instrumental in the passage as well of the Motor Carrier Act of 1980 were indeed accomplishments of which to be proud.

Baseball Crank had an interesting take on the career of Ted Kennedy and what could be learned from it:

Kennedy at that point could have taken a number of different turns. He could have become a Senate showhorse, making the rounds giving speeches and national TV appearances and doing little real work. He could have become one of Capitol Hill's time-markers, coasting to re-elections while using his office as just a prop for the exhausing, booze-and-flooze nightlife he pursued for so many years. He could have decided that fame and glamor meant he deserved to run for President at the first available opportunity, and stayed far away from any of the real and often controversial work of making laws.

To Kennedy's credit, he did none of those things. He hired the most aggressive, competent staffs on the Hill and immersed himself in the daily business of making laws. Boring bill markups, blathering conferences, wicked hangovers; Kennedy took them all and kept working, working even to the end. He learned how the sausage was made and the deals done, and made quite a lot of it himself. He waited 18 years to run for President, and did so only after compiling an extensive record of actual accomplishment in the Senate.

Kennedy's career could have been a cautionary tale for our current president, who might not have found himself in quite the fix he is in at the moment if he'd followed Ted's example, bided his years, spent more time in the trenches doing the unglamorous work of legislating and taking the hard punches that must be taken to sell the product to the public, learning how the system works, why it works and who makes it work. Most of the changes Ted Kennedy made in this nation over his career were change for the worst - but he did, over time, make real change because he worked at it instead of just saying the word "change" and hoping it would be so.

Ted Kennedy, R.I.P.

Again, but with a little more flair

So, what happens when your deficit estimates start resembling a mushroom cloud? You trot out budget director Peter Orszag to do some craaaazy tapdancing:

Both Romer and budget director Peter Orszag said this year's contraction would have been far worse without money from the $787 billion economic stimulus package that Obama pushed through Congress as one of his first major acts as president.

At the same time, the continuing stresses on the economy have, in effect, increased the size of the stimulus package because the government will have to spend more in unemployment insurance and food stamps, Orszag said. He said the cost of the stimulus package — which spends most of its money in fiscal year 2010 — will grow by tens of billions of dollars above the original $787 billion.

You read that correctly. Porkulus has been so insanely successful that it is actually going to cost more money in the way of unemployment insurance and food stamps… the very thing that porkulus has been so successful at preventing according to Romer and Orszag.

Orszag, anticipating backlash over the deficit numbers, conceded that the long-term deficits are "higher than desirable." The annual negative balances amount to about 4 percent of the gross domestic product, a number that many economists say is unsustainable.

But Orszag also argued that overhauling the health system would reduce health care costs and address the biggest contributor to higher deficits.

"I know there are going to be some who say that this report proves that we can't afford health reform," he said. "I think that has it backwards."

Whether they are just saving political face or actually believe it, it’s become a pathological obsession with these people to believe and preach that expanding healthcare to the uninsured will not raise the deficit (unless, of course, you ration service as well).

We forgot where we heard it, but administration officials doing press conferences must get drunk before going out and being forced to spew such non-sense.

Summer notes

Enjoy your vacation, sir. Polls suggest that we could both use a break from one another.

And when you are relaxing with your family please reflect on some basic circumstances with respect to healthcare reform that has soured most of the public on it without ever having or even needing to read it.

Without needing to read the bill, Americans become highly suspicious of something as important as healthcare reform being ram-rodded through Congress with the hopes of getting it passed before the August break. What was the big hurry?

Without needing to read the bill, Americans become highly suspicious when Nancy Pelosi who did such a bang-up job on the stimulus bill is given another crack at a multi-hundred billion (trillion ?) dollar piece of legislation and is given 10 weeks time to do it. What could possibly go wrong?

Without needing to read the bill, Americans become highly suspicious of a plan for which the provisions the very people voting on it and their politically-favored allies are exempt. Healthcare reform for ye but not for thee?

Without needing to read the bill, Americans become highly suspicious of a 1,000 page bill that is ostensibly about providing insurance to the uninsured. Just that takes over 1,000 pages?

Without needing to read the bill, Americans become highly suspicious and take great umbrage to being called “un-American” and being compared to goon squads and Nazis for merely opposing various points in the bill.

And mostly, without needing to read the bill, Americans become highly suspicious of a bill that the people who will be responsible for voting on the bill and who are telling them it’s all a good deal… have not read the bill themselves and worse make a mockery of the notion of even reading legislation.

This, the summer of ass-kickings has been an informative one all around. Democracy has been in action as an increasingly-isolated political class has seen fit to act in their own best interests instead of the country’s and which has resulted in a backlash not seen in years.

We forgot where we saw it, but an approval poll showed a steady decline in support for the Democratic party brand over the last few months and a flat-lined indicator for the G.O.P. over those corresponding months instead of any sort of increase. This speaks to the degree of frustration the voting public has with our governing class, currently, and sagging lack of trust and confidence that any party will be able to solve this nation’s domestic woes. What took the Republicans 8 years to do has been accomplished by the Democrats in only 6 months.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Exposed: the horribleness of Cash for Clunkers

(Warning: graphic and disturbing imagery contained, herein)

We’re not sure there are enough ways to describe just how excrable the C4C program is but we hope these two short videos give you a visceral sense of the awfulness of C4C.

The first is a visual how-to on killing a perfectly good automobile. We checked out some other videos on YouTube and the disgust displayed by the people (auto dealer mechanics) who are forced to do this because of this program was palpable.

The clip below talks about how the C4C program is hurting charities and the used car market. And the best part? The clip was made while the program was burning through its first billion dollars…. before Congress signed up the program for another $2 billion more.

So, let’s see: Distort the new car market by displacing potential buyers over the next several years? Check. Environmental dubiousness because of the considerable carbon footprint to make a new car and the fact that new cars get driven more often and for longer than older ones? Check. Hurting charities? Check. Damaging the used car and used engine part markets by killing perfectly serviceable automobiles? Check. Spending $3 billion we don't have? Check.

Enticing Americans to take on more debt load? Check. Creating a bureaucratic nightmare where dealers have only been re-imbursed for approx. 7% (as of last Thursday)of rebate applications? Check. Creating a bureaucratic nightmare to where the Treasury Department is having to siphon off employees from the FAA to handle these rebate applications from the dealers? Check.

Honest to pete – what’s not to love about Cash for Clunkers?

A match made in Heaven?

U.S. Government Unveils Health Care Partnership With God Inc.

WASHINGTON (Iowahawk Business PR Wire) -- U.S. Government CEO Barack Obama announced today that his firm had embarked on a new joint venture with metaphysical industrial giant God, saying that "We are God’s partners in matters of life and death."

"This partnership is a natural," said Obama. "We both are unfathomably large, we both control people's lives, we both work in mysterious ways, we both have a fanatical customer base. Instead of competing, it just made basic business sense to work together to become the premier developer of mission critical life-and-death operating systems."

"I believe this exciting health care partnership opportunity with the Almighty will be every bit as successful as our previous peace partnerships in the Middle East, and will pave the way for an eventual merger," said Obama. No date has been set for Government-God merger plans, but the FTC has signalled it would give quick approval.

To finance the project, Obama said US Government would seek US$2 trillion in a 103rd round of involuntary venture capital.

More here from the ‘Hawk.

Not the special teams advantage Jerry Jones had in mind

Dallas Cowboy owner Jerry Jones shells out $1.2 billion for his new Cowboys Stadium and gets a punt-blocking specialist as a throw-in.

Along with all the other amenities one would expect for that amount of jack, one of the doozies is a 160 ft. long, 90 ft. high High Definition video board that hovers over the playing field. Now something that huge can only be placed so high and remain within the confines of the stadium, right?

In a scenario no one could’ve foreseen, it only took one pre-season game to learn that your average NFL punter can reach the scoreboard in one. In Saturday’s game, backup punter of the Titans, A.J. Trapasso hit the scoreboard in the third quarter. This was after starter, Craig Hentrich said he smacked it six times in warmups.

As for Jerry Jones, he has no intentions of changing anything claiming the inherent entertainment value of the board and the strategy that should be used by any NFL punter worth his salt:

"If you look at how you punt the football, unless you're trying to hit the scoreboard, you punt the ball to get downfield. You certainly want to get some hangtime, but you punt the ball to get downfield, and you sure don't punt the ball down the middle. You punt it off to the side."

"How high is high if somebody just wants to sit there and kick straight up?"

Obviously, “hang time” is not in Jerry Jones' vocabulary. Not to worry because hang time is in the NFL’s and its competition committee that will be meeting today to discuss this situation.

H/T: Deadspin

Monday, August 24, 2009

You think you've had a bad day?

A "profanity-laced screaming match" at the White House involving CIA Director Leon Panetta, and the expected release today of another damning internal investigation, has administration officials worrying about the direction of its newly-appoint intelligence team, current and former senior intelligence officials tell ABC

In addition to concerns about the CIA's reputation and its legal exposure, other White House insiders say Panetta has been frustrated by what he perceives to be less of a role than he was promised in the administration's intelligence structure. Panetta has reportedly chafed at reporting through the director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, according to the senior adviser who said Blair is equally unhappy with Panetta.

"Leon will be leaving," predicted a former top U.S. intelligence official, citing the conflict with Blair. The former official said Panetta is also "uncomfortable" with some of the operations being carried out by the CIA that he did not know about until he took the job.

As Instaglen correctly notes, with respect to operations being carried out by the CIA that Panetta is "uncomfortable" with, aren’t these operations authorized by the President? What is the CIA doing that Panetta would be uncomfortable with?

This is especially curious in light of the fact that Attorney General Eric Holder has just hired a special prosecutor to examine nearly a dozen cases in which CIA interrogators, Panetta’s own men, may have violated anti-torture laws.

And to make things curiouser and curiouser, the Obama administration has stated they do not plan to suspend the policy of extraordinary rendition initiated under the Bush administration and which received intense criticism from human rights groups.

As it stands then, we wouldn’t blame Panetta one bit for declaring “a pox on all your houses” and getting the hell out of Dodge. His own men will be under the white-hot spotlight of a Justice Department investigation as the administration will use this as a bashing Bush by proxy but he will still be expected to maintain morale and discipline among his troops in the dark and dangerous world of intelligence gathering while fighting a turf war with the DNI and all the while having reservations about administration-approved policies currently being executed by his own agency. That doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun.

Exit question: Given the situation laid out in the paragraph above, precisely how screwed are we?

Some revealing double-speak on healthcare reform

Greetings, racists!

“This plan needs real barriers to prevent big companies that hire low-wage workers (like Wal-Mart) from merely pushing the health-care burden onto taxpayers,…”

So, who was that? Some tea party protester whining about having to foot the bill on behalf of the chum in the capitalist shark tank?

Not at all. That’d be rather the current mayor of San Francisco and candidate for governor of our fine state, Gavin Newsom. Of course, that quote was made nearly two years ago and represented Newsom’s opposition to Governor Schwarzenegger’s push to install an Obama-style health reform plan here in California.

Of course, Gavin is singing a different tune now as he is in full support of Obama-care.

But we’ll take Newsom’s original assessment of Arnold-care as his honest first impression take on government-managed health care because it is spot-on and represents why most big businesses are lining up behind Obama-care. If outfits like Wal-Mart are subjected to a tax for not providing a government-approved health plan to their employees for an amount that is less than what it costs them to provide a health plan, what do you think is going to happen?

Perhaps, merely because he was a Republican and Newsom needed some campaign fodder did he oppose Schwarzenegger’s plan but we won’t let the cynic in us not appreciate Newsom’s fit of honesty in seeing and espousing upon the game plan behind Obama-care.

Hubris Pt. III

As a matter of fact, I am horrified when I contemplate climate engineering. Although there’s always been a gee-whiz part of me that likes big projects — in the 1980s I did a cover story for Esquire, “When Men Think Big,” about plans for the English-French Chunnel and less realistic plans for a super-fast subterranean train from New York to Los Angeles — I’ve also gotten a lot more skeptical of the practicality of grand schemes.

I shudder to imagine entrusting the global thermostat to the United Nations or some quasi-governmental agency (an entity that brings to my mind the U.S. Postal Service). I don’t trust today’s computer models to predict climate, much less tell us how to precisely control it. I don’t know how much the world will warm up, and I hope climate engineering won’t be necessary. As I noted, some scientists fear that artificially cooling the globe could lead to more drought and other disasters.

More here from the man who broke the New York Times Magazine record for hate mail.

The next Cash for Clunkers casualty?

The most recent estimates indicate that GM plans to make 200-400 Chevy Volts in 2010 and then about around 10,000 in 2011. These numbers are down significantly from predictions a few years ago of 60,000 Volts in the first year. CNET, though, thinks that the actual number of plug-in hybrids, like the Volt, that will use LG Chem's lithium-ion packs that GM can make a year is actually 70,000. CNET is also willing to put a price on the Voltec system's pack: $8,000.

Hey, that’s great but who’s going to buy this car? We’re reasonably confident it won’t be the people who cashed-in on the Cash for Clunkers program this past month.

And this represents why the Cash for Clunkers program, though in existence for just a matter of weeks, will have aftereffects that will be felt for years. By effectively shifting the demand curve to the left, C4C displaced a whole group of buyers for these allegedly green cars.

The instant gratification promised and delivered by C4C has distorted and damaged the marketplace for the Volt. Your tax dollars that propped up a stimulus program that destroyed hundreds of thousands of perfectly serviceable cars will now be used to manufacture and market a car for which there will be a drastically reduced market demand.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Question of the day

How do we know stimulus is working?

Because we’ve got the signs to prove it.

You start putting up enough of these babies alongside the highways of America, you just might start distracting people from the fact that for Brazil, India, China, much of continental Europe and even that basket case, Japan, the recession has ended.

Us? Thanks, no – we’re rather enjoying our economy that shrank by 1 percent in the second quarter.

Meanwhile, we we’re checking out some stimulus projects here in San Diego County on Onvia’s excellent site here and two trends emerged. First, knowing this is a navy town, it would come as no surprise that many of the stimulus projects would be going to Navy and Marine Corps installations but we were a little taken aback that it is virtually all the stimulus projects slated for San Diego County going to such items as installing photovoltaic cells on the rooftops of various Navy/Marine Corps-occupied buildings.

And this begs the question, how many of these projects were funded already out of NAVFAC’s (people responsible for maintenance and upkeep of DON facilities) budget? We would imagine, quite a few of them. If anyone has any insight to this, do share.

Secondly, check out the delta between the CBO’s and the White House’s estimate for the number of jobs that will be funded by each project. In virtually every case, the CBO estimates about 50-60% of the White House’s far more optimistic prognostication.

But let's not linger upon these finer details for too long when we've got more signs to build.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The scene at Cowles Mountain

Not enough room in front. Not enough room in back. Why, it's about perfect.

Congratulations to the self-absorbed dolts who spent no fewer than 3 or 4 back and forwards in absolutely nailing this parking spot and for being our contribution to You Park Like an

The poll positions are set, let the jockeying begin

The AP college football poll was are released this morning and here is the way things stack up, right now.

1. Florida
2. Texas
3. Oklahoma
4. USC
5. Alabama
6. Ohio State
7. Virginia Tech
8. Mississippi
9. Oklahoma St.
9. Penn St.
11. LSU
12. California
13. Georgia
14. Boise St.
15. Georgia Tech
16. Oregon
17. TCU
18. Florida St.
19. Utah
20. BYU
21. North Carolina
22. Iowa
23. Notre Dame
24. Nebraska
25. Kansans

A little bit of history was made as the Florida Gators collected 58 of the 60 (96.7%) first place votes (Texas received the other 2) making the most overwhelming favorite since the poll was started in 1950. The previous high was the ’07 Trojans who received 62 of 65 first place votes (95.4%).

The template has now been set. When the two teams who will be playing for the BCS National Championship square-off against one another in January, their respective BCS standings journey can be walked-back week by week to this Saturday in late August.

To wit, a team like North Carolina may have too much ground to make-up at 21 to have a realistic shot at the title game, even if they go undefeated (this assumes that at least one or 2 teams ahead of them go undefeated).

And thanks for playing along TCU, Utah and BYU. The BCS has shown little regard for the non-BCS conferences though we will watch with keen interest BYU as they open up against Oklahoma on a semi-neutral site in Arlington TX on Sept. 5 and whose roster contains 3 other top 25 teams (Florida St. and conference foes Utah and TCU).

Graphic of the day

(please click to enlarge)

Just a reminder to not trust the estimates made by the government with respect to healthcare programs which makes the CBO estimates regarding healthcare even more troubling.

And dig the Medicaid estimate vs. actual. Do you think its Sears Tower-like skyline-dominating presence might have something to do with the fact that two layers of government (federal and state) are involved with its administration.

H/T: Carpe Diem

Friday, August 21, 2009

Radio KBwD is on the air

We are entirely unfamiliar with these guys but saw them over at Little Green Footballs and decided to share it with you here. Hey, nothing wrong with some 60s northern European techno-lounge.

Ladies and Gentlemen, from Los Angeles, California it's The Bird and the Bee performing "Again and again"

Again and Again from Miky Wolf on Vimeo.

Astroturfing good deeds

And lest you may think I’m blind to other families who don’t have insurance, consider this: Haven’t we, as a country managed to find ways to provide healthcare for those who couldn’t pay for it? Even for people in other countries? We have ALWAYS done that. Our compassion for those less fortunate arises from our freedom of choice. We already have invented and implemented (both in the private and government sectors) good social programs that help millions of people. And the farther they are from government intervention, the better they run.

Government intervention IS the problem. But once we centralize healthcare through a government-administered master plan, one that will complicate and de-sensitize our compassion and sense of charity, our freedom of choice is gone. Our compassion and morality becomes legislated and soon we just won’t care about anybody else other than ourselves. Our liberty, charity, and sense of community are lost in a bureaucratic nightmare. Charities and other entities currently connecting needy people to health care will disappear or be sucked into the government plan, rendering them ineffective.

Charity. It’s an entirely relevant point and one which deserves addressing because we tend to look at the healthcare debate in terms of economics (how are we going to pay for this thing?) or from the vantage of loss of liberty and freedom (keep your politics off my body!) but what current healthcare reform also represents is a fundamental cultural shift in how we view our individual and collective responsibility to the less-fortunate.

As a percentage of GNP, we are the most privately charitable nation on the planet and it isn’t even close. The next closest are our Anglo-democratic cousins, if your keeping cultural-score at home.

This hasn’t happened by accident. Along with the individualism that we cherish as Americans comes also a private sense of community that is entirely voluntary in nature and is informed because we have the freedom to choose. A community that is enforced by our own personal convictions and not by structural or legislative fiat that it is our duty as citizens of this country to look after the less-fortunate.

We have personal knowledge of people that read, contribute and comment on this blog that have expended considerable time, talent and treasure to causes even if borne of situations which they did not concur because of a personal and entirely voluntary sense of obligation to do the right thing.

That’s the part of American exceptionalism that becomes threatened by the current version of healthcare reform. That sense of urgency, that sense of laying responsibility upon yourself to donate money, to volunteer time, to get on the phone or email to inform others of a dire situation that needs tending to gets blunted… gets diluted or muted in a culture where “everyone’s covered” and “everything’s going to be OK” when in reality it’s a damn lie.

Overreaction? Perhaps. It’s not like we are going to let people fall through the cracks when government-managed healthcare proves to be a complete failure, right? Well, maybe… because when charity starts becoming more of a black market enterprise or our collective will towards charitable action becomes disincentivized, all bets are off.

The most aptly-named athlete ever starting to take his second best event more seriously (UPDATED)

Going off topic perhaps (to the relief of some, we assume) but something pretty amazing happened over the weekend and that was Jamaican sprinter, Usain Bolt, just blowing up the world record in the 100m at the Track and Field World Championships in Berlin.

Bolt, uhh... flashed onto the scene last summer at the Olympics by setting the world record in the 100m by running a 9.69 in the Beijing Games, besting his previous world record mark of 9.72. Many, though, wondered what this raw and green (age 22) sprinter who actually considers the 200 his strong suit would be capable of if he dropped the clowning and preening (and that’s all just during the race) and just ran.

Well, we all found out Sunday as Bolt crushed a jaw-dropping 9.58 which represented the largest improvement in world record times since they went to electronic timing in the late 60s.

Poor Tyson Gay, America’s best sprinter, who finished second with a 9.71 which was a personal best and which would have garnered him the title “World’s Fastest Human” if he ran this race just last year.

Here’s Bolt’s performance

and to those who speak Russian…

(UPDATE #1): Another day, another world record crushed. Cementing his place for top contender for Sportsman of the year, Usain Bolt got back to his supposed strong suit and shaved .11 seconds off of his own world record by dropping a 19.19 hammer in the 200m final yesterday at the world track and field championships in Berlin. Enjoy.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The curtain drops on the most stupendous and excellent economic stimulus plan, ever.

The Obama administration will end the popular $3 billion Cash for Clunkers program on Monday, giving car shoppers a few more days to take advantage of big government incentives.

The Transportation Department said Thursday that the government will wind down the program on Monday at 8 p.m. EDT. Car buyers can receive rebates of $3,500 or $4,500 for trading in older vehicles for new, more fuel-efficient models.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the program has been ''a lifeline to the automobile industry, jump starting a major sector of the economy and putting people back to work.'' He said the department was ''working toward an orderly wind down of this very popular program.''

The White House has touted the program's success in providing a targeted boost to the sluggish economy since its inception in late July. Through Thursday, auto dealers have made deals worth $1.9 billion and the incentives have generated more than 457,000 vehicle sales.

So, if it’s been so wildly successful then why does it have to end?
But the administration needed to put a halt to the program to avoid surpassing the $3 billion funding level. Consumers were on pace to exhaust the program's coffers in early September and dealers have complained about long delays in getting reimbursed for the car incentives.

Since when has any administration of recent ilk ever been worried about busting the budget? Go back to Congress and just ask for more. It’s been done once before and do you think that Congress will turn down something that has been a “lifeline” to the auto industry and has been “putting people back to work”?

On a more serious note, yes, it is indeed time to pull the plug on this environmentally-dubious and economically-shaky program though this does not appear to be at all why the administration is doing so.

Though this does provide some temporary relief to workers who have been called back onto the job to cover the orders, what happens when the artificially-spiked demand curve caused by the 457,000 vehicles that have been sold under CfC drops off drastically over the next several years.

A more level demand curve of new car purchases over the next few years has been wiped-out to say nothing of the demand curve for the used-car market as a result of 457,000 cars, a goodly portion among them being perfectly serviceable, being eliminated entirely.

Good riddance, CfC, may we never see your kind again.

Indebted to symbology

"When I'm president, I will go line by line to make sure that we are not spending money unwisely..."

- Barack Obama 10/15/2008

Bill Whittle of PajamasTV has an excellent feature on the power and danger of iconograpy, here.

H/T: Instaglen and gunzip via KT

Yet another Brazilian export we can't seem to resist

So, if drilling off-shore of the continental United States is a nettlesome political, judicial and environmental issue… no problem – hit the road and let someone else get crude under their finger nails.

The U.S. Export-Import Bank tells us it has issued a "preliminary commitment" letter to Petrobras in the amount of $2 billion and has discussed with Brazil the possibility of increasing that amount. Ex-Im Bank says it has not decided whether the money will come in the form of a direct loan or loan guarantees. Either way, this corporate foreign aid may strike some readers as odd, given that the U.S. Treasury seems desperate for cash and Petrobras is one of the largest corporations in the Americas.

We posted on the huge Brazilian oil fields here over a year ago and how Brazil's energy policy differed from ours but if you are wondering what we are doing in our cash-strapped state, lending $2 billion to a country that appears to be well-capitalized to take on off-shore drilling endeavors, then join the club.

And this action is borderline bizarre considering its not the supposed oil baron himself, George W. Bush that is slinking off to Rio to sow his wild petrol oats but rather Mr. Clean who has made it a habit of beating up on Big Oil and who has pushed for cap and trade legislation to curb our carbon-emitting ways.

So, is there more to this than meets the eye? There just may be and it is every bit as sordid as you can imagine.

We'll be standing by for the howls of indignation from the Left. Over here... Any minute now...

H/T: Hot Air

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Go figure: Living a long and productive life just might cost you some Pt.II

Researchers have discovered a way to identify drugs that can single-out and attack cancer stem cells and cancer stem cells only. This discovery could represent a new generation of anti-cancer medicines and a new strategy of treatment.

The practical test of this theory has been difficult because cancer stem cells have proven to be elusive targets but this team of researchers from the Broad Institute has devised a way of screening for drugs that attack the cancer cells but leave unharmed ordinary cells.

The team, led by Dr. Piyush Gupta, screened about 16,000 chemicals, including all known chemotherapeutic agents approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The team reported in yesterday's issue of Cell that 32 of the chemicals selectively went after cancer stem cells. These particular chemicals may or may not make good drugs, but the screening system proves for the first time, the researchers say, that it is possible to single out cancer stem cells with drugs that leave ordinary cells alone. Only one of the 32 chemicals is approved as a drug for cancer.

(italics, ours)

This sounds like good news, right? Drugs that only kill the cancerous cells but leaves the healthy ones alone? If proven viable, this would be a game-changer for chemo-therapy and its kill-‘em-all scorched earth policy.

But you know what? It’s going to take a lot of time and a lot of money and even with all that, the very people poring their blood, sweat and tears into this, aren’t sure if it will even work. And that’s just the facts of life in the world of pharmaceuticals.

People wonder why pharmaceuticals cost so much? There’s your answer. It costs $802 million dollars to take a drug from Phase I testing to final FDA approval and much of that cost is eaten up by the sunk costs of failed drugs. And the average time it takes for the FDA testing program? 90.3 months.

From what has been established above, it would appear that the market forces at work in the R&D and 3-phase FDA testing program plus the ongoing research into that drug is a burden the pharmaceutical company can decide to bear on its own. In other words, the pharmaceutical company has skin in the game and is in the best position to determine the return on investment of the particular drug in which they are investing.

So, why in god’s name would you need anything like a “comparative effectiveness board” to determine what the pharmaceutical firm is determining on their own on a constant and real time basis?

Because they have a profit-motive, who better than they to determine the effectiveness of their drug?

Yet again, another concept lost on the proponents of government-managed healthcare.

Sub-headline of the day

Cementing his value to Obama, the vice president has been tapped to take on key issues. Next up: healthcare.

Would this be considered the "nuclear option"?

Matchup of the day

Wal-Mart vs. Whole Foods.

.... Who ya got?

Secular Apostate has the details, here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Long National Nightmare Continues

B-Daddy here. And no I don't mean the health care town halls. We're talking about Brett Favre's Clintonesque gluttony for the public spotlight with his on again, off again retirement plans. Here he is after signing with the Minnesota Vikings, an amazing sight to behold.

But, hey, I am so over Favre, that I refuse to talk about or comment about him any longer. Maybe I should be in radio.

Go figure: Living a long and productive life just might cost you some

Healthcare costs a lot, in part, because it costs a lot to develop new effective technologies and products to keep us healthy. Funny how we are willing to drop some coin when it comes to our own health, isn’t it?

Article here, appeared in the paper the other day had the following to say about medical technology.

Hospitals and large physician groups engage in a technological arms race. They are prodded by manufacturers aggressively pushing their products, patients pleading for the latest treatments and prestigious doctors aligning themselves with institutions marketed as innovative.

“Hospital administrators are under enormous pressure to invest in new technology,” said Chris Van Gorder, president and CEO of Scripps Health, which operates five hospitals in Encinitas, La Jolla, Hillcrest and Chula Vista.

Also contributing to rising medical expenses is the urge by health providers to maximize use of whatever services are available to them — even when it is unnecessary.

Public investment in unproven and even counterproductive alternative energy sources like wind and solar power and ethanol: good. Private investment in unproven medical technologies that may only yield marginal benefits: bad.

In countries where governments closely control health systems, costs are held down partly by evaluating new devices and procedures for effectiveness before allowing them into the market. Panels of medical experts also set treatment guidelines.

The United States puts up “a lot of barriers that make it very hard to control costs,” said Callahan with The Hastings Center. “There is particular resistance within the medical industry.”

For an example, Callahan pointed to Avastin, a colorectal cancer treatment that costs $90,000 for a one-year course of treatment but only extends a patient's life by an average of 1½ months.

Without expressly stating it, this is precisely what rationing is and the slant of the article is perfectly fine with that.

If a technology, procedure or drug passes regulatory muster for safety, let it be brought to market so that the consumers can make the call on whether or not they want to shell out the bucks for it thus removing any decision-making from “panels of medical experts”.

The idea of self-preservation and an inherent human desire to maximize our quality of life coupled with a desire to have access to the latest medical technology no matter how expensive is lost on the author and by extension, proponents of government-managed healthcare.

Keep your politics off our bodies!

What we did on our summer vacation

Normally, we’d apologize for going so heavy on a particular subject but we won’t with respect to our bias towards healthcare coverage because it has been so enlightening.

Enlightening on a couple of different fronts. First, it’s forced us to do our homework. Yes, we’ve actually read portions of this bill… and it confuses the living daylights out of us. And through this homework, we honestly hope that our presentation of the debate has been forthright and absent any demagouging of the issue. And don’t confuse being adamantly opposed to the current version of healthcare reform with demagougery.

We were talking healthcare with B-Daddy over the weekend and we came to the conclusion that much like the alternative energy debate, we’ve become all-of-the-above types with respect to healthcare. Health savings account? Sounds good to us. Med mal reform? Gotta have some sort to keep costs down. Allow health plans to cross state lines? Why not? Loosen regulatory restrictions so that individuals can customize their health plan which will reduce premiums? Absolutely.

That is why it so discouraging that the current plan is of the none-of-the-above variety. It’s like Congress went into the Stink Store and cleared the shelves of ideas and threw it all into the healthcare bill. We cannot come up with a single redeeming quality to this piece of legislation. How does that happen? How can these allegedly smart people sit down to hammer out legislation that is simply so atrocious? That takes a special sort of talent, though not any which we would wish upon friends or family.

Perhaps the reason is because of the second elightening thing that has emerged from our studying, observing and commenting on the current healthcare debate and that is, you are not thought very highly of. Yep, this whole process has lifted the veil on how our elected leaders feel about all of us and it’s not pretty. In fact, the level of condescension, contempt and presumptuousness that has been displayed by members of Congress and the White House over the past few months has been jaw-dropping and helps to explain the passionate if less-than-constructive behavior we have seen at townhall meetings in this, the summer of ass-kickings.

And through structural imbalances such as congressional districting, franking privileges and campaign regulations that favor the incumbents, the huge gulf that now exists between elected officials and the electorate will continue to widen and which will result in an increasingly acrimonious relationship between the two groups.

P.S. The Democrats made a huge tactical mistake by pushing healthcare through committee before the summer break. Instead of plausible deniability that Democratic congressmen could legitimately claim at the townhalls if the legislation was held back in committee, it is now public record and can be picked apart, piece by crappy piece, as it is being done right now and which allows for the true bipartisan exchange the President promised us all in the first place.

Kids do the darndest things

So, the previously anonymous yet obviously racist street artist who has been responsible for the obviously racist iconography being displayed here in an obvious attempt to whip-up racist sentiment?

Turns out he’s a bored 20 yr.-old college student from Chicago of Palestinian descent who says he would’ve voted for that noted arch-conservative Dennis Kucinich had he bothered to vote in November.

Mr. Alkhateeb, we would not want to be you right about now.

Monday, August 17, 2009

High time

Woodstock Nation turned 40 over this past weekend or something.

As it is obviously time for some reminiscing and introspection, we’d like to invite the Nation down to Fort Campbell, Ky. to start making some amends.

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (AP) -- Tears filled the eyes of some Vietnam veterans who were warmly greeted with cheers from their family and friends Sunday -- unlike their original return from the war, when they were often met with angry demonstrators and harsh headlines.

The ceremony was a first for the 101st Airborne Division and the Army, said Maj. Patrick Seiber, an Army spokesman based at Fort Campbell in Kentucky.
"Our hope is that other units and other posts will follow our lead in having this type of ceremony," he said.

Mickey Leighton, a 72-year-old Army veteran from Naples, Fla., said listening to the applause and praise from the community was very emotional.

Leighton, who started his military career at Fort Campbell in 1956, served two tours in Vietnam including the Tet Offensive. He returned in 1972 in the midst of angry anti-war protests that often placed blame on the individual soldiers.

"We were treated very shabbily," he said. "In some cases they would throw eggs at us, they would throw empty beer bottles at us and they would call us baby-killers."

One of the beauties of this country is that we learn and we have effective changes of heart. Enough Americans came to believe that slavery was wrong that we fought a war over it with our own countrymen and brought them back into the fold "without malice". And later, during the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s, enough Americans came to believe that segregation and polling place discrimination was wrong that legislation was put into place to drive a stake through the heart of Jim Crow.

And now, we have come to embrace the fact that our treatment of Vietnam War veterans was despicable and that there needs to be an atoning for this sin and it started with the very different treatment we gave to returning troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and which really started back in '91 during the first Gulf War.

Let the process for completing the circle continue. Lead the way, Boomers. It's long overdue.

The sadly obligatory cash for clunkers update

Well, the one thing that can be said for CfC is that it is coming along precisely how you would expect a program to come along where the government inserts itself between the seller and the buyer. These sort of things are nothing if not predictable.

The plan's popularity, plus confusion among dealers over its rules, has contributed to administrative gridlock. The Department of Transportation, which runs the program through its National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, indicated to auto dealers Thursday that it would add staff to address the backlog of unpaid applications for clunker vouchers.

Dealers say the government is putting them in financial peril. The law requires dealers to deliver a new vehicle to qualifying customers, even if the government payment hasn't yet arrived. The government says it will reimburse dealers within 10 days of the applications' approval.

But dealers say payments have been slow to arrive. "We've got 155 clunkers on the ground and no money in the bank," says Earl Stewart, owner of the Earl Stewart Toyota dealership in North Palm Beach, Fla. "We're selling ourselves into a very negative cash-flow situation."

And when the federal government has only reimbursed auto dealers for 2 percent of the claims they’ve submitted, one can see why they are a bit skittish right now and kinda makes you wonder where the first $1 billion dollars went now that we have anted-up for $2 billion more.

According to the Transportation Department there are 225 people reviewing claims and to date their have been 338,659 vehicles sold under CfC for a case load of 1,500 per reviewer so, yeah, this thing might require some staffing up.

So, beyond the absolute lunacy of the CfC effectively being its own “death panel” for perfectly functioning automotive assets, the administrative goat rope that CfC has become is everything you could imagine it to be.

Doing the right thing?

A carbon tax has the advantage of simplicity and being technologically neutral. By raising the price of fuel sources in direct proportion to the amount of carbon oxidized, we directly attack the problem we wish to solve. Is wind power better than solar photovoltaic? Who knows? Over time the market will decide. Further, the carbon costs of building solar panels or wind turbines would be factored into the equation by the equitable distribution of this tax. Also, a carbon tax has the added advantage of reducing air pollution caused by other contaminants. The majority of air pollution in the United States today is caused by burning fossil fuels.

A tax? Egads!!! So it ain't so!!!

B-Daddy has a thoughtful piece on global warming, energy sources and petrol despots, here.

B-Daddy is your Spike Lee of the blogosphere. You may not always agree with him but he'll always make you think.

Tales from Bailout Nation Pt. XVI

Troubled assets tied to the housing market remain frozen on banks' balance sheets and pose a continued threat to economic recovery, according to a new oversight report.

Elizabeth Warren, chairwoman of the Congressional Oversight Panel charged with ensuring that bailout funds are used properly and efficiently, said in her report that efforts to move housing-related derivatives off banks' books have mostly failed.

"The nation's banks continue to hold on their books billions of dollars in assets about whose proper valuation there is a dispute and that are very difficult to sell," Warren wrote.

The panel pointed to setbacks in implementing the Public Private Investment Program, a government program to help banks unload the assets, as a leading contributing factor.

The segment of it administered by the Treasury has only recently got off the ground, the panel noted, while the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has postponed its own effort, citing improved liquidity in the credit markets.

Perhaps one of the reasons the TARP program isn’t working is that the Treasury Dept. doesn’t know what the hell they are doing.

Recall that the original intent of the TARP program when it was initiated under the Bush administration last year was to buy up these very toxic assets only for that goal to be dropped earlier this year in favor of recapitalizing the financial institutions in order to get them to start lending to one another.

So, it really should come as no surprise to anyone that the original intent of the program which has since been dropped isn’t quite as effective as hoped.

And to buttress the rudderless ship of fools approach being taken by Treasury here’s Warren on the TARP program back in June:

There's no discussion of the overall policy. Instead, there are specific programs that are announced, and from that, it's necessary to reason backwards to figure out what the goal must have been. It's like a "Jeopardy!" game. If this is the answer, what was the question? It's frustrating because without a clearly articulated goal and identified metrics to determine whether the goal is being accomplished, it's almost impossible to tell if a program is successful.

We’re in the very best of hands.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The dangers of the statists' new god: controlling costs

(Apologies up front for the heartwarming photo. It's a shameless attempt at shielding ourselves from charges of demagoguing the issue and of acting out of fear and ignorance)

If you choose to study electrical engineering and land a job with HP, you have earned health care under our current system. If you choose to smoke dope in high school and end up as the night manager of the local No-Tell Motel with tattoos all over your body and a Home Depot Sampler Set of fasteners piercing your face, you have not earned health care. The Death Board, to a great extent, is controlled by your actions. Obamacare does away with that.

That from KT on incentives and personal responsibility.

And then we have the following from B-Daddy on his current misadventures in this country’s government-managed sector of healthcare:

This is the myth of single-payer. Obama's former personal physician, Dr. David Scheiner, was on Larry King spouting off how single payer would be so much more efficient as a health care system and we should just abolish insurance companies. There are many things wrong with our current system, but the lack of economic incentive that accrues to single payer would devastate health care. At least with insurance, somebody has some skin in the game to push for efficiency. I am already seeing the effects of single payer in the relatively well funded military medical system, but it is struggling to contain costs. How much worse would it be for the whole country, which cannot afford the per person expense of military medicine.

In different ways, the two paragraphs above illustrate the theme that runs throughout the healthcare debate when you are talking about effectiveness and controlling costs and it’s called “skin in the game” or incentive or for you Friedman-esque pigs out there, profit-motive.

We covered this phenomena previously, where spending your own money on yourself, yields the most optimum results and all other methods result in inefficiencies and a drop in quality.

What is the government’s motivation for you to stay healthy in a single-payer system? There isn’t any. The government has absolutely zero skin in the game when it comes to your health. This is not to set up the government as a nefarious bogeyman but just as there are no actual death panels in the current healthcare reform bill, because of how the system is structured there is the eventuality that the results will be the same.

Recall the situation in Oregon where a lady suffering from cancer was denied expensive medication by the Oregon health board (“death panel” by omission rather than commission), who was it that stepped in and provided the meds for free? That’s right, the evil pharmaceutical company. Why? Beyond any sense of altruism that may have guided the decision, they had skin in the game. They had a (gasp), profit-motive.

Where the government had no incentive to keep this woman alive (indeed, in order to control costs, they had every incentive for this woman to be permanently taken off the rolls), Big Pharma has every incentive for people to stay alive in order to continue to buy their products. So, greed is good

Big Pharma: Keeping people alive so that they can live to pay another day.

Given the alternative, how is this a bad thing?

Keep your politics off our bodies.

Robert Reich doesn't think there is anything to worry about

...because that “anything” would be “healthcare reform”.

Why are these meetings brimming with so much anger? Because Republican Astroturfers have joined the same old right-wing broadcast demagogues that have been spewing hate and fear for years, to create a tempest.

But why are they getting away with it? Why aren't progressives—indeed, why aren't ordinary citizens—taking the meetings back?

Mainly because there's still no healthcare plan. All we have are some initial markups from several congressional committees, which differ from one another in significant ways. The White House's is waiting to see what emerges from the House and Senate before insisting on what it wants, maybe in conference committee.

But that's the problem: It's always easier to stir up fear and anger against something that's amorphous than to stir up enthusiasm for it.

We’re not sure what Reich is talking about with respect to “no healthcare plan”, it’s referred to as H.R. 3200 and checks in at over 1,000 pages so we can only assume he got a hold of some bad shell fish before he wrote this.

But let’s take Reich’s finer point about the plan lacking specifics and being short on the details. Given this, the President’s master plan for the summer was to send Democratic congressmen home to their districts to fight for healthcare legislation and which would be supported by “hit back twice as hard” force from the White House for this same legislation that Reich claims the White House is waiting to see what emerges from the House and Senate?

That was the plan? How does that make any sense? Maybe that’s why the summer of ’09 has become the summer of ass-kickings.

It is refreshing to hear a proponent of government-managed healthcare admit a) his side is completely incompetent in pitching a plan that may or may not exist and b)we should be in favor of something of which no one knows what it is to be in favor.

To counter Bill Maher, we all may not be the sharpest tools in the shed, but we damn sure know when we’re getting jerked around, especially when it involves something as critical as healthcare.

Keep your politics off our bodies!